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Archive for November, 2008

Anti-gay group to protest Alameda theater production on Friday

Word is that the anti-gay group “God Hates Fags” is planning a protest of this Friday’s Alameda High School production of The Laramie Project. The play is about Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998. The protest, according to the group’s web site, is planned for 6:45 p.m., just before the show opens at Alameda High’s Little Theatre.

“God Hates Fags,” a project of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, is responsible for many other similar protests in the United States and Canada. (The Westboro Baptist Church is monitored as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and is not know to be affiliated with any other Baptist Churches.)

Here’s details on a counter protest.

Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
Under: Events, gay rights., Island Life, Proposition 8 | 1 Comment »

This Saturday: Planting daffodils near the Fruitvale Bridge

If you’d like to join a group of Alamedans and Oaklanders planting daffodils on the Oakland side of the Fruitvale Bridge (because, as you likely know, that’s one heck of an untended area) they’ll be a group out there working this coming Saturday, November 15, from 9 a.m. to noon. They’ll be meeting between 880 and the Fruitvale Bridge, near East 7th Street. I’m sure they’ll be easy to spot. Participants are advised to bring garden gloves and tools if they have them, wear work clothes, and be ready to plant. The event is sponsored by the Fruitvale Bike Station, the City of Oakland and Keep Oakland Beautiful.

Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
Under: gardening, Going Green, Off-Island Life | No Comments »

Bike Share Alameda?

One of the things that causes me confusion these days is how we Americans/Alamedans can absorb almost daily doses of really bad environmental news and do so little to alter our behaviors. Even here in liberal/relatively-environmentally-aware Alameda we seem to be resistant—sometimes even hostile—to modifying our transportation-related behavior. But, thinking outside of our regular boxes, there certainly are options. By way of example, Sunday’s New York Times had a piece about European bike-sharing programs:

In increasingly green-conscious Europe, there are said to be only two kinds of mayors: those who have a bicycle-sharing program and those who want one…In Barcelona, streets during rush hour are lined with commuters and errand-goers on the bright red bicycles of Bicing, the city’s program, which began 18 months ago. Bicing offers 6,000 bicycles from 375 stands, which are scattered every few blocks; the bikes seem to be in constant motion.

Though bike-sharing programs are taking off in Europe, in the United States Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, November 11th, 2008
Under: Going Green, Island Life, Off-Island Life, Transportation | No Comments »

Rob Siltanen: “Defend Measure H”

Blogger/government teacher/Alameda parent Rob Siltanen has a post up today at School 94501/94502 detailing 1. the nasty state of California’s budget and 2. the importance of Measure H funds to the Alameda Unified District’s budget. Highlights:

…AUSD has very little control over its revenues. The overwhelming majority of AUSD revenues come from the state. So when the state economy is in a recession and the state budget is in free fall — as happened for 08-09 and as will happen again for the 09-10 budget cycle — AUSD’s revenues will drop precipitously. Even though “the district” and “the Board” have the responsibility of dealing with the resulting budget crisis, the situation is not of their making.

Furthermore, unlike a business that can balance its books by closing divisions and operations, AUSD may not cut costs by, for example, shutting down its highly unprofitable “special ed division” or suspending any of its other services for high needs (and therefore more expensive) students. AUSD must educate all students wishing to enroll in public schools in Alameda.

He goes on to detail the current state budget crisis and its impact locally:

The state budget is in such dire straights that the Governor has called a Special Session of the legislature to enact additional budget cuts for the CURRENT SCHOOL YEAR (”mid-year cuts”). Among the “highlights” of the Governor’s proposal to cut 2.5 billion more from the education budget for this school year – yes, those would be cuts for the year for which school districts were required to approve a budget last June — are (1) retroactively eliminating the COLA for 08-09 and (2) retroactively reducing revenue limit funding (i.e., general funding) by 1.79 billion. Even more ominously, this draconian Special Session plan only addresses 11 billion of the state’s projected shortfall. The Governor projects another 13 billion deficit for 09-10. That means that in January we will hear about even more cuts ON TOP OF THESE for the next, fast-approaching budget cycle. If the legislature is unable or unwilling to act in the Special Session (which I think is likely), the whole problem of a 24 billion deficit would be carried into 09-10.

The whole post is here. And, yes, it is long, but is a clearly-articulated, reality-based portrait of the current state budget crisis and its local impact.

Posted on Monday, November 10th, 2008
Under: California, Parcel tax, Prop. 13, Schools | No Comments »

Returning Marines welcomed at Alameda BBQ

About 100 U.S. Marines, returning from Iraq, were welcomed by friends and family at a Barbeque in Alameda Sunday.

Dominik Svensson of San Jose was among the returning Marines, and he spoke evenly and with an almost subdued tone.

“We didn’t lose anybody, and we all made it back in one piece,” he said, and then nodded his head down as he hugged his daughter Noelle.

