Letters • 11-26-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

City ‘Needs a Housecleaning, Not a Paid consultant’


Regarding “PR Expert Trains City Council on Communication,” Page 1, The Times, Nov. 12, city officials have done some dumb things in the past, but this one takes the cake.

Paying an “expert” with taxpayers’ money to teach them to “communicate” is the utmost in chutzpah. What’s worse is that the takeaway message from all this training, according to the Times article by Ms. Sylvestri, is to get citizens to stop talking, just pull the microphone plug.

Just why are we hiring and electing City officials who don’t give a hoot what the people that pay them think? And this is the truth, given the outcome of the two BZA meetings where citizens were literally told to stop talking because their three minutes were up. BZA members who voted on that case, later were heard to say, “Well I believe that I heard all I needed to hear to make a decision, it didn’t much matter what else anyone said.”

At a recent meeting between our neighborhood activist in Davis West and the Community Development Director, the resident was told that she was the problem and that staff did not want to work with her anymore. I don’t know why anyone else is as outraged as I am, but I would love to recall and fire anyone who cannot do the job they were hired to do.

If excellent communication skills were not foremost on the list of qualifications for any of these positions, then we need Human Resources and the citizens to take a closer look at who we hire and/or put into office. We need some serious housecleaning, not a paid consultant to train people on communications.

— Janet Palma, AICP, REHS, Former BZA Chair and Member, San Leandro

‘Some Form of Rent Control Must Be Fought For’


In her article “Renters Plead to Powerless Board For Assistance,” (Page 1, The Times, Nov. 19), Ms Sylvestri referred to me as a person “organizing the renters.” The renters were meeting before I came on the scene and I support their cause, but I am not in any capacity an organizer for the tenants group.

In addition, the rent board is not “powerless” as the title implies. It chooses to be powerless for tenants and favors big landlords. The rent board could write a proposal that favors tenants or an actual rent control proposal that would be sent to the city council with a recommendation for adoption.

Unfortunately, the two renters’ representatives and Mia Ousley, a former business owner who described her values as “social justice, economic equity, and human rights” when she ran for city council, supported the landlord-friendly proposal. But is safe, affordable housing not a “human right”?

That more tenants have become involved is why the board made some concessions in their favor and tenants should build on that. The city council, also dominated by big business interests, will not pass pro-tenant proposals without being pressed to do so by organized tenants. Organization is power, landlords know it and tenants should too.

Housing is a social concern and should not be for profit. The present situation is also harmful to community businesses as it cuts in to local consumer’s buying power. Some form of rent control must be fought for. One San Leandro landlord, an investor, has some 2,000 units in Chicago.

As I argued at the meeting, tenants can only rely on their own strength and organization and that direct action in the form of protesting or picketing other businesses that these investors own as well as rent strikes can be successful at some point.

— Richard Mellor, San Leandro

Says Tenants Want ‘Good Life Without Paying For It’


Mr. Lee-Figueroa (“Says Landlord Letter-Writer Makes Case for Rent Control,” Letters, Nov. 12) continues to labor under misconceptions. First, he is comparing current average rent in San Leandro to the rents reported in the Census from 5 years ago in Berkeley and San Francisco; I used Census data from 2000 and 2010 for consistency.

No doubt the current average rent there for a comparable property is higher, and assuredly it is so, or he would have moved to those rent-controlled paradises by now, as he states he would “gladly pay” those rents.

Second, and more importantly, he labors under the assumption that rents would “automatically” increase here by 10% per year. Landlords are in a marketplace like any other, and if I price the rent too high, I lose tenants, and missing a month’s worth of rent is nearly 10% of a year’s income.

Again, he confirms this by stating he would gladly move to other cities for lower rents. Finally, as Mr. Lee-Figueroa would have the City Council tell me how much income I’m able to earn from my property, I would propose the City Council also institutes a “maximum raise” law, where Mr. Lee-Figueroa, is only allowed a maximum annual raise for his wages.

I can hear the responses now: Unfair? Why? You’re proposing the exact same thing for me, and really, a 10% raise in a year is more than anyone should expect, right? After all, as our multi-millionaire President once said, “At some point you’ve made enough.”

Perhaps Mr. Lee-Figueroa wants to have his cake and eat it too, in his words, enjoying the good life in the Bay Area without having to pay for it.

— David Nierengarten, San Leandro

Wants to Put Rent Control Ordinance on The Ballot


At the Nov. 17 meeting of the San Leandro Rent Review Board several things became clear:

First, how the Board is totally useless in providing any solution to the arbitrary rent increases. Mr. Silva’s theatrics do not disguise its uselessness.

Second, the Board has been chaired by a landlord for a long time while the so-called Tenant Representatives, appointed by the Mayor, sit there like flower pots only opening their mouths to say “Aye,” This clearly shows the Board’s bent.

Third, Mr. Hernandez made it very clear that the proposed changes stand. Therefore, it’s very clear that they’re not listening to tenants.

Fourth, it’s clear that the Board is kicking the ball forward with these meetings hoping to pass the changes when people stop paying attention. It’s all a sham!

The state is being flooded with illegals who displace U.S. workers from their jobs and housing, while the state’s government – that claims not to have funds to allocate for housing – is providing them with driver licenses, free education, Medi-Cal and other benefits.

The State and the City government are rabidly opposed to Rent Control. If we, the tenants of San Leandro, want to pass a Rent Control Ordinance, we’d only have a chance to do it if we organize to put a Rent Control Ordinance on the ballot for 2016.

When Social Security checks are being frozen, the San Leandro Rent Review Board is willing to give the landlords a 10% increase yearly, no questions asked. Of course, this 10% is not enforceable either. The City certainly is not giving its workers a 10% increase yearly.

In another hypocritical twist, the council members claim that a Rent Control Ordinance would discourage developers from building new housing in San Leandro. They fail to explain how the current rental units scarcity happened when there isn’t a Rent Control in San Leandro. If the City Council were not in the landlords’ pockets it would decree  an immediate freeze on all rent increases.

Let’s organize to put a Rent Control Ordinance on the Ballot!

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

City Has Wrong Priorities: ‘Make Streets Safe Again’¡


The number one concern in town right now is not that we need a strip mall at the Marina or giant statue at the BART station, but rather that our streets have become unsafe. Speeders have taken over and as a result it’s no longer safe to even sleep in your own homes, as we all saw on the news last week.

For years the city has chased after retail development thinking the big boon in sales tax revenue would magically balance our budget and put us all on easy street. With the increase in online shopping, brick and mortar stores are becoming a thing of the past and so San Leandro is chasing a worn out dream. Even if we got our Trader Joe’s tomorrow, we still need to make up for Pier One and Kmart leaving earlier this year.

And, so how are we ever going increase our police presence in town and make our streets safer, given this flawed idea of revenue growth? For a city of 85, 000 we have a police force of less than 100 officers. It’s simply not enough. Our tiny force does an incredible job of keeping us safe, but they are not miracle workers. But we’re expecting them to be.

We need to double the size of our current force to at least 200, which will mean figuring out how to pay for it. Waiting for all the sales tax revenue from the new Pete’s Coffee downtown isn’t going to do it.

Mayor Cutter, instead of wasting more taxpayer money on political consults to tell you how to speak up at meetings, please start acting like a leader and make our streets safe again. Put your heads together at city hall and figure this out.

Let’s go back to being able to afford a cop walking the beat downtown. Let’s go back to community policing and preventing crime, instead of only being able to react to it in many cases.  Let’s give the police the tools they need to make our streets safe again.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Kudos to City for Newly Constructed Streets


It has taken 4 years of letters and phone calls to you and our city council members, but Georgetown Ave., along with Hanover and Victor, are now fine, newly constructed streets. They have been totally replaced and are smooth as glass. Kudos to Mark Goralka and his city team for moving this project to its completion. The Gallagher and Company contractors did a great job and were friendly and accommodating to our needs. Thank-you, San Leandro, for helping to make our city a pleasant place in which to live.

— Dori Robinson, San Leandro

Letters • 11-19-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Red-Light Camera Fines Called ‘Confiscatory’


Mike Katz-Lacabe’s letter (“Now’s the Time to Get Rid of SL’s Red-Light Cameras,” Nov. 5) was spot on.  Those cameras have never been about safety; they are a means to raise revenue for the city, and nothing more.

But I would say the amounts of the fines are beyond punitive.  A fine of several hundred dollars for making a right turn without coming to a complete stop is what I would call confiscatory. Can you tell us which city officials support this program, and when they will stand for election so we can vote them out of office?

