March 2013

The northern stretch of Park Street is undergoing a transition from its former life as Alameda's Auto Row. Photo by Michele Ellson.

A rainbow flag flutters over City Hall in support of gay marriage. Photo by Michele Ellson.

Welcome to The Broad Brush, our weekly two-sentence news review. Here’s what happened this week.

The Navy wants to change its cleanup plan for a former Naval Air Station landfill. Maps from the Navy's 2009 cleanup plan for the landfill and its environs.

New information about a former dump at Alameda Point that’s contaminated with radium and a host of other toxic chemicals could prompt changes in the controversial plan to clean it up. But the Navy’s proposed changes would do little to reduce the amount of hazardous waste buried in the dump, which fronts onto San Francisco Bay.

 

Video by Donna Eyestone.

Meet Donna Eyestone. Donna is the woman behind the camera capturing school board meetings live so that you can follow along at home, and for the short videos that have accompanied stories like our special report on the dangers children face on their walk to school. And her work is a key piece of our plan to make The Alamedan a bigger, better news source for readers like you.

More people are getting their news online than ever before, and we’ve responded by creating a website that offers you accurate, authoritative information about your community and its civic affairs. Providing visual elements – photos, graphics, maps and videos – is an increasingly important part of that equation, so we’re increasing their presence on the site.

Prior to launching The Alamedan, I had known Donna as the lady whose fantastic gingerbread creations captured a different local landmark during the holidays each year, and last May I contacted her with the hope of luring her to our new site as a blogger. During what turned into a two-hour coffee, we instead hashed out a plan to bring school board meetings that weren’t being held under the watchful eye of City Hall’s cameras live to interested viewers, and a partnership was born.

Over the last nine months, Donna’s camera has streamed more than a half-dozen school board meetings into local living rooms, including our first-ever live meeting video right here on the site. She’s also captured cultural events like the Plein Air Paintout and Concerts and the Cove and breaking news events like the Nob Hill strike, a recent teacher contract rally at City Hall and a talk by the crew at Artemis Racing.

Over the months to come we’ll be working to incorporate more video into our stories (and to keep bringing you those school board meetings as the school district works to get its own live video in place). But we’ll need your help to make that happen. Last month we launched our $20,000 Challenge, which if met would allow us to pay for an additional news story or video every weekday. If you value what we’re doing and would like to see more of it, we hope you’ll consider supporting our work with a contribution.

Contributions can be made online or by sending a check care of our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives (with Alameda Community News Project in the register), 354 Pine Street Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104. For your contribution you’ll get more news and our thanks, along with an Alamedan T-shirt if you give $100 or more.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and feel free to send your comments and suggestions to michele@thealamedan.org.

 

Girls Inc. of the Island City is seeking your feedback on the nonprofit’s visibility in the community – and they’re offering the chance to win a $100 gift card to Books Inc. as an incentive for filling out their survey.

Photos by Kristen Hanlon.

Tucked away among a row of homes in Bayport, on a stretch of green courtyard that doesn’t see much in the way of pedestrian traffic, sits a cream-and-terracotta box atop a short steel pole. Inside the box is an eclectic array of books - crime novels, children’s books, how-to manuals, and self-help are stacked side-by-side. Adjacent to the box is a child’s chair, painted to match the box, which provides the opportunity for pint-sized passers-by to sit and read.

The Supreme Court is set today and Wednesday to hear arguments for and against Proposition 8, the California initiative that banned same-sex marriages, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. City leaders in Alameda and other East Bay cities are showing their support for gay marriage by flying rainbow flags at City Hall. We asked our Facebook and Twitter followers what they have to say about the case and how they hope the justices will rule. Here are their responses; what do you think?

 

When I first arrived in Alameda my sweetheart took me on a tour of the city, showing it off with obvious pride. One part of the ride was devoted to Central Avenue and the parade of stately trees that line its sidewalks.

Last week we announced a new initiative aimed at explaining Alameda Point, and we asked our readers what they would like to know about the Point and what's happening out there. You responded with an interesting list of questions and comments. Here's what you wanted to know so far. We're getting to work on this list and on some new features we hope will help you feel more engaged in what's happening at Alameda Point; in the meantime, feel free to add to this list in the comments section below or by e-mailing me your questions or comments at michele@thealamedan.org.

For the week of March 25

This week's agenda includes some cancellations and a pair of committee meetings.

