Letters • 08-28-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Says Candidate Ousley Lost His Vote


I agree with Mia Ousley (“Ousley Seeks Your Vote,” Letters, Aug. 21) that San Leandro has great potential. I am, however, surprised that she claims to have learned in economics classes that rent control and increases in minimum wages will “actually help our economy.”

It’s Econ 101 that rent control leads to a decline in housing quality along with an increase in average rents (by decreasing the available supply, as landlords are not rewarded for their investments).

It is also straightforward economics that an increase in minimum wage leads to fewer jobs, particularly for those at the lowest rungs of the workforce (those with the least education and skills).  She claims to “speak from experience” as a small business owner?

Really? How about a thought experiment – what if San Leandro decreed that the minimum living wage was to become $50/hour? How many employees would she have to fire? Would she have to relocate her business to remain competitive? It’s simple, raising the cost of labor decreases the demand for it – Econ 101 again, which she must have missed on her degree path.  Ms. Ousley, you lost my vote.

— David Nierengarten, PhD, San Leandro

Supports Katz-Lacabe, Who ‘Actually Listens to Concerns’


As a parent of a recent San Leandro High School graduate, I’m glad that San Leandro School Board member Mike Katz-Lacabe is running for City Council. We deserve council members that have his intelligence, broad knowledge base and commitment to San Leandro.

More importantly, we deserve council members who actually listen to the concerns of the community.

When the School District moved to close a gate that neighbors used to access the fields at San Leandro High, Mike was the only School Board member who listened to community members who wanted to maintain access to the fields. Mike understood that San Leandro citizens supported the school bonds, pay taxes for those facilities and should be able to access and enjoy them.

Mike is always prepared and asks tough questions of the Superintendent and staff to ensure that our money is spent wisely. He understands that the job of local elected officials is to provide oversight, not just rubber-stamp recommendations from the staff. It’s time we have someone like him in City Hall.

— Carolyn Escorcio, San Leandro

Believes Katz-Lacabe Will Represent Diverse Community


Finally a candidate in San Leandro that will be a delight to vote for. Mike Katz-Lacabe has shown by his actions that he genuinely cares about the City of San Leandro.

We need more conscientious thinkers like him that understand and appreciate a community such as ours – one which embodies many layers. I know he will make every effort to represent our diverse community in a way that frankly has been lacking. I am proud to call San Leandro my home, and in no small part, that stems from knowing people like him exist in my community.

I may not agree with him 100% on every issue, nor do I expect anyone to agree with me 100% either. Community is not something to be built but rather what already exists, and we will only thrive as a city if every citizen is respected equally. Mike Katz-Lacabe gives said respect and I look forward to him being a City Council member in San Leandro.

— Frances Leidy, San Leandro

Not All Fox Viewers Are Uninformed or Misinformed


Mr. Burton’s derogatory remarks (“Burton: A Benchmark for Fox News?” Letters, Aug. 21) about Fox News was absurd.

Many millions watch Fox, more than any other cable news network. They are not all uninformed or misinformed.

— Ron Robinson, San Leandro

Accuses SLz School Board of Issuing False Minutes


I am a San Lorenzo teacher who recently discovered that the Board issued official Minutes on its website for the May 6 meeting that were false, as well as incomplete.

The published minutes, still on the district website, indicate 16 people spoke at the meeting. The vast majority recorded were board members or district officials, as well as two students from East Bay Arts, and two staff members, the current and former presidents of the teachers’ union.

The Board omitted mention of 22 of 38 individuals who spoke on May 6. Two members of the Library staff spoke against the ridiculous district plan to add a district librarian before restoring library staffing at the school, while one teacher librarian (me) had to cover over 3,100 students at Arroyo and San Lorenzo High. The public comments falsely stated that nobody spoke when library staff did so.

By the later session, 11 teachers, 6 parents and community members and 3 students also spoke but weren’t in the record.

The board’s own policy 9324(a) states clearly, “The minutes shall reflect the names of those individuals who comment . . . as well as the topics they address.” The board ignored its own policy in excluding critical public voices.

How much respect does the board show for the public by removing records of 3/5 of comments made? Should the public think that the removal of 20 names and statements among 22 that were critical of the board or administration (and none supportive) was just a “coincidence”?

If you see problems with suppressing public speech, don’t support San Lorenzo incumbents this November. If you want a more honest and competent board, Janet Zamudio (a speaker whose name was removed) and Steve Kirk look more energetic and engaged with the community.

— Mark Schneider, San Leandro

Letters • 08-21-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Ousley Seeks Your Vote


San Leandro is on the threshold of becoming a great city. We need a Councilmember who can help bring in new business, who has the knowledge to manage our budget, and who has deep empathy for our most vulnerable.

I am that person. I chose San Leandro 17 years ago specifically to raise my children in this diverse and affordable community. And while I support bringing in tech businesses to create jobs, I want to ensure we don’t make the same mistake as Silicon Valley. So I will work tirelessly to keep working families and seniors in their homes by leading the effort to enact a sound rent stabilization measure. I say this with experience as the homeowner member of the Rent Review Board.

And we must join neighboring cities in implementing a livable minimum wage. No family can survive on $16,000 a year. I owned a brick-and-mortar business for 10 years and now I offer financial management services as an independent contractor to small businesses, so I speak from experience – and from education, as well, with a degree in Economics – when I say that a living wage will actually help our economy.

I helped organize our community to save San Leandro Hospital, which preserved our ER and saved hundreds of jobs at one of our largest employers. I’m a graduate of Leadership San Leandro, and a long-time leader of our city’s largest and most active neighborhood association, where I have earned a reputation for keeping people informed and engaged, and for leading by example.

My extensive experience counseling battered women, mentoring children, and guiding troubled young adults shows I am passionately committed to helping all San Leandrans be safe and prosper.

Vote for Mia Ousley for City Council in District 5.

— Mia Ousley, San Leandro

SL’s Mass Surveillance: Who Is Watching the Watchers?


As our town gets set up as a test bed for mass surveillance techniques, the words of the Roman poet Juvenal come to mind: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

Who, indeed, is watching the watchers? Neither the police who operate the system nor the City Hall that pays for it can be trusted with this task as they each have a stake in this new order to begin with. And the question is of more than passing academic interest, for the surveillance society overturns the one basic fundamental of our judicial system. Instead of “innocent until proven guilty,” this new regime says “you’re guilty of something so we’re going to watch until you do it.”

Both the police and City Hall will cry “But it’s for the good of the public!” Such an argument is the first that every tyrant uses and anyone arguing you have to give up even one shred of your rights or privacy “for the public good” respects neither and is not to be trusted.

This deliberate contempt for our civil liberties in the name of fighting crime must be met by the public with an even heavier skepticism of any utterances on

the subject by the police or City Hall.

We should immediately institute a board of citizens who are empowered to review any and all uses of surveillance cameras and recorders to ensure these devices are indeed used strictly for fighting crime and not for fishing trips by the police and powers that be.

— Allan Lindsay-O’Neal, San Leandro

Hamas’ ‘Heinous Propaganda’ Exploits Deaths in Gaza


I share Elie Parker’s concern (“Says Israel Must Share Land With Palestinians, or Leave,” Letters, Aug. 7)) about the civilian deaths in the Gaza conflict.

Israel’s response was only after hundreds of rockets had been fired indiscriminately at Israel’s population centers. In addition, the rockets were fired throughout the more than three weeks from either in or on the environs of mosques, schools and hospitals, placing civilians in grave danger of retaliatory Israeli fire, fire that would only come after civilians had been warned repeatedly through leaflets, phone calls and other alerts to leave their homes. No military force in the world goes to these lengths to prevent civilian casualties.

However, all too often, the Gazans were told by Hamas to stay in their homes, to be used as human shields and their deaths exploited by Hamas as heinous propaganda. While Hamas was building a network of terror tunnels costing millions of dollars to attack and kill Israelis, its citizens had no protective refuge shelters.

The letter writer responds himself to his comment by stating the number of Arabs in the region comprising many nations covering much land while tiny, democratic Israel occupies a tiny sliver of territory surrounded by those who want to annihilate her.

