Around town | February 7, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 7, 2014

Around town

BIG BROTHER, OR NOT ... All of those pesky cameras mounted on traffic signals and light poles are not recording your every move, and they aren't even commandeered by the police, Palo Alto detective Sgt. James Reifschneider told residents during Tuesday night's community crime prevention meeting. Most traffic cameras track movement and do counts, but they aren't videos, he said. The devices belong to traffic agencies and others hired to tabulate traffic information, he added.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD ... The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office in Palo Alto will have a new face at the helm starting Monday, Feb. 10. Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson is leaving the post to head up the family violence unit in San Jose. Brian Welch, currently the supervising deputy district attorney for the homicide unit, will replace Hendrickson.

SUPERBOWL SINGER ... Coca-Cola's Super Bowl ad featuring a multilingual rendition of "America the Beautiful" immediately went viral after it screened during the first half of the Feb. 1 football game, spurring a lot of less-than-politically correct comments on Twitter and Facebook about language and immigration in the U.S. But set aside the controversy — a fifth-grader from Palo Alto's Stratford School, Naya Salah of San Carlos, stole a spot in the ever-coveted Super Bowl commercial lineup, appearing in the Coke ad singing a portion of "America the Beautiful" in Arabic. "America is one union but with a mix of cultures, and it doesn't matter who you are," she sang. "We should always be friendly to each other no matter what difference you have." Salah is also Stratford School's student body president. Check out a behind-the-scenes video of Salah belting the song by searching "Coca-Cola - It's Beautiful in Arabic" on YouTube. (And catch the commercial when it re-airs during the opening for the 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 7.)

OBAMA CALLING ... When the president calls, you answer. President Barack Obama dropped a line to Palo Alto Unified School District's Ann Dunkin, nominating her to become an assistant administrator in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dunkin, who was a senior research and development manager at Hewlett-Packard Company before jumping to become the school district's technology officer in 2009, will stay on the job here until her confirmation process in Washington is complete.

POLICY WONK ... California Gov. Jerry Brown has nominated Linda Thor, chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. The commission supplies data and analysis to policymakers and also operates student exchange programs that allow tens of thousands of California students to attend participating colleges and universities in other states at 150 percent of resident tuition rather than out-of-state tuition.

MORE THAN A LIBRARY ... The Gunn High School library recently came out on top in a corporate competition, organized by educational products provider Follett Corp., to reward "the most innovative schools in the world." And innovation always equals the green stuff — Follett Corp. awarded the library the top prize of $60,000. Gunn librarian Meg Omainsky said she never expected to win the prize when she submitted a video describing her efforts to turn the library into an "interactive, technology-based hub for students who need space to design innovative projects and collaborate creatively with their peers."


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