Alameda School Board Candidates: Check ‘Em Out

Yes, it is late in the election cycle — and there’s certainly been a lot to keep up with as we get set to vote for a new Alameda mayor and two city councilmembers on November 2.

But if you want to help Alameda schools improve their academic and financial standing, it’s time to make an educated vote for two slots on the school board.

The website of the Alameda Education Foundation is the place to turn: The AEF and Alameda’s PTAs co-hosted a forum for school-board candidates on October 19, and the event can now be viewed online.

Candidates Mike McMahon, Clay Pollard, James Pruitt, Margie Sherrat and Rand Wrobel participated in the discussion.

The videos are very helpful for residents who want to get to know the candidates better before casting their votes. Within the first 10 minutes or so, it becomes very clear what the priorities are for each candidate and what each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are.

And after all the SunCal-related bickering in town, these discussions are a constructive change of pace.


Power Outages Cause Library Closure

The Alameda Free Library on Oak Street is closed Sunday, October 24, due to power outages.

The power outages took place around 1 p.m., lasting for only a few minutes in the area around the intersection of Park Street and Lincoln Avenue.

However, when more than 20 people asked to go back into the library at about 3 p.m., library staff told residents that they could not enter.

Children, teens and adults expressed their frustration with a staff member, but — despite the fact that the lights were on throughout the library — were told they were not allowed into the public facility.

We will email the library on Monday, October 25, to see if this is an official or “flexible” library policy, since a wet winter season is predicted for the library.

On a positive note, library staff cleaned chewing gum, coffee stains and other dirt on the sidewalk area in front of the popular building on Friday, October 22.


Otis Students Tend to Alameda Bird Sanctuary

A group of more than 30 fifth-graders from Otis Elementary School and their teacher Michael Haddon cleared non-native plants and weeds near the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary and Crown Beach on Friday, October 22.

The kids were particularly excited about pulling up coyote brush that was taking over the area, even when there were insects and other critters around.
Also, Michael Charnovsky, a naturalist with the East Bay Regional Park District, gave the kids a lesson in bird observation.

Overall, everyone was in great spirits to be out and about — though those that couldn’t squeeze their faces into the blog photos were somewhat disappointed.


Teen Haunted House – Open & Ready for Scary Business

Teen Haunted House

Yes, Halloween on the Island is here, and the Teen Haunted House is up and running.

Tonight, October 22, as well as Saturday and Sunday, October 23 and 24, kids can bump into monsters and scream to their hearts’ content in the dark from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

The venue is Veteran’s Memorial Building, 2203 Central Ave.

Tickets are $4 for kids 5-17, and $7 for adults. And proceeds of the event benefit teen activities organized by the Alameda Recreation and Park Department.

Decorations are up in yards and homes all over town, and costumes are for sale in lots of spots, too.


Teen Haunted House 2


Scary Tactics Come to Alameda Library


That’s right, scary tactics are not limited to just election activities.

From 6:30 to 8 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, October 20, members of the Xtreme Hauntings group will be at the Main Library to discuss their investigations of the paranormal, including hauntings on the USS Hornet.

Doug Carnahan and his team have spoken at the Alameda library before and will share some highlights of a TV program they’ve worked on. They will also discuss the dangers of paranormal investigations and identifying spirits.

In addition, author and comic illustrator Raina Telgemeier will be at the library for a workshop at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, October 21.

And at 8 p.m. Saturday, October 23, the acoustic group Euphoria — which includes two Alameda musicians — performs as part of the Live at the Library concert series and benefit. Tickets are $25.


Alameda’s Crown Beach & Prop. 21


Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach is one of 278 states parks that stands to benefit from the proposed $18-a-year car tax that’s on the November 2 state ballot.

Today’s tough economic conditions may dampen Proposition 21’s chance of passing, since many voters may feel less than enthusiastic about another yearly state fee.

But if Prop. 21 does pass, visitors will be exempt from the $5 parking charge at the Alameda facility — as well as from $5-$15 charges for parking and using the state’s other 270-plus parks.

The thinking behind the proposition is that this would be a quick fix for the state parks — to the tune of, hopefully, at least $250 million and perhaps as much as $500 million.

