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Archive for May, 2010

Hayward City Council candidate: Lawrence M. Fitzpatrick

FITZPATRICK01LAWRENCE M. FITZPATRICK 
  • Age: 51
  • Job: Security guard
  • Education: Some courses at Chabot College
  • Prior offices: None
  • In Hayward: 51 years
  • Family: Wife, three children
  • Favorite Hayward spots: The Book Shop, Costa Azul Taqueria
  • Website: www.lawrencemfitzpatrick.com
  • This is the second of six profiles of the candidates in the Hayward City Council race. Two seats are up for election on the June 8 ballot.

    HAYWARD — A toll booth would go a long way in solving the city’s fiscal problems, Lawrence M. Fitzpatrick said.

    Stick it up there on Foothill Boulevard, he said, so drivers using Hayward’s surface streets as a thoroughfare could chip in $1 per trip and help a local economy that right now they’re abusing.

    “They’re messing up our city with traffic, and we are getting nothing for it,” Fitzpatrick said. “This could bring in $80 million a year. “… Citizens of Hayward would be issued a card so they wouldn’t have to pay. Only those who are using our streets and don’t live here would pay the toll.”

    Fitzpatrick said he would bring that kind of unconventional thinking to the City Council if elected June 8.

    He hasn’t previously held office, but he’s taken a couple of shots at landing a spot on the Hayward school board.

    He lost the election in a crowded field in 2008, and recently was passed over for appointment along with eight other candidates, in favor of former City Manager Jesus Armas.

    Fitzpatrick joined former Assemblywoman Audie Bock, and, calling the appointment process a sham, sought to take the matter to a public vote in a special election.

    The petition drive failed to garner the necessary signatures.

    The activism is something that he got involved in the past couple years, and he said it was spurred because a teacher and friend of his was treated unfairly by the district.

     ”He taught at Harder (Elementary), and brought everyone in his class up to the same level, but the district destroyed his program,” he said. “How can you take someone who has excelled beyond all expectations and treat them bad?”

    He ran for the school board alongside that teacher, Luis Reynoso, who won a seat.

    Reynoso has a reputation for being a firebrand at district meetings, decrying a lack of transparency from his fellow board members and school administrators.

    Fitzpatrick says that’s exactly what he wants to bring to the City Council.

    “I’d make sure people are informed,” he said. “I really want them to see what’s going on. They need someone vocal. I think (Reynoso’s) got the right idea — it might take me a while to get up to that level, but he’s got the right idea.”

    For example, he said Hayward didn’t do enough to let people know about plans to build power plants within the city.

    “The city needs to get citizens more involved in what they’re doing,” Fitzpatrick said. “Right now, no one is really involved in what the City Council does. If people were more involved when the plant was planned, they would have understood what was going on and they would have showed up for meetings. People here became lackadaisical.”

    He said he has been learning more about where he stands as the campaign progresses.

    “When I first started the run, I didn’t have a lot of direction,” he said. “But the more I stay, the more I see the place I want to be.”

    He said that if his council run isn’t successful, he might look again for a place on the school board.

    “Well, if I think I can win, I’ll probably make a run for school board,” he said. “The kids need somebody on their side.”

    Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi. All six candidate profiles — and a forum in which to discuss them — will be available as they appear at www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
    Under: Hayward, Politics | 8 Comments »

    Hayward City Council candidate: Ralph Farias Jr.

    farias02RALPH FARIAS JR. 
  • Age: 28
  • Job: Food and beverage broker
  • Education: Some college, Michigan State and Chabot College
  • Prior offices: None
  • in Hayward: 18 years
  • Family: Wife, two children
  • Favorite Hayward spot: Acapulco Taqueria
  • Website: www.wewantralph.com
  • This is the first of six profiles of the candidates in the Hayward City Council race on the June 8 ballot. Two seats are up for election.

    HAYWARD — One of Ralph Farias Jr.’s formative lessons wasn’t learned in his hometown, but in the San Ramon Valley.

    He was working at In-N-Out Burger off Crow Canyon Road, earning some money while attending Hayward High School. Farias was behind in class units, and counselors told him it didn’t look like he would graduate on time.

    “The kids I worked with were so excited — they were all getting ready to go to college, and making all kinds of plans,” said Farias, 28. “I didn’t hear that kind of excitement coming out of my friends in Hayward. “… But I thought, ‘If they can do it, then I can do it.’ ”

    He started taking courses, at night at the adult school and Chabot College. With a lot of work, he did graduate, and was accepted into Michigan State.

