What’s next, a ribbon cutting?


Three Cherryland medical marijuana dispensaries may be mainstreaming their way into the local business community. Paying state and local sales taxes is one issue on the table. Setting up computer files to create a customer base is another. One sales outlet also is investigating the production of _ no, not “pot stickers” _ but food produced in its very own kitchen. Cannabis cookies. Marijuana muffins. The possibilities are endless.

How do you feel about medical marijuana outlets in our area?


Frozen fountains


A resident of Silver Maple Lane in the Hayward hills near Garin Park sent us this photo of his frozen fountain on Saturday. After several frigid nights, the Bay Area’s latest freeze warning ended at 9 a.m. today and is not expected to resume tonight.


Hayward, San Leandro flunk public info test


Hayward and San Leandro got the lowest grade available, an F-, in an audit examining the openness of California police departments. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, which protects Castro Valley, San Lorenzo and places in between, also received an F- in the report published today.

The grades are the result of an investigation by a coalition of journalists, including the Review’s own Martin Ricard, who visited police departments across California to find out if they were releasing public information when asked. Many were not.

In San Leandro, according to the report, an “officer who wouldn’t give her name told the requester she wouldn’t accept a written request unless she knew what the records would be used for.” In Hayward, the requester was asked multiple times for identification and what the information would be used for. Similar problems arose at the California Highway Patrol branch office in Hayward.

The audit also gave departments a numerical ranking. Dixon, a small city in Solano County, did the best in the state with a score of 94; East Palo Alto was the worst in the Bay Area, with a score of 5. East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis, who lives in Hayward, told a reporter he was dismayed by the score. Local scores were as follows: Alameda County Sheriff’s Department (20), CHP Hayward (10), Hayward police (25), San Leandro police (20).

Want to read more about the audit? Check out how it was done, what the law says and how different departments scored.

Have you had positive or negative experiences trying to get public information from local government agencies? Please let us know.


To protect and to serve?


Now that the Californians Aware police audit has been released, I’d like to share some thoughts from my personal experience, since I was one of the journalists who visited some of the public safety departments.

First, I learned that it really is difficult sometimes to get information from police, sheriff’s and CHP offices. I visited four agencies on my road trip to the Peninsula: Redwood City CHP, San Carlos police, Half Moon Bay police and Pacifica police. At almost each agency I visited, I got suspicious looks and reluctant public records supervisors when I asked to look at the simplest of information, such as the department’s recent arrest or crime information.

At one department, I asked to see the statement of economic interest for its senior officer, which tells you his income, property holdings and investments. They had no clue what I was talking about. One agency even denied, after the fact, that I even went there.

On the other hand, this experience taught me how difficult it is to be a regular citizen seeking public information. Now, mind you, all of the journalists involved in the audit had to “act” like regular citizens to do the audit so that police departments could be tested on how they respond to the average Joe. But it reminded me that for that one day we had to take off our reporter hats. Always staying true to our “citizen” selves is what keeps journalists grounded.

This can be a refreshing exercise for all journalists. They should try it sometime.

Although I didn’t have a totally terrible experience, I still feel like I got rejected (like Shaquille O’Neal). In most cases, I only had to spend about 10 minutes in each department to find out what I already knew: Police are here to protect and to serve, but sometimes, all they’re protecting are themselves.


“Dragon-slayer” thanks Hayward Democrat troops

What happens when your local congressman is a 34-year-incumbent who coasts back into office every two years?


Well, it means local party activists have to find someone else to fight for. In 2006, Hayward’s liberal stalwarts swarmed over the hills, Hannibal-style, and raided the Tri-Valley in an effort to help defeat incumbent GOP powerhouse congressman Richard Pombo. Whether or not their efforts made much of a difference in the Democratic victory there — after all, Hayward folks certainly can’t vote in the 11th district — freshman congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, thanked them kindly in a recent hand-written letter we’ve reproduced below:

Dear Hayward Demos,

Thank you all so much for your support and belief, for holding together a great organization, for getting involved in my race, for donating, and for everything you do for our great nation.


