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October 20: Last day to register to vote

In case you had not noticed, country-wide (and, too, city-wide) we’re gearing up for an election on November 4th. If, for some reason, you’re still not registered to vote, you have until next Monday, October 20th, to do so. Guy Ashley, from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, sent this how-to/FYI:

Alameda County residents must be citizens, 18 years old and not in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony to be eligible to register to vote.

Voter registration affidavits are available at the Registrar of Voters office and at libraries, fire stations and post offices. You may also download and complete the registration form on our website.

Completed affidavits must be delivered to the Registrar of Voters Office at 1225 Fallon Street, Room G-1, Oakland, CA 94612 or postmarked by October 20th in order to be valid for this election. Voters can call the Registrar of Voters Office at (510) 272-6973 or (510) 267-8683 to check their voter registration status.

It also sounds like the Registrar of Voters as well is hosting a last-minute sign-people-up-to-vote event. This also from the ROV’s Ashley:

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office will be holding a special “Midnight Madness’’ voter registration drive outside its offices in downtown Oakland from 5 p.m. to midnight on Monday October 20th. The event will occur outside Alameda County’s Rene C. Davidson Courthouse at 1225 Fallon Street, Oakland… Staff will be on hand to distribute registration forms, answer questions and receive completed forms right up until the midnight registration deadline.

There’s no excuses, really. And I haven’t heard much of what I used to hear, back there in the 1990s, “The candidates are all the same.” I think people are seeing the differences now.

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In Alameda, vote Mooney, Forbes and Tam for school board

A careful follower of Alameda Unified School District affairs these past couple of years, this week’s “Life on the Island” (the column I write for the print edition of the Alameda Journal), makes my choices for school board quite plain. If you want to see the candidates in action yourself, you can watch this school board debate, hosted by Alameda’s PTA Council and the Alameda Education Foundation. You can can also watch the incumbents in action in some recent school board meetings. The City of Alameda Democratic Club endorsements are here (they endorsed both incumbents, Janet Gibson and David Forbes, as well as challenger Ron Mooney). Here’s links to all the candidates Web pages. You can go see the candidates tomorrow night at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Details: Wednesday, October, 15, 7:00 p.m., Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Road.

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AUSD retains counsel to fight Measure H lawsuits

For those of you who haven’t seen it, the Alameda Unified School District released a statement Wednesday regarding its legal team and the fight against the Measure H lawsuits. Here it is in its entirety:

Two Alameda taxpayers have brought separate lawsuits to invalidate Measure H, a new parcel tax to support Alameda schools that over two-thirds of Alameda voters approved in last June’s election. The tax, which will raise over $16 million in the next four years, will help close the budget gap caused by a reduction in State funding.

The lawsuits, Borikas, et al. v. AUSD, et al and Beery, et al. v. AUSD et al., are commonly called “reverse” validation proceedings. Each alleges that Measure H violates certain provisions of the California Government Code.

The Alameda Unified School District has retained the law firms of Chapman, Popik & White LLP and Foley & Lardner LLP. The District will vigorously defend Measure H.

In other school news the group, Alamedans For Fair Taxation, a group for which no one, to my knowledge, has stepped up and claimed public responsiblity, has a double-length, unsigned editorial in this week’s Alameda Sun. While we’re all used to pseudonymous postings on the Internet (I don’t much like ‘em, but they’re here), it continues to mystify me that no one from this group that is, as I understand it, responsible for funding at least one of the legal challenges to the popular parcel tax, doesn’t step up and say, “Hello. This is who we are and why we’re doing what we’re doing.” It’s all well and good to disagree—many reasonable people disagree much of the time—but the refusal to take a public stand (while having a willingness to fund a lawsuit) continues to confound me.

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Alameda Journal to go weekly

Well it’s not surprising given the bleak economic times and the changing face of the traditional news media that the parent publication of this blog, the Alameda Journal, is going weekly. (I’m told the Alameda Journal was the last of the regional papers in the East Bay MediaNews Group to hold on to twice weekly editions, anyway.) In any case, you’ll still be able to get the Journal on Fridays and it’ll continue to hold valuable news about our town/city/suburb/urban center/island, and I’m sure we can continue to discuss just which category Alameda falls in to. Oh! I know you’re wondering: the column I write, Life on the Island, will run every other week and, yes, I’m told I’m going inside…where I’ll be somewhat safe from the foot steps and sprinklers that tend to blur my copy and photo when the Journal is left in the driveway or on the front stoop too long.

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Michael Pollan comes to Alameda for library benefit

The Alameda Free Library Foundation, which raises money for programs, materials and equipment for our local libraries, has put together what sounds like a delightful evening.

There’ll be time for eating (with catering by Slow Food Alameda with help from Acquacotta, Cer’a Una Volta, Mona’s Table and Pappo), drinking (Rosenblum, Julie’s Coffee and Tea and The Beanery), and listening and thinking (Michael Pollan in conversation with Sedge Thomson).

The event will be at Auctions by the Bay Theater on Sunday, October 19 from 5 pm to 8 pm. It promises to be a wonderful evening. Tickets are $75 and available at Alameda’s Books Inc., Daisy’s, Marketplace, Lanvie, and Dewey’s Friends Cafe at the Alameda Free Library (and online at Brown Paper Tickets.) See you there…

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Life on the Island: Hard economic times and firefighter benefits

The column I write for Tuesday’s Alameda Journal is up online now: “Tough times, hard choices.” It was a sad one to write, because in doing the research into Alameda’s budget and the benefits the city pays, it became clear what a bind we’re in, and what a bind we’re facing in the future. But Alameda is not alone in this. Public entities across the country are facing the same squeeze from the economic downturn and rising health care costs.

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Alameda candidates for school board debate tonight

There are five candidates running for three school board spots. Incumbents David Forbes and Janet Gibson are trying to hold onto their seats, and Trish Spencer, Niel Tam, and Ron Mooney have also throw their hats in the ring. Incumbent and current president Bill Schaff is not running and so the top three vote getters with join sitting board members Mike McMahon and Tracy Jensen (though, if Jensen succeeds in her quest for a seat on Alameda’s city council she’ll give up her seat on the school board). Alameda’s PTA Council and the Alameda Education Foundation are hosting a debate tonight at Alameda High’s Little Theatre at 7 pm. If you can’t make it, Alameda’s League of Women Voters is hosting a forum for the school board trustee candidates on October 15, details here.

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Alameda’s Good Chevrolet closes its doors

Park Street’s Good Chevrolet announced yesterday that it was closing its doors after 58 years of business. The Alameda Journal‘s Peter Hegarty has the story. According to Alamedans blogger John Knox White, the store closed because of pressure from Chevy Financing:

Apparently, the Chevy’s Financing Company demanded that they pay down their inventory on Monday (rumored to be close to $2 million) and the Owner John Buono said “enough’s enough” and shut the doors.

You can read more about plans for the revitalization of that area, called the “Gateway District,” over at Michele Ellson’s The Island and at Lauren Do’s Blogging Bayport. (For good measure, here’s the City of Alameda’s page on the area.)