In the latest Around Town column, news about the winners of this year's May Fête decoration contest, what aspects of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes' lifestyle can be discussed at her upcoming trial and a 300-year-old valley oak tree that recently collapsed.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO PALO ALTO ... Palo Alto has announced the winners of the decoration contest held as part of the city's annual May Fête celebration. The event was presented May 1-8 as a weeklong "reverse parade," during which community members were encouraged to put up decorations representing the theme "What a Wonderful World," based on the well-known song performed by Louis Armstrong.
The best spring theme award went to Sunshine Preschool on Ross Road, where passersby were greeted with bright paper pinwheels set up near blooming flowers on the lawn and a colorful string of banners, including one with a peace sign. A home on Bryant Street in the Old Palo Alto neighborhood was recognized as the top entry in the culturally diverse category. The residents set up a cardboard globe with a heart at the center pointing in multiple directions and a poster above with the message "Wonderful World Together." Five drawn hands of various colors reached into the globe, including a hand labeled E.T. with four fingers. The people's choice award went to a home on Hamilton Avenue in the Crescent Park neighborhood, where flower leis and a basket of lemons were arranged at the front gate, and a peace sign was posted by the door.
The contest winners each received a $100 gift card to a Palo Alto restaurant of their choice. View all the winning displays on Palo Alto Recreation's Instagram page. While this year's May Fête celebration starkly contrasted from the traditional march down University Avenue of past years, it was better than last year's cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 event also featured a video of pet photos that were contributed by residents.
A TASTE OF THE SWEET LIFE ... The federal court case against Elizabeth Holmes recently gained some momentum when a U.S. district court judge in San Jose granted prosecutors' request to present at her trial examples of her glamorous lifestyle. Holmes, 37, was the founder and CEO of blood-testing company Theranos, the Palo Alto-based startup that infamously fell down in 2018 when she was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly defrauding investors into providing funds for the corporation while she was aware that the test results weren't accurate.
"The Government may introduce evidence that Holmes enjoyed a lifestyle as Theranos CEO that is comparable to those of other tech company CEOs," Judge Edward Davila wrote in a 100-page response signed May 21. "This includes salary, travel, celebrity, and other perks and benefits commensurate with the position." Davila's response bars prosecutors from making "references to specific purchases or details reflecting branding of clothing, hotels, or other personal items."
Holmes, who dropped out of Stanford University in 2003, faces over a dozen felony charges. Her trial was delayed earlier this year due to her pregnancy; she is expected to give birth in July, according to multiple media reports. The trial is currently scheduled to begin on Aug. 31 with jury selection.
TIMBER! ... A 300-year-old valley oak tree in the backyard of a Webster Street home collapsed on Saturday, damaging a city utility power pole and surrounding properties, according to resident Keith Bennett, who said no injuries were reported.
The residence is in the 2500 block, not far from Oregon Expressway. Part of the trunk still stood in the aftermath, though it was clearly split in a photo Bennett provided to the Weekly from a neighboring home.
Protecting the tree was among the concerns listed in a 2020 appeal to the city's approval of a proposal to demolish a one-story home and replace it with a two-story residence. The City Council allowed the project to move forward with conditions, including reports on "tree protection compliance during construction." Acting Urban Forester Peter Gollinger didn't respond back to the Weekly's request for more information on the collapse.