Cancellations

Alameda Police logged three dozen accidents at or near Alameda schools between 2010 to 2012. Source: Alameda Police Department.

Heather Little is a traveler who has walked on the edge of volcanoes with her two young children, where the drop is 350 feet down. But she never felt so close to losing her son, she said, as on the day a motorist nearly hit the then-kindergartner in the crosswalk he was riding his bicycle into on the way to school.

Video by Donna Eyestone.

Caroline Topeé faces light traffic on her walk to Haight Elementary School at 8:05 a.m Monday, which takes her, daughter Jovanna, 9, and a friend through a crosswalk that traverses Lincoln Avenue at Chestnut Street and into the school’s back gate.

“But you know what happens? Everybody drops their kids off at the last minute,” Topeé said as she headed out the door to school. “It’s chaos.”

 

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

Contributed graphic.

Alameda’s city leaders offered a unanimous show of support for a future nature reserve at Alameda Point on Tuesday, approving a resolution that affirms the city’s commitment to a wildlife conservation area at the former Navy base and offers support for formally designating more than 500 acres as a conservation area.

Mona Ryberg Nordgren at the Artemis Racing boat launch area. Photo by Dave Bloch.

Six months ago, I wrote an article in this space about a project that Alameda's yacht clubs took on; a letter signed by all seven Commodores was sent to the Lidingö Segelsällskäp (Lidingö Sailing Club) in Lidingö, Sweden (Alameda's sister city). The letter let them know how pleased we are to be the base of Artemis Racing, the Swedish entry in the America's Cup. (You can read that article here: http://thealamedan.org/blog/maritime-report-sailors-hands-across-sea)

On Wednesday, we welcomed our first visitor!

Alameda’s Board of Education is setting aside $5.8 million to cover refunds the district may have to pay on its Measure H parcel tax.

Alameda's Board of Education signed off on a new teacher contract and set aside $5.8 million for possible parcel tax refunds; that and more, in Tweet.

Captain Thomas E. Crabbs hands over the helm of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf to Captain Mark A. Frankford during a change of command ceremony Friday aboard the Bertholf. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Third Class Loumania Stewart.

The Coast Guard cutter Bertholf has a new commanding officer. Captain Mark A. Frankford was installed as the national security cutter’s commanding officer in a ceremony Friday. Frankford, a 1988 Coast Guard Academy graduate who has served seven prior tours, comes to Coast Guard Island from the Pentagon, where he served as Coast Guard liaison officer and chief of the homeland defense and theater security division on the Joint Staff, according to a press release issued by the Coast Guard. He’ll be taking over for Captain Thomas E. Crabbs, whose tour on the Bertholf marked this third commanding officer assignment.

 

It's mid-March, and we're seeing some just outstandingly beautiful days. While the folks back East are enjoying the usual mid-March super storms which dump tons of heavy, wet snow on everything and everybody and make living extra-hard work, we’re having a mini-summer stretch.

Dear Editor,

Each month, the Alameda Education Foundation (AEF) presents teachers with $500 grants as part of its Adopt A Classroom program. Teachers use the funds to support unique learning opportunities in their classrooms. As of February, AEF has distributed $62,000 to teachers! I would like to thank February’s generous donors:

What’s going on at Alameda Point? Today we’re launching a fresh initiative aimed at answering that question, in plain English.

The Alameda Point story has a lot of moving (and overlapping) parts, from ownership and control of the Point to toxic cleanup efforts, wildlife protection and the development possibilities and costs themselves. Up to this point we’ve been following along as best we can with news stories and columns. But it’s become clear to us that there’s a lot more we can, and should, do to bring you into this conversation.

As a first step, we’ll be putting together an FAQ answering the big questions about Alameda Point – call it Alameda Point 101, if you will. And here’s where we could use your help. Tell us what you’d like to know about Alameda Point, either in the comment section below or by sending me an e-mail with your questions, at michele@thealamedan.org. We’ll get answers to your questions and post those and other basic facts about Alameda Point in one easy-to-use (and dynamic) document.

We’re also taking your suggestions about additional Point-related features we could incorporate into a new Alameda Point page here at The Alamedan. Whether it’s links to useful information you think we should include, maps, videos or news stories, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments or to submit them to me in an e-mail.

Thanks for helping us to better tell the story of Alameda Point. We look forward to hearing from you!

Photo by Michele Ellson.