Supporters say the parks and some wildlife-conservation areas are badly in need of maintenance and have no dedicated annual funding source.

Some other Alameda County areas that would benefit from Proposition 21 are Emeryville Crescent State Marine Reserve State Park and Lake Del Valle State Recreation Area.

For those who care about California’s parks and wildlife, it’s time to spread the word.


Tuesday Dinners Continue at Aeolian

The Aeolian Yacht Club and High Street Station coffeehouse are teaming up this Tuesday and next with some special meals. Plus, some proceeds will go to benefit the local food bank.

The two groups invite community members to come to the yacht club, 980 Fernside, at 4:30 p.m. for cocktails and then dinner from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The cost is $8-$10 for adults, and $5 for kids 3-10. Kids under 3 eat for free.

Guests are asked to call in advance to reserve a meal, if possible, especially vegetarians: 510-995-8049.

On October 19, the dinner includes a Greek salad, as well as Swedish meatballs with egg noodles, and dessert. And the following week on October 26, there will be pumpkin soup, rotisserie chicken, rice and more.

And check out the latest music and other offerings at High Street Station, High Street and Encinal. There’s always a sign outside with information on the next show or dance lesson.


Alameda Schools: Candidates Forum Set for 10/19

Alameda’s PTAs and the Alameda Education Foundation are co-hosting a forum of candidates running for the Alameda Unified School Board at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 19, in the Alameda High School Cafeteria (not in the Little Theater).

Four candidates have confirmed their participation — Mike McMahon, James Pruitt, Margie Sherrat and Rand Wrobel. (Sheri Palmer withdrew from the election on October 12.) There are two open seats on the board to be filled.

According to the AEF, the format for the event will be as follows:

6:30 p.m.: Opening remarks from Christine Strena, president, PTA Council (PTAC); and introduction by Bill Sonneman, president, Alameda Education Foundation (AEF).

6:35 p.m.: Opening statements from the candidates (one minute each).

6:40 – 8:15 p.m.: Candidates respond to five questions from the public; these have already been submitted and reviewed by the AEF and PTAC.

8:20 p.m.: Closing statements of 2 minutes each.

For those who cannot attend the discussion, PTAC says the candidates forum will be video-taped and then posted on the AEF website.

Also, while some candidates for the Alameda City Council and mayor’s office are pledging to support the schools (always a good thing), it is the school board that has the greatest impact on the Island’s educational system.


Floating ‘Eyesores’ Off Alameda Drawing Attention


Local residents have been reaching out to authorities in and around Alameda in the hopes of getting some old vessels removed from San Leandro Bay, reports Kristin Bender of the Oakland Tribune.

The four abandoned watercraft are located down the estuary from (or south of) the Park Street Bridge, which is now the site of the burned out Tiki Tom’s restaurant and wharf, as well as past the Fruitvale and High Street bridges.

Some community members speculate that the vessles have been abandoned by a local marine-salvage operator.

Thanks to Deborah Finney and others for contacted various agencies to try to have the eyesores removed.

And thank you to Hillary Jones-Mixon of the Bay Area News Group for the photo.


Alameda Backyard Growers Share Green Thumbs


Alameda Backyard Growers hosted a successful Global Work Party on Sunday — it was one of 7,347 events held in 188 countries around the globe, thanks to the work of 350.org and volunteers worldwide.

Organizers say that the group attracted more people than expected. “Even Doug DeHaan came to pay us a visit,” they shared.

There were more than 20 people working at Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda Point.

Volunteers turned out to support the “beat the heat,” aka stop global warming event, which — like other events worldwide — focused on creating sustainable growing areas and other projects designed to lower our carbon footprint.


One Alameda project was the planting of a tree guild, a series of complementary trees, plants and shrubs. Volunteers also learned how to install sheet mulching and planted a black mission fig tree as the anchor point for the guild.

They also created “compost lasagna” to provide much warmth and nutrients for vegetables and other plants in the the nearby greenhouse.

Ploughshares does not have power, apart from a solar panel, so the compost pile will be very beneficial for plant life in the greenhouse, group members say.


Event organizers add that they were pleased with what the team accomplished and hope to stage similar events in the future.

The local group is set to meet from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, October 14, at High Street Station coffeehouse, located at 1303 High Street at Encinal Avenue.