Letters • 04-23-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Says Tax Protester Will Spend More Shopping Outside San Leandro


In her recent letter, Peggy Heubel (“Sales Tax Protest: Refuses to Spend Money in San Leandro,” Letters, Apri1 16) failed to explain the “deep-rooted principle” she holds which justifies her decision to “not shop anywhere in San Leandro” in response to voter approvals of City, County and State sales tax measures.

It appears a very peculiar principle, because Peggy will waste money, time and gasoline in her misguided mission to punish San Leandrans.

As Amy Sylvestri’s reporting detailed, our total sales tax is matched by four

other East Bay cities. Ms. Heubel will have to do a lot of driving to avoid paying an additional nickel for a $10 purchase at businesses in five local cities.

Peggy is among those who are angered by a “double-digit” cumulative sales tax. Let’s detail what gets us to that overall 10% rate.

We pay one penny per $4 purchase for the Statewide tax of Proposition 30. Peggy may be happily awaiting the

moment when this revenue source is scheduled to end in 2017. Others are unhappy to contemplate the loss of valuable funds which have helped repair the terrible cuts to local schools and other services which we suffered before benefiting from Prop 30’s $7 billion annual contribution to the State general fund.

A penny per $2 purchase comes from the voter-extended Measure AA, which funds the Alameda Health System. The San Leandro Hospital emergency room sees around 28,000 people seeking care per year. Without this sales tax, our downtown Hospital would almost certainly suffer the same fate as Doctors Hospital San Pablo, which closed for good this Tuesday.

Finally, the penny per $2 sale for City services finances the Police Department that Peggy has worked for, and retirement benefits for civil servants like herself. The streets we use to drive to our houses, the parks we enjoy, and much more is financed by the money she encourages us to withdraw from City government and businesses.

I enjoy doing business in our City, and will continue to do so.

— Doug Jones, San Leandro

An Open Letter to Peggy Heubel on Higher Sales Tax


Peggy...So, you are unhappy with the 1/4-cent increase in sales taxes that has been voted in by the citizens of San Leandro.

You must have lived in San Leandro for many years, probably worked here, maybe even retired here, so you have  benefitted from  the protection and services of the Police and Fire Department, and enjoyed  a variety of clean, safe places to shop, great schools, libraries, recreational facilities, senior centers, adult schools, to name a few.

The 1/4 cent increase in sales tax is a small price to pay for these perks.   Please don’t turn your back on the city now.

You are only hurting yourself by spending  more in gas and time  to go to another city to shop, rather than  pay the minor  sales tax increase San Leandro needs to maintain its status as a great place to live.

Times are a-changing and the cost  of quality services is  going up everywhere.

Live with it.

(Live here, spend here)

— Bea Kiley, San Leandro

Upset that Non-SL Residents Had No Say on Tax Hike


I totally agree with Peggy A. Heubel’s opinion in the San Leandro Times’ Letters to the Editor.

I have stopped purchasing taxable items in San Leandro. I will miss eating at the fast food restaurants, going to Tito’s, Harry’s for dinner and having my favorite Chinese takeout Rose Garden, delivering my dinner when I don’t feel like cooking.  It’s a shame that the businesses in San Leandro have to suffer because of the greed of the city officials. Living in unincorporated (Ashland), we were not able to vote on these tax increases and the city officials. I would have voted No!

We have a home in Sonora and go there every other week and purchase our taxable items. Three of our neighbors have joined us in this process. The sales tax is 8%.

Along with Peggy, we have four

families that will not be paying San Leandro’s 10%. One and a half percent goes to San Leandro’s slush fund. Does not help me, since I don’t live in the San Leandro city limits.

— Betty Foott, Unincorporated Alameda County

Says .5% Sales Tax Increase Benefits All Who Live Here


A recent letter writer (see above) is urging friends, family and all in the City of San Leandro to boycott all businesses in San Leandro now that we have a 10% sales tax.

I hope that people who read this letter remember that the businesses which charge this tax did not create it for their personal profit. This was voted on and approved by the citizens of San Leandro to help us finance City services.

Now that we have a 10% sales tax in San Leandro, that $100 item which used be taxed at $9.50 (9.5% sales tax) is now taxes at $10 (10% sales tax) – a whopping increase of 50 cents per 100 dollars spent in taxable merchandise.

This was a voters’ choice issue and it passed. Please do not punish the merchants of San Leandro for a choice made by a majority of voters in this City.

The merchants in San Leandro are still our same hard-working friends and neighbors and do not benefit in any personal way from this tax. Rather, they benefit as we all do with open libraries, hopefully repaved and repaired streets, public safety protection and the rest of the City services we count on.

— Moira Fry, San Leandro

Thanks to All Who Made Book Sales Such a Success


Thank you to all those who attended our April Book Sale. Without your support the Friends of the San Leandro Library would not be able to give back to the community the many programs we sponsor, especially the Summer Reading Program for children, teens and adults.

At the end of the program, we sponsor the children’s carnival as a reward for reading so many books during the summer which enables them to keep up with their reading skills during summer vacation.

Thanks also to the many volunteers and library staff members who help put together our book sale. We couldn’t do it without you.

— Anna May Tandi, President, Friends of the San Leandro Library

Letters • 04-16-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Thanks to All Who Oppose Crude Oil Trains Through SL


The City of San Leandro passed a strongly worded letter in opposition to a permit application from the Phillips 66 oil company in San Luis Obispo County. This resolution objects to crude oil by rail transportation through the heart of our city.

If Phillips 66 receives permission from San Luis Obispo County to modify and expand its train terminal, the Santa Maria/Nipomo area refinery will be able to accept and process at least one 80-car train daily of highly explosive oil that will travel on the Capital Corridor rail through the Bay Area. These trains are approximately one mile long and the identified blast zone encompasses our downtown, several schools, and thousands of homes and business properties.

