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Archive for December, 2008

Alameda’s Thompson Ave. on KPIX

The story is mostly about how people are scaling back for Christmas this year, but it features some nice shots of Alameda’s Thompson Avenue decorations and Thompson Avenue residents including (but not limited to) Amy F. and Nelson L. (as Santa). Sorry no embedded video, but here’s the story link.

Posted on Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
Under: Going Green, Island Life, the economy | No Comments »

Calif. budget politics 101

This story on California budget woes from the Washington Post. As the budget crisis continues. California Forward is dedicated to changing the laws governing the state’s budget process.

Posted on Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
Under: California, Prop. 13, the economy | No Comments »

Alameda’s UTStarcom cuts 500 jobs

I admit to not having heard of UTStarcom until yesterday. But the Fortune 1000 company (with offices worldwide, including Alameda) appears to be cutting 500 jobs. It is not clear from news reports how many of those layoffs will be local. In case you are curious about UTStarcom, there’s this from the wikipedia:

UTStarcom is a Fortune 1000 company that specializes in IP-based networking products for telecommunications companies and service providers. Its core markets are multimedia communications and broadband, including IP communications and entertainment (IPTV), next generation broadband networks and optical network solutions.

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008
Under: Island Life, the economy | 4 Comments »

A state budget fix? Not yet.

Yesterday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he will veto the budget proposal that the Dems passed yesterday. From the Sac. Bee:

California’s budget mess got messier Thursday as Democratic legislators approved a package of tax increases and spending cuts, Republican legislators threatened to sue over the package’s questionable constitutionality and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made the issue moot by promising to veto it.

The Contra Costa Times has this:

Just when it looked like Democrats had devised a way out of their suffocating impasse with Republicans over the state budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped in Thursday afternoon with this message: Not so fast.

In a dramatic day at the Capitol that alternately had on display exultant Democrats, angry Republicans and a frustrated Schwarzenegger, the governor announced he would veto a Democratic gambit to raise billions in new revenue.

By exploiting a legal loophole over the definition of taxes vs. fees, Democrats had hoped to sidestep the state’s two-thirds majority hurdle for raising taxes. But the part of the package that offended the governor most did not involve the end-run on taxes; instead, Schwarzenegger said the proposal did not go far enough to trim spending and stimulate the economy.

More up to the minute state budget info at Calitics.

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008
Under: California, Schools, the economy | No Comments »

Alameda Education Foundation director pink-slipped

Brooke Briggance, executive director of the Alameda Education Foundation (where, as some know, I served on the board for a year, stepping down in September) was, as reported by Michele Ellson over at The Island, laid off Monday. Details here. School board member Mike McMahon has posted AEF’s press release.

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008
Under: Schools, the economy | 5 Comments »

California budget stalemate continues

To recap, Repubs proposed this on Monday:

…GOP leaders released a $22 billion package of their own that called for deep cuts to education and social service programs, as well as raiding other pots of money voters approved for early child development and mental illness. Democrats contend the Republican’s plan to cut more than $10 billion from schools amounted to shutting down every school in the state for two months or increasing class sizes by 40 percent. [Read the entire AP story here.]

The state is facing a budget deficit which is now estimated to be something over $40 billion. If nothing is done, it is looking like California will run out of cash to pay its bills some time in February. Dems have a counterproposal, which wriggles around the tyranny of the minority (a solid majority of California lawmakers are Democrats), caused by state laws which require two-thirds vote of both state legislative bodies to pass any new taxes. A bit about the Dem proposal from the Chronicle:

State lawmakers are expected to vote today on an $18 billion budget, put forth Wednesday by Democrats, that contains more than $9 billion in added revenue and requires only a simple majority vote of the Legislature to be approved. The move boxes in Republicans, who have just enough votes to block lawmakers from approving tax and budget bills that require a two-thirds majority in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

But a spokesperson for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will not sign off on the Dem plan without some changes. More up-to-the-minute budget news at Calitics.

