Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 22, 2010

News Digest

Police to be on special 'Safe Passage' alert

Be careful.

Palo Alto police will be on special lookout for student bicyclists without helmets and drivers surreptitiously checking their text messages next week, Jan. 25 through 29.

That is "Operation Safe Passage" week, during which police, together with Santa Clara County law enforcement agencies, strictly enforce traffic laws in and around local schools during peak commute hours.

In particular, police will focus on violations by students and drivers, including failing to stop for school buses with flashing stoplights; speeding violations; failing to yield to pedestrians; jaywalking; student bicyclists without properly secured helmets; seat-belt and child-restraint violations; cell-phone or texting violations; and stop-sign violations.

Palo Alto police participate in Operation Safe Passage three times a year in order to increase the safety of students commuting to school, the department said.

"This is just a reminder for all commuters to slow down and exercise extra care in the school zones," the department said.

Local Judge Lucy Koh nominated to federal court

The Santa Clara County Superior Court judge presiding over panhandler Victor Frost's constitutional challenge to Palo Alto's sit-lie ordinance has been nominated to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, by President Barack Obama.

Koh, 41, of Stanford, was nominated to the bench on Wednesday, Jan. 20, according to a White House press release. Koh is the first Korean-American to be appointed to a federal court in the country.

A Democrat, Koh was appointed to the Superior Court of California by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008. Prior to that appointment she was a litigation partner at McDermott, Will and Emery, representing technology companies in intellectual-property issues.

Until recently, she presided from the Palo Alto Courthouse and was poised to transfer to the bench in San Jose. She recently heard a challenge to the constitutionality of Palo Alto's sit-lie ordinance by Palo Alto panhandler Frost and is due to issue a written decision in that case in mid-February.

Koh is married to Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, a Stanford law professor who is a top advisor on immigration issues to the Obama administration.

She received her law degree from Harvard University and has worked in federal courts, including as an assistant U.S. attorney in the major frauds section of the U.S. Attorney's Office in California. From 1996 to 1997, Koh was a special assistant to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in Washington, D.C., and special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice from 1994 to 1996.

Palo Alto pays $24,000 for sidewalk tumble

A Palo Alto woman who tripped on a raised sidewalk has been awarded $24,000 by an outside arbitrator.

Paula Goldberg, 59, tripped over a buckling slab of concrete at 419 Waverley St. in June 2006, tearing a ligament in her thumb as she attempted to break her fall, according to Michael Servarian, the city's hired attorney.

Goldberg filed suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court in June 2007 and both sides entered into mandatory nonbinding arbitration in July 2009, Servarian said.

"Both sides accepted the award. It is very unusual for both sides to accept a settlement," he said, pointing out that if one side is happy and the other is not, the disatisfied party can still choose to go to trial. Both sides seemed content with the award, he said.

The sidewalk was most probably repaired after the accident, Servarian said.

"What often happens is a person falls and submits a claim then Public Works fixes it," he said.

Mike Sartor, assistant director of Public Works, said he did not know when the sidewalk was repaired. He referred comment to the attorney.

Greg Cattermole, attorney for Goldberg, was in court on Tuesday and did not return phone calls requesting comment.

Stanford taps UN ambassador for commencement

Stanford University students have chosen United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, a 1986 Stanford alumna, to be their commencement speaker June 13.

Rice will join Stanford Philosophy Professor Debra Satz and interfaith leader Eboo Patel as featured speakers in the three-day graduation festivities that begin Friday, June 11.

"(Ambassador Rice) is in a position of international leadership with a record of service promoting peace and humanity. Every one of us will benefit from hearing how we can similarly go forth and make a difference in the world with a Stanford education," Senior Class Presidents Walter Foxworth, Dan Ha, Ansaf Kareem and Aria Florant said in a statement.

— Palo Alto Online staff

Comments

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Operation Safe Passage

One place I would like to see police is at the Churchill/Alma intersection where there is a turn left only sign at 7.30 - 8.00 am.
The number of bikes that cross here at each green light at this time of the morning is very high and many vehicles do not obey the turn left only sign (I have even seen City of Palo Alto Vehicles go straight instead of turning). Because of the volume of bikes and because the bikers think that all cars are going to turn, the bikes spread way outside the bike lane here and any car trying to pass by them causes problems. This plus the potential for a car wanting to beat the railroad gates when the railroad lights suddenly change could cause a serious accident on the tracks. An accident on the tracks with a train approaching doesn't bear thinking about.


Posted by Sarah, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I see so many careless drivers around our schools. Most of them are parents who really should know better. We should have "safe passage" enforcement on every school day. The police don't have that much else to do at those times in the morning and afternoon, do they?


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Just a reminder to watch out for the cops so drive safely - this week and every week.


Posted by Sarah, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 24, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I hope that people can drive safely in school zones because there are kids nearby, not just because the cops are watching.


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