Sunday, April 30, 2006
Mr. Vaughn spent his mornings sitting outside the Italian deli, which happened to be owned by wrestling coach Nick Testa, who kept all the team trophies behind the counter. Last Friday, Jesse Lewin and I decided to see what all the fuss was about and take up Mr. Vaughn's old post.
We got some free shirts out of the deal, made the Town Crier's Sidewalk Interview and reminisced about favorite deli-related moments. Mine has to be when Bubba, in the middle of a lunch rush, loudly asked whether employee Arcia Dorosti was "the one with the 14-year-old girlfriend." (He was). Others include the day Nick sold the deli and gave away all the old trophies. I thought it would be cool walking through downtown Los Altos carrying a trophy, even if it was for something I had done in high school. For some reason, the girl lying in the park in a bikini did not seem to agree with me.
Her loss, I suppose.
Anyway, with the successful completion of Deli Day, two trips down Adobe Creek, and one embarrassing experience getting lit up on the court by a group of middle-aged Mormons, I fear I am slowly completing the list of clean Los Altos fun that doesn't involve high school water polo. I have a few more months left before I leave. Any suggestions?
In a statement to the national press after the jury in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial found that "the missing hijacker" was eligible for the death penalty, Hoagland said that she did not believe Moussaoui should be put to death, despite her support for the death penalty. She said:
"We in America can now demonstrate that we are a nation of mercy, as well as a nation of laws and justice. We've already demonstrated our justice by allowing him to condemn himself out of his own mouth. And if we can transcend the kind of hatred he has shown toward us by allowing him to live, we will have given him a higher standard by which to live."
Saturday, April 29, 2006
The Rosita neighborhood has been trying to kill this plan for years, even though a pool complex would have been a much better community (and neighborhood) asset than the municipal operations center that was moved to make way for it. But this isn't really about community. Like most of Los Altos politics, this is about people wanting to be left alone to enjoy their money.
The Palo Alto Daily News quoted Mayor Ron Packard's comments as he cast the deciding vote:
Thursday, April 27, 2006
I can see the council's reasons for not wanting to pass a "Gay Pride Day" proclamation. Los Altos is, after all, Bigotville, USA. But the council easily could have ignored the students' request with no further action or recognized the organization without declaring "Gay Pride Day." Instead, officials went out of their way to send a message to the high school students who already fairly ostracized to keep their heads down. I just don't see how that counts as being brave.
Earlier this afternoon, they officially learned that they would be working (or perhaps not working) for new owner MediaNews, which apparently had run out of papers to ruin and felt like testing the government's stomach for antitrust cases. Soon, the paper CEO Dean Singleton called "the crown jewel" of Knight Ridder (hint: he wasn't talking about the Daily) will be another notch in the company's bedpost, right along with the Berkshire Eagle, the Oakland Tribune, the Fremont Argus, the Houston Post (R.I.P.) and the San Mateo County Times. After buying the Times, MediaNews the company forced all of the paper's editorial employees to resign, rehired only 75 percent of them and paid them at reduced salaries.
There was much celebrating at the Palo Alto Weekly offices today for breaking the story this morning, which again reminded me how little readers care anymore about who has a story first. I'm not saying I wouldn't have done it myself, but reporters' compulsion to pat themselves on the back for being the first to publish something is similar to all the hand-wringing over the sale of KR, in that we overestimate how much readers care about it.
As the Economist wrote about Katie Couric's jump to the CBS Evening News, in this week's feature story on the new participatory form of media:
Those in other countries, as well as Americans under 30, may be forgiven for thinking that a news story about a newscaster is just a spectacular bout of navel-gazing. Of course it is...
On the other hand, "Oooh, look at me, I read the Economist!"
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The folks who want to create what would be an all-white district in Los Altos Hills clearly have a couple of strategic problems on their hands, particularly that it's difficult to argue with a group that says it represents a silent majority. Behave yourselves, as redistricting proponents did for most of the meeting Monday, and you appear to be outnumbered. Try to yell louder, as they did towards the end (and in their e-mails to me), and you've justified your opponents claims of intimidation.
If the negotiations fall apart and the redistricting plan does wind up going through, look for Mountain View-Los Altos High School officials to "play the race card, big-time," as one told me last night. They might have a point -- in seven years at Bullis, I met one Latino student, and, not knowing the difference, assumed he was black.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Usually close-mouthed Jon Friedenberg -- who appears to have usurped Judy Twitchell's role as hospital spokesperson after her antagonistic behavior towards an unnamed reporter resulted in a public records lawsuit against the hospital -- was apparently spouting off to reporters during Lieber's press conference Friday.
As the Daily News wrote yesterday:
"A hospital spokesperson said Lieber was simply beholden to unions and her proposed legislation was simply a union tactic."
True on both counts, perhaps, but that doesn't really have anything to do with the issue. Just because all the people allied against the hospital (at this point that includes SEIU, Lieber and the Voice editorial pages) happen to be on the same side of other issues, that does not mean the hospital has the right to keep public records secret.
One note on the Daily story: Mountain View City Council member Laura Macias is quoted in support of the legislation. The story omits the fact that Macias is a paid staff member at Lieber's district office.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
But by far my favorite is the last letter, in which a woman thanks the employees of the Mountain View Wal-Mart (her "favorite store on earth") for the actions of its employees during a heart attack she suffered last month. The employees called 911, asked her if she was okay, and then proceeded to sell her groceries while she was doubled over in pain.