San Leandro stands above all other cities in their written opposition to this ill-conceived project. The letter passed by the City Council and Mayor Cutter also includes powerful wording that demands detailed safety mitigation should the SLO project be approved.

San Leandro Unified School District was the first school district to write to the SLO Planning Commission, because the Board of Trustees recognizes that our school communities are in danger within the blast and evacuation zones.

San Leandro Teachers Association was the first labor organization to object to the project because the safety of our children, their families and school district employees is essential to the work of teachers. Furthermore, teachers are mandated disaster workers and there are no known school disaster plans in the United States that provide an oil-train blast response.

Since San Leandro leaders have written to San Luis Obispo County, other Alameda County cities, school districts and teachers’ unions have followed suit.

The language and composition of our resolutions have been a template for Berkeley, Oakland, and now Hayward.

Thank you City Council members, Mayor Cutter, the San Leandro and San Lorenzo School Trustees, and the union representatives in both districts for your leadership. You have placed the health, safety and well-being of our city's residents in front of all other concerns and special interests in this matter.

— Maureen Forney, San Leandro, Garfield Elementary School Teacher

Why Won’t EBMUD Offer Rebates for Artificial Turf?


Despite the crisis of the drought, the need to change our water-consuming behavior, and State Water Resources Control Board imposing a 25-percent reduction, EBMUD refuses to change its behavior… continuing to disallow rebates for professionally installed artificial turf.

Santa Clara County Water District allows it, why won’t EBMUD?

Even drought-tolerant native plants need some water, but artificial turf needs none.

— Robert Engelhart, San Leandro

Not Everyone Was Happy with Recycling Event


In response to Joyce and Jeff Sturm’s letter (“Pleased at Big Turnout for Shredding-Recycling Event,” Letters, April 9), yes, the line on Washington Avenue moved quickly, however, I was in line at 12:40 p.m., approached the entrance to the Corporation Yard just before 1 p.m.

There were four cars ahead of me and about 100 cars behind me, queued up on Chapman, and on Washington all the way to 143rd.

We were all turned away at the gate, after sitting in the line, wasting gas and time, expecting to  drop off our “stuff.”

One person could have walked the line of cars and let us know we would not be admitted.

— Bea Kiley, San Leandro

Anonymous Diner Made Her Birthday Lunch Special


Thank you to the anonymous man in the Manor Grill who treated eight ladies to lunch. We were told that you picked up our check and paid for us.

I would have loved to have met you. I go to the Manor Grill at least once a week, it was my birthday we were celebrating. Thank you for being so thoughtful.

— Dolly Barber, San Lorenzo

SalesTax Protest: Refuses to Spend Money in San Leandro


Based solely and solidly upon deep-rooted principle, I will not shop anywhere in San Leandro due to the newly instituted sales tax increase to 10 percent.

I will not support the businesses at Westgate, at Bayfair and Fashion Faire, in downtown San Leandro, at any of the businesses along Bancroft Ave., along East 14th St., Davis Street, Washington Ave., on any of the side-street businesses, or any single isolated  business selling anything in San Leandro. I will not spend my money at any of them. I will no longer cut out coupons for businesses that offer them; I will no longer bother with sales promotions, etc. The advertising money spent by businesses in San Leandro is wasted as far as I am concerned. Furthermore, I urge my friends and family to go the extra mile, literally, and spend their hard-earned money outside city limits.

— Peggy A. Heubel, San Leandro

Letters • 04-09-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Disturbed by Lack of Witnesses to Killing of Motorcyclist


On April 2, a motorcyclist “splitting lanes” on the bridge from southbound Highway 101 to eastbound Highway 92 had apparently upset a driver in San Mateo Bridge-bound traffic so much that the driver hit the cyclist into the barrier wall, and with such force that the cyclist went over the barrier and fell to his death.

Not one person who had seen this stepped forward with anything meaningful. Imagine this: all the traffic ahead of everyone on a 2-lane bridge was stopped as well, and this hit-and-run driver managed to flee? Did everyone who witnessed this think this act was justifiable because the cyclist was going faster, legally, than they were?

Please don’t share how you have been scared or shocked by a lane-splitter while multi-tasking. Think of them as one less car ahead of you. My condolences to his family.

Tony Breslin, San Leandro (Motorcyclist, bicyclist, traffic engineer)


Pleased at Big Turnout for Shredding-Recycling Event


We would like to thank all involved in the Shredding and Recycling event this past Saturday.

We were surprised that the line of cars started on Washington Avenue then turned onto Chapman Road. However, due to the organization and efficiency of the crew working, the line moved quickly. It’s incredible to see how much stuff we all (including us) accumulate.

Thanks to all involved. We truly appreciate it!

— Joyce and Jeff Sturm, San Leandro


Thanks to Two Who Made a Difference Recently


I’d like to say thank you to two very special people who made a difference recently.

First, to Aracely Garcia for her heartwarming article in the March 19 issue of the San Leandro Times, “Life Lessons Learned from a Cat.”

Aracely, I am so sorry for the loss of your dear little friend. I’m sure she was special to you and your daughter. Thank you for being a guardian angel to her, and for others like her – the world could sure use a lot more caring people like you. Your article really hit home that week, as we had also just lost our kitty the prior week.

We had just gotten home from work that night and let her out to play in the yard with her two siblings while we ran out for a bite of dinner. We weren’t gone more than an hour and, when we got home, we were horrified to find her beautiful little body lying peacefully on the curb in front of our house on W. Ave. 134th. She had tragically been hit by a car, but thankfully someone was kind enough to take her out of the street and lay her on the grass, so she wouldn’t continue to get run over.

My second thank you goes out to that kind, gentle soul who took her out of the street – your random act of kindness meant the world to us, that somebody cared enough to stop and help. Bless you, and may your kindness be repaid ten-fold.

