October 2012

Alameda’s City Council took what Mayor Marie Gilmore characterized Tuesday as the first step toward addressing the city’s unfunded pension and retiree benefit costs, which combined have grown to an estimated $193 million this year.


I’m a little over halfway through a series of forty sessions of high energy radiation to treat my case of prostate cancer. This is after a radical Prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland) disclosed that the cancer had not been confined to the prostate.

Click the photo above to see our Meyers House slideshow.

City staffers are hammering out a deal to transfer ownership of the Meyers House to the nonprofit Alameda Museum, which now manages the historic home, The Alamedan has learned.

Who gets your votes in the City Council race?

Seven people are running for two - and possibly three - open seats on Alameda's City Council, with the third seat opening up to the council race runner-up if Vice Mayor Rob Bonta is elected to the state Assembly. Which two candidates will get your vote? Voting will be open through Wednesday, and we'll post the results Friday.

In the meantime, Board of Education candidate Michael Robles-Wong topped our no-scientific voter poll last week, with 66 percent of the 126 people who participated saying they plan to vote for him in the upcoming school board race. Nielsen Tam came in second place, earning clicks from 57 percent of poll participants, and Ron Mooney came in third, with 56 percent.

Barbara Kahn came in fourth place in the poll, with 24 percent of participants saying they'll vote for her, and Trish Herrera Spencer came in fifth, with 22 percent. Tom Lynch, Kurt Peterson and Jon Murphy rounded out the voting, with 16 percent, 13 percent and nine percent of participants saying they're voting for each of those candidates.

The poll results can be viewed here.

More information on all of your local candidates and ballot measures is available in our Alameda Elections '12 election center. An additional poll featuring Alameda Health Care District candidates will be up later this week.

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
51% (37 votes)
Jane Sullwold
44% (32 votes)
Jeff Cambra
34% (25 votes)
Tony Daysog
25% (18 votes)
Stewart Chen
6% (5 votes)
Joana Darc Weber
4% (3 votes)
Gerard Valbuena Dumuk
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 72
After poll is closed

Alameda’s teacher and firefighter unions have opened their checkbooks for local candidates over the past several weeks, spending more than $30,000 on campaign literature and lawn signs for the candidates they support, newly filed campaign disclosures show.


Welcome to another edition of The Broad Brush, your two-sentence news review. Here’s what happened this week.


OK, so this week really belongs to the Giants, who now are up against the team from my childhood home of Detroit. (Do you remember Al Kaline? Norm Cash?

The City Council is holding a special meeting Tuesday to talk about how they’ll address the city’s pension and retiree health liability. They’ll also be soliciting public input on how the city should proceed in its upcoming contract negotiations with police and firefighters.

The head of the East Bay Regional Park District is threatening to sue the city over a decision to allow housing development on a piece of federal property across the street from the Crab Cove Visitors Center, which the park district had hoped to acquire for a parking lot and other uses.

Who gets your votes in the Board of Education race?

Eight people are running for three seats on Alameda's Board of Education (A ninth candidate, Robert Mann, is on the ballot but has suspended his campaign). Which three get your vote? Our poll is open through Friday, and we'll post the results on Monday. And if you need more information, our election center is here.

Michael Robles-Wong
66% (84 votes)
Nielsen Tam
57% (73 votes)
Ron Mooney
56% (71 votes)
Barbara Kahn
24% (31 votes)
Trish Herrera Spencer
22% (28 votes)
Tom Lynch
16% (21 votes)
Kurt Peterson
13% (17 votes)
Jon Murphy
9% (12 votes)
Total votes: 126
After poll is closed

City leaders have secured a state commission’s approval of a deal that will allow them to assemble now disparate pieces for future development of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, which they are hailing as a “momentous step” toward the revitalization of Alameda Point.

The Planning Board’s discussion Monday about a proposal to build 89 homes where at Chipman Relocation warehouse now stands took a unique turn: Some Planning Board members said they want more homes built on the site, while the developer seeking to build there said he’d be happy to construct fewer of them.

After more than a decade of banking locally, Alameda Municipal Power appears prepared to move to a bigger bank.

Recently I was posed a question by the Harbor Bay Isle board of directors regarding ambulance coverage on Bay Farm Island. The question was as follows:


Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, our weekly, two-sentence news review. Here’s our quick take on the news this week.

