April 2015

City Council members narrowly approved four-year contract extensions for police and firefighters on Wednesday that include a trust to help cover Alameda’s ballooning retiree medical bills.

Alameda's City Council narrowly okayed a plan to extend public safety contracts by four years, including a new trust fund for retiree health costs that both the city and workers will pay into. Here's the tweet by tweet.

I recently went to a doctor to have her look at the results of a bone density test I had three months ago. When I went to my primary doctor for my annual exam, he noted that I had lost another inch of height. The prior year I had also lost an inch.

Novato high school senior Miguel Delgado broke away from a four-way tie atop the leader board entering Sunday's final round to win the Alameda Commuters Tournament by three strokes.

After growing up on Bay Farm Island through the “Happy Days” era, and with high school behind me, I prepared for my future: Two years in a brass foundry, one year in a gas station, two hours at American Can Company, and six years operating Caterpillar tractors accompanied by a stint in the National Guard. Finally, I arrived at what I was born to do, stepping into my great-grandfather’s, grandfather’s and father’s footsteps, along with my brother: following 100 years of fire service history.

Schools officials are seeking to expand Alameda Unified’s footprint by reclaiming a pair of properties adjacent to the Alameda Naval Air Station.

I witnessed an accident on Santa Clara Avenue, and the image has haunted me for two weeks. On my way home from the dentist's office on Santa Clara, I stopped to honor the crossing guard's signal to allow a woman to cross the broad avenue - or attempt to cross it, anyway.

Sailing on San Francisco Bay isn’t just for the 1 percent anymore.

That’s the attitude of a dedicated group of sailors who run the nonprofit Alameda Community Sailing Center.

COMING UP

City Council, 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, council chambers, City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. Agenda

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

A.A. Cohen was a transportation man. He built the San Francisco & Alameda Railroad (SF&A) in 1864. By 1868, Cohen had also acquired interest in the Oakland Railroad and Ferry Company. He sold both. The sale made Cohen a wealthy man who could afford the best. In 1872, He and his wife, Emilie, hired the architectural firm of Wright and Sanders to help them express their affluence.

We represent some of the larger employers currently operating in Alameda. One of the many attributes that attracted us to locate on the Island is the promise of desirable housing and recreation for our employees – an attractive environment for jobs. We call upon Alameda’s mayor and City Council to fulfill this promise.

Today marks three weeks and two days until the Bay to Breakers race. To me, that means we are close to when my "taper" should start.

David Perry was busy when a reporter called him this past Saturday afternoon. He was packing boxes for a move from the Paru Street apartment where he has lived for the past seven years.

Many individuals and groups have recently expressed their opinions regarding the proposed extension to the city's public safety contracts. Information has been shared in bits and pieces, which can make it hard to understand how these proposed contracts contribute to long-term financial health of the city.

Alameda’s City Council appears set to sign off on a new ordinance requiring companies purchasing large grocery stores to retain workers for at least 90 days if the stores’ ownership changes.

Council members said goodbye to two top officials, got a detailed update on plans for Alameda Point's Site A - and wrapped up before midnight with a few items left on the table. Here's what happened, in tweets.

“The comedy of #Alameda elected officials downplaying great economic news because it undercuts austerity plans is very evident (at the April 16 special City Council meeting on the budget). - Steve Tavares, Twitter

The 88th annual Alameda Commuters golf tournament teed off last weekend at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex with a field of 208 of the best amateur golfers from the west coast of California.

Have you noticed the book exchanges popping up around Alameda? The Little Free Library movement is scarcely five years old, and new libraries are popping up all over the world.

Last week’s conversation piece on development at Alameda Point was such a success that this week, I decided to tackle another big topic around town: Street safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

The Social Service Human Relations Board meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

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

Spring is here, and even with the drought, flowers are blooming, and trees are putting on their frills. Over at Megan Small Photography, Megan Small is getting ready to celebrate her first year of business in Alameda (her sixth year overall) – and keeping busy with the demand that spring and the quickly approaching Mother’s and Father’s Day holidays create.

On Monday, over 30,000 people will show up in Hopkinton, Mass. for a little excursion into the big city known as the Boston Marathon.

Highlights:

  • The City Council will consider amended five-year contracts for public safety workers on April 29 which would go into effect in November if approved.
  • The contracts establish a trust fund for retiree health benefits. The city would pay $7.5 million into the trust fund over 10 years; workers would pay between 2 percent and 4 percent of the top step of pay for their position into the fund over the next decade.
  • The contracts also offer wage increases that would raise pay at least 9.3 percent and change pension payouts to reflect a safety retiree’s top salary, and not their top three years of pay.

