Behind the Headlines


Year in Review

A look back at the defining stories, individuals, trends and phrases of 2019
Weekly journalists wrap up 2019 by recapping the biggest news and the most surprising trends of the year -- and the decade.

December 27, 2019 | No comments yet
Podcast: Fixing commissions; Middle school math

City exploring changes on how its boards function; Palo Alto Unified to roll out redesign of mathematics
Weekly journalists discuss Palo Alto's effort to reform its commission system and a proposal to dramatically shift how math is taught in Palo Alto middle schools.

December 13, 2019 | 1 comment
Rising wildfire risks

Organizations are taking steps to reduce the danger
Fire agencies warn that the Santa Cruz Mountains could produce a large-scale blaze, similar to recent wildfires in the north bay, under the right conditions.

December 6, 2019 | 2 comments
Holiday entertainment highlights

Concerts, shows, dance performances and more experiences in store on the Midpeninsula
Palo Alto Weekly Associate Editor Linda Taaffe chats with music writer Yoshi Kato and Arts and Entertainment Editor Karla Kane about the many upcoming holiday-themed performances and events on the Midpeninsula this season.

November 29, 2019 | No comments yet
The Churchill dilemma

Improving safety at intersection is key consideration in grade-separation project
Should Palo Alto close Churchill Avenue to cars near the railroad tracks as part of a broader plan to redesign the rail corridor? Weekly staff dive into this question, which has pitted neighborhoods against each other.

November 22, 2019 | 23 comments
Debate over Foothills Park

Proposal to expand access at open space heads to City Council
Ryan McCauley, a member of Palo Alto's Parks and Recreation Commission, talks about a new proposal to open up the city's pristine and exclusive Foothills Park to non-residents.

November 15, 2019 | 14 comments
Stanford's plan hits dead end

Journalists discuss how Stanford University's bid to expand its campus came undone
Palo Alto Weekly reporter Gennady Sheyner, Editor Jocelyn Dong and Publisher Bill Johnson discuss why Stanford University on Nov. 1 withdrew its ambitious application to expand development on campus.

November 8, 2019 | No comments yet
Talking transportation

New Palo Alto official discusses upcoming initiatives including bike-share program
Philip Kamhi, Palo Alto's newly hired chief transportation official, talks to the Weekly about the city's plans to revamp its parking policies and launch a scooter-share program, among other projects.

October 25, 2019 | 17 comments
Woman breaks silence about Harvey Weinstein

After 21 years, Rowena Chiu goes public with her story against film mogul
Palo Alto resident Rowena Chiu, who says movie mogul Harvey Weinstein attempted to rape her when she was his assistant in 1998, speaks about her decision to come forward.

October 18, 2019 | No comments yet
Reflecting on Palo Alto

Residents share memories of their hometown and thoughts on what has changed
As the Palo Alto Weekly celebrates its 40th anniversary, we highlight work by the editorial staff to commemorate the milestone, including a project titled "When I think of Palo Alto, I think of ..."

October 11, 2019 | No comments yet
Vaping's rise and risks

Devices can easily appear as fitness trackers, smartwatches
Kyle Greenman of Adolescent Counseling Services' Adolescent Substance Abuse Program, discusses the growing prevalence of vaping among local teens and what parents, school employees and public officials should know about the phenomenon.

October 4, 2019 | 1 comment
How one school went phone-free

San Mateo High Assistant Principal Adam Gelb explains steps administrators took to roll out new policy
San Mateo High Assistant Principal Adam Gelb talks with education reporter Elena Kadvany about the school's decision to prohibit cellphones during school hours.

September 27, 2019 | No comments yet
A hospital for the future

Dr. George Tingwald calls Stanford project a 'huge transformation' for institution
Dr. George Tingwald, medical planning director for Stanford Health Care, gives an overview of what's inside the new Stanford Hospital and gives insight into the planning involved to help the institution deliver top-notch medical care.

