El Cerrito invites public comments when it considers 2013-17 strategic plan on Tuesday

The El Cerrito City Council will of its 2013-17 Strategic Plan when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 10900 San Pablo Ave., and is encouraging the community to attend and comment on the document.
As noted in earlier coverage, “The City Council wants a future of ethics and integrity, balanced budgets, lower crime rates and greater appreciation of diversity and is preparing a plan to achieve those goals and others…”
This announcement was issued by the city on Friday:

The final draft Strategic Plan includes a vision statement, mission statement, identified organizational values, goals, and related implementation strategies.
The April 2, 2013 El Cerrito City Council meeting agenda is online at: http://www.el-cerrito.org/index.aspx?NID=114
The final draft Strategic Plan and other background material are available online at www.elcerritostrategicplan.org.
You can watch the City Council meeting live on Comcast cable channel 28, streaming on the City’s webpage (go to Streaming Media) or listen on KECG 88.1 FM.


Your online vote could help El Cerrito teacher’s class to restore creek habitat, strengthen global understanding

Madeleine Rogin has again made it into the next round of the Great American Teach-off, meaning she is still in the running for a $10,000 grant she can use for her kindergarten class at Prospect Sierra School in El Cerrito.
Read below about what she and the class plan to do with the grant and then take a moment to vote for her at http://kto6gato.maker.good.is/projects/7998?sort=623.

Thank you again for spreading the word about this contest – and for voting!
If you are able to update your readers about the contest this week, I would love people to know that our project is about teaching our students how to be global citizens by engaging in service projects both locally and globally.
The local project is the restoration of the Pacific Chorus Frog Habitat at Canyon Trail Park. Many people have been working for years to restore this habitat, a group of all volunteer El Cerrito residents meet there every Saturday morning to plant or weed or pick up trash. The Kindergarten at my school has a history of helping with this project. Every spring we raise tadpoles in our classroom and release them into the small pond at Canyon Trail Park. If we win the $10,000 grant we would be able to support this work on a much deeper level.

The global project is a partnership with Basic Services Primary School in Takoradi, Ghana, a school I’ve visited in the summer to volunteer. My daughters attended Kindergarten there this past summer. The school is in need of all the school supplies you can think of (from workbooks to pencil sharpeners to markers, etc.) With part of the money from the grant we could donate these supplies. They do have a computer center and we would use a portion of the grant to set them up with Skype so that our students could communicate with their students. Too often our children still think of Africa as the land with all the wild animals. They are shocked to learn that there are taxis and big buildings and elevators and schools a lot like ours. The focus of this project is on cross cultural communication and on building our students’ cultural competency skills – the ability to communicate across difference. Cultural competency is a skill set that is essential to educating our children in the 21st century, when they will be expected to be able to communicate with people from all around the globe.
Thank you again!


1930: Dr. Seuss illustrates an ad advocating using a .22 rifle to get rid of sparrows

Dr. Seuss illustration from 1930 for Crosland Rifles shows a citizen being menaced by a sparrow.

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) did much more than write and illustrate the children’s books for which he is best known and celebrated.
The good doctor was once a newspaper editorial cartoonist who strongly advocated intervention by the United States against fascism in the European conflict that would grow into World War II.
And before and after he published his first children’s book, “To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” in 1937, his whimsical drawings were popular in advertising for brands such as Flit (a hand-pumped insecticide), Esso Oil, Ford Motor Co., Holly Sugar and Schaefer Beer, long after he was established as an author.
Seuss started as an ad man in 1927 and this 1930 ad caught our eye.
It’s one of a series Dr. Seuss did for Crosland Rifles that year and it proposes that John Q. Homeowner buy a Crosland .22 gauge rifle to rid himself of that fearsome threat and menace to domestic tranquility, THE SPARROW.
The ad portrays sparrows as a messy menace to decent folk: “He roosts on housetops, defaces gables, ledges, windows and awnings, and nests in drain pipes.
Worse yet, sparrow were portrayed as bullies that frighten off legitimate songbirds. “This culprits open hostility drives away welcome songbirds, replacing their musical notes with his ‘cheep, cheep, cheep.'”
So what to do? “John Sparrow should be tarred and feathered. Or, better still, he should be shot with a CROSMAN SILENT .22, the most amazing gun ever invented for shooting targets and killing small game, furred or feathered.”
It’s hard not to imagine shots ringing out around the neighborhood as homeowner in 1930 take aim at menacing sparrows, squirrels and other varmints threatening the humble abode. To think that you might have seen it on Mulberry Street.