City officials are recommending the City Council approve a permanent civilian staffer to create and execute plans to help Alameda bounce back quickly from a range of disasters – the third position the city is creating to better prepare it for disasters.

East Bay water officials are imposing mandatory restrictions on water use to conserve water in the face of an extreme drought.

Officials with the East Bay Municipal Utility District are requiring customers to cut their water use by 20 percent compared with their 2013 use, in order to comply with new state regulations requiring the district to cut water use by that amount and to deal with shrinking water reserves and uncertainty about where additional water might come from or when the drought may end.

The city has prepared an $80.5 million general fund budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year that contains no cuts, a projected $1.4 million surplus and a fund balance of more than $30 million. But salaries and benefits are expected to push the city’s spending to increase to $83.1 million in 2016-17, which could mean some depletion of the balance or cuts are in the offing.

This past weekend, my sweetie and I drove up to Chico. The trip entailed three hours of driving through mostly rural scenery. The Sacramento River Valley is flat and broad and hot and the road is lined with grove after grove of nut trees.

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting e-mail exchange with a friend regarding the redevelopment of Alameda Point.

The City Council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 16 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

Photo by James Astwood.

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

Spring has sprung on the Island, making this great time to get out and ride a bike or take a leisurely stroll down our lovely tree-lined streets and picturesque avenues. It’s no secret Alameda offers an incredible variety of architecture and beachfront vistas to enjoy, but next time you’re out and about, slow down a bit and take a closer look at the amazing art that is all around us.

Dear Editor,

A new record has been achieved for Alameda Education Foundation’s Adopt A Classroom program this year. In March, we made our 189th presentation for the 2014-15 school year. To put it in perspective, six years ago we did 39 adoptions, and we have now topped that by 160; $94,500 has been donated to classrooms thanks to generous members of our community.

Since I started the conversation about training for Bay to Breakers in last week's blog post, I want to focus on one piece of that training puzzle this week: tempo runs.

Authors of a new analysis claim that slow housing growth is a cause of rising rents, saying the nation’s least affordable housing markets are the ones where new housing permits are not keeping up with population growth.

After decades of public debate on the future of Alameda Point and a laudable community planning process, Alameda is finally in the late stages of negotiating the specifics of the first portion of the community plan for Site A on the old Naval Air Station.

The city has inked a tentative deal with its public safety unions to establish a trust fund to help cover its unfunded retiree health liability.

Union members are to vote next week on amended contracts that include a new trust fund for retiree health benefits for Alameda's current police and fire employees.

On Tuesday night, city leaders announced tentative deals with Alameda's public safety unions that include formation of a new trust fund to cover retiree medical costs. That and more, in our tweet by tweet of Tuesday's seven-hour City Council meeting.

Paramedics with the Alameda Fire Department will soon be able to do more than ferry patients to the hospital and provide care on the trip there: They’ll also provide assistance to chronically ill patients after their hospital stay is over to make sure they are getting the care they need to avoid a return trip.

I just gave one of our cats her morning shot of insulin. Tiny syringe; tiny, tiny needle; and a small dose of insulin, delivered twice a day, approximately 12 hours apart. In her case, once at 10 a.m. and again at 10 p.m. Not an unbearable task.

Photos courtesy of James Astwood.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your two-sentence headline review. Here are your Alameda headlines for the week.

City officials are considering whether to accept part of a waterway separating Oakland from the Island’s East End that the federal government has long sought to hand off.

Today marks just over six weeks until one of my favorite races: Bay to Breakers, which is on May 17.

City Council members took on the politically charged topic of traffic on Wednesday, voting to initiate an effort to draft a citywide transportation plan.

The council voted 4-1 to draft a pitch to prospective consultants to draft a plan, a process that could cost up to $400,000 and take 18 months to complete.

On Facebook the other day, I saw a picture of my former sister-in-law that was taken recently. She is two years younger than me. She has always been beautiful and takes care of herself. I have not seen her in years.

Last November, I announced that I had gone back to school to pursue a new career, and I reached out for help keeping Alameda covered while I make the transition. But there’s one more job that we’ll soon need to fill: Editor of The Alamedan.

I usually stand up before you to discuss issues facing my members or our district as a whole, but tonight I would like to begin speaking more personally. I want to talk to you about why I teach in Alameda.