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Return of the HUSD block debate

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: Motion failed 2-to-3 in an overflow meeting that involved a lot of heat, not just from audience members but between board members as well. Here’s our early version of the story, we will have a longer piece in tomorrow’s paper. A motion to approve a modified six-period schedule passed, although the HEA is challenging the validity of that schedule because it wasn’t bargained.

 

The Hayward Unified School District meeting on Wednesday is sure to produce some feelings of deja vu, as the board is slated to again address the high school block schedule. While the board voted in February to nix the schedule to save money, board member Luis Reynoso changed his mind and is bringing it back.

What do you think about Reynoso’s decision to revisit the issue? Is it a chance for a needed reprieve for a well-liked system, or is it time to accept the change as a budget-cutting casualty and move on?

1

Train a comin’ through town!

UPDATE: They changed the route at the last minute this morning. Not sure why, but the train came through town on the less-used rails closer to the shoreline off Industrial Boulevard, then hooked up through Newark to Niles before continuing its route. An unfortunate bypass of the more populated parts of Hayward. I asked avid train chaser and Lamorinda Sun editor Sam Richards about it and he said not to take it personally — railroads change their routes all the time like that and often run late.

An old Union Pacific steam-powered locomotive is on tour in the area, and will be making a run from Oakland to Stockton on Wednesday morning.

According to the UP tracking site, our leg will bring it through San Leandro, Ashland, Cherryland, Hayward and Union City! It is scheduled to leave Oakland at 9 a.m. and arrive in Stockton around 11:30 a.m., so those with an inkling to see some vintage steam action should plan accordingly.

The planned course follows the rails next to the BART tracks, down San Leandro Street, Western Boulevard and Whitman Street.

We’re trying to figure out the best spot along the route to watch this magnificent machine chug through. Any suggestions?

4

Mt. Eden band back from successful Carnegie appearance

The Mt. Eden High School Wind Ensemble has returned from its trip to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Director Kevin Cato said it was the band’s “best performance” at the hall, and the first time it was recorded. Listen to it here. And if you want to see more photos from the trip, click here.

The recording includes two pieces written specifically for the Carnegie appearance: “Casus Belli” (a song about the struggles of war, composed by woodwind instructor and Mt. Eden orchestra director Ronnie Cato) and Kevin Cato’s “Train,” which he says is self-explanatory.

The Mt. Eden music program will receive state accolades on May 8, with a resolution presented by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi and state Sen. Ellen Corbett, honoring the program and the success that has been realized on band and individual levels.

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Should schools teach, perform religious songs?

Margarita Lacabe, whose husband is San Leandro school board President Mike Katz-Lacabe, wants sacred music to be removed from elementary school music studies or school programs. We’ve been getting lots of letters and calls. Sound off here.

1

Calpine-PG&E energy agreement for Russell City approved

Calpine announced Thursday that an amended power-purchase agreement with PG&E was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission for the proposed Russell City Energy Center, a 600-megawatt power plant that would be placed near the Hayward shoreline.

That doesn’t mean the plant itself is approved. It has some of the required permits, but the main hurdle remaining is approval from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, acting as a delegate of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The air district previously gave it the go ahead, meaning it didn’t find evidence that the plant would add significant amounts of pollution to the air, but that permit was revoked after a lawsuit on the grounds that BAAQMD did not follow federal guidelines for publicly noticing the permitting process.

The air district is currently reviewing and responding to public comments submitted regarding the permit. No time frame has been given in which a decision will be made.

We will have a larger story on this posted online Friday, running in Saturday’s paper.

5

Hayward commercial for Golf Channel

The PGA Nationwide tour is in Hayward right now, way up in the hills for the Stonebrae Classic. Here’s a promotional spot for the city that has been running on the Golf Channel.

It’s pretty slick, has an etheral-yet-upbeat background tune and the narrator’s got a great voiceover voice. Take a look and tell us: Do you think it accurately captures the essence of Hayward?

8

Southland woes and potholes

A lot of people are noticing that roads around Southland Mall are in a state of disrepair. One caller to the paper said his car’s alignment was knocked out of whack by a huge pothole, and at a council meeting last week, Councilwoman Barbara Halliday asked city staff to talk with General Growth Properties — which owns the mall and the adjacent roads — about fixing the cracked, pitted asphalt.

Could be a symptom of a larger problem. Business writer George Avalos wrote a story about GGP in Monday’s Business section. The company is in the hole for billions of dollars after a rapid expansion. A loan recently came due on Southland, meaning the lender could take possession of the property if GGP doesn’t pay up.

“We are still in possession of Southland Mall,” said the GGP spokesman. “It has not been seized. We continue to lease it. We’re continuing to sign deals. It’s business as usual.”