— Victor De Grande, San Leandro

Public Urged to Protest Chabot Park Construction


As information has begun to circulate about the East Bay Regional Park District’s (EBRPD) Lake Chabot Plan which includes 5  buildings totaling 43,000 square feet of new construction at the old Nike Missile site, community members are starting to worry about the impact on the serenity and natural beauty of their beloved Lake Chabot Park.

A group of local professionals were among the first citizens to voice their concerns about this project.

Over the past 2 months of “...walking it, mapping it, staking it, and modeling it,” the group strongly recommends that the buildings  be constructed outside of Lake Chabot.

In a groundswell of support for their findings, the Guardians of Lake Chabot have organized to distribute  this information. They argue that construction would increase traffic, create noise and air pollution,  upset the natural habitat for native plants and animals and mar the pastoral views and reverie of park users.

Fourteen thousand five hundred cubic feet of excavated earth would have to be off-loaded. The public would no longer have access to  the Nike Base area that has been the “gateway” to Lake Chabot Park for generations of hikers, bikers, runners, and other park users.

In addition, the Guardians believe that this project is in direct violation of

EBRPD Master Plan of 2013 which states: (1) Open space should be preserved, (2) land development should be avoided and (3) proposals from individuals and groups that use the land must be considered.

Through their website (saveourlakechabot.com) and public speaking engagements, the Guardians invite others to join them in Saving Lake Chabot.  Phillips  said, “Now is the time to  email  EBRPD Board members and other governmental agencies  to voice your opposition to their Lake Chabot Plan.”

— Terry Liebowitz, Castro Valley

Refutes Proponents of ‘Religion of Climate Change’


I respond, as both a rational/sane citizen and a vegetarian, to the ludicrous letter by Mr. Shapiro of PETA (Letters, Nov. 12) regarding so-called “ Global Warming.

The Religion of Climate Change (TRCC ) in regard to agriculture claims that “ global greenhouse gas emissions” include cow flatulence.  This shows just how stupid its proponents, as with Mr. Shapiro, think the public really is – to claim that people must not eat meat in order to stop cows from destroying the planet.

Bottom Line – The sky is not falling. The oceans are not rising. There are more polar bears than ever. There is more ice at the poles, as with Antarctica, than ever.  That big bright object in the sky, known as the sun, drives the weather on earth; not a vital for life gas ( CO2 ) that is less than 1/2 of 1% of the so-called “greenhouse gases.”  Water vapor is over 95% of such “ gases.” ”

It is time to stop the Social Engineering insanity of TRCC.

— Don J. Grundmann, San Leandro

Mud-Slinging Debates


I’ve been watching the debates and keep waiting to hear what plans our presidential hopefuls have for our country. Instead, all I’ve heard so far is mud slinging, which to me is inept. Instead of voting for your party, hopefully voters will vote for the best candidate. Time will tell.

— Earl Cava, San Leandro

Calls for Closing Down of Chabot Gun Club


We are fortunate to live close to several beautiful regional parks, especially Lake Chabot and Anthony Chabot Parks.

According to the Vision Statement of the East Bay Regional Parks, our parks have been established to provide opportunities “to experience nature nearby” like hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing, and camping. That is why having the Chabot Gun Club at Anthony Chabot Park is so inconsistent with the purpose of the parks and should be closed down.

We should be able enjoy the quiet and beauty of nature in a park, and not be subjected to the explosive sound of gunshot noise, a sound associated with violence and war, and incompatible with the atmosphere of a natural setting.

Those wanting to do gun training or practice can go to one of the gun ranges outside of our regional parks.

Another concern of keeping the Chabot Gun Club open is the lead contamination of runoff water, which far exceeds current environmental standards.  If the gun range were to continue to operate, required cleanup and maintenance would cost tens of thousands of dollars every year, which would require the taxpayers to subsidize the operation. The Chabot Gun Club has been in Anthony Chabot Park far too long.

Let’s close it down when its lease expires at the end of this year.

— Dennise Burgess, Castro Valley

300 Pounds of Halloween Candy Collected for Troops


On behalf of Bancroft Dental Care, we would like to thank the City of San Leandro, North Area Business Association, San Leandro School District, St. Leander and Assumption Schools, and the Fire Department) for supporting our 7th annual Halloween “Cash for Candy” event that was recently held in our office on Nov. 2.

This year we collected over 300 pounds of candy which, along with dental oral hygiene supplies, was donated and shipped to Operation Gratitude, for U.S. military troops stationed around the world.

— Mike Chang DDS, Marie Tero DDS, Bancroft Dental Care, San Leandro

Waiting to Hear Muslim Leaders Condemnation of Terrorists


We must be careful not to condemn all Muslims for the barbaric acts of Islamic terrorists. “Islam,” we are told, means “path to peace.”  I’m waiting to hear harsh condemnation from multitudes of Muslim leaders throughout the world. Waiting.  Still waiting.

— Bruce Joffe, Piedmont



Letters • 11-12-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Depressed by ‘Big Ugly Box’ Being Built by BART Station


We’ve waited decades for something to be built next to the BART station. Thousands of people pass through and by our BART station everyday and so the new Tech Campus really is the focal point for the entire city.

How depressing it is to see what is currently being built – a big cheap brown ugly box.

And I have to wonder how it is our city leaders would approve such an ugly building for our beautiful city. It’s not chic or innovative or cool, just cheap looking.

What’s really sad is to realize how little our city leaders think about the future of San Leandro. What looks ugly and cheap today only looks worse in the future.

I know that Westlake Partners and OSI are laughing all the way to the bank, but isn’t our mayor, city council and more importantly our city staff supposed to look out for us?

Instead of working toward looking like an upscale suburb, we now will be saddled with a building that looks more suited for an office park in Vacaville.

Thanks San Leandro planners for aiming so low. No wonder you want

to plop a big naked lady statue next to the ugly, cheap looking building. I guess the joke really is on the rest of us.

So, based upon the way Westlake Partners does things, I’m dying to see the cheap strip mall soon to be built at the Marina.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Says Landlord Letter-writer Makes Case for Rent Control


I would like to thank Mr. Nierengarten for his letter “Says History Shows Rents Go Up Under Rent Control, (Letters, Oct. 29). No one could have made the case for rent control better than he.

By his own figures, Berkeley’s rent went up 59% from $740 to $1177, and San Francisco’s went up 43% from $928 to $1328 over 10 years.

If you break that down, Berkeley’s rents went up an average of 5.9% and San Francisco’s 4.3% a year.  Both those figures are way lower than the 10% our City Council wants to automatically allow to landlords here.

And in hard dollar figures, Berkeley’s rent went up $437 dollars over 10 years, and San Francisco’s went up $400.  That averages out to $43.70 and $40, respectively, over that 10-year period – roughly half the $75 dollar cap for tenants here to bring a case for review.

Does he not see how those rents are so much lower than the average rent of $1,631 in this city? I myself, and I’m sure every tenant in this city, would welcome having only a $43 increase a year, and not the $150 to $300 dollar increases or the 10% the landlords here are trying to extort.

I’d gladly pay $1,177 or even $1328 a month - far below what I’m paying now.

The writer also, by his own admission, is both a property owner and landlord. Funny how his irony leads him to believe he could profit from rent control, but doesn’t extend to the fact that if these landlord-friendly changes to the ordinance pass, he’ll profit from that also – and off the very people he’s trashing for not wanting the changes to pass.

He wants to have his cake and eat it too, while being dead set against tenants having the paltry protections of the ordinance as it currently stands.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

Motorists Unwilling to Render Aid to Woman Down on Street


On Halloween night I took my grandson trick-or-treating on Churchill Street in Washington Manor. We had just left a house and started to cross the street.

I stepped off the curb wrong and wound up in the middle of the street.

My grandson, Manny, was yelling and waving “help” while three cars slowly passed just looking at me on my side and no one stopped to help. I could not get up due to my legs and crawled to the curb while Manny ran to get the lady at the house we had just left.

The lady came to help along with Manny. A nice young man with his wife and child came up and he, my grandson, and the neighbor helped me up.

I ended up with my whole right side injured but able to walk to a car and get home.

I’m saddened by the people in those cars, but thankful for the three people who helped. If not for their caring hearts I may have been hit by a car. Angels do exist.

— Janice  Doolittle, San Leandro

Blames State’s Meat, Dairy Producers for Greenhouse Gases and Excess Water Use


When Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 350 into law earlier this month, he was praised for putting California at the forefront of energy and climate policy.