Dave Denyven may be a man of few words, but the Purple Heart and Bronze Star displayed in his living room cabinet speak loudly of his bold action years ago. Now the accolades continue as the Kiwanis Club of Alameda honors Dave Denyven for 60 years of active duty on the Island he now calls his home base.

For the week of March 18

UPDATED at 10:17 a.m. March 18 to note changes in City Council agenda.

This week’s civic calendar includes a double-header of meetings Tuesday, when both the City Council and the Board of Education get together.

Board of Education

The public session begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Alameda High School cafeteria, corner of Central Avenue and Walnut Street.

On the agenda: The board is set to consider approval of a new contract with Alameda’s teachers and also, whether to designate an existing special reserve fund of $5.8 million as Measure H parcel tax refund money in the event a court decides the school district should offer refunds to some commercial property owners, which was collected between 2008-2011. The fund was set up in 2008 and the school board voted in June 2012 to ensure the school district had a strategic reserve equal to a month’s payroll in order to address “unforeseen circumstances.” District staff will also offer an evaluation of a trio of instructional initiatives that aim to boost student achievement and information on the district’s English language learners; spending of $6.6 million in annual “Tier III” program money that has funded programs like adult education, professional development and class size reduction; and distribution of the district’s “highly qualified” teachers.

Members of the public offered their thoughts Thursday on a planned outpatient clinic and cemetery for veterans at Alameda Point, at a pair of hearings on a former aircraft carrier stationed in another corner of the former Navy base.

 

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, our weekly, two-sentence news review. Here’s your headlines for this week.

 

Alameda’s teachers have approved a new contract deal, capping two years of contentious negotiations that played out in public through dueling press releases, heated school board meetings and two trips to state mediators for help.

Contributed photos.

At Spank Salon, getting your makeup done “includes lash application,” according to their price list. Ouch! But that’s not the only reason it’s hard to sit still at this super hip parlor: Compelling art lines its walls, with new work rotated in frequently to keep heads turning.

We’ve come a long way from when redheads were targeted as witches or vampires in the infamous Malleus Maleficarum, but gingerism and its stereotypes linger. Megan Lynn Kott, who describes herself as “a lifelong redhead - in actuality and spirit” and her artistic partner Justin DeVine give some long overdue love to carrot-tops in their show “GINGERLY: an ode to all our favorite redheads,” which opens at Spank Salon on Saturday, March 16.

Architect Rick Williams highlights amenities to be included in a new 19-unit complex for developmentally disabled residents at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. Photo by Dave Boitano.

Jack Capon would have been proud of the crowd that gathered Wednesday in a vacant lot on Lincoln Avenue.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Navy will be taking comments on a draft environmental assessment of plans to build a clinic and columbarium at Alameda Point at a pair of hearings on the USS Hornet today.

Alameda schools leaders are preparing to offer a transitional kindergarten program to young 5-year-olds next year, though many details are still being worked out.

State legislators voted in 2010 to put the program in place starting this school year, though some districts, including Alameda Unified, opted to wait a year due to cuts and deferrals in state funding.

Alameda’s schools could be seeing a rosier financial picture as the state’s finances stabilize and changes to the way schools are funded are considered.

 

Students at three Alameda schools will be showcasing their performing abilities over the next couple of weeks.

Schools leaders are preparing to implement a transitional kindergarten program for young 5-year-olds. They’re set to lay out their plans for implementing the program at tonight’s Board of Education meeting.

 

For the past two weeks I’ve been “nursing” my sweetie through her battle with a stubborn cold that occasions fits of deep coughing, weepy eyes, general loss of appetite and a feeling of malaise.

Alameda police are trying to find the person whose threatening phone call to Alameda High School office staff led to a nearly two-hour lockdown of the campus Monday afternoon.

Alameda High School was locked down this afternoon following a report of a knife on campus. Here's our live report; more to come.

Alamedans polluted less in 2010 than they did five years earlier, the results of a new study show.

Emissions of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants dropped 8 percent over that time, the 2010 Community-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory estimates, putting Alameda on track to meet the city’s reduction target of 25 percent by 2020. But some are questioning whether the numbers will hold as the nation emerges from a recession that likely reduced the car trips that are responsible for much of the pollution, and they say that much more needs to be done.

 

One of the biggest determining factors of success lies in accountability. Accountability is defined as the state of being accountable, liable or answerable. It means that somehow, someway you are presenting expectations of yourself to some other entity.

Photos by Cece Reinhardt; Airstream photo by Y Studio Photography.

