Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 15, 2011

News Digest

Police release new details in Stanford assault

New details have emerged in the Saturday (April 9) sexual assault of a woman in a graduate-student apartment at Stanford University's Escondido Village.

Stanford police said a man entered the apartment at about 9:40 p.m. and sexually assaulted the woman, who had been sleeping in her bedroom. The man "tried to hold the victim down as he assaulted her," police said. The woman resisted and the man fled, according to police.

A K-9 from the Palo Alto Police Department tracked a scent from the apartment to the area of El Camino Real and Churchill Avenue in Palo Alto shortly after the attack, though the assailant was not found.

Police said the attacker may have entered the apartment through an unlocked door.

The attacker is described as a dark-skinned male, possibly Asian Indian, about 30 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with a chubby build, short, wavy black hair and a rounded nose. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a dark T-shirt. The victim "remembers smelling scent similar to apples at the time of the attack," police said.

Anyone with information about the attack is urged to call the Stanford Department of Public Safety at 650-723-9633 or 650-329-2413.

Ex-Greenmeadow manager pleads not guilty

The man accused of stealing more than $65,000 from a Palo Alto neighborhood association was arraigned on a felony embezzlement charge on Thursday (April 14).

Kimball Allen, 29, the former administrative manager of the Greenmeadow Community Association, pleaded not guilty for allegedly using the association's credit card more than 250 times for personal purchases, including hair replacement, a BMW roadster and a personal fitness trainer, Rob Baker, supervising deputy district attorney, said.

Allen, who was hired by the association in 2008, allegedly began ringing up the charges in February 2010, according to court papers.

Over the next 10 or 11 months, he allegedly racked up between $65,000 and $67,000 in expenses on the card, and wrote several association checks for personal purchases.

The transactions included $6,295 for hair replacement; $1,818.07 for an Apple Macbook Pro computer and a Hewlett-Packard printer; $3,480 for personal training at Equinox, an upscale Palo Alto gym, plus $140 monthly membership payments; a $3,000 down payment on a BMW Z3 roadster; $5,215 for an air-conditioning system at a home he owns in Kansas City, Mo.; and multiple charges for air fare, hotel, shopping, entertainment and restaurant purchases for himself and others in Los Angeles, Honolulu, Tacoma, Las Vegas, Kansas City and Mexico, according to the police report.

It was "almost like gambling ... or ... a drug," Allen reportedly told police during a March 17 interview.

Felony embezzlement of more than $60,000 carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, Baker said.

Palo Alto struggles to give voters reliable data

Palo Alto voters will be asked to wrestle with incomplete and possible contradictory data in November when they hit the voting booths to consider whether the city should be allowed to build a waste-to-energy plant on parkland in the Baylands.

The anaerobic digestion plant, which would process local yard trimmings and food waste and convert them into electricity, has become a topic of fierce debate between environmentalists who say the city should take care of its own waste and conservationists who argue that public parkland is no place for a new waste facility.

Members of the City Council acknowledged Monday that a lack of conclusive information about the plant's potential costs will make the voters' decision particularly challenging and susceptible to the clashing arguments from the two green camps.

Public Works staff and consultants have been scrambling in recent months to gather information about the projected costs of the new plant, which would occupy a roughly 9-acre site in Byxbee Park. They have already provided projections on how much the city would have to pay if it were to build a local plant and if it were to export its food scraps and yard waste to San Jose and Gilroy, respectively.

But given the complexity of the topic, the inherent uncertainty of adopting new technology and the deep split both on the council and in the community, each answer has only spawned further questions and requests for more analysis.

Some of the most crucial questions are far too broad and complicated to be answered before the November election, staff said Monday. The shortage of information means voters will have to rely on partial analyses, campaign literature and their own instincts when they step inside the voting booths in November, council members said.

— Gennady Sheyner

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