News DigestAT&T drops plan for cell tower at church
AT&T has abandoned its plan to install a cell tower at St. Albert the Great Church in Palo Alto's Crescent Park neighborhood after the church withdrew from the proposal, AT&T and church officials said.
The church informed the company Monday that it no longer wants to serve as the site of a 50-foot cell tower — a project that galvanized opposition from the church's neighbors. While Palo Alto planning director Curtis Williams gave the proposal for 1095 Channing Ave. the city's tentative approval, residents appealed the decision, prompting the city to schedule public hearings on the project.
But the church's decision to withdraw from its negotiations with AT&T effectively kills the plan. The Rev. Matthew Stanley said the church decided to withdraw the application because of feedback from the neighborhood. He estimated that about two-thirds of the residents near the church said they opposed the project, citing concerns about health effects and aesthetic impacts.
AT&T spokesman Lane Kasselman said the church's decision means the company would have to find other sites in the city for cell infrastructure. The company has consistently maintained that the new infrastructure is needed to meet the city's growing wireless-communication demand.
Palo Alto cleaver attacker gets plea deal
Chunren Chen, the restaurant worker who struck a fellow employee with a meat cleaver during an argument at a Palo Alto restaurant in 2009, reached a plea deal on Monday that could send him to prison for five to 12 years.
Chen, 64, has admitted he attacked co-worker Zezhong Yang at the Jade Palace restaurant in Palo Alto on May 27, 2009. Records show he had a previous arrest for a "similar" assault with a deadly weapon in Alameda County in 1997.
He was charged with attempted murder and aggravated mayhem for the attack on Yang and life in prison if convicted.
But his case proved to be more complicated than a simple crime of rage. At a May 8, 2010, hearing, it was revealed that Chen had been tortured and "re-educated" by the Communist regime in China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
Chen later had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized, according to the judge's notes. A psychotherapist who examined him in December 2009 concluded that Chen likely has post-traumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder and anxiety disorders, according to the notes.
Judge Douglas Southard indicated during Monday's hearing that an eight-year sentence could be appropriate, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney James Demertzis said.
Chen's sentencing will take place June 20.
Weekly, Palo Alto Online win top state honors
The Palo Alto Weekly and PaloAltoOnline.com garnered 10 first- and second-place awards Saturday (April 16) in an annual statewide journalism competition, including for best website, investigative reporting, business story and photo essay.
The Better Newspapers Contest, sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, covers reporting from November 2009 to October 2010. The awards were announced in Los Angeles.
The first-place honors were given for:
• The Weekly's two-part investigative series on the ethics and practices of high school coaching, "Out of bounds?" by writer Terri Lobdell and editors Jocelyn Dong and Jay Thorwaldson
• A business story about Palo Alto's burgeoning clean-tech sector, "The Green Revolution," by Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner;
• A photo essay about new medical treatments and therapies for animals, "Veterinary Innovations," by Staff Photographer Veronica Weber
• The Weekly's news and community website, PaloAltoOnline.com.
The categories for which the Weekly received second-place recognition were:
• General excellence for the Weekly's editions in March 2010
• Public service for its series on mental health among youth, "What teens need"
• General news photo from the Gunn High School 2010 graduation
• Online coverage of the Stanford Hospitals and Clinics proposed redevelopment, "Seeking the cure"
• Editorial comment for a column about high school coaching, "Reforming Palo Alto's high school sports"
• Sports coverage for its Sept. 10 and Sept. 24, 2010, editions.
The Weekly's sister papers on the Peninsula, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac, also took home honors.
— Palo Alto Weekly staff