News DigestStrolling down Christmas Tree Lane
Santa will be approaching Fulton Street chimneys, reindeer will be landing on the lawn, snowmen will be "singing" in a row as Christmas Tree Lane lights up Fulton Street, between Embarcadero Road and Seale Avenue in Palo Alto, on Saturday, Dec. 15.
Home-décor lights will be on, and car headlights should be off (fog/parking lights OK), to view the lights and decorations daily from 5 to 11 p.m. through Dec. 31.
While many will choose to stroll and carol, others will be driving slowly (note: two-way traffic), being careful to let strollers cross the street.
Christmas Tree Lane has been a continuous Palo Alto tradition since 1940, when it was conceived over a bridge table — with blackouts only during World War II and later during the 1973 energy crisis. At that time trees were decorated with red plastic bows topped by a silver star.
Visitors may park along nearby residential streets.
More information is available at www.ChristmasTreeLane.org.
Palo Alto to pay $333,481 in software settlement
Palo Alto officials on Monday authorized a settlement with software company SAP Public Services, which claimed earlier this year that the city owes more than $1 million because of the city's increased use of SAP's software.
The settlement, which the City Council approved after a closed session Dec. 10, requires the city to pay SAP $333,481 for additional licenses, in accordance with how the city has used the software. The SAP programs support some of the city's most critical functions, including accounting, utilities and human resources.
Earlier this year, SAP had conducted an audit that found that the city had significantly boosted its usage of the company's products. It claimed in the March audit that the city owed SAP $1,134,930 for additional licenses, according to City Attorney Molly Stump. The city disputed this number and hired its own third-party consultant to provide an impartial review.
The consultant concluded that the city owes the company $333,481. SAP agreed to accept this amount and settled its dispute with the city.
The parties also agreed to "update the city's software license user counts" to conform to the city's usage of the software. The agreement requires the city to pay SAP within 30 days.
Charges dropped in Palo Alto bus fatality
A SamTrans bus driver facing vehicular manslaughter after her bus struck a pedestrian in Palo Alto was exonerated Wednesday, Dec. 12, after the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office dropped the charges.
Morena Guadalupe Artiga, 51, was driving a SamTrans bus at about 10:26 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2010, when it hit and killed Sheena Barker Krishnan in a crosswalk on Webster Street and University Avenue. Krishnan, a nurse, was on her way to work at Lytton Gardens. The bus had been making a left turn onto University and was traveling at about 7 mph, according to a police report.
Krishnan was nearly halfway across the crosswalk — about 18 feet from the southeast curb — when the left, front side of the bus hit her and she was dragged about 40 feet.
Artiga told police that she did not see Barker.
"She simply said that she did not see Krishnan in the crosswalk, and she never blamed the collision on any outside influences or roadway conditions," investigators noted. She also tested negative for drugs and alcohol, according to police.
The sun shone in Artiga's "2 o'clock" position and created shadows on certain portions of the roadway and reflections on the bus windshield, according to the bus's video recording. Artiga was wearing sunglasses, and her driver's side visor was extended down.
Witnesses said Artiga was distraught after discovering the fatality. She was taken to Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City for treatment of severe anxiety and high blood pressure at the time of the incident, police said.
— Sue Dremann