Text of 1930 Crosland Rifles ad

The full ad


Kensington had electrifed mass transit 65 years ago

A Key System car on Arlington at Amherst in Kensington, 1947.

Rail service was once available to hillside residents of Berkeley and Kensington, as seen in this 1947 photo provided by El Cerrito train and history fanatic John Stashik shows.
The electric-powered trains ran from Kensington to Berkeley until service was replaced by a bus line a year later.

Judging from the comments made last week at the meeting on El Cerrito’s Climate Action Plan, there are folks who would love to see something similar in the hills today.


West Contra Costa YMCA awarded grant to expand efforts in Richmond


West Contra Costa YMCA Awarded Grant to Expand Efforts to Ensure Healthy Living is Accessible to All in Richmond


The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Heath (REACH) program will allow the West Contra Costa YMCA to deepen its efforts to make health equity a reality in the Richmond community Richmond, CA (March 14, 2013) –

Today, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), the national resource office for the nation’s 2700 YMCAs, selected the YMCA of the East Bay to participate in its Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative.

The West Contra Costa branch of the YMCA of the East Bay, headquartered in Richmond, will direct the grant programs. The goal of REACH is to improve health and eliminate disparities related to chronic diseases in African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino communities.

In October, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) REACH initiative awarded Y-USA a cooperative agreement of up to $4 million per year for up to five years to improve our nation’s health and well-being, with a specific focus on addressing gaps between racial and ethnic groups across the country.

Y-USA is re-awarding this grant, selecting up to 16 new communities per year to participate in the REACH initiative in their communities. The Ys receiving funding are serving communities that reflect populations of under 500,000 and have an established relationship with a geographic area that is at least 50 percent African American/Black or Hispanic/Latino or a combination of the both racial/ethnic groups.

Being selected for the REACH program will allow the West Contra Costa YMCA to address barriers to healthy living in its community.

“As a leading nonprofit committed to healthy living, the Y believes that everyone at the West Contra Costa Y in Richmond deserves to live life to its fullest regardless of where they live or the color of their skin,” said Don Lau, Executive Vice President, YMCA of the East Bay. “The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health funding helps ensure our programs and initiatives are helping those individuals who face the greatest barriers to healthy living.”

Many preventable risk factors—tobacco use, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity—are more common in communities of color, often resulting in higher prevalence of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and asthma, among others. Chronic disease contributes to roughly 75 percent of the $2.5 trillion spent annually on health care in the United States.

To achieve the REACH goals, communities implement targeted interventions that address the specific needs of African American/ Black and Hispanic/Latino communities.

The critical need strategies that the West Contra Costa Y will be working on in their community, include: being able to be physically active live in places that encourage emotional well-being

“Where you live should not affect your health,” said Neil Nicoll, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA. “Yet, too many communities lack the resources for individuals to access opportunities for physical activity and healthy foods and improve their health and well-being. The Y’s longstanding partnership with CDC has allowed us to strengthen communities through programs and initiatives that create environments where all people have the opportunity to make a healthy choice. These funds enable us to continue this work and expand it to communities that need it most.”

The YMCA of the East Bay one of 16 Ys selected to receive funds through REACH.

Ys who will receive funds are: YMCA of Silicon Valley Gilroy/San Martin, CA YMCA of Memphis & The Mid-South Memphis, TN YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids Grand Rapids, MI YMCA of Greater Kansas City Wyandotte County, KS YMCA of Greater Whittier Whittier, CA YMCA of the East Bay Richmond, CA Ed & Ruth Lehman YMCA Longmont; Boulder County, CO YMCA of Yonkers Yonkers; Westchester County, NY YMCA of Western North Carolina Inc. Shiloh, NC Florida’s First Coast YMCA Duval County, FL Merrimack Valley YMCA Lawrence, MA Greater Syracuse YMCA Syracuse, NY YMCA of Metropolitan Hartford Hartford, CT Old Colony YMCA Stoughton; Brockton, MA YMCA of the Triangle Area SE Raleigh, NC York & York County YMCA York, PA Several other national organizations will work with Y-USA to help achieve the goals of the cooperative agreement. Partners include the American Psychological Association, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Council of La Raza and California State University at Long Beach Center for Latino Community Health.

