DUCKING AND DODGING ... As Palo Alto considers shuttering its aged but bustling animal shelter, local animal lovers are leading a drive to prevent the closure. More than 100 have signed a petition that has recently gone up online, urging the City Council not to close the East Bayshore Road facility (the petition is available at www.causes.com/causes/660185). Others cite anecdotes that demonstrate the importance of keeping animal services local. One example occurred Wednesday night, when a lame-footed drake was found stumbling around the Piazza's parking lot. A woman was directing traffic to protect the male duck from getting run over. Police were summoned and even though it was well past 5 p.m., animal-control officer William Warrior arrived within 10 minutes, said Nancy Hamilton, who witnessed the episode. Warrior said he was monitoring the ducks near Piazza's at 11 p.m. the previous night. The ducks, he said, had been producing ducklings at this location for about three years. Warrior had determined that the drake's condition had improved since Tuesday and that despite his injury, the drake can still fly, according to Hamilton. Warrior's attention to the matter proved to Hamilton and others that the local animal-services operation is "much more than a shelter," she said.
TALLEST TREES ... The Tall Tree Awards were a mirthful affair this year — a feast of mingling, backslapping and congratulatory remarks exchanged between business leaders, city officials and community volunteers. While guests at the Crowne Plaza Hotel gobbled down citrus-roasted beet salads, ribeye steaks and towers made of grilled Portobello, award winners John Barton ("outstanding professional"), Alison Cormack ("outstanding citizen"), and leaders of Foundation for a College Education ("outstanding nonprofit") and Whole Foods Market ("outstanding business") took the stage to accept their awards. Barton, an architect and former member of the City Council and the school board, talked about the importance of bringing people to the table in finding solutions to pressing problems. "We cannot solve high-speed rail, education funding or climate change within the borders of Palo Alto, but we can keep inviting people to the table," Barton said. Former Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell, who officiated Barton's wedding, introduced Barton as "Palo Alto's pride" and catalogued his list of civic accomplishments. Hal Mickelson, the event's emcee, chimed in with another accolade. "And he was able to keep that going even after 732 interviews about what it's like to be Andrew Luck's adviser," Mickelson said, referring to the Stanford quarterback who was Barton's most famous advisee.