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Life on the Island: Water conservation and backyard wells

This week’s Life on the Island, the column I write for the Alameda Journal, is about water conservation and, too, the possibility of backyard wells for keeping lawns and gardens hydrated


Past “Life on the Island” columns
July 22, 2008: Out and about on a home-town date
July 15, 2008: Changes in school leadership offers new opportunities
July 8, 2008: Alameda Journal”Getting an education in civics
July 1, 2008: Soaking up life on the Bay
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
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

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Alameda librarian Eva Volin at Comic Con

Alameda’s Head Children’s Librarian Eva Volin is featured in this National Public Radio report. She was interviewed at Comic Con, a national comic book convention. Comics (or graphic novels), are all the rage, especially Japanese Manga—which are popular with both girls and boys. Volin is working hard to keep Alameda’s library shelves stacked with good reads.

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“Alamedans for Fair Taxation” say they’ll fight Measure H

Today I was forwarded an email sent around by a group calling themselves “Alamedans for Fair Taxation.” Apparently, they’re working to fight Measure H, the school parcel tax passed in June, which will tax residential parcels $120 a year and commercial properties on a square footage basis. According to the email, they are looking for an attorney to take their case:


We have a strong belief that we have a case against AUSD, in regards to Measure H in the context of not being “uniformly” as defined in California Government Code Section 50079 – B or “Out of Town Owner” representation. At this point we are looking for, and interviewing attorneys.

It sounds like the group is also concerned about a legislative move at the state level to change the threshold a parcel tax needs to pass from the near-impossible two-thirds to the sure-to-pass-possibly-a-higher-tax level of 55 percent.

We will be looking into the bill pending in the Legislature to amend the constitution to reduce the required vote on the school parcel taxes to 55%, this would greatly increase their chances for future parcel taxes.

The group has South Shore address and a dedicated phone number, at which I just left a message. I will hopefully hear from a representative of the group soon and will be able to report more about them. Who is behind this effort? How are they funded? How do they think schools should be funded? Do they think property taxes should be based on the current market value of a property or on the sale price, however long ago it was? These are all things I’m wondering now.

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Del Monte Building development

Saturday I was driving my son down to a birthday party at the Bladium and he asked, as we passed that long brick structure on Buena Vista across the street from Littlejohn Park, “What’s that building for, Mom?” I hemmed and hawed, not really knowing. “I think it used to be where they packed fruit. It might be vacant now.” But today Alameda’s own Lauren Do has a post about some developments at the old Del Monte building, which one city document indicates was built in 1927 by the Alaska Packing Corporation. For fruit? For fish? I still don’t know. But it sounds like soon it’ll be an Asian-themed marketplace-type-establishment. Lauren has lots of details.

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Photos from Alameda’s Fourth of July Parade

My photo tech just finally downloaded the pictures she took at Alameda’s Fourth of July Parade.
the singing blue stars of the uss hornet

small dogs fourth of july float She, like me, almost always cries at parades. She likes observing the celebration of all different kinds of passions and hobbies, joys and commitments. And if it’s not a general sense of being overwhelmed by the variety and richness of the human experience that moves her, there’s always a disabled American veterans float, stop the war fourth of julyand thinking about lives changed by war, that really makes her eyes moisten. There were more than 150 and floats at the parade this month. Here’s shots of three.

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Dr. Robert Butts, well-loved Alameda pediatrician

Pediatrician Dr. Robert Butts died last Friday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was not my children’s doctor, but over the years I’ve heard many, many people speak of him with great fondness. A Caring Bridge page set up in his honor lets you learn more about him and his life. You can also leave a message for his family there. Michele Ellson over at The Island also has more details about Dr. Butts, and there will be a memorial service in his honor at Alameda’s Immanuel Lutheran Church on Friday, July 25, 2008 at 1:00 pm.

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More details on Alameda hit-and-run fatality

The 36-year-old driver of the Jeep accused of killing a pedestrian on the path along Alameda’s Shoreline Drive earlier this month now says he does remember the incident. Peter Hegarty of the Alameda Journal has more details on Dionisio Roxas Molina Jr.’s story, and, too, the charges filed against him. George Marceline, who was out for a morning walk on the path when he was run over, was well-known around the Bay, especially as an Oakland Raiders fan.

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What’s next for Alameda public schools?

In the past couple weeks, the Alameda Unified School District, has lost its CFO, Luz Cazares, and Superintendent Ardella Dailey has announced she will be retiring at the end of the calendar year. In this week’s “Life on the Island,” the column I write for the Alameda Journal, I talk about these changes and, too, upcoming openings on the school board (we could potentially have four new school district trustees come 2009). As I touched on in my column, I have never liked the phrase, ‘close the achievement gap.’ In the educational utopia of my imagination, I would like to see a school system that works to boost achievement for all students, no matter if they come to school exceptional in one way or another, struggling with basics, or, as is often the case, struggling in some areas and exceptional in others.


Past “Life on the Island” columns
July 8, 2008: Alameda Journal”Getting an education in civics
July 1, 2008: Soaking up life on the Bay
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
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

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Alameda sailors race in Pacific Cup

Four Alameda sailors—Michael Andrews, Ted Floyd, Rodney Pimentel and
John Hemiup—set sail for Hawaii on July 14. Their boat, Azure, is one of 61 participating in the 2008 Pacific Cup. They started on Monday from San Francisco’s Saint Francis Yacht Club, and will race across 2,070 miles of Pacific Ocean to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. They expect the crossing to take 12 to 14 days. You can check their ongoing progress on the log of their journey. And you can also track their race standing (they’re in Division A) here.

Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s travelogue:

Day 2 Update: We had a very rough night. We went north in the light air thinking the wind would strengthen, but unfortunately it did not pay off. We are reaching at 5 knots SW looking for wind now. Hopefully we will be putting our spinnaker up soon. Curry chicken with saffron rice in on the menu tonight.