What possessed our sweet little Full Chin to leave the safety of our yard and venture out into the street will always be a mystery. She always was the curious one of the triplets! Lesson learned the hard (worst!) way.

In the future, I will keep a much closer eye on my furry kids and let them out only with adult supervision. Animals really don’t understand the danger of cars, and it’s up to us as their guardians to ensure they are safe.

— Michelle Segelke, San Leandro

Letters • 04-02-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Suggestions to Relieve the BART Parking Crunch


Your article “City Nixes Garage-to-BART Shuttle Bus Service” (Page 8, The Times, March 19) makes it appear that the hundreds of people who used to park in the now-closed 1400 San Leandro Boulevard lot have simply vanished.

That’s not true. And there is plenty that the city could be doing to help the parking crunch.

The downtown parking garage is not a reasonable solution for those driving to BART, and a shuttle that ran only in the evenings was not going to attract people to it.

The city’s Tom Liao says that displaced BART commuters aren’t using nearby streets for parking. But watch the endless circling of cars as drivers look for spots on streets like Juana, Parrott, Clarke, Thornton, and others nearby after 7:30 a.m. each weekday. With BART lots full by then, competition for street parking is fierce.

Here are a few ideas to get city planners thinking:

1.Reconsider signed parking restrictions. Is there really a need for an extra-long passenger loading/unloading area on San Leandro between Juana and Parrott? What is the rationale for parking spaces limited to 24 minutes in that area? Please re-think these and other restrictions

2.Curbs painted red in that neighborhood have been done so inconsistently. Perhaps some residents have painted the curbs red themselves? That deserves another look.

3.White striping of parallel parking spaces might encourage people to maximize the street parking that’s there, instead of taking up two spaces with one car.

As construction near the San Leandro BART station claims more parking spaces, the city should re-examine parking policies in effect. There are ways to use the street parking area we do have more efficiently, but we need the city’s assistance.

— Blake Lawrence, Sheffield Village

Motorists Need to Look Out for Children and Pets


The article “Life Lesson Learned from a Cat” on page 9 of the March 19 Times caught my eye.

I would like to thank Aracely Garcia for a nicely written article.  It is an important lesson that I wish more people would heed.

My neighbors lost a cat on our street some months back and it was very traumatic for us all (me included). It is unfortunate that people use my street as a “cut-through” driving way above the posted limit. The person driving the car did not stop and left her to die in the street.

The more important lesson I think is that people need to stop being in such a hurry to go nowhere and to always be on the look out for children and pets in their neighborhood. Thanks Again Aracely for you kindness.

— Donna M. Meyer, San Leandro

Letters • 03-26-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Drones, Armored Vehicles Valuable to First Responders


We spend money on fire trucks, ambulances and police cars.

Fire truck: $225,000.

Ambulance: $120,000.

Police Car: $45,000.

If a fire department needed to look at property that was burning, a drone would help greatly. If an ambulance had to rescue shooting victims, your first thought would be: “An armored vehicle would be nice to have right about now.”

Well, guess what? We spend more money on armored vehicles to transport cash (Brinks) than we do on the very vehicle we expect to be ready when we call 911.

Short people want to be taller, fat people want to be thinner, and bald people want hair. Well, folks, if you’re able to take nourishment and still have mobility, be thankful. Some people could give an aspirin a headache!

— Larry Arnold, San Leandro

Determining the Good Guys from the Bad Guys


I read with interest last week’s articles (“Car Stop Leads to Stolen Gun, Pot” and “Cop Spots Stolen Car,” Page 3, The Times, March 19) regarding arrests made following the two incidences of cop car stops.

In the first article, the cop “believed occupants of the car were involved in criminal activity and pulled the car over.” In the second instance, the cop “recognized him driving a car that the cop knew did not belong to him.”

The justification for these traffic stops seems hazy to me. I can’t imagine the SLPD employs Super Cops who can tell the good guys from the bad guys merely by looking at a driver.

While I assume these were “good busts,” and am glad these people are now off the streets, I can only wonder how many other traffic stops for “belief of criminal activity” are made each week in which the beliefs turn out to be unfounded?

— Brennan Kane, San Leandro

Bringing YMCA Youth & Government Program to SL


Here in California there is an important opportunity to enrich the lives of our youth and to take definitive steps towards engendering a sense of civic connection, empowerment, and responsibility.

In March, over 100 people, mostly high school students, caucused about public safety, youth-police interaction, and other issues at San Leandro High School’s Performing Arts Center.  The way the organizers of the Social Justice Academy brought depth to the conversation by combining youth participation with social media was impressive. Innovation and dynamic programs are key tools in empowering future generations to be involved in creating the world they want to live in via policy, process, and democracy.

A passion of mine has been bringing the YMCA Youth & Government program to San Leandro middle school and high school students. California YMCA Youth and Government is a growing statewide mock government program that serves nearly 4,000 students. For over 70 years, it has been the proving grounds for a long list of leaders who have learned how to raise their voice in government to make positive change. Alumna includes Jim Brulte, Chairman of the Republican Party and John Laird, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.

Data reveals Youth & Government alumna out-perform the general population in several areas: registering to vote (96% vs. 66%), actually voting (87% vs. 54%), working on community issues (43% vs. 17%), being members of a board (15% vs. 3%), and getting their bachelor’s degree (88% vs. 25%).

Our daughter, Simone Stevens, is the elected Forum Lt. Governor this year and she would be honored to come to talk with teens and local groups about her experience. There are numerous leaders in the Bay Area involved with this program who would also be eager to share their experiences with those interested in becoming involved.

— Leah Hall, San Leandro (YMCA Youth & Government Lead Advisor 2013, 2014)

Great News for Breast-feeding Moms… and Cows


Great news for breastfeeding moms: You may be improving your children’s IQs. A long-term study of 3,500 babies in Brazil concluded that those who had been breastfed longer went on to score higher on IQ tests as adults. They were also more likely to pursue further education and earn higher salaries.

