News Digest | March 1, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 1, 2013

News Digest

Foundation gives its largest-ever gift to schools

The independent, parent-led foundation that raises money for Palo Alto public schools presented a $4.9 million donation at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.

The funds from Palo Alto Partners in Education (PiE) will be allocated on a per-student basis to underwrite classroom aides, specialists in reading, math, science and the arts, student guidance, college and career counseling and electives ranging from music to industrial technology.

This year's contribution represents more than 4,600 donations from parents, community members and local businesses, PiE said. It is the largest in the history of the nine-year-old foundation, which last year raised $4.4 million for the schools, amounting to more than 2 percent of the district's operating budget.

It includes a single, $50,000 contribution from Palo Alto Realtor Juliana Lee.

"As an immigrant from Taiwan, I hope to lead the way in local philanthropy," Lee said of her gift.

Terry Godfrey, PiE's board co-president and CEO, called the donation a "collective big gift — assembled over many months by hundreds of parents volunteers and thousands of donors — to preserve the excellence of our public schools."

PiE board members confer with school-district officials to set priorities for the funds.

Since its inception in 2004-05, PiE has donated more than $23 million to Palo Alto schools.

Judge orders Elarms back into custody

A man who had been accused of killing East Palo Alto activist David Lewis in 2010 was ordered back into custody Wednesday, Feb. 26, three weeks after a San Mateo County Superior Court judge released him on his own recognizance.

Judge Craig Parsons said Wednesday morning that if he had been given accurate information by the defense about Gregory Elarms' time served on weapons charges, to which he pleaded no contest, he would not have released 60-year-old Pittsburgh man at a Feb. 5 hearing.

Time served is a combination of actual days in jail plus statutory credits for good behavior or work time, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.

The weapons charges stem from incidents in February 2011, when Elarms was in custody awaiting trial for the fatal shooting of Lewis in the Hillsdale Shopping Center parking lot the previous June.

He was allegedly caught hiding a sharpened toothbrush, a sharpened "spork" and two pencils tied together in his cell, according to the district attorney's office.

This January — two months after Judge Stephen Hall dismissed the murder charges against Elarms, charges that had been based on a confession that Hall ruled was in violation of his Miranda rights — Elarms pleaded no contest to three felony counts of possessing weapons in jail.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has said his office is appealing the ruling dismissing the murder charges, a process that could take 12 to 18 months.

Meanwhile, Elarms is due back in court on March 5 for a hearing on a motion to withdraw his pleas of no contest to the weapons offenses, Guidotti said.

Two arrested for December armed robbery in Midtown

Two young men arrested for a Jan. 5 carjacking on California Avenue have been arrested again for the armed robbery of Century Liquors in Midtown that occurred a week earlier.

Amador Valentin Rivera of East Palo Alto, 18, has been in the Santa Clara County Main Jail since his arrest for the carjacking. An investigation of the Dec. 29 liquor store robbery led police again to Rivera. They served him a warrant for the robbery Monday, Feb. 25, at the jail.

The second suspect, a 16-year-old who splits his time between homes in Oakland and Menlo Park, had been released after his booking for carjacking.

He was re-arrested Friday, Feb. 15, at his school in Oakland and taken to Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall.

The two allegedly robbed Century Liquors on Middlefield Road at gunpoint on Dec. 29 about 7:55 p.m., escaping with cash and about $230 worth of alcohol, police said. No one was injured.

A week later they were arrested after allegedly committing a carjacking using a realistic-looking BB gun near the intersection of California Avenue and Park Boulevard. The victim of the carjacking, a Palo Alto woman in her 30s, complied with the gunman by stepping out of her car and was not injured.

Palo Alto police said they are still investigating a series of six street robberies — five of them downtown — dating back to Dec. 2. They said it is not known whether Rivera or the juvenile were involved with any of those crimes.

They ask people with information about any of the incidents to contact the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent by text or voice mail to 650 383-8984.

— Chris Kenrick


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