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Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 29, 2012

News Digest

Woman hit with milkshake loses $2,000

A woman who was struck with a milkshake and angrily threw her purse at a vehicle full of teenagers lost $2,000 after the handbag flew into the open vehicle window, Palo Alto police said Monday.

The incident started Sunday, June 24, just before midnight, Sgt. Brian Philip said. The woman was walking east on University Avenue near Rudy's Pub when a white Range Rover full of male teenagers driving recklessly southbound on High Street approached, Philip said.

One of the occupants allegedly threw a vanilla milkshake and struck the woman as she approached the corner, Philip said.

Police believe the woman retaliated by throwing her alligator-skin purse at the vehicle. The purse sailed through the open window and ended up inside the vehicle, and the teens drove off, he said. The woman denied throwing her purse at the car, but Philip said there is no indication it was snatched from the victim.

The woman lost $2,000 and the alligator purse, plus personal items, he said. Police are looking for the teens but have no descriptions. If found, they could face charges including battery for striking the woman with the milkshake, or possession of stolen property or misappropriation of property, Philip said.

Police investigate death of man at Mitchell Park

A older man died at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto Thursday morning in a shooting that police believe was self-inflicted.

Palo Alto police received multiple calls at 10 a.m. of a shooting at 600 East Meadow Drive. A man had allegedly shot himself next to a picnic table near the tennis courts, Agent Marianna Villaescusa said. Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department pronounced him dead at the scene. Police located a weapon near his body, she said.

Officers did a sweep of the area and did not find any other victims. The public is not in danger, she added.

"We believe this is limited to just him," Villaescusa said.

Construction workers who are building the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center said they have often seen an older man sitting at the picnic table while they eat lunch there.

Villaescusa said no witnesses actually saw the shooting, but that investigators are talking to a number of people who were in the park.

One park visitor who was about 100 feet away heard the shot. He stood up from the bench he had been sitting at.

"In between me and the man there was a group of about 10 kids with three camp counselors. They were about 50 feet away. They were 9- or 10-year-olds, and the counselors shooed the kids away," he said.

The witness walked toward the man and called 911, he said.

A private organization running the children's camp has notified the parents and is providing counselors as needed, according to police. Personnel from the department have been working closely with the organization to ensure that counseling occurs.

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413.

Leadership Palo Alto 2.0 seeking applicants

Leadership Palo Alto 2.0 has started accepting applications for its 2012-13 program. The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce leadership program consists of 10 classes held from September 2012 to June 2013.

Individual classes focus on a particular topic, such as arts, education or health care. A typical class features a keynote speaker or panel discussion followed by skill-building activities. The current program cycle has included speakers from the Moore Foundation, Stevenson House Senior Community and Palo Alto Housing Corporation.

Co-Director Lisa Van Dusen said the program is meant for people who have a strong connection to Palo Alto and see themselves as emerging leaders.

"This isn't meant to be a hobby pursuit," Van Dusen said. "It's meant to be central to what you're doing, whatever that may be."

Classes are scheduled on Thursdays and generally run from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Applicants are required to get a signature from their employers stating they will allow them time off for the class.

Van Dusen said more than 400 people have completed the program, which initially ran from 1988 until 2003 before a hiatus. The program restarted in January.

The program costs $1,500 and applications are due by July 6. Interviews will take place between July 16 and 27. Information is available at www.paloaltochamber.com.

City looks to change rules for cell towers

Hampered by poor cell-phone reception and a growing appetite for data capacity from its tech-savvy residents, Palo Alto is looking to change its zoning regulations to allow large cell towers at city-owned sites.

The City Council on Monday, June 25, heard a detailed presentation about the city's data needs from David Tanczos, vice president with Crown Castle International, which owns and operates wireless-communications equipment. Tanczos presented a series of options for meeting the city's cell-reception needs, including three towers exceeding 200 feet in height or a combination of five smaller towers (around 100 feet tall) and 21 antennas that would be part of a "distributed antenna system."

Though the council didn't vote on any proposed zone changes, several members expressed enthusiasm for the prospect of allowing a few large wireless facilities. The alternative — a network of about 80 antennas installed on utility poles — was panned by dozens of residents when AT&T unveiled it last year. The city has already approved the first 20 of these antennas.

Councilwoman Karen Holman proposed "streamlining" the permit process for larger installations while keeping the process the same for the smaller but more numerous antennas that make up a distributed antenna system. Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd said she welcomed the prospect of adding infrastructure that improves cell reception, particularly if the city doesn't have to pay for this infrastructure.

The council is scheduled to continue its discussion Monday night, at which time it's expected to direct staff to evaluate the potential zoning amendments, consider ways to encourage use of "co-location facilities" (those that use existing utility poles), and prepare a request for proposals for a company to help the city develop a citywide plan for wireless communication facilities.

Space Systems/Loral to be sold for $1 billion

Loral Space & Communications Inc. announced Tuesday, June 26, that it will sell its Palo Alto-based subsidiary Space Systems/Loral in a deal that could top $1 billion.

The sale will be made to Canada-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

"Both Space Systems/Loral and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates are already important suppliers to the worldwide satellite industry," John Celli, president of Space Systems/Loral, said in a press release. "The combination is a very good strategic fit for both companies. Together, we will be in an even stronger position to support the growth requirements of both new and existing customers."

The boards of directors of Loral and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates have each approved the agreement, and the sale is expected to close later this year after regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions are completed.

Loral Space & Communications is a satellite communications company that designs and makes satellites and satellite systems for commercial and government applications. Services include fixed satellite services, direct-to-home television, broadband communications, wireless telephony, weather monitoring and air-traffic management.

Juana Briones gets new principal

The Palo Alto school board confirmed a new principal for Juana Briones Elementary School Tuesday night, June 26.

Lisa Hickey, an elementary school principal in the Cupertino Union School District since 2005, will join the Palo Alto district effective July 1.

She replaces Matthew Nagle, principal since 2009, who announced last month that he would leave the school to work on projects at the district's central office.

Hickey was one of two finalists interviewed last week by a Juana Briones search team that included parents and teachers.

"I'm really energized that Palo Alto has smaller elementary schools," Hickey told the board Tuesday, noting that her most recent school, Meyerholz Elementary School, has an enrollment of 750. Last year's enrollment at Juana Briones, by contrast, was 415. "In Palo Alto it's really possible to get to know all the students and parents. Palo Alto has the resources to do what's best for children, keeping the fourth- and fifth-grade class sizes smaller."

Hickey was accompanied by her husband and two sons as well as by her father and mother, a retired school principal.

At Meyerholz, Hickey oversaw both a neighborhood population and a Mandarin-immersion program. Prior to that, she was principal of Sedgwick School, which had a large special-education population.

She also worked as an assistant principal and a middle school teacher in Cupertino, and has extensive experience with special education and preschool students.

Hickey earned a bachelor's in sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles as well as master's degrees in interdisciplinary education and educational administration from Santa Clara University.

"Fourteen years ago when I was getting my credential at Santa Clara I said that Palo Alto was my dream job," she said.

—Chris Kenrick

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