The research highlights yet another potential benefit of breastfeeding. Numerous studies have already shown that breastfed babies have reduced instances of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. And the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that babies who are fed cow’s milk “receive inadequate amounts of vitamin E, iron, essential fatty acids, and excessive amounts of protein, potassium, and sodium.”

Cow’s milk has also been linked to common childhood ailments, including runny noses, allergies, ear infections, bronchitis, and asthma. For the many children who are lactose intolerant, milk consumption can lead to stomach aches, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.

And of course, mother cows would prefer to get to nurse their own babies, as well.

— Michelle Kretzer, PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Virginia

Letters • 03-19-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

‘Why is Heron Bay Allowed to Act Like a Bad Neighbor?’


Ah, Spring is almost here. The days are longer, the sunsets are beautiful, the bay at dusk shimmers and sparkles ... and a security guard at the Heron Bay entrance at the end of Lewelling is checking IDs and allowing only the vehicles of residents to access the Public Bay Trail and threatening non-residents with an expensive tow.

What about disabled access to a trail we all pay for through assessments and taxes?

I’m surprised they let me ride my bike through their exclusive streets after a recent trail ride. Hey, San Leandro City Council, why is Heron Bay allowed to act like such a bad neighbor? Could any city services be withheld from this exclusive enclave until they play fair and share?

If they want to act like a gated community, they should just pay for and build one, a big gate and walls to help keep them away from us, all  of us who paid for, volunteer for clean-ups, cherish and use the Public Bay Trail system!

— Kent Kavasch, San Lorenzo

Pipe Water Down from Rainy Northwest?


With all the water problems the state has, there must be several things the state can do to help out.

If they can build pipelines and canals down to Southern California, then why can’t they build the same types of things down to here from Oregon and Washington? They have rain all the time and there must  be some way to collect it and get it down here.

The money they are wasting on that not-needed or probably won’t-be  used railroad could be better used for something people actually could get some benefits from. Just a thought.

— Fred Miller, Sheffield Village

Suspects SLPD is Angling for ‘More War Toys’


Regarding “Police Say They’re Being Tailed By Gangs,” (Page One, The Times, March 12):

Given the San Leandro Police Department’s history of fact fudging, and hyperbole in other matters such as medical marijuana and the need for that ridiculous military vehicle the “Bear-Cat,” I take this “Gang Threat” story with more than a grain of salt.

I’ve got a feeling we tax payers are getting set up for the acquisition of some more war toys. Is some gun runner having a sale on rocket launchers?

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Celebrate Start of Spring with Veggies


I do look forward to spring weather, green grass, and flowers in bloom.

The advent of spring is also a great opportunity to turn over a new leaf on our dietary habits. In fact, hundreds of communities welcome spring on March 20th with an observance of the Great American Meatout.

Visitors are asked to go vegan, at least for the day, and to explore a healthy diet of vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, and grains.

This year’s 30th anniversary celebration of Meatout is particularly significant because of the massive shift in America’s eating habits.

“Meatless Monday” has been making huge advances in public schools, universities, institutional cafeterias, and restaurants. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is recommending reduced

meat consumption. Stock market analysts are warning clients about potential “death of meat.”

Almost 50% of the respondents

in a special GlobalMeatNews poll said they had actively reduced their meat consumption. Accordingly, per capita U.S. meat consumption has dropped by more than 10% since 2005.

Each of us can celebrate our own advent of spring on March 20th by checking out vegan foods in our local supermarket and vegan recipes on the internet.

— Dennis Roth, San Leandro

Letters • 03-12-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

On Punishing Guitly School Trustees and Their Electors


I’m with Mary Josephs (“Accuses Voters of ElectingX Incompetent School Trustees,” Letters, Feb. 26).

Let’s punish the San Leandro school boards of the 1980s, and the voters of the 1980s who put them there, and refuse every request the current and future school boards have for addition funding. Let’s cap their budget, regardless of inflation, increased regulation, increased population, and the ever popular unfunded mandate.

Let’s hogtie the district until they atone for their predecessors’ sins by leveling Marina Square and rebuilding Pacific High.

If the kids across this city have to use a school bathroom that hasn’t been upgraded since 1937, so be it. Until we show these spendthrift volunteers what’s what, and make the next generation of San Leandro voters send their children to private schools, we will continue to be forced to pay for public education. Outrageous.

And if any reader is short a knife to cut off his nose, I’ve got extras.

— Andrew Kopp, San Leandro

Leo West Calls for a Rent Control Law


Welcome to the club, Robert Heron (“Unlimited Increases for San Leandro Renters,” Letters, March 5)!

With the last three years of rent increases, the rent has gone up a 47% at my location, even with the limitations written in the San Leandro ordinance. What worker has received a 47% increase in his wages for the last three years?

We have an absent landlord who hasn’t made any maintenance on the property for the last five years; he even fired the maintenance crew that existed previously.

In 2012, I applied for the position of Tenant Representative at the San Leandro Rent Review Board. Mayor Cassidy wouldn’t even give me a hearing, which is written in the procedures. Some time later, when I denounced him at a public meeting, he came to me to tell me that he wouldn’t consider me for the position because I had some “weird” politics. Obviously defending the rights of tenants is weird politics for a defender of landlords and businessmen.

At the time there was a vacant position on the Board for three years! The other position is being occupied by Lizzie Brown since 2002! The great majority of San Leandro tenants haven’t the foggiest idea about who Lizzie Brown is.

Later, Cassidy appointed Karyl Lee-Figueroa. In any case, these “representatives” never hold public informational meetings with tenants, distribute leaflets or show any interest in learning about their situations.