September 13, 2019 | 1 comment
Staying heart healthy

One of the nation's first cardiac therapy programs running out of Palo Alto helps members through rehabilitation
Robin Wedell, director of the HeartFit for Life program, joins Weekly staff to give an overview of the program's cardiac therapy service as the organization approaches its 50th anniversary.

September 6, 2019 | No comments yet
Reimagining Ventura

Former City Councilwoman Gail Price gives insight into planning effort for 60 acres
Former Palo Alto City Councilwoman Gail Price joins Weekly staff for a discussion about the goals, challenges and latest complications in Palo Alto's effort to craft a vision for the Ventura neighborhood.

August 30, 2019 | 3 comments
The state of the Ravenswood school board

At retreat, two longer-serving members say they've felt dismissed by new leadership
Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss tensions between Ravenswood City School District board members and the implications for a district in transition.

August 23, 2019 | 3 comments
Palo Alto's superintendent, one year in

Don Austin details goals for the district, differing timelines to redevelop Cubbberley Community Center
Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin joins Weekly journalists to discuss his vision for the district and upcoming issues for the new school year.

August 16, 2019 | No comments yet
The story of Glory

One of East Palo Alto's last bastions of affordable housing set to close by 2020
Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss the potential closure of Glory mobile home park in East Palo Alto, which housing advocates argue would remove needed low-income housing from the city.

August 9, 2019 | No comments yet
The rise of pickleball

USA Pickleball Association ambassador looks at local popularity of paddle sport
Monica Williams, president of the Palo Alto Pickleball Club, joins Weekly staff for a discussion about the city's fastest growing sport, pickleball, and ongoing efforts to build more courts and attract more players.

August 2, 2019 | No comments yet
The power of ketamine

Local psychiatrist has administered more than 1,000 infusions of drug to patients, 87% of whom have seen significant improvements
Palo Alto psychiatrist Rameen Ghorieshi joins Weekly journalists to discuss the potential of ketamine to treat severely depressed patients, who have seen remarkable results.

July 26, 2019 | 1 comment
Meet the Peninsula Foodist

Food blogger and editor Elena Kadvany talks about the rise of food journalism and the role of diverse cuisines in the fabric of Silicon Valley life
Meet the Peninsula Foodist, aka Weekly education reporter Elena Kadvany. On July 17, she launched a new e-newsletter covering the Peninsula dining scene, from parking-lot food stands to Michelin-starred restaurants.

July 19, 2019 | No comments yet
Who are the RV dwellers?

Reporters share their experiences of interviewing people living in controversial vehicles
Weekly journalists discuss the diverse community of people living in recreational vehicles along El Camino Real and the various circumstances that brought them there.

July 12, 2019 | 13 comments
On the trail of a killer

John Arthur Getreu is accused of killing two women found dead on Stanford property in the 1970s
Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss the cases against John Arthur Getreu, 74, a convicted killer and rapist who is charged with two murders of young women on Stanford University land in the 1970s.

June 21, 2019 | No comments yet
The plastic ban; Hacker sentenced

A reporters roundtable on the week's top headlines
Weekly journalists break down Palo Alto's new ban on plastic straws and produce bags and recap this week's sentencing of Ross Colby, who in 2015 hacked into and temporarily took down Palo Alto Online and its four sister websites.

June 14, 2019 | No comments yet
Housing at Cubberley?

Proposal for dilapidating campus sparks passionate debate
Palo Alto Weekly staff delve into a divisive proposal to build housing at Cubberley Community Center as part of a redevelopment project at the aged campus.

June 7, 2019 | No comments yet
Growing concerns over Stanford's expansion

University seeks county's approval of application to build academic space, housing
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian joins Weekly staff to highlight the key areas of contention around Stanford University's ambitious expansion plan, which is facing increasing scrutiny from local leaders and Stanford students.

May 31, 2019 | No comments yet
Students speak out 2019

Board of Education representatives for Paly, Gunn High share views on post-high school plans, college admissions scam
High school students Claire Cheng, Caroline Furrier, Ben Gordon and Arjun Prabhaker discuss issues impacting students in Palo Alto with education reporter Elena Kadvany.

