Alameda Networkers Staging Special Holiday Event

The Alameda Business Network is hosting a special holiday get-together from 5:30–9:30 p.m. this Thursday, December 2, at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave.

The group now includes about 35 members and has hosted regular meetings and other events throughout 2010, says Chuck DiGuida, the group’s treasurer.

Members hope to collect toys for Toys for Tots and funds for Operation Mom, a Castro Valley-based group that supports families of the military and sends care packages to troops worldwide, with ticket sales ($10 each), silent auction and a raffle.

As part of the mixer, a Japanese “taiko” drumming group led by Rhythmix’s Janet Koike and others will perform.

The group had two other mixers already this year – one in May to benefit the Alameda Welfare Council at the Churchward Pub and another in August at Aroma Restaurant to support the Alameda Education Foundation.

Members of the group meet weekly on Tuesdays for networking, and they aim to host mixers every three months or so. “We’d like to see the group grow to 50 or 60 individuals,” the group’s treasurer said. “We want to grow and yet remain a very personal, interactive organization.”

For this Thursday’s mixer, guests are asked to bring new unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots collection. Those bringing toys will get a free raffle ticket, DiGuida says.


Borders to Support Alameda Schools This Weekend


The Alameda Education Foundation and Alameda PTA Council are encouraging members of the community to visit Borders bookstore at Alameda Towne Centre this Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5.

Shoppers buying a book, toy or even a latte will recieve $15 giftcard to donate to the Alameda public schools or another public school of their choice. In addition, those buying the book “Waiting for Superman” will receive a second $15 giftcard.

The program is being organized through DonorsChoose.org, according to an Associated Press report.


Alameda Bird Group to Host Post-Thanksgiving Walk

For those looking to get out for a good stretch after this week’s big Thanksgiving feast and appreciate local wildlife, Bay Farm Nature Connection has scheduled a bird walk for 9 a.m. Saturday, November 27.

The bird walk will be led by Tim Molter, the group’s resident field guide.

Walkers should meet at 9 a.m. at Coffee & Tea Traders, 883 Island Drive, in the Harbor Bay Landing shopping center.

Bring binoculars! There are lots of migratory and other birds in the San Leandro Channel and other areas in and around Bay Farm Island these days.

Also, holiday decorations are popping up around town, including lights in the park near the Harbor Bay Ferry terminal for night-time walkers to enjoy.


Alamedans Pitch In at Thanksgiving

Many thanks to the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and community members who pitched in for the canned food drive benefiting the Alameda County Food Bank.

Near Park Street and Lincoln Avenue, for instance, Nathaniel Basco and his sister Graciela Basco loaded up bags of donated items as the rain came down on Saturday morning, November 20.

At the Alameda Food Bank, more than 600 turkeys have been collected for the holiday. But requests for about 170 turkeys and hams for Christmas still need to be filled.

To see what other items are most in demand during the holidays and other ways to support the Alameda Food Bank, go to the organization’s website.

And have a great Thanksgiving!


Alameda Group Hosts Economics Talk by Scheer (Part II)


(Note: This is the second blog on journalist and author Robert Scheer’s visit to Alameda; the first blog was published earlier and is still online.)

While speaking to a group of over 50 Alameda residents and visitors at the Alameda Free Library on Saturday, November 13, Robert Scheer explained the President Obama had understood many of the causes of the U.S. economic crisis, which the author explained date back to the Clinton era.

“He nailed it, so why did he bring in Clinton people and people who were getting paid by Wall Street?” Scheer asked.

Scheer argues that the banks and other financial organizations didn’t deserve a bailout. (He pointed out that ex-Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill just bought the Shanel estate in Sonoma County for $31 million, bringing one of Wall Street’s biggest gainers from the period of financial deregulation to the Bay Area.)

Homeowners and consumers deserve both more legal protection and strong government support, he says. The mortgage sellers “were trying to sign as many people as possible,” and they did, he explained.

He labels Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “poverty pimps” in his latest book. “They used the poor and everyone else,” he said in his talk.

At the end of his talk, the journalist opened up the floor to members of the audience and began a discussion of what should be done to address our financial and economic issues. To begin, Scheer says, we should stop home foreclosures.

“We need a consumer’s movement,” he said. Rather than blaming the individual, we should be criticizing and moving to change a system that allows banks to charge interest rates of 38% for credit cards and get away with other unreasonable policiies.

He also thinks that without the power that unions once enjoyed, the interests of the middle class and its allies are being lost in the election debates and media discussions. Also, as wealth has become more and more concentrated at the top, fewer members of society strive to change the system as they move up — including politicians.

Politicians should embrace public financing, he notes. But, in general, the system is rigged against those without the funds to play. “This is not Jeffersonian democracy,” Scheer said.

To fix the broken system, we have to move for tough change, like restoring the separation of trading or investment banking and retail banking, he explains. “But the mainstream media ignores this,” Scheer added.

Fundamentally, Scheer says, it is a matter of “how we talk to people and explaining to them that real change is in their best interest, rather than repeating the same old blabber in the media.”

“Who messed up?” he asked. “Consumers assumed the documents they signed had been vetted,” in other words, had be scrutinized from a legal perspective.

“We can’t let people beat themselves up and buy the narrative that they are the ‘losers,’ ” in this situation. “It was all a scam with no protections in place,” Scheer concluded.


Alameda Group Hosts Economics Talk by Scheer (Part I)


Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, spoke on Saturday, November 13, at the Alameda Free Library about the recent financial crisis. The event was organized by Alameda Public Affairs Forum.

