Why paying taxes is patriotic

I just posted this over there at Lauren Do‘s blog, in response to someone’s suggestion that the school district is living beyond its means:

Sometimes I think we might be looking at this in all the wrong ways. Maybe we should be asking what do we think public schools in the (arguably) richest nation in the world should provide: instruction in reading, writing, science, math, music, physical education–support for children who have special needs and support for children who are gifted. If we think that children ought to have these things, that our democracy and our nation is based on educating our youth–future citizens who will one day be running this country–then we might ask how much does it cost to provide real schools? And, because the state is not doing it, the pressure is on, if people want functioning services, to raise taxes locally. Public institutions–just like people–are imperfect, but the bottom line is that AUSD has been making do with very little, and less and less each year, and if we want to live in a place that’s safe and comfortable, and if we want our property values to continue to rise (or fall less) then we need to pay for the services that draw people to live in our community.

And I do agree with myself. :) Imagine! If we want Alameda to continue to be the place that it is–cozy, functional, safe–then we need to pitch in; we need to work together to support the institutions that make Alameda Alameda.


Where does the green waste go?

green bin_0248

A neighbor asks: “Why do we compost?” “Where does it go?” As you know, here in Alameda we have great big green bins that we can fill with anything organic—apple peels, rotten zucchinis, used tissues, chicken bones, and, as just confirmed by Teresa Montgomery from Alameda County Industries, even our pizza boxes.

Montgomery reports that everything Alamedans put in their green bins goes to Newby Island in San Jose, where it’s Continue Reading


Alamedans take action for schools

Alameda Students in SacramentoParents and teachers from Franklin and Paden Elementary delivered their own hand-crafted letters to Sacramento yesterday, meeting with aides from the offices of Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi and Senator Don Perata.

Ardella Dailey, AUSD‘s superintendent of schools, and school board members Mike McMahon and Janet Gibson also made the trip to Sacramento, participating in a day of advocacy in partnership with other area districts. “It’s not just about funding, it’s about improving education overall,” said PTA Council President Trish Spencer, who delivered more than 8,000 letters in support of public schools written by Alamedans. “It’s exciting to see that there are parents and legislators who want to work together throughout the state and help support education.”


Letter to Arnold S.

sophie letter take threeBy now it would be hard not to have heard that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2008-09 budget cuts more than four billion from K-14 education. He’s also proposed suspending Prop. 98, which, since 1988, has set minimum funding levels for our state’s public schools.

Today Alameda’s PTA Council is joining with other Bay Area PTA’s in a day of advocacy in Sacramento. Many parents, educators, community members and students wrote letters to bring to the capitol. To the left is one such letter penned by a third grader, Sophie, from Franklin School.


Get rid of your used electronics responsibly

Go green smaller

Probably each and every one of us has some sort of electronic item that we no longer use lingering in our basement, our attic, in the back of a closet.

On Saturday, March, 1, 9-1, you can bring all your old computers, VCRs, DVD players, televisions, monitors, fax machines, scanners, printers, and anything else electronic to be recycled by locally-owned Restoronics, Inc.

“A lot of times you see these things just being put into dumpsters where they’ll just end up in a landfill,” says Edison Elementary School’s Go Green coordinator Anne Bevan who is organizing the community-wide event. “But, with everything we collect, all the components will be taken apart and the materials will be recycled.”

A portion of the proceeds from the ewaste collection will go to the Alameda Education Foundation. For more details about what you can recycle, go to the Restoronics.


School board meeting: It’s gonna be a long one

The school board meets tonight for what promises to be a long evening. They’ll be taking a look at the proposed budget cuts, looking at a parcel tax recommendation, and voting on the proposed Renaissance charter school (school district staff have recommended voting no). For those of you who prefer to pass your week-day evenings at home, you can watch the show at home on public access.


A letter from the superintendent of schools

A letter from AUSD came in the mail yesterday that I assume went to all households in the city. It’s quite quite a heart-breaker, talking about cutting $4.5 million more from the school district budget if the Governor’s cuts go through as proposed. Overall, the cuts represent a 14 percent reduction in the school budget over the last eight years. And remember that the cost of doing business goes up not down over eight years: gas costs more, electricity costs more, supplies cost more, teachers and staff benefits and salaries cost more.

Alameda’s not alone in this, of course. The cuts Continue Reading


Think locally, shop locally

According to an article by Alan Lopez in today’s Alameda Journal, the city is facing a $4 million dollar budget deficit for next fiscal year. The cause? A overall downturn in the economy, including a decline in the city’s property transfer tax revenues. We can’t control a whole lot, but we can make sure to buy our goods, as much as possible, right here on the island. It makes sense environmentally—no need to drive to Walnut Creek for a pair of shoes—and economically—much of our sales tax dollars stay at home, and sales tax is the fourth highest source of revenue to our city coffers, contributing about $1.2 million to our city budget. So shop on the island, for a double win.


I do not like to clean up dog poop

testing againToday I wonder this: Does the law that says dogs are not allowed on school property include the grass around the school buildings–or does it just mean the black top areas/areas inside the schools’ fences? This, I wonder.

As an alert citizen, I have noted that people tend to walk their dogs around schools here on our island. My best guess is they do this as a courtesy, so that their dogs do not relieve themselves on private property. But what about the children-at-play? Because even when dog owners pick up their pets’ waste, it often leaves a shmeer-type-thing. Which is fine, but actually not fine, and maybe a little icky.

A friendly gentleman named Alex at the East Bay SPCA Continue Reading


Parking tickets on Park Street

There’s no doubt that parking on Park Street has gotten harder in recent years (though who knows what it will be like when people start actually using the new garage). Even still, you can always find a spot within a few blocks of where you’re going: Ole’s? Robek’s? That new, meat-free place, Central Vegetarian?

A Tuesday article by the Alameda Journal’s Alan Lopez about the accidental ticketing of cars on Lincoln’s birthday caught my eye. Not only because the there was holiday confusion—Lincoln’s actual B-D used to be an official city holiday—but because so few meter citations were issued: only 19 before 12:30 p.m? Sounds low to me. Parking tickets are a great source of revenue for cities—and prevent drivers from hogging a space all day—so why only 19?

A quick call to Sgt. Ted Horlbeck Continue Reading