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Archive for April, 2010

Two upcoming jazz events in Moraga

On Sunday, April 25, the Rheem Theatre will host a jazz show featuring the Michael Vax Big Jazz Orchestra and vocalist Cami Thompson. The show will run from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at or the Rheem Theatre Box Office. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for students. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Big Band Jazz and the Moraga Chamber of Commerce.

On Thursday, April 29, the Saint Mary’s jazz band will be performing on campus at the Soda Activity Center, beginning at 8:00 p.m. The show is free for all and open to the public.

Posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Under: Moraga, Music | No Comments »

Lafayette Reservoir may get permanent stage

A permanent stage may be built on the east shore of the Lafayette Reservoir. The Lafayette Rotary Club, the Lafayette Community Foundation and EBMUD are in discussions to make this happen within a year.

The proposed stage would be 40 feet by 40 feet and would be used for many community events at the reservoir, with the focus being on the annual “Concert at the Res.” Every year a temporary stage is built and taken down just for the concert.

The estimated cost of the stage is $80,000, but the Lafayette Community Foundation has already agreed to sponsor the project.

Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

Measure A opponents have website

For all you Associated Press style nerds out there, you may have just noticed the AP has finally changed “Web site” to “website.” Our long national nightmare is over.

So speaking of websites, the opponents of Measure A  — the Acalanes school district parcel tax — have put one up outlining their arguments against the measure. You can read all about their opposition at Aside from letters written to local papers, mostly by local anti-tax advocate Ken Hambrick, and now the website, there’s been little formal opposition to Measure A and no official campaign committee has been formed.

The website for Yes on Measure A can be found at

Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Local students receive free tutoring at “Homework Club”

Every Monday through Thursday, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., free homework help is available at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center’s Homework Club. Local high school and middle school students, as well as some former teachers and professors, offer their services to local students who need some extra help in their academic work.

Help is available in any subject to students of all ages. While many middle school and high school students have used the free service for a subject they struggle in, many elementary school students have also been attending.

In addition to the regular after-school homework help, there are plans to have specialized sessions for things such as the AP tests.

Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Schools | No Comments »

Police logs: Lock your car and don’t forget the keys edition

After a week off, I know you’ve been jonesing for your weekly police update. You’re welcome, America.

Let’s start on April 16, where a vehicle was reported stolen on the 1100 block of Oak Hill Road in Lafayette. The owner told police he had left the car unlocked in his driveway with the keys in the ignition. I’m not saying he was asking for his car to be stolen, but if you’re going to leave your car unlocked, at least bring the keys inside with you.

Several people in Lafayette did remember to lock their cars but just got unlucky. Someone (or someones) made off with a bunch of stereos taken out of cars north of the freeway. Two burglaries happened on April 13 in the 3200 block of Acalanes Road. Then there were two more on April 14, one on the 3600 block of Nordstrom Lane and another (GPS stolen this time) on the 1000 block of Glen Road. Finally, there was one on the 1000 block of Timothy Way on April 16. In every case, a the burglar broke a window and made off with a stereo (with the one exception for the GPS).

Finally, someone made off with a ton of stuff from a home on Muth Drive in Orinda on April 8. A burglar or burglars stole a flat screen TV, jewelry, $5,000 in cash, a laptop and two handguns.

Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Under: Crime, Lafayette, Orinda | No Comments »

Trailer for Lafayette filmmaker’s documentary, ‘Race to Nowhere’

We’ve posted about this before, but here’s the trailer for “Race to Nowhere,” a documentary by Lafayette resident Vicki Abeles about the amount of pressure today’s students face. The film will be part of the California Independent Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow in Orinda.

Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Union will picket Orinda Theatre during film festival

A representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 169 has told me his group plans to picket the Orinda Theatre during the California Independent Film Festival, which begins tomorrow.

The union has been picketing the theater since it changed ownership last May and the new owners opted not to retain two union-represented employees. The owners say they can’t afford to pay two full-time union salaries. The union argues that without union employees manning the projectors, the theater’s production quality diminishes.

Jason Mottley, business agent for Local 169, said the film festival organizers agreed to hire union employees for the event but the owners refused to let those employees into the theater. The goal of the picket is not to intimidate festival-goers, he said, but to make them aware the union is in a labor dispute with management.

Theater co-owner Jim Sheehan said he and his business partner, Tom Peterson, were willing to let the film festival hire union workers on the condition that they only be allowed into the booth if there was a mechanical problem and only with supervision. Sheehan said they were concerned about having people with which they are in a labor dispute working alone in the booth.

Film festival Program Director Beau Behan declined to comment on the projectionists union.

Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Under: Orinda | No Comments »

Three Lamorinda schools are “distinguished”

Three Lamorinda elementary schools have been named “California Distinguished Schools” by the state Department of Education. The three schools are Happy Valley in Lafayette and Del Rey and Sleepy Hollow in Orinda.

