OVERTIME APLENTY . . . As of Dec. 31, halfway through the City of Palo Alto's fiscal year, the fire and police departments have already used up 93 and 94 percent, respectively, of their budgeted overtime expenses for the entire year. What's up with that? The Fire Department has accrued $964,000 in overtime in six months because six personnel are on disability leave and seven positions are vacant, a staff report notes. Staffing the foothills fire station during fire season added $170,000 of overtime. Some of the overtime was used for training and will be recouped from grant funding, city staff say. The Police Department needed $953,000 for overtime because of vacancies, disability leave, training, the Palo Alto Safe Neighborhoods campaign last summer and a SWAT response and investigation, according to city staff. The overtime expenses will be partially offset by salary savings due to vacancies, members of the department say.
HILLARY HITTING TOWN . . . New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be sweeping through town this weekend, and those in the know have received invitations to have dessert with the presidential hopeful on Sunday. The shindig, with an entrance fee of a cool $500, will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Cabana on El Camino Real in Palo Alto. The event is being paid for by the Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee and hosted by Mark Chandler, Penny & Greg Gallo, Lorraine Hariton, EMILY's List and Amy Rao. Sorry, contributions to the event are not tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes.
HEP B'S ON YOUR FAMILY TREE . . . Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto has dedicated March 18 to 24 as Hepatitis B and liver cancer awareness week in Palo Alto. A virus that attacks the liver, Hepatitis B has the greatest prevalence among Asians. It is spread through sex, from mother to child, or through the exchange of blood, but not via casual contact such as touching. And although the virus kills about one million people worldwide each year, it can be prevented by a vaccine. When volunteers at the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University asked Kishimoto for help spreading the word, Kishimoto dedicated this week to awareness and said she plans to check out the vaccine for herself. Additional information is available at http://liver.stanford.edu.
BRANCHING OUT . . . Using the library's new genealogical resources, Palo Alto residents can peruse more than four billion records of birth, death, marriage, census, immigration and other historical records. The Palo Alto Library is offering a course on the new resources Wednesday, March 28, at the Main Library at 1213 Newell Road.
PASCO SAM . . It's possible that PASCO Sam may not be picking up your trash in 2010. The city's contract with Palo Alto Sanitation Company, which has hauled the city's trash since 1951, expires at the end of June 2009. The city has hired a consultant for $225,000 to find the very best garbage service it can. PASCO Sam is still a community favorite but it's not quite as local as it once was. In 1998, it was sold to USA Waste of California (Waste Management), the world's largest trash picker-upper.