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January 06, 2006

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, January 06, 2006

News Digest News Digest (January 06, 2006) jumps first funding hurdle

East Palo Alto's community Web site,, has received enough monetary donations to survive for the first three months of the year, and is now seeking funding for the remainder of 2006.

"A lot of people came to our aid," Michael Levin, the Web site's director, said this week.

The Web site posts news about East Palo Alto, including profiles of local people and announcements of job opportunities. It has more than 1,500 registered users who can post their own content and also cultivates regular writers from the community.

One recent story was a testimony from a member of the clergy about her son's struggle with HIV.

Late last year, the nonprofit that runs the site, Plugged In, announced it had lost funding for the program for 2006. The nonprofit laid off all its staff, and Levin and Plugged In Executive Director Magda Escobar continued working as volunteers to keep it afloat. Levin has now been rehired.

Since the Weekly and the San Jose Mercury News made the news of its funding crisis public, prominent bloggers -- including Craigslist founder Craig Newmark -- began announcing the site's predicament, seeking supporters.

"Does the Blogosphere Have a Conscience?" one blogger asked.

The nonprofit received $29,400 by Jan. 1, $2,400 more than the target it needed to keep the Web site running. Now it's trying to find funding to keep the site going for the entire year.

"I don't think is, by any stretch of the imagination, out of the woods," Escobar said. "There's a lot more work to make it viable."

-- Bill D'Agostino

Tall Tree Awards deadline approaching

The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for honorees for the 27th Annual Tall Tree Awards.

The honors are bestowed on individuals and organizations based on their local impact, breadth of contribution, diversity of individuals impacted, timeliness and originality of contribution. Awards are given in four categories: Outstanding Citizen/Volunteer, Outstanding Business, Professional/Business Person, and Outstanding Nonprofit.

The deadline for nominations is 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13. A one-page letter explaining the nomination and optional letters of support and other materials may be submitted to the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, 122 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301. The awards ceremony will be held in the spring and is co-sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly.

-- Weekly Staff

Man pleads not guilty in molestation case Man pleads not guilty in molestation case (January 06, 2006)

A Menlo Park man accused of molesting his 7-year-old niece multiple times pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a San Mateo County courtroom.

Urbano Banderas, 43, is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault on a minor under the age of 14, and four counts of committing a lewd act with a child under the age of 14 by means of force, violence or fear, the San Mateo County District Attorney's office reported.

Banderas was arrested on June 25 after he reportedly brought his young niece, who lives in Shafter, Calif., to his Menlo Park home for a two-week visit, according to the district attorney's office.

During the visit, Banderas allegedly sodomized and digitally penetrated his niece. He also reportedly forced his niece to engage in sexual intercourse with him, according to the district attorney's office.

The district attorney's office reported that during the sexual assaults, Banderas told his niece that he would kill whomever she told about the attacks.

The victim reportedly returned home and didn't mention what had happened until her mother saw hickeys on her neck and questioned her, the district attorney's office reported.

Banderas, who remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail, will appear in court for his pre-trial conference on March 13 at 1 p.m. and is set to go to trial on April 10.

-- Bay City News Service

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