Scheer worked for the Los Angeles Times for many years and most recently has written a book entitled “The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street” (Nation Books).

Raised in the Bronx, Scheer was a fellow at the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where he did graduate work in economics and knew Arthur Lipow, one of the organizers of ALameda Public Affairs Forum.

Briefly, Scheer described three factors that led to the real-estate meltdown, market crash and other economic malaise of the past few years: namely deregulation of the telecommuications industry and financial sector (via the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act), as well as welfare reform during President Clinton’s time in office.

Without the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which separated retail and investment banking, the financial institutions in the United States would not have been able to package and sell mortgages as they did over the past 10 years or so, said Scheer.

As people continue to lose there homes, he said, “We’ve accepted the fact that the system enriched a small percent of people while empoverishing many.”

The end of financial deregulation, Scheer explains, came about by the banks arguing that they couldn’t compete globally with such restraints. But President Reagan couldn’t deregulate when they pushed for reforms due to the savings and loan crisis.

Clinton, on the other hand, “was opportunistic … and did a deal with the devil,” the author said.

Another issue that contributed to the crisis was the end of certain laws enforced by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which Bay Area attorney and chairperson Brooksley Born unsuccessfully fought to protect during the Clinton years.

This “opened the floodgates,” Scheer said in his remarks.


Alameda Library to Showcase Victorians, Music


A lecture on Alameda architecture of the Victorian Era (1837-1901) takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 17, at the Main Library.

Though Alameda mirrored many American cities by imitating styles popular during Queen Victoria’s reign, the Island has retained its Victorian-era charm, say local architecture and history buffs Eric J. Kos and Dennis Evanosky.

The two speakers plan to explore Victorian-era domestic architecture and how the various styles prevalent during her reign took root and flourished in Alameda.

This is the first of a series of four programs that will cover the background of Alameda’s rich architectural diversity and its influences on Alameda. Other themes to be discussed in upcoming meetings are Greek Revival on December 15, Gothic Revival on January 19 and Italianate on February 16.

Also coming up at the library is the final LIVE @ the Library 2010 Concert Series.

This Saturday, November 20, the Alameda Library Foundation, Friends of the Alameda Library and the City Library Board Art Committee present Rick Dougherty of the Kingston Trio, who will share a cabaret evening of songs from jazz to folk served with sides of humor and wit.

The event sponsors are Perforce Foundation, Wells Fargo, Clear-Com, Bank of Alameda, and Burma Superstar. In-kind donors include Cairdea Design & Marketing, R&B Cellars, Books Inc., and Dewey’s Friends Café.

All concerts are at the Alameda Main Library in the Regina K. Stafford Rooms.

Doors open at 7:00 p.m., while the concert starts at 8:00 pm. Light refreshments and R&B Cellars wine available.

Tickets are $25 and all proceeds go to benefit the library foundation and supporting organizations. They can be bought at Books Inc. at 1344 Park Street, Dewey’s Friend’s Café in the Alameda Main Library and online.

Thanks to Beth Bourland for the illustration of the Alameda home; Beth’s art is on display at High Street Station coffeehouse as part of the Frank Bette Center’s second satelitte gallery.


High Street Station Opens Alameda Art Show


The Frank Bette Center for the Arts and High Street Station coffeehouse are launching a special collaboration tonight.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., Friday, November 12, Frank Bette opens its second satellite gallery at the coffeeshop, located at the intersection of High Street and Encinal Avenue.

The show features the art of Alameda watercolor painter Beth Bourland, whose art focuses on street scenes, boats and landscapes of the East Bay, Florida and other locations.

Frank Bette’s main facility is at 1601 Paru Street at Lincoln Avenue. And the art center opened its first satellite center on Webster Street in September, right before the Webster Street Jam was held.

Community members are invited to stop by High Street Station to meet Beth and then stay for the live music featuring Rita Lackey and Friends starting at 7:00 p.m.


Public Affairs Group Hosts Speaker Nov. 13

The Alameda Public Affairs Forum is presenting a talk by journalist Robert Scheer from 7 to 9:30 p.m. this Saturday, November 13, at the Alameda Free Library.

The title of his talk, as well as his recent book, is “The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”

In his new book, Scheer lays out the bi-partisan origins of the financial scandals that wrecked the American economy and left millions unemployed. And he outlines his thoughts on why the present economic mess takes place at the same time as wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, along with other dangers in the Middle East.

The presentation will be followed by a discussion.

Those who wish to meet for conversation before the talk are invited to come at 6 p.m. for coffee and refreshments. And everyone is asked to bring snacks or drinks to share.

For information call (510) 814-9592.


Alameda Social Club Hosts Fashion, Food Event

Alameda Social Club is presenting Sihouette, an event featuring champagne, small plates, fashion and more.

The evening event takes place from 6 to 9 p.m., tomorrow, Thursday, November 11, at C’era Una Volta, 1332 Park Street.

Owner Cheryl Principato and co-owner and head chef Rudy Duran of C’era Una Volta plan a special menu to accompany a fashion show featuring clothing, accessories and other items from Lilac Dress Boutique, Aphrodite’s Closet, Lan Vie Fine Asian Clothing, Marrin Costello Designs, Stella & Stevie, Doumitt Shoes and Alameda Eyes.

Tickets are $25, and some proceeds go to benefit the organization Believe in Me, a Kreitz Family Foundation.

According to organizers, Believe in Me is being created with the aim of supporting families of hospitalized children who need assistance with child-care and other home-related issues. Alameda residents Robert and Christina Kreitz are the group’s co-founders.