LOCATION: 1001 FREMONT AVE DATE: 05/31/2013 TIME: 11:45 AM
SUSPECT: Thomas Andrew Cronin AGE: 26
On May 29, 2013, at about 10:18 AM, a robbery occurred at U.S. Bank located at 1001 Fremont Avenue, Los Altos. The suspect entered through the front door of the bank and approached a teller. The suspect displayed a handgun, demanded money from the teller and obtained an undisclosed amount of cash. A witness observed the suspect fleeing and provided a vehicle description for responding officers. Officers located a vehicle matching the description provided by the witness, near the intersection of Rosita Avenue and Anderson Court in Los Altos. Officers stopped the vehicle and detained the single occupant. The driver, identified as 26-year-old Thomas Andrew Cronin of Los Altos, was arrested at the scene of the car stop. Cronin was booked at the Santa Clara County Main Jail on one count of robbery.
During this investigation, Los Altos Police Detectives were able to link Thomas Cronin to several other recent robberies in Los Altos. Today, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office filed seven additional counts of robbery pertaining to the following crimes:
February 2, 2013: Robbery at Standard Liquors, 303 First Street, Los Altos
February 11, 2013: Robbery at Bank of the West, 176 Main Street, Los Altos
March 6, 2013: Robbery at Comerica Bank, 275 Third Street, Los Altos
March 19, 2013: Robbery at Standard Liquors, 303 First Street, Los Altos
April 11, 2013: Robbery at Comerica Bank, 275 Third Street, Los Altos
May 13, 2013: Robbery at Shell Gas, 929 Fremont Avenue, Los Altos
May 17, 2013: Robbery at Round Table Pizza, 399 First Street, Los Altos
Anyone with any information pertaining to these crimes is encouraged to contact the Los Altos Police Department Investigative Services Division at (650) 947-2770. Press inquiries may be directed to Captain Andy Galea at (650) 947-2770
BY: S. McCrossin AUTHORIZED BY: A. Galea
DATE: 05/31/2013 DATE: 05/31/2013 TIME: 11:45 AM
And why the need for a Necessity Defense Vehicle Habitation Legal Fund?
By some estimates millions of Californians still find themselves unemployed or underemployed despite a reported uptick in our economy.
As it stands, over 1 million Californians have lost all unemployment benefits and it may in fact be years before we see the light of day on any real job recovery on a state or national level.
Never-the-less, our present day economy has forced many families to live on streets across America in their vehicles and the city of Palo Alto is no exception.
This has given rise to some in the community of Palo Alto to voice their concerns of vehicles parked overnight in their neighborhoods prompting city officials to consider an outright ban on overnight vehicle habitation.
Over the past two years, the city of Palo Alto in a shared community outreach effort has engaged all city vehicle habitation dwellers and their major stake holders to come up with a plan or ordinance which satisfies the needs of all concerned.
Palo Alto’s police Chief Dennis Burns recently presented questionable data on the actual number of vehicle dweller complaints, but failed in presenting any comparable data on the number of calls for service on unruly bar patron’s or for that mater any other calls for service.
This fact alone has many vehicle dwellers claiming fool play to the existence of any real problems at all. They feel it’s the affluent vs. disenfranchised or “not in my neighborhood” mentality and reminiscent of racial segregation calls of the 60’s .
Some have even gone as far as to believe that Chief Dennis Burns presented the equivalent of “filing a false police report” to the Policy and Services Committee claiming by his personal appearance alone, “Stacked the Deck” against the vehicle dwellers.
They also claim city attorney Molly Stump in collaboration with the chief, ordered members of the press banned from covering public discussion on city government property.
All designed some further contend, without the benefit of any real transparency and open government to quietly enact a new city ordinance designed to purge the disenfranchised off the streets of Palo Alto prompting one civic watchdog and civil rights attorney Aram James to release the following statement:
“I don’t want the city jamming this draconian ordinance down the throats of the unsheltered community–and at this point this is how they are using the Eugene Ordinance–as a threat i.e., either develop and take responsibility for a Eugene like program–or we will be forced to oppose this oppressive ordinance.
Given my limited time and particular skill set –I will continue to focus my energies on educating CCT members (community cooperation team)–and others in the unsheltered Community–on possible legal strategies to consider–necessity, nullification–and maybe constitutional challenges.”
