Per my daughter’s request, I took my kids bowling at Alameda’s South Shore Lanes this morning. While bowling with the kids—we use bumpers so there are no gutter balls—is usually an expensive proposition, the folks at AMF have a deal: kids under 18 get one free game every week day of summer. (You have to ask at the counter for a pass.) That means you just need to lay out the money for shoe rental, and you’ve got an activity. If you were really committed, you could invest in a pair of bowling shoes (the guy behind the counter suggested Walmart) and then go bowling absolutely free every week day until school starts. Not bad, no? (Please note, though, that the hours on the web site are wrong: the lanes don’t open until 11 am on week days.)
Like a good percentage of Alameda parents with school age kids, I send my kids to summer day camp. These are usually week-long sessions (though some are longer) and they come in all types, from zoo camp to gymnastic camp, art camp to science. Last week, my kids went to camp over at Rhythmix Cultural Works, on Blanding near the new Nob Hill. RCW has been open for quite a while, and I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never been there before last Monday when I dropped the kids off, lunch and water bottles in their backpacks. It turned out to be possibly the Best Camp Ever. In the mornings, they practiced Taiko (Japanese drumming) and Capoeira (a Brazilian dance/martial art), and in the afternoon they crafted elaborate bugs and their habitats. The vibe was good, the kids were happy, and they blossomed with all the music and art (even performing skits that the campers had crafted in their unstructured time at the showcase for parents on Friday afternoon). There’s still two sessions left this summer…and I’d highly recommend the experience.
Sometimes I get to thinking that it’s only California, with its huge public school population and its wacky system for taxing property (that’s Prop. 13) and its unequal funding formulas that’s kept schools struggling to operate. But this article in Sports Illustrated—which mentions Alameda’s plight several times—highlights how school sports programs across the country are facing cuts.
It’s depressing and sad, but the Alameda Journal‘s Peter Hegarty is reporting that the driver who ran over 78-year-old George Marceline on the path that goes along the Bay near Shoreline Drive early Saturday morning did so on purpose. The driver, Dionisio Roxas Molina, 36, first claimed he had no memory of the incident and was admitted to the hospital for examination. Later, he said he did it on purpose and that he also tried to hit another pedestrian on his drive along the path as well.
The column I write for the print Alameda Journal is up online. This week it’s about the teachers and Alameda middle school students (118 of them) who visited D.C. this past May, getting a week-long, hands-on civics lesson. As 14-year-old Lizzie Dietz told me, “I learned if I don’t do anything then the country might not move forward — but if everyone, not just me, participates then everything will turn out better in the long run.” The energy and optimism of the young teens I interviewed for the story was both inspiring and charming.
Past “Life on the Island” columns
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
Rob Siltanen over at School 94501/94502 is reporting that Ardella Dailey, Alameda Unified’s superintendent, is leaving. Siltanen says to expect an official announcement soon. The news comes on the heels of the recent resignation of district CFO Luz Cázares, who’ll be taking a job in Pleasanton. [Ed. note at 6:30 pm: The Alameda Journal has more details on the story. And you can read the press release announcing her departure at School Board Trustee Mike McMahon's site.]
After reading Mark Posner’s letter to the editor in the Alameda Journal (scroll down, it’s the second one), I was glad to see today’s story in the San Francisco Business Times indicating that Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson, as well as the rest of the city council, Vice Mayor Lena Tam, Doug deHaan, Marie Gilmore and Frank Matarrese, have been deputized to perform same sex marriages at City Hall. According to the Business Times, marriages will cost $50 and the marriage license will be issued by Alameda County. City Manager Debra Kurita and executive assistant Christina Baines have also been authorized to perform the ceremonies. “It’s a great thing to be part of,” Deputy City Manager Lisa Goldman told the Business Times.
I was chitty-chatting with a neighbor yesterday (Hi, ECVL!) and he was surprised to learn that, yes indeed, our home-town Measure H—the parcel tax for Alameda schools—had passed. ECVL had heard the news that came out right after the election on June 3rd, when it looked like H was going to fail by a slim margin, but he had not followed the changing story, as more provisional and absentee ballots were counted. And he did not know that the tax had slid to a win, with 66.9 percent of the vote. The final tally was 11,445 ‘yes’ votes and 5,663 ‘no’ votes, way over half, but just over the two-thirds required by Proposition 13 for local parcel taxes.
John Knox White, an ardent government-watcher/participant, deserves credit for placing the shining light of words and logic on city council’s recent move to ban “muscle-powered” vehicles in our city’s parks. As various others have noted, the proposed law really did boggle the mind. But, mercifully, we’re now on to other challenges.