SL candidates forum: Get your questions answered here

The San Leandro Community Action Network will be holding a candidates forum this Friday to give residents an opportunity to see the City Council candidates up close and personal, and hear their platforms. The group asked each candidate (there are 10) to fill out a questionnaire before the forum, and the candidates’ answers are now posted on SLCAN’s Web site. Some of the interesting questions asked in the questionnaire include:

  • How will you promote joint collaboration projects between the city and public schools?
  • What are your thoughts and plans about getting a quality business in the old Albertsons site?
  • How would you promote opportunities within San Leandro for minorities and other historically disadvantaged populations?
  • Do you think the City Council should ban the use of styrofoam containers and plastic shopping bags in San Leandro? Why or why not?
  • What would you do to decrease crime in San Leandro?
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    Do happier hospitals make you healthier?

    I have yet to have a mammogram, and probably won’t, but I did get to see the fancy new mammography suite at St. Rose Hospital this week.

    It’s the sort of place that writer Virginia Postrel says there should be more of in her recent article, The Art of Healing, in The Atlantic Monthly:

    Consider diagnostic imaging departments. MRIs and CT scans can frighten many patients, and research shows that simple elements such as nature photos can ease their stress. Yet the typical scanner room still looks “as if it’s a workshop for cars,” says Malkin, with bare walls and big machines. One of the bleakest rooms at the UCLA Medical Plaza, where I spend my time, is a waiting room in the imaging center. Small and beige, it epitomizes aesthetic neglect, with stained chairs, mismatched tiles, and tattered copies of U.S. News & World Report. The only wall art is a drug-company poster on myocardial perfusion imaging—just the thing to comfort anxious patients.


    Under construction

    bayfair-sign.jpgIf you’ve been by Bayfair Center lately — and, hopefully, you have — you might have noticed that the food court is getting a makeover.

    That’s exciting news, judging by the fact that for years the food court only had about three restaurants and an awkward layout.

    A Madison Marquette executive told me a few months ago that this was going to happen, and that the food court restoration was part of the mall’s larger plan to make over the interior of Bayfair — just like the mall has been redone on the outside.

    The new food court vendors haven’t been disclosed yet, but look forward to a fall 2009 reopening.


    Gated communities: Do they belong in Hayward?

    The gate debate going on at Woodland Knolls, which we covered today, raises a more general question about city planning.

    Should city governments be promoting or discouraging the creation of gated communities in their midst?


    Woodland Knolls’ Durham Way (photo of one of its homes at left) is a private street, though it used to be a public one. Proponents and opponents of the security gate there are gearing up to present their opinions to the Hayward Planning Commission tomorrow. And if you’re really interested, you can see some of their written comments, petitions and a blueprint for the gate in this 102-page PDF.

    But we’re wondering what you think about gated communities generally. Do they improve or decrease real estate values? Do they work at reducing crime? What are the costs, or benefits, to the community as a whole? And what is government’s role?


    Ganging up

    In today’s edition of the Review, we published a follow-up to last week’s brawl at Mt. Eden High in which eight students were arrested.

    Police on Tuesday said the incident may have been gang-motivated.

    Do you think gangs in our schools are on the rise? I’d like to hear from readers to see if they’ve heard of gang activity increasing on school campuses.

    Post your responses here or shoot me an e-mail at knoceda@bayareanewsgroup.com.


    Notes on the marina

    Here are a few of the highlights from the City Council work session Monday night on dredging the San Leandro Marina and choosing a master developer for the shoreline area:

    In describing the scope of the work required for the city to begin dredging, Uche Udemezue, the city’s engineering and transportation director, said the marina’s conditions have worsened since the Army Corps of Engineers last dredged the two-mile federal channel. The reason: siltation. Which means the city would have a lot more material to remove if dredging took place, which also means the costs could grow to an even larger amount.

    We were hoping we would just have to spot-dredge areas, but siltation is so widespread that that opportunity is lost.

    City Manager John Jermanis later went on to say that the capital improvements needed at the boat harbor could get expensive. The harbor needs $10 million in improvements that the city can’t pay for right now, he said, but the city could borrow money from the state and take on an additional $600,000 debt per year.

    However, he said, the city does have $2 million in the bank to pay for relocating the small boat ramp. And the city intends to keep that service available for as long as it can, he added.

    He also said revenue generated from the golf course, restaurants and hotel are all being used to subsidize the harbor operations.

