Alameda Journal highlights

You can find the Alameda Journal article about the new theatre’s gala opening here. And you can also read Journal Editor Connie Rux’s tribute to the restoration. The schedule for this weekend’s opening events, which includes free showings of classic movies, is here.

And it sounds like, despite all the grumblings of the past, many people are enjoying the idea of having a beautiful place to see movies in town. I even chanced to hear one woman say to her a friend as they walked by me on Park Street the other day, “I was against it, but now that it’s here I’m kind of glad.” I think I’ll be taking my kids to the show this weekend.

It’s also nice to see a letter from nine-year-old Ruby Siltanen running in the Journal this week. The Paden Elementary third grader lists her top ten reasons for supporting Measure H (which, as you know I, too, fully support). Ruby writes, “Kids are worth paying $10 a month for four years.” And, too, “A lot of kids in elementary would like to play sports when they get into middle and high school.”

Ian Merrifield, Encinal’s student body president who was active in the school protests in March, has an editorial in support of Measure H . He writes, “There is no Alamedan who can claim that she is independent from the success of AUSD. Quality schools boost property values, reduce crime rates and enrich the local economy…”

Jeffrey Smith, an Encinal High School math teacher, has a “con” piece running in today’s paper, which concludes with a somewhat befuddling series of questions, “Should this extortion be titled Measure H, Proposition H or Preparation H?”


Housekeeping: Alameda, Alameda, our Alameda

Morning, Alameda.

It has come to my attention that many of you don’t know that you can find Alameda Journal articles online here. They usually post live some time the day before the print paper comes out. So, if you’ve written a letter to the editor and want to know if it’s going to run or you want to browse the latest headlines, check there.

Today’s Journal includes a very nicely-reasoned, pro-Measure H (which, as many of you know, I support) “My Word” piece by Michael Schmitz: “Voting for Measure H can protect our assets.” As well as an editorial, “Local schools can’t wait for Sacramento,” which puts in very plain language the state of school financing.

Keep Alameda Schools Excellent, the group formed to support Measure H, also has some good info about the “May revise” of the state budget. Which, as best a I can discern (though no one seems to have a handle just yet on what exactly the budget will mean) shifts how the money is going to be cut, but still cuts a significant chuck from schools. Instead of suspending Prop. 98, it cuts the cost of living adjustments. Instead of cutting special education, it reduces monies for rising utility costs. “The revised budget is a shell game,” School Trustee Bill Schaff told the Journal yesterday, “leaving our schools the biggest loser…we still must anticipate a $4 million hit to Alameda schools.”


Governor Schwarzenegger is coming to Alameda

Our very own California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be in town Wednesday April 16, visiting the USS Hornet where he’ll participate in an ‘open conversation’ (as opposed, I guess, to a closed one) as part of the Bay Area Council’s annual conference.

Those who pay attention to these things have lately been noticing a shift in Schwarzenegger’s language: from a staunch anti-tax stance, to a more open rhetoric, one which includes the possibility of raising taxes to fund vital state services like, say, education and parks.

For any of you who may have somehow missed it, Continue Reading


Alameda Unified needs a pickup

Wait! What is it, parked outside Alameda’s Edison Elementary School.
AUSD truck 1
Let’s get closer.
AUSD truck 2
And closer.
AUSD truck three
Ahh, it’s an official Alameda Unified School District truck. A quick chat with the district employee driving it reveals that it’s of vintage 1978. It’s well older, one can be quite certain, than the oldest student in the district. And, not to give away my age–I’m told ladies of a certain age should not–but I was eight when that truck was new. One hopes I’m holding up better. Said the driver of the truck:

Our trucks are all old and they all waste too much gas and require a lot of maintenance. They’re not even cost efficient.

It requires an investment in schools and the people and supplies that support them to have it all coming out well in the end. You can starve public institutions but, eventually, as we’re seeing here in Alameda, stuff starts to hit the fan.

Word is that, in response to the student protests in Alameda this week, the state’s superintendent of instruction, Jack O’Connell, is coming to our island tomorrow to meet with Alameda and Encinal High student leaders. Encinal Senior Class President Mebrak Kahsai, who helped launch Tuesday’s protest, is one of the students who will meet with O’Connell Friday afternoon. She says the feeling of being heard by the powers that be is has been inspiring:

We’re actually–even though what the governor said was kind of negative—we’re actually happy that they heard us; we’re glad that he heard. People at school have been saying, “I never felt so powerful before.” …The governor responding made us feel good.


Cuts made at Alameda school board meeting

Last night was a crowded night at the Alameda board of education meeting at Chipman. Community members were out in full force to advocate for the programs that are important to them.
Crowd at board meeting2

The press was there, at least in the beginning, in big numbers.
press at board meeting

By 11:30 p.m., while the board was hashing out the details of what to put on the final list of cuts, not so many people were left. Near midnight at board meeting

I left at about 12:30 a.m., and they still weren’t done yet. According to Franklin PTA President Christine Strena, who made it to the bitter end, the board voted to cut about half the high school sports budget, reduce janitorial services, and cut middle school counselors. The public information officer position got the ax as did music for children in grades one, two and three. The board voted also to eliminate their $300 a month stipend, which several board members already donate back to the district. Board member Mike McMahon has the full list of cuts on his site.


Recall Alameda’s school board members??

I understand the anger of parents about the programs in our schools that are currently on the chopping block (it boggles my mind that we are actually, and with straight faces, discussing cutting sports from high schools and music from elementary schools), but the news of a move afoot to recall board members if high school sports are cut makes no sense. YES it is horrible to cut art, music, AP classes, sports. NO the board can’t just snap their fingers and get the money back (it is our governor who has proposed the 10 percent across the board cuts and the suspension of Prop. 98). YES we need to band together to find alternate sources of funding for our schools if we want to maintain their current level of service. A local parcel tax, the terms of which the board will vote on tonight, is one way that we have to relatively immediately (vote could be in June) maintain the status quo for our schools. So instead of an I-me-mine attitude and instead of an Us v. Them attitude let us all band together and pass this parcel tax for the good for our schools, for the good for neighbors and for the good of our community.