Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 26, 2012

Around Town

TO DRINK AND DRINK NOT ... Changing the U.S. Constitution is a tricky business, laden with high hurdles and, in some cases, unintended consequences. With that in mind, the Palo Alto City Council stopped short this week of endorsing a citizens drive to add a constitutional amendment specifying that corporations are not people and that money is not speech. In explaining their position, Councilmen Larry Klein and Pat Burt both alluded to the short-lived 18th Amendment, which prohibited alcohol sales (it was later overturned by the 21st Amendment). Burt noted that the federal amendment that launched Prohibition had a significant impact on Palo Alto because it forced the "wet" town of Mayfield to lose business. "Which resulted in it being annexed to Palo Alto ... and we have California Avenue today," Burt said. "So, let the buyer beware and be careful when we adopt amendments and make sure they're well thought through."

WHICH ARRILLAGA? ... It's a question sometimes asked by people trying to find their way around Stanford, since there are at least a half-dozen campus venues named for the local real-estate mogul and generous Stanford donor. Would it be the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, the Arrillaga Alumni Center or perhaps Arrillaga Plaza? Stanford students have picked up on the Arrillaga theme, jokingly adding to the Arrillaga lore. Students at the German-themed Haus Mitt residence have renamed their building the Arrillaga Center for German Living and Culture, their kitchen the Arrillaga Center for Culinary Arts and a bar the Arrillaga Center for Beer Education and Appreciation. "I think he (John Arrillaga) would take it for what it is, a joke," Haus Mitt resident Matthew Rios told the Stanford Daily. "He would have a good laugh along with us."

TOKEN OF GRATITUDE ... Evergreen Park neighborhood residents Pamela and David Hornik are being honored with the first-ever Toque of the Town Award from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. The Horniks, whose son Noah was diagnosed with colitis five years ago, have made it their mission to change the future of the disease by raising awareness of it and through fundraising, the foundation stated. More than 75,000 people in northern California have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, which are chronic digestive diseases with no known cure. David, a venture capitalist, and Pamela, a volunteer with the Cantor Art Center at Stanford, will receive the recognition at a sold-out event on Nov. 3 in Menlo Park.

BIRTHDAY SUIT ... When software developer Nikil Viswanathan turned 25 on Oct. 6, there was one birthday gift he didn't want to receive: a lawsuit from Southwest Airlines. He had just created a website that could automatically check people in to their Southwest flights (see story on page 5), and on Oct. 5 it was highlighted in a popular tech news site. His friends teased him that the media attention would lead to a lawsuit from Southwest. "I said, 'I don't want to be sued on my birthday,'" he recalled this week, laughing. Fortunately, he wasn't, although he has since taken down the site after receiving a warning from the airline.

FLOWING ALONG ... An ambitious and long-awaited proposal to protect residents from the flood-prone San Francisquito Creek picked up another key endorsement Wednesday night when Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission unanimously and enthusiastically voted to support it. The project would rebuild levees along the creek, widen a channel to facilitate more water flow, add a floodwall and extend the Friendship Bridge between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. The project is spearheaded by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority. In addition to protecting residents, the project aims to fortify the area near the Baylands against expected sea-level rise. This kind of foresight is something the cities in the agency can be proud of, said Len Materman, executive director of the creek authority. A report from Palo Alto's Planning and Community Environment Department notes that the project will accommodate a "100-year tide" and will consider the National Research Center's "highest estimate of potential sea level rise over the next 50 years."

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