September 2012

Happy Friday, Alameda! Here’s this week’s version of The Broad Brush, your two-sentence news review.

Marie Gilmore was shocked when she saw Madeline L’Engle’s award-winning 1962 science fiction novel “A Wrinkle in Time” on a list of banned and challenged books.

“I read it when I was a child and my daughter read it also,” Alameda’s mayor said. “We just happened to be discussing the book a few weeks ago, so when I saw it on the list, I decided to read it.”

The founders of the Pacific Pinball Museum on Webster Street are raising money to move to a new location – in San Francisco.

They’ve set up an online campaign in an attempt to raise $1.5 million to fund a move to the Exploratorium’s soon-to-be-vacated space at the Palace of Fine Arts, in which they’re hoping to further their goal of preserving the art and science of pinball and of allowing the full history of the game – from its birth as Bagatelle to its life in the digital era – to unfold.

 

In celebration of the America's Cup and the Artemis Racing team choosing Alameda for their local base, the seven yacht clubs of the "Island City" recently sent a letter (a real paper one) signed by all the Commodores to the head of the Lidingö Segelsällskäp in Lidingö, Sweden. As you may have read in this space before, Lidingö is one of Alameda's sister cities, appropriate as both are islands connected to a major city (Oakland and Stockholm, respectively).

Alameda High School opened in 1902. For decades, the Alameda athletic rivalry was with the Berkeley High School. Their respective team names – the Hornets and the Yellow Jackets – are an echo of this long-standing competition. The creation of Encinal High School, which opened as a freshman-only school in 1952, began to supplant that rivalry on September 30, 1955, when Alameda and Encinal played their first varsity football game.

 

I am a nature lover. My children are nature lovers. My grandson, who turned six years old today, is a nature lover. He lives with his parents (my daughter and her husband) on the edge of a nature preserve in the wilds of Colorado and apparently loves growing up in that environment.

Updated at 1:42 p.m. Tuesday, September 25 with additions and corrections in BOLD.

CORRECTION
The Alamedan misstated several key facts in today's story about new pension rules. The story claimed the law would require existing city and schools employees to pay half their pension costs; such arrangements could be negotiated between 2013 and 2017 and imposed in 2018 if a deal isn't reached, up to a cap of 12 percent of public safety employees' salaries and 8 percent of other city workers' and teachers' salaries. The article also misstated the age at which the city's non-safety workers may retire with full benefits; it is 62. The Alamedan deeply regrets the errors.

Future police and firefighters, teachers and other city and schools employees will receive fewer benefits and retire later than those working at City Hall and in Alameda’s schools now under new pension rules approved by Governor Jerry Brown.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing city leaders seeking to redevelop Alameda Point during tough economic times is finding the money to revitalize the 918-acre former Naval base. To address that challenge, some City Council candidates are suggesting Alameda take a look overseas.

Alamedans were inspired by Space Shuttle Endeavour's tour over the Bay Area on Friday, its final air time before the start of its new life at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The Endeavour, which was authorized by Congress as a replacement for the Challenger shuttle in 1987 and flew its first mission in 1992, was visible by adults and schoolchildren all over the Island, from Alameda Point and Ruby Bridges Elementary School to Park Street to the Bay Farm Island Bridge and beyond.

This weekend we asked readers for their photos of the Shuttle's trip over the Island, and a number of you responded with your snapshots. You can click the photo above for the slideshow, which includes photos Lorrie Murray shot from Alameda Point; a photo Dana Carey offered from Ruby Bridges Elementary School; Ashlee Willett's shot from Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland; and a pic from Nasa's website of an Endeavour takeoff from Kennedy Space Center. (Separately, Jack Boeger offered his pictures of Endeavour in transit in this blog post; Chris Walker's pics are at the link.)

What are your thoughts on Friday's fight, and your memories of the shuttle program? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

I was out there 45 minutes early to catch the shuttle fly over the East Bay, but luckily picked a pretty good spot on the Alameda-BFI bridge.

 

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

Updated on at 10:45 a.m. Friday, September 21; click the picture to launch slideshow.

In her travels through San Francisco and Oakland, Donna Eyestone has seen how gray expanses of curbside parking can be transformed by a single spot’s worth of green space. So she wanted to create a similar urban oasis – known as a parklet – in the heart of Alameda.

 

It is less than two weeks until the America's Cup World Series returns to San Francisco Bay.

A few Saturdays ago, five Alameda residents gathered in a study room at the Main Library to draft a series of questions for local candidates running for City Council, the Board of Education and the Alameda Health Care District Board, which oversees Alameda Hospital. Members of the group said they wanted to gain a very specific sense of the candidates' values and their understanding of the opportunities and challenges before them and their ability to address those if elected to the offices they're seeking, and I'm hopeful you will find that the questionnaires they drafted on that day and refined in a series of e-mail exchanges that followed do just that.

Candidates' responses to The Alamedan's questionnaires can be viewed in this section of our local elections center, which includes articles on local candidate forums, all of the local and county ballot measures you'll be asked to vote on this fall and more.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. Thursday, September 20

Name
Hello everyone, my name is Joana Weber and I am running for City Council in the City of Alameda California.