— Mervyn K. Danker, Regional Director, AJC, San Francisco

Leo West: The Jewish State... A Matter of Ideology


I agree with Elie Parker’s letter (see above) on almost all points. The most noticeable exception is her statement about the United States not bombing the Michelin rubber plantation to save the trees.

Of course, the plantation belonged to another imperial power from whom the U.S. inherited the war and, even most important, Elie Parker seems to ignore that the United States used Agent Orange to burn the forests in Vietnam, killing the people inside them.

Millions of people have suffered the consequences of that bombing with deformed children still being born today.So much for U.S.’s humanitarianism.

As for the Jewish State, it has to be understood that it’s a matter of ideology, as written in the Torah and the Old Testament, that dates from the times of the invasion of Canaan to achieve the “promised land” for the “chosen people.” In this endeavor engaged in killing all the people living in that land, Canaanites, Philistines, Jebusites and dozens of other tribes.

By God’s directives “all men, women and children must be killed for if the parents are sinners the children are too.” Some members of the Knesset are still repeating that today. But the books do make an exception: “You could spare some of the women for your own pleasure or for work at home.” This is, more or less, what the “sacred books” say.

I mostly agree with Elie Parker’s comparison of the Jews with The Nazis.

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

Burton: A Benchmark for Fox News?


I would suggest to folks who remain on the dwindling, pro-Israeli bandwagon that they not use Fox News, nor Sean Hannity, as sources of good information as to what is happening in that cauldron, the Middle East.

I only say this because of a study released by the University of Fairleigh Dickenson a while back. In that study, they found Fox News veiwers are the most uninformed and misinformed folk in the nation. It would seem that Fox News’ reporting is a bit shaky when it comes to facts.

It is a known fact that you don’t get good fruit from a poisoned tree.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Says Wall Street Money Shows Its Power in the Middle East


Well, here we go again trying to make the world safe for Israel and the oil companies. The ostensible reason for attacking the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq is humanitarian suffering in the oil-rich Kurdish region.

Humanitarian suffering in Syria and Israeli-occupied Gaza did not move our Washington politicos. But have some uppity Islamists pose a threat to oil wells or the racist Jewish state and our military are dispatched to set things right pronto.

That Wall Street money for political campaigns sure is powerful stuff: a 99-to-0 Senate vote for moral support and $350 million in borrowed money for Israel flew right through Congress. Money for Central American kids coming across our southern border, or pot holes on the interstate, that is something else again.

Bombing the Islamic State soldiers is not likely to do much good except for manufacturers of rockets and bombs. Bombing campaigns have not stopped the Viet Kong, the Taliban, Iraqi Sunnis, or the Palestinians. To resolve such conflicts, what is needed, as recently stated by the UN Secretary General, is “to address the fundamental issues.”

In both the Palestinian and Iraqi conflicts the underlying causes are the oppression of one ethnic group by another: Instead of bombing IS we ought to withhold our help from Bagdad until that government is responsive to legitimate Sunni interests, and we ought to motivate the spiritual and financial backers of IS, the Saudis, to withdraw their support. Similarly in Palestine, instead of sending weapons, we must motivate Israel to end its occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. Until that is done, the bleeding will continue and that blood is on our hands.

— Jim Mehner, Oakland

End the Hate: Embrace the Two-State Solution


My previous letter stated that the Israelis and Palestinians must share the land. The response I received ranges from the unprintable to Senator Dianne Feinstein who supports a two state solution.

Dianne realizes that sharing the land can lead to fairness and equality which will triumph over fear and conflict. The immediate goal now is to achieve the two state solution.

The United Nations who created Israel, and the United States – Israel’s main supporter – need to force a settlement on the two parties. My recommendations would be to establish a viable Palestinian state. Israel would return to the borders recognized by the United Nations. To maximize border security, land swaps between the parties would be allowed if both agree. The right of the Palestinians to return home would be part of the agreement. The percentage of returning Palestinians would be set so that it does not endanger the status of the Jewish state. Payments would be made to the Palestinians who chose not to return or who cannot return. The payments to the Palestinians would be commensurate to their property and psychological loss. The right to exist for both the Israeli and Palestinian states would be guaranteed by the United Nations. Let’s end the hate.

— Elie Parker, San Leandro







Letters • 08-14-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Wants to See Ferry Service Come to San Leandro


I am always surprised to hear that our powers-that-be state Ferry service is not an option for San Leandro.

We were in contact with a previous Mayor who told us that no one would take the ferry if it came to San Leandro.  Therefore, this idea was shelved and I could never understand why that was the case.

Many people from Hayward, Castro Valley and other outlying communities would come to take the ferry in San Leandro. It would be a lot closer than going to Oakland or Alameda.

We still need to think about ways of getting ferry service to San Leandro. We can’t give up because for some odd reason we are being told they don’t want service in San Leandro. Who is stating this? We need to push our elected local and state officials to let them know that we can not discount this idea of having ferry service.

I think all of us agree that we need to get more cars off of the road due to tremendous traffic issues that we face everyday. Also, if we develop residential and other commercial developments at the Marina this would make it a very responsible development because we have a plan in place for public transportation.

I might add, even if we don’t add commercial or a housing development it’s still a good plan to have a ferry service in our community. It makes sense because we are on the water and it would be the responsible thing to do. I don’t think we should give up this vision.

— Johanne Dictor, San Leandro

Use of Term ‘Big Brother’ for Cameras Called ‘Misleading’


Your reader’s are being mislead by the term “Big Brother” as used in a feature headline in this paper and specifically in the Letters section of the Aug. 7 edition.

Big Brother is the dictator/construct of a fictional totalitarian state in George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four where massive surveillance is used for the benefit of the rulers. The term has since migrated into our lexicon “as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties, often specifically related to mass surveillance” (ref. Wikipedia).

Thus the three requirements for the appropriate use of “Big Brother” in this context are 1)Dictator, 2)Massive Surveillance, and 3)Benefiting only the Dictatorship.

Test: Could our city be reasonably described as a totalitarian state with the city council and police as the dictators? Are the camera’s to be deployed in massive numbers and in private spaces? Will the cameras only aid the alleged “Dictators”?

The answers are all no, of course. Our goal, transferred to our local leaders by our local votes (thus not a dictatorship), is to deter and/or catch the few criminals in our population that pray on the businesses and residents of our city (not the Dictators only), by deploying camera’s in key public spaces (not massive surveillance).

In this context I agree with Mr. Sturm’s (Letters, Aug. 7) request that we ask questions of our current and potential future representatives to ensure they agree that protecting the many from the few using current technology is a key goal of city council and the SLPD.

However I disagree with Mr. Sturm’s summary positions.

First, requiring that our city leaders receive the benefit of these technologies ahead of the rest of us actually fulfills requirement No. 3. Second, fighting crime is the our reaction to the actions of those in our society who act to take away our liberty and freedom to act. Thus the John Adams quote is, in my opinion, an inflammatory use, like the Big Brother term, to mislead us from our true goals.

We must ask our government to use all resources and tools available to protect and regaining already lost liberties.

— John Clouston, San Leandro

A New Role for California Conservatory Theatre?


I just read that the San Leandro Police Department wants to expand its station. Why don’t they move into the defunct California Conservatory Theatre right next door at 999 East 14th Street?

— Brent Heath, San Leandro

In Defense of Israel: Calls Letter-Write ‘Naive’


In response to Ellie Parker (“Says Israel Must Share Land With Palestinians, or Leave,” Letters, Aug. 7), it is extremely naive to think Israelis are killing women and children senselessly, and because of land.

Palestinians want Israelis dead! As of now, Israel has had to endure 10 years of Palestinians shooting over 10,000 rockets into Israel from Gaza; that Hamas who these people have voted into power have declared death to Israel; that Hamas hides behind women and children by shooting at Israel from hospitals, elementary schools, mosques, homes, so as to play on our sensibilities that Israel wouldn’t shoot back at those facilities; that they are killing their own people; that Hamas digs dozens of tunnels to Israel from these same facilities in order to abduct Israelis and kill them and hold them for ransom?

This is in contrast to Israel which wants peace, but must respond, finally, to these attacks.

CNN and other media outlets say that it is always Israel that is the bad guy, when Israel has been unbelievably tolerant of these rockets fired into their neighborhoods by these horrible people.

