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Archive for the 'Print columns' Category

No fair property taxes in Alameda

This week in “Life on the Island,” the column I write for the Alameda Journal, I discuss the legacy of Proposition 13, which leaves newer property owners, of both homes and businesses, paying property taxes much higher—sometimes three or four or five times higher—than those who bought earlier. (Property tax information is public and you can look it up by parcel or address here.)

Measure H, the Alameda school tax passed in June, assesses businesses based on square footage, which is, to my mind, closer to fair than a flat per parcel tax, which taxes the owners of mansions and hovels identically, the owners of large tracts of land the same as those who own a small parcel.

A Prop. 13 supporter once described the 1978 law to me as a ‘double-edged’ sword, by which I think he meant it was bad when you first purchase a property, but gets better over time. But Prop. 13 has created a system of taxation so inequitable that it has turned out to be a very bad thing over time, not just because of its pronounced lack of fairness but, too, because it fails to raise enough money to support the infrastructure and services our state requires.

Posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
Under: California, Island Life, Parcel tax, Print columns, Prop. 13 | 13 Comments »

In Alameda, vote Mooney, Forbes and Tam for school board

A careful follower of Alameda Unified School District affairs these past couple of years, this week’s “Life on the Island” (the column I write for the print edition of the Alameda Journal), makes my choices for school board quite plain. If you want to see the candidates in action yourself, you can watch this school board debate, hosted by Alameda’s PTA Council and the Alameda Education Foundation. You can can also watch the incumbents in action in some recent school board meetings. The City of Alameda Democratic Club endorsements are here (they endorsed both incumbents, Janet Gibson and David Forbes, as well as challenger Ron Mooney). Here’s links to all the candidates Web pages. You can go see the candidates tomorrow night at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Details: Wednesday, October, 15, 7:00 p.m., Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Road.

Posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
Under: Print columns, Schools | 19 Comments »

Life on the Island: Hard economic times and firefighter benefits

The column I write for Tuesday’s Alameda Journal is up online now: “Tough times, hard choices.” It was a sad one to write, because in doing the research into Alameda’s budget and the benefits the city pays, it became clear what a bind we’re in, and what a bind we’re facing in the future. But Alameda is not alone in this. Public entities across the country are facing the same squeeze from the economic downturn and rising health care costs.

Posted on Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Under: Print columns | No Comments »

Alameda shopping: On- or off- Island?

This week’s Life on the Island, the column I write for the Alameda Journal, is about last week’s Alameda City Council decision to let the plans for an Orchard Supply Hardware at Towne Centre continue. I know there’s not universal support for the store because many who opposed it went before City Council to make their case, but many Alamedans I’ve talked to over the years are eager for more local shopping options, even if they’re not locally owned. What’s most interesting to me in the instance of the OSH, is that we’re not talking about new development. We’re talking about a filling an existing building in an existing shopping center.

Posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
Under: City Council, Development, Print columns | 8 Comments »

This week’s “Life on the Island”

The column I write for the Tuesday edition of the Alameda Journal is up online already. The headline: We’re not on the school yard anymore. Many of my past columns are still online as well. Oh! And here’s a link to last week’s “Life on the Island,” Alameda mom clean and sober for 14 years, which I wrote in recognition of National Recovery month, which is September. I am grateful for “Diane”‘s willingness to tell me her story.

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2008
Under: Going Green, Island Life, Print columns | 2 Comments »

This week’s Life on the Island: Driving less!

So this week’s column (it came out in the Alameda Journal on Tuesday) is about my family’s experiment with living without a car. An interesting—and surprising—side effect of this approach to getting around (we’re on day 35 of the challenge) is that instead of making the Island seem bigger and harder to navigate (as I expected) it’s actually making it seem smaller. Trips that I had in my mind that I needed a car for—like going to South Shore, or Park Street or various friends’ houses—I find are quite quick and easy to make by bike or by foot. And often, once I get over the hump of getting my bike out of the garage, making sure I have my lock, and getting the kids all helmeted up, the trips are more pleasant than they used to be by car.


Past “Life on the Island” columns
August 25, 2008: Lessons learning on vacation
August 4, 2008: Leaf blowers, no!
July 29, 2008: Backyard wells and conserving water
July 22, 2008: Out and about on a home-town date
July 15, 2008: Changes in school leadership offers new opportunities
July 8, 2008: Getting an education in civics Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 4th, 2008
Under: Going Green, Island Life, Print columns | 8 Comments »

Life on the Island: Water conservation and backyard wells

This week’s Life on the Island, the column I write for the Alameda Journal, is about water conservation and, too, the possibility of backyard wells for keeping lawns and gardens hydrated


Past “Life on the Island” columns
July 22, 2008: Out and about on a home-town date
July 15, 2008: Changes in school leadership offers new opportunities
July 8, 2008: Alameda Journal”Getting an education in civics
July 1, 2008: Soaking up life on the Bay
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008
Under: Going Green, Island Life, Print columns | 1 Comment »

What’s next for Alameda public schools?

In the past couple weeks, the Alameda Unified School District, has lost its CFO, Luz Cazares, and Superintendent Ardella Dailey has announced she will be retiring at the end of the calendar year. In this week’s “Life on the Island,” the column I write for the Alameda Journal, I talk about these changes and, too, upcoming openings on the school board (we could potentially have four new school district trustees come 2009). As I touched on in my column, I have never liked the phrase, ‘close the achievement gap.’ In the educational utopia of my imagination, I would like to see a school system that works to boost achievement for all students, no matter if they come to school exceptional in one way or another, struggling with basics, or, as is often the case, struggling in some areas and exceptional in others.


Past “Life on the Island” columns
July 8, 2008: Alameda Journal”Getting an education in civics
July 1, 2008: Soaking up life on the Bay
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths

Posted on Thursday, July 17th, 2008
Under: Island Life, Print columns, Schools | No Comments »

Alameda middle schoolers visit Washington, D.C.

The column I write for the print Alameda Journal is up online. This week it’s about the teachers and Alameda middle school students (118 of them) who visited D.C. this past May, getting a week-long, hands-on civics lesson. As 14-year-old Lizzie Dietz told me, “I learned if I don’t do anything then the country might not move forward — but if everyone, not just me, participates then everything will turn out better in the long run.” The energy and optimism of the young teens I interviewed for the story was both inspiring and charming.


Past “Life on the Island” columns

July 1, 2008: Soaking up life on the Bay
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths

Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
Under: Print columns, Schools | No Comments »

In Alameda: Life on the Bay

I was off-grid a bit more than I expected last week. Colorado! Home of high mountains and lots of greenery. But I’m back, and ready to live, once again, the Island life. The weekly column I write for our home-town press the Alameda Journal is up online line. This week it’s “Soaking up life on the Bay.”


Past “Life on the Island” columns
June 24, 2008: Alamedans get back to basics to save environment
June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
Under: Island Life, Print columns | 1 Comment »