CAT'S OUTTA THE BAG ... The City of East Palo Alto has become the newest city to join the Peninsula crusade against plastic shopping bags. The ban began on Wednesday and joins Redwood City's, which started on Tuesday. The East Palo Alto City Council approved the measure in April, but deferred enactment to allow businesses time to gear up for the transition. Palo Alto officially banned the bags citywide in July. The gist of East Palo Alto's law is the same as Palo Alto's bag ban: Paper bags cost 10 cents, so people are "encouraged" to bring reusable bags when shopping.
THE IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE, THEN AND NOW ... "How many of you are from families where your parents are immigrants?" California Board of Equalization member Betty Yee asked a room packed with sixth grader's at Belle Haven School in eastern Menlo Park. Most hands shot up. Yee, who spent much of her childhood behind the counter of her parents' San Francisco laundry and dry cleaning business, began to draw parallels. With barely an elementary education, she said, her father immigrated to California at 14. "He came to San Francisco with a couple of bucks and learned the laundry business," she said. What immigrants at the time did, she said, "like many of your parents, they either went into business for themselves or went to work in communities that were accepting of them." As a child, Yee said, she was embarrassed that her family of eight lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and she missed out on school activities because she had to go home to work. "But today I say to you, be grateful for the opportunities you have and, more importantly, really benefit from them. Be proud of the fact that we're children of immigrants because that's what this country is built on." Yee, a UC Berkeley sociology graduate who worked as a deputy budget director for former California Governor Gray Davis before being appointed and later elected to the state's tax-administration agency, was photographed during her school visit by a member of her campaign staff. She's running for State Controller in 2014 and announced last month she has the endorsement of the California Federation of Teachers, representing more then 120,000 employees working in education. Yee was accompanied on her tour of Belle Haven and Costano schools by Gloria Hernandez, superintendent of the East Palo Alto-based Ravenswood City School District.
BOOK HIM, CHIEF ... Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns doesn't mind keeping a public profile, often showing up at events such as this year's contentious City Council meetings on banning vehicle dwelling. Next week he'll be at an event that's decidedly less contentious, but perhaps a little more surprising. Burns will speak at a book-signing at Books Inc. for "Burying Ben" the debut novel by Ellen Kirschman, a 30-year police and public-safety psychologist. The book follows Dot Meyerhoff as she settles in as psychologist for the Kenilworth Police Department and gets more than she bargained for when troubled rookie, Ben Gomez, commits suicide and lays the blame on her.