Around Town | January 22, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 22, 2021

Around Town

PART OF HISTORY ... Palo Alto native Matthew Summers lent his musical talent for the Inauguration Day ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday as a member of the United States Marine Band, known as "The President's Own." The master sergeant played his euphonium (a brass instrument that's part of the tuba family) as President Joe Biden formally took over the administration of the federal government. The musicians played "Hail to the Chief" soon after Biden was sworn into office and supported singer Lady Gaga's performance of the national anthem. The Jan. 20 event marked Summers' sixth time performing during Inauguration Day with the band, which he joined in 1997. Summers, a member of Palo Alto High School's Class of 1994, started learning music when he was 11 years old. He continued his music education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he earned a bachelor's degree in musical arts in euphonium performance in 1998. As a member of the U.S. Marine Band, he also performs at the White House and nationally during the group's annual concert tour. Summers wasn't the only local in the crowd. Rep. Anna Eshoo also attended the historic event, which left her feeling hopeful. "As I looked at the 200,000 American flags on the National Mall representing the Americans who could not attend the inauguration due to security concerns and the global pandemic, I was filled with a sense of hope that brighter days are ahead in the story of our country," she said in a statement. "This new chapter in America's history will showcase our collective resiliency and the strength of our democracy as we begin rebuilding a greater, more equitable society."

THAT'S ONE SMART COOKIE! ... Mika Chi, a student at Lucille M. Nixon Elementary School, has been recognized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth as one of the brightest young students in the world. Mika, a resident of Los Altos Hills, was bestowed with the High Honors Award, which is given to students " for their exceptional performance on the SAT, ACT, or similar assessment taken as part of the CTY Talent Search, according to a press release from the center issued this week. "CTY uses above-grade-level testing to identify advanced students from around the world and provide a clear picture of their true academic abilities." She was among more than 16,000 students from 66 countries who were tested -- less than half were in the running for the award. "This is especially commendable in a year that has been difficult for students everywhere," the center's executive director, Dr. Virgina Roach, said in the release.

FROM SILICON VALLEY TO D.C. ... After seven years of leading the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Nuria Fernandez is stepping down from her leadership role for a position in the Biden-Harris administration. Fernandez, who served as VTA's general manager and CEO, is taking a position with the Department of Transportation. While the federal agency had yet to announce her role as of Wednesday afternoon, multiple media outlets have cited news from Politico, which has reported that she will initially become a deputy administrator at the Federal Transit Administration and later be nominated to the top FTA job. During her time at the VTA, Fernandez led 2,100 employees. "It has been pure joy to lead the VTA organization and see the early seeds of plans develop into programs and projects that will continue to transform mobility in this region for many years to come," Fernandez said in a statement on Jan. 19, her last day with the agency. "There is truly no one better at this time, in this moment, to take on such a pivotal role in transportation," added Glenn Hendricks, chair of the VTA's board of directors and Sunnyvale's vice mayor. Hendricks appointed Evelynn Tran to temporarily fill Fernandez's shoes as the agency conducts a national search for a permanent replacement.


Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2021 at 2:07 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

I am flabbergasted that Fernandez has been tapped for a national position in public transit. VTA reeled from one financial crisis to another during her tenure, with frequent service cuts and fare increases generally targeted at riders like myself who don't own a car and rely on public transit for daily travel.

A 2019 Grand Jury report concluded that "Year after year, VTA operates one of the most expensive and least efficient transit systems in the country," to which Palo Alto Online said, "A new county Civil Grand Jury report released last month found that VTA is spending more and accomplishing less than nearly every other comparable transit agency in the United States."

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