    But the costs associated with removing dredged spoils from the marina if it were dredged could basically trump any new endeavors the city wants to pursue out there, he said.

    If it weren’t for the dredging costs, we would be able to go forward.

    Councilman Michael Gregory said he really didn’t see how the harbor could sustain itself with all the costs involved. He said outright:

    It doesn’t look too sustainable.

    Of course, there were people on both sides of the spectrum who spoke in favor of and against dredging.

    Heidi Finberg, former San Leandro Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the reason the boat harbor had such a low occupancy rate was not solely because of dredging; it’s because the city hasn’t been advertising the marina properly. (The former Blue Dolphin restaurant still shows up in ads about the marina even though the place has been closed for decades, she said.) She also said boats are “scattered” throughout the marina because services are not consolidated, and the channel markers are not maintained.

    Let’s improve our own housekeeping instead of letting it go derelict.

    A Folsom resident said people from outside of San Leandro only come to the marina because it is the southernmost part of the bay to launch a boat, so he didn’t want to see the harbor close. His big idea: adding corporate sponsorship to the marina.

    But longtime resident Howard Kerr didn’t want to see dredging continued, and he urged the council to get something else started because the indecision is “keeping the community upset.”

    I want to see the boat harbor closed and developed into the first-class facility we’ve been waiting for for 20 years.

    And, finally, Councilman Bill Stephens:

    What I’d like to see is something happen. I’d like to see our jewel polished … so that everybody can come to it. I’d like to see what the dreammakers [the potential master developers] can bring back to us, and I’m not so concerned with the color of the paint.

    Click here for more insight.


    Are youth police services on the chopping block?

    Last week, Hayward resident Julie Machado sent an e-mail to the Hayward City Council and City Manager Greg Jones with the subject line “YFS in budget cuts???”

    She asked if the city, which faces a projected budget deficit of more than $10 million this year, is seriously considering cutbacks to the Youth and Family Services Division of the Police Department and to the program that funds school resource officers on Hayward campuses.

    No one has actually denied the rumor of potential YFS cutbacks, or at least the thought of them, but Jones told me yesterday that he considers it “way too preliminary” in the budgeting process. No decisions have been made on these issues, he said.

    “At this point we’re just looking at ideas, priorities,” Jones said. “This reduction is not something I see staff supporting. … But it’s one of many ideas out there.”

    Anyway, below is Machado’s e-mail and a Continue Reading


    What the candidates say about themselves

    It costs candidates for Hayward City Council more than $1,000 to get their candidate statements printed in the ballot book mailed out to voters, but The HayWord, of course, is running them all gratis. Here are the nine candidate statements (plus photos from Friday’s debate by Mike Lucia) in randomized order:

    Age: 54
    Occupation: Hayward Councilmember/Businessman
    henson.jpgMy education and qualifications are: It has been my privilege to serve the citizens of Hayward on the City Council for the last 14 years. I have worked hard to make city services more responsive to your needs. I have put public safety first. I have worked with our police department to increase our ability to fight crime and provide community policing. I have fought to improve emergency services. I have taken tough positions, like demanding that the audit of our police department be made public, because I believe that taxpayers have the right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. I have advocated for environmentally appropriate community-based economic development to generate tax revenues and improve the quality of life in Hayward. I have led the clean up efforts in our neighborhoods. Hayward, like all other cities, will face difficult fiscal choices as we cope with the effects of our weakening state and national economy. You have my pledge to continue to put the interests of all Hayward residents first. I will work hard to honor the trust you have placed in me by serving with honesty, integrity and openness. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving you.

    Age: 58
    Occupation: Incumbent
    halliday.jpgMy education and qualifications are: Since my election to City Council four years ago, I have worked hard to improve the quality of life for all Hayward residents. I supported establishing the Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force and am working with neighborhood volunteers to remove litter and wipe out graffiti. To improve public safety and reduce crime, I promoted community policing and more police officers on the street. As a member of the Budget and Finance Committee, I worked to increase budget reserves and improve our long-range financial planning. My work on Council committees helped revitalize our downtown and neighborhood commercial centers; Cinema Place, a new 12-screen movie theater with shops and restaurants, will open downtown later this year. I led Council opposition to the East Shore power plant in west Hayward and supported establishing the Sustainability Committee to address issues of environmental quality and global warming. Helping our young people is important to me; I am pleased to have been part of cooperative efforts by the City of Hayward, HARD and HUSD to build two new elementary schools, Burbank and Stonebrae. I would be honored to have your support to continue my Council service.

