CHP Watching Alameda Drivers

As road work continues on the I-880, California Highway Patrol has stationed officers on or near the entrance ramp to the I-880 North to watch traffic coming from the Island and other nearby areas.

On 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, a patrolman monitored the flow of traffic in the carpool and regular entrance lanes to the I-880 North from 23rd Avenue in Oakland (across the Park Street Bridge). The officer, who was located on the left-hand (or West) side of the carpool lane, appeared to be checking to see if there were two or more persons in each car that was using the carpool lane.

Yesterday, Wednesday, Jan. 18, a patrolman was on the opposite (right-hand or East) side of the I-880 North entrance, checking to see if drivers were respecting the traffic signal and carpool rule.

The sting operation could continue for a while, due to construction on the I-880, so watch out.


Disco Ice Day Comes to the Island

Alameda’s Little Ice Rink will welcome Olympic ice skater Brian Boitano to a retro-themed event this Friday, Jan. 20.

Boitano, who won a gold medal in men’s figure skating in the 1988 Olympics and is a Bay Area native, will judge a disco dance and costume contest starting at 8 p.m. The contests are part of Little Ice Rink’s Disco Ice Day celebration.

“Ice rink attendance has been fantastic,” said Carrie Ewing, vice president of operations for Perforce, a global software company founded 15 years ago in Alameda. “I’d say we’ve had roughly 6,000 visitors, and people are loving the chance to skate outdoors.”

The ice rink, which is open through Jan. 29 on Park Street, offers “happy hour” prices on tickets from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Saturdays and Sundays, local ice skaters perform at 1:45 and 3:45 p.m.

The 3,000-square-foot outdoor rink is located at the corner of Park and Tilden Way. In addition to renting skates, the rink also offers novice skaters the use of handy plastic “seals” that they can lean on as they move around the rink.


Skate Rink Open for 2 More Weeks

The Little Ice Rink near Park Street and Lincoln Avenue will be open for about two more weeks — through Jan. 29.

With bad weather expected to start in the Bay area on Thursday (and last for at least at week), now may be a good time to get down to the ice rink.

For residents, especially younger ones who may not be experienced on the ice, there are plastic orange seals that serve like carts or aids for visitors to hold on to as they move around the rink to lessen the risk of falling.

(The skates for rent are also colored bright orange.)

Perforce Software Foundation sponsored the rink, which has proven to be very, very popular with Alamedans during and after the holiday season. There are warm refreshments available for purchase.


Rabbi Michael Lerner at Alameda Forum on Jan. 14

Alameda Public Affairs Forum will host a discussion with Rabbi Michael Lerner at 7:45 p.m., Saturday, January 14, at the Alameda Main Library.

According to the group, Lerner is “one of the most challenging thinkers of our time” and has just published a book on the Middle East: “Embracing Israel/Palestine: A Strategy to Heal and Transform the Middle East.”

In the book, he addresses the roots of the threat of a war against Iran by Israel and the United States, and proposes a strategy to reconcile Israelis and Palestinians as essential first step toward transforming the Middle East.

Copies of Lerner’s new book will be on sale at the event courtesy of Books Inc., and Lerner will autograph them.


Gardeners Gather for Food, Fellowship & Education

Alameda Backyard Growers will host its next monthly meeting and discussion from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 10, at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave.

Members of the community are invited to bring a potluck item or beverage to the informal evening of “garden talk,” and the group says it welcomes gardeners of all levels, including beginners.

Also, Alameda Backyard Gardeners invites guests to bring reuseable cups, plates, utensils and other items to the event.

Members and guests also can bring fruit and vegetable donations from their gardens to be shared with the Alameda Food Bank. ABG delivers members’ produce to the food bank the morning after its meetings, and the items are usually distributed to food-bank clients within 24 hours.

On February 7, the group will host a workshop, Starting from Seeds, with Birgitt Evans (pictured above).


Slain Alameda Boy Mourned; Family Seeks Support

Alameda resident Gabriel Martinez Jr., 5, who was shot outside his family’s taco truck last week in Oakland (where the above photo was taken) will be remembered at a gathering today, a service tomorrow and at a dedication at Otis Elementary School.

His family is holding a viewing of Gabriel’s body at Coopers Mortuary, 1580 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, through 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5. His funeral is set for 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, at St. Elizabeth Church, 1500 34th Ave., Oakland.

Gabriel, who attended Otis as a kindergartner, was with his family when he was shot at 8:40 p.m. on Dec. 30.

Teachers and staff at Otis told the Alameda Journal that they are planning to create a makeshift memorial for Gabriel that his fellow students can visit soon.

In addition, the child’s family has opened a bank account to collect money for his funeral. The account number is 7862672578, and donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.

Donations can also be dropped off at Otis school, 3010 Fillmore St.

Anyone with information about Gabriel’s shooting should call the Oakland police tip line at 510-773-2805.


Alameda Charter-School Fair Slated

Alameda charter schools will host an information session starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 5, at the NEA Community Learning Center, 500 Pacific Ave.

Event organizers hope that residents will turn out to get more information on these public schools, which about 11% of Alameda’s children now attend, they say. (Admission to the schools is managed by a random-lottery system).

The schools include: Alameda Community Learning Center for grades 6-12 on the Encinal High School campus, 210 Central Ave.; NEA Community Learning Center for grades K-12; the Academy of Alameda Middle School for grades 6-8 at 401 Pacific Ave.; and the Bay Area School of Enterprise for grades 9-12 at 1900 Third Street, which is run by Alternatives in Action.

Alameda’s first charter school began serving students 11 years ago; these campuses are organized to help students learn in non-traditional classroom environments.


High Street Charity Dinners Set for January

This month, High Street Station Café will host its weekly Tuesday night charity dinners, with some proceeds set to be shared with local foster-care services.

The meals are served at High Street Station, 1303 High St. There is seating for 50, and reservations can be made by calling 510-995-8049.

Cafe managers say food at the establishment is now being prepared by a new chef — Doug — and will be served by staff; there will be no buffet line.

The cost of the meals is $10-$13, with an additional charge for wine specifically picked by staff to go with the meal.

In addition to the dinner menu, High Street offers cocktails (martinis, Bloody Marys and margaritas). For those guests who would like to bring their own wine, there is a $10 corkage fee.

Tonight’s meal (Jan. 3) includes Asian pot stickers, chicken-fried rice and Kahlua-infused pork tenderloin; guests can request warm sake for $10.

On Jan. 10, the meal features fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and banana cream pie, while the Jan. 17 meal’s main course is pasta carbonara with tiramisu as dessert.

Salisbury steak, clam chowder and beef-steak tomatoes will be served Jan. 24, along with roasted yams and Yukon potatoes; dessert is warmed pears with pecans and vanilla ice cream.


Local Political Writer, Activist Honored

Sanjiv Handa, a local writer who pushed Oakland officials to improve the public’s access to government, died last week at age 55 and was remembered by Alameda City Manager John Russo and others at a service on Dec. 31.

Russo helped write Oakland’s Sunshine Ordinance, which tightened requirements for posting agendas and providing public record, but it was Handa who had fought for it and referred to it often in his speeches to the Oakland City Council, according to a Bay Area News Group report.

“He was transparency’s champion in Oakland,” said Russo.

Handa attended each and every meeting of the Oakland City Council, council subcommittees, Planning Commission, Port Commission, Ethics Commission and others.

His impact on local politics and efforts to maintain and improve both transparency and administrative order in city government are likely to be felt by Alamedans and other East Bay residents throughout 2012 and for many years to come.

(His family, based in Fremont — where Handa’s service was held, shared this image of him with the Bay Area News Group.)