But if the governor wants to make an even bigger impact on the environment, he should turn his attention to the meat and dairy industries and their devastating impact on global warming.

The U.N. singled out both in a sweeping study that called for the world to shift to plant-based diets. It found that agriculture, particularly meat and dairy production, accounts for 19 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, 38 percent of land use, and 70 percent of freshwater consumption.

Given the state’s water crisis, that last statistic raises a red flag. So does this one: It can take more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. By contrast, 25 gallons are needed for a pound of wheat.

Roughly 80 percent of California’s water is used for agricultural purposes. It has the nation’s fourth-largest cattle herd (5.2 million). It is the largest milk-producing state.

That is not sustainable. But an

environmentally friendly, plant-based diet is. A study by Loma Linda University found that vegans have a greenhouse-gas footprint that is nearly 42 percent smaller than that of meat-eaters.

— Craig Shapiro, PETA, Norfolk, Virginia


Letters • 11-05-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Now’s the Time to Get Rid of SL’s Red-Light Camera


A year before the San Leandro City Council voted to install red light cameras, a report identified the 12 most dangerous intersections in the city.

Red light cameras were installed at none of those intersections. Instead, they were installed at busy intersections in order to generate enough revenue from citations to offset the monthly payments to the vendor.

Waving the banner of improving public safety, the police and city staff claimed the red light cameras would reduce dangerous collisions. Instead, 90% of the citations are for failing to come to a complete stop while making a right-hand turn.

Meanwhile, the citations are so punitive that people of limited means can easily spiral into increasing amounts of penalties as they struggle to pay the original fine.

Having never accomplished what was promised, now is the time for the City Council to take advantage of a contract provision that allows the city to get rid of the red light cameras, as neighboring cities have done.

— Mike Katz-Lacabe, San Leandro

Protect Your Home with a Wildfire Protection Plan


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why California Fire Safe Councils and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) are working together to protect public safety and enhance emergency preparedness by reducing the threat of wildfires.

Over the past two years, PG&E has provided more than $7 million in funding to dozens of local Fire Safe Councils for fuel reduction, emergency access and defensible space projects in local communities.

Here in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, PG&E provided $150,000 to the Diablo Fire Safe Council. The money was used in various East Bay cities to remove dead and dying trees, prune trees and utilize chipping to reduce wildfire risk.

Youth crews from Oakland and Richmond were even hired to remove brush while also learning about conservation.

El Niño may bring some drought-relief this winter, but forecasters say it’s not enough to bust the four-year drought.

Protect your home and prepare your family by creating defensible space, a wildfire action plan and assembling an emergency supply kit: www.diablofiresafe.org or www.cafiresafecouncil.org.

— Cheryl Miller, Diablo Fire Safe Council

— Laura Wetmore, PG&E senior manager

Letters • 10-29-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Red-Light Camera Supporters Might Want to Reconsider


The only way San Leandro will ever consider removing those (red light) cameras is if and when the voters get rid of those City Council members who support them. Three of them would be up for re-election a year from now: Jim Prola, Benny Lee and Ursula Reed.

All voted to keep them in 2011 (this from an article in the SL Times dated May 22, 2014).

The contract will be up for renewal in 2018.

I spoke with Mayor Cutter briefly before she was elected last Fall. She voted against the contract.

One can only hope that one of the reasons Diana Souza lost the election was because of her support for the cameras.

If I were one of the three members mentioned above, and I want to keep my job, I might want to  reconsider my position.

— Ken Kellogg, San Leandro

Supports Red-Light Cameras When Used Reasonably


Regarding “Wants City to Stop ‘Red Light Camera Scam’,” (Letters, Oct. 22):

Me too!

These cameras could be useful and definitely stop some serious red light violations. A person blowing off a red light and speeding through an intersection is a very dangerous driver who could easily cause an accident involving a fatality. For that person, a $500 fine would be just a slap on the wrist.

Also, a person turning right on a red light that causes a driver on the through street to hit the brakes deserves a ticket, and a judge should decide the amount.

However, a car making a right turn on the red when visibility is good and the coast is clear should not be penalized. In fact, the rule that allows a person to make those right turns, should allow it if it is done in a completely safe and sane fashion. The law enforcement officer who reviews the film is certainly qualified to make that call.

The red light cameras can weed out the serious violators and be an asset to the city… not a form of revenue.

— Frank Powers, San Leandro

Says History Shows Rents Go Up Under Rent Control


I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong.

I’m writing to tell about my conversion to pro-rent control and join with my fellow Bay Area socialists to promote it in our fair city of San Leandro.

You see, as a property owner and landlord, I’m tired of San Leandro rents lagging behind our more enlightened rent-controlled neighbors of San Francisco and Berkeley. Both cities practice strict rent control and have seen their median gross rents increase from $740 to $1177 (Berkeley, up 59%) or $928 to $1328 (San Francisco, up 43%) in between 2000 and 2010 Census reports.

Even Oakland had a 44% rent increase (they have a less “enlightened” rent control ordinance). Poor San Leandro has seen only a 30% increase without rent control. So, forgive me comrades, you only had my best interests at heart, I’ve always loved Big Brother.

— David Nierengarten, San Leandro

Readers Take Issue with Times’ Page 1 Story ‘SLz Teachers Demand More Pay’


I am very disappointed in your recent coverage of the labor dispute in San Lorenzo Unified School District. It was very one-sided, full of inaccuracies, and showed minimal understanding of the impact of Spin Doctor Brill’s budget policies on students.

Why was the San Lorenzo Education Association (SLEA) official not interviewed for your story? Had you done so you would have been able to check much of the misinformation Superintendent Brill gives the Board and the community.

For starters, we have not met eight times to discuss salary and benefits. The District refused to discuss these issues at our first four meetings. Brill does not want to avoid a strike; he has provoked the current situation by refusing to negotiate. In this round of negotiations, as in the last round, he has not moved from his opening offer.

Secondly, we were not given a 4% raise last year. I personally received a raise closer to 2%.

Thirdly, the issue is not how much we earn, but how much we earn relative to surrounding districts. The average San Lorenzo teacher earns $6,000 less than a teacher in San Leandro, $5,500 less than a teacher in Castro Valley, $9,000 less than a teacher in Hayward, $10,000 less than a teacher in Fremont, $11,000 less than a teacher in New Haven (Union City).

The result is that our students suffer. We are unable to retain and attract teachers. We started the school year with 24 unfilled positions. Four times more than San Leandro and Castro Valley. Some of our classrooms are still being staffed with long-term subs. We need quality teachers in every classroom. Brill’s budget priorities shortchange students.

— Robert Guarino, Arroyo High School Teacher, San  Leandro


I’m a parent of two Del Ray elementary school students. My name is Nazreen Khan.

I was present at the rally on Tuesday afternoon. I am truly appalled at the article written on the matter.

SLz teachers are only receiving a 1.5% raise as opposed to a 5% raise for Brill. Please do your full research before putting out an article. It makes you sound ignorant.

I demand a retraction!!!

— Nazreen Khan, Hayward


I am writing to express my concern over the article printed in your paper last week. I am a teacher in the San Lorenzo School District and I am currently making about $52,000 a year. I also currently pay over $5,000 a year for my in-district health benefits.

Since working in the district, I have received one 3.5% raise and a flat raise of $2,413 a year.

Since working in the district, I have also started a committee at my school to train teachers in our new literacy curriculum and standards. I work many extra hours each week and am planning and delivering a full day of professional development for my site staff at the end of October. I am not currently being compensated for this time.

This year, a class at my school was collapsed by the district and as a result I am currently teaching 30 fourth-grade students. The state has recently provided high levels of new funding to our district for unduplicated (high needs) students. Despite being a site with one of the highest concentrations of unduplicated students in the district, we have actually seen a decrease in the resources provided to our school.

Did you know that the union has also been fighting hard for class size reduction?

The numbers that you published in your article are grossly misleading to the public. In fact, some of them are actually incorrect. It is disappointing that you did not adequately check the salary increase numbers or interview anyone from the teacher’s union before you published the article.

I urge you to check the facts and print a correction on the statistics in the article that are incorrect and misleading. An unbiased examination of the facts is crucial in reaching an outcome that benefits the students in our district.

— Kate Sweeney, Oakland


I, as a teacher employed in the San Lorenzo USD for the past 20 years, found that the “SLz Teachers Demand More Pay” article did not fully address the labor issues the district currently faces and will face in the future.