Schools are recognized as “California Distinguished Schools” based on their academic excellence and/or work on narrowing achievement gaps. The nominated schools are measured using the Academic Performance Index and the Adequate Yearly Progress reports.

The three Lamorinda schools will be honored, along with the other “California Distinguished Schools,” at an awards ceremony on June 4 in Anaheim.

In a release from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, he acknowledged the efforts put forward by these schools during the recent struggles of budget cuts.

Posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Meetings on fire service get started

Here’s some belated follow-up from last week’s meeting of the — wait for it — Tri-Agency Ad Hoc Committee on MOFD Fire and Emergency Medical Services. That’s the group that has been told to study some of the issues raised by the group FAIR for Orinda, including their proposal to dissolve MOFD and have Moraga and Orinda contract with ConFire and AMR for fire and paramedic services, respectively.

And no, they apparently couldn’t come up with a more consise name than Tri-Agency Ad Hoc Committee on MOFD Fire and Emergency Medical Services. I’m highly doubtful TAAHCMFEMS (“Tach-em-fems”?) will catch on.

On the committee: For Moraga, Mayor Ken Chew and Councilman Mike Metcalf; For Orinda, Mayor Tom McCormick and Councilwoman Amy Worth; and for MOFD, board President Frank Sperling and Vice President John Wyro.

Friday’s meeting was held so the group could lay out its procedures, agenda and goals. McCormick was appointed chair. And as they talked about their goals and, specifically, scope, a not-too surprising schism developed.

Orinda’s representatives seemed to want to interpret the committee’s charge loosely, seeing it as a way to identify any and all potential areas for MOFD to be more efficient in how it delivers fire service. MOFD’s representatives, on the other hand, felt the scope of the committee should be limited to FAIR’s proposal.

A testy exchange came when McCormick said that he felt the three agencies were not on equal footing when it comes to how LAFCO — the Local Agency Formation Commission — views them and, while he did not endorse the idea, Moraga and Orinda have the authority to call a vote to dissolve the district.

That drew a firm response from Sperling, who said 1) all three agencies have the same standing with LAFCO, 2) voters could dissolve the two cities if they wanted to and 3) the committee was not formed to be a “Spanish Inquisition” into MOFD. “Clearly the catalyst was the FAIR proposal,” he said.

The exchange highlight’s the unique nature of the committee. At one level, they’ll be discussing how MOFD delivers fire service to the community, something that ordinarily falls entirely into the jurisdiction of the MOFD board. But at another level, they’re discussing the broader question of what entity should be providing that service, something Orinda and Moraga voters have a right to determine independently of MOFD (which is, after all, how the MOFD was formed — voters wanted it over the separate Moraga and Orinda fire departments).

Since it’s unlikely the MOFD board would vote to dissolve themselves, and since Metcalf and Chew stated emphatically that Moraga residents have insisted MOFD remain in place, the onus will almost definitely fall on Orinda to make a decision about whether they’ll stick with MOFD. That’s been FAIR’s argument all along, and it’s one Wyro and Sperling seemed to buy into on Friday by saying, essentially, we’ll provide you all the information about our district that you feel you need to know to be able to make a call on this.

During and after the meeting, a number of people opposed to FAIR’s proposal, including some from the group OrindaCARES which is countering FAIR’s report, told me that a statement by McCormick, that the three agencies have a mandate from LAFCO to work together to resolve infrastructure issues, is false.

As is often the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. As part of it’s municipal service review and sphere of influence update process last year, LAFCO has made a recommendation to “encourage agencies to communicate regarding road/water infrastructure challenges and report back to LAFCO” within 12 months. That recommendation was adopted Oct. 14, 2009, which means the agencies have until this October to get back to LAFCO. In essence, the meeting Friday was the beginning of that process.

Is it a mandate? No. But it can be leverage, said LAFCO Executive Officer Lou Ann Texeira. LAFCO can’t force the three sides to communicate about their issues. But if, for example, Moraga comes to LAFCO wanting to annex some unincorporated land just outside town, LAFCO commissioners may think twice about approving that application if the three agencies haven’t worked on/resolved the infrastructure issues. “If any of those agencies, Moraga, Orinda or the district came to LAFCO to do some kind of boundary change and they’ve made absolutely no progress … the commission might have some concerns,” Texeira said.

The next step in this process is for the TAAHCMFEMS (nope, still not doing it for me) to get a better understanding of MOFD operations. They’ll get a presentation at their next meeting from fire Chief Randy Bradley about how the district works (Bradley will take input from FAIR, CARES and anyone else who wants to give their two cents ahead of the meeting). The date for that meeting wasn’t set on Friday, but committee members wanted to give Bradley at least three weeks to prepare his report.

Posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
Under: Moraga, Orinda | 1 Comment »

Miner Road and Camino Pablo closed

From Orinda City Hall:

Miner Road at Camino Pablo is closed temporarily due to a downed large oak tree.  City crews are on scene. The road is expected to be cleared and opened this morning.  No injuries are reported.

Posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
Under: Orinda, Roads | No Comments »