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Archive for the 'the economy' Category

A record move

The Record Gallery on Webster Street is moving

The Record Gallery on Webster Street is moving.

After 36 years in the same spot on Webster Street, the Record Gallery is moving.

Owner Leo Steccati set up shop at 1510 Webster St. back in 1976, before MP3 players or pod casts – even before eight track tapes became obsolete.

Store manager and eventual new owner Steve Kennedy says he is trying to look at the bright side to the July 1 move behind 1451 Webster, behind Serendipity, a consignment shop, but it’s still “heartbreaking,” he says.

Between the economy and the rent, the move became necessary. Kennedy said they asked the building owner for a rent reduction, but didn’t get one.

“This town needs rent control,” he said.

Their new spot will have about half the space they now have, but the rent will also be reduced by about half.

To get to the new place, customers will need to round the corner because there is no causeway to get to the back of Serendipity. But that probably won’t pose a problem, Kennedy said, because it’s kind of fun to find things. People will also likely walk a few steps to get to the shop’s longtime inventory of used records and cd’s, and its more recent and popular stock of retro and vintage clothing.

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Under: Business, the economy | No Comments »

League asks for shallower cuts, deeper thinking

The LWV shouted out to Sacramento Friday with this press release about a “cuts-only” budget proposal, saying there are other ways to save money, and, as a result, programs. Let’s hope that Schwarzengger and the legislators actually see and hear suggestions from their constituents and that any ideas that may work to resolve California’s ugly fiscal condition are considered.

Here’s the full press release.

League Urges Realistic, Balanced Approach to Budget

Sacramento, CAThe League of Women Voters of California today called on the Governor and legislative leaders to reject the idea of a “cuts-only” budget, especially one that decimates crucial programs. Instead, the League advocates a balanced approach to California’s budget crisis that includes new revenues along with targeted cuts to programs.

“We urge you to give priority to protecting the essential safety net for those most in need,” said League President Janis R. Hirohama in a letter to the budget leaders, reminding them that “the primary obligation of government is to protect the welfare and security of its people.” The League believes that the budget must not eliminate such basic assistance programs as CalWORKs and Healthy Families and should avoid further deep cuts in programs such as Medi-Cal, in-home supportive services, and child welfare services. “To make draconian cuts while rejecting proposals for increased revenues would be both short-sighted and unconscionable,” continued Hirohama.

It is unrealistic to rely on cuts alone to fill a budget deficit of this magnitude. The League of Women Voters has long supported revenues that are sufficient and flexible enough to meet changing needs for state and local government services and that ensure fair sharing of the tax burden. Recent polls have shown that a large majority of Californians agree, supporting a budget solution that includes a balance of cuts and new taxes.

A number of viable new revenue sources are on the table, and the League urged lawmakers to consider them. In addition to new taxes or increases in tax rates, possible solutions include repealing corporate tax breaks—included in the budget deals last September and February—that will cost some $2.5 billion per year. Other alternatives that should be examined are fees that can be established by a simple majority vote in the legislature and reductions in administrative costs.

Looking ahead past these extremely difficult times, Hirohama called for serious structural reform of California’s dysfunctional fiscal system. Reforms include eliminating the two-thirds vote requirements that paralyze government decision-making and establishing a fairer, more efficient tax policy. “For the good of all Californians, and for our future,” she concluded, “we expect our leaders to take on this important task. Our state deserves no less.”

For information on the League of Women Voters (men are members, too) go www.lwvc.org.

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009
Under: California, the economy | No Comments »

AUSD master planning meeting tonight at Haight School

Tonight is the first of three Alameda Unified School District community meetings about the future of Alameda schools. The idea, as I understand it, is to create a master plan for the public school system in Alameda. The meeting starts at 6:30 and Superintendent Kirsten Vital as well as members of the school board will be discussing three possible scenarios for addressing the long term fiscal sustainability of public education in Alameda. They’ll be discussing how dwindling state funding impacts the district, the possibility of chartering the district as on whole, as well as the possibility of generating more funds for Alameda schools at the local level. The meeting is at Haight Elementary.

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
Under: California, charter schools, Island Life, Parcel tax, Prop. 13, Real Estate, school board, Schools, the economy | 1 Comment »

Alameda city employees. A salary report.