In my two decades as a San Lorenzo teacher, I have seen the SLZUD go from being the second or third highest paying district in the region to one of the lowest.

At present, San Lorenzo teachers earn, on average, $6,833.00 less than teachers in the neighboring districts of San Leandro, Castro Valley, Hayward, Fremont and New Haven. San Lorenzo, at the moment, is not offering a salary scale for teachers that is competitive with other East Bay districts.

The failure of SLZUSD to offer competitive teachers’ wages is already being felt.

San Lorenzo started the year with 24 unfilled teaching jobs while the districts immediately to our North and South (San Leandro and Castro Valley) began the year with an average of 5 teaching vacancies.

The ability of SLZUD to hire new teachers and retain those already employed will be severely limited unless teacher’s salaries approach those of other districts. The school board’s current offer of a 1.5% increase will only ensure that salaries remain non-competitive and that the district will start each new school year with perhaps an ever increasing number of teaching positions unfilled.

— Bill Tee, Castro Valley

Surprise VFW Plaque Presentation Made His Day


To the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 819 and participating family members:

I wish to thank this membership for their surprise presentation of my 35-years plaque and special cap.

I especially wish to acknowledge those who put the presentation together.

For the last several years, I have not been in attendance at your monthly meetings, but most of you are aware of my handicap. I will do all I can to be helpful in other ways.

It was a pleasure and a big surprise to see you and have a chance to get together again. By the way, I called Joe Walsh and Jerry Cassel to personally thank them for coming. I know it was a little difficult for them and I appreciate their attendance.

In closing, thank you, Post 819. You made my day.

Sincerly, Your Comrade,

— Bill Thomas, San Leandro

Letters • 10-22-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Wants City to Stop ‘Red Light Camera Scam’


It is time to stop San Leandro’s red-light camera scam.

It was sold to the city as guarding against maniacs blowing through long-red lights and killing people. What it’s actually done, though, is give 5,000 taxpayers a year $500 fines for right turns on red (90% of the tickets issued) when the driver most likely did stop. The $500 may be trivial for the wealthy, but for working poor taxpayers that’s an enormous amount of money.

The city chose not to put the cameras at the most dangerous intersections, but rather at the busiest ones to make the most money. The cameras are leased at over $5,000 per camera per year from a foreign company whose ex-CEO was just convicted of fraud in federal court.

In Ferguson, people already hated the police for predatory traffic citations whose fines multiplied quickly.

Should San Leandro remain a “little Ferguson” in this regard?

The cameras malfunction all the time, and many have seen this.

Sit in traffic on Washington Avenue at Halcyon/Floresta, and you’ll see the camera’s strobe light go off when absolutely nobody has entered the intersection.

The City Council should take them down as soon as possible, but what it should do immediately is order an end to tickets for right turns on red given by these cameras.

Longer yellow lights would do a lot more for safety than do these idiot machines, and they wouldn’t send any further bills to people already paying their taxes.

— Mike McGuire, San Leandro

Dangerous Trees in Fairmont Ridge Eucalyptus Grove


According to information on the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) website, “All About Measure CC,” the passage of this measure back in 2004 includes $3 million annually to address fire danger as well as public safety including Eucalyptus tree maintenance in its’ parks.

It would be appropriate and it would mitigate serious risk to injury or death if the EBRPD would include the more popular Fairmont Ridge Eucalyptus Grove as part of the public safety campaign for fire hazard reduction and public safety for visitors and their pets.

Many who use the park have expressed concern regarding a stretch of trail where several older, larger, top heavy Eucalyptus trees that run parallel to the trail are leaning directly over the trail at a 45-degree angle or even less. Dry, loamy soil combined with the anticipated wet and high wind forecast for this winter exacerbates the risk that a serious incident may occur.

On behalf of park users and public alike, I hope the EBRPD will be proactive and use some of these funds the voters approved to manage this risk and dodge a bullet by protecting the public from harm.  Although falling trees in EB Parks are considered “naturally occurring,” existing tax payer money for protection of park users and their pets can and should be used to prevent a potential disaster.

— Vince Horpel, San Leandro

City Discriminates Against 40% of its Residents


In the Oct. 8th issue of the Times, you ran a letter “Flood Control District Working with Residents on San Leandro Creek Maintenance.”

The writer noted that this meeting, held by the Alameda County Flood Control District, was attended by the Mayor and by Councilmembers Cox, Prola, and Lopez.

All I can say is “Wow!” Half of City Hall shows up for a meeting for trees falling in the forest to support house owners who may be in danger of losing their homes at some future point to tree damage, but doesn’t bother to show up for meetings of renters who may be in danger of losing their homes in the very near future to huge rent increases falling on them if the city’s proposals to change the rent ordinance passes.

What does this say about respect inequality? Home owners, who have property values, are treated as valued citizens in this city, but renters are treated as second class, or worse, because we don’t have “property values.” I don’t own a house because instead of saving money for one, I foolishly spent my salary on day care, groceries, and shoes for my kid.  All, of course, while only making 79 cents on the dollar that men were making.

This city doesn’t need to waste a million dollars putting up butterflies on the overpass to attract people to move here. They need to spend that money putting up a big sign that says “Businesses and people with money – Welcome! All others – Go somewhere else!”

By putting up this sign, they would at least not be so hypocritical about how they feel towards 40 percent of the city’s residents.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

Rent Control: Fears City Will Make the Wrong Decision


Well, we’re into the 7th year of the Obama administration, and I don’t understand why rent control is needed since the nation is well towards the path to a People’s Paradise.

So, why rent control? Probably to mirror the successful policies in Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea? I’m sure the San Leandro City Council will once again make the wrong decision.

It is truly amusing to read Mr. West’s ramblings about allowing rent increases only to keep up with inflation. How generous! Will Mr. West allow government aid to apartment owners when they suffer economic setback? No way. They’re just a bunch of evil capitalists!

Trying to pass legislation against natural laws such as the law of supply and demand is truly a fool’s errand.

Remember, socialism is great until you run out of other people’s money.

— John Coppini, San Leandro

Debates Should be on Free TV


It is disappointing that this life-long Democrat did not have the opportunity to follow the Democratic debate on CNN (on cable). The price of admission is a $50 and up for a monthly Comcast subscription.

Time was when over-the-air TV carried these kinds of events to support our democracy. While the networks continue to use the public airwaves, on the assumption of serving the public good, they no longer need to worry about the public. Instead of news and information, they serve us up sitcoms and advertisements.

In the spirit of Ronald Reagan, ‘poorly regulated corporations are not the solution, they are the problem.’

— Jim Mehner, Oakland

Letters • 10-15-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Is San Leandro Really ‘On the Verge’ of Anything?


I attended the Transformation San Leandro event a couple weeks ago to inform all of us about all the great things happening at the new tech campus.

Over and over again, I heard about how San Leandro is “on the verge” of being transformed into this new tech paradise. And, that tech companies are going to “flock” here.

I’ve come to completely discount this hyperbole – after 7 years I don’t think you can characterize what happens now as “on the verge” of anything.

But what I found the most interesting about the event were the printed materials provided to get us super, awesome, excited about the project. I found out the most interesting things about my town.

Did you know San Leandro is the new South of Market (SOMA)? Oh yeah, it’s right there in print. This is news to me, and I think most San Leandrians, and frankly sounds a bit ridiculous. I hang out in SOMA and my town is nothing even remotely like San Franscisco.

Thank God, that’s why I live here! I personally think we need a little less hyperbole and a lot more results. When does the flocking of all those companies with all those new employees happen? Bottom line, where are the jobs?

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Calls on Tenants to Demand Freeze on Rent Increases


When skyrocketing rent increases have the tenants protesting all over the Bay Area, the San Leandro Rent Review Board is recommending the City Council implement changes to the Rent Review Program which are a total concession to the landlords. Actually, the landlords on the Rent Review Board probably wrote it.

The Rent Review Board was being flooded with requests for a hearing because of the abusive rent increases. So, instead of strengthening the ordinance to prevent the abuses, they decided to give a gift to the landlords by eliminating clauses that call for a hearing.

On Oct. 27, the Rent Review Board will be giving a final review to the changes; all tenants should attend the meeting at City Hall at 7 p.m. and get on the speakers’ list to oppose these changes and to demand an immediate one-year freeze on all rent increases.

Also, demand that the City Council, during that year, implement a Rent Control Ordinance that will not allow for any rent increases above the official rate of inflation, according to the Consumer Price Index.

By the way, our Social Security checks will be frozen for 2016 – no adjustment for inflation. This is a third year during Barack Obama’s administration.

