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November 24, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Around Town Around Town (November 24, 2004)

THE GREAT BANK FLUBBERY . . . The Private Bank of the Peninsula in Palo Alto made news twice last week -- and both times it wasn't good. On Wednesday morning, it appeared the bank had been robbed when employees gave a bag of money to a thief disguised as a courier. When the real courier arrived to pick up the funds an hour later, employees called the police. Then on Thursday, detectives investigating the seemingly-inventive crime watched as the alleged crook again came to the bank. Turns out he was a real courier, but had grabbed the bag of money rather than dropping something else off. The bank wasn't the only one fooled. The Palo Alto Daily News ran a front-page story on Thursday with the headline "Fake courier robs bank" and then a Friday A1 amendment: "Courier was not imposter." Detective Marianna Villaescusa said the newspaper blew the story "out of the proportion" by dubbing the situation a crime before the police did. "It was so weird," she said, of seeing the banner headline on Thursday. "I couldn't believe it." Meanwhile, the bank was left with a packet of information on correct protocols from its courier service.

BELOVED K9 . . . A loyal and dedicated member of the Palo Alto Police Department was scheduled to be honored at this week's City Council meeting. Police canine Arek Vom Chipietal has been protecting the city since June 1998, according to a draft of the resolution scheduled for City Council approval. Along with his partner, Officer Alex Afanasiev , Chipietal apprehended suspects wanted for homicide, robbery, burglary, auto theft and assault, visited hundreds of schools and daycare centers and received numerous letters of commendations.

GREEN WITH ENVY? . . . When it comes to environmental advocacy, Palo Altans are no slouches. In a group of 10 typical residents and businesses, one has agreed to pay extra on a monthly electricity bill to get power from renewable energy sources, the city announced last week. According to Palo Alto Utilities, 2,783 residents and businesses have signed up for the PaloAltoGreen program. More information on can be found at www.cpau.com or by calling (650) 329-2241.

NIX THE TRELLIS! . . . The Palo Alto Library Advisory Commission got a first look at plans for the revamped Palo Alto Children's Library last week, and one small item on the blueprints got more attention than anything else. A "steel tube trellis," designed to support tree branches in the Secret Garden, was derided and designers with the Public Works Department were asked to nix it. The 3,400-square-foot Children's Library will grow to 6,600 square feet, including a new 1,600-square-foot room for storytelling (that can accommodate around 100 children) and a 600-square-foot addition for staff and storage. Construction will start next summer and last approximately 18 months. In the meantime, the library's programs will be moved primarily to the Main Library. The plans next go to the city's Historic Resources Board and Architectural Review Board.

THE OTHER MISTAKES . . . In this week's cover story, former Mayor Gary Fazzino said that the Homer Tunnel was only one of the city's three largest mistakes during his recent 12-year term on the Palo Alto City Council. For the record, the others he noted were: not creating a joint city/school library at Gunn High School and not building any amenities -- like top-floor office space or first-floor retail -- above or below the city's newest parking garages.

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