The history of America is enshrined in acts of civil disobedience. From the civil rights movement of the 60’s to the modern day Occupy Movement that has taken the U.S. by storm by highlighting the many social injustices impacting the working class.
For this reason we have decided to launch and establish a Necessity Defense Vehicle Habitation Legal Fund designed to defend vehicle dwellers against the city of Palo Alto through legal representation should the city of Palo Alto enact a specially designed ordinance to rid its’ disenfranchised vehicle dweller off the city streets of Palo Alto.
“Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?. . . . . . If the injustice [of the machine of government] has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.” -Henry David Thoreau-
If you wish, you may contribute to the Necessity Defense Vehicle Habitation Legal Fund any amount will be welcomed by utilizing the “Donate” feature located on the front page of Palo Alto Free Press allowing your contributions to civilly stop this seemingly unjust city planned ordnance. You will receive an email acknowledgement of your contribution in addition to a quarterly statement of all monies held in trust.
To assist our readers to understand why the need for “Necessity Defense” and it’s history, the following is being provided……..
‘Freedom of expression in a free society includes freewheeling public dissent on controversial political issues of the day. Civil disobedience is a form of protest that, while usually peaceful, involves violating the law—usually by trespassing on government property, blocking access to buildings, or engaging in disorderly conduct.
Civil disobedience has been called “the deliberate violation of law for a vital social purpose.”1 In their day in court, civil disobedients have at times sought to interpose the necessity defense to justify their conduct.
The necessity defense asserts that breaking the law was justified in order to avert a greater harm that would occur as a result of the government policy the offender was protesting. Protestors will seek to invoke the necessity defense not so much to gain acquittal from the relatively minor charges, but to advance the more important objective of publicly airing the moral and political issues that inspired their act of civil disobedience.
There is the hope of gaining notoriety for a cause by discussing it in court, and “educating” the jury about political grievances or other social harms. The strategy is meant to appeal to a higher principle than the law being violated—the necessity of stopping objectionable government policies—and to let the jury have an opportunity to weigh their technically illegal actions on the scales of justice.
Acquittal is of course hoped for in the end but may be quite low on the protestors’ list of priorities. The necessity defense is attractive to reformers who practice civil disobedience because it allows them to deny guilt without renouncing their socially driven acts. It offers a means to discuss political issues in the courtroom, a forum in which reformers can demand equal time and, perhaps, respect. Moreover, its elements allow civil disobedients to describe their political motivations. In proving the imminence of the harm, they can demonstrate the urgency of the social problem.
In showing the relative severity of the harms, they can show the seriousness of the social evil they seek to avert. In establishing the lack of reasonable alternatives, they can assault the unresponsiveness of those in power in dealing with the problem and prod them to action. And in presenting evidence of a causal relationship, they can argue the importance of individual action in reforming society. Thus, the elements of the necessity defense provide an excellent structure for publicizing and debating political issues in the judicial forum.
The goal of describing their political motivations to the jury, and implicitly to the media, is subject to numerous hurdles inherent in the necessity defense. In most instances, as we will see, courts will rule as a matter of law that the actors have failed in the offer of proof regarding the elements of the necessity defense so that the jury rarely is given the chance to weigh in on the matter.
On the other hand, if the defense is allowed, the jury is called upon to weigh controversial political issues and to function as the “conscience of the community.” “Reflected in the jury’s decision is a judgment of whether, under all the circumstances of the event and in the light of all known about the defendant, the prohibited act, if committed, deserves condemnation by the law.”
In cases where judges have been persuaded to allow the necessity defense, juries have, often enough, delivered not guilty verdicts. This article will first examine the nature of civil disobedience, and distinguish between direct and indirect civil disobedience. Part II highlights some historical examples of civil disobedience.
Part IV then examines the principles of the necessity defense, analyzing each of the elements that make up the defense, illustrated with cases on point. Next, Part V will turn to an analysis of several abortion-protest cases that raise issues different from other types of civil disobedience cases. Part VI then will examine Viet Nam era civil disobedience cases. Following that, Part VIII will explore a unique defense known as the Nuremberg Principles defense.’