All tenants to the meeting on the 27th!

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

Debunks Minimum-Wage Opponents Claims on Prices


Corey Anderson’s letter (“Says Minimum Wage Boost Means Expensive Movies,” Oct. 8) claimed that movie prices would rise to nearly $17 a ticket if we increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I searched in vain for evidence that consumer goods prices would rise by such preposterous amounts if we helped working Californians gain a fairer wage. It appears Mr. Anderson pulled his numbers out of the same thin air the CEO of Papa John’s Pizza has used.

That multi-multi-millionnaire claimed if Papa John’s complied with requirements that they provide basic health insurance for workers who prepare and serve food to the public, prices for his cheap, uncooked pizzas would skyrocket. Economists analyzed the real costs to Papa John’s if they did the right thing and found that it translated to 14 cents per large pizza.

Mr. Anderson also wrote: “These entry-level jobs used to reflect the need for our children to enter the work world and learn basic work skills, earn a decent income for part-time work while living at home and studying for school.” In today’s California, 95 percent of Californians who make less than $15 an hour are adults. In today’s California, a teenager who makes our State’s current minimum wage of $9 an hour hardly makes enough money to pay for the vastly increased costs that community colleges now charge, and four-year universities are completely unaffordable for most of them.

Fortunately, most Californians no longer believe false claims made by billionaires and the people they pay to lie to the public. In a recent Field Poll, 68 percent of Californians said we should increase the state minimum wage by $1 a year until it reaches $15 an hour and create increases every year after that which match the overall increase of the California Consumer Price Index.

— Doug Jones, San Leandro

‘Boat Has Sailed’ on Medical Marijuana Issue


Re: “Legal Pot Puts Cops in a Bind,” (Page 14, Oct. 8), the first thing that comes to my mind is: Why is the San Leandro Police Department wasting time and resources when medical pot is legal by state law? Is there nothing more serious going on in the streets of our city?

The anti-Marijuana dead-enders in the police department and the media need to get over it and accept that the boat has sailed on this issue.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Poisons, Insecticides End Up in Us as well as in Wildlife


I am distressed to read on our local social media site, Next Door, recent stories of pets dying after eating rodents that have ingested poisons.

Poisons, insecticides and herbicides have no place in our communities. Once they are introduced into our homes and gardens, they do not disappear and they do not stop there. These toxins end up, not only in our water and food cycles, but they affect our wildlife as well. Please remember our gardens are connected to everyone and everything around them.

Go to www.stopwaste.org if you have poisons you would like to get rid of.  Let’s create a healthy city.

— Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, San Leandro

Democrats’ Debate Featured Grownups, Not Clowns


The Democrats showed America how grownups debate. They discussed real issues – income inequity choking the middle class, billionaire money buying politics, global climate change threatening our future – and they did so respecting each other.

The Democratic candidates each have experience, knowledge, and a vision of a more inclusive future for all Americans. We see leaders to vote for, rather than clowns to vote against.

Bernie Sanders had the most fire and energy. Martin O’Malley projected a vision for our future based on his belief in our youths’ positive energy. Hillary ticked off a list of programs and positions for which she now advocates.

I support Martin O’Malley. As governor of Maryland, he accomplished many of the reforms we need nationally. His experience can best reform Washington and Wall Street with the principles that the Democratic candidates stand for.

— Bruce Joffe, Piedmont

Letters • 10-08-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Not Surprised Uber Chose Oakland Over San Leandro


My answer to Gary Langbehn’s (Letters, Oct. 1) question, “Why is Uber moving to Oakland and not San Leandro?” is simple.

San Leandro’s relatively new technology business development office, established a couple of years ago, seems to be unproductive. Correct me if I am wrong, but you cannot call a couple of microbreweries and a couple of 3D printing companies a success.

I do not understand paying someone about $200,000 a year, plus insurance and an excellent retirement, for this kind of poor performance. It might be time to consider some changes, if only to save the city a ton of money by eliminating the office. But knowing how city government works, there might be a fat contract to buy out?

Also, Sonic Internet just started offering gigabyte fiber service in San Leandro, and Google may someday follow. So, what’s the fuss over Lit San Leandro?

— John Coppini, San Leandro

Flood Control District Working with Residents on San Leandro Creek Maintenance


We’d like to thank Amy Sylvestri for her accurate reporting of the recent meeting of the Alameda County Flood Control District to share their “Vegetation Management Plan.”

By identifying, trimming and removing trees that pose the greatest falling risk, the district is fulfilling its obligation to maintain their property. Property owners who reside along the creek and allow access and easements to the district are contributing as well to the effort.

The meeting was attended by many who are directly impacted by the trees and learned firsthand how and when the work will be done. Also attending were Mayor Cutter, Council Members Cox, Lopez, and Prola, Public Works Director Pollard and representatives from Supervisor Chan’s office.

The message was clear: The city and county are willing to work together with all creek stakeholders to maintain and improve this shared community asset, San Leandro Creek.

Please join us on Oct. 29th to learn about the first-ever Master Plan of the creek. Details will be available on our website: www.fslc.org.

— Michael GregoryPresident, Friends of San Leandro Creek

Says Minimum Wage Boost Means Expensive Movies


A recent notion has arisen claiming that minimum wage should be elevated from $7.25 to around $14.00 or $15.00 because the entry-level job needs to earn a “living wage.”

These entry-level jobs used to reflect the need for our children to enter the work world and learn basic work skills, earn a decent income for part-time work while living at home and studying for school. But now some politicians in a blatant run at getting votes are arguing that these entry-level jobs are too little to support a family and should be given a raise of almost 100 percent.

What this amounts to in the Emeryville Theater is a ticket to a movie which costs $16.95. I think this notion will serve to inflate everything else as everyone will be forced to meet competition for entry-level workers, and prices will soar.

Particularly galling is the fact I now have to pay this raise. Movie tickets were high at $11.00, but now $16.95? Let me tell you, I am not patronizing any theater with these prices.

Chabot Theater in Castro Valley charges $8 general admission, $5.50 per child or senior and matinee before 6 p.m. This is a great price for a theater ticket at a great theater. For first-run movies, I am going there. If they don’t have the first run, I can wait for Netflix. Care to join me?

— Corey Anderson, San Leandro

Unleashed Dogs at Washington Manor Puts Park Off-Limits for Him and his Dog


To the owner of the unleashed dog who came charging at me and my dog, “Li’l D,” at Washington Manor Park: Can you not read the sign that says, “Dogs must be on a leash”? Laws do not pertain to you?

On Thursday, Oct. 1, once again, an unleashed dog came charging at me and Li’l D, and the owner was not concerned that his dog scared the hell out of both of us.

We’ve met many wonderful people, including leashed dog owners, at Washington Manor Park. We’ll miss their friendship. We will never again take walks at the park, along with the Marina Park and Bonaire where we’ve been attacked as well. Twice, Li’l D was bitten badly.

— Richard Sofield, San Leandro

Sausage & Suds Committee Thanks Supporters for Another Successful Year


The San Leandro Downtown Association would like to thank our wonderful San Leandro Community for their support of our event Sausage & Suds Music Festival! It was a beautiful day with delicious food, great beer and fantastic entertainment!

Special thanks to the City of San Leandro and San Leandro Public Works. A huge thanks to the San Leandro Police Department. We have great public employees that care about our city!

Kudos to our local service clubs and organizations who staff this all-volunteer event: Kiwanis, Leadership San Leandro, Relay for Life, Rotary, San Leandro Education Foundation (SLED) and Wa Sung. Special friends and family always helped to fill in wherever they were needed.

Our teen volunteers really stepped it up this year: SLHS schools’ Interact, Jefferson, and Key clubs and Pirates football players and coaches. Thanks also to our crew from the Sea Scout Ship Makai at the SLDA Sausage Booth.

We received amazing sponsorship this year from Aidells Sausage, OSIsoft, Bay Area Beverage, Horizon Beverage Company, Costco and Downtown San Leandro Community Benefit District. Alameda County Industries and their employees kept us recycling and trash-free. Chase, US Bank, Scribner Properties and The Englander were very generous with their parking spaces!

Thanks to our local breweries: Drakes Brewing, Cleophus Quealy and 21st Amendment. We are proud to have such great beer brewed in San Leandro!

Thanks most of all to the San Leandrans and guests who came out and had a great time... we do it for you!


— Sausage & Suds Committee, San Leandro Downtown Association

Loved the Music Festival, But Lost Her Car Keys!