Ellie, and all you who believe the Palestinians are defenseless civilians, realize these people voted Hamas into power and fully believe Israelis should be killed in the most brutal, senseless way. They support Hamas, even to the extent of sending their children to dig these tunnels to attack Israel in their own back yards, and many of these children die building these attack tunnels.

How valuable are these “innocent civilians” when Hamas regularly kills its own people and puts them in harm’s way?

Try the alternative news stations for your news to balance out your inaccurate view of this part of the world. Stop listening to the standard media which is biased against Israel and is antisemitic. Yes, I mean Fox News. Look up Sean Hannity. Then you might have some understanding of the plight of Israel, a Western democracy and our ally.

— Corey Anderson, San Leandro

Letters • 08-07-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Supports City’s Increased Use of Surveillance Cameras


I was highly amused with the reactionary headline “City Council Opens Door for Big Brother.” With everyone having a camera phone and stores and public places using surveillance cameras, Big Brother has been living with us for quite a while.

For better or worse, we live in an age of high technology. How foolish it would be to cast aside this technology out of unfounded privacy fears. The criminals try and stay one step ahead of law enforcement. It is important we do not “handcuff” our own Police Department by not giving them the best tools available to do the job of keeping our community safe.

Fremont recently installed cameras and it is already paying off in the swift solving of some violent crimes. Piedmont has found great success in their increased use of LPR and cameras, as have Vallejo, Oakland and Richmond.

I had the opportunity to attend the San Leandro Citizens Police Academy and meet many of the talented men and women on the SLPD. (I strongly urge you to take that opportunity as well.)  Hearing some of the obstacles our Officers face makes the important use of cameras more understandable. Often solid Police work is not enough, cameras give the “after the fact” evidence often needed to solve and prosecute crimes.

I strongly urge the support for these cameras. We need to look at the big picture and the increased use of community cameras would help us do just that.

— Russ Gebhardt, San Leandro

Questions on Cameras for Mayoral, Council Candidates


I read the ‘City Council Opens Door for Big Brother’ article in the July 24th San Leandro Times with interest and

concern.  Those who are running for mayor or city council should be asked

the following questions in any “meet the

voters” gatherings, debates or other public appearances.

1.Have the current mayor or council members briefed the candidates about the program to install surveillance cameras throughout the city? If not, why not?

2.What are the subsequent phases? Will the candidate support or oppose them?

3.Will San Leandro’s system be tied into Oakland’s or any other sur-

veillance center for a broader

territorial coverage?

4.Will private CCTVs (from businesses or homes) be linked to this (as Oakland euphemistically calls it) situational awareness tool?

5.Will subpoenas and/or court orders be required to access footage/data from the 90-day database?

6.If the system goes forward, will the candidates commit in writing to make the first installations on the streets where the current mayor and council members live?  Or, is this another ‘not in my backyard’ situation? A letter to the editor of this newspaper will suffice.

7.Will they and all the citizens of San Leandro remember the words of founder John Adams “Those who trade liberty for security will have neither.”

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

DeWitt Takes Out Papers to Run for School Board


It was years ago that I was told by a local elected office holder not to run for 10 years. I was then a County Commissioner. I have always been interested in education. I grew up at a performing arts school where my father was a teacher and administrator. My mother and both grandmothers were teachers.

My first two jobs were at that school. I have worked with disabled people in teaching them life skills. I have thought a lot about running for school board and pulled the papers this last week. I have two degrees one in business administration and communication.

Education is as much an art as an educated skill. For decades people think that a higher degree will mean more performance from educators. Before we require them to go from masters’ degrees to doctorates,

I would like to see strong basic skills. Also classes in programming to prepare our students for a better career. I would like to see students being taught time management. Not all students have this needed or vital skill.

Too often leaders will say “we are already doing it.” I say we all can take part in better the life’s of students and only if we employ more effective education reforms. I stand by to listen and would like to survey all parents on how to be more effective in educating our students.

— Joel DeWitt, San Leandro

Says Israel Must Share Land with Palestinians, or Leave


Israelis and Palestinians Must Share the Land.

I watched with horror a news footage of a battery of Israel self propelled (SP) heavy artillery guns firing on Palestinian homes, schools and hospitals. I thought it uncivilized that such fire power could be unleashed on defenseless civilians including women and children of which over 1000 have been killed so far.

I am familiar with the SP because my army unit in Vietnam in 1968 deployed the weapon. Back then, like the Israelis today, we were under rocket fire but we were not allowed to use our heavy artillery because the rocket fire was coming from a nearby Michelin rubber  plantation. They worried that our heavy return fire would damage the rubber trees. We took causalities but the trees were saved.

We were not allowed to use our heavy weapons on trees but the Jews are using their artillery, tanks and fighter jets on defenseless men, women and children. It is as if the Jews have replaced the Nazis and are now the executors of the “Final Solution,” The only difference today is that the Jews are the killers and the Palestinians are the victims.

I believe that people are more important than trees. In fact people are the most precious thing on this earth and should not be treated like sub-humans beaten, starved and slaughtered into submission.

The United States, Israel’s main supporter must step in and stop the killing.

There are 350 million people in the Middle East, most of them are Arabs. In Israel there are 4.4 million Jews. The numbers are not in Israel’s favor. Israel will have to share the land with the Palestinians or leave the Middle East.

— Elie Parker, San Leandro

Letters • 07-24-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

California on a Learning Curve About the Use of Water



In the June 26, 2014 issue of the San Leandro Times, Carl Medford wrote an interesting commentary, “Sellers Face Drought Dilemma,” about the challenges of selling homes during the time of drought.

As a homeowner, I know that at times I and my fellow homeowners can become so engrossed in maintaining, or better yet, increasing property values that we often forget our property is part of a greater web. Periodically we need to pause and ask how do the decisions we make impact the neighborhood and whether or not these decisions also take into consideration our environment.

A house in our neighborhood is being sold through Coldwell Banker. The lawn is being watered daily, set on a timer.

No question, the yard looks very nice, but it is incongruous. Most of the other lawns on the street are browning, at least to some degree or another.  I don’t find Mr. Medford’s suggestion that “artificial turf may be a product may be a product that has finally come home to stay,” particularly helpful either.

While none of us know how deep or how long this drought will go, the ideal of a tidy, perfectly green lawn is probably passing.  Our environment can no longer tolerate the chemicals and energy it takes to maintain such lawns in a Mediterranean climate.

Nor does our environment need the stress of manufacturing a product like artificial turf. This product, which will more than likely eventually end up in landfill, does little to support the life of the birds and pollinators in our neighborhoods.

Droughts, while troubling to live through, can provide us an opportunity to think about how we try to live in balance with reduced resources as we let go of outdated notions about what constitutes a beautiful landscape.

There are many options for drought resistant gardens, and much information is available about what to plant not only for beauty, but also that will support the flora and fauna that share our space. We are on a learning curve. We are part of a whole, and as a whole, we all must share the resources we have today.

— Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, Minister SpiritCare Ministry to Seniors, San Leandro


Proposed Monument on East 14th Called ‘Ludicrous’



Regarding the letter of July 17, 2014, “Discouraged by City’s Neglect of Northern East 14th Street,” I totally sympathize, however the southern portion of East 14th Street isn’t any better.

Example – the recent proposal of a monument at the triangle of East 14th Street, 150th Avenue and Hesperian Boulevard for the purpose of attracting people to San Leandro – that’s ludicrous.

Across the street is the old Pring’s Restaurant, which was a landmark in San Leandro, has been vacant for ages and is currently a used car lot.

What happened to our city officials and the Chamber of Commerce?

— Lito A. Micheli, San Leandro


Open Letter to the Mayor on Disposition of the Marina



Mayor Cassidy, I have been following Mr. Dwight Pitcaithley’s letters to the San Leandro Times. I agree with him 100 percent.

Why do we need to build more offices, hotels, restaurants, housing, and last but not least, a three-story parking garage at the marina? Why take this beautiful area away from the people of San Leandro?

The development is only going to bring more cars, noise, pollution and construction trucks. We, the citizens of San Leandro, need to vote on this.

As Dwight Pitcaithley said in his letter on March 27: “When Mayor Cassidy disenfranchises citizens by not allowing a ballot vote on the disposition of the marina, democracy fails and citizens and taxpayers lose.