May 24, 2019 | No comments yet
RV parking program takes off

Alicia Garcia of the nonprofit Project WeHope talks about East Palo Alto's pioneering new Safe Lot program, which is giving people living in their RVs a safe place to park overnight, along with offering them critical services.

May 17, 2019 | 14 comments
Conflict over Stanford-expansion process

Palo Alto Weekly journalists explain recent and controversial developments in Stanford University's application process under the county of Santa Clara.

May 10, 2019 | No comments yet
Preventing the next creek-flood disaster

Palo Alto resident Tom Rindfleisch discusses long-awaited recommendations on how to keep the San Francisquito Creek from overflowing its banks and flooding streets and homes. Palo Alto Weekly journalists Jocelyn Dong and Gennady Sheyner join him for the conversation.

May 3, 2019 | No comments yet
Recycling at the crossroads

Phil Bobel, Palo Alto's assistant director of Public Works, talks about the uncertainty facing the city's recycling operation since China has become unwilling to buy recycled items that are considered "contaminated."

April 12, 2019 | 2 comments
State bills on housing

Three California bills aimed at creating housing opportunities -- AB 302, SB 4 and SB 50 -- are discussed by Palo Alto Weekly journalists.

April 5, 2019 | No comments yet
Debate over SB 50

Palo Alto Vice Mayor Adrian Fine and Greer Stone, vice chair of the Santa Clara County Human Rights Commission, join Weekly journalists for a discussion of state Senate Bill 50, a contentious legislative proposal that seeks to increase housing construction in transit-friendly and jobs-rich areas.

March 29, 2019 | 5 comments
The charter school challenge

Weekly journalists discuss what the rapid rise of charter schools means for traditional school districts, including the K-8 Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto.

March 22, 2019 | No comments yet
Unpacking the college admissions bribery scandal

Palo Alto college adviser John Raftrey discusses with Weekly journalists the implications of a multimillion-dollar nationwide admissions bribery scandal.

March 15, 2019 | 6 comments
Mayor pushes back on SB50

Palo Alto Mayor Eric Filseth discusses with the Weekly his concerns with Senate Bill 50, which aims to boost California's housing stock, and his own ideas for addressing the state's housing shortage.

March 8, 2019 | 18 comments
Ravenswood upheaval; VTA's new bus plan

Weekly journalists discuss the leadership battle at Ravenswood City School District, where the schools superintendent was just placed on leave, and explain why Palo Alto is so frustrated with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's latest bus plan.

March 1, 2019 | No comments yet
Shedding light on region's black pioneers

San Jose author Jan Batiste Adkins talks about the struggles and successes of Santa Clara County's early African-Americans featured in her new book "African Americans of San Jose and Santa Clara County."

February 22, 2019 | No comments yet
Charter school expansion debate; downtown office cap repealed

Weekly journalists delve into the Ravenswood City School District debate over a charter school's expansion proposal; recap Palo Alto's move to allow more commercial development downtown; and discuss Gov. Gavin Newsom's new vision for California's high-speed-rail project.

February 15, 2019 | 2 comments
The new Cubberley

Palo Alto City Councilwoman Alison Cormack joins Weekly journalists for a discussion about the community effort to create a new vision for Cubberley Community Center.

February 8, 2019 | No comments yet
The dilemma of deception

When a loved one has dementia, is it act of kindness to tell them a lie? "Behind the Headlines" guest Barton Bernstein, a caregiver for his wife and an emeritus history professor at Stanford University, talks about the ethics of what some call "compassionate deception."

February 1, 2019 | No comments yet
Building affordable housing

Palo Alto Housing CEO discusses projects, state of home construction in region
Randy Tsuda, CEO and president of the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing, talks about the recently approved 59-apartment Wilton Court project in Palo Alto and the challenges and opportunities for solving the Bay Area's housing crisis.

January 25, 2019 | 7 comments
Restaurant critic retires

Seasoned reviewer bids farewell
Longtime critic Dale Bentson looks back on 18 years of reviewing restaurants for Embarcadero Media.