Thank you to the organizers of the Sausage and Suds festival on Sunday. It seemed to me it was well attended and also many thanks to the San Leandro Police Department whose presence there helped to keep things orderly. I didn’t see anyone over-drinking or any bad-tempered conversations. It was a well-organized affair.

Some time during the day, I lost my car keys. It is a 2012 Hyundai and I would appreciate it if anyone found a ring with a car key and a mail box key on it to please call me at 510-357-2802.

Perhaps they were turned in to one of the booths or the organizer.

— Barbara Moyles, San Leandro

Letters • 10-01-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

City Accused of “Perpetrating a Sham on Tenants’


The City announced in the September 17 edition of The Times that the Rent Review Board meeting on Sept. 22 would be addressing the city’s proposed changes to the rent ordinance, and that the meeting “will provide another opportunity to speak before the proposed amendments are considered by the City Council.”

Once again, the city proved what a total sham it’s perpetrating on tenants around these proposed ordinance changes. We tenants came in good faith to argue for fairness in the proposed changes, and to point out, again, how these changes will adversely affect us as renters. Some landlords in attendance dredged up the evils of rent control, which is a cynical scare tactic on their part, since the ordinance is not, and will not, constitute rent control nor automatically lead to it.

Following the comments, one of the Board members suggested that the city should hold further public hearings on the issue. The city’s response was that, in fact, there would be no more public meetings on this issue other than the City Council meeting on Oct. 19th, and that, further, the draft as currently written would be submitted to the council on that date with no further changes!

This announcement left the tenants gasping in disbelief!

The city is using forums such as this meeting to orchestrate the appearance of doing something on behalf of renters, while in reality they are forcing tenants who want their voices to be heard into taking part in what, for us, is becoming an officially sanctioned exercise in futility.

We’ll have to show up for the council meeting on Oct. 19th to again state our case knowing that they have absolutely no intention of listening to our concerns.

Tenants, show up for that meeting anyway.  Don’t let them win without a fight.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

With All SL Has to Offer, Why Is Uber Moving to Oakland?


Uber last week announced their move into the soon to be renovated Old Emporium Department Store in Downtown Oakland.

Why isn’t Uber moving to San Leandro?

We have the fastest internet loop in the country, Oakland doesn’t. Oakland hasn’t touted themselves as the new Silicon Valley; San Leandro has. And, with the new tech park taking shape next to the BART station and a full time person at city hall soliciting business for our city, why aren’t Uber or any other tech businesses flocking to San Leandro?

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Calls Out Times for ‘Foul Language’ in Inquiring Reporter


Re: “Inquiring Reporter,” Page 15, The Times, Sept. 24.

Since when did you decide to no longer merely report on the demise of the culture, but rather instead now to participate in it? To push the envelope, and see if anyone would notice or care when you callously include foul language in a family newspaper?

Well I for one noticed.  Shame on you.

— Richard Brock, San Leandro

Accuses U.S. of ‘Major Role’ in Refugee Crisis in Europe


The United States played a major role in creating the refugee crisis in Europe with its military interventions in Africa and the Middle East.

Destabilizing countries with governments that are not fully compliant with United States’ directives is a designed policy of this country; this policy has led to the military intervention in Iraq, the bombing of Lybia, the financial support, training and arming of mercenary forces in Syria and also the daily drone attacks, including also Somalia.

Other NATO member countries and Israel are also involved in these criminal actions all over Africa. The Islamic State is a creation of the United States, its weapons have mostly come from U.S. arsenals.

The inscriptions on the Statue of Liberty should read: “Give me my mercenaries who collaborated with us in our foreign interventions and the illegal scabs who come to work for cheap since we can no longer bring slaves in.”

Now that the mercenary force has completely failed in Syria, the cowardly rats are fleeing, many are drowning in the sea. European workers see them as a scab force that’s going to displace them from their jobs and also the foundation of new terrorist cells.

European people also have a historic reason to reject the Muslim hordes that bring to memory the invasion of Spain and Portugal by the Moors and, later on, the occupation by the Ottoman empire of many Central European countries.

Hungary has shown how the borders can be closed and these mercenaries have shown their violent character by attacking the security forces that keep them out of the country they try to invade.

Hillary Clinton’s “Assad must go” is a no-go; Russia has already made it very clear that this time it’s not going to happen.

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

Wonders How People Can Be Offended by Naked Lady Statue


So a woman is shown in a statue as naked and people are offended. A woman gives us life, breast feeds us and raises us from a crying, teething, pooping machine and says, “I’d do it again.” Wow.

These are amazing people. Let’s respect all women, no matter what. We have a statue of a half naked man on East 14th Street and Neimi Way and no one says a thing. In Florence, we have a statue of David and no one blinks twice.

I hope they make a bobblehead of this very naked lady. I would like to have her on my dashboard.

— Larry Arnold, San Leandro

Letters • 09-24-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Design Bike Lanes So Bikes Can Use Them Safely


Re: “Boy Hit By Car On His Way to School on Bike,” Page One, The Times, Sept. 17.

When terrible incidents like this happen, we often want a person to blame, to make the enemy. And while the driver that struck a 10-year old boy walking his bike in a crosswalk last week at Dutton Ave. and Arbor Drive may have been negligent, vilifying the driver won’t change what happened. We don’t have any say over what happened in the past.

We do however have a say in how the future goes. I worry that this event will dissuade parents from sending their kids to school on bike or foot, which would be such a shame in the face of the City’s “Safe Routes to School” program. Kids biking and walking builds a sense of community and increases parental involvement in the school, as well as lets students arrive at school energized and ready to learn. And a city with adults biking is a city with healthier adults too!

But safety is paramount, and given the city’s vision of a more bike-able and walkable city, improving the safety of the bicycling infrastructure is key for increasing bicycle ridership.

For instance, not all bike lanes are created equal. As an avid urban cyclist, I can tell you that biking next to cars moving above 25 mph is harrowing. Re-purposing the margins of roads into bike lanes by painting “Bike Lane” on them (Davis near Alvarado), or placing lanes adjacent to 30 mph traffic (Williams near Alvarado), is commendable, but ultimately not attractive to bikers. I admit to biking on the sidewalk instead.

City of San Leandro, I commend the bike lanes – please more. But please design them so bikes can use the lanes safely. Then we might achieve the vision of a bike-able and walkable city.  That’s a vision we can all get behind.

— Stuart Collins, Works in San Leandro

Join Your Neighbors to Beautify Schools Oct. 3


Our schools are a valuable resource.

Let’s make them shine on “Beautification Day,” from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday October 3.

Please join neighbors, families, student groups, faith-based communities, the Alameda Building & Trades Council, Teamsters, businesses, fraternal organizations, teachers, staff, and SLED, all volunteering to help with things like gardening, cleaning, & painting.

This is a San Leandro Unified School District-wide event, so there are opportunities at all of our neighborhood schools. No experience necessary. We need your elbow grease!

In addition to improving our schools, you will also be building community.

If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Bailey ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Kathleen Stanley ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), or simply join us on Saturday morning, October 3rd, ready to lend a hand. Thanks!

— Rob Rich, San Leandro

Intrigued by the OSIsoft 'Truth is Beauty' Statue


For sake of full disclosure, I am an OSIsoft employee writing from a personal perspective.

I am intrigued by the new Truth is Beauty statue, and I’ve enjoyed the reader dialogues through this Letters to the Editor section. If I had to pick a favorite, it’s the bold claims of the camp in favor of the Arnold statue. I would very much like to join their cause; however, I have been frustrated in my attempts at finding them.

To lend my voice as one more to a choir for an angel, I think that Truth is Beauty would be a lovely addition to our city. Personally, I see the statue as an exultation of the ego. Not in the sense of exultation of oneself, or idolatry of an image, but rather in a grander sense of self – celebrating the little islands that are each unique persons in an endless sea of space and unknowing. It can be refreshing to take a step back and observe oneself, microscopic in view of all creation, and behold the beauty of one’s being.

We live in an ugly world with often callous or uncaring people – why not take a stance for personal revelry and ambition? We always say, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If only it were so easy. You must first believe that you can be the change.

As a San Leandran, I’d ask my fellow readers to not engage with the statue as a naked woman, but rather the semblance of a person boldly displaying themselves and their accomplishments unfiltered before their fellow man and before God.

— Elijah Thomas, San Leandro

Public Should Join Effort to End Modern Day Slavery


The Super Bowl will be held in San Jose early in 2016.