Updated at 1:25 p.m. Monday, October 22

The November ballot contains two state measures that would raise taxes to help pay public school costs, Proposition 30 and Proposition 38. Here’s an explanation of what each measure would do if passed.


Have you registered to vote yet? If not, the folks over a Silk Road will be happy to help you do so. They're hosting a Rock the Vote voter registration drive from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday - and we'll be there.

High and low tide at the Marina Village Yacht Harbor. Notice the height of the concrete post and the steepness of the ramp; remember that it is the DOCK that has moved up and down. Photos by Dave Bloch.

David Burke at the opening of “Pump & Dump Prosperity.” Photo by Michael Singman-Aste. Click the photo for a slideshow featuring David Burke's art.

Measure D does more than just offering voters the chance to increase protection for Alameda’s parks. Measure D builds crucial momentum for preserving open space and creating new park lands for our Island community.

The City Council on Tuesday denied an appeal to allow patrons of a planned Park Street CVS and shopping center to make right turns on Park, and added conditions to the approval of their development plan there.

The council also nixed a proposal to set up a loading zone on Park Street where the drugstore could unload large trucks between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.


We have a visitor to the family staying with us this week and he expressed a wish to revisit Muir Woods after a space of over 30 years. Accommodating as ever, we set out Friday (to avoid the weekend crowds) on the trek to the heart of Tamalpais State Park.

Every Tuesday, Molly Shannon makes her rounds of patients young and old at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Her pre-visit preparation includes a light dusting of makeup and the donning of a bright red clown nose.

“Are you trying to get registered to vote?” Ruth Dixon asks a student venturing shyly toward the League of Women Voters of Alameda’s table in the quad at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School at the end of a noisy lunchtime rush.

Updated at 3:56 p.m. Monday, October 15 and at 8:47 a.m. Wednesday, October 17

Candidates for local Board of Education and Alameda Health Care District Board seats are raising and spending far less than Alameda’s City Council hopefuls, with most of the candidates pledging to spend less than $1,000 on their campaigns.


Welcome to our regularly scheduled edition of The Broad Brush, your weekly, two-sentence news review. A lot happened this week, so let’s get started.

Photo by Kristen Hanlon.

Julia Park Tracey is a longtime fixture on Alameda’s literary arts scene. A founding editor of the Alameda Sun, she is the author of a novel (Tongues of Angels) and a collection of poems (Amaryllis), and her freelance writing has appeared in many venues. She also maintains a blog, Modern Muse, at http://www.modernmuse.blogspot.com/. Her most recent project is I've Got Some Lovin' to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1925-1926), the first in a series publishing the diaries of her great-aunt, Doris Bailey Murphy (1910-2011).

Excerpt from "I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen" reprinted with permission from Julia Park Tracey and the Bailey family.

Doris Takes the Wheel…

Alameda’s public schools saw test scores rise this past year, though not enough for some schools that have consistently failed to meet test score targets to escape federal scrutiny.


Election night is fast approaching and we don’t want you to spend it watching the returns alone. So we’re hosting a grand old party, and you’re invited.


The first America's Cup World Series events in San Francisco are over. The next regattas are scheduled for Venice and Naples, Italy, in spring 2013; three or four teams come back with larger, 72-foot boats for the Louis Vuitton Cup next July.

City officials and a citizen group are questioning the Navy’s proposed plan to address the risks posed by radioactive paint and other toxic chemicals that lie under a group of buildings at the heart of Alameda Point, saying the Navy focused too much on cleanup costs in creating its plan and questioning whether they know enough about what contaminants are in the ground to move forward with it.

We here at The Alamedan love Election Day so much that we’re celebrating with a pair of events, and we’re inviting you to join us!

Alameda’s public school students are doing better on English, writing and math than they were four years ago, but black and Latino students continue to lag behind their white and Asian peers.

“We have some very exciting trends. But we also have some very disturbing trends,” Board of Education President Margie Sherratt said of testing and other data presented to the board on Tuesday.

Photos courtesy of St. Joseph Notre Dame High School.

Today marks the opening of voting for the November 6, 2012 election, the first day vote-by-mail ballots can be submitted. And if you're looking for more information about your local races, you've come to the right place.