An old biblical proverb comes to mind when money or finances are discussed. Some say, money is the root of all evil. But in reality money can be the cause of all injurious things. Money is what makes the world go round. Money can in fact have a corrupting influence on our politicians and businesses alike we need only look to our past corporate scandal sheet.
If we are going to entrust our civic leadership as our personal bankers of this money, then in light of all previous scandals there needs to be full accountability and transparency with absolutely no closed bank vault doors on any discussions.
Let’s not forget the fact that the previous city attorney Gary Baum negotiated behind closed doors a settlement with ENRON to the tune of 21 million dollars only because he felt litigation would have been to costly. There were few cities nationally which buckled under this premise.
The ENRON and City of Bell scandals should serve as a vivid reminder to all of what can go wrong with no oversight. Any decisions as to how the money should be spent should be given full public disclosure and now is not the time for the citizens of Palo Alto too remain silent if we are to experience any re-occurrence of the 21 million dollar give-away by Gary Baum and those responsible council-members.
What concerns us is that councilman Greg Scharff and now mayor has always pushed for new public safety building and with this “windfall” it just may serve as a blank check to promote his personal agenda’s and ambitions.
Anything that involves the council’s policy and services committee and or its finance committee needs to be fully transparent and the citizens fully engaged in this process. Nothing should take place behind closed doors. 21st century democracy demands this; there should be no mistaking, there’s simply too much money at stake to trust our current leadership with this responsibility.
The only way citizens can truly control and trust the essence of city managers James Keene’s notions of “methodically and cautiously” spending in any responsible way as noted in the paloaltooneline.com, is to place a watchful eye over how the money is managed or leveraged into “transformative investments” that benefits the community and not the councils special interests.
It sounds harmless enough. If city government ban or restricts newspaper racks in the interest of beautification. Newspapers that have published stories critical of city officials lose their rights to distribute.
One of the most shocking local stories in the past few days was how Palo Alto’s Community Cubberley Community center is becoming, in the words of city manager James Keene, a “de facto homeless shelter”.
The Cubberley parking lot is where car campers spend the night. They’re attracted by the bathrooms and showers at the city run community center. This was one of the observations made at a City Council policy and services committee meeting on Tuesday.
At the end of the meeting, in a 2-1 vote, the committee sent to the full council recommendation that the city ban sleeping in cars, something Mountain View, Menlo Park and Redwood City did years ago.
When it reaches counsel, you can bet that homeless advocates will fill the chambers, making dramatic presentations about how such a ban “criminalizes the poor.”
Every time the issue of homelessness comes before Council, the comments at the microphone are emotional, and the meeting becomes a show.
After an emotional outpouring against a proposal to ban car camping occurred at a July 18, 2011, council meeting, Keene shelved the idea and tried alternatives. One idea was to ask the city’s 42 churches to open their parking lots to car campers.
Two churches took the city up on the offer: University Lutheran Church at Stanford Avenue and Bowdoin Street and First Presbyterian Church at Copper Street and Lincoln Avenue.
But pressure from neighbors caused First Pres to back off. I understand the desire to ban car camping I wouldn’t want a camper parked in front of my house either.
That’s scary to a family with kids. And I certainly wouldn’t want car campers using my yard as their restroom. On the other hand, the streets belong to all of us.
If you’re down on your luck, and all you’ve got is your car, it’s extreme to say you can’t park that vehicle on a public street overnight.
Seeking a middle ground
How about we ban campers from residential streets, but allow them to park for no more than 72 hours in commercial areas where there are no homes? Palo Alto has miles and miles of such streets.
I don’t have a solution to the bathroom/shower question. It’s not the city taxpayers’ responsibility to provide bathrooms and showers. But restaurant owners, who are required by law to provide bathrooms, shouldn’t have to cater to the homeless either. Maybe the Opportunity Center on Encina Avenue would come to the rescue?
During last nights Policy and Services Committee meeting Council members Liz Kniss, Larry Klein and city manager James Keene have resurrected the segregated south by officially recommending that the City of Palo Alto make it illegal for homeless people to possess and or own a vehicle.