Name
Stewart Chen

Occupation
City of Alameda Health Care District Board Director

Relevant experience
Seven years on the City of Alameda Social Service Human Relations board, three years on the Alameda County Human Relations Commission, and two years on the Alameda Health Care District Board.

Name
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

Occupation
Attorney/Arbitrator

Name
Jane Sullwold

Occupation
Lawyer (semi-retired)

Relevant experience
Alameda Golf Commissioner, 2005-present (chair, 2007-present)

Name
Jeff Cambra

Occupation
Special Events Producer/ Attorney

Relevant experience
I have been self-employed for 30 years in a variety of businesses. I have a strong background in management and budgeting. I understand that the City must run like a business.

Name
Tony Daysog

Occupation
Urban planner

Name
Gerard Valbuena Dumuk

Occupation
Wildland Firefighter

Relevant experience
Everyone has a certain set of life experiences and skill sets that they can bring to the table. What makes me a great candidate is that I'm an ordinary guy, doing an extraordinary job.

Name
Jon Murphy

Occupation
Instructor at Merritt Community College Oakland

Relevant experience
Teacher for 15 years and Doctor of Educational Leadership

Name
Tom Lynch

Occupation
Parent, Businessman, PTA Council President

Name
Barbara Kahn

Occupation
Retired social worker

Relevant experience
Director of youth activities at local social service agency

40 years of school board watching classroom volunteering and working for children’s issues

Name
Michael Robles-Wong

Occupation
Retired Business Manager

Name
Kurt Peterson

Occupation
Businessman

Relevant experience
10 years of Service on the Alameda Point Restoration Advisory Board, Member of the City of Alameda Open Government Commission and Member of the Alameda Citizen Task Force.

Name
Niel Tam

Occupation
AUSD School Board Member (Retired Principal from AUSD)

Name
Trish Spencer

Occupation
Parent, Attorney, Community Volunteer and Children's Advocate, currently serving as Alameda Unified School District Board Member

Name
Ron Mooney

Occupation
Self employed

Name
Leland Blandón Traiman, RN/FNP

Occupation
Registered Nurse, Family Nurse Practitioner, Fertility Specialist, Legal Consultant

Name
J. Michael McCormick

Occupation
Adjunct History Instructor, retired technology businessman.

Relevant experience
Incumbent with 4 years on Alameda Hospital Board

Name
Jordan Battani

Occupation
Healthcare Consultant
President, City of Alameda Healthcare District Board of Directors

Name
Tracy Jensen

Occupation
Senior services program analyst

Alameda Point’s Monarch Street is a growing attraction for lovers of wine and fine spirits. And this spring, craft beer fans will have a home there, too.

This fence is the most cynical use of school district funds I can think of. It seems that the school district is willing to use a lot of money on a very fast track just to show us how dire the situation is with regard to earthquake renovation. And, really, what good is the fence going to do? What if someone is walking next to the fence, into one of the adjacent areas of the school, which are apparently retrofitted. Will the bricks/debris from the un-retrofitted portion fall only in the direction of the fence, and no further? This seems ridiculous!

Steve Ball

Got something to say about something we wrote? Send your letters to michele@thealamedan.org.

 

The political world seems nearly equally divided between the “Every Man For Himself” crowd and the “We’re All In This Together” group.

Voters who are deciding on a new state Assembly rep for Alameda this fall are facing a choice between two self-styled progressive Democrats whose stances on major issues are nearly identical.

Updated at 6:52 p.m. Monday, September 17

A federal judge offered the city a fresh victory in former Alameda Point developer SunCal's fraud and breach of contract lawsuit, deciding the developer isn't entitled to recoup the $17 million it spent in its effort to reach a development deal.

Managers of Alameda’s city-owned electric company need to replace the utility’s outmoded technology and figure out how they’ll attract new employees in the face of a shortage of qualified workers, according to a new consultant’s report to be discussed by the City Council and Public Utilities Board tonight.

Flo Rida is maxing out the speakers on the charter bus, but everyone’s too busy dancing to notice. It’s maybe a little before midnight Friday and we’re hurtling toward Alameda on 580, toward the successful conclusion of a night that will be remembered and rehashed through Facebook photos and knowing smiles as we pass each other on the street.

 

Welcome to another edition of The Broad Brush, our weekly two-sentence news review. This was a uniquely news-filled week, so let’s get started.

Chicago teachers who went on strike this week reportedly had dozens of contract issues to sort out with that district’s leaders, with benefits, raises, training and a lack of air conditioning in classrooms among them.

Videos by Donna Eyestone

The Alameda Democratic Club’s mission in 2012 is to “re-elect President Obama and other Democrats.” But on Wednesday night, the group turned its sights toward the contest for Alameda City Council. Five Council hopefuls presented their platforms to a full room at Alameda Hospital, responding to questions prepared in advance by moderator and club president Jim Oddie.

