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Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 22, 2012

News Digest

Stanford grads: 'Reject cynicism, stay faithful'

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker urged Stanford University graduates on Sunday, June 17, to "join a conspiracy of love" to create justice in the world, reject cynicism and "stay faithful" to their ideals.

The 1991 Stanford political-science graduate, football player and Rhodes scholar relayed what he said were lessons from his father and grandfather, who continually reminded him his opportunities and successes were made possible by the earlier sacrifices of others.

Stanford President John Hennessy conferred 5,088 degrees in the university's 121st commencement ceremony, held in the sun-drenched stadium.

Of the undergraduate class of 1,763, 113 came from 50 countries outside the United States, Hennessy said. Of the 3,325 masters and doctoral recipients, 1,066 came from 70 countries outside the U.S.

In the traditional Wacky Walk, graduating seniors strolled into the stadium with props, costumes and messages — balloons, inflatable palm trees, representations of beer pong cups and the "Stanford bubble," and posters that included "thanks Mom and Dad," "Happy Father's Day," "Still Daddy'$ Little Girl" and "the only way from here is up."

Provost John Etchemendy presented the Walter Gores Faculty Achievement awards to political science professor Stephen Haber, geological and environmental sciences professor George Hilley and economics doctoral student Luke Stein.

The Lloyd Dinkelspiel Awards for Outstanding Service to Undergraduate Education went to biology professor Carol Boggs, psychology course coordinator Brigitte Hard and graduating seniors Otis Reid and Michael Tubbs.

The Kenneth Cuthbertson Awards for service to the Stanford community went to Sally Dickson, associate vice-provost for student affairs, and John Pearson, director of the Bechtel International Center.

Ex-superintendent pleads not guilty

Tim Hanretty pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning, June 19, to six counts of embezzlement from the Portola Valley School District, charges stemming from the alleged stealing of nearly $101,000 to pay for a construction project at his Woodside home during his tenure as superintendent of the district.

Hanretty appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court with his attorney, Michael Markowitz, denying all allegations and enhancements, according to Karen Guidotti, chief deputy district attorney. The enhancements have been added to the felony charges because the alleged theft was an "excessive taking" — more than $65,000, she said.

Hanretty remains out of custody after posting bail.

In April, Hanretty was charged with three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds from work he performed earlier as chief financial officer of the Woodside Elementary School District. Both cases will be heard in court together, Guidotti said.

In the Woodside district case, the District Attorney's Office announced that it found no evidence that the misappropriation of funds was for his personal gain.

The embezzlement from the Portola Valley district allegedly began in December 2010, just months after Hanretty became superintendent and chief business officer of the district, according to a statement issued June 15 by Acting Superintendent Carol Piraino.

Hanretty resigned as superintendent in late January after the District Attorney's Office launched an investigation in the Woodside district case. The Portola Valley district then hired an outside accounting firm to conduct a forensic audit to pore over its financial records.

Piraino said the audit revealed that Hanretty submitted six invoices totaling $100,926 for reimbursement from the district's solar-panel escrow account at Deutsche Bank.

The invoices describe work allegedly done at the district, but "the contractor never actually performed any work for the District. Rather, he performed work on Mr. Hanretty's personal home remodel project."

Girl, 14, bruised in California Avenue robbery

A 14-year-old girl was robbed of her cell phone and bruised after being knocked over Monday night, June 18, on California Avenue, Palo Alto police Agent Robert Parham said.

The incident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. in front of Club Illusions at 260 South California Ave. during a teen dance night, Parham said. The girl was standing outside the club with several other people when a young male brushed against her and allegedly removed her cell phone from the left front pocket of her shorts.

The girl immediately noticed the phone was missing and asked the boy if he took the phone. He denied the theft. He ran into her as he fled, bumping into her shoulder and knocking her backward. He continued to flee down California Avenue toward El Camino Real, Parham said.

No one was able to identify the suspected robber, and the club did not have video surveillance, Parham said. The victim initially said she was uninjured, but the next day she reported bruises on her chest and hip, he said.

Parham said the case is still under investigation. The robber is described as a black male, 16 to 18 years old with a thin build.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information can call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413.

— Sue Dremann

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