What’s needed in San Leandro is a Rent Control law: Any rent increase should be duly justified and none should be above the rate of inflation. Mr. Heron, lets work in that direction. I’m available.

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

Letters • 03-05-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Unlimited Increases for San Leandro Renters


After attending a San Leandro Rent Review Board meeting regarding a recent rent increase that fell within the qualifications for review, I have since learned that renters in San Leandro can be subject to unlimited rent increases provided that landlords follow basic notification rules (60 days notice for increases greater than 10 percent).

My recent rent increase was 20 percent (45 percent total over the last 3 years, and 70 percent over the last 10 years at the same residence). A handful of my neighbors (all longer-term residents than myself) were also in attendance at this Rent Review Board meeting to discuss similar rent increases.

The Rent Review Board makes non-binding recommendations (often reducing proposed increases) that landlords are free to ignore without penalty.

The Board has voted to pass along the more egregious cases of increased rents along to the City Council for review, but this is for informational purposes only – one can only hope that City Council members actually read these memos let alone discuss them publicly during monthly meetings.

I understand why landlords dislike rent control, but the rent increases in recent years are driving long term committed residents to consider moving out of the city we’ve grown to appreciate and enjoy.

With no guarantees that another 20 percent or greater rent increase awaits me in 12 months, I am looking for more affordable housing options outside of the city limits.

— Robert Heron, San Leandro

School Board Said to Need a Financial Analyst


I agree with Mr. Clouston (“San Leandro Expressing its Outrage on Wrong Priorities?” Letters, Feb. 26) 110 percent.  However, there are more serious issues with the BearCat than financing.

What the school board needs is a financial analyst who is familiar with the issuing of new and the refinancing of existing bonds. As a starting point, Steve Butler in the personal finance section of the Sunday Daily Review (Bay Area News Group) would be a good person to ask for references for such an analyst.

Refinancing at today’s rates is a great idea. However, a CAB loan is a type of predatory lending. It might be the case that there is an exorbitant fee for refinancing, if it’s even allowed.

Whoever is obtained as an analyst needs to sign a document that states explicitly that they will be a fiduciary.

This means that they and their firm are legally obligated to act in their client’s (that is, the San Leandro School Board’s) best interest. They will need to provide an analysis of refinancing costs compared to the costs of the existing bond.

My guess is that if the current consultant is required to sign a document like this and to prepare such an analysis, he will drop the School Board like a hot potato.

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Stop Whining and Work to Change Eductional Financing


Regarding the two letters last week whining about the school bond balloon payments that are looming for San Leandro and many other places across the nation, I can only say to them: This is what it feels like to be hoisted onto your own petard.

These backbreaking debts are the direct result of refusing to finance the education of America’s children in a coherent, fair, and equal manner.

Class, race and politics have made these train wrecks inevitable. The fact of the matter is, children are being born even as we speak and eventually they will need schools, school teachers, and all that entails.

Trying to lavish a good education on some while delibertly short changing others is short-sighted and leads to what is happening now.

Making war on school teachers and their unions doesn’t help either.

So stop whining and work to change how we finance education or break out the checkbook and stop whining.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Letters • 02-26-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

San Leandro Expressing its Outrage on Wrong Priorities?


I ask you, where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Where is the follow-up story?

Over the past year the BearCat, Redlight cameras, Drones, and even the China flag prompted readers to submit multiple letters to the Editor.

I’m shocked at the lack of similar outrage for the $80-million debt the school system just dropped on us. That $80M is 400 times the value of the BearCat Ambulance and the BearCat got multiple letters and a public outcry for weeks.

The much more important announcement that San Leandro taxpayers are on the hook for $80,000,000 dollar in interest charges on a $20,000,000 school building stimulated zero (0) letters.

Even worse, the consultant that talked us into this terrible deal and is now the same consultant we hired to tell us we need to increase taxes to pay for it

generated zero (0) letters. This is a joke. We already knew that was one option. How about refinancing at the now historically low interest rates instead of loan shark rates?

Let’s be clear here: The BearCat cost local taxpayers $0. The new School bond will cost us $80M in interest. No outcry? I ask you, reader, to take action.

Call the new mayor. Call your new council-member. If you voted for Diana Souza, call her and ask her if she could focus on this issue rather than crying about who was elected vice-mayor.  This school bond is a 20-plus year lead anchor on this city and we are fools to not be protesting – at the same levels or higher than the BearCat purchase – over this gross mismanagement of our current, and your kids’ future, tax dollars.

— John Clouston, San Leandro

Accuses Voters of Electing Incompetent School Trustees


Why should anyone be surprised with the latest fiasco from the school board regarding the balloon payment on the bond indebtedness? The San Leandro electorate has a penchant for electing candidates long on ego and short on business and financial acumen. This is not the first time the school board has failed to adequately perform their fiduciary duty to the local taxpayers.

Since my graduation, subsequent school boards have sold the Halcyon, Lincoln, Cleveland elementary schools, plus Pacific High. What happened to the monies from the sale of these capital assets? San Leandro real estate has done quite well during this same time frame.

The San Lorenzo school district kept their surplus properties and leased at least one out to a private school, retaining ownership in the event of an increase in student population.

Obviously the SLUSD did not.

When the student population cycled upward, the school district  funneled the elementary student populations into Bancroft and John Muir schools that were previously designated Jr. Highs for 8th and 9th grades and reclassified them as middle schools. This was the end result of the disposal of the elementary school sites.  With no Jr. Highs and one citywide High School, overcrowding at San Leandro High became inevitable.

The school board’s solution was to convince the electorate to  pass another school bond to replace assets previously owned by the district at an inflated price (the 9th grade academy). In essence, paying twice for the same capital asset. Now every property owner in the district has his property pledged as collateral for the school bonds.