January 18, 2019 | No comments yet
Nonprofit's plans for Animal Shelter

Pets In Need set to take over operations in February
Al Mollica, executive director of the nonprofit Pets In Needs, talks about what Palo Alto pet owners can expect once the organization takes over operations of the Palo Alto Animal Shelter in February.

January 11, 2019 | No comments yet
Best movies of 2018

A roundup of the best films from the year
Palo Alto Weekly film critic Peter Canavese and Tim Sika, host/producer of the radio show Celluloid Dreams, review their picks for the top 10 movies of 2018 with Weekly Editor Jocelyn Dong.

January 4, 2019 | No comments yet


Year in Review

Recapping the top stories in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto from 2018
Palo Alto Weekly journalists close out the year by recapping the biggest events, controversies, surprises and newsmakers of 2018.

December 28, 2018 | No comments yet
Rail redesign update; President Hotel zoning

Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss the latest on the redesign of the city's four rail crossings and recap the City Council's decision Monday on zoning for the President Hotel.

December 14, 2018 | No comments yet
Update on Stanford's expansion proposal

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to vote on growth plan next year
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian discusses the negotiation process with Stanford University over its proposed expansion of the campus.

December 7, 2018 | No comments yet
Secret dealings over President Hotel

Weekly journalists explain how developer AJ Capital has been lobbying the city to change zoning laws and using the tenants of President Hotel Apartments in downtown Palo Alto.

November 30, 2018 | No comments yet
Treating postpartum mood disorders

Psychiatrist Nirmaljit Dhami, medical director of El Camino Hospital's Maternal Outreach Mood Services program, discusses the signs, symptoms and treatment for postpartum mood disorders, which affect one in five mothers after childbirth.

November 16, 2018 | No comments yet
Analyzing the election

A roundup of how voters responded to candidates, measures on the ballot
Palo Alto Weekly journalists analyze the results so far in the general election, including the clear winners, the race outcome that's still pending and the significance of local voters' choices.

November 9, 2018 | No comments yet
Challenges of caregiving

Paula Wolfson of Avenidas Care Partners gives insight into caring for relatives
Paula Wolfson, manager of Avenidas Care Partners, discusses the rising numbers of family caregivers in Palo Alto and the many services available to help families navigate caring for a relative.

November 2, 2018 | No comments yet
Palo Alto's traffic challenges

Assistant City Manager Ed Shikada shares the city's plans for improving transportation
Palo Alto Assistant City Manager Ed Shikada discusses challenges facing the city when it comes to traffic and Palo Alto's plans for improving transportation for residents and commuters.

October 26, 2018 | 4 comments
East Palo Alto Election 2018

Residents to elect new council council members, vote on new tax
Weekly journalists discuss the East Palo Alto City Council race and the city's Measure HH commercial business tax, which could bring funding for building new housing and job training.

October 19, 2018 | No comments yet
Palo Alto City Council race

Three incumbents, two newcomers seek three open seats
Weekly journalists preview the City Council election with a discussion about Palo Alto's five candidates and their stances on some of the city's most urgent issues.

October 12, 2018 | No comments yet
Palo Alto school board race

A look at the incumbent, five newcomers seeking two open seats
The 2018 Palo Alto school board race involving six candidates is the subject of this week's "Behind the Headlines" discussion with Weekly journalists.

October 5, 2018 | 1 comment
Meet the Palo Alto City Council candidates

Candidates talk about their lives in one-on-one interviews
Five Palo Alto residents are running for three seats on the Palo Alto City Council this fall. This week's "Behind the Headlines" features one-on-one videos with each candidate.

September 28, 2018 | 2 comments
Palo Alto's housing plans

Weekly journalists discuss Palo Alto's response to a recent Santa Clara County Grand Jury report, which urged cities to do more to address the regional housing crisis.

September 21, 2018 | No comments yet
Election measures E and F

Weekly journalists delve into Palo Alto's Measure E, which would raise the city's hotel-tax rate, and Measure F, which would cap how much health care providers can charge patients.

