June 2013

Photo courtesy of the Alameda Education Foundation.

Judy Blank and Anna Elefant were looking for a new way to help Alameda’s schools after a stint as co-chairs of the then-new Bay Farm Elementary School’s PTA. Elefant was elected to the school board, while Blank, who was a dental hygienist by trade, joined a group seeking to revive a decade-old foundation that funded enrichment classes at local schools. Blank is leaving the Alameda Education Foundation after more than two decades of service that included seven years as board president and two as executive director, leaving a legacy that includes a supply store for teachers, charters’ inclusion in the foundation’s middle school sports program – and Alameda’s very own Monopoly game.

Dear Editor,

As someone who has worked on the closure and development of the Naval Air station for the past 20 years, I was as excited as everyone there to witness the transfer of the first phase of Navy lands to the City of Alameda. The Mayor, City Manager and others echoed the feeling of most of us for this major forward step in finally developing Alameda Point.

Updated at 6:57 a.m. Monday, July 1

San Francisco Bay Ferry will step up service for Alameda’s commuters today as BART workers strike.

 

For the week of July 1, 2013

Rent Review Advisory Committee

The Rent Review Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. Monday, July 1 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

Residents who attended a public information session Thursday on a proposal for Alameda Hospital to become an affiliate of the county medical system wanted to know more about the financial health of the county system, whether they would continue to pay the parcel tax they’re charged each year to support the hospital – and whether the parking problems that already exist there will get worse.

Park Street's Dog Bone Alley reached out to pet-owning poets this past May and asked them to pen paens to their parrots, Persians and pooches. They pawed through the entries and selected three winners to post in the pet shop; winners also received store gift certificates.

 

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

When city leaders signed a deal to receive about 1,800 acres of Alameda Point from the Navy at no cost, it came with one small string attached: The city had to agree to construct no more than 1,425 new homes on the land – or to pay a premium of $50,000 for each new home that exceeds the limit.

Blind sailor Mitsuhiro Iwamoto at the 2012 California Invitational Blind Sailing Regatta in Alameda. Photo courtesy of the Island Yacht Club.

BLIND SAILOR RESCUED

Here's what your elected leaders had to say about today's Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage.

Alamedans are expressing elation over a pair of Supreme Court rulings that boost gays’ right to marry and to receive the same federal benefits as their heterosexual counterparts, though some said there is still work to be done.

“I’m very pleased that the dignity of the LGBTQ community in California has been restored with Prop 8 being overruled. At the same time I am saddened that the Supreme Court did not provide for same-sex marriage across the land,” said Henry Villareal, who serves on the city’s Social Service Human Relations Board and its Alamedans Together Against Hate workgroup.

Parents protest the school board's approval of a plan to move the Alameda Community Learning Center onto the Wood Middle School campus.

Here's what happened at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, in Tweets.

 

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study on the economic health of nonprofit news outlets, which the folks at Pew deemed a “growing but fragile” part of the nation’s news system. In their survey of 172 nonprofit news organizations – including The Alamedan – Pew’s researchers found that most were optimistic about the future, despite facing substantial challenges to their economic well-being.

More than half of the 93 organizations that completed a detailed survey said they needed more staff to handle business, fundraising and marketing, while nearly two-thirds said finding time to attend to those tasks was a major challenge. Some 61 percent of the organizations said they got started with the aid of a major grant, grants most don’t expect will be renewed when the money runs out.

We here at The Alamedan view the rise of the Web and its attendant proliferation of new tools as a tremendous opportunity to both restore a critical service that’s being lost as traditional news outlets decline and to improve on what you were getting before. But the new media landscape offers a host of challenges, fundraising primary among them.

“It seems to us that sustainability, meaning very little dependence on grant funding, is a long way off,” one survey participant said.

New benches provide seniors and disabled persons welcome resting points on Park Street. Contributed photo.

Four Alameda Boy Scouts have received the Eagle Scout award, the scouts’ highest honor, during a recent Boy Scouts of America National Court of Honor. Jacob Bostrom, Colin Brady, Angus Storm and Max Taylor received the award after earning at least 21 merit badges, serving in multiple leadership positions and planning and implementing a community service project. Bostrom dismantled, refurbished and re-erected the flagpole at Girls Inc. of the Island City; Brady designed and built a pair of doghouses for an Alameda Animal Shelter fundraiser; Storm built a utility shed for the St. Joseph garden club; and Taylor built owl boxes for Native Bird Connections to create permanent homes for owls. The youths are members of Troop 89, which has turned out more than 80 Eagle Scouts since earning its charter in 1967.

Mayor Marie Gilmore addresses the crowd at Alameda Point on Monday.

Out and About - 2013-06-24 Edited

Mayor Marie Gilmore addresses the crowd at Alameda Point on Monday.

Some 150 dignitaries, city staffers and civic affairs-watchers gathered Monday under drizzly skies and the jet at Alameda Point’s North Gate to commemorate the Navy’s handoff of 1,379 acres of the former Naval Air Station to the city.

Video Date: 
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
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The state Senate is set to consider a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, that would allow non-citizens to serve as poll workers during elections, which its supporters say will increase voter access for non-English speakers.