“But I’m just glad to see her, and see how much she’s grown while I was gone,” he said. “She’s much taller.”

The whole story is here.

Posted on Monday, November 10th, 2008
Under: Events | 2 Comments »

Motions filed in Alameda’s Measure H lawsuits

In a story to appear in tomorrow’s Alameda Journal, reporter Jennifer K. Rumple tracks the movement in the legal battle over Measure H, the Alameda school parcel tax that voters overwhelmingly approved last June.

Attorney Page Barnes of Foley & Lardner LLP, one of the firms representing the Alameda Unified School District, told Rumple, “I take this litigation very personally. I am fighting to preserve the educational quality of 10,000 students and uphold the will of an overwhelming majority of voters who recognize the importance of passing this parcel tax for our kids. I have a firm belief that the money being generated through Measure H is absolutely essential to maintaining the quality of our schools.”

The whole story is here.

Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008
Under: Island Life, Parcel tax, Schools | No Comments »

More California budget cuts proposed for the current year

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced additional cuts to the state budget today. To bridge an estimated $11.2 billion budget gap, he’s proposing to raise $4.7 billion with new taxes (including raising the state sales tax by 1.5 cents, taxing services like car repair and veterinary visits, and raising taxes on drinks served in bars and restaurants). Cuts to K-12 education funding in the current school year total $2.5 billion under the new plan. No word yet on what cuts will look like for 2009-10. “A drastic situation like this,” Schwarzenegger said in a news conference, “takes drastic measures.” State Republicans say they’ll fight the increase in taxes.

Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008
Under: California, Prop. 13, Schools | No Comments »

Prop. 8 passage means sorrow for many Alamedans

I interviewed Alamedan Amy Gorman just after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in a May decision. Below is a letter from her about her reaction to Tuesday’s passage of Proposition 8 which will, unless it is overturned by legal challenges, amend the state’s constitution to ban marriage between same gender couples (For the record, it looks like the “No On Eight” campaign has not yet conceded.):

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday night Sue and I celebrated our 17th anniversary. I paused to think about all we had been through together…birth and death….sickness and health, youth and middle age, joy and sorrow. I was confident that all Californians would acknowledge our life and we would move forward to plan our wedding once all this nonsense about equality was finalized at last. I am in a fog of both shock and outrage that so many would choose discrimination over equality. I feel foolish in waiting…as we should have gone to City Hall at the last minute as our friends did…”just in case”. It may take years, and many more notarized documents to cover our family so we may have some of the same rights as others. I thought for sure that society was past all this nonsense, that people were educated and respectful.

I want to sincerely thank all of you for your support of NO on Prop. 8 and your words of kindness today. Many of you did phone banking, wore buttons, and talked to neighbors. I appreciate your efforts and hope someday to live in a world where this issue is thought of as trivial and outdated (as segregation and bi-racial marriage are now). Last night was a wonderful moment in our history as we move forward in a hopeful new direction for our country. We made a point to take both our kids to the voting booth with us, in hopes that they may remember this day. I hope someday that Californians will correct this horrible error in judgment and acknowledge our 17 years.

Sincerest Thanks,
Amy

Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008
Under: California, Island Life, Proposition 8 | 27 Comments »

Alameda election returns 6:12 am, the morning after

A glance at this morning’s returns (with all Alameda precincts in, but an unknown number of provisional ballots still to be counted) we’re still seeing the same trends as last night. It looks like newcomers Trish Spencer, Niel Tam and Ron Mooney will take seats on the school board, ousting two incumbents, David Forbes and Janet Gibson. In the city council race, it looks like Doug DeHaan and Marie Gilmore have been returned to office (defeating challengers Tracy Jensen and Justin Harrision). Measure P, the city real estate transfer tax, is at this moment passing by the tiniest of margins, just over 300 votes. You can see all election returns here. Mike McMahon is tracking the school board vote here.

Posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
Under: City Council, Island Life, school board | No Comments »

Alameda election returns 12:44 am

New returns just in. There’s now 37 of 52 precincts reporting. Measure P has an ever-so-slight lead: 10,429 yes votes to 10, 318 no’s. The school board ranking order is still the same (remember the top three candidates will get seats). Right now that’s Niel Tam with 11,392 votes, Trish Spencer with 8,495, and Ron Mooney with 8,238. Janet Gibson has 8,049 votes and David Forbes has 7,346. In the race for city council, Doug DeHaan and Marie Gilmore have tidy leads (DeHann has 10,068 votes and Gilmore has 9,527). Tracy Jensen trails with 7,533 votes while, at this point, Justin Harrison has captured 5,240


And now for your history in the making moment: At 114, the daughter of former slaves votes for Obama.

Posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
Under: City Council, Off-Island Life, Schools | No Comments »