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Archive for the 'Off-Island Life' Category

On Vacation

The Alameda Journal Blog will be on vacation until April 29.

Until then, find Alameda Journal stories online here. You’ll also find daily Alameda news updates at The Island. For insightful posts, most often on development and city politics (and look for rough and tumble discussion in the comments section) check out Blogging Bayport. And for a host of other local blogs, less regularly updated, check out the blogroll in the right margin of this page.

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Under: Island Life, Off-Island Life | No Comments »

Helicopters over Alameda in the wee hours

This time it has to do with two closed lanes on 880 near High Street and maybe ?? the memorial later today at the Coliseum for the four Oakland police officers slain last week.

At 5:30 a.m., 5:50 a.m. 6:45 a.m. the helicopter noise goes on!

Apparently, there has been some effort made to curtail the low-flying, noise-making beasts over Oakland and Alameda. But, according to this article by Angela Woodall, not much progress has been made. From Woodall, here’s the lay of the land which allows the disruptive noise to persist:

...The majority of all complaints the FAA receives are about noise. But the agency only handles air-safety-related complaints, not grievances about noise. Those should go to the municipality, FAA officials said.

But Councilmember Nancy Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland) said air-traffic noise complaints cannot be handled by the city.

Oh well, no one can enforce any regulations. But we can ask:

Nadel said she met last year with pilots from all the major Bay Area news stations, FAA official David Smith, a staff member from the office of Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, because helicopters were more prevalent than usual in West Oakland in the aftermath of the MacArthur Maze collapse.

Nadel said the pilots pledged to try to be sensitive within the constraints of being forced to fly low by air traffic controllers to facilitate airplane traffic and their news directors’ orders to get the precise shot they need at the precise moment they ask for it, which can require them to hover for 15 minutes or longer.

Basically, we here on the ground are at the mercy of some newsdirector’s ‘need’ for a particular shot. But, this morning, we already know two lanes are closed on 880, and we know there’s going to be a memorial later. Do we need to hover for hours? Perhaps the reporting dollars might be better spent on the ground investigating the Oakland social and political forces that led some people to celebrate as a hero the man who killed the four police officers last week. Perhaps that is a more important story than the lanes closed this on 880 due to a construction this morning?

Posted on Friday, March 27th, 2009
Under: Going Green, Island Life, News media, Nuisances, Off-Island Life | 2 Comments »

Michele Ellson of The Island makes news

If you haven’t been reading Michele Ellson’s The Island, you should be. She’s putting out a great deal of news—all focused on Alameda. This write up at Idea Lab (a media blog) shows she’s making news off-island as well as reporting on-island. In the interview, Ellson, a former print reporter, explains why she launched The Island:

I started covering local news for two reasons. One is practical: With two small kids at home, it’s what I can do. But another is that local news really isn’t being covered well by papers right now. Their resources are shrinking, and with papers becoming more corporate, I think the focus on being local and having a commitment to a local community sometimes is not there.

Ellson made this observation about her new role:

I’ve found covering local news to be a lot more challenging than I expected, and in some respects a little more challenging than covering an issue beat.

For one, you have to be able to speak intelligently on everything from education policy to municipal finance to, in my case, environmental cleanup issues. And people are so invested in these local issues they aren’t shy about letting you know when they think you’ve messed up — in the most personal and derogatory terms possible, I might add.

The whole interview is here.

Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Under: Island Life, News media, Off-Island Life | No Comments »

Otis third grader unable to return to adoptive family in Alameda

A bit ago, two Alamedan parents and their son brought a little girl into their family. From their website, here’s how it began:

Tsering Dolker Gurung was rescued from the Upper Dolpo region of Nepal by a Monk “Lama Tenzin” when she was six years old…Our family Tricia Parrish, Philip Kaake and Emmett Kaake, was inspired by Lama’s mission and wanted to help. We started sponsoring Dolker at CED (Lama Tenzin’s orphanage) and decided to extend our mission to adopting her. As her sponsors, we brought her to the United States in July of 2008.

Recently, the family went to Nepal to finalize the adoption. But they were unable to bring Dolker back to Alameda.

Dolker had been in our community for 6 months when the entire family traveled to Nepal to finalize the adoption. Unfortunately, Nepal is a politically unstable country and is in the process of writing new adoption laws. The adoption could not be completed and Dolker had to be left in Nepal.

You can see pictures and video, and read more about the story—including a piece Dolker wrote for her third grade class at Otis Elementary School—on the family’s website, Bring Dolker Home.

Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
Under: Island Life, Off-Island Life | No Comments »

Alameda, a newcomer’s perspective

This blog, Desperately Seeking Root Beer (not sure what the title’s about), has a post up, Alameda: An Introduction. The post details a newcomer’s impression of Alameda (there’s lots of nice visuals), and the the writer, Andy M., notes things people said to him when he was moving to Alameda:

I’m not sure I’ve ever been there. I hear it’s nice though.
Sure Andy, I’ll meet you in Alameda. Umm, how do I get there?
How long does it take you to get to Oakland?
I’ve been to Alameda for breakfast, but it’s a bit out of the way.”