 

It is the 800 pound gorilla in the room of my life, the fact that my main occupation nowadays, judged by time spent at it, is driving. Driving to the store for groceries, to the mall for various items, to friends, to restaurants, to doctors, to other doctors and to the pharmacist.

Editor's Note: The Alamedan learned during the reporting of this profile piece that our subject - billed by the White House as an Alameda resident - actually lives in Berkeley, a city we don't typically cover. But we found his work interesting and thought you might too, so we're running our profile on Kansa anyway. Enjoy!

"Alternative academic" Eric Kansa starting working on Open Context more than a decade ago to promote access to archaeological research data that rarely saw the light of day. Last week Kansa, a researcher with the University at California, Berkeley School of Information, was honored for his efforts to make more of that data public. The Alamedan caught up with Kansa just as he was getting on a plane to Italy for a dig.

 

For the week of June 24, 2013

Public Utilities Board

The Public Utilities Board meets at 6 p.m. Monday, June 24 in Conference Room A/B of the Alameda Municipal Power Service Center, 2000 Grand Street.

A video tour of the USS Hornet Amateur Radio Club's "radio shack." Contributed video.

Keith Farley has wanted to be a ham radio operator since he was 11 years old.

Catellus Corporation is proposing to bring an In-N-Out Burger, Safeway gas station and Chase bank branch to this 2.3 acre site near the Webster Tube.

 

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

California’s new $96.3 billion state budget may offer Alameda some glimmers of good news, with increased funding for schools, social services and community colleges for the first time in years.

Last week, the City Council voted to implement Alameda's first two-year budget. This was an important step for the city. A two-year budget encourages more prudent revenue and expense projections as finance staff is forced to look further into the future when putting those projections together.

 

SUMMER SAILSTICE REMINDER

Up front this week, a reminder that Summer Sailstice, the worldwide event promoting sailing as a sport for everyone, happens at Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda this Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Come out and enjoy music, food, information booths and LOTS of activity on the Estuary! This is an event aimed just as much at folks who have never been out on a boat as at seasoned sailors. Bring the kids; there are opportunities for them to experience sailing a small boat out on the water as well. Watch the "Estuary Stroll" (and informal parade of sailboats doing a big oval up and down the Estuary) and the "Sir Francis Chichester Race" (little Laser sailboats will circumnavigate Alameda Island).

For something that happens to absolutely everyone, death is pretty mysterious – and not just the philosophical and spiritual aspects of it. It’s sort of like birth. Most people don’t see the mechanics of it unless and until they have children of their own. I realized that I knew nothing about how death works in Alameda. I had never seen signs of a cemetery. So where do people go?

Dear Editor,

Something really great is happening in Alameda! A place that will provide jobs, taxes and develop a long vacant land is at long last under construction. I am referring to the development swiftly occurring of the long delayed Alameda Landing. I urge that we all take a look at the amazing completion of the Target store.

 

The Alameda Multicultural Center is hosting computer classes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through August 22. Each class meets for eight sessions, and the cost is $10 per session.

Alameda Hospital’s board unanimously signed off on a proposal Monday to explore a deal that would see Alameda County’s medical system taking over management and operation of the financially ailing hospital, a deal board members said they’re optimistic about despite the circumstances that produced it. The deal could be closed by the end of this year.

In memory of Robert “Bob” Blomberg: Alameda’s Ambassador to golf … a true gentleman golfer.

Contributed photo.

 

Alameda is tied to Oakland by four bridges and a tunnel.

Alameda Hospital’s board will consider pursuing a deal to hand over management of the financially ailing hospital to Alameda County’s health system, a deal the hospital’s top manager says will provide the cash needed to keep its doors open.

 

For the week of June 17, 2013

Here’s what’s on your civic calendar this week.

Alameda Health Care District Board

The Alameda Board of Education said Tuesday that they oppose purchasing the building that now houses district staff in a business park, with trustees saying they'd instead like to explore a retrofit of Historic Alameda High School.

District officials, who recommended buying the Marina Village building they're now housed in during an informational session on the proposed purchase, said they will now commission a detailed study to determine what it will take to restore 75,000 square feet of unused space in the Alameda High complex for possible use as the district’s central offices and classrooms.

 

AMERICA'S CUP CHANGES AGAIN

I was down in Mexico for two weeks, and the America's Cup folks released a brand new calendar while I was gone, which is available on their website.

BREAKING: TOP COURT DENIES HEARING ON PARCEL TAX CASE

California's Supreme Court has denied the school district's request to reconsider a court ruling striking much of the district's 2008 school parcel tax, a decision that could cost the district more than $7 million in taxes it collected and spent.

The district asked the state's highest court to reconsider an appellate ruling that struck much of the district's Measure H parcel tax, saying lawmakers never intended to give school districts the power to charge different classes of property owners different rates. Under Measure H, the school district charged homeowners a flat rate of $120 a year while charging commercial property owners by the square foot, which for many resulted in much bigger tax bills. But the court declined to consider the case, the district announced Wednesday evening.

