HE KNEW HIM WHEN ... Palo Alto developer Jim Baer said he was inspired to help organize Monday night's "I Have a Dream" commemoration in front of City Hall because of his lifelong friendship with the brother of Andrew Goodman, one of three young civil-rights workers murdered in Mississippi on June 21, 1964. Baer said he had roomed with Goodman's brother at Stanford and — though personally not an activist in the civil-rights movement — felt it was important to hold the Palo Alto commemoration, which highlighted the work of Stanford University Professor Clayborne Carson, editor of the papers of Martin Luther King Jr.
WHICH WAS MORE EXCITING? ... Palo Alto High School's new assistant principal, Victoria Kim, told the Board of Education that her new job is a dream come true. Kim, a former English and journalism teacher who was an assistant principal in San Jose before joining the Palo Alto district this week, is also a newlywed of four months. She told board members her husband sometimes wonders whether she was happier on her wedding day or the day she was hired for her new job.
BUBBLY, ANYONE? ... As the hellish maw of the massive Rim Fire in the Sierras continues to burn closer and closer to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir — the source of 100 percent of Palo Alto's drinking water — it's fair to question whether tomorrow's tap water will be ash-flavored. The blaze, which started Aug. 17 and has charred more than 187,000 acres, reached the area around the reservoir last week. Luckily, Palo Altans will be able to keep deep, smokey flavors in their whiskey, and out of their water. Although the reservoir, which supplies 2.6 million customers across the Bay Area, has water that is so crystal clear that it (usually) doesn't require filtering, the agency in charge of managing Bay Area water supplies has back-up plans in the event that the reservoir gets tainted by some of the less lucky, or maybe just less flame-retardant, trees in the Yosemite area. Closer, less romantic, reservoirs can be used to provide four or five months of water, using two local treatment plants, Sunol and Harry Tracy, along with added supplies from agreements with other water districts. But it might not even come to that. The water in Hetch Hetchy has maintained the same turbidity, a fancy word for cloudiness, as it had before the fire. The fact that the water is drawn from 260 feet underground further decreases the likelihood of Palo Altans finding ash in their Nalgenes. If the water's turbidity does increase, the water quality from the back-up supplies may be similar to what Palo Altans experience during the annual Hetch Hetchy winter maintenance shutdowns — namely, some bubbles in their drinking water. That doesn't mean water purists are out of the woods yet. The fire might cause erosion problems into the reservoir that could be exacerbated by annual winter or spring runoff.
SCHOOL-LIST SHAKEUP ... The "best colleges" list is in, and Stanford did not make the top five. That's right, Stanford University — a perennial favorite in the U.S. News & World Report rankings — trailed UC San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Berkeley, Texas A&M and Case Western Reserve in the 2013 national universities rankings issued by the Washington Monthly. The Monthly ranks schools in their "contribution to the public good" in three categories: social mobility, research and service. Though not at the tippy-top where it's typically found, Stanford's performance still wasn't too shabby. It came in sixth out of 284 universities rated.