September 14, 2018 | No comments yet
A talk with new Superintendent Don Austin

Don Austin, who started work in July as superintendent of Palo Alto Unified School District, talks about a range of issues including Title IX, special education, overcoming division in the district and transparent governance.

September 7, 2018 | 5 comments
A preview of fall arts

Arts researcher Sheryl Nonnenberg and Jon Graves, executive director of the Pacific Art League, talk about what's happening in the Midpeninsula arts scene this fall.

August 31, 2018 | No comments yet
Parenting in the digital age

Emily Garrison of the Palo Alto school district talks about how the district is helping children, parents and teachers navigate the pitfalls of technology use.

August 24, 2018 | No comments yet
Palo Alto's animal shelter plans; East Palo Alto's Taser debate

Weekly journalists discuss Palo Alto's effort to upgrade its animal shelter and East Palo Alto's community debate over whether to equip police officers with Tasers.

August 17, 2018 | No comments yet
Stanford's proposed expansion

Weekly journalists discuss Stanford University's proposed campus expansion and the evolving debate over how much housing the university should provide as part of the growth plan.

August 10, 2018 | No comments yet
Planning commission; New office cap

Weekly journalists discuss the recent tensions and conflicts on the city's planning commission and the City Council's recent decision to reduce the citywide cap for new office development.

August 3, 2018 | No comments yet
A vibrant life with ALS

Jon Ferraiolo and Karen Kang have vibrant lives despite Ferraiolo's terminal diagnosis and paralysis from ALS, as seen in a 15-minute documentary by Weekly Photographer/Videographer Veronica Weber.

July 27, 2018 | No comments yet
Helping the Homeless RV Dwellers

Pastor Paul Bains, executive director of Project WeHOPE, discusses a new pilot program that will allow RV dwellers to temporarily park on government land and receive support services in East Palo Alto.

July 20, 2018 | No comments yet
Grand jury's housing report

Henry Groth, a member of the 2017-2018 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury discusses with Weekly journalists a recent report from the civil grand jury about the region's affordable-housing crisis.

July 13, 2018 | No comments yet
College Terrace Centre; Grand jury's housing report

Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss the recent sale of the College Terrace Centre and delve into a new report from the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury that calls on cities to do more to address the regional housing crisis.

July 6, 2018 | 1 comment
Stanford Memorial Church murder

Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss the latest developments in the grisly 1974 murder of Arlis Perry at Stanford Memorial Church.

June 29, 2018 | No comments yet
Bad Blood: Book exposes Theranos' alleged fraud

Weekly journalists discuss a new book that unveils the alleged fraud by Theranos' former CEO Elizabeth Holmes and former COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, who now face federal charges.

June 22, 2018 | 4 comments
President Hotel

Weekly staff discuss the implications of this week's purchase of the historic President Hotel from a 75-unit apartment building to a 100-unit hotel.

June 16, 2018 | No comments yet
Peninsula Photo Contest

Palo Alto Art Center Director Karen Kienzle discusses the Peninsula Photo Contest with Weekly Associate Editor Linda Taaffe and staff photographer Veronica Weber.

June 8, 2018 | No comments yet
Students speak out 2018

A discussion with the incoming and outgoing Paly, Gunn student board representatives
High school students Advait Arun, Richy Islas, Arjun Prabhaker and Caroline Furrier discuss issues impacting students in Palo Alto with education reporter Elena Kadvany.

June 1, 2018 | No comments yet
Palo Alto's financial outlook

Palo Alto City Councilwoman Lydia Kou discusses the proposed 2019 city budget with Palo Alto Weekly city-beat reporter Gennady Sheyner and Editor Jocelyn Dong.

May 25, 2018 | 1 comment
Regional Measure 3

Weekly journalists discuss a measure on the June 5 ballot that would raise bridge tolls to fund $4.5 billion in transportation improvements.

