LAPTOPS FOR ALL? ... It's far from the $100 million that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated to Newark, N.J., public schools in 2010, but Facebook — a relative newcomer to Menlo Park — is making its way into the local philanthropy scene. On Thursday, flanked by East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier and new Ravenswood Superintendent Gloria Hernandez, Facebook officials presented new Mac laptops to the entire eighth-grade class at Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto. The company also will provide laptops to eighth-graders at Belle Haven and Willow Oaks schools.
YOU GOTTA HAND IT TO THEM ... When the Public Arts Commission met Aug. 15 to discuss how to spend money developers set aside for art projects on private buildings in Palo Alto, commissioners espoused the need for really big ideas — literally. "A project can be as big as a building. I mean, literally, a building itself could be a work of art. There could be components of the building. It could be as small as literally a flat panel display. So think broadly," said Commissioner Kathleen Kavanaugh during a presentation on the topic. Sources of inspiration include the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport's parking structure, whose exterior wall is covered with a mural featuring hands of prominent people in Silicon Valley, and the uber-green San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters, a LEED-platinum building that boasts built-in wind turbines, rooftop solar panels and a very modern design. The commission will continue to "think broadly" until Sept. 10, when members will meet with the City Council's Policy and Services Committee to gather input on how to revamp Palo Alto's Percent for Art Program, which currently requires developers to set aside 1 percent of construction funds for public-art projects. After that, they will return in October with specific language to amend existing Percent for Art policy. Then the full City Council will deliberate on, and possibly approve, the policy.
DOUBLE WHAMMY ... This week was a busy one in the accolades department for Mary V. Hughes and her husband, Joe Simitian. Hughes, a veteran political strategist and Palo Alto resident, was honored as Woman of the Year on Wednesday at an evening reception in Sacramento by California Women Lead, a nonpartisan association committed to encouraging and training women to be leaders in our communities. Simitian, the former state senator and current Santa Clara County supervisor, was the guest of honor at an event put on Tuesday by the Palo Alto Opportunity Center.