Judging from history, we know there will be an influx of prostitutes, bussed into the area. Many of them are the coerced victims of human trafficking.

Catholic nuns and other religious groups are fighting against the traffickers. There are ways the public can join in this effort. Your local papers will be publishing information, and you can ask your local churches what they are doing and what you can do to help stop this abusive, modern day slavery.

— Theresa Schexnayder, San Leandro

Wonders About Jeb’s 'He Kept Us Safe' Remark


In the September 16 Republican debate, Jeb Bush defended his brother’s foreign policy by saying, “he kept us safe.” Seriously?

Has Jeb forgotten that 9-11 happened under Dubya’s presidency, despite copious warnings from the FBI, CIA, NSA, even Condoleezza Rice? And just a few months later, when Bin Ladin was trapped in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan, a shortage of American troops enabled his escape to Pakistan. Bush had sent more troops to Iraq instead.

Jeb’s topsy-turvy notion of keeping us safe is typical of Republicans. The debate was held in the citadel honoring their most revered president, Ronald Reagan, whose reaction to the bombing of American barracks in Lebanon that killed 241 marines in 1983 was to pull all troops out of Lebanon. The Republican’s tough commander-in-chief hightailed it outta there. And who was Reagan’s Vice President? The first President Bush.

Those Bushes sure have kept America safe!

— Bruce Joffe, Piedmont

Letters • 09-17-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

In Defense of the County’s Handling of Juvenile Inmates


Re: “Juvenile Jail Abuses Inmates, Says Employee,” Page 1, The Times, Sept. 10.

I am a retired Juvenile Institution Officer from Alameda County Probation for 22 years. I have worked at Camp Sweeney and the staff there are good people and they are not abusing the juveniles there.

You have to understand, some of those juveniles sentenced to Camp Sweeney should be serving their time at the Juvenile Justice Center because of their disruptive behavior in following the camp program rules and regulations.

The camp is not a locked facility, which makes it dangerous for staff when the juveniles bring contraband into the dorm area. Unannounced searches of the living area of the juveniles is a must for the safety of staff and the juveniles overall.

Lisa Hill, the camp director, does not support the staff when it come to disciplining juveniles who threaten to assault staff and refuse to let staff strip search them when the juveniles have been suspected of having hidden contraband on their persons.

The camp program is the easiest program that a juvenile can be sentenced to for rehabilitation, but you have some juveniles who just need to be incarcerated because they are violent towards authority figures and being sent to a locked facility like Juvenile Hall is where some of them need to be.

Lisa Hill has no leadership abilities and that’s why some of the staff at Camp Sweeney transfer back to Juvenile Hall to work in a secured and controlled atmosphere.

LaDonna Harris, Chief Probation Officer, is a retired Commander from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and with her experience, she does not tolerate any abuse or unprofessional conduct, period, by staff towards juveniles.

Lisa Hill never had the experience or background to be camp director and she should just retire because she is a distraction to the camp and the staff who work there.

— Lester Gill, San Leandro

Says Times ‘Crossed the Line’ with ‘Pot Dealer’ Headline


I am often appalled or angered by your attempt to grab your readers’ attention with headlines that do not accurately reflect the content of the article. But last week you really crossed the line and compelled me to write a response.

Your reference to San Leandro’s new Medical Marijuana  Dispensary as a “Pot Dealer” (“City Council Picks Pot Dealer,” Page 1) truly crosses into the realm of irresponsible journalism.

For people who do not yet understand what a Cannabis Cooperative does or how it will benefit our community, the headline evokes visions of back alley drug deals between gun toting criminals. Dealing “Pot” is illegal. The mere illusion that our city council would choose one to operate within San Leandro is ridiculously inaccurate.

Referring to the good people at Harborside as “Pot Dealers” is slanderous to say the least. They beat out several other well qualified applicants by undergoing a long and arduous personal, legal, and financial scrutiny. Any marijuana related actions against any of the applicants was not part of the criteria set forth by the expensive consultant. And rightly so.

All cannabis is illegal at the federal level. It’s history is paved with people who have sacrificed everything to get us where we are today. The civil forfeiture against Harborside back in 2012 was no more than the federal governments attempt to flex their muscles and strike fear into cannabis advocates in an election year.

Marijuana never should have been classified as a Class 1 Narcotic and state by state we are standing up for what’s right. After studying the issues related to our new dispensary, even Benny Lee is now an advocate. People just need to open their hearts and minds and get educated on the facts. I read the San Leandro Times for accurate information about what’s happening in my home town. So, please avoid future shock-and-awe headlines that can cause more problems than they are worth.

— Cammy Arnold, San Leandro

Overpass Designer Fencing Called ‘Appalling Waste of $’


A million dollars for Marina and Davis overpass designer fencing, special lighting fixtures, decorative paving, a butterfly pattern on the overpass slopes at Marina and a cherry pattern on Davis?

Are you kidding me! Gateway to the City, Mr. Cooke? It’s just an overpass for God’s sakes. It’s an appalling waste of money when all City Council has persistently clamored about for years is significant City indebtedness.

Why doesn’t the City Council approve something useful like paying down the millions in loans its been chronically whining about with its repeated, “we don’t have the money!”

City Council inadequate? Yet you are good at approving raises for city officials when city coffers are just beginning to stabilize. This lamentable form of governance is what got San Leandro in debt over the last decades. Planning for the future to City government seems to mean using money to satisfy a wasteful purpose.

Do you think if we made the mayor a full time job and paid City Council members commensurately, we’d get better results with how taxpayer money is approved and allocated?

You think letting Cal Coast entirely fund Shoreline Development, with a wing and a prayer to recoup any money for years before San Leandro sees a dime, is effective business? It’s desperate and taxpayer risky. Not a single business or residence around the proposed Shoreline Development marina is pleased with what you’re doing.

You’re destroying our prized Marina because of pitiful financial planning over decades. It’s shameful how you’re now making unilateral decisions on behalf of citizens and taxpayers – beyond our consent.

Maybe if we required masters or PhD degrees from City Council members we’d get intelligent planning and taxpayer appropriate decisions from within the bowels of City Hall.

— Dwight Pitcaithley, San Leandro

Water Bill Doubles in 2 Years; Something’s Wrong at EBMUD


I just received my latest water bill with about a $50 jump (25%) from last month. I know there is a drought on but this is awful. My EBMUD charges have doubled during the past 24 months. These increases are unsustainable.

As a retiree, I am naturally concerned about for how long I can continue to pay my water/sewer bill.

Water service charges have gone up by 10% in the two years before the current year increases.

These are amazing numbers given the fact that consumer prices are said to have risen about one to two percent during the same period.

Something appears to be clearly wrong with the management of EBMUD, especially when it lists the salary for temporary meter readers at $5,000 per month. This is a job requiring a high school education and physical fitness. Most recent college graduates can’t earn that, to say nothing of the additional benefits.

— Jim Mehner, Oakland

U.S. Should Resettle 100,000 Syrian War Refugees


I was heartbroken to see the photos of refugee Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old boy that drowned and washed up on a Turkish beach. The photos and stories coming out of the Syrian refugee crisis are horrendous, and I cannot help but think that the United States can do much more to address this issue.

My father and aunt came to the U.S. after World War II to start a new life in safety. Tragically, the rest of my family was murdered in the Holocaust because the world didn’t step up in time to save them. It is my duty to never forget and to welcome the stranger, because my people were once strangers in a stranger’s land.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Do we not still live by these words on the Statue of Liberty?

Since its founding, the United States has offered refuge and protection to those who have to flee their homes in other lands. Now, in the face of one of the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation, it is time for the United States to act again to resettle 100,000 additional refugees into the United States.

— Helena Weiss-Duman, Castro Valley

Creating a Healthier World Not as Difficult as You Think


As we consider turning our yards into pollinator-friendly gardens, let us keep in mind that it may not be as difficult as we might initially think. Among many good resources, there are two very good websites that can help the novice pollinator friendly gardener:  www.crownbees.com and xerces.org.

In a recent newsletter, Crown Bees makes the following suggestions about how and why we should get started:

1.Most lawns are actually dead landscapes that lack food for bees, birds, bugs, and other beneficial insects. Yet, with just a minimal amount of research at reputable local nurseries, we can find plants and ground covers that can give our pollinators a safe haven. Many plants are drought-tolerant once established.

2.Pesticides – Generally, they are not recommended. What happens in our gardens does not stay in our gardens. Remember, if you seek to remove certain pests, you risk removing beneficial insects as well,  probably before you even know anything about them.