May 18, 2018 | 6 comments
Palo Alto's superintendent pick

Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss the career of Don Austin, Palo Alto Unified's pick for superintendent, and his proposed contract with Palo Alto Unified.

May 11, 2018 | No comments yet
Walter Hays traffic; new bell schedule

Weekly journalists discuss the recent changes at the intersection of Middlefield and Embarcadero roads which parents say has created dangerous road crossings, and the approval of a new schedule at Paly, which will allow students to start school at a later time.

May 4, 2018 | 3 comments
Female chefs, owners on the Midpeninsula

Jesse Ziff Cool, the owner of the 37-year-old Flea St. Café in Menlo Park, discusses the evolution of the Peninsula dining scene and challenges women face in a male-dominated industry.

April 27, 2018 | No comments yet
Debate over rail redesign

Residents speak up as city narrows down grade-separation options
David Shen, member of the newly formed North Old Palo Alto neighborhood group, discusses concerns about the city's rail redesign and its efforts to protect properties from eminent domain.

April 20, 2018 | 59 comments
Zoning for churches

Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss the Palo Alto neighborhood dispute over a church that rents its space out to music groups, counselors and others.

April 13, 2018 | No comments yet
Working toward LGBTQ & gender equity

Human Relations Commissioner Jill O'Nan shares findings from recent listening forum
Palo Alto Human Relations Commissioner Jill O'Nan discusses a recent listening forum and launch of a needs-assessment survey aimed at serving the LGBTQ community.

April 6, 2018 | No comments yet
50 years after MLK Jr.'s death

Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute and the King Papers Project at Stanford, reflects on King's legacy and upcoming commemorations in East Palo Alto and at Stanford.

March 30, 2018 | No comments yet
Increasing affordable housing

Fran Wagstaff, retired president of MidPen Housing, joins Weekly journalists to discuss the challenges of building affordable housing in Palo Alto.

March 23, 2018 | 9 comments
Concern over 'Cool Block' program funds

Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss the proposed $100,000 Cool Block community-building program, which is stirring controversy.

March 11, 2018 | No comments yet
Paly principal resigns

Weekly journalists discuss the resignation of Palo Alto High School Principal Kim Diorio announced Friday.

March 9, 2018 | No comments yet
Changing labor negotiations

Palo Alto Vice Mayor Eric Filseth joins Weekly journalists to discuss a new proposal to make labor negotiations more transparent.

March 2, 2018 | No comments yet
Renaming schools; redesigning rail

Weekly journalists provide updates on efforts to rename two Palo Alto middle schools and to separate the rail corridor from local streets.

February 23, 2018 | 3 comments
Working to address airplane noise

Palo Alto Deputy City Manager Michelle Poché Flaherty discusses the topic of worsening airplane noise -- and Palo Alto's response to the problem -- with Weekly journalists.

February 16, 2018 | 4 comments
State of the Valley

Weekly journalists dig into a new report on Silicon Valley's trends and challenges and discuss Palo Alto's recent actions to address its housing and transportation problems.

February 9, 2018 | 1 comment
Palo Alto's construction boom

Palo Alto Assistant Public Works Director Brad Eggleston joins Weekly journalists to delve into the city's infrastructure plans.

February 2, 2018 | 1 comment
Ravenswood's budget crisis

The drivers behind a multi-million dollar budget shortfall in the Ravenswood City School District are analyzed by Palo Alto Weekly journalists.

January 26, 2018 | 4 comments
Invasion of the stinkwort

Ecologist Claire Elliott talks about stinkwort, a seemingly innocuous plant that is poised to take over local grasslands and open spaces, with Palo Alto Weekly journalists.

January 19, 2018 | No comments yet
Palo Alto: The Year Ahead

Weekly journalists discuss Palo Alto's recent mayoral election and the City Council's top priorities for the year ahead.

January 12, 2018 | 2 comments
The Year in Film

Movie reviewer Peter Canavese talks about the good, the bad and the horrible - and other trends that emerged on the big screen in 2017.

January 5, 2018 | No comments yet

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