"We are disappointed the California Supreme Court declined to review this case," Superintendent Kirsten Vital was quoted as saying in a press release. "The decision of the Court of Appeal that now governs this case could be a significant blow to our budget with many negative consequences for students, teachers and staff here in Alameda, as well as for other districts and local agencies across the state."

The release said the district will provide its best legal arguments at the local trial court that must decide whether the district should refund as much as $7.2 million the appellate court said it illegally collected under the Measure H tax, and that it will seek legislative help as well.

David Brillant, the attorney representing commercial property owners who sued the district over the tax, said he was pleased with the ruling.

"The (Alameda) Board of (Education) went down this road, they never thought this would happen. And it did. Now it's up to an Alameda County Superior Court judge to determine the refund, the interest rate, interest due, and any other remedies that we may need," Brillant said.

Voters approved Measure H by an ultra-slim majority in 2008 and the district collected the tax for three years, replacing it with a new tax, Measure A, in 2011. That tax was also challenged but a local trial court denied that challenge, and the property owners who pursued it declined to appeal that decision.

A trial court denied the property owners' case claiming the district lacked the legal authority to charge different property owners different rates under the Measure H tax, but an appeals court reversed that decision, saying the school district only had the right to charge each property owner a uniform amount. They sent the case back to the local trial court to determine whether refunds and interest would be due, but the district appealed to the state supreme court.

Brillant has filed four other suits on behalf of property owners in other California school districts where similar "split roll" taxes have been approved, and he believes the Alameda ruling is precedent for those other cases.

"Those school districts, they still have an opportunity to make this right. Which would mean collecting a flat amount and not following the classifications they created," he said.

Photo by Kristen Hanlon.

Paul Rolleri was a 19-year-old criminal justice student at California State University, East Bay when Alameda Police officer Robert James Davey, Jr. was shot and killed while assisting on a drug raid, on March 3, 1983.

 

“Pick me up at RAP at 5:15. No, 5:20.” Thus spake Sasha, my life partner’s only granddaughter. I had already learned that RAP did not refer to modern music or to the end of the school day or any of its other meanings.

Community Learning Center Schools Inc.'s Paul Bentz is retiring. Photo by Chris Duffey.

Paul Bentz was a science teacher at Alameda High School when the call went out for five teachers to run a new school-within-a-school at Encinal High.

 

For the week of June 10, 2013

Here’s what’s on your civic calendar this week.

Planning Board

 

The choices we made in my generation about lifestyle were more predictable than now.

Photo courtesy of the Yu family.

On the corner of Park Street and Central Avenue, The Pampered Pup has been offering up hot dogs to hungry Alamedans since 1967. With its iconic sign of a reclining, diamond-studded pooch holding aloft a hotdog on a fork, and an interior in vintage orange and yellow, it is one of Alameda’s unofficial landmarks.

Alameda’s home-based bread-bakers and nut-makers could soon have the opportunity to sell their wares if policy-makers approve new rules allowing budding food-based businesses to operate out of residents’ homes.

 

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

East Bay Regional Park District representatives and their supporters voiced their continued opposition Wednesday to a proposed housing development on property the park district had hoped to purchase for an expansion of Crab Cove. And a city staffer acknowledged the park district may have found a way to stop the project in its tracks.

Plans for Alameda Point, then and now.

Bill Clinton’s ascension to the presidency heralded a sea change in the way the federal government disposed of the dozens of military bases they began shuttering in the late 1980s. The Clinton administration offered communities an alternative to the feds’ existing practice of trying to sell the former military installations: The government would give communities first rights to the property, for free, if they promised to reuse it in a way that generated jobs.

 

“Celebrate Freedom,” Alameda’s first Philippine Independence Day celebration, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 8 at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. Featured speakers include San Francisco Philippine Consul General Marciano A.

Bay Area housing and transportation planners are finalizing a new regional development strategy that could channel badly needed dollars into future development efforts at Alameda Point and Alameda’s Northern Waterfront, though city staffers fear it may not be enough money to support needed transportation improvements for all the homes and jobs the developments are expected to accommodate.

Elliott Gorelick, the critic of Alameda Hospital who voters placed in a seat on the hospital’s board, says he is resigning.

Twenty-nine years ago, Fred Chacon came to Alameda in search of a job – and better weather. And over the three decades he’s been here, the West Covina native has been responsible for of much of the local theater scene, putting on dozens of productions at Alameda High School and through the Alameda Civic Light Opera, which he co-founded, and more recently at Altarena Playhouse.

Alameda's 47th Annual Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture Contest was this past Saturday at Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach. If you missed out on the fun, here's a five-minute video tour of this year's entries.

Out and About - 2013-06-02 Edited

Alameda's 47th Annual Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture Contest was this past Saturday at Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach. If you missed out on the fun, here's a five-minute video tour of this year's entries.

Video Date: 
Monday, June 3, 2013
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For the week of June 3, 2013

Zoning Administrator

The Zoning Administrator meets at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 in Room 360 on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

 

Strength training is, and its necessity is not, exclusive to bodybuilders or those whose sole purpose is to increase muscle size. Every healthy person who strives for a long life free of pain and complication should include some strength training in their exercise regimen.