As well as comments people have made since:

It’s kind of stuck in the 50s, but at least that means good diners.
Fogue-town.
[as in old fogies]
It still feels like a military town.
It’s over-policed.

I know the nine years I’ve lived here make me a newcomer in many people’s eyes, but it is interesting to be reminded of those sorts of reactions to Alameda. And to see they still exist—even nearly a decade after I made the move to the Island.

Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
Under: Island Life, Off-Island Life | No Comments »

Alameda city budget, compare and contrast

Michele Ellson over at The Island has done a little piece on how the City of Alameda spends its money. For comparison purposes, she set out to find another city with similar demographics:

After narrowing the list down to about a dozen California cities – most of which, incidentally, are facing the same budget problems that we are – I ended up 35 miles southwest of here. What I found was a city that spends far more money on parks and libraries than we do – and less on its fire department, despite the fact that Redwood City’s fire department handles more calls than ours does.

Here’s what she found about Park and Recreation services:

Redwood City spends twice what Alameda does on its parks and recreation services, despite the fact that workers there have only 14 acres more of parkland to maintain. A lot of the amenities offered – two pools, a senior center, a teen center, a skate park, dog parks – are identical to those offered here. But Redwood City pays far more to maintain those amenities, and more to staff programs.

And firefighters:

On the flip side, there’s one department we spend more money on, and that’s fire. We spent $21.5 million to Redwood City’s $17.3 million, with $19 million for workers’ salaries, benefits and overtime to their $14.5 million. Our fire department is over 100 strong, compared to 70 in Redwood City. And our department has a lifetime health care benefit for spouses that Redwood City’s doesn’t.

You can read the whole piece here—and Ellson promises there are more details to come.

Posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2009
Under: Alameda firefighters, California, Island Life, Off-Island Life, Prop. 13, the economy | 1 Comment »

Inspection to close Webster and Posey Tubes

According to this article, the Webster and Posey Tubes to and from Oakland will be closed Monday and Tuesday night this week so they can be inspected. This after a chunk of concrete fell off the ceiling last week.

Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009
Under: Island Life, Nuisances, Off-Island Life, Prop. 13 | No Comments »

New Year’s shooting at Fruitvale BART near Alameda

All over the news is the story of the shooting of a young, unarmed man at the Fruitvale BART in the wee hours of New Year’s Day. News coverage here and here. If you watch the KTVU news report’s footage here,—the shooting is about two minutes in, and it is disturbing, be warned—it looks very much like the officer simply reached for his gun, stepped back, and shot. Then he puts his hands to his head, in what seems like a gesture of distress. What was happening? Did he think his gun was his taser? Did he momentarily lose his mind? What else happened in that scuffle that we could not see? In any case, Oscar Grant, 22, is dead, and many other lives have been ruined. The abundance of video taken of the event prevents what might have been, in decades past, a coverup. The facts will likely be known—whatever sad version the truth is.

Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2009
Under: Crime, Events, Off-Island Life, Race and racism | No Comments »

California budget stalemate continues

To recap, Repubs proposed this on Monday:

…GOP leaders released a $22 billion package of their own that called for deep cuts to education and social service programs, as well as raiding other pots of money voters approved for early child development and mental illness. Democrats contend the Republican’s plan to cut more than $10 billion from schools amounted to shutting down every school in the state for two months or increasing class sizes by 40 percent. [Read the entire AP story here.]

The state is facing a budget deficit which is now estimated to be something over $40 billion. If nothing is done, it is looking like California will run out of cash to pay its bills some time in February. Dems have a counterproposal, which wriggles around the tyranny of the minority (a solid majority of California lawmakers are Democrats), caused by state laws which require two-thirds vote of both state legislative bodies to pass any new taxes. A bit about the Dem proposal from the Chronicle:

State lawmakers are expected to vote today on an $18 billion budget, put forth Wednesday by Democrats, that contains more than $9 billion in added revenue and requires only a simple majority vote of the Legislature to be approved. The move boxes in Republicans, who have just enough votes to block lawmakers from approving tax and budget bills that require a two-thirds majority in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

But a spokesperson for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will not sign off on the Dem plan without some changes. More up-to-the-minute budget news at Calitics.

Posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008
Under: California, Off-Island Life, Prop. 13, Prop. 98, Schools, the economy | No Comments »

Bay Area companies making layoffs

Delivery giant DHL Monday announced it would be cutting more than 800 Bay Area jobs. The company will no longer offer express delivery within the United States, but will continue their international delivery service. The last day of work for the affected DHL workers is scheduled to be sometime in late January.

The Alameda-based Avigen has cut 70 percent of its workforce—following last month’s clinical failure of its multiple sclerosis drug. The company is considering shuttering its Alameda office entirely.

More on biotech cutbacks here and here.

[Edited 12/3: Emeryville-based LeapFrog is cutting 10 percent (or 70) of its workers. The story's here.]

Posted on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008
Under: California, Off-Island Life, the economy | No Comments »