“Injustice fights with two weapons, force and fraud.. A common form of injustice is chicanery, that is, an over-subtle, in fact a fraudulent construction of the law.” Cicero – On Moral Duties
“The law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” Thomas Jefferson
The Vehicle Habitation Ordinance last night was first brought to City Council almost two years ago but shelved after dozens of residents stated that an ordinance was not necessary and was a cruel and merit-less tactic to push the homeless out of Palo Alto into neighboring communities.
In response the City created a “Working Group” to discuss alternatives to an ordinance. Contrary to Curtis Williams’ assertion last night that only one alternative was presented during the Working Group’s meetings, there were several other options placed on the table that he, the City Attorney and Police Chief have refused to consider or bring to City Council’s attention.
Interestingly most of the discussion during the P&S meeting revolved around the problems associated with the homeless in general and not about the use of vehicles by the homeless, “Vehicle Dwellers.”
At one point city staff person Minka Van der Zwaag was referring to problems in public showers and bathrooms. What does a shower inside a building have to do with a person placing his belongings in his vehicle and sleeping there at night?
It became apparent that city staff was mixing apples with oranges to fictionalize a mountain of a problem when there is less than a mole-hill.
Police chief Dennis Burns presented some statistics regarding calls for service specifically related to Vehicle Dwellers isolated to one location in town, Cubberley Center, where as many as 30 homeless sleep at night in addition to 5 to 10 vehicle dwellers.
Chief Burns stated that there were 10 calls for service in 2010, 18 calls for service in 2011, 39 calls for service in 2012 and 9 calls for service for the first four months of 2013.
Chief Burns could not present the number of calls for service at Lytton Plaza or outside the local bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants for those same years which is assumed to be well over 300. The problems at some of these locations are so pervasive that police officers actually station themselves there for hours on end. I wonder how much the city spends each year on its officers to hang out in front of “The Patio” sports bar and Lytton Plaza?
Is there any reason why the city cannot proactively patrol Cubberley Center in order to head off any problems with the homeless and or Vehicle Dwellers?
Chief Burns neglected to identify the nature of the calls at Cubberley and how many different people they are attributed to or the outcome of those calls. For instance, was a call for service over a Vehicle Dweller urinating in public or just being there in his/her vehicle? Was it a legitimate complaint or one fabricated out of a paranoid prejudice against Vehicle Dwellers?
Minka Van der Zwaag presented a case in how the current laws work when enforced by describing how one vehicle dweller was storing belongings in the public parking lot which resulted in that person removing the debris after complaints were made.
Councilman Klein justified his support for an ordinance by relying on the Chief’s unsubstantiated statistics of an increase in Vehicle Dwellers. What does that have to do with behavior? In justifying the ordinance based upon the number of Vehicle Dwellers living in Palo Alto Klein empirically reveals that the ordinance is not about disrespectful or unlawful behavior but based upon the economic color of Vehicle Dwellers’ skin.
Council member Kniss asserted over and over that this ordinance does not criminalize the homeless or vehicle dwellers, but is just a tool for the PAPD to deal with those few Vehicle Dwellers who are causing problems and that the ordinance would only be used on a complaint basis.
The problem with this assertion is that Kniss, City Attorney Molly Stump, City Manager James Keene and Police Chief Dennis Burns have not identified what a legitimate complaint is.
Based upon the current ordinance: John Doe who lives on the 100 block of Addison calls the police to report a person sleeping in his vehicle; the police show up and arrest the person because the person is homeless and has no permanent address and has been contacted by the police before for refusing to leave Palo Alto or avail himself of homeless services despite the fact that this person drives a taxi-cab full time.
This Vehicle Dweller is not violating any nuisance laws, his only offense is his existence in Palo Alto in a vehicle.
Council Member Liz Kniss, Police Chief Dennis Burns, City Attorney Molly Stump and City Manager James Keene state that the ordinance is necessary to punish Vehicle Dwellers for violating current laws such as urinating in public, littering, disturbing the peace, etc… because when Vehicle Dwellers violate current laws the police are never around to catch them in the act.
If that is the true motivation behind the ordinance, then Larry Klein, Liz Kniss, Dennis Burns, Molly Stump and James Keene need to explain to the citizens of Palo Alto how they intend to go after homeless people who do not have vehicles who never get caught urinating and littering etc… in public because the police are never around to catch them?