— Sandra Headley, San Leandro


Calls Jones’ Letter ‘Nothing More than Liberal Arrogance’



Recently, concerned citizen Doug Jones unwittingly gave us a good, hard look at the topsy-turvy, inside-out world of the modern Democrat activist.

He opens with his view that anyone against the trade of five high-profile, proven terrorists for one American deserter who may – or may not – have provided aid to the enemy is, to him, just someone “who foams at the mouth opposition to our President.”

Strong words, but nothing more than liberal arrogance hiding mental and moral poverty, for the rest of his letter lets us step through the looking glass into Mr. Jones’ world, where causing 8 million people to lose their health care to cover 6 million (of whom 2 million may be illegal aliens) is called “helping millions of Americans gain health insurance;” where throwing away the hard-fought gains of our years spent in Iraq and Afghanistan is called “pulling us out of expensive and misbegotten wars;” where the lowest labor rate since Jimmy Carter (62.8%) means 90 million of us have given up looking for work completely, and with 52% of the country (161 million) receiving government benefits - this is called “many consecutive years of job growth” because everything is “working perfectly.”

Given this litany of woe, one shudders at what he would call “success.” Against such squalor, it is a comfort to know that if opposition is merely “foaming at the mouth,” the only conclusion is that unqualified support is just so much “foaming at the brain.”

— Allan Lindsay-O’Neal, San Leandro


Says Jones ‘Nailed...Scurilous Rantings of Faux Patriots’


Letter-writer Doug Jones nailed it recently when he called out those whose anti-Obama fixation has them attacking Sgt. Bergdahl, his family, and even his hometown.

Have we reached some watershed moment in the way Americans treat those who put on the uniform, serve, and become victims of  conflict?

Are they only worthy of our sympathy, understanding and gratitude if they have no connection to President Obama?

The scurrilous ranting of faux patriots against this soldier were so repugnant in the beginning that I thought they would cease, once folks took a moment to realize that maybe this young man was mentally un prepared and definitely unsuitable for combat.

But no, the anti-everything Obama cabal has become so unhinged that there are no limits any more.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Letters • 07-17-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Discouraged by City’s Neglect of Northern East 14th Street


When I read about how the City was touting its great success with beautifying southern E. 14th Street we, too, were discouraged that in contrast, there has been years of neglect along northern E. 14th Street. In our 27 years here, we have watched northern E. 14th decline in occupancy, maintenance, litter control, or any other measure of street or property improvements.

Numerous storefronts have been vacant and decaying for many years; fences and buildings are in gross disrepair; increased litter in front of local businesses; businesses whose frontage onto E. 14th look like junkyards (a supposed car repair place has old car wrecks parked in clear view of the street that have been there for 10-20 years).

The southbound traffic on E. 14th Street has become so bad that it is backed up all the way to the Oakland border and beyond. That’s 8-10 blocks of solid traffic, making it near-impossible for traffic from side streets to even use E. 14th Street. Area residents are now experiencing increased parking encroachments from E. 14th Street customers and employees, along with the litter, noise and inconvenience that comes with so many people wanting to use our limited street parking.

This will all become worse after the imminent BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) removes one more lane of traffic and eliminates 30% of the street parking, which will further strain the struggling businesses on E. 14th whose patrons have nowhere to park.

We need City officials and staff who will show they care as much about northern E. 14th Street as they do about the southern stretch. They need to walk the area and figure out how to clean it up and make it a vibrant and thriving neighborhood once again that people want to visit and where residents want to live.

— Peggy Combs, San Leandro

Extremely Concerned Over Plans for North Area Zoning


We are extremely concerned about recommended changes to the North Area zoning code and the impact they would have on our neighborhood.

The Zoning Code determines what can be built and where: R means Residential, R-1 is single family housing, R-2 is a duplex. As the numbers go up so do the number/size of units: R-24 is 24 units per acre, up to R-100 which is ultra high density low-income housing.

Mixed Use combines retail and residential. Permitted means development that can go in with little/no public input, consideration of impacts on traffic, schools, parks, recreation, etc.

Conditional Use requires community notification and input, an Environmental Impact Report re traffic, schools, parking, etc. and a public hearing process before it can be built.

These are the recommendations we are most concerned about:

1) Increasing permitted density levels in North Area 1 and 2 from R-24, the current standard, to R-40...or eliminating housing limitations up to R-100 completely. (NA 1 and 2 used to mean E14th from City Hall to the Oakland border but may been expanded to include other parts of the neighborhood. I am waiting for a clarification.)

2) Increasing height limitations in the same area from 3 stories to 4, plus “towers and turrets” (architectural features that usually an additional 10’ to the total height).

3) Reduce/eliminate parking requirements for new housing “within walking distance of BART,”  which would push additional cars onto the side streets.

Cumulatively those would result in density levels double the current standard  –or higher–with little if any public input regardless of how they impact traffic, schools, parks, or home values.

Additionally, they want to open the door to Residential hotels in the North Area, Downtown near the library and BART, and other parts of town without specifying exact locations or how they would be used...and we still haven’t seen their proposals for MacArthur, Bayfair, or the Marina

There are ways to increase the amount of moderate-low income housing. Planning Commissioner Tom Fitzsimons has requested an estimate of how many housing units could be added by simply relaxing the requirements for garage conversions/in-law units; which would also benefit multi-generational families and generate revenue to help people keep their homes.

Please contact Mayor Cassidy, or City Manager Chris Zapata at 577-3200.

— Susan “Rose” Riskind, Mia Ousley, Rosalee Waight, Mary Jo Kneuven. David Ellington, Felix Cruz, San Leandro

Finally, A Tax Code All of Us Can Understand


Instead of wasting our time with voting on new taxes, why not just give the city/county/state/Congress all of our paychecks/SS payments/dividends/capital gains and recycling cash and they send us back what they don’t need?

— Ken Kellogg, San Leandro

Bergdahl Issue: What Really Goes On In War


I read with interest the squabbling over the Bowe Bergdahl issue. Please remember that in this country one doesn’t need a credential in order to offer an opinion worthy of respect. And it is not an act of treason to show base human sympathy. Bergdahl, poor soul, was a prisoner of war and he deserves a fair trial and should enjoy the presumption of innocence until proven “guilty” – very American ideals I’m sure you’ll agree.

I think a basic education is in order. Please visit the San Leandro Library and consult the works of Stephen Crane, Ambrose Bierce, Robert Graves, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Cordon, Tim O’Brien, Anthony Swofford, Dexter Filkins, and heck the New Testament as well. These esteemed authors - most of them American - should offer some perspective. Please also read the diary of Pat Tillman – oops, those have gone missing! 

As citizens, we’ll never know the true story behind what “really goes on” in war. It’s best to keep an open mind, and a generous heart.

War ain’t pretty, war is hell, and war isn’t for the faint of heart – or perhaps for those with a heart. It’s too bad that some of us don’t realize it till it’s too late.

And by the way, since “credentials” obviously matter with some of this esteemed paper’s readers, both of my grandfathers served in WWII and my father suffered mortal wounds in Vietnam. I have spent my life – perhaps in the most noble of professions - serving the citizenry of California as a librarian; providing unbiased and reliable information to folks with questions about the pressing issues of the day.

— Taryn Edwards, San Leandro

Letters • 07-10-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Renter Says Tenants Who Follow the Rules Should Be Able to Stay in Their Homes


I could not believe my eyes as I read a letter submitted for publication in this paper claiming that San Leandro needs more so called “market rate” rental units (Letters, July 3).

I will not address the misinformation about affordable rents that permeates that submission. I will simply point out that housing is still a problem in San Leandro and there are not enough quality units in any price range.

Furthermore, the idea that building more luxury or market rate units will somehow benefit San Leandro residents is laughable.

Already the rent is much too high, with very little value, several studies show that most families in California are rent encumbered.  –  that is, they pay more than 30% of their household income  in rent.

Adding more expensive apartments will only drive rent prices up, as the unregulated market will adjust up based on average rents.

If anything San Leandro renters who pay their rent on time and do nothing wrong deserve better consumer protections against unscrupulous landlords who raise rents while inflation is non existent, jobs are scarce and repairs are hard to come by.

