Spill Clean-Up Continues; Small Impact on Marinas

The U.S. Coast Guard says clean-up crews continue to work in several areas of Alameda that have been affected by the October 30 Dubai Star oil spill, while wildlife experts search for and capture any animals impacted by the spill.

Wildlife recovery specialists have recovered 36 live birds affected by the oil and 11 dead oiled birds since Friday. (Two of the 36 live birds died during treatment at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia, Calif.)

The state also has set up a mobile treatment, or stabilization, center in Alameda near Crab Cove.

To report affected wildlife, call 1-877-823-6926.

Clean-up work at Robert Crown Memorial State Beach is about 80 percent finished, while the situation at Ballena Bay and Bay Farm Island is still being assessed.

Crown Memorial Beach, part of the East Bay Regional Park District, remains closed as a result of the spill, and fishing is suspended from the San Mateo Bridge to the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Two-day clean-up efforts at the Ballena Isla Marina in Alameda were completed earlier today, according to marina management. “We didn’t get much of the spill in the marina at all,” said Tim Leathers, Almar Marina’s regional vice president for Northern California. “We’re lucky.”

Ballena Isle, which has more than 300 boats at its slips, said the oil spill affected a dock with about 20 vessels. “There were globs of the bunker fuel, but they were easy to get out of the water,” Leathers said.

A crew hired by O’Brien’s Response Management,  handling the clean-up on behalf of Dubai Star’s owner – South Harmony Shipping, and the contracted cleaners — National Response Corporation – had about 25 individuals in the Ballena Isle Marina on Sunday and Monday, according to Leathers.

“The crews are now working on the west side, or the bay side, of Ballena Bay, and they are using materials to sop up and catch any oil that the wind could push into the area,” Leathers said.

At Marina Village on the Oakland Estuary, none of the oil spill came into the harbor, according to Sheila Maher, assistant harbor master of the Marina Village Yacht Harbor.

The claims number for those affected by the spill is (800) 421-0863.


The Best Haunted Houses in Town (Part I)


Sal Hernandez is one of a group of Alameda residents who take great pride in their Haunted Houses. Sal’s is at 915 Broadway.

Each year, he picks a theme and goes all out so that he and his neighbors can get into the Halloween spirit. He evens spends $100 or more on candy as Alamedans flock to his home for trick-or-treating.

This year, his theme focuses on Virginia City, Nevada, a mining town and one of the most famous boomtowns in the Old West. It appeared overnight as a result of the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859.

Sal has done his homework. He’s got a group of skeletons enjoying a drink at the Bucket of Blood Saloon, for instance, which is an old bar in Virginia City that continues to delight tourists.

He’s also done a tribute to one of Nevada’s red-light district establishments with his display entitled “Mable’s Horror House.”

In past years, Sal has decorated his lawn and home with dead knights, pirate skeletons and more.

He’s really appreciated competing in Haunted House competitions over the last few years, but doesn’t know about any in town this year.

Please let us know if there are any competitions going on. And be sure to visit the Teen Haunted House at Veteran’s Memorial Hall this weekend (October 23-25), 2203 Central Ave.

Sal does issue a warning each year: His home is a very spooky (and popular) place to be on Halloween Night.


Rock Wall Throws a Party at Alameda Point

Ken Rosenblum and guests enjoy the second open house at Rock Wall Wine Company on September 26, 2009.

Kent Rosenblum (left) and guests enjoy the second open house at Rock Wall Wine Company on September 26, 2009.

The second Rock Wall Open House on Alameda Point took place September 26, with a big crowd of both wine and guests.

Rock Wall opened a year ago, and already its organizers are planning the next open house — set for December 5.

Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars was the mastermind behind the concept of bringing small wine makers to Alameda Point, so they could share production facilities and the like.

The group now has 75 investors and aims to attract about 500 to 600 visitors for its wine-tasting events, which include live music.

With the broad selection of wines being offered and the fun atmosphere at the Point, organizers are pleased with how the project is going and with the community’s support. Cheers!


Library Showcases Talent of Mexican Potters

The Alameda Free Library celebrated the vibrancy of local and international culture on Saturday, September 26, with a pottery demonstration in the morning and a jazz concert at night. (Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog posting on the latter).

After a successful pottery exhibit last year, the library invited members of the Mata Ortiz Potters back to the Island. And about 50 residents of all ages came to enjoy the show put on by Ricardo Corona and his colleagues, including Marianne Guillen and her three children, who all were mesmerized by the demonstration and work on display.