 

Did you have a front porch on your house growing up? Do you have one now?

City leaders are pressing ahead with efforts to construct a new mid-Island fire station and emergency operations center despite local voters’ rejection of a sales tax hike that would have paid for it.

When all is said and done, Alameda Unified will have about $1.3 million less in the bank at the close of its books for the 2011-2012 school year than it did when the year started, unaudited financials presented to the Board of Education on Tuesday show, though the district has far more cash in hand than is legally required.

 

Last night I listened to an hour of discussion about marriage by the two co-authors of “Debating Same Sex Marriage,” John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher.

Updated at 11:18 a.m. Friday, September 14 to include comments offered by Oakland Zoo officials after this story was posted.

OAKLAND – Elephants lope through their enclosure and lions doze in the midday sun at the Oakland Zoo. Moms wheel strollers through the grounds and groups of school kids run from one exhibit to another to marvel at the animals eating, climbing trees or just chattering.

It’s what you would expect at a zoo.

But a battle has been taking place involving the future of the popular attraction, which has been located in its present spot in Knowland Park since 1939. Four years in the making, the latest conflict revolves around county Measure 1A on the November ballot.

Fix Historic Alameda High or tear it down?

This fall, school district leaders will begin a public discussion about Alameda's public school facilities, including the future of Historic Alameda High School. The historic campus has had identified seismic issues since 1935 according to an engineer's report commissioned by district administrators, but school leaders have been unsuccessful in their attempts over the years to raise the money needed to retrofit the buildings despite the desire of many residents to see them fixed up. So The Alamedan is asking readers: Do you want to see the school district find a way to fix up the buildings for reuse, or should they tear the old campus down and erect something new in its place? Let us know what you think by taking our poll, and feel free to expand on your answer in the comment section below.

Fix it up
76% (117 votes)
Tear it down
24% (36 votes)
Total votes: 153

This past Labor Day weekend brought some disappointing news for some of Alameda’s youngest thespians: Alameda Children’s Musical Theatre’s planned production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” at Kofman Auditorium was being canceled.

A state appeals court has thrown out most of former Alameda Fire Chief David Kapler’s wrongful termination suit against the city but will allow Kapler’s claim that the city owes him post-employment benefits to proceed.

ALAMEDA ELECTIONS '12: Guillen's campaign contributions

Michele Ellson

Here's a list of campaign contribution Abel Guillen received for his Assembly District 18 run through June 30, 2012.

Source: California Secretary of State's office

ALAMEDA ELECTIONS '12: Bonta's campaign contributions

Michele Ellson

Here's a list of campaign contribution Rob Bonta received for his Assembly District 18 run through June 30, 2012.

Source: California Secretary of State's office

 

Welcome to The Broad Brush, our weekly two-sentence news review. Here’s what happened this short holiday week, and what’s coming up:

On Monday, Alameda’s Planning Board and the public will get their first opportunity to comment on plans for a 278-unit housing project to be built on former Navy property behind the Bayport housing development and the College of Alameda – plans that could illustrate a future of denser housing development on the Island with a reduced emphasis on single family homes.

Updated at 11:27 a.m. Friday, September 7 to reflect postponement of this item to a future Historical Advisory Board agenda.

 

Here we are in the calm between those two halves of the storm, the Americas Cup World Series. The event held August 21-26 has been judged a big success. Just about everything worked; even the oft-maligned San Francisco MUNI transit system showed itself off with flying colors.

Alameda writer Annette Sandoval’s latest book, Spitfire, is a witty, irreverent murder mystery with an unusual protagonist: sassy 28-year-old receptionist/documentary filmmaker, Tomasita “Tomi” Reyes. Set largely in San Francisco, with forays to Oakland and Alameda, it’s a breezy beach read full of local flavor.

Here's an excerpt from Annette Sandoval's new book, Spitfire, which is available at Amazon.com and Books Inc. Republished with the permission of the author.

Chapter 1

Alameda’s City Council shot down a proposal to allow beer and wine sales at a to-be-expanded Webster Street gas station convenience store, saying approval would have impeded the city’s efforts to reimagine a commercial corridor once lined with bars and tattoo parlors that served incoming Navy sailors.

To listen, tune in to the Internet stream.

7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m.:
DJ Bob White and Alameda Oldies

8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.:
Byrd of Paradise and Blues with an Alameda Feeling

 

We’ve just returned from a day trip to the Cotati Accordion Festival and for the umpteenth time, we encountered the palpable difference between Alameda and the rest of the world. Or at least the rest of California.

Alameda voters are being asked to decide whether to take away the City Council’s ability to sell or trade the city’s park land, which the city’s charter now allows the council to do if a suitable replacement is found. Measure D would eliminate the council’s ability to make those calls and put them into the hands of voters.

Today The Alamedan is reposting our March piece on a county sales tax measure to fund transportation expenses that is on the November ballot. The ballot language for Measure B1 is available in this list.

 

The uncertainty of the European economy, sluggish new housing starts, and flat job growth are the top issues affecting our housing market, according to Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist for the California Association of Realtors.