News Digest | January 25, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 25, 2019

News Digest

Deputy City Manager Rob de Geus to depart

Deputy City Manager Rob de Geus, a City Hall veteran who has been temporarily leading Palo Alto's new Department of Transportation, will be stepping down at the end of February to start a new job as city manager of Westlake Village in Los Angeles County.

De Geus, who joined the city in 2000, had spent most of his tenure in the Community Services Department where he started out as recreation coordinator. He was promoted to director of community services in 2015 and spent two years in the department's top position before transitioning to the city manager's office.

Since then, he has been leading the city's various community engagement efforts and assisting with various infrastructure projects, including the renovations of the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course and the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo. He has been the public face of the city's effort to redesign the city's four rail crossings and also has been managing the city's newly formed Office of Transportation.

City Manager Ed Shikada announced de Geus' resignation on Friday. In the announcement, Shikada added that the city has not yet made a decision about recruitment for the deputy city manager position.

De Geus' impending departure is the latest in the series of executive-level openings at City Hall.

—Gennady Sheyner

Man's voice causes home burglars to flee

Two men who forced their way inside a Midtown home last week, one of whom was armed, quickly fled when they heard a resident was inside, Palo Alto police said Wednesday.

The Jan. 16 burglary took place around 11:20 p.m., at a home on Ellsworth Place, just off Middlefield Road and across the street from Keys School. A man in his 20s who lives at the home heard noises in the living room. He called out to another resident, a woman in her 60s who also was there at the time and asked what she was doing, police said.

As he looked for the source of the noise, the man saw that the door leading to the driveway had been forced open, police said. He checked his security camera app on his cellphone, which showed two men broke into the home and then left less than two minutes later without taking anything.

It's possible the two men were startled when they heard the man call out, according to police.

One of the men was described as a Hispanic male with a medium build and a mustache. He wore a dark-colored jacket and a dark-colored sweatshirt and appeared to be armed with a rifle, police said.

Police didn't have information on the second man's race, but said he had a beard. He wore a light-colored sweatshirt and light-colored pants. The department has released images of the men captured on the home's surveillance system.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

—Palo Alto Weekly Staff

Rangoon Ruby settles wage theft case for $4M

The owners of local Burmese restaurant chain Rangoon Ruby have agreed to pay a $4 million settlement to cover unpaid wages for about 300 workers.

The Asian Law Caucus, which represented the employees who brought the case to the California Labor Commissioner's Bureau of Field Enforcement, announced the settlement on Thursday. The labor commissioner ordered the restaurant chain last summer to pay $5 million in back wages and penalties to the state for wage-theft violations.

Max Lee and John Lee of Rangoon Ruby Investment LLC and Burma Ruby Investment LLC operate six restaurants throughout the Bay Area, including Rangoon Ruby and Burma Ruby in downtown Palo Alto. Stanford University terminated its contract with Rangoon Ruby for an on-campus cafe after finding out about the state citation, according to the Stanford Daily.

"We were tired and frustrated because we were working extra hours without any additional pay," Ah Zhang, one of the employees who reached out to the Asian Law Caucus for help in 2017, said in a press release. The San Francisco nonprofit advocates for the legal and civil rights of low-income Asian Pacific American communities.

In an email to the Weekly, John Lee wrote that they had disputed the claims and that they "regret the tenor of many of the communications about the settlement.

The state labor commission cited the Rangoon Ruby owners for unpaid minimum wages, overtime, paid sick leave, inaccurate pay statements and related penalties. As the citation hearing started, they decided to settle the case, according to the Asian Law Caucus.

The settlement covers the full amount of unpaid wages owed to the workers as well as penalties.

—Elena Kadvany


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Charleston Meadows

on Jan 19, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

6 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of University South
on Jan 19, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Better headline: “City of Palo Alto Managers Continue to Jump Ship after Appointment of Ed Shikada as City Manager.”

12 people like this
Posted by Keene dynasty
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2019 at 4:20 pm

reality check,

“City of Palo Alto Managers Continue to Jump Ship after Appointment of Ed Shikada as City Manager.”

This could be a good thing given the recent survey of growing dissatisfaction with the City which reflects Keene's work.

This is yet another person taking credit for the pets in need resolution, sheesh how many chiefs, assistants and assistants to the assistants did it take to work on that?

Transitions are not easy but they could be opportunities which hopefully in this case will be used for the benefit of residents and not the same ole same ole.

6 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2019 at 7:17 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

As long as we don’t farm out the whole thing to logistics company / defense contractor (as we did with RPP) or to a dark star data sifting unicorn / defense contractor (as we did for....who knows what?).

This is creeping towards feudalism (systematic undermining of public sector) or worse.

7 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Oh, I meant to say thanks, Rob and good luck in L.A.

12 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2019 at 10:39 am

Rose is a registered user.

Many thanks for your service to our residents. You’ve always been approachable, open and available to community members. We’ll miss you.

8 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2019 at 10:45 am

Just curious-- What type of pension/benefit package does Mr. DeGeus depart with after 19 years of service in PA?

14 people like this
Posted by Thank you, Rob.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Thank you, Rob. is a registered user.

It has been a pleasure working with you as a citizen volunteer, Rob. Your positive attitude, civil and warm demeanor, and caring and thoughtful problem-solving will be missed--along with all of the historical knowledge of our fair city that is tucked away in your brain.

I'm sad to see you go...but wishing you the very best in your next endeavors. 19 years. Wow. Time flies.

Best wishes!

4 people like this
Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2019 at 10:44 am

Sheri is a registered user.

Congratulations, Rob! Enjoyed working with you these past many years and wish you well on your new endeavor.

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