What San Leandro could really use is a “Just Cause” ordinance to protect tenants who pay their rent on time and follow all the rules.

Tenants should be able to stay in our homes as long as they can pay the rent and don’t breach the lease.

The current wave of gentrification in San Francisco should be a warning to all of us tenants not to wait, it’s urgent now! After all we renters don’t live here for free!

— Guillermo D. ElenesSan Leandro


Calls for Extermination of City’s Crow Population


The abundance of crow birds in San Leandro is the very reason for the little variety of other birds that we see in this city.

The crows are known to eat other birds’ eggs and chicks.

A plan of extermination of crows should be carried out by the city, which would bring back other variety of birds instead of this ugly black pest.

— Leo T. WestSan Leandro


Continues the Push for a Nov. 4 Vote on the Marina


On June 2 at City Hall I presented before Mayor Cassidy and all City Council members a comprehensive Marina Feasibility and Sustainability Report, available on savethemarina.com and asked for their kind reply. To date Council members have offered no response.

Mayor Cassidy has personally given me his proxy and willingness to have the disposition of our Marina put before the electorate on this November’s ballot. There needs to be four of seven City Council members in agreement to have this happen.

Cal-Coast’s Shoreline Development CEO Ed Miller has openly stated before me and City Council that his investors believe Shoreline Development would be better supported with a Marina as its centerpiece.

Our Marina is an important regional and civic asset, and the decision to dismantle it, and turn it into a tidal salt water algae pond forever, is a City Council undertaking that’s shameful. The future of our Marina should only determined by the citizens and electorate of San Leandro.

Furthermore, this November ballot vote does not require an unnecessary parcel tax or bond measure to support our Marina. Our Marina can be self-supporting. Please read my Marina Feasibility and Sustainability Report (savethemarina.com).

Please contact your City Council member and encourage them to allow the citizens of San Leandro a vote on the disposition of our Marina this Nov. 4. It’s imperative you respond before the July 31 deadline.

The Marina is owned by the citizens of San Leandro and we have the right of vote-without a divisive tax to dissuade voters. City Council members need to support our Marina and by citizens pleasure, “Allow Democracy To Prevail.”

— Dwight PitcaithleySan Leandro


Save Water for Drinking; Leave the Lawn up to Nature


California is “The Golden State.” It’s golden for about two-thirds of the year and I like it. I loved it when I arrived here 50 years ago or so.

The golden hills and mountains are beautiful. Why make them green?

Google “green dye for grass.” Lowe’s has it. There is dye in our food, which is not healthy, a subject for another day.

Why have a green lawn at all. Let it be a golden lawn like the hills of California. And when nature allows it, the rain will come.

Where I came from the hills were green all year long, but we didn’t color them golden. Save water for drinking and leave it all up to nature and God.

— Pat FordeSan Leandro


Air Force Vet Slams Critics of His Bergdahl Comments


I’ve been criticized for venting my feelings about the coward and deserter Bowe Bergdahl. This from someone who sat at his desk taking notes from a higher up during his military career.

About women and children being killed, the Taliban is infamous for placing women and children in front of them while shooting at American troops. It’s called kill or be killed.

This from a liberal who watches the despicable MSNBC. The program has only 5 percent of the viewing public and gets nearly everything wrong.

I say to him and people who think like he does, get a life. If the soldiers and military hadn’t stopped Germany and Japan during World War II, we would all be speaking German or Japanese.

— Rich Phillips, U.S.A.F. 1953-1957, San Leandro

Letters • 07-03-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Plea to Include Visual and Performing Art in School Plan


The San Leandro Unified School district will be getting nearly $5 million in additional ongoing money this year and much more by 2016. This huge influx of extra money from the state is intended to be used to pay for improving education for under-served

populations in the state.

The school district is required to get community input and generate a Local Control and Accountability Plan. Many parents attended the forums and responded to the online surveys. But, many people still feel that their voices

are not being heard.

Unfortunately, visual and performing  art has been left out of the plan. Many parents have asked the administration repeatedly to include monies for VAPA in their plan to no avail. Many parents have asked for lower classes sizes across the board in all schools, but they say it is too costly.

The major focus of the district plan is to upgrade technology infrastructure, software and hardware. This is important, but focus on technology should not come at the expense of spending in other areas. I would like to encourage the school district to adopt a more balanced approach. I found it unbelievable that the district can spend $56,000 annually to rent out space in city hall, but can’t find any money for the Arts.

SLUSD, please include VAPA and class size in your action plan!

— Geoff Landreau, San Leandro

Wants More Red-Light Cams, Police on the Streets


We get it, red-light ticket-holder. You are annoyed that we, the people of San Leandro, used technology to catch you. Our police officers are busy catching car thieves and muggers. Read page 3 of this paper.

First you complained about the cost of the ticket. We know you are actually complaining about getting caught in the first place. We know this because you don’t give us a price you are willing to pay.

The fine needs to hurt to work. We can hire more police if you really prefer the more personal touch of a live officer.  We could do that and you can pay the cost of personalize service. Note: It will be more that the red light camera ticket.

Then you say we should get rid of the cameras because somebody is making money of this activity. Have you just parachuted in from a commune? Surely you are not arguing that San Leandro police enforce our laws to just make money? Are you unaware that every law enforcement activity has a cost?

If you would just obey the laws that we have all agreed to, then you don’t pay extra when you break them and, over time, all our taxes go down. By accepting your driver’s licenses you agreed to the laws.

To our elected officials – stop saying it is a safety issue. We know it’s about safety, already, but we also know it is hard to measure. You can’t measure how many accidents are prevented. Stand your ground on this topic based on the fact that this is simply, efficient law enforcement  The fringe has no place to stand against that objective. Offer to take the camera’s down when the number of incidents drops to zero! Then we don’t need them.

Finally,  please install more and start with the corner of Benedict and Grand near the 580 Freeway entrance. People cruising through the northbound stop sign are a menace. Wait...that’s a safety issue. Here come more letters, Editor!

— John Clouston, San Leandro

San Leandro Needs Market-Rate Housing in TOD Plan


I am pleased East 14th Street – the major artery to our City – has been improved, but I am also disappointed at the same time that we have not seen better development in our downtown area.

My concern now is the development of housing here in San Leandro. It is apparent that we already have enough low income housing whether it be for seniors or otherwise. It is now time to make the TOD (Transportation Oriented Development) a combination of market-rate housing and combine it with senior and/or low income housing.

It is my understanding the TOD again is talking about very low income housing without any consideration of market-rate condominiums. It is important that we include market-rate housing in order to attract businesses into San Leandro that will begin to see us a viable place to do business. Many cities face the issues of making a certain portion of their housing projects affordable for very low income, but they do not make it 100% of their development.

It is time that we do the same thing. Pleasanton has been in litigation about affordable housing and has finally lost the battle, but they will not accept 100% of very low income housing, and San Leandro can do the same.

We fought this development before and presented the City Council with a petition in opposition to very low income housing and the City Council ignored our petition and had plans to move forward with this development regardless of what their constituents thought about this project.

Fortunately, that plan in 2005-07 was put on hold by the developer and the City due to economic reasons. I am asking our City Council to speak up and allow some market rate housing be part of the TOD. It would be a great place for OSI employees to live and invest in their community and to be so close to their campus. Now, that is a progressive plan.

I hope in moving forward that the City of San Leandro and its elected officials will stand up to the developers and demand market-rate housing be part of the development. I have viewed developments in other cities and they are quite nice when there is a mixture of income brackets and ownership of a home. Let’s hope we get on the right track with housing to improve the City of San Leandro.

— Johanne Dictor, San Leandro

Says City Hall Ignores North Area of East 14th Street


As I read the article “Council Looks at East 14th Development” (Page 1, The Times, June 26), I became dismayed.  Apparently City Hall can only look south when planning change to our infrastructure. An entire section of E. 14th  has been ignored by the City and left to the whims and plans of AC transit, the section north of City Hall to the Oakland border.

Dilapidated fences hide deserted property. Oil and petroleum residue litter an outdoor auto repair facility. Old junk cars decorate another. Angelina’s pizza has been closed for over a year and the building looks like it. Metal grates hide the façade of a bike shop and wig store.