Alameda’s City Council candidates have collected and spent less so far on this election than their counterparts did in 2010, campaign disclosure statements obtained by The Alamedan show.

Donor disclosures: Assembly candidate Rob Bonta

Alameda Elections '12

Donor disclosures: Assembly candidate Abel Guillen

Alameda Elections '12

Donor disclosures: City Council candidiate Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

Alameda Elections '12

Donor disclosures: City Council candidate Jeff Cambra

Alameda Elections '12

Donor disclosures: City Council candidate Stewart Chen

Alameda Elections '12

Donor disclosures: City Council candidate Tony Daysog

Alameda Elections '12

Donor disclosures: City Council candidate Gerard Valbuena Dumuk

Alameda Elections '12

Donor disclosures: City Council candidate Jane Sullwold

Alameda Elections '12

The developers of the Alameda Landing project have made some tweaks to their retail strategy that they hope will maximize their chances of filling a planned 285,000-square-foot shopping center behind the College of Alameda – and raise Alameda’s sales tax revenues by up to a half million dollars a year.


When choosing materials in a remodel, it’s important to consider not only the design, durability and functionality, but also how the smells or off-gassing may affect inhabitants of the house.

This weekend, Bay Area residents and merchants will gather on Webster Street to celebrate Alameda’s history as a resort community. The Webster Street festival is an annual event, but what’s different this year is its name. The Alameda Chamber of Commerce renamed the annual Webster Street festival the “Neptune Beach Community Celebration,” in honor of the Neptune Beach era. In renaming the festival, it recognized the contributions that rail and Neptune Beach made to help fuel the rapid growth of Webster Street.

The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit is coming to Alameda Point this weekend, and they’re bringing the Navy, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and local police and firefighters with them.

Photographers and crew are huddled in the open cabin of the windward mark boat. Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget, Copyright 2012 ACEA.

The nonprofit East Bay Green Corridor is a multi-faceted collaboration of entities that spans the entire East Bay area, but it has a unifying mission: to make the East Bay an epicenter of environmentally sustainable business. The Green Corridor group would like the world to see Alameda and Contra Costa counties as the Silicon Valley of clean technology.

In observance of October as National Disability Awareness month, Alameda’s Commission on Disability Issues is pleased to inform city residents on efforts to make our city even more accessible to people with disabilities and to create an environment for aging in place.

Much has been written about Fifth Street Station, the historic train station in the Neptune Beach district. But little is known about the building next door - the Suelflohn Building at 478 Central Avenue. Built in 1915 by Gustave H.

Officers in the Alameda Police Department have driven Ford Crown Victorias “pretty much since they came out with them” in 1992, Captain Dave Boersma said, their powerful rear-wheel drive and ample size making the Crown Vic the department’s go-to car.

“They were kind of just a good workhorse,” Boersma said of the police vehicles.

As part of our ongoing voter education efforts, The Alamedan has consolidated candidates' answers to our questionnaires into a trio of handy cheat sheets, which are attached at the bottom of this post.

City Council candidate cheat sheet

Michele Ellson

Board of Education candidate cheat sheet

Michele Ellson

Alameda Health Care District Board candidate cheat sheet

Michele Ellson

During America’s silly season, Election Year, we are assailed with statements to the effect of “we need to run the government like a business” and other really stupid ideas.

One of the things I enjoy most about running The Alamedan is that it offers me the honor of working with some extremely talented people. One of them is Chuck Kapelke, who produced the City Council and Board of Education candidate videos posted on the site today.


On Monday night, city officials held the last of three community meetings to discuss a new Fire Station 3 and emergency operations center. Preliminary planning on the new facilities is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving.

John Stokes is 87 now, but he clearly remembers his service during World War II. During the bloody battle of Okinawa off Japan, Stokes and the rest of a gun detachment assigned to an ammunition ship survived 32 air attacks by Japanese planes and shot down two of them.

On Saturday, Stokes stood on the dock of the Encinal Yacht Club to assist hundreds of other veterans who were there for a much quieter afternoon on San Francisco Bay. Stokes was one of 300 volunteers who took part in the 16th annual Margot Brown Wheelchair Regatta, an outing for aged vets who are disabled and living in Northern California Veterans Administration hospitals.