Note that new research  is showing that Round-Up is hazardous to earthworms.  Without earthworms, soil cannot thrive.

If our soil is not healthy, our plants, vegetables, and fruits cannot possibly be either, and the fall down the slippery slope continues. Let’s find other ways of tending to our gardens.

If you are interested in turning your yard into a pollinator friendly garden and are on Facebook, please go to the Beefriendly, San Leandro page: www.facebook.com/beesinsanleandro. If you

would like to be involved in some way,

send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Let’s make San Leandro a pollinator friendly city. We are not the first city to do so, and hopefully, we will not be the last. Let’s work together to create a healthy environment for all.

— Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, SpiritCare Ministry, San Leandro

Letters • 09-10-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

More Concerned with Moral Climate Change Than Weather


If I am interpreting correctly “Take a chill pill and relax” (Letters, Aug. 20, “The Statue: ‘Sensitive People Can Avert Their Eyes’”) sounds like a bunch of us are being told to “shut up and get over the issues that matter to you, because they do not matter” to others. I think that attitude is central to the dysfunction of governmental bodies. “Get over it, we know better than you” is not constructive to compromise or civility.

Progressives say “separation of Church and State,” but are really driving for separation of Church and Society.

If there is to be a separation of Church and State, then the Government must address questions about immoral activities with statements like “this is legal,” or “this is protected,” but never offer  a moral valuation like “this is okay,” or “acceptable.” The State is not the place to legislate moral or immoral values.

The single biggest concern I have about climate change, is not changes in the weather, but the moral climate.

Those who have defined God out of all of their explanations of cause and effect, see the weather changes as a result of man’s behavior, but are now pinning drought relief on El Nino ocean currents. Those who still include God in their explanations, see the potential for “Act of God” weather patterns, being just that, Acts of God.

Behaviors that were once both immoral and illegal have now been granted legal status. When people, with absolute moral values (based on historic interpretations of “The Word of God”), try to follow their God, they are told to “Take a chill pill and relax.” Rather than exploring the possible correlation of rejecting God’s moral laws as a society, with a change in climate, the progressives say, “Take a chill pill” and hope in El Nino.

— Justin Jelincic, San Leandro

Calls for Rent Hike Moratorium


I write to respond to the letter “Rent Control Called ‘Destroyer of Housing Stock,” Sept. 3. I counted 8 uses of the word “perhaps.” Mr. Nierengarten is not too creative in his writing however he is imaginative in his portrait of Rent Control.

The prospect of dilapidated flop houses and increased rent are classic landlord scare tactics resurrected whenever economic realities make people question the power dynamics of being a customer in the un-regulated market for shelter.

Rent increases like the one my family was hit with are an economic emergency for the 45% of San Leandro households who pay rent. In fact I’ve had two rent increases in less than a year, and of course it’s totally legal today.

There is plenty of evidence that rent control along with just cause laws, help keep people in their homes long term, and that makes for healthy communities.

It’s hard to find a book to speak in favor of rent control because the assumption that home ownership is the ultimate solution to rent increases permeates their writing (Olsen et al.)

However even Joseph Gyourko of the Wharton School admits that long term stability and racial equity increase with a regulated rental market.

That’s to say racial minorities get a fairer shot at an apartment and people stay put longer and that is not good for realtors! But David doesn’t care about that. To him, it’s all economics and suggests we pick out a book! Really?

No one who pays the rent on time and follows the rules should be forced out. Rent increase moratorium now!

— Guillermo Elenes, San Leandro

Says Landlords are Riding Roughshod over Renters


The Rent Review Board called a meeting on short notice to propose amendments to the current Rent Review Program. This is a toothless ordinance and the proposed amendments would make it even worse.

The San Leandro City Council is rabidly opposed to Rent Control; rents have been skyrocketing and the Rent Review Board has been flooded with cases to arbitrate lately, that’s why they’re trying to eliminate some of the stipulations that are reasons to request a hearing. In other words, instead of solving the problem they don’t want to “hear” about it.

Landlords have been riding roughshod over property-less people, increasing their profits by manipulating the market in order to create scarcity by not building new rental units, by converting apartment buildings into condos or by simply demolishing apartments and replacing them with luxury housing or a business.

On top of this, the state government has been passing legislation that encourages the influx of illegals into the state, thus displacing U.S. workers from their jobs and rental units.

The much touted Marea Alta project won’t be ready until about this time next year and the senior housing part of that project is going to be built after that; make that 2018, with luck. Much of the places that provide senior housing don’t even accept applications and the few that do, put you in a waiting list for years.

Richmond has just passed a Rent Control Ordinance and movements are springing up all over the Bay Area for Rent Control. What’s needed is for the San Leandro City Council to decree an immediate one-year freeze on rent increases. During that year, a Rent Control Ordinance should be implemented which main point should be that any rent increase shouldn’t be above the official rate of inflation. The Bay Area is moving in that direction. The City’s councilmembers should take notice.

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

A Plea to Save Hayward’s Current Library Building


Who knew that the old Hayward Library would be torn down when they voted for Measure C? The library was built in the 1950s. Why put the building in a  landfill? It needs renovation, but who thinks spending a minimum of $5.2 million is worth tearing it down to replace it with pavers?

Who made the decision? Have the taxpayers been given adequate transparency?

Currently, many homeless people use the library facilities/restrooms. Once the library is torn down, where will people go?

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m., please tell the Hayward City Council you want to repurpose the building for use as a creative community space for art, music, drama and computer labs.

— Winnie & Gerry Thompson, Castro Valley

Gratitude for Motorcyclist Who Saved a Little Dog


I want to personally thank the man I met briefly at the Oakland SPCA on Baldwin Street on  Monday Aug. 31st.

I had to take our dog in at 7:30 a.m. for surgery and a man dressed in motor cycle gear came in with a tiny dog stuffed inside his leather jacket.

He told the receptionist that he was entering the freeway on his motorbike on the way to work, when the little dog ran out in front of him.  He almost ran over it. He stopped his bike and the dog, who was terrified, came to him. He brought it into the SPCA .

If only everyone could be kind and compassionate like this man. I wanted to shake his hand and thank him.

To everyone out there: take care of your pets. This dog wasn’t even microchipped and had no ID on it.

Treat all animals with respect and to that man who took the time and trouble to bring the little dog in, thank you so much! You are an angel!

— Bernadette Buchanan, San Leandro

Tired of BART’s Ear-Splitting Screaching Ride


BART has another target they should be aiming at. I have ridden on mass transit rail conveyances in Europe, Asia and America.

Like the Bay Area, many major cities have extended their mass transit rails to serve their airports and I have never experienced such an ear-splitting screeching ride as I regularly do on our own BART. I am not a commuter, but I think that people who have to ride it every day, twice a day, probably have damaged ear drums because of it.

On the Portland, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York trains, among others, noise is not a problem. I was so impressed with the whispery quiet ride on the SMRT in Singapore that I purchased a documentary DVD from the SMRT while I was there and paid to have it formatted to fit the U.S. DVD players and presented it to the BART main office several years ago to show them how it is done. I got the usual, “We’re working on it,” but nothing has changed.

They should get with the manufacturers of the wheels and rails and figure out what the problem is and fix it.

— Frank Powers, San Leandro

Thanks to McDermott Costa for Underwriting Outing


I am writing to publicly acknowledge and thank McDermott Costa for their generosity and community-mindedness. On August 25th, this local insurance broker generously helped to underwrite Building Futures’ all-staff outing to San Francisco.

Building Futures set aside this day to recognize dedicated and hardworking staff members who work hard to end homelessness and domestic violence in our clients’ lives. With three 24/7 emergency shelters, a supportive housing site, and domestic violence outreach and housing assistance programs at five sites, it is a big challenge to gather our team members together.

This staff appreciation event was made possible by McDermott Costa’s President, John Johnson and our McDermott Costa representative, Kristi Dawson.

Building Futures is passionate about giving our community’s most vulnerable members the opportunity for a fresh start. It means a lot to know a community leader such as McDermott Costa supports our amazing staff!

— Liz Varela, Executive Director, Building Futures

No Fences Needed To End Illegal Border Crossings


I want to give some advice to the Republican Party hopefuls. Donald Trump wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico. And now Scott Walker wants to build a wall along the Canadian border.

May I suggest that the real proposal should be to annex Canada and annex Mexico. We can all be the United States of America. No fence and no expense. Problem solved.

Maybe I should run for president and solve all this worry. All in favor draft me!

— Gerald Dorn, San Leandro



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