All of the organizations funded through the REACH program bring the resources, dedication, and experience as leaders in this effort to create health equity across the country. To learn more about the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program, including previous funded programs, visit www.cdc.gov/reach.


About the East Bay Y System: The YMCA of the East Bay is one of Northern California’s largest non-profit trainers and deployers of volunteers. Last year the East Bay YMCA trained more than 500 volunteers in programs ranging from childcare to teen enrichment, health and wellness and cultural harmony. With nine branches and almost 50 childcare centers in operation from Fremont to the Yolo County, the East Bay YMCA Association also has the largest geographic reach of any YMCA operation in North America. Formed as a 501 (c) (3) corporation on July 20, 1879, the not-for-profit East Bay YMCA operates branches in downtown Oakland, Fremont, Newark, Hayward, Castro Valley, Richmond, and Dublin, as well as camps in Livermore, Pescadero (San Mateo County) and Redway (Humboldt County). All locations are for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. About the Y: The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net 100 Pringle Avenue, Suite 233 North Broadway, CA 94596 P: (925) 930-9848 F: (925) 930-9903 www.gallen.com


Conference at Pinole Wells Fargo on Tuesday


March 8, 2013


David Sharples, ACCE

(415) 377-9037




Report provides first-ever look at a major bank’s current foreclosure pipeline in California’s cities and the impact of these foreclosures on the State’s economy.

WHAT: Press conference and call to discuss new state-of-the-art findings regarding Wells Fargo’s current foreclosure pipeline and consequences for California’s economy in 2013.

Photo opportunity: homeowners protesting at bank that is foreclosing on them.

WHO: Members of the Community Group ACCE including struggling homeowners

WHEN: Press Conference: Tuesday, March 12 at 1:30pm

WHERE: Wells Fargo Branch,1374 Fitzgerald Dr., Pinole, CA

WHY: The foreclosure crisis continues to damage California’s economy. On Tuesday, policy experts will release a state-of-the-art report documenting the number of homes currently facing foreclosure in California and the economic consequences of these foreclosures for neighboring homeowners, local and state governments, investors, and the families who will lose their homes. The data is broken out by city for the largest 21 cities in California for tailored local reports. The report was written by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).

Although Wells Fargo recently announced a record $19 billion in profit in 2012, the bank continues to resist a comprehensive program of mortgage principal reduction, despite the fact that economists from across the political spectrum believe principal reduction is the key to generating a robust recovery for California. If Wells Fargo carries through on its current foreclosure threats, California homeowners

primarily neighbors of foreclosed homes will see a $3.3 billion reduction in their property values.



Richmond mayor announced as speaker at Tibet protest on Sunday in San Francisco

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin will be one of the speakers at the “Tibetan National Uprising Day” observance and protest on Sunday in San Francisco.
The event marking the 54th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day will also feature San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos as a speaker.
From the press release sent by the Rainforest Action Network:


Speakers Include: SF Supervisor John Avalos and Mayor of Richmond, Gayle McGlaughlin
Global Protests Mark 54th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day

“Tibetan National Uprising Day” Schedule – Sunday, March 10, 2013, San Francisco

10:00am – Opening ceremony and cultural exposition at SF City Hall
March & Demonstration:
12:00pm-1:00pm – March to Chinese Consulate, via Van Ness Ave & Geary Blvd
1:00pm-2:30pm – Rally & Demonstration at Chinese Consulate, 1450 Laguna St
2:30pm-4:30pm – March to SF Union Square via Geary Blvd & Market St
5:00pm-8:00pm – Rally and Political Theater at SF Union Square

[San Francisco, CA] Thousands of Tibetans and Tibet supporters across the globe will take to the streets on March 10, 2013. This day commemorates the 1959 National Uprising when tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up to demand an end to China’s occupation. As this sensitive day approaches and protests in Tibet increase, Chinese forces have intensified security measures (detaining Tibetans without cause) and surveillance of Tibetan activities, including religious rites. In the face of Beijing’s stranglehold, a new generation of Tibetans has risen up, defying Chinese authority. A growing number of Tibetans are engaged in simple yet powerful actions like speaking only Tibetan, and exclusively patronizing Tibetan-owned businesses.[1] They are also embracing nonviolent resistance tactics; these courageous Tibetans have strengthened their Tibetan identity and inspired hope.
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West Contra Costa Science Fair results