Corona delicately shaped and decorated a pot in the style of the region where he works, the Sierra Madre of Northern Chichuahua, Mexico, which is inspired by pottery from the Paquime ruins — declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Corona is the son-in-law of Pilo Mora, who demonstrated his skill last year at the library.

“It feels like they do weaving on top of a pot,” shared Jennifer Rias, a local weaver and art enthusiast.

Like many other guests at the demonstration, Rias enjoyed watching the potter work and shopping for pieces decorated in orange, black and blue. Many of the pieces featured geometric designs as well as dolphins, butterflies and other creatures.

Many of the visitors commented on the breath-taking delicacy of the work and its rich heritage.

“It’s interesting to see what he actually uses in terms of materials and how he coils, washes and finishes the piece,” said Sylvia Giebitz, an Oakland resident, school teacher, and native of Argentina. “Corona told me that he didn’t finish high school so that he could join and support the family business.”

The show was organized by library and inspired by library volunteer Ruth Belikove, an avid pottery fan.


Broken bridge piles benefit fishies

Part of the ambiance of living in the Bay Area is homey sight of people dropping a line in the water in hopes of catching dinner. For some time now, that sight has been missing from the Fruitvale Bridge fishing platforms, both on the Alameda and Oakland sides. For months, the gate has been locked. Damage to the pilings after a tugboat incident prompted the county to send fishermen and fisherwomen and fisherkids elsewhere, said Ruben Briones in County Superintendent Alice Lai Bitker’s office.  Unfortunately, the county hasn’t been able to drum up the fix-it funds yet. The same is true for the planned seismic work on the Fruitvale Bridge. A contractor has been awarded the job, but so far, the buck has stopped at that point. Add to that the potential partial closure of the Fruitvale, Park Street and High Street bridges if the county, which maintains and operates those draw bridges, loses its gas tax revenues to the state. These are not good days for our bridges.

The fishing platforms on the Fruitvale Bridge have been closed for months.

The fishing platforms on the Fruitvale Bridge have been closed for months.


Don’t miss the MoW shindig this Sunday

Alameda Meals on Wheels, unlike other Meals on Wheels programs, doesn’t count on the county for funding. Every penny comes from fund-raising and for 36 years MoW has been delivering warm meals to anyone who is housebound. Unlike other Meals on Wheels programs, Alamedans who apply for the service need not be senior citizens.

Anyone looking for a good time in July will go to the MoW annual fund-raiser at Roseblum Cellars (next to the ferry terminal on Main Street) to nibble food from Alameda restaurants and taste test the wine from 15 wineries. Prizes will be set up for a silent auction and raffle tickets will win you prizes. This shindig is very popular, with hundreds of people coming each year.

Pencil it into your schedule: July 12, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

And to find out more about Alameda Meals on Wheels, and the partner program, Friendly Visitors, go to http://www.alamedamealsonwheels.org/about_amow.html. You may find yourself interested in one of the volunteer opportunities, or, if you’re housebound, you may find a way to get a warm meal. The cost for meals is on a sliding scale.


When good things happen to good people

Blue Rectangle, that fun and funky bookstore at 1355 Park St., is making life a little sweeter for Alameda nonprofit groups. Store owner Mike Johnson throws a monthly nonprofit night, where representatives from various organizations get three to five minutes to have their say as to why they should win the $200 the store donates. The winning pitch is chosen by a vote of the attendees, and the nonprofit also receives 100 percent of the evening’s raffle prizes. The store also provides snacks and drinks. And the raffle prizes aren’t bad at all, according to store employee Sam Johnson, who won a $200 gift certificate for a massage.

The next Nonprofit Night will be Tuesday, June 30 at 7 p.m. The lineup of speakers are the Frank Bette Center, the Cougar Cadet Drum Corps, Girls Inc. and Alameda Point Collaborative.


1,2,3,4 … 8 O’Clock rock

A good old-fashioned bit of initiative, that’s what this is. While the recession drops the Dow like a rock, Jim’s Diner on Lincoln Avenue is rolling back to better days with live rock ‘n roll from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Grab your guy or gal or broom and check it out this Saturday. It’ll be like the old days — a burger and a shake with two straws and the tables and chairs moved for the dance floor. It doesn’t say so on the sign, but it’d probably  be fun to go in retro clothes, too. The gig starts at 8 p.m. and goes until 11 p.m.  (2333 Lincoln Ave.)

There's a Jimboree planned at Jim's Diner Saturday night (June 20).



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.