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Seal in Newark

UPDATE: The seal crossed the road and made it the water by the time our photographer got there. We might have some pictures of a seal in water, though. Hot Stuff. No facial scars on this seal, reportedly. 

Scanner chatter says a seal is trying to cross Thornton Avenue in Newark. We’re sending someone to try to get a picture.

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Eighth-graders get temporary relief from algebra requirement

In case you haven’t heard, a Sacramento Superior Court judge on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order that bars the state Board of Education from implementing the new algebra requirement for all eighth-graders until a public hearing has been held in December.

Back in July, the board — following a last-minute letter from Gov. Schwarzenegger in support of increasing standards — decided to require all eighth-graders to be tested in Algebra I, starting in three years. In essence, this would have required all eighth-graders to take algebra.

The request for a temporary restraining order was filed by the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators. Jack O’Connell, the state schools chief, supported the request. Continue Reading

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Oakland A’s Update

I’ve been calling around about the A’s to write an update on the project that is devoid of politics or comments by politicians.

Here are a couple of things I’ve been told:

1) Release of the draft environmental impact report has been pushed back to February or March

2) The team has scrapped plans for 2,600 space parking lot that would have been north of Auto Mall and west of I-880. Apparently  the traffic consultants said it wouldn’t work out. It’s not set in stone where those parking spaces will be placed, but the odds are that they would go east of the freeway and the team will build a pedestrian overpass linking the lot with the ballpark.

3) About 30 percent of the environmental analysis is complete. The traffic model has been created, but the consultants need data from the A’s to plug into the model.

4) The final project description was supposed to be in this past spring, but now is expected sometime next month. When that is submitted, the public and outside agencies will have a chance to comment on it. Usually this happens before one-third of the environmental analysis has been completed.

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Star Power

I kind of saw this coming after Yamaguchi donated to Chan’s campaign. I’m guessing there’s a dental connection between the two. Yamaguchi’s dad is a dentist and so is Chan’s husband.

Reminds me, I really need to start flossing.

The Yamaguchis have been active in city politics this year. Kristi gave to Chan and mom and dad donated to the group that produced mailer attacking two Washington Hospital challengers.

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Friends of Washington Hospital

Friends of Washington Hospital, the PAC formed by Fremont Bank exec Mike Wallace, which sent out that negative campaign flier reported $14,895 in contributions.

Wallace, who is also chairman of the hospital board was the biggest contributor, donating $2,500 to the committee. Other well-known contributors are as follows:

Fremont Council Candidate Sue Chan – $250
Her husband Steve Chan – $250
Hospital Board Member Bernard Stuart – $1,000
Former Hospital Board Member Don Amsbaugh – $250
John and Bernadine Dutra – $500
The wife of fomer Union City Mayor Tom Kitayama, Heidi Kitayama – $100
Washington Hospital CEO Nany Farber and her Husband Peter Szekrenyi – $250
Kristi Yamaguchi’s parents Jim & Carol Yamaguchi - $250
Developer Jack Balch – $400
Several doctors at the hospitals also donated.

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Attacking Fortney

I wrote a story today about Forney “Pete” Stark’s race against Raymund Chui, who’s an insurance agent.
Chui sent me an email with a link to an esquire magazine piece that listed Stark as one of the 10 worst congressmen in the country, along with earmark junkies Ted Stevens of Alaska and John Murtha.

Stark isn’t too big on earmarks, but Esquire thinks he has a dirty mouth. Click here, to read the blurb.

For a more positive story, try this one.

Stark apparently keeps up on what is said about him. When I mentioned the Esquire piece, he said a Chronicle columnist took a shot at him in a recent comment. He couldn’t remember her name, but it was Debra Saunders. Click here, to read it.

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Washington Hospital campaign mailer

For context regarding some of the recent comments about Washington Hospital, here is the  mailer that the political action committee, Friends of Washington Hospital, sent out about the two challengers running for the hospital board. Click on it to enlarge it.

As mentioned here previously, the PAC was set up by Mike Wallace who is both the chairman of the hospital board of directors and the vice-chairman of Fremont Bank.

Wallace, who isn’t up for re-election to the hospital board, said he decided to look into Johal’s background after Hospital CEO Nancy Farber showed pictures of Johal at a rally that she and Wallace think was intended to promote Li’s movie “Life for Sale,” but was organized by a member of the California Nurses Association.

There is zero evidence that Johal has anything to do with Li or her movie. Nevertheless, some hospital board members have speculated that the two challengers are actually aligned.

“If (Johal) was an independent person, why does he want to take the same side as Evelyn Li,” Wallace said. “Every point where he has been asked to give his opinion about the movie, he’s been reluctant to disclaim it even through the physicians who were in it said they were duped.”

Fremont Bank does do business with Washington Hospital. The hospital’s spokesman didn’t know how much money it has there. I’ll ask again.

I haven’t had a chance yet to review the PACs contribution disclosure forms, which became available to the  public today. Wallace said the group has raised between $17,000 and $20,000, and that most of the contributions haven’t come from Fremont Bank employees.

Wallace sees nothing wrong with using the bank’s address as the official address of Friends of Washington Hospital. I asked Hattie Hughes, the daughter of the bank’s founder, Morris Hyman, what she thought about a partisan group using the same address as her dad’s bank. She said her dad loved the hospital and that the person to speak to was Wallace.

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The rally outside Washington Hospital

I’ve written a lot about Washington Hospital CEO Nancy Farber showing pictures of board candidates Ravi Johal and Evelyn Li at an Aug. 25 rally outside the hospital. Farber told the hospital board that the rally was to support Li’s movie, “Life for Sale,” even though it was organized by a member of the California Nurses Association to protest nurse staffing levels.

I was at the rally for about an hour. Here’s what I wrote about it then, and what follows is a bit of a chronology of events from my end.

I was informed of the rally the previous week by CNA State Board Director Robert Marth. On the morning of the rally, at about 7 a.m., Evelyn Li left me a voicemail telling me about it as well. I was busy getting ready to interview City Council Candidate Linda Susoev at a Jack in the Box on Fremont Boulevard.

I spoke to two CNA representatives at the rally, Marth and Tim Jenkins.

There were no full-time Washington nurses at the rally when I was there. I spoke to a part-timer and a former Washington Hospital nurse.

The two CNA representatives clearly had concerns about the hospital. Jenkins compared the administration to the mafia. Marth, in a later phone interview, likened it to the Nazis.

I did see Li there, along with several people holding up signs for her movie. I didn’t see Johal there.

Johal said he stopped by for about 15 minutes, and that he wanted to show support for the nurses.

Marth said that Johal came to the rally to see him, not Li, who, he said, showed up unannounced. “I organized it for the nurses,” Marth said.

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Cleaning out my closet

Ravi Johal and I have more in common than the same date of birth. We both worked as sate Assembly interns during our undergraduate years for politicians who have had some recent PR problems. Johal ended up with the future Minuteman Bill Morrow, he said, because most of the other internship openings in Sacramento had been filled.

I was assigned to Hon. Anthony Seminerio, a former corrections officer from Queens. Tony will always have a special place in my heart as the man who signed an Assembly proclamation honoring my childhood cat, Tika, on her 12th birthday.

May 1, 1996 was Tika Artz Day in New York State. They told me it was official, just like the proclamation Tony signed for his favorite Italian restaurant. I framed Tika’s proclamation and brought it with me to California. It’s still on my wall.

Tony is still in the Assembly, but things aren’t going his way. Last month, he was indicted in an alleged fraud scheme. I guess Johal would face more negatve mailers if he had ended up working for him.