There are a 70 homeless people living in Palo Alto who do not have vehicles whom this ordinance will not affect who will still be urinating and littering when the police are not around to catch them.
Perhaps Kniss and Klein will make it illegal for homeless people to walk around with a sleeping bag and a back-pack full of clothes or even ride a bicycle.
Based upon the City’s rational for criminalizing the use of vehicles by the homeless, one has to conclude that the City will pass an ordinance outlawing the use of bicycles and eliminate the bars from downtown.
Who would be more likely to pass a Vehicle Habitation Ordinance; Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. or would Jefferson Davis, Hitler and the Klu Klux Klan be more likely?
“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.” John Wooden
”We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.” Will Rogers
Klein, Kniss, Keene, Burns and the others will no doubt take umbrage to the above characterization, however instead of contemplating how their own actions are perceived by those whom they will be affecting they hide in denial refusing to allow their position to be challenged from true debate where legitimacy or illegitimacy of any position is revealed.
“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).” Ayn Rand
In an effort to discover who leaked information to Associated Press reporters regarding the details of a CIA operation that squashed a terror plan the Department of Justice secretly obtained 2 months worth of phone records of 20 phone lines in AP offices of which a 100 reporters used.
The purpose of the Press is to expose corruption in government. This invasive intrusion into the workings of the Press by the government will have a chilling effect on the ability of the Press and its sources to reveal the truth of what the government wants to hide from the citizens, Ala’ Benghazi.
What they are saying:
Patrick Henry: “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”
John F. Kennedy:“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt:“These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
“We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.” Pruitt has demanded that the department return all records collected and destroy all copies.
Ben Wizner, ACLU: “Obtaining a broadrange of telephone records in order to ferret out a government leaker is an unacceptable abuse of power.” “Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy, and that freedom often depends on confidential communications between reporters and their sources.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.):“Any abridgement of the First Amendment right to the freedom of the press is very concerning.”
Senator Patrick Leahy:“I am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government’s explanation.”
Congressman Darrell Issa:“They’re looking at what is considered to be confidential.”
Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Office: “The media’s purpose is to keep the public informed and it should be free to do so without the threat of unwarranted surveillance,” “The Attorney General must explain the Justice Department’s actions to the public so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again.”
James Madison: “A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.”
Thomas Jefferson: “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
Palo Alto police said yesterday they have arrested a Vespa scooter rider who threatened to hurt a woman driver after the two got into a road rage fight on Alma Street.
Police said a Palo Alto woman call them on May 1st after she and the man on the scooter, later identified as Patrick Little, 49, of Mountain View, got into a road rage.
Police said that the woman was driving her sedan south on the 800 block of Alma Street at 6 p.m. when she and Little, who was behind her, change lanes at the same time, cutting off Little.
When the two vehicles stopped at the intersection with Homer Street, the woman said Little began arguing with her and accusing her of cutting him off.
The woman said she became scared and told Little she was going to call police and he in turn threatened to hurt her, according to police.
Once the light turned green, Little continued yelling threats at her and drove in front of her, pumping his brakes to make it harder for the woman to drive, police said.
The woman took photos of Little’s license plate and he drove away. Police arrested Little on suspicion of threatening the woman with serious bodily injury or death, a felony. Police said Little was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on May 2nd.
On May 7 th,2013 at approximately 2pm, the Menlo Park Police Department’s Narcotic Enforcement Team along with East Palo Alto’s Special Investigations Bureau, and the San Francisco Office of the FBI served a search warrant in the 2300 block of Menlato Avenue in East Palo Alto.
The search warrant was the result of a several week-long investigation into John Wayne Price, 38 year old male out of Menlo Park. The investigation revealed Price was selling cocaine base out of a residence in the 2300 block of Menalto Avenue in East Palo Alto.
At the conclusion of the search warrant, Price was arrested after a large quantity of cocaine base and a loaded stolen firearm was located inside of the residence.
Price was booked into San Mateo County Jail for possession for sales of cocaine base and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Price has since posted $100,000 bail and has been released from county jail. Also arrested in the residence was Yoland a Wright, 49 year old female out of East Palo Alto. Wright was found to have a no-bail probation warrant for her arrest. Write was booked into San Mateo County jail.
For more information on this release contact:
Acting Commander Eric Cowans at
or (650) 330-6357