Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 12, 2013

Around Town

AWKWARD ... The latest report from Palo Alto's independent police auditor has no smoking guns or damning allegations, but it does contain an incident involving a dating faux pas committed by an unnamed officer. According to a report from Independent Police Auditor Michael Gennaco, the officer responded to a call involving a domestic dispute between a man and a woman. The woman reportedly had some alcohol that evening, and the man was concerned about her ability to drive. She ended up taking a cab, and no criminal charges were filed. The following day, the man and the woman met up and patched things up. They were both embarrassed by the incident and by the fact that they had inconvenienced the police. According to Gennaco's report, the woman contacted one of the handling officers "to express her remorse about the incident." He was out and she left a voicemail message with her cell number. Several days later, she received a text message from the officer. "Drinks?" it read. That's when things got a little awkward. According to the report, the woman was offended ("it had not been her intention to cultivate a personal relationship with the officer") and filed a complaint against the officer, who was then counseled by department management about the inappropriate nature of his text. Gennaco determined that the department handled the issue "quickly and appropriately." Gennaco's report also notes that even if the woman wanted to go out for drinks with the officer, the offer still wouldn't be completely kosher. "In other words, even a welcome solicitation of a relationship that originates in a police contact is likely to create an unprofessional dynamic, particularly if and when the relationship goes bad," the report states.

LET THEM DRINK COKE! ... Palo Altans who like to wash down their tacos with a frothy brew are in luck. This week, the city's Planning and Transportation Commission approved a permit for alcohol sales at Freebirds World Burrito, a restaurant that recently took over the corner property at El Camino Real and Cambridge Avenue. The restaurant received a tentative approval for its request to sell beer in January, but the city had to hold a hearing on the request upon request from Kenneth Hadler of Palo Alto Pathology, an adjacent business. According to a staff report, there had been two incidents involving Hadler and Freebirds — one involving a contractor using Hadler's parking space and another involving trash from Freebirds ending up in Hadler's trash bins. But Freebirds' request is expected to sail through. On Wednesday night, the Planning and Transportation Commission voted 6-0 to reaffirm the department's decision and let Freebirds sell beer. The City Council is scheduled to approve it without discussion as part of its "consent calendar."

RED FLAG ... Recently retired Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie returned to the Council Chambers on Monday night, where he received a stack of framed commendations, a formal resolution, a standing ovation and a most unwelcome present. Emslie, who retired last month after serving as the city's lead man for some of the largest and most ambitious recent projects (including the massive expansion of the Stanford University Medical Center, the development of the Opportunity Center and the proposed office-and-theater complex for 27 University Ave.), was honored by the council for his 11 years of service as planning director and city manager. The council's resolution cites his many contributions and praises him for performing the various tasks "in an intelligent, diplomatic and professional fashion" and for "ensuring the greater good was always at the forefront of each discussion." Mayor Greg Scharff also threw in an extra gift for Emslie: a Stanford University flag. Emslie, a U.C. Berkeley graduate, didn't seem to mind. He thanked the council and called his tenure in Palo Alto the "perfect way to end my public-service career" (which also included stints in Martinez, Rolling Hill Estates, Saratoga, San Leandro and San Jose). Councilwoman Gail Price, also a Golden Bear, said she was proud of Emslie, whom she called "very creative, very steady and very thoughtful." "I have some very deep concerns about what you're going to do with the Stanford flag," she added.

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