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008
Under: California, Off-Island Life, Prop. 13, Prop. 98, Schools, the economy | No Comments »

State Republicans propose $22 billion in budget cuts

Despite having strong majorities in both the California Assembly and the Senate, California Democrats have little power to take action to make budget numbers line up. Any new taxes in the state require two-thirds vote of both legislative bodies, so staunchly anti-tax state Repubs can block any legislation they like. It’s pretty much the reverse of majority rules.

Republican cuts in the package presented today:

* Cutting monthly payments for supplemental security income recipients – to $830 from $870 for singles, and to $1,407 from $1,524 from couples

* Cutting nearly $10 billion from K-12 education over the next 18 months

* Cutting $6 billion from higher education funding

More state budget crisis details here and here and here and here.

Posted on Monday, December 15th, 2008
Under: California, Prop. 13, Prop. 98, Schools, the economy | 5 Comments »

Bye-bye Alamedanet.net

With Alamedanet.net email down all day Sunday (all three customer support people I talked to at the hotline set up for the transition from Alameda Power & Telecom to Comcast said the outage had nothing to do with the switchover), I’ve decided to move forward with a switch of my own. With AT&T home phone rates ever on the rise and plus that nasty experience a couple months ago with the many-phone-calls-requiring-to-remove fraudulent charges for a web-based voicemail box I never authorized, I signed up this morning (thanks, Mike) for cable, internet, and home phone service through Comcast.

On Saturday, the Comcast technician will be here (do you think s/he will make it in the two-hour window, 2 -4? b/c I have Alameda Civic Ballet Nutcracker to attend) to switch us to their digital phone service (unlimited long distance and local calls) and update us from basic cable to expanded basic. My understanding is that they will also be unhooking us from the AP&T cable and attaching us to the Comcast one. The logic of this is not completely clear to me. The introductory rate for all three services is about $90, which is less than we’ve been paying…and we’ll have more channels. And there’s no installation fee, says Mike. Hopefully, internet service will be as fast as lightning. And the next time alamedanet.net email goes down, I will not be shut off from the world. Also: one of the kind tech people I talked to—and they were all friendly and local (Mike reported Comcast is hiring)—said that if we call tech support they’ll set up a bounce message for emails sent to our old alamedanet.net addresses, letting them know where we can be found. Gmail it is.

Posted on Monday, December 15th, 2008
Under: Alameda Power & Telecom, Comcast, Island Life | 7 Comments »

Alamedanet.net email down

Email was inaccessible this morning when I, up early, tried to download my email at 5:00 a.m. A friend and neighbor, who said she did get some emails through this afternoon, said it was also inoperable late Saturday night as well.

My mid-afternoon phone call to the ‘transition hotline’ number cost me 20 minutes on hold. When I finally got through, a young man in Concord said that Comcast had just learned of the problem a few hours before. Which, if true, made me sad, because email had been down for 12 hours at that point. Internet access remains live at my house, as does cable TV. When will the email come through again?

Posted on Sunday, December 14th, 2008
Under: Alameda Power & Telecom, Comcast, Events, Island Life, the economy | 5 Comments »

Alameda holiday home tour this weekend

In 2008, the Alameda Family Service League’s tour features five holiday-decorated residences. Organizers hope to raise more than last year’s $40,000 on this annual peek into the decked out homes of others. The money goes to boost Alameda Family Services‘ coffers, especially important as the economy continues its slide south.

This Bay Area Reporter story features the home of David Gaskin and Phil McPherson, one of the first newer homes (theirs was built in 1965) ever featured on the 38-year-old holiday event. From The Reporter story:

“This is why we bought this place – that view,” Gaskin said, indicating the lagoon flowing behind their house. A visitor takes in the view through sliding glass doors that open onto a back yard filled with trees.

Inside the room, which features African tribal masks and animal skulls, there’s also a Christmas tree decorated with 130 munecas – small blue, purple, and green paper mache dolls from San Miguel de Allende, the Mexican town where the couple lived and ran a guesthouse complex for four years.

McPherson and Gaskin, like four other Alameda families, will open their homes this coming weekend. For tickets and more tour details go here.

Posted on Thursday, December 11th, 2008
Under: Events, Island Life | No Comments »