Michele Ellson over at The Island has a complete listing of city staff salaries. Top earners? Lowest earners? Overtime pay? You can read her whole report here.

Posted on Friday, May 1st, 2009
Under: Alameda firefighters, City Council, the economy | 3 Comments »

Touching sacred cows: Alameda’s Measure A

Last week I wrote a column for the Alameda Journal about Measure A, a sacred cow of Alameda politics. I said that we ought to think about means of controlling growth that allow for thoughtful and comprehensive (rather than reactionary) planning. I wrote:

It is well within human ingenuity to craft laws that allow for the construction of apartments where it is appropriate and still protect handsome old houses. And it is folly to cling so tightly to a law passed out of fear and anger. It’s time for Alameda to show that it can protect what is valuable about its past at the same time as it embraces the future.

You can, of course, read the whole column here.

Posted on Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
Under: Alameda Point, Development, Island Life, Print columns, Race and racism, Real Estate, the economy | 17 Comments »

Alameda life, without owning a car

I wrote about my family’s no-car experience in my column last week, Car-free and OK. And, as with most everything that humans do, I am not to first to give this sort of endeavor a try. You can read about other people’s experiences with reducing car travel:

Chad Jones: Living car-free in the Bay Area

Joe Rodriguez: How and why I became—and have remained—car free

Mountain View family trades cars for bikes, enjoys life more

Carless in Sacramento (by choice)

You can also read the column I wrote my family’s our experience back in August when we first sold our cars. That one is called, Kicking the habit of using a car.

Posted on Monday, April 13th, 2009
Under: Going Green, Island Life, Print columns, the economy | No Comments »

Alameda Fire Chief Dave Kapler station on impact of cuts

I met with the Alameda’s Fire Chief Dave Kapler this morning to ask him the question that I think is probably on most Alamedans’ minds: “What do fire station ‘brown outs’ mean for us when we call in an emergency?”

Kapler gave me some stats, comparing response time in 2008 to response time in 2009 since brown outs began. (His stats are from before last week when the department changed the vehicle slated to be closed when staffing levels drop below 27 because of illness or vacation from a Bay Farm ambulance to the engine at station five, the western-most Island station.)

In 2008, the average time in took both vehicles (staffed by five firefighters/paramedics) to be at the scene of an emergency was Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
Under: Alameda firefighters, Alameda Point, IAFF, Island Life, Prop. 13, the economy | 6 Comments »

Alameda’s John Beery involved in another lawsuit

Local property owner John Beery (who is suing the Alameda Unified School District over Measure H, the school parcel tax passed last June) is in the news with another lawsuit. This one against the City of Alameda over a lease dispute on a west end property. Michele Ellson of The Island has a report.

Posted on Friday, March 13th, 2009
Under: Island Life, Prop. 13, Schools, the economy | No Comments »

Fall upon me: Alameda real estate update

Local agent Pacita Dimacali made this observation on a recent blog post, My heart truly bleeds for…

NEWSFLASH…[T]here are 131 homes actively offered for sale in my island city of Alameda, CA. Of these, 22 are short sales, and 7 are bank-owned. All in all, 29 homes or 22% of total. And more are coming up.

For a different sort of take on local real estate, there’s Knife Catchers, which has been tracking, with seeming glee, many properties in Alameda. And 94501 Real Estate has a recent update on February sales.

When you’re up with insomnia (or a baby) and tired of Facebook, you can always track the slide of local home values on Zillow.

Posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
Under: Island Life, Prop. 13, Real Estate, the economy | No Comments »

Alameda School Board approves capacity-increasing plan for east-side elementary schools

The Alameda Unified School Board voted just moments ago to approve the district’s plan for accommodating increased enrollment at several East End schools.

The approved plan includes moving Edison Elementary School’s computer lab into its library to make more classroom space, and adding two portables to the Otis Elementary School campus. Otis will likely have 100 kindergarten students next fall, and Edison will likely have 80. Other highlights: a kindergarten class with be added at Bay Farm, and some students in the Franklin attendance zone will likely be diverted to other schools. You can read the whole approved plan here. Blogger Lauren Do has a bit about the plan. So does Michele Ellson of The Island.

Posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Under: California, Prop. 13, Prop. 98, school board, Schools, the economy | No Comments »