The mayor says he wants a monument to decorate Marina Blvd.? He can use the one at the north end of E. 14th, as that will be removed for the new bus lanes for AC transit (that plan deserves it’s own separate letter to the editor).

This area was a good-looking mix of business and residential area when I moved here in the ’80s. The city points to the “North Area Plan” when I call or write about my and my neighbors’ concerns. However, that plan is years old and frankly, by the looks of things, totally ignored – just like City Hall has ignored this once vital part of San Leandro.

— Jim Patterson, San Leandro

Questions Writer’s ‘Uncanny Ability to Look Into Mind of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’


Congratulations to Rich Phillips (“Says Bergdhal Would Have Faced Firing Squad in WWII,” Letters, June 26) for the uncanny ability to look into the mind of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and see everything that this tormented young soldier had witnessed.

You seem to have the vision to see innocent women and children needlessly slaughtered in front of you. You apparently can also recall the thoughts of General Patton, and how he would proceed with the information you have been given to pass sentence on a man unwilling to participate in the U.S.’s continued War crimes.

Carry on soldier. You did serve, right?

— Richard Mercouiris, San Leandro, U.S. Army 1967-1971, Member of American Legion and Veterans for Peace

Imagine if Sgt. Bergdahl Was One of Ours...


Imagine one of ours held captive by opposing forces for 5 years, and President Obama and his Administration finally working out a prisoner exchange that brought them home.

City leaders would likely arrange a public celebration. What would it be like if hundreds of angry, angry people called City leaders to rage about our returning soldier and to warn them that they planned to protest the celebration? What if the parents of our returning soldier received death threats?

People who oppose our President have recently done so. They made disturbing calls to leaders of a small town in Idaho, and issued death threats to the parents of their returning soldier.

We should not accept moral scolding about Obama’s foreign policies by anyone who foams at the mouth in opposition to our President.

Linking complaints on these pages by Earl Cava, Bob Jordan and Debbie Pereira to the shameful attacks on our returning Idahoan is appropriate. Among their many commonalities is that each bases their attacks on false information and unjustified presumptions.

Earl ignores the four Congressional Committees which have conducted Benghazi investigations. Bob displays ignorance of the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee’s report, which investigated and failed to discover any stand-down order.

And Debbie’s complaints are from the most rancid spaces in the fever swamps which breed anti-Obama sentiments. Yes, Ms. Pereira, Obama’s plans “to destroy the U.S. from within” by working with Congress to help millions of Americans gain health insurance, pulling us out of our expensive and misbegotten wars, and overseeing many consecutive years of job growth and reduced Federal budget deficits are working perfectly!

— Doug Jones, San Leandro

Letters • 06-26-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Likes Those Turbines, but Wants to Save the Birds


Thanks to Halus wind turbine company owner Louis Rigaud for the wind turbines – great for green energy. But let’s save the birds from danger as they tend to get hit by the rotating blades.

Try high-frequency ultra-sonic bird repellers – not audible to the human ear.

— Pat Forde, Mission Bay

San Leandro School Board Needs Hi-Tech Candidate



After several rocky years, the San Leandro School District is finally on track. The new Superintendent has brought energy and vision, as well as a commitment to improving the educational experience of our students. He is making smart hiring choices and I am excited to see the new twin principals at San Leandro High transform the school into the first rate institution our community deserves.

I’m even more excited about the possibility of transforming the 9th-grade campus into a high-tech High School, which could provide our children with the skills to get well-paid IT jobs right out of school.

Rather than increase the number of H-1B visas we grant to foreign IT workers to come to America, we should be providing the training needed for our students to get those jobs.  Girls, in particular, have been turning away from IT careers in droves – there are one-fifth as many college freshmen girls interested in computer science majors now as there were just a decade ago – and a high-tech High School could help reverse that trend.

But a Superintendent needs a good and knowledgeable board to support him. Currently Mike Katz-Lacabe, my husband, is the only IT professional on the School Board and he’s running for City Council, rather than seeking re-election. Without Mike, there will be no one to guide the District into making smart high-tech related decisions or make sure that the policies adopted continue to protect the privacy of student data.

His successor needs to have both passion for and knowledge of technology, care for education and, frankly, be smart.  If you live in Area 4 (south of Thornton Ave, between East 14th and the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks) and have those skills and concerns, please seriously consider running for the School Board.

— Margarita Lacabe, San Leandro


City’s Engineers Accused of Creating Traffic Hassles



The problem the San Leandro Transportation Department has created at Floresta and Monterey, denounced by Richard Eisenman (“Simple Street Marking Change Could Relieve Floresta Backup, Letters, June 12) is the same  as the one created at Fargo and Washington where it drew two “left turn only” lanes and just one for “right and straight” even though there’s no bike lane here. During times of the day, lines of cars of up to four blocks long are formed.

Some four years ago I denounced the problem to the city but the “engineers” of the Department led by Uche Udemeze were only so diligent in explaining why they were right and that nothing had to be changed. Even more inept Mayor Cassidy was made aware of the problem. I doubt they ever sat in traffic at this intersection during the peek hours.

So, Mr. Eisenman, welcome to the club and good luck.

— Leo T. West, San Leandro


Support for Diana Souza for Mayor



We were very excited to see that Diana Souza is running for Mayor of San Leandro!

Our family has known Diana for over 15 years and have served and worked with Diana on numerous Volunteer Youth Boards and organizations. We have found her dedication & commitment commendable.

Diana listens and is able to build collaboration through consensus.

Diana has over 10 years of public service and 30 years of community involvement. We are confident that Diana will provide leadership with honesty, integrity and commitment.  All attributes necessary for continued growth and success in our city.

Please join us in voting Diana Souza for Mayor Nov. 2014.

— Cynthia Kassab & Lisa Kassab, San Leandro


Reminds Voters of Souza’s Stance on Red Light Cameras



I read your comments with rapt interest as I had recently contacted Ms. Souza concerning SL’s Rip Off Red Light Cameras.

Received the standard reply from her that the subject just needs “more study.”

Apparently there are only 5 people in San Leandro who still support these lights, City Council members Diana Souza, Benny Lee, Ursula Reed, Jim Prola and Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli. Four are elected officials and Ms. Souza is up for re-election this fall. (Benny, Ursula and Jim should take notice as they are up for re-election in 2016.)

Please remember this when you vote in November.

She supported the 8-year contract and apparently also believes it not about the money but “safety.” To that I say, “Bravo Sierra.”

Several years ago, I remember reading in the SL Times how one city official lamented the fact that the city wasn’t making any money on these cameras and that it all was going to the company that installed them. Apparently that’s the reason the fines have increased to $475 for a “Dangerous Hollywood Stop.”

I intent to remind all of SL Time’s readers a few weeks before this Fall’s election about Ms. Souza’s unwavering support for picking the pockets of our residents thru these cameras.

I no longer drive thru said intersection, nor do I shop at K-mart, OSH or Pack & Save located close to this intersection.

By the way, I have not been ticketed by any camera but know several rather upset people who have been!

— Ken Kellogg, San Leandro


Says Bergdahl Would Have Faced Firing Squad in WWII



Bowe Bergdahl is lucky he didn’t serve under General George Patton in the Second World War.

He would either be in the front of a firing squad or facing the hangman’s noose.

— Rich Phillips, San Leandro

Letters • 06-19-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Blasts Critic of County Waste Management Authority


The San Leandro Times does a disservice to its readers by repeating the broadside attacks of Laython Landis on the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, without further, critical analysis. (“County Board Imposes New Fee for Hazardous Waste,” The Times, Page 18, June 12).

The Authority, a.k.a. “StopWaste,” is not a “county board,” but rather a joint powers agency comprised of every city in the county. It also includes the county, itself, and two small sewer districts that provide garbage and recycling services. The board is made up of elected public officials.

StopWaste was created by local governments in 1990 to help them comply with state law, and is widely admired as a model in the industry. Over the years, the people of Alameda County have dramatically reduced the amount we send to landfill – largely due to the agency’s work.

After a lengthy public debate, StopWaste recently assessed a $9.55/per year parcel fee to fund safe disposal of household hazardous wastes like paint, solvents and other chemicals. Reasonable people can, and do, disagree on the method and amount of the fee. But Landis’ response to being on the losing side of that debate is to wildly trash a successful agency that he helped create!

