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Archive for June, 2009

A record move

The Record Gallery on Webster Street is moving

The Record Gallery on Webster Street is moving.

After 36 years in the same spot on Webster Street, the Record Gallery is moving.

Owner Leo Steccati set up shop at 1510 Webster St. back in 1976, before MP3 players or pod casts – even before eight track tapes became obsolete.

Store manager and eventual new owner Steve Kennedy says he is trying to look at the bright side to the July 1 move behind 1451 Webster, behind Serendipity, a consignment shop, but it’s still “heartbreaking,” he says.

Between the economy and the rent, the move became necessary. Kennedy said they asked the building owner for a rent reduction, but didn’t get one.

“This town needs rent control,” he said.

Their new spot will have about half the space they now have, but the rent will also be reduced by about half.

To get to the new place, customers will need to round the corner because there is no causeway to get to the back of Serendipity. But that probably won’t pose a problem, Kennedy said, because it’s kind of fun to find things. People will also likely walk a few steps to get to the shop’s longtime inventory of used records and cd’s, and its more recent and popular stock of retro and vintage clothing.

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Under: Business, the economy | No Comments »

League asks for shallower cuts, deeper thinking

The LWV shouted out to Sacramento Friday with this press release about a “cuts-only” budget proposal, saying there are other ways to save money, and, as a result, programs. Let’s hope that Schwarzengger and the legislators actually see and hear suggestions from their constituents and that any ideas that may work to resolve California’s ugly fiscal condition are considered.

Here’s the full press release.

League Urges Realistic, Balanced Approach to Budget

Sacramento, CAThe League of Women Voters of California today called on the Governor and legislative leaders to reject the idea of a “cuts-only” budget, especially one that decimates crucial programs. Instead, the League advocates a balanced approach to California’s budget crisis that includes new revenues along with targeted cuts to programs.

“We urge you to give priority to protecting the essential safety net for those most in need,” said League President Janis R. Hirohama in a letter to the budget leaders, reminding them that “the primary obligation of government is to protect the welfare and security of its people.” The League believes that the budget must not eliminate such basic assistance programs as CalWORKs and Healthy Families and should avoid further deep cuts in programs such as Medi-Cal, in-home supportive services, and child welfare services. “To make draconian cuts while rejecting proposals for increased revenues would be both short-sighted and unconscionable,” continued Hirohama.

It is unrealistic to rely on cuts alone to fill a budget deficit of this magnitude. The League of Women Voters has long supported revenues that are sufficient and flexible enough to meet changing needs for state and local government services and that ensure fair sharing of the tax burden. Recent polls have shown that a large majority of Californians agree, supporting a budget solution that includes a balance of cuts and new taxes.

A number of viable new revenue sources are on the table, and the League urged lawmakers to consider them. In addition to new taxes or increases in tax rates, possible solutions include repealing corporate tax breaks—included in the budget deals last September and February—that will cost some $2.5 billion per year. Other alternatives that should be examined are fees that can be established by a simple majority vote in the legislature and reductions in administrative costs.

Looking ahead past these extremely difficult times, Hirohama called for serious structural reform of California’s dysfunctional fiscal system. Reforms include eliminating the two-thirds vote requirements that paralyze government decision-making and establishing a fairer, more efficient tax policy. “For the good of all Californians, and for our future,” she concluded, “we expect our leaders to take on this important task. Our state deserves no less.”

For information on the League of Women Voters (men are members, too) go www.lwvc.org.

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009
Under: California, the economy | No Comments »

Band Aid

School’s ending and with it goes the music on San Jose Avenue. Residents who live on the tail end of the street near Lincoln Middle School get treated to tunes al dente on a regular basis.

The school’s marching band leaves the campus and hits the road with their saxophones and trombones and drums and all the other bassy and trilly things that make songs sound patriotic and holiday-ish.

For a first-timer hearing a live band outside the house you’re visiting, it’s a surreal treat. At first, when it’s not up close, you wonder if a caravan of ice cream wagons have converged. As the notes come closer, it’s clear this is real music. It stops and starts as the instructor calls the shots. Then you go to the front door and there, right in the street, not on the sidewalk, is your band.

Every street should have one. Every school should have one. And every school budget should be able to afford one. But that’s a subject for another day. Let’s just leave this on a light note.

Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2009
Under: Bands, Island Life, Schools, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Mayor of Bayo Vista steps down

Corky and Boomer during their last day of moving from the Bayo Vista Avenue house.

Corky and Boomer during their last day of moving from the Bayo Vista Avenue house.

Mary Morrison and other neighbors call him the Mayor of  Bayo Vista, but his real moniker is Corky Chapman and he’s taken Boomer and Susie and left town and the neighbors are sad.

So liked is this 29-year resident of the street that the neighbors threw a farewell 3100 Bayo Vista block party for Corky and his wife Susie and their beloved Boomer, an Australian herding dog. The Chapmans are moving to Oakdale. Corky’s mother and brother live not far from therein towns near Oakdale.

“Close to 100 people must have shown up,” Corky said Sunday. He and Susie moved the last load from the house Monday and headed out.

“We’re going to miss him terribly,” Morrison said. “He walked around a lot with Boomer. He knew everybody. He’d call if he saw something. I feel like he prevented a lot of burglaries. And he had a Statue of Liberty that people used around town for events. And he was the flag guy, always supplying flags for us for holidays. He’s a very special guy.”

Turns out Corky provided the flags for the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. And in 1976 when the country was celebrating about its 200th birthday, he and the neighborhood kids popped 200 flags in his yard and a bunch more in flower pots in the neighborhood.

A self-employed, “semi-semi retired” designer of produce displays for consumer products, Corky and Susie are heading back to the hills of Oakdale, not far from where he grew up.