Having never had a heart attack, I can't say this with any authority, but it seems that you may want to delay any purchasing decisions you can until after you've recovered, regardless of any great low prices you may have found. Given the tone of this leter, financial considerations did not seem to be a problem for this woman, but I imagine enough Wal-Mart has enough uninsured people among its millions customers that at least some of them may have to cut back the chotchkies they buy in order to cover the cost of an extended hospital visit.
The May 1 demonstration, part of a nationwide mobilization by immigrant groups, will include a march from the Day Worker center to City Hall via San Antonio Shopping Center. Some local businesses are already planning to close because so many of their workers will be attending. It is interesting to watch small businesses across the country accomodate their workers' freedom to assemble while larger ones are firing them.
How are others celebrating? Well, a rather insensitive joke in one corner of the office is that every white person in Mountain View will come downtown tomorrow for the Spring Family Parade (which is sort of like the Boston marathon, except with more bare-assed Brazilian dancers and fewer men with bloody nipples -- seriously, there are bloody nipples), while much of the rest of the city heads to Los Altos High School for an AVID fundraiser.
The sequel is apparently coming soon.
(As long as you're checking inane videos on-line, here's a Nintendo RBI Baseball-based reenactment of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, which does a good job of apportioning the blame to the Red Sox players responsible for the first time I ever saw my mother cry).
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Reportedly, Los Altos Mayor Ron Packard requested Kerr sign the letter. Kerr indicated he had no problem with the letter's message, but that Bullis was still such a sore subject with Hills voters that he did not want to be making public statements in conjunction with lowland officials.
How SEIU comes up with its slogans, or knows when to instruct members to start marching in a circle, could be its own story. This one has a few things going for it, mainly that it touches on the hospital union's suspicion that its members could benefit materially from forcing the publicly-elected hospital board to act like, well, a publicly-elected board. On the other hand, it's a little disconnected in between the two lines, and I doubt this case will go to a labor court as opposed to a more regular kind.
The suit is similar to the lawsuit the Mountain View Voice brought against El Camino a year and a half ago, after disgruntled doctors suggested asking for executive contracts, knowing the inevitable refusal would make the hospital look bad.
The hospital, which said it needed to protect details of its operations for competitive reasons, eventually gave up virtually everything the paper requested, but refused to admit any obligation to do so. Instead, the district claimed that it has discretion in determining when it does and does not have to behave like a public agency.
Let's hope the SEIU case answers this question. It will be good civic education for all of us.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
When political parties approached Edwards about running for the congressional seat his father Don held for more than three decades, he turned them down, choosing instead to continue his service as a juvenile court judge for Santa Clara County. Now that he is stepping down from the bench, he will spend his retirement travelling around the state helping other judges reform their courts with the goal of being as successful as he was.
The cover story in this week's Town Crier reminded me of a riddle he used to ask that nagged at me for years.
Back when I was in elementary school, on a camping trip with his son Don (who is memorialized by a tree and plaque on the front lawn of Bullis Purisssima school), Len posed us the following riddle. I think I was in high school by the time I figured it out, but I was so proud that I called him up to tell him the answer, hoping he'd be impressed with me. Here it is, in honor of perhaps the only deserving winner of the title of Los Altan of the Year.
You have twelve virtually identical twelve pool balls and one balance. The balls are all the same color and indistinguishable by touch or sight, but one of the twelve weighs slightly more or less than the others.
Using the balance only three times, can you identify the odd ball and whether it is heavier or lighter than the others?
Monday, April 10, 2006
Judge Randall Schneider announced Monday morning he would delay the trial until May 15 in order to give the sides more time to rewrite their lease agreement. Schneider, who had just emerged from a meeting with the lawyers on each side, said the parties had reached an agreement on the contentious issue of past rent.
Friday, April 07, 2006
We'll have an idea how those talks went by Monday morning, when the two sides are scheduled to meet in a San Jose courtroom and -- if a deal is not imminent -- proceed to trial.
City attorney Michael Martello said that it will take more than a weekend to settle the case, and that any settlement would involve renegotiating a complicated lease that is hundreds of pages long.
When someone with as few enemies as Kathleen Acuff leaves because the paper is afraid to cover the news, it’s a pretty good indication that your paper is afraid to cover the news. The Town Crier's other three news reporters have less than six months of combined experience, and are unlikely to fight Nyberg over all the good news the paper chooses to cover. Her departure further ensures that the only controversial reporting in the Town Crier will be in the sports section.
As long as Nyberg is apologizing, by the way, he ought to beg forgiveness from God and public for the paper’s disgraceful 2003 editorial backing the invasion of Iraq, particularly the use of a garbled sports cliché to justify the bombing of a third-world country. (The best offense is a good defense, not vice versa). If you think that’s bad, you’re right, first of all. But you also should have seen the print version, in which the last sentence was cut off.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I suppose there might be a "reasonable chance" that The Heights Hills town council is serious about all of this, and is not just trying to annoy Los Altos Elementary into permanently reopening Bullis (which is just as decrepit and overly paved as it was when it was closed three years ago). But given the previous stunts apologists for my alma mater have tried, this looks like just another ploy.
Unfortunately, my father didn't fare quite well enough in last year's election to win a seat on the school board (you should have stuck to the talking points Dad). So, for the best analysis I have yet seen of this issue, we'll have to rely on the board's original message rejecting the application to form Bullis Charter School:
"Education is the child's right, not the parent's."
Caltrain's Web site says trains will be delayed 20 minutes each way until early afternoon. The San Mateo County Sherriff's office is investigating.