Does this mean the Hayward area’s outnumbered Republicans will return the favor by sending their own war elephants over to the valley to defeat McNerney in the next battle? We’ll just have to wait and see.


Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.

Couldn’t fly back to Washington, D.C., last week for the “Leader of the Pack’s” festivities? Missed out on last weekend’s inaugural gala in Sacramento? (Don’t feel badly, so did Arnie.) Forget the Pelosi and Schwarzenegger soirees, and head on over to Democratic Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s district office grand opening from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 12. The office is at 22320 Foothill Blvd., suite 540, in the shadow of Hayward’s former 11-story City Hall. Eat, drink and be merry, if the “light refreshments” on the menu are your forte.


Trans fat: An insider’s guide to eating at Starbucks


If you asked your local barista about the new Starbucks Trans Fat Ban earlier this week, you might have caused some confusion. At least, that’s what happened when we asked them.

In San Lorenzo, a worker at the Starbucks across from Rasputin’s was sure that the “Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookie” and vanilla cupcakes were trans fat-free, but she wasn’t sure about the other items.

In downtown Hayward (Mission and A), staffers were a little tentative on Wednesday but must have gotten the memo by Thursday. The lemon scone and everything else left on the rack Thursday evening was most definitely trans fat-free, they said.

We decided to check with a corporate spokesman in San Francisco, since the company’s online store locator reports that there are 24 Starbucks stores in Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro and San Lorenzo. (According to our own calculations, that’s about one Starbucks for every 14,833 people in the Daily Review’s coverage area.)

Here’s what Starbucks wrote back Thursday:

Our national promotional food items have contained zero grams of trans fats since September 2006. As of Jan. 3, 2007, 50 percent of our U.S. company-operated stores have converted to zero grams of trans fat for all food offerings. These markets include Seattle, Portland, Northern California, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. We are working closely with our regional bakeries to offer food with zero grams of trans fat in 100 percent of our U.S. company-operated stores by this year.

Here in Northern California, we started to eliminate trans fats in our locally baked products about a year ago based on customer requests. Since then we have eliminated trans fats in all of our bakery, lunch and warmed food products.

Just remember: That doesn’t mean your toffee bar transformed into a broccoli.


New year, new job

Gene Calderon’s name should be familiar to anyone who has dealt with the offices of former state Sen. Liz Figueroa and former Assemblywoman (and, now, Figueroa successor), state Sen. Ellen Corbett. Calderon, a former aide to both legislators, has been hired by Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker and will work out of her San Lorenzo office. San Leandrans take note: Calderon is the point guy for the Cherry City. His area of focus will be San Leandro.


Making (radio) waves by the Bay

Imagine you’re walking along the Bay Trail near Hayward’s Landing and see four 200-foot-high radio towers in front of you in the distance. It would look kind of like this …


Can’t see them yet? Here’s what they’d look like up close …


These images are renderings, not real photos, showing the towers that conservative talk station KNTS (part of Salem Communications Corporation) wants to build at the western terminus of West Winton Road, thereby upping its output from 5,000 to 50,000 watts. Sports talk station KTCT (better known as KNBR) and conservative talk station KFAX (also part of Salem) already have similarly sized towers nearby.

As the Review reported this week, some shoreline protectors object to the proposed towers because they would be built on an old city dump. One local resident left me a voice message yesterday saying she opposed the tower because construction might disturb toxins in the landfill. A reader named Gary objected on ideological grounds. “I want you to know that I am against it,” he e-mailed. “It’s not the visual that bothers me so much as the garbage that spills out of these conservative stations.” Still others think naysayers are making a mountain out of a 13-acre landfill. David Jackson, writing on his Bay Area Radio Blog this week, said he thinks “there are numerous more significant issues that the good people of Hayward should be concentrating their energies on instead of this.”

You can read the full proposal here. The Hayward Area Shoreline Planning Agency will have a special meeting to discuss the towers at 5 p.m. Jan. 11 at the HARD Building, 1099 E St., in Hayward. Absent an appeal, the decision ultimately rests with the Hayward Planning Commission, which is scheduled to vote on the tower proposal Jan. 25.