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April 13, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, April 13, 2005

News Digest News Digest (April 13, 2005)

Early environmentalist Claire Dedrick dies

Claire Dedrick, a former longtime resident of Menlo Park and state Resources Secretary in the mid-1970s, died Friday at 74 of cancer.

Dedrick, known as a no-nonsense, serious-minded environmentalist, was a founder and first director of the Peninsula Conservation Center in 1970 -- created to bring together disparate environmental organizations under one roof to provide a more cohesive voice.

Originally created in Menlo Park, the center relocated to Palo Alto and is now known as Acterra.

Dedrick worked her way through the environmentalist movement to become a national vice president of the Sierra Club in addition to obtaining a doctorate in microbiology from Stanford University and doing research in immunology from 1956 to 1969.

She and her then-husband, Kent, were active in early efforts to save the bay.

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown named her to head the state Resources Agency in the mid-1970s. In her first year, Dedrick's policies sparked a notable protest from logging where trucks circled the capital with horns blaring. The agency oversaw virtually all state departments that related to the environment, from Forestry, Conservation, Parks and Recreation, to Water Resources, the Coastal Commission and Fish & Game.

She later became the first female member of state Public Utilities Commission, served on the state's Air Resources Board and as executive director of the State Lands Commission.

She was both praised and vilified in her state roles, called a "breath of fresh air" by a fellow state officer and "a weasel in the henhouse" by one critic. She was even criticized by environmentalists for not being strong enough in some areas. Being assailed from both sides caused her to comment that she must be doing something right.

Dedrick was diagnosed with throat cancer in March and died Friday night, amidst family and friends at her Sacramento home.

At her request, there will be no funeral or memorial service.

She was a native of Logan, Utah, and once told an interviewer she could not remember when she was not a conservationist. Dedrick received an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona before moving to Menlo Park to do graduate studies at Stanford.

After leaving the State Lands Commission in 1989, she consulted on natural resources and energy issues, including working with government officials, farmers, developers and environmentalists to create the Stone Lakes wildlife refuge along I-5 near Freeport and Hood.

EPA officers plead not guilty

Two East Palo Alto police officers who -- along with a police explorer -- are accused of beating an East Palo Alto man pleaded not guilty in San Mateo County Superior Court Friday.

Explorer Eddi Tapia Torres, 19, had previously pleaded not guilty. Officers Edward Rivers Jr., 39, and Johnny Taflinger Jr., 32, entered pleas before Superior Court Judge Craig Parsons.

Each of the three defendants is charged with assault on a citizen under color of authority, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, and misdemeanor battery.

The defendants were indicted by the San Mateo County criminal grand jury following an investigation by the San Mateo County District Attorney's office.

The men allegedly beat the victim on Aug. 21. The suspects were off duty in East Palo Alto when they assaulted a man they believed to be a local drug dealer, according to the District Attorney's office.

The men reportedly identified themselves as police officers, but the victim did not believe them and did not report the alleged crime. Prosecutors learned of the alleged attack through another source, according to the District Attorney's office.

Rivers and Taflinger are each out of custody on $25,000 bail bonds. Tapia Torres is out of custody on his own recognizance.

The defendants will return to court for a pretrial conference on May 21 at 1:30 p.m.

-- Bay City News Service

Alma Plaza mall will include housing

Firm plans for the Alma Plaza shopping center are still at least two months away, developer John McNellis said this week. However, they will include housing.

Plans call for redeveloping the 5.6-acre property near Meadow Drive with retail and housing. McNellis intends to bring on a local residential developer to collaborate on the project.

McNellis, who bought the center in late January, said he's talked with a half-dozen grocery-store companies about the vacancy at Alma Plaza, following the departure of Albertsons. He has yet to select one, however.

The handful of retail stores still plying their trades at the outdoor shopping mall will eventually need to look for space elsewhere, since the old buildings will eventually be torn down, he said. Based on earlier plans proposed by Albertsons -- which did not come to fruition -- some tenants hoped they could stay at Alma Plaza during reconstruction.

McNellis said he intends to hold a neighborhood meeting in a few months, once the residential developer and the grocery store have been selected. Neighbors heavily lobbied against an expansion of the grocery store eight years ago, when Albertsons owned the mall.

-- Jocelyn Dong

City's architectural design honors given

Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board has selected two parking structures, two commercial buildings and a school as the winners of its first-ever Design Awards.

The board, charged with reviewing proposed developments for aesthetic quality and variety, launched the awards program "to express appreciation for architects' efforts to create and maintain Palo Alto's unique visual character through their creative and responsive designs of public and private spaces."

Awards were given Monday to Joseph Bellomo for the city's parking garage at 528 High St., nicknamed the "word" garage because of a haiku wall; Simon Martin-Vegue Winkelstein Morris for the former home of the Mid-Peninsula Jewish Community Day School at 677 Arastradero Road; Watry Design for the Stanford Medical Center Parking Structure IV at 300 Pasteur Drive; the Hayes Group for the renovation of the Ellison's auto shop into the Palo Alto headquarters for IDEO at 705 Alma St.; and MBT Architecture for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman's Palo Alto office at 2475 Hanover St.

The 2005 Architectural Review Board Design Award winners were selected from projects reviewed and constructed between mid-1997 and mid-2004.

The awards will be presented every five years.

-- Jocelyn Dong

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