Every few years, the school board will ask the electorate to pass a parcel tax or another school bond. The truth is, the education establishment has an insatiable appetite for more resources. It will never end. What is amazing is that they successfully convince enough of the  lemmings and drones in the electorate to vote in the affirmative on these tax measures, in spite of a history of poor stewardship, short sightedness, ineptitude, and incompetence.

— Mary Josephs, San Leandro

Health Officials Absent from Offering their Support of BearCat Purchase


One of the most telling aspects of the promotion of the city’s acquisition of a BearCat was the complete absence of our public health officials.

For all the hype regarding the “undeniable and urgent” need for safe delivery of medicines, medical equipment, and qualified doctors and nurses to administer same, the pleas (Mommy can I have one?) came from our police department.

I don’t recall one mention of any of our public health officials even supporting the efforts, let alone leading the charge.

Did I miss something here?

— Carroll Quam, San Leandro

Creating Something Positive from Tragic Slaying of Joel Ramirez


San Leandro suffered only a single homicide in 2014, that of a lively young Chabot College student from the Broadmoor, who was murdered on December 14, 2014.

Joel Ramirez had come up through the San Leandro public schools and graduated from San Leandro High School’s SLAM (San Leandro Arts and Media) Academy in 2012. He was bright, fun-loving, generous, and energetic, and intended to become a police detective. His large family and many friends are devastated by his sudden and violent death.

The police have discovered no motive for Joel’s murder – and therefore assume Joel was mistaken for an intended target.

The police and the City of San Leandro are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of his murderer. Please contact the police at 510-577-3230 if you have any information.

A scholarship has been created in Joel’s memory, to be given to a deserving San Leandro High School student. Many individuals and organizations, including the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association and the United Parents of SLHS, already have contributed.

Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation should make their checks payable to “San Leandro Scholarship Foundation” and indicate it is for the “Joel Ramirez Memorial Scholarship Fund.”  The address is P.O. Box 1151, San Leandro, CA 94577.

We believe bringing Joel’s killer to justice will make our community safer and provide some solace to his grieving family. The scholarship is an attempt to create something positive from this tragedy.

Thank you if you can help with either endeavor.

— Corina Lopez, and Emily and Rob Rich, San Leandro


Letters • 02-19-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Could It Change Your Mind About the BearCat?


BearCat – Yes, no, maybe so!

Have you ever been on a ride-along with the police? A ride-along allows you to ride in a police car during working hours, pulling up to the scene, people are happy to see you and they cheer when you drive up and they want to buy you a cup of coffee – not!

I’ve been on a ride-along 35 years ago. It was pretty intense. Every situation from a grocery store shoplifter to a person who couldn’t find his butt with two hands.

We expect a police officer to be Super-man and fix what is usually a self-inflicted situation – drugs, alcohol, or just plain too stupid to live.

This thing people don’t get is the criminal has nothing to lose, so he is going to use whatever means necessary to get his butt out of a bad spot. The police officer has to be the adult.

So, that said, go on a ride-along, and bring your big-boy pants. It could get crazy.

— Larry Arnold. San Leandro

Consider a Meat-Free Diet Beyond Lent


Yesterday marked the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, when many Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert before launching his ministry.

But meat-free Lent is much more than a symbol of religious devotion to Christ.

It helps reduce the risk of chronic disease, environmental degradation, and animal abuse. Dozens of medical reports have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer, and other killer diseases. A 2007 U.N. report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals being beaten, caged, crowded, deprived, mutilated, and shocked.

Lent offers a superb opportunity to honor Christ’s powerful message of compassion and love by adopting a meat-free diet for Lent an beyond. After all, it’s the diet mandated in Genesis I-29 and observed in the Garden of Eden.

Our supermarkets offers a rich array of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, as well as the more traditional vegetables, fruits, and grains. Entering “vegan recipes” in our favorite search engine offers more products, recipes, and transition tips than we can use.

— Dennis Roth, San Leandro

Letters • 02-12-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Thinks San Leandro was ‘Duped’ By Homeland Security


Have the San Leandro City Council members lost their minds? Are they expecting a war in San Leandro? Are the excellent police officers of our town afraid of the citizens?

I find it hard to believe that San

Leandro is wasting money on an armored war machine when there are probably many other areas that could use these funds. As to the ambulance capabilities of this tank, if the City needs an ambulance, buy an ambulance!

This is nothing but an expensive, unnecessary, aggressive “boy toy.” City Councillors, you are being duped by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who are trying to dump these vehicles on communities that don’t need them.

— Alice Franco, San Leandro

Lots of Unanswered Questions about the BearCat


It is troubling, but unsurprising, that the City Council voted to acquire the BearCat MedEvac. Thank you Ursala Reed for having the courage, integrity and intelligence to differ from the mayor and the rest of the city council. These people swallowed whole the red herring that the primary purpose of this vehicle is, in the words of the officer who was interviewed on television news, “to evacuate safely” the injured.

However, we are getting a peek behind the curtain. “It might be ‘staged’ nearby protests.” Where else might the BearCat be staged?

Exactly how will the victims be rescued and loaded into the MedEvac? Will covering fire from the turret and gun ports, be required? Why else is this “option” needed? Who gives permission for this option to be exercised? Those who claim the BearCat will save lives should write a letter to the editor explaining exactly how this will be accomplished.

It seems like the City Council’s, mayor’s and police chief’s concern for the public’s (and their) safety was so great that a policeman (+ patrol car) was posted in Carlton Plaza’s north parking lot on Feb. 2. Apparently, he was keeping an eye on the small group of white-haired, 60-something protestors “in case violence did break out.”

Are Level III Major Capaicinoid pepper spray, flash bang grenades, body armor and camouflage uniforms next on SLPD’s shopping list? I respect the SLPD officers, but where and when do we stop militarizing the police?

Reports on this vehicle’s usage every six months? You gotta be kidding! Whenever the BearCat is deployed, chances are the San Leandro Times will report it within a week or so.

