Count down to the Measure H vote in Alameda

There’s about a dozen Measure H-related letters to the editor in today’s Alameda Journal, many of them very impassioned and most written in support of the parcel tax. Below is an excerpt from a letter by Heather Hildreth. I like it because it focuses on the question of, “How good can our schools be?” Rather than, as some who oppose Measure H have, “What’s the minimum they can get by with?”

Have you ever heard anyone say of their town, that it was “too safe, the streets were too clean and the schools were too good”? I haven’t, so I just shake my head when I read editorials and letters stating that Alameda schools should get by with less then they have now…Until we can say of Alameda that it is better than excellent we still have to work to make it better. We cannot afford to lose ground.

And here’s the Alameda Journal‘s editorial in support of Measure H, “Alameda Measure H needs every vote to make a difference,” which, in case you’ve somehow missed all the basic facts, lays them out very clearly.


Saturday is family fun day at the Alameda Free Library

I have it on the authority of the Alameda Free Library children’s librarian that Saturday is a great day to visit the library’s main branch for family fun. The day’s activities are focused on developing young children’s literacy skills. Children’s Librarian Eva Volin:

Literacy is so much more than just learning to read. It includes making reading a part of each family’s every day life, like brushing your teeth. Parents need to show their kids that reading is important by reading themselves, out in the open, where kids can see them do it. Family Fun Day is one way to help make that happen.

The event starts at 11 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. There’ll be bookmaking crafts, a parenting workshop on raising media savvy kids, and the library will also be giving away free books. At 1 p.m. there’ll be a puppet show by the Puppet Art Theater.

Alameda Reads director Jordona Elderts:

Family fun day is a culmination of our Early Learning with Families (ELF) grant to promote library use for young families. Learning starts earlier than some realize and we want the library to be a resource for parents to gather, where they can get information and materials. The ELF Storytime program visits 19 sites using trained volunteers to read, sing, and play with preschool children each month.


In Alameda: From the mouths of Elks

So the very enterprising Michele Ellson over at The Island (yay, for Alameda blogs) has it from the Elks that they know they’ll not be responsible for square-footage-based taxation through the Measure H parcel tax.

So now, with six days until next Tuesday’s vote, perhaps we can turn our attention toward the big picture: that quality schools matter to a community, that good schools mean higher property values as well as more customers for local business. NOT TO MENTION, that good schools go a long way toward helping young people develop into thoughtful, productive, and participatory citizens. Who get jobs. Who pay taxes. Who become civic leaders. And engineers. And inspiring humanitarians.

But that’s all been said before. You can find your polling place, by the way, here.


Alameda nonprofits are exempt from Measure H

There’s been a bit of blog buzz about nonprofits being hit hard by Measure H (not to mention an assertion by an Elks trustee that the club will need to pay $5,800 annually for the tax). But, the actual fact is that charities and churches are exempt from Measure H.

As Andy Currid, who is heading up the Measure H effort, wrote in a recent email: “Please note that Measure H will not tax the Elks or similar not-for-profit institutions in Alameda. This is because the parcels of land owned by those institutions (many of whom are churches) have Use Codes that are not commercial or industrial. Measure H also exempts any property that is already exempt from property tax under state law.”

If you want to dig more into the legalities, here’s a link to the county tax code. And here’s the actual Measure H text, which reads, in part, “Real property otherwise exempted from taxation under the constitution and laws of the State of California shall also be exempted from any liability for the special tax imposed by this measure.” And here’s a link to the state board of equalization detailing non profits (as well as other churches and charitable entities) property tax exemption.


Alameda: A civil rights issue in our time

This week’s print column, “A civil rights issue in our time,” is up online. I want to thank Alamedans Amy Gorman, Henry Villareal and Debra Arbuckle for all the time they spent talking to me for this piece. I am grateful.

You can find all Alameda Journal articles online here.

Past “Life on the Island” columns
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: “When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths


Alameda Journal highlights

You can find the Alameda Journal article about the new theatre’s gala opening here. And you can also read Journal Editor Connie Rux’s tribute to the restoration. The schedule for this weekend’s opening events, which includes free showings of classic movies, is here.

And it sounds like, despite all the grumblings of the past, many people are enjoying the idea of having a beautiful place to see movies in town. I even chanced to hear one woman say to her a friend as they walked by me on Park Street the other day, “I was against it, but now that it’s here I’m kind of glad.” I think I’ll be taking my kids to the show this weekend.

It’s also nice to see a letter from nine-year-old Ruby Siltanen running in the Journal this week. The Paden Elementary third grader lists her top ten reasons for supporting Measure H (which, as you know I, too, fully support). Ruby writes, “Kids are worth paying $10 a month for four years.” And, too, “A lot of kids in elementary would like to play sports when they get into middle and high school.”

Ian Merrifield, Encinal’s student body president who was active in the school protests in March, has an editorial in support of Measure H . He writes, “There is no Alamedan who can claim that she is independent from the success of AUSD. Quality schools boost property values, reduce crime rates and enrich the local economy…”

Jeffrey Smith, an Encinal High School math teacher, has a “con” piece running in today’s paper, which concludes with a somewhat befuddling series of questions, “Should this extortion be titled Measure H, Proposition H or Preparation H?”


Coyotes on the Island of Alameda?

Acting on a tip from an alert reader (thank you SD), I went down to Crown Memorial Beach park earlier where the grass is new and protected by taller-than-most-humans chain link fences. I found that, yes, just as SD had reported, there were coyote-sized pieces of cardboard with coyote pictures on them. And, even though my eight-year-old research assistant was impatient to get to her ballet class, I was able to capture a picture of one of the coyotes in the company of the geese that—perhaps?—it’s designed to frighten away.
coyote with geese

A careful look at a coyote that had have fallen down on the job near the fence revealed a label.

coyote on the ground Closer inspection revealed some text. coyote label And then what’s the next step? Why, Google of course. It turns out for $43.95 retail you can get a two-pack of Coyote Decoys by Renzo’s at a Wildlife Control Supply store. But what are they supposed to frighten away?


Alameda theatre open! Indiana Jones played at midnight

Though, in the end, I did get a press pass, family obligations kept me from the gala theatre opening last night. And it’s too early at the moment—it being 6:35 a.m.—to call others and find out what they thought. But ABC news was there, the East Bay Express is running a theatre story on their cover this week, and your very own home-town Alameda Journal sent a correspondent to check out the building last week. Feel free to let me know how it went.

[Updated: It turns out John Knox White went. You can read his detailed and amusing description of the events here.]