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Light it up!

Hi ho, bloggers! Got a cool holiday light display, or know someone else who does? Post the location on our new interactive holiday lights map. You can put anything on there, from local houses to big commercial or public displays.

The site also contains listings of holiday events around the Bay Area, and other fun holiday-related things. Have I used the word holiday enough yet?

Holiday. Holiday. There, that should do it.

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Parks ‘r’ us

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Do you use a park to walk, run, bike or play? Have any good stories about parkland or jogging/biking experiences in Hayward, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo or San Leandro?

Let us know. And if you’ve got a particularly good story, e-mail it to one of us and maybe we can start a blog post of your own.

FYI: Tomorrow, at 8 p.m., the Hayward City Council is voting to update its decade-old Bicycle Master Plan and also voting to appropriate about $95,000 to create some new bike lanes, including one connecting downtown BART to the Amtrak station.

(Photo by Mike Lucia of Fernando Delgado, 14, at the Eden Greenway in Hayward)

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Let love rain down upon this blog!

Readers and public relations specialists sometimes blame journalists for dwelling on the negative. Journalists, in turn, sometimes blame the readers who comment on their Web sites for being even more negative than they could imagine.

So here begins the first ever HayWord Positivity Forum.

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Tell us what you love about Hayward, San Leandro, Castro Valley and the unincorporated areas sometimes known (for good reason!) as the Eden Area. We know there’s lots to love and we don’t have a monopoly on telling you about it.

For starters, there’s an open studios arts festival coming up next week, not to mention an electric car Ride-a-long Rally and a downtown street party on Thursday evening. And that’s just the organized cheer.

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A light at the end of the “airborne love canal”?

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In a guest column in today’s paper, Union City Mayor Mark Green and AC Transit board member Greg Harper ask political leaders to at least consider an end to the 40-year ban on truck traffic along Interstate 580.

Why? Because while 580 through the Oakland and San Leandro foothills is a decent drive, the adjacent 238-880 corridor is a dastardly “airborne love canal” that might not be so bad if 580 shared some of the corridor’s heavy truck burden, Green and Harper argue. One consequence, they believe, is an unfair pollution impact on flatland residents and commuters.

So how about that 580 truck ban, which has confounded generations of Caltrans officials and even Ronald Reagan? Should it stay or should it go?

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The day after

Quake stories, anyone? We were eating pizza and the side of our parked car, quite coincidentally, was being smashed into by a hit-and-run truck driver at the time of the 4.2 earthquake that struck near Acalanes High School in Lafayette. According to USGS, most Castro Valleyans and San Leandrans felt it as “light,” whereas folks in Hayward thought it was merely “weak.” It could be a function of geography, different land types, or maybe Haywardites, what with their own fault and all, are just more jaded.

But jaded or not, some people might be interested in the free first aid tips and disaster preparedness lessons that will be provided by the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter later this month. The course is at 12:30 p.m. March 18 at the Eden United Church of Christ, 21455 Birch St., in Castro Valley. To pre-register, which is required, e-mail office@edenucc.com or call (510) 582-9533.

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Where’s Kermit? Where’s Al?

Kermit the Frog and former Vice President Al Gore, the two gurus of Green, have a lot in common. After all, “An Inconvenient Truth,” starring Gore, won best documentary at Sunday’s Academy Awards. Alas, Kermit’s wonderful rendition of “The Rainbow Connection” in 1979′s “The Muppet Movie” didn’t win “Best original song.”

Despite green being the theme, the two are unlikely to attend Assemblyman Alberto Torrico‘s “Green Building and Energy Efficiency” hearing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 23 at Union City City Hall, 34009 Alvarado-Niles Road. In addition to Torrico, D-Fremont, other sponsors are Alameda County, the state of California, Ohlone College, PG&E and Build It Green. Not “Paint It Black?” Oh, that’s the Rolling Stones.

For more hearing information, contact Karla Goodbody at (510) 440-9030 or karla.goodbody@asm.ca.gov.

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Hayward, San Leandro flunk public info test

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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.

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Santa drops TMX Elmo from sled, causes temblors

Five minor earthquakes rattled the Hayward Fault in the past eight days, including one on Christmas Day that was centered just south of Garin Regional Park near the Union City-Hayward border. No big deal compared to the Internet-busting 6.7 tremor in Taiwan, but probably enough to get some of us putting a safety plan on the list of New Year’s resolutions for 2007. Got your own earthquake safety tips? Let us know.

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