If the mayor and council members read this paper, they can find out if this happened and ask questions in a timely manner. Unlikely to happen, though.

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Calls BearCat Purchase ‘Fleecing of the Gullible’


Can anyone site any credible

evidence that this type of vehicle which was meant for war zones, has saved a single civilian life in any municipality where these things have been purchased?

I doubt it.

The fleecing of the gullible is what the behemoth-sized military equipment manufacturers must do these days in order to maintain their obscene profits.

Our libraries continue to be short-staffed and underfunded; and our infrastructure is in sad shape and getting worse. Yet, the geniuses in charge waste money on useless war surplus machines.

This would be amusing if it wasn’t so pathetic.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

BearCat Buy: Says Kudos to Reed, Shame on Prola


Kudos to Councilwoman Ursula Reed being the only person with enough integrity to stand up against the “Good Old Boys Club.”

And shame on my district’s Jim Prola for again being in lock-step with anything and everything the SLPD wants and desires, along with his unwavering support for those %$!&#

red-light cameras!

This may be off on a tangent, but I remember some 10 years ago either

the Sheriff’s department or one of the local police departments buying a 1/4-million bomb-disposal unit even though a nearby agency already had one easily available for their use.

Just one more example of the old “Boys and Their Toys” mentality.

— Ken Kellogg, San  Leandro

Trains May Be Crowded, but He Loves BART


I wrote to you a few weeks ago

wanting to warn people of what I believe is an increase in parking tickets issued around the BART station.

I also want to go on record that I love BART service. It’s efficient and serves me well. Sure, sometimes the trains are crowded, but I see that as a sign that more people are in the workforce and some of us have to travel across the Bay to get to work.

We just got back from New York City — those trains are crowded too.

— Roy W. Daniels, San Leandro

Is Complaint About White Speaker ‘Reverse Racism?’


Toni Guy (“Says Library Picked Wrong ‘Black History’ Speaker,” Letters, Feb. 5) objects to Carol Ruth Silver speaking about her experiences as a Freedom Rider, because she is “White and not African American.”

Ms. Guy believes that the history of “Black people in this country needs to be spoken of only by Black voices sharing Black experiences.”

Isn’t this reverse racism?

In addition, Ms. Guy omits the fact that a Black voice, Freddye M. Davis, President of the Hayward Chapter of the NAACP, will be speaking along with Carol Ruth Silver.

As a white man, living in San Leandro, I am more than happy to listen to any African American speak about the history of the white experience in this country.

Didn’t Malcolm X suggest that both blacks and whites work together to achieve civil rights in America?

— George Z. Banks, San Leandro

Letters • 02-05-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Says Library Picked Wrong ‘Black History’ Speaker


On Saturday, Feb. 7, the San Leandro Main Library is planning a one hour “Observance of African American History Month.” The speaker is a White woman, Carol Ruth Silver, selling and signing her book about her experiences as a Freedom Rider.

As an African American, while I appreciate her contribution to our struggle, I do not think she is an appropriate choice for this event. She is not African American and her experience is not Black history. Her experiences would be better highlighted during Women’s History Month.

The history of Black people in this country needs to be spoken of by Black voices sharing Black experiences.

We hear from White voices about White experiences all the time; we don’t need to hear about a White experience during an observation of Black history. Black voices are too often silenced, our experiences untold and our history a mystery to the majority of Americans.

I urge others who feel that an African American speaker is more appropriate for this “observation” to call the main library and let them know.

This choice demonstrates, to me, a concerning lack of cultural competence and racial sensitivity on the part of library staff. I spoke with them and was not satisfied with their response. Only if they hear from others will this change. The history of African Americans should be spoken of during this “observance” not silenced.

Black Voices Matter.

— Toni Guy, San Leandro

An Open letter to Oro Loma Director Laython Landis

Director Landis:

The Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County was formed 10 years ago to ensure equal political and institutional participation of Asian and Pacific Americans in the democratic process.

We are a nation of immigrants and Asians have played a critical role in the creation of the United States since the 1870s. Despite our contributions, we are often not recognized as “real Americans,” due to many factors, not the least of which are stereotypical representations of who we are which marginalizes us and leads to discriminatory practices.

The Black Lives Matter protests call attention to the need to seek solutions to the institutional racism which has existed for centuries in this country. It is up to all of those elected to serve our communities to take a leadership role in addressing this critical issue beginning with how they treat people and communities whom they perceive to be different from themselves.

On Dec. 23, 2014, the Board of Directors of the Oro Loma Sanitary District adopted without opposition a resolution censuring you for “knowingly and willingly” making “insensitive and offensive racist and sexist comments” and for other offenses.

In subsequent public comments, you expressed the intent to continue using the language in question, demonstrating your failure to comprehend and accept the seriousness of your conduct.

In light of this behavior, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee has called upon you to resign from the Board of Directors of the Oro Loma Sanitary District effective immediately.

The Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County (APADCAC) is in agreement with the Democratic Central Committee in calling for your resignation because leaders who fail to acknowledge the destructive nature of racist and sexist comments have no place on the dais.

— Lena Tam, President, APADCAC

Time for the City to Develop a Strategy for Broadmoor’s ‘Major Problem’


In the last five years there have been two officer-involved shootings within 200 feet of my front door (Dec. 2010 Bancroft & Durant, and Dec. 2014 Broadmoor Blvd.), a net loss of businesses in my neighborhood, human trafficking at the massage parlor which the FBI finally raided, and even our Christmas decorations are store-bought and put up with Scotch tape and inside extension cords.

You’d expect someone living in East Oakland to be writing this, not someone living in San Leandro. It’s time for the city council to acknowledge the Broadmoor has a major problem and start developing some kind of strategy to reinvigorate our neighborhood.