Cece Reinhardt and Brenda Daugherty were living the California dream in a cottage in the Santa Cruz Mountains, with two cars and “all the things that most people get excited about.” But having all of that didn’t really make them happy.

Daugherty was commuting to San Francisco for work every day, and even though both had good jobs, they were unable to save the money they wanted to for retirement or for the travel they wanted to do.

“We felt like we were just treading water. And we weren’t happy,” Reinhardt said. “The more stuff we had, the less happy we were.”

 

Last week we celebrated our first birthday, and we shared our plans to make The Alamedan an even richer source of local news and information than what we've built so far. A big part of that effort will involve a redesign of the site, and we could use your help. Tell us what you like about the site as it is now and also, what we can do to make it a better place to visit, either in the comment section below or via e-mail at michele@thealamedan.org. Your suggestions will play an integral role in the look of The Alamedan 2.0, so let us know what you think!

Speaking of last week's birthday post, I want to thank everyone who answered our call for support as well as others who have contributed recently to our efforts to make sure you're getting all the news that matters here in Alameda. Specifically, thanks to the Lindsey family, Steve Gerstle, Susanne Trowbridge, Jim Franz and our own Morton Chalfy for your support! If you'd like to support The Alamedan in meeting its $20,000 fundraising challenge this year, you can make a quick and easy online donation or send checks to our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives (with Alameda Community News Project in the register), 354 Pine Street Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104.

 

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, our two-sentence news review. This week was a busy one in news, so let’s get started.

Alameda’s teachers will be getting the raises their union proposed last April under a tentative agreement they’ll be voting on next week, deal points obtained and released by a local blogger show.

Updated at 10:03 a.m. Thursday, March 7

A state appeals court has affirmed an earlier decision striking much of a 2008 school parcel tax, saying the school district had no right to impose different tax rates on residential and commercial property owners. The court plans to send the Measure H lawsuit back to a local trial court to determine whether much of the money collected over the three years the tax was in effect must be repaid, though it could also be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Updated at 1:25 p.m. Wednesday, March 6

Alameda Police Chief Michael C. Noonan has announced he's planning to retire after 27 years with the local force. His last day is June 1.

Alameda’s City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday to support the U.S. Navy’s plan to give 74 acres it had promised to the city to the Department of Veterans Affairs instead, in an effort to move its proposed clinic and columbarium at Alameda Point away from a prime nesting spot for the endangered California Least Tern. The land the VA now hopes to occupy had been slated for park use.

Contributions are being collected for a sixth grade student and basketball player who lost his father to gun violence in January.

The Alameda Fire Department and the Community Development Department have partnered to fund a citywide Safety and Accessibility Modification Program, a fire and fall safety program that aims to keep Alameda's seniors and disabled people safer in their homes.

Alameda’s Board of Education is going to have a busy two weeks, with four meetings scheduled between tonight and March 19.

Contributed photo.

Alameda Point is set to become home to a second America's Cup team, the city announced Monday morning. The Italian Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 team will be leasing a 65,400 square foot former airplane hangar at the Point for the next seven months, according to a press release issued shortly after 10 a.m. Monday.

Photos by Michele Ellson.

City parks leaders have rescinded a rule barring children under the age of 9 from Alameda’s off-leash dog parks. Children of all ages are again being allowed again, and those under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult and supervised.

Video by Donna Eyestone.

Hundreds of America’s Cup racing fans packed the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex’s main historic theater Thursday night to learn more about the race series starting in July and to meet the members of Challenger of Record Artemis Racing, whose headquarters are in Alameda Point’s Hangar 12.

Thank you for your attention to and coverage of this issue.

I'm very, very skeptical that building a veterans clinic will have no impact on the least tern colony. The VA clinic should remain in a central location serviced by mass transit such as Oakland and BART, rather than being built out on a transit "spur" like the Point. This is very poor planning.

 

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your Alameda news in 60 seconds. Here’s what happened this week.

 

Updated at 2:34 p.m. Friday, March 1

Alameda's teachers are set to vote on a tentative contract deal negotiated with the aid of state Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

School district and union leaders praised Bonta's volunteer mediation of the long-running contract dispute in press releases issued late Thursday night and Friday morning. Neither side was prepared to offer details of the proposal Friday, though Alameda Education Association president Gray Harris said teachers will vote on it during the week of March 11 and the district's press release says the agreement could be approved by the school board at the first meeting it holds after the association's 524 members have their say.