Laython Landis is a longtime political gadfly who has been at the public trough for over 50 years. Over the decades, he has collected tens of thousands of dollars in “meeting fees” from StopWaste, but now, finding himself losing support on the board, he calls for the abolishment of the agency. That’s astonishing and inappropriate.

StopWaste represents what should be demanded of every public agency – transparency, a clear mandate and a dedicated, fee-based funding source. Landis’ bombastic, hostile comments, on the other hand, are better suited as grist for his (Ora Loma) District’s sewage treatment plant.

— Bruce Goddard, San Leandro

Tired of Attacks by Corporate Education ‘Reformers’


While I am a local school board Trustee, I write as a public school teacher trained and called upon to serve on teacher dismissal panels and as a private citizen.

Educators who have been following the Vergara trial attacking teacher rights are frankly dumbfounded by the judge’s decision released this week. The corporate-backed, anti-union plaintiffs in this case failed to show the challenged laws have harmed a single California student, while defense witnesses, including respected superintendents, principals, and nationally recognized education policy experts, all showed that these laws work well in well-run school districts and help ensure a quality and stable teaching pool in our schools.

The court decision has been stayed pending appeal, but one would not know that with the  grandiose press about “over-turning teacher tenure” and “revamping ed code” rhetoric coming from Multimillionaire David Welch who brought this suit with the support of corporate education “reformers”  like Eli Broad, Michelle Rhee and Ben Austin of Parent Revolution.

After years of massive budget cuts, layoffs, class-size increases, and the decimation of school libraries, counselors, and important programs like art and music, educators are tired of attacks like Vergara that “blame teachers first” instead of addressing the real problems facing our schools.

The Legislature, LCFF, LCAP and the local education associations are making strides to address those problems.  We look forward to taking this case forward on appeal, and believe the evidence and the law are on the side of educators and students. We look forward to a better decision on appeal.

— Vince J. Rosato, San Leandro

Americans Need to Get the Country ‘Back on Track’


Many decades have passed since America was the richest country in the world. Combined with the largest middle class in history, America produced a record number of goods sent to foreign countries – labeled “Made in the U.S.A.”

Call it greed, but in 1945, 50,000 manufacturing companies exited to foreign countries where labor costs were lower. This was just the beginning. Although America continued to prosper for several decades after 1945, the middle class was slowly slipping away, as was “Made in the U.S.A.”

Years passed and America was like a bomb ready to explode. In 2000 through 2014 it happened. Two wars, home prices skyrocketing, cost of living up, wages stagnant, recession, loss of jobs, middle class at an all time low, poverty at an all time high, high gas prices and high health care premiums, banks in trouble, car manufacturers close to bankruptcy, millions struggling to survive, including senior citizens on fixed incomes. America, once the richest country, is now $17 trillion in the red.

It is a mammoth job for the experts and the American people to get America back on track, but if we don’t get the majority middle class back, we will be just spinning our wheels. We need to create more jobs, export more goods “made in the U.S.A.,” control our debt, and once again become the great country we were and should be. The U.S.A. did it once – why not again?

— Jack Jones, San Leandro

Calls Anti-Obama Efforts a ‘Useless Endeavor’


Folks who are afflicted with “Anti- Obama Syndrome” are  so frustrated these days that they have returned to the dry hole that is Benghazi. They had high hopes that the Affordable Care Act was going to pan out but that has fizzled. The mythical IRS targeting conservatives, dust-up ran out of gas, and the other so-called scandals all got dashed on the rocks of reality and the truth.

We should all just let them amuse themselves with this useless endeavor. It may just keep them out of trouble until Hillary Clinton becomes President .

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Letters • 06-12-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Simple Street Marking Change Could Relieve Floresta Backup


Regarding Eric Robertson’s Letter (“Floresta Bike Lane Makes Streets Safe for Everyone,” June 5), the problem is the westbound traffic on Floresta, reduced by the bike-lane striping to a single lane, is now congested at the Monterey stop sign.

I suggest a compromise: change the marking of the left hand westbound lane at the Floresta and Monterey intersection from “Left Only” back to “Left or Straight.” That is how it used to be. That would increase the flow rate west. Westbound cars could then cross the intersection in parallel and merge on the bridge.

Anyway, I suggest that funds used for bike lanes might be better spent elsewhere. For example, there is a perfectly good pedestrian and bike bridge over San Lorenzo creek (built long ago with taxpayer funds, but currently gated and locked) that connects Via Barrett in San Lorenzo with Vining in San Leandro.

Because it is shut down, bicyclists must take a long detour over busy city streets. I was told by a City Councilperson that this bridge was closed due to “security concerns.” There is a similar bike/pedestrian bridge over Estudillo canal from Laverne to Dayton Playground. I imagine that these bridges were originally built for access to nearby schools at a time when public paranoia regarding child safety was lower (it is now apparently a requirement that children be driven to and from school in 2-ton greenhouse-gas-spewing vehicles monitored by police cruisers).

Curiously, cities like Berkeley maintain numerous pedestrian/bike-only paths and have not locked them down in response to increased policing requirements.

— Richard Eisenman, San Leandro

Old Timers Baseball Worth a Trip to the Ball Park


Rob Scott has been telling me of his involvement with the San Leandro Old Timers baseball team, part of the NorCal Oldtimers Baseball Association. The guys (35 and over) play at fields as far away as Napa, Modesto, Lodi, and Watsonville, with a season finale is in Benicia.

The home game on May 4th pitted the Old Timers against the Watsonville Angels. It was a short drive to the San Leandro Ball Park at Teagarden St. and Aladdin Ave. Parking was free (as was the admission!) It impressed me that such a well-kept, dedicated facility, complete with grandstands, restrooms (and even a kitchen!) was available to amateurs.

The low-key ambience afforded access to the dugout for chats with the players (and a few of their teenage sons, busy keeping score, minding statistics, etc.) who were happy to explain fine points of the game they love.

Mingling with the participants, hearing their stories, and seeing their uniforms and the field close-up, was special. It reminded my of my 1960s childhood, when athletes were heroes.

A camaraderie-bolstering post-game barbecue put on by the home team afforded a chance to socialize with the visitors. The fun culminated in a raffle at which bottles of wine and other prizes were distributed.

All in all, this pleasant outing made me wish I had some talent for baseball. And I marveled at the mere handful of spectators – these games are probably not well-publicized. The next home game is at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 14th – hope to see you there! (The team seeks players.) For league information and a schedule of games, contact Bob Scott, 510-889-1878,  or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

— Ralph H. Page, Castro Valley

Wants Names of Those Responsible for Benghazi


This is my response to reopening the Benghazi investigation. Doug Jones (“Accuses GOP of  Wasting Millions on Benghazi Probe,” Letters, May 15) thinks this is just a waste of time in order to harm the president and the Democratic Party. False! This should be of concern to all Americans. What we want to know is names. Everyone knows what happened but the names are withheld.

Questions: Who denied the request for more security before Benghazi? Who ordered the military to stand down? Who thought up, and who approved, the false story about the spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video?

I will not accept the following answers: The president takes responsibility. The State Department takes responsibility. The Secretary of Defense takes responsibility. Washington or the White House take responsibility.

These are not names. This is clearly a coverup to protect someone.

Also, several high ranking military officers were dismissed after Benghazi. Why? Is this the way you want your country to respond to questions? What if it was your son who was killed?

— Bob Jordan, San Leandro

Calls President Obama ‘a Traitor to Patriotic Americans’


Obama’s corruption didn’t begin when he was in college, or when he met with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, or when he attended a radical America-hating church for 20 years. No, it began when he was much younger, when his mother and father (grandparents, too) helped to form his anti-American and pro-Marxist worldview.

Those small seeds at a young age eventually flourished into the man Obama is today – and after so many years, his goal to radically “transform” America hasn’t changed one bit.

This man is a traitor to all patriotic Americans, including our constitution as established by our nation’s founders. He is deliberately attempting to destroy the U.S. from within. Is there really any doubt about this now? (Benghazi, etc.) unless of course your a complete moron/liberal.