    Occupation: Chairman, Planning Commission
    peixoto.jpgMy education and qualifications are: I was born in Hayward. I love this community … but I hate what’s happening to our neighborhoods. I want to be the “Quality of Life” candidate for City Council. As a City Commissioner and Budget Analyst, I know government can do better. I’ve also been President of the Hayward Citizens Advisory Commission and Vice President of the Woodland Estates Community Association. Citizens can change things if they have the power. Absentee landlords, who allow their properties to deteriorate, and those, who use our neighborhoods as dumping grounds, will have to change their ways. We’ll start with tougher code enforcement. I’ll empower the Clean and Green Taskforce to take code violators into Small Claims Court to make them pay what it costs our good citizens to clean up. We can restore downtown by treating it as a neighborhood… a place where people live and shop and eat. A “loop” makes downtown a place to “go through” instead of a place to “go to.” And we need neighborhood police officers. With my Masters Degree in Public Administration (Cal State Hayward) and experience as a Budget Analyst, I can help the City spend money wisely… on what’s best for neighborhoods.

    Age: 45
    Occupation: Real Estate Broker
    simpson.jpgMy education and qualifications are: I will stop the plan to give our beautiful shoreline to Calpine to build a huge fossil fuel fired power facility, poisoning our air, destroying our shoreline and devaluing our community. I offer A Better Way. The Security, wealth and freedom of a green economy with renewable energy produced in Hayward for Hayward, through available incentives. I will stop the plan for a one way loop around downtown making Mission, A Street, Foothill and D street one way, paving over existing businesses, ruining downtown, wasting $39,000,000 and complicating traffic. We need Logical traffic solutions like a Bart station near Kmart, at Harder and Mission down form the University. I have a plan to redevelop the aging government buildings along Winton to create a new Police Department, Library and Central Business District at no cost to the city, creating employment opportunities. Hayward can thrive. We can be safer in our homes and on our streets. Our children can grow, nurtured by a better education. We can revitalize our community. Our City government can listen, be a catalyst for improvement, encourage the values in our city and balance its budget. I have 3 children. I’ve given 30,000 trees to the community.

    Occupation: Marriage/Family Therapist
    bennett.jpgMy education and qualifications are: A lifelong resident of Hayward, I have volunteered my time to make Hayward a community that we can all call home. I know firsthand and have dealt with the issues affecting our community. I graduated from Hayward city schools, Chabot College, and CSU-Hayward. I’ve served eight years as a Planning Commissioner and currently serve as Chair of the Hayward Library Commission and the county’s San Lorenzo Creek Watershed Task Force. I am proud to have served this community and want to continue my service. We need to work collectively to solve the traffic issue, clean up graffiti, promote our strong businesses community, and protect our open space, shoreline and hills. We must have recreational opportunities for our youth so they can be productive students and citizens, and recreation and programs for our seniors so that they can enjoy their lives. We must promote community policing to keep our streets safe. I truly believe that Hayward is a great place to live, work, and do business, but we must do better as a community to move our city forward. I have the experience and dedication to make a difference.

    Age: 62
    Occupation: Councilmember/Retired Scientist
    quirk.jpgMy education and qualifications are: It has been a privilege serving as your City Council representative since 2004. My background as a 20-year resident, Neighborhood Alert block captain, PTA president, and Friends of the Library president has provided valuable experience needed to fight for quality neighborhoods, good schools and responsive government. I have worked hard for Hayward—advocating for a safe community, clean and graffiti-free neighborhoods, traffic relief solutions, a strong partnership between the City and the schools, expanded library services, and improved neighborhood security though closer cooperation between police and the community. I helped adopt City plans to improve traffic flow, bring a new movie theatre to downtown Hayward, and build a new Burbank Elementary School and park. Citizen input is a cornerstone of my public service efforts. I regularly visit neighborhoods to understand resident concerns. Many individual concerns are common throughout our community. Crime, abandoned vehicles, litter, graffiti, speeding, traffic, gangs, and the quality of our schools are the concerns I hear most from citizens, and they are my top priorities. Contact me at 581-5498 or email me at BillQuirkForHayward@Comcast.net with your ideas. I will return your message within 24 hours. I would appreciate your support on Election Day. Thank you.