The West Contra Costa Science Fair has announced the results of this year’s competition:

The West Contra Costa Science Fair held an Awards Ceremony on Thursday, February 28, in the Knox Performing Arts Center. Dr. Donna Floyd, Interim Vice President of Contra Costa College, told the audience the first WCCSF was held 55 years ago on this site. Dr. Bruce Harter, Superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School District and former secondary science teacher, described some of the projects that caught his eye such as the one about texting on a keyboard vs. a flat screen and another on how to shut down WiFi. Dr. Mayra Padilla, Direct of STEM & METAS Program at Contra Costa College encouraged the students to look into the opportunities for high school students at CCC.
A total of 96 awards were presented to 85 students in grades 7 through 12 from eight West Contra Costa Unified schools: Crespi, DeJean, Helms, and Portola Junior High Schools; Mira Vista and Stewart K-8 Schools; as well as El Cerrito and Pinole Valley High Schools.
Of the 152 projects on display in the Gym Annex Room 40 from Monday, February 25, until just after the Awards Ceremony, 90% came from 7th and 8th graders. However, of the 10% that came from the high schools, 93% were winners of first- through fourth-places and special awards while only 51% of the 7th and 8th grade projects won the awards. There were no 9th grade projects.
Of the four categories, 57% of the projects were in Physical Science; 24% were in Biological Science; 16% in Behavioral Science and only 3% in Mathematics.
Portola Junior High students won the most awards with 29 garnered from the 32 projects submitted. Their awards included two 1st places, six 2nd places, eight 3rd places, ten 4th places and three special awards.
Overall there were 6 first-place winners, 14 second-place winners, 23 third-place winners, 42 fourth-place winners and 11 special awards.
The first-place winners also each received a Bio-Rad cash award: seventh-grader Colm Hayden (“Can Redwood Absorb and Release Fog?”) from Portola; seventh-grader Nicole Stokowski (“How Do Differences in Mass Affect Conservation of Angular Momentum?”) from Mira Vista; eighth-grader Jacqueline Rojas (“What Abilities Does Your Brain Have?”) from Helms; eighth-grader Nora Gest (“Which Nuts Have the Most Calories?”) from Portola; tenth-grader Andrew Brodsky (“The Effects of Barrel Size on Projectile Velocity”) from El Cerrito High;and eleventh-grader Sydney Gallion (“Natural Frequency and Length”) from El Cerrito High.
Other special awards included math puzzle books Dennis Claudio presented to the seventh-graders Minahil Khan (“Reverse the Multiplication”) and Paulo Del Rosario (“Switch or Stay?”) both from Crespi; as well as a book on graph theory presented to Mark Ohlmann (“Can You Run Out of Luck?”) from Pinole Valley High, The Hal Magarian Memorial Award went to seventh-grader Julia Walker (“Rosemary’s pH Preference”) from Portola Junior High. The Bill Tobin Award was given to Mark Ohlmann from Pinole Valley High.
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San Pablo: Announcement says Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith will appear Saturday

Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos

Slightly less than 50 years (1964) after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the campus, Contra Costa College (2640 Mission Bell Drive in San Pablo) will apparently be welcoming another figure in black history.
Our reporter received this announcement today:

This just in. 1968 Olympic Gold Medal Champion Dr. Tommie Smith is flying out from his home in Atlanta Georgia to host a Track and Field Clinic Saturday (3-9-13) at Contra Costa College’s Gym Annex building from 8:00 to 12:00 noon. Please come out and join us is saluting and embracing this iconic historical figure.

Smith was one of the greatest athletes of his era, winning a gold medal in track at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. He is best remembered, however, for giving the “Black Power” salute while standing on the center podium with bronze medalist John Carlos giving the salute alongside.

Smith, a track star who won the gold medal in the 220m, has been a lifelong advocate for athletics, education and human rights and his appearance could be inspirational to a new generation.