    Farias said it’s that sort of inspiration in youth, coupled with the city’s collaboration with schools and the business community, that will give Hayward a needed boost.

    “I’m a firm believer that everything thrives off one another,” he said. “You get the businesses going, finish what we started downtown, get the students working, give them a strong work ethic. It all works together.”

    Farias calls himself the “homegrown candidate” with a “real people’s perspective.” He said that means he looks at the big-picture issues, such as bridging a gap with the school district and bringing in businesses, as well as things that affect people on an individual level.

    “We were supposed to get speed bumps on my street, and they came out to paint lines and cut up the street, then we get a call saying we’re not getting it because of the (Mission Boulevard) realignment,” he said. “It’s definitely a waste, and now we’re not getting our speed bump and we have markings on the street. I think the little things like that get swept under the rug.”

    Farias, a self-described “fiscal conservative but social liberal,” is the youngest of the City Council hopefuls. He has been a lively presence at candidate forums, sometimes offering analogies involving his four pit bulls or talking about his relatives buried at the “Holy Supercar” — Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

    The married father of two enjoys football and admits he’s a big fan of professional wrestling — “It’s my male soap opera” — and is rebuilding a 1948 Hudson Commodore hot rod.

    He’s also working to open a downtown restaurant, and the food and beverage broker says he has the business skills and savvy to better promote the city.

    “I’m saddened to see how nonaggressively the city markets itself,” he said. “The presentation is terrible. I could get students from the Art Institute to redo (presentation materials) for free. You can’t sell a product if you don’t have the right ammunition.”

    He said businesses are turned off by the “red tape” they have to get through to set up shop, and the process should be made smoother, particularly for those wanting to come downtown.

    “We need to keep the focus on downtown,” he said. “If you think about the evolution of downtown like a marathon, it’s like we never finished the race.”

    He called it counterproductive that people object to building uses such as a nightclub.

    “They say, ‘Oh, we don’t want that here because it’s bringing in problems, too much of this or that,’ or ‘We don’t want that business here because of such and such,’” he said. “They say, ‘We don’t want it to be like Richmond.’ That’s ridiculous.”

    Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi. All six candidate profiles — and a forum in which to discuss them — will be available as they appear at www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
    Under: Hayward, Politics | 4 Comments »

    Is smaller better for low-performing Hayward schools?

    Here’s a press release from Congregations Organizing for Renewal, which is hosting a forum to discuss plans for the redesign of Longwood and Burbank elementary schools, and Tennyson High. They were all on the state’s list of lowest-performing schools released earlier this year. COR is advocating a small schools model: Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2010
    Under: Hayward, Schools | 12 Comments »

    Redevelopment take means $5.3 million loss for Hayward

    Earlier this week, a judge upheld the state’s takeaway of local redevelopment dollars. As reported in today’s regional story, that means $5.3 million for Hayward. Here’s more information that didn’t make it into the story because of space constraints:

    In Hayward, where the two-year grab will total about $5.3 million, Redevelopment Director Maret Bartlett said projects will be slowed down but not derailed.

    That means less money for key projects such as the South Hayward BART redevelopment area, City Center and downtown retail attraction program. For example, the city is in the process of buying land along Mission Boulevard that will be then redeveloped.

    “We were hoping to assemble the block on the west side of Mission between Pinedale and Sycamore,” she said. “We’ve acquired half the block but not as much as we’d like, and we can’t do it now.”

    The blow was lessened because the redevelopment agency borrowed much of the lost money from its affordable housing fund, which must be paid back in five years.

    Bartlett said that’s about how long she expects it to take to recuperate from the loss.

    She added that it is frustrating that the money is being taken for use in schools because the city was already partnering with the school district on projects, and used redevelopment money for the creation of the new Burbank Elementary School.

    “I think Hayward has been trying to do the right thing by the school district here,” she said. “We contributed a lot of redevelopment money to build a new school, and (the school district) has been a great partner. I just think it’s sad.”

    Barlett added that it’s especially tough because with property values dropping, the tax increment going into the redevelopment fund is lower than it has been in prior years. About 17 percent lower.

    “That’s huge,” she said. “And it’s expected to be down again this year.”

    As a side note, the property acquisition for the downtown loop project will not be affected because those are not gained through redevelopment funds but rather through Measure B transportation funds.

    Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2010
    Under: Alameda County, Business, Development, Hayward, Transportation | No Comments »