If the city council can spend $90,000 on consultants to tell them the obvious things they needed to do around the new Kaiser Hospital, then they can do the same to formulate a plan for the Broadmoor. It’s time.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Armored Vehicle Said to Lack Critical Response Time


The two most important issues about the BearCat to address are the response time and effectiveness. SLPD has a very high bar to hurdle when it comes to response time.

Former FBI agent Kenneth Gray (who founded Connecticut’s joint counter-terrorism task force and served as the bureau’s crisis management response coordinator) said time is of the essence in active-shooter responses because the average incident lasts 12 minutes, and one in three incidents ends in less than half that time.

“Since the situation is so fluid and developing so rapidly, you don’t have time to wait for a SWAT team,” said Gray. “You have to use the resources you have available and… put together a game plan to respond to this fluid situation.”

For decades, the protocol across all agencies was to call in a SWAT team and attempt to negotiate with the gunman. That started in 1966.

Then came the shooting at Columbine High School and everything changed. That’s when two students killed 12 classmates and one teacher while police SWAT teams were standing outside the door for hours.

It’s the brave patrol officers who rush to a violent and unknown situation, who have the best, if only, chance to contain and control events.

I’m no expert, but it appears that many, if not most, of the perpetrators are suicidal. The BearCat can’t help in these situations.

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Armored Vehicle is an Assault Vehicle, Not an Ambulance


I want to thank Carole Cordray for finally clarifying for me my true title in life (“Welcomes Armored Vehicle For ‘a Safe Neighborhood’,” Letters, Jan. 29). You see, I finally know that I am a “low- information agitator.”

I don’t want my adopted city of San Leandro to possess an “Armored Personnel Carrier” and make no mistake; the “MedEvac” monster is being sold as an ambulance of a sort. No ma’m. What I saw is an “Armored Assault Vehicle” nothing more, nothing less.

Please don’t get the idea that I’m in any way anti-police nor anti-law-enforcement. That is not the case. But there seems to be an “Idiot Wind” sweeping across our country (Bob Dylan’s words). I certainly hope that it will stop at the San Leandro city limits. And, Cordray, the next time you want to call people names, at least go and see what fear and bureaucratic waste looks like.

— Richard Mercouris, San Leandro

Mystified by the Conclusion of ‘American Sniper’


Heavy in the news these days, “American Sniper.” I’ve seen the movie, and according to the snipers I’ve heard on TV, this picture depicts what war is and how lethal a sniper’s job is. I couldn’t agree more.

Not being a sniper, I do understand their thinking and reasons for such a special, technical and lethal job.

Mystery to me is the ending. Nobody has mentioned the person who killed Navy Seal Chris Kyle and the reason.

— Earl Cava, San Leandro

Senior Center Offers Lots of Options for Healthy Exercise


Thank you for publishing the article “New Fitness Class Just for Women,” (Page 4, The Times, Jan. 22), which highlights the growing options for exercise classes at the Senior Community Center (SCC).

For example, ever since the SCC expanded its hours until 5 p.m. in 2013, I’ve been offering classes for more active seniors on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 4 p.m. (details can be found in the new Recreation catalog or online at the City website). Now, with the addition of this new afternoon dance fitness class, there will be 4 p.m. exercise classes for active older adults at the SCC every day, Monday through Thursday.

New sessions start in February, so I encourage you to take a look at the new Spring 2015 “Activities Guide” available at all City sites or at www.sanleandro.org/depts/rec/activities/spring.asp.

There are a lot of exercise classes being offered at the SCC every weekday, and the good news is that all classes are open to anyone who is 50 or over, and there are classes for every fitness and ability level. Class options include chair fitness, tai chi, gentle yoga, ballroom dancing, as well as more aerobic fitness classes like my Barefoot Fitness and Gentle Fitness classes – and the new Dance Fitness class offerings.

All in all, the Senior Community Center has added a lot of activity and class options for San Leandrans, and I hope to see you moving around the SCC in 2015.

— Peggy Hynd Combs

Certified Fitness Instructor a Thank You to All Who Care About San Leandro Creek


I’d like to thank The Times for being such a help to my organization, Friends of San Leandro Creek. The Friends have many events and occasions annually for community involvement; lectures, festivals, classes and volunteer opportunities.

This last weekend we had our Day of Service Creek Cleanup to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. All newcomers are always asked where they got the information to help. Mostly we can credit The Times.

This time we got some community leaders, like Ed Hernandez and his family and Nate Ivy and his son. Saturday was a beautiful day and we now have an even more beautiful creek. Thanks, SL Times for giving the people of San Leandro knowledge of all the great things going on in our city. Thanks also to our many committed volunteers that care enough to make this a great place to live and work.

— Susan Levenson, San Leandro

Bakersfield Seniors’ Cherished Memories of San Leandro


After 60 years, Jack and Hilda Jones have left their beloved city of San Leandro. Hilda at 92 and Jack at 99, finally listened to the pleas of their family to move closer to them – so we now reside in Bakersfield. The last 10 years of the 60, we resided in the wonderful community of Mission Bay. It was difficult to bid farewell to friends and neighbors.

Our love for San Leandro began more than five decades ago in the 1950s. Those years filled with memories are embedded in our hearts. New homes were being built in San Leandro at the same time we were searching for a city in which to bring up our family. We found a perfect three-bedroom home on Pacific Avenue. We used a Cal-Vet loan and moved in.

Residents on the block were middle-class people, all searching for the American Dream – a home, a car, a steady job and a living wage. They held a variety of jobs – factory, postal, utilities, police, truck drivers, etc.

Many times we have gone down memory lane… the homes are still there (not in mint condition), but gone is the laughter of the old neighborhood children playing, now the majority of their beloved parents have passed away. Yes, they have all left, but those cherished memories will always remain. Thank you San Leandro.

— Jack and Hilda Jones, Bakersfield



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