“I turned 72 and I pulled a measuring tape out to 80 inches and looked at 72 and saw that 80 is only eight inches away,” he said. “I figured I’d better start fishing and doing those things now, while I can still wade into the stream.”

The Chapmans didn’t have to list their house to sell it. When she heard they were moving, a woman and her husband asked if they could buy the house. The woman, Amanda, was a year old and lived on the corner when the Chapmans moved into their house. Today the 29-year-old owns the house and even the swinging bench on the porch that she and her little girlfriends once enjoyed. Susie decided to leave it because Amanda loved it so much as a child.

“It’s the block of miracles,” Corky said.
And, it turns out that her parents moved to Oakdale a while back, so there will be some homies in Oakdale digs for Corky, Susie and Boomer.

The couple will be back; their names are still on the block’s roster to participate in the two or three annual neighborhood events.

“We have lots of friends here, and we’ll come visit,” Corky said.

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Under: Neighbors | 3 Comments »

Rolled van in front of police department

More details will follow later, but for now the news is that there were no significant injuries when a collision between two vehicles ended with a Toytoa van on its side on Lincoln Avenue in front of the police department around 11 a.m. today.

Chuck Worcester from Oakland was heading for the library on Oak Street when the accident occurred. After the van rolled, he opened the back door, removed the back seat and helped the driver, a woman and the only person in the vehicle, out through the back door. She’d been unable to get o

Chuck Worcester of Oakland, who saw the accident, removed the back seat to help extricate the driver from the van.

Chuck Worcester of Oakland, who saw the accident, removed the back seat to help extricate the driver from the van.

ut by herself because she was on her side and the seat belt was keeping her locked in, Worcester said.

This Toyota took a dive in front of the police department after a collision with another vehicle.

This Toyota took a dive in front of the police department after a collision with another vehicle.

Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009
Under: charter schools, Uncategorized | No Comments »

The pot that fell through the cracks

Well, the last week’s story, “Fate of Alameda pot club likely heading to court,” doesn’t really have a happy ending for anyone.  The City Council just said no to the Purple Elephant medical marijuana dispensary on Webster Street. (Say, wouldn’t that business name give you a little red flag regarding its inventory — other than children’s toys.)

Not that, if one is trying to open a pot dispensary, one would necessarily go to City Hall and say, “Howdy. We’re going to sell pot over on Webster Street for people with medical problems. How about a nice business license. Here’s our check.”

Chances are, that wouldn’t fly. So instead, you might just mention that you’re going to sell “miscellaneous retail,” which seems like a smarter way to get that license.

So, they opened last summer, the city somehow discovered that miscellaneous retail is pot-related and revoked its license and now the business has said it’s taking the city to court to stay in operation.

People have pretty strong opinions about pot. It’s a love-hate thing, even while the state goes about reconsidering whether or not it should be legalized. The council didn’t make a statement about whether medical marijuana dispensaries are bad or good, nor whether marijuana is bad or good, though surely they each have their own opinions on the topic. Instead, the council chose to put a moratorium on dispensaries as a land use issue, to look at how they affect health and safety.

The bad thing here is that, if the city is concerned about those issues, how did this go through in the first place? It’s one of those slip-ups that has caused bad news for the operation, its customers and the people in the West End who feel their business district isn’t the right place for it. A lot of people have been affected. We could blame the dispensary owner for trying to slip through the cracks with his “miscellaneous retail” line, but, frankly, if I got a mailer from a company called Purple Elephant that only sold miscellaneous retail, I’d have a pretty good suspicion there was something the Purple Elephant was keeping to itself.

If another business applies for a license and it’s called, say, The Joint, and sells undefined, miscellaneous items, it would be prudent for the city to do a little research before making any decisions.

Posted on Friday, June 5th, 2009
Under: Print columns | 4 Comments »

Virtual surfing at the beach

Everyone who’s kite boarding in our fair waters probably already knows this, but it’s also fun for taking a virtual live look at the beach. The Board Sports School and Shop that teaches windsurfing and kite sailing has a Web site where you can look at a current photo of the sand and surf (a still shot, yes, but it updates every two minutes, so it’s more like a slow-moving virtual flipbook).

If you can’t make it to the beach for a walk or a wave-wrangle, the site is the closest thing to being there. Be aware, however, that the Web cam delivers its own version of the color of sand – it’s golden in the photos. (For you air-head authorities, there are also wind readings and other surfish information.)

Last note: Looking at the beach doesn’t count as fresh air or exercise. You have to actually get away from the computer for that. Sorry.

Posted on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
Under: beaches | No Comments »

Will work for pay

If you’re un- or under-employed and looking for in-person fellowship with others in the same boat, there is a place for just that. Every Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. the Java Success Team meets at Javarama, 1333 Park Street.

The weekly meetings are moderated by Fred Garvey, who is among the victims of layoffs. Garvey, who attended the Employment Development Department’s Experience Unlimited sessions, which he highly recommends, says the meetings focus on keeping people invigorated in their job searches. Even odd jobs can help fill the gaps while looking for full-time work, he said.

The 90-minute meetings include 30 minutes of conference calls (via computer) to information technology specialists in India who have also found themselves in the same boat. The remainder is devoted to discussions and networking for those who attend the Java meetings. Recently, Garvey was able to hook up a plumber with someone who needed service.

While Garvey, an estimator and planner by trade, recommends people attend the Experience Unlimited program, held at the Employment Development Department in Oakland, it’s not required to attend the Java Success Team sessions. There is no charge to attend. Additionally, he has a Web site where people can register to upload their resumes. To prevent spam, he approves people who register, and then they are able to use the other benefits on the site, including links for job seekers. Garvey can also be reached at 510-521-3648.

Posted on Monday, June 1st, 2009
Under: Unemployed | No Comments »