— Debbie Pereira, San Leandro

Hopes Republicans and Democrats Will Conduct Sincere Probe of Benghazi


Finally, a committee has been formed to investigate Benghazi after almost two years.

I would like to see both Republicans and Democrats on the committee if they are sincere in finding the truth for the benefit of the four families who rightfully deserve to know.

Those who go along with the cover-up should realize that to me the difference that it makes is four Americans were slaughtered needlessly.

— Earl Cava, San Leandro

Letters • 06-05-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Cherry Festival Called a ‘Smashing Success’


Make San Leandro, part of this year’s hugely popular Cherry Festival, was a smashing success and incredible exposure for new technology businesses and opportunities in San Leandro.

Thirty-plus exhibitors, each an education in itself, guaranteed something for everyone; robots, rockets, 3-D printers, puppetry, paper-making, art wall... The event drew, inspired and educated thousands of San Leandrans and sent the message that San Leandro is a place high-tech can thrive.

Thanks go to former Zocalo Coffeehouse owner Tim Holmes. With no precedent and no budget Tim had a vision, volunteered to produce, covered many costs, and along with Bob Fukushima as volunteer site director, made it a success.

Together, Tim and Bob led an all-volunteer team including Direct Images’ Bill Knowland, Ten Ton Consulting’s Mitch Huitema and Sarah Beach, Soundfit’s Ben Simon-Thomas, SLED’s Tessa Atkinson-Adams, FLEET’s Derick Lee, Washington Elementary Dad’s Club’s Charles Lowder, Renewables West’s David Alan Foster, Lit San Leandro’s Judi Clark, Felix of ArtIsMobilUs, Type A Machines’ Espen Sivertsen, San Leandro Chief Innovation Officer Debbie Acosta, Festival organizer Recreation and Human Services Director Carolyn Knudtson, and a dozen more.

Thank you all for an amazing event. I’m already looking forward to Make San Leandro 2015.

— Mike Katz-Lacabe, San Leandro

...and a Job Well Done!


The Cherry Festival was a huge success. All the service clubs should be commended for their involvement. City staff should be commended for the thorough work they did. Kudos to city staff, job well done, from a very proud and happy citizen of San Leandro.

— Julian P. Polvorosa, San Leandro

Floresta Bike Lane Makes Streets Safe for Everyone


I am responding to Richard Eisenman’s letter “Bike Lane That Goes Nowhere” (Letters, May 29).

The bike lane on Floresta Boulevard continues over the bridge that spans 880, not just 3 blocks. It’s one of only two safe ways for bicyclists to get over the freeway in San Leandro. The other way is on Williams Street.

But this isn’t just about bicycling. It’s part of a bigger picture to make streets and sidewalks safe and accessible to everyone. The intersection at Monterey Blvd. that includes the bike lane is a hundred feet from James Monroe Elementary School. I’m sure students feel more secure crossing Floresta now that it is two lanes plus a turn lane instead of 4

unpredictable, go-anywhere lanes. I heard at the meeting concerning this issue back in November that the wait time for cars at peak hours is only something like 30 seconds. That’s less wait time than most traffic signals. This seems a small price to pay for safety.

Concerning the few bicyclist seen on Floresta now, I want to use a quote, “Build it and they will come.” When you make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists they start using it more. Alternative modes of transportation, including BART and busses, benefit everyone. Tailpipe pollution from cars increase rates of asthma, lung cancer and heart disease

among our population.

Finally, as a member of the San Leandro Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (and not speaking for that group in anyway), I can tell you this isn’t about politics. It’s only about making our streets safer for everyone to use.

— Eric Robertson, San Leandro

Calls Red-Light Cameras ‘A Losing Proposition’


Another Financial Blunder by City Hall!

As I read the article “Red-Light Cams Raise Red Flags,” (Page 1, The Times, May 22), I was also reminded about a letter I sent to this paper back in 2011 saying it was waste of time and money to extend our contract with Redflex for $2.4 million over 8 years.

Red light cameras were not a good investment in the past, I believe that in the past the city’s net profit from the tickets created from the cameras was less than a hundred dollars a year, and when the contract was renewed in 2011 there was no evidence to prove it would change in the future.

Now when I do the numbers it turns out it has become a losing proposition; the city’s contract with Redflex cost us $300,000/year and, according to the article, the tickets only brought in $293,000 in 2013; and that money gets split between the state, county and city. Not a good investment of our tax dollars; and does anyone really feel that these intersections are safer because there is a camera there?

The article also mentions Chief Spagnoli had told the city council that the cameras were effective in reducing traffic accidents. False! Many cities including LA, San Diego, Murrieta, and Walnut stopped using cameras because rather than making the “street safer” they found they actually increased the number of rear-end accidents by over 80%.

One reason the cameras cause more accidents is drivers might start to go through an intersection as the light is turning yellow and then slam on their brakes for fear of getting a ticket causing a rear-ender (Spagnoli was right in that it changes a driver’s behavior, but not in a good way).

If the city was truly interested in creating safer streets they would increase the time of yellow lights, giving cars more time to safely complete their trip through the intersection (the city of Fremont experimented with this and found a 76% decrease in straight through red light violations).

Without cameras, the city could be taking the $300,000/year and using it towards putting real police on the streets; real police will not only make the intersections, but all the streets – and the city – safer.

— Harry Orner, San Leandro

Disappointed with Souza’s Support for Red-Light Cameras


An open letter to City Council member Diana Souza:

I was incredibly disappointed that you supported an 8-year extension of the Red Light camera contract. By this contract you deny people an opportunity for reasonable due process.

My understanding is you have contracted away peoples’ right to address both the application of a traffic regulations and the level of any fine. You literally took away their right to appeal to a judge. This should not happen in America.

I live near the intersection of Washington and Floresta, often I can see the flashes even when my blinds are closed.  Almost daily I’m at this intersection when the flashes go off and I’ve seen no infraction raising to the level of a $475.00 fine. This is just theft in the name of our city and it must end, and not at the end of an 8-year contract with a foreign  company, but now!

Please understand I’ve never gotten a ticket from these things, but I’ve known people who have and the fine was horribly damaging to them. I have yet to see these things fire off when any body’s safety was actually threatened!

My expectation from you, is a response as to how fast this the City of San Leandro will end this theft (and not in 8 years).

The next time I meet some one who has gotten one of these tickets, I’ll bring them to your house so you can explain why you contracted their rights away!

— Matt Tuter, San Leandro

Citywide Track Meet at New Burrell Field was ‘a Thrill’


What a thrill it was to see 300 students

participating in the San Leandro City-wide Track Meet in May at the new Burrell Field!

Thank you to the San Leandro Times for its outstanding coverage of this event. A lot of hard work went into the planning, but it was all worth it. The meet would have never been possible without the extremely generous support of the community, including our major sponsors Fremont Bank, the San Leandro Optimists Club, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Peterson Tractor, and Ken Pon C.P.A.

Thanks to the generosity of these and many other donors, the San Leandro Sports Foundation was able to donate more than $10,000 back to the health and fitness programs of the nine San Leandro schools that participated in the track meet.  And finally, a big thank you to our meet director Martin Capron, whose vision and tireless work made it all happen. 

We’ll be back bigger and better than ever next year on the first Saturday in May. Mark your calendar!

— Jerry Engler, President, San Leandro Sports Foundation

San Lorenzo Teachers Ask: 'Why No Raises?'


Teachers in San Lorenzo have been conducting Thankless Thursday protests to call attention to the fact that an historic influx of new unrestricted money for the San Lorenzo School District has not translated into a significant wage increase for the dedicated teachers, counselors, nurses, and librarians who stood by the District during the lean years.

During the many years of budget-cuts, teachers experienced lay-offs, furlough days, bigger class sizes, a reduction in support services, and an ever increasing cost of living with no improvement in wages.

Now that money is flowing back into the school district, teachers don’t understand why the San Lorenzo School Board does not want to

reward loyalty and dedication with the fair raise they can now afford to provide.

Teachers are also concerned that the School Board does not want contractual language that protects class size, appears uninterested in providing more support for teaches working with special needs students, and rejected requests for more counselors and librarians.

How is this going to provide students with the learning environment they deserve?

— Donna Pinkney, President, San Lorenzo Education Association




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