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San Leandro on the map

Two familiar companies based in San Leandro were featured in a back-to-school story in Thursday’s USA Today.

The story focused on the newest backpack craze: They’re not being used to carry just books and sandwiches anymore. They’re now fashion statements, and both JanSport and The North Face — which are both located on Farralon Drive — are leading the trend, according to the article.

Two San Leandro companies putting the city on the map, I guess you could say.

Now, all I want to know is why so many teenagers these days wear those baby-sized backpacks with the cartoon characters on the front. If that isn’t a fashion statement, then I don’t know what is.

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Letter from a parent

At last week’s school board meeting, Hayward superintendent Dale Vigil said something remarkable, in response to recurring allegations of racism at one of Hayward’s elementary schools. He said he’d visited the school, and could absolutely verify that there was “no racism” at the school.

My first reaction was laughter, quickly followed by a deep sense of sadness. How could any American, much less an American of Hispanic descent, assert that there is a school here where there is no racism?

At an earlier board meeting, Dr. Vigil insisted that any complaints about a specific school should not be raised with his office nor at a board meeting, but should be addressed at the school “site” level. Dr. Vigil has made it very clear that he won’t hear complaints about racism at a Hayward school.

Suddenly, I understood Hayward’s signs that proclaim “No Room for Racism.” They don’t mean that racism doesn’t exist in Hayward. Instead, there is no room for dissent: Complaints about racism and discrimination will not be heard.

Also at last week’s board meeting, board member Jeff Cook criticized the involvement of “outside organizations” attempting to help Hayward parents find a voice so their complaints might be heard. A week earlier, Mr. Cook had physically barred a Hayward parent and community advocate from attending a meeting at the school site, to prevent that parent’s complaints about racism from being heard.

Also at last week’s board meeting, teachers and parents from the school verbally attacked the parents who were objecting that their complaints were ignored.

Also last week, a “meeting” was scheduled by an assistant superintendent, purportedly to hear complaints from parents at the school. The meeting was scheduled for 3 p.m. on a weekday, when most parents are working, but that wasn’t really important, since the district didn’t invite or even notify parents about the meeting. At the end of that meeting, the district announced that no parents who had failed to attend that secret meeting would be permitted to attend future meetings on the subject.

Once again, Hayward has validated our family’s decision to transfer our child out of Hayward, to a public school where students and families are respected.

Mark J. Welch
Hayward

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San Leandro-San Lorenzo union in the works?

In a recent meeting of the San Lorenzo Homes Village Association, administrator Nancy Van Huffel announced that plans are underway to explore annexing the unincorporated community of San Lorenzo into San Leandro, citing residents’ desire to have more control over land-use decisions and neighborhood preservation issues.

San Leandro City Manager John Jermanis confirmed in a phone conversation earlier this week that talks about a possible annexation were happening, but noted that the talks were only preliminary and not yet set in stone.

Well, it turns out this isn’t the first time San Lorenzo civic leaders have approached San Leandro city officials about annexation. But we’re wondering why now, especially since every time the offer has been put on the table in the past it didn’t go anywhere.

We’re working on this topic for the weekend, and we’d like your input. If you have a stake in this issue, please share your thoughts.

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Hayward in the heartland

Perhaps as a sign of Hayward’s growing global importance, I keep seeing the city appear in far-flung news reports from the American Midwest.

On Sunday, Detroit Free Press columnist John Smyntek pointed out that the old Wurlitzer pipe organ from Hayward’s former Ye Olde Pizza Joint was being featured on the Detroit area’s Somewhere in Time radio program.

And after the tragic Aug. 1 collapse of a Mississippi River bridge, our sister paper, the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minn., reports that Hayward’s own Gillig Corp. has sold a $16 million fleet of 40 new 40-foot buses to help people get through traffic surrounding the Mighty Mississippi.

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Hayward for the weekend

It’s another sweat-for-a-cause Hayward-area summer weekend.

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Saturday morning starts off with the fourth annual 10K on the Bay, a shoreline run that raises money for the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center. Last year, a New Yorker (if you consider Rochesterians to be New Yorkers) beat out dozens of Californians for first place. Let’s see if we can do better this time, California.

A little later the same morning, members of the Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force will be meeting at City Hall, fanning out and doing their third clean-up of the year, this time in the downtown area.