Almanac wins state-wide awards

The Almanac won eight awards in the California Newspaper Publishers Association contest, including first-place awards for investigative reporting and artistic photo.

The awards were announced Saturday at the CNPA conference in San Jose.

Police misconduct

Almanac reporter Sandy Brundage won first place for her persistent investigative work that uncovered -- in the face of California's ironclad laws against disclosing police misconduct -- how a Menlo Park officer was arrested with a prostitute and then managed to keep his job.

She broke the story in a Jan. 16, 2013, cover story. A vague comment she overheard in a bar turned into a months-long investigation that involved researching records kept out of public sight. The series demonstrated that the confidential binding arbitration process many jurisdictions use to handle appeals of police discipline cases is broken.

The articles identified deficiencies in data-collecting by the district attorney's offices in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. In response, the district attorney of Santa Clara County took steps to collect and publicly disclose data regarding prosecutions of police officers.

Following the series, the Menlo Park City Council implemented a new type of binding arbitration process and the Menlo Park police chief has committed to providing better transparency.

Other awards

Almanac photographer Michelle Le won first place for her image of artist Drue Kataoka reflected in her artwork at the Djerassi artists' compound in the Woodside Hills. Ms. Kataoka's work involved using shards of mirror purposely shaped and arranged on 27 surfaces of a fallen oak tree. The photo ran with the July 24, 2013, cover story on Ms. Kataoka.

Design director Shannon Corey won second place for "page layout and design" for the cover story on Ms. Kataoka and a cover story in the July 31, 2013, Almanac called "Double Duty," an account by Almanac writer Barbara Wood of how Red Cross volunteers responded to a simultaneous double disaster of an airline crash and an apartment-complex fire.

The Almanac also won a second-place award for its website,

In addition, these Almanac entries were named Blue Ribbon Finalists (third or fourth places):

● Best feature story: "Who's watching," a story by Renee Batti, Sandy Brundage and Dave Boyce in the Sept. 25, 2013, Almanac on stepped-up police surveillance through cameras and license-plate readers.

● Education coverage: "Learning how to learn," a story in the Nov. 14, 2012, Almanac by Barbara Wood on a small school in Portola Valley that is a lab for innovations in education.

● Editorial comment: "City overreacts with censoring emails," an editorial by Tom Gibboney in the Feb. 27, 2013, Almanac.

● Artistic photo: Michelle Le's photo of a young swimmer preparing to jump into the new Belle Haven Pool on Aug. 29, 2013.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by More work to do
a resident of another community
on May 4, 2014 at 11:28 pm

While I applaud Ms. Brundage's journalism on police misconduct, there is more to this story that has not been investigated. Namely, the arresting Sunnyvale officer not showing up for trial because of what seemed like a contrived situation, classic thin blue line stuff right out of a movie on rogue cops, which of course led to charges being dropped and the Menlo Park officer who saw a prostitute on his shift retaining his job. Ms. Brundage should be checking into the Sunnyvale cop's time records via public records requests to see if other activities he was engaging in during that time period belie the notion that he couldn't possibly show up for trial.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Congratulations
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2014 at 4:50 am

(Post removed. This is not the place to make unsubstantiated allegations against county officials.)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2014 at 11:23 am

Congratulations to the Almanac, I understand the balancing act that is required to stay in business. I do appreciate the articles that you have published. Thank You for this effort.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Congratulations to The Almanac!

Well deserved - you guys do a terrific job for our community.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by afan
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Sandy seems to have a handle on everything at the Almanac. Lucky to have her.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sullivan
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Well Done!
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 5, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Congratulations to the entire Almanac team-- especially Sandy who truly deserves this recognition for her investigation work. Kudos!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2014 at 8:16 am

Unfortunately, often The Almanac is as "fair and balanced" as Fox non-News. Not journalism -- much REAL local news is not reported, but a relatively small group of local complainers get constant focus. (and are clearly grateful).

It is regrettable that the Almanac's quality has gone down in recent years.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Come on
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 13, 2014 at 6:52 am

First comment......officer still employed! I hope he's not the one writing all those parking tickets....get rid of him....can he testify in a court proceeding? No.....what good is he to Menlo Park and the entire profession.

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