    Age: 55
    Occupation: Business Owner/Educator
    zermeno.jpgMy education and qualifications are: We must insure that our city keeps growing at a moderate, controlled, and business-appealing pace. Public safety and services, our local economy, and neighborhoods are my top priorities. Our downtown, both historic and modern, needs further attention, as do our Libraries and our youth. Choosing courageous leadership for Hayward’s future is key. Our leadership must possess a multilingual, multicultural vision, mirroring Hayward’s present and great history. A leader must be educated, versed in technology and art, culturally aware, community oriented, and representing as diverse a background as our city. I am ready to actively participate in leading our city forward. My experience as a business owner, in education, in culture at home and abroad, and in our community qualifies me as that leader for Hayward. As a member of the Hayward City Council, I will be the people’s voice, from the young to the business owner, from the educated to the less fortunate, and from the culturally diverse to the technologically literate. My thirty years as a Hayward resident, as a husband and a father of three, and my varied involvement in our community have prepared me to lead our great city forward. Thank you.

    Age: 36
    Occupation: Businesswoman
    may.jpgMy education and qualifications are: I’m a graduate of Mt. Eden High School. Hayward gave me a great education, down-to-earth values and the opportunity for business success. I’m running for City Council because I want to raise my future family here. Our diverse and great city can offer future generations the same opportunities I was blessed to have. I’ve worked to improve Hayward as Director of the Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association, as President of the Rotary Club, former owner of the Rickshaw Express restaurant and as a real estate consultant. I’ve worked to fight crime, clean neighborhoods and raise money for youth, senior and neighborhood programs. I work well with people & can speak Spanish & Chinese. Our children must learn in a safe, disciplined and nurturing environment and I will work with our schools to improve academic achievement. I know how to bring diverse and competing interests together to solve problems, meet a payroll and therefore squeeze the most out of precious tax dollars. In these difficult economic times, Hayward requires leadership with sharp skills, experience to cut the fat while maintaining vital community services and who has the guts to stand up for what’s right. I’m grateful for your vote.

    Age: 58
    Occupation: Retired 911 Dispatcher
    bristow.jpgMy education and qualifications are: Many pressing issues face the City of Hayward. As a career public safety professional, parent, volunteer and 27-year resident—now retired with the time and interest to serve—I want to put my experience and skills to work for Hayward. I am qualified for this job. As a 36-year 911 emergency dispatcher I learned firsthand what makes people feel safe or unsafe, how city government works to provide essential services, and how to find solutions when budgets are tight and resources are scarce. I am a good listener, problem solver and consensus builder. I welcome your ideas to improve Hayward. Please contact me at 510-582-9325 or bristow4hayward@comcast.net. I will respond. Government works best when public officials listen. As a city councilmember I will work for solutions to the problems that frustrate many of us—crime, maintaining quality neighborhoods, traffic relief, improving our schools, fixing city streets, etc. My goal is to help achieve a safer, cleaner, greener Hayward. I am proud to be endorsed by Hayward firefighters, police, Labor, civic and business leaders, and hundreds of citizens across our community. I would appreciate your support on Election Day. I’ll work hard to earn, and keep your trust. Thank you.


    Those earthquakes again

    The reporter next to me and I were just arguing over whether the shaking of my swivel chair was caused by earthquake or coffee.

    I win. It was a 2.9 in Dublin, though maybe the coffee exacerbated the experience. (Update: There were four in a row: 2.9, 2.1, 2.5, 1.4) (Update 2: OK so now as of 4:47 p.m., it says there were 8 in a row but this is my last update)

    But nobody will be the winner when the Hayward fault goes bezerk, as one of our science reporters explains today.


    The age-old question

    San Leandro educators began informational picketing this week to raise awareness of failed contract negotiations. San Lorenzo teachers are also working on a new working agreement, while Hayward Unified’s contract with its teachers expire this summer.

    With the governor proposing across-the-board cuts, including in education, school districts are preparing for big losses in revenue.

    So how can financially strapped districts fairly compensate arguably its most important employees? Remember, California already ranks among the bottom in per-pupil spending when compared with the rest of the nation.

    School officials may look to you for the answer. Districts are warming to the idea of placing a parcel tax before voters to help compensate teachers.

    Are you willing to support such a cause by paying higher taxes? Why or why not?