Calling Alameda Young Songwriters & School Supporters

This Sunday afternoon, Alameda Towne Centre will is hosting a young songwriters workshop and jam session — featuring DC Carter & Project 7. Musical instruments will also be collected for public-school students on August 1.

The workshop is set to take place from 1-3:45 p.m. at ATC’s Center Court Stage.  Starting at 5:30 p.m., there will be a jam session and performance put on by workshop participants and legendary drummer DC Cater, along with Parabar Martin on vocals and keyboard and violinist Calvin Kelooa.

Other featured musicians include Allen Lam, David Hernandez, Patrick McKenna and Jim Knowles.
Young wongwriters that would like to participate in the workshops need to submit an application online ASAP to Alameda Towne Centre.

During the afternoon, Alameda residents are asked to donate instruments (in working order) during the workshop to the Alameda Education Foundation. Guitars are especially needed.

And be sure to check out ATC’s Summer Beats concert series. Shows take place every Thursday and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. There will be big band this Saturday, then Zydeco, world beats and dance music at upcoming shows, which are free.


Alameda’s Park Street Hosts Popular Event

The Park Street Business Association is celebrating: The 26th-annual Park Street Art & Wine Faire, held July 24 and 25, was a big success.

Visitors came from around the Island and throughout the Bay Area to clown around, enjoy refreshments and live music, games and other activities.

The event attracted visitors from lots of generations, who came to the event by bike and other modes of transport. Bike Alameda even provided free valet bike parking.   

The Park Street Business Association will be hosting a business mixer from 5:30-7 p.m. on August 19, and the Classic Car Show is set for October 9.

Many thanks to community photographer James Fryer for the images.


Post-SunCal Alameda Point: What’s Next?

These community members and plenty of others went head-to-head with SunCal supporters at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. But in the end, with a 4-0 vote, SunCal’s right to continue to negotiating with the city over plans for Alameda Point came to an end.

The rowdy crowd of speakers for and against was mixed, yet requests by city leaders for paid speakers to identify themselves apparently fell on deaf ears.

It’s a sad comment on the state of the issues at hand if speakers need to be paid to speak on the future of Alameda Point. And it’s even sadder that they wouldn’t identify themselves as such.

Online commentators on the issues – who generally aren’t paid (although there certainly may be exceptions) — are full of ideas and topics that will have to be ironed out as we move forward with plans for the former Navy Air Station.

They note that many environmental issues regarding toxins in the area, endangered species and other concerns are at stake. There’s also a host of transporation matters that need further thought.

Granted, these are not simple issues. However, as the recent debate and vote over SunCal’s role and plans illustrate, the community has to come to some resolution over how many new residences it wants, if any, in order to move forward.

Furthermore, there should be some concensus on what activities and character a development at Alameda Point should have.

The latest divisiveness on the Island comes from residents’ desire to see the right plans from the right developer. We want a developer that shares a community-focused vision with us and that will work on plans that lead to beneficial results via  an open, straight-forward political process.

This is quite a task. Hopefully, we can started on it after some political (and legal) healing has taken place.

(Much appreciation to James Fryer for the donated photos.)


Alameda Point – The Real Issue Is?

With the expected vote tomorrow – Tuesday, July 20 — over whether or not to extend SunCal’s exclusive agreement to negotiate a development deal with the city, we can expect more fireworks from politicans, community members and outside organizations over the future of Alameda Point, and (not to mention) other issues. 

It seems that the Lena Tam vs. Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant debate is eclipsing a few items, which a kind assortment of Alameda residents have shared with me via e-mail, phone and other forms of polite conversation:

1. The vote over the major SunCal issue — namely its plan to develop Alameda Point, Measure B — failed roughly by 70% (about 15% for and 85% against).

2. The residents of Alameda clearly believe we can do better than what we’ve got; we also deserve a forum for moving forward to define what “doing better” is and how to make it happen.

3. A project that so divides a community — or at least some politicians in that community — may no longer be in the community’s (and the politicians’) best interests.

 4. The economic foundation for a massive project/development does not exist at the present time.

5.  Maybe — in the interim — the city leaders should spend some time defining what is and isn’t confidential information and what the city could be doing to expand or at least fully protect residents’  freedom of information, including access to city e-mail records for longer than 30 days. 

Then, residents tell me, we can hopefully all get back to focusing on the real “Alameda Point.”


Alameda’s Encinal Yacht Club: Supporting Youth Sailing


Encinal Yacht Club’ says its junior summer-sailing programs are poised to have their best summer yet.

The first session wrapped up on July 8, when the these photos were taken — and conditions were pretty windy.

Nearly 100 sailors had registered for the first of the three sessions, the club said in its latest newsletter. And some took their enthusiasm for the sport on land and joined in the Fourth of July in town.  

During the sessions, participating sailors and their family members get to enjoy outdoor barbeques and fun – including races out on the estuary – each Thursday night.

The second session is in full swing (or full sail) and ends July 29, with the third session is set for August 2 to 19. 

Erik Glaser and Megan Grove are the program directors of the youth sailing program for EYC.  

