Bay Area Briefs

Wednesday November 21, 2001


Mayor denies role abuse charges 


SAN JOSE — Mountain View Mayor Mario Ambra has pleaded innocent to charges he abused his role as an election official by pressuring city employees to deny two development applications. 

Ambra, who has served on the City Council for five years and as mayor since January, was charged earlier this month after his case was brought before a civil grand jury. He entered his plea Monday. 

He is accused of pressuring employees to deny the applications for land adjacent to property he owns so that he could buy and develop the property himself. He also allegedly urged other city officials to step up code enforcement against another adjacent property in an effort to get the property owner to sell. 

If found guilty, Ambra would be forced to leave the City Council under a rarely used legal provision known as a “grand jury accusation,” but would serve no jail time. 

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 20 in Santa Clara County Superior Court. 



Historian beat by son 


PALO ALTO — The president of the Palo Alto Historical Association was critically injured after her son allegedly beat her when she scolded him for washing an iron skillet with soap. 

Peter Winn Clarkson, 38, was booked on a charge of attempted homicide, police said. 

Susan Bright Winn, 61, was being treated in the intensive care unit of Stanford Medical Center for facial fractures and a throat injury, officials said. She will need extensive reconstructive surgery, police said. 

When Clarkson called 911 on Monday morning he said he was “mental” and had just attacked his mother with his fists during an argument. Clarkson asked that police come get him and that both he and his mother “needed help,” according to police accounts. 

Dan Clarkson, Winn’s other son, said that a year ago his mother took in Peter, who has battled mental problems for years. 

Clarkson was arrested without a struggle and taken to Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose. No bail had been set or arraignment scheduled as of late Monday. 




Stag leaps into FAY’s vineyard 


NAPA — Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars has purchased the remaining 77 acres owned by the late Nathan Fay, which adjoin the FAY Vineyard. The winery has owned the original FAY Vineyard since 1986. 

Fay purchased and planted the FAY Vineyard in 1961, when there were less than 700 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in the state of California. 

In 1969, Warren Winiarski, owner and founder of Stag’s Leap, tasted Fay’s 1968 Cabernet and decided that was the area he would use to produce Cabernet. He planted his first vines on the former orchards just north of Napa in 1970, and the Winiarski family purchased Fay’s original vineyard in 1986.