Politics

Captain Ray Thackeray with a donated fortress anchor for the Thunderbird 2. Contributed photo.

Founded in 2010, the International Rescue Group is an Alameda-based volunteer organization that provides aid to coastal communities suffering from natural disasters. Utilizing a network of boats cruising around the world and a purpose-built ship, the Thunderbird 2, the IRG can deliver fresh water, food, and medical supplies to communities who otherwise might have to wait many days or even weeks for help. Recently I had a chance to talk with Ray Thackeray, founder of the IRG, to find out more about the group and its mission.

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.

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.

If passed by the Senate, Bonta's AB 817 would allow green card holders to work at the polls and provide language assistance services on Election Day. Current law bars nonvoters from working the polls on election days; legal permanent residents lack the right to vote.

The need for a multi-year budget plan to prepare for higher pension and other employee costs was discussed at the special meeting of the City Council on Tuesday night.

The council reviewed the spending plan for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 fiscal years but took no action. Adoption of the final, two-year budget, which includes expenditures of $163 million next year, will take place next month.

An enthusiastic City Council on Tuesday night gave City Manager John Russo the go-ahead to sign the deeds for 1,379 acres of Alameda Point, paving the way for the city to begin to address what many see as the Island’s biggest issue – reuse of the former Navy base.

“You know what? Congratulations to the City of Alameda,” Mayor Marie Gilmore said to a small crowd gathered in council chambers that clapped as the unanimous roll call vote was taken.

The deal, which has been two decades in the making, is set to close on June 4. A dignitary-saturated ceremony to commemorate the deal will be held on June 24.

Contributed photo.

A bill co-authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta that would levy taxes on ammunition to help fund public safety services in violence-plagued communities and also, children’s mental health services, has cleared one Assembly committee and is headed to another.

Here’s the latest news on bills by your local legislators.

STATE SENATOR LONI HANCOCK

Passed committee

SB279, Would set rules making it easier for the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority to hold regional elections; approved by the governance and finance committee on April 17, 7-0, and referred to rules committee.

SB396, approved by public safety committee on April 16, 5-2, and referred to the appropriations committee.

Five years ago, city leaders adopted a plan aimed at reducing Alameda’s carbon footprint. And community members formed a group, Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda, to help promote the plan’s emission reduction goals and gain the public’s help in reaching them. This Wednesday, April 24, the city and CASA are teaming up once more to celebrate their achievements at a Climate Protection Forum, where they will highlight the results of a Greenhouse Gas Emissions report, and spotlight local climate heroes.

Rob Bonta wants mental health services for youths who have experienced depression and violence. Contributed photo.

In an age of increasing violence, one East Bay legislator is sponsoring a bill that would help students affected by trauma.

An evening ferry arrives at the Main Street terminal. Photo by Michele Ellson.

City leaders are expressing concerns about a state lawmaker’s proposal to restructure the board that oversees Bay Area ferry service, calling it a power grab by local officials in East Contra Costa County that could cost the Island its say over two local ferry lines and frustrate plans to move one of them to Alameda Point.