The yacht club is celebrating its 120th  anniversary this year, and its clubhouse is turning 50.

EYC holds an open house on the second Tuesday of each month.  

(Thanks to sailing enthusiast James Fryer for sharing the photos.)


Alameda’s Weekend Activities: Good to Go

Coming up next weekend Park Street hosts its annual Art & Wine Festival on Saturday and Sunday (July 24-25) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Apologies for posting the event for an earlier weekend initially.

The 26th-annual affair includes a petting zoo, live music and lots of edibles.

For those lookint for activities this weekend (July 16-18), over on High Street, the High Street Station coffeehouse is hosting live music from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight, July 16. The band is Live from Shannon.

Corn beef and cabbage will be served from 5:30 to 8 p.m. for hungry guests.

Tomorrow, July 17, a soft-rock band will play from 7 to 9 p.m. Spaghetti, barbeque chicken and “Fernside Salad” will be served.

Meals are just $9.95.

This Sunday, July 18, Rock Wall Winery is hosting a fund-raiser for Meals on Wheels out at the Alameda Point venue. The event takes place from 1 to 5 p.m.  High Street Station staff and lots of community members are participating.



Resolving Alamedagate Requires Action

Alameda’s got a lot of mudslinging going on.

Did Councilwoman Lena Tam leak confidential information via e-mail regarding Sun-Cal and fire-fighting contracts and thus engage in official misconduct?

Did a source of these allegations, Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant, have a political axe to grind after Tam raised issues regarding Gallant’s job performance?

Does the fact that these issues are being raised before the upcoming fall election and the next Sun-Cal vote before the City Council seem more than coincidence?

Yes, it’s Alamedagate.  And it’s messy.

(To see what Islanders and others are saying about the allegations, infighting and Tam’s self-defense, check out comments on The Island’s  recent coverage and the San Francisco Chronicle‘s coverage.)

As a city without paid political leaders, we rely on good relations between the paid city staff and our elected officials. We certainly know now that we can’t count on a stable relationship in this arena, at least in the near term.

We also need firm accountability when it comes to the performance of both our politicians and our administrators — and that seems very much in flux.

As the city is rocked by these matters and the ensuing political fallout, it’s worth asking: Who should be watching who? Are the pertinent laws and rules being applied to and followed by all politicians and administrators equally and adequately?

Do we as an Island community need to consider starting over with a clean slate – by embracing change and rigorously re-working our government?

It may be worth considering ways that can improve accountability, such as giving each geographic area of our community the ability to elect its own representative, so the political system is less centralized.

It also may be valuable to find other ways to regroup, both at the administrative level and at the elected-official level, so that significant issues — such as the future of Alameda Point — are dealt with more productively and innovatively.

An odd and disadvantageous mix of political interests seems to have hijacked the Island — and residents’ best interests are being lost in the process.    

In this instance, it’s up to us (and not the Coast Guard) to take it back.


World Cup Finale at Alameda’s Speisekammer

The Speisekammer crowd was of a good size but somewhat mild-mannered on Sunday, July 11, when Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 to win the World Cup 2010, which took place in South Africa.

Spain, playing in blue shirts (vs. Holland in orange), made its winning goal in extra time, after the first 90-plus minutes of the game were scoreless.

The Speisekammer also had a robust crowd on Saturday, July 10, when Germany defeated Uruguay 3-2 for the third spot at the tournament.

The German pub and restaurant has been a very popular spot since the World Cup began on June 11 in Cape Town.


Alameda’s R&B Cellars on View from the Bay

Two owners of  Alameda Point-based R&B Cellars will be on “View from the Bay”  this Monday, July 12. The show will be broadcast on ABC-7 at 3 p.m.

During the show, “View from the Bay” hosts Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang (left) will be taught to make Fortissimo Port Chicken by Barbara and Kevin Brown (right), the owners of R&B Winery.

The recipe calls for using R&B’s new port for the reduction sauce. Once the dish is done, it should be paired with R&B’s 2007 Napa Valley Zydeco Zinfandel. 

According to R&B, Fortissimo Port Chicken can be served with haricot vert (green beans) to create “a symphony of flavor with this economical and easy to make six-step recipe.”

Barbara and Kevin have been busy. They performed Friday night at Angela’s Bistro on Central Avenue.

And on July 31, they will be part of a special event, Urban Wine Experience, at Jack London Square.


Alameda Wildlife & Grand Marina

You never know what you’ll find on the docks in Alameda — maybe even a nest of house finches in the main sail of a boat docked at Grand Marina.

The nest was spotted a few weeks ago by an Alameda-based sailor, and this photo of the finch eggs was taken by local birder Cindy Margulis about 10 days ago.

And over the past couple of days, the eggs have hatched, and the baby birds are hungry. Once they get well nourished and are able to fly on their own, during the next week or two, they should move off the boat and onto dry land.  

Many thanks to Bay Farm Nature Connection (BFNC) for helping out with the birds — and for suggesting that the boat not head out for a summer sail until the young finches have abandoned ship.

Hopefully, the Alameda group will be scheduling a bird walk later this summer.