Letters • 08-27-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Changes to Rent Review Board Ordinance Seem to be ‘A Done Deal’


What a disappointment that neither our mayor nor city council members, except Messrs. Thomas and Prola, saw fit to attend the city-wide meeting they themselves called regarding the proposed changes to the Rent Review Board Ordinance.

This is a bread-and-butter issue for many residents, yet only this one meeting has been called for on the rent changes.

The city’s proposed changes would remove the $75 threshhold at which a tenant could request a board hearing, leaving intact only the wording that would allow tenants to request a hearing if their rent is being raised more than once in a 12-month period, or more than 10%. Not 10% itself, but more than 10%, allowing landlords a free hand to seek raises of 10% per year every year if they so wished without having to be bothered by unhappy tenants requesting board hearings.

I’ve raised the problem of soaring rents at several town hall meetings, and was always told that it was being worked on. Unfortunately, I was never told that it was being worked on in any way that would actually be of help to tenants. And, at these meetings, the city has been criticized over and over for being beholden to businesses over the good and welfare of its residents, and once again, this proves to be true.

The landlords who want these changes don’t live in this city, they merely do business here, while those of us who will have to live with the changes and be affected by them actually do live here. This one and only meeting becomes nothing more than a cynical ploy for City Hall to announce the proposed changes and make it look as if tenants have any say in the outcome of them.

The speed with which the council plans to adopt the changes and have them take effect seems to indicate that they’re already a done deal no matter what tenants may want.

And where do tenants move to if they get priced out of their homes? Not to affordable housing in this city! According to the city’s own website, they list a grand total of 1,893 below-market units, 541 of which are for seniors and disabled, leaving only 1,352 units for everyone else.

Waiting lists are extremely long, so they’re not a go-to option for renters priced out of their unit who need affordable housing to move to immediately. There is no longer any Section 8 in this city, nor any HUD funding to build with. And, while Marea Alta is a good thing, it’s way too little and way too late. The crisis for renters is already here, and gentrification can’t be far behind.

Tenants and supporters need to write, e-mail, or phone city hall to let the council know we are not happy with their proposed changes where, once again, business money talks. I’m sure the city is hoping you won’t bother to make your voice heard. And be sure you’re also registered to vote: Your vote is your voice.

I hope the Times will cover this issue further.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

Tide is Turning on Healthier School Lunches


With the new school year here, parents’ attention is turning to school clothes, supplies and lunches. Yes, school lunches!

In past years, USDA had used our nation’s schools as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, one-third of children have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Gradually, the tide is turning. New guidelines mandated by President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. A survey released last week shows the guidelines supported by 86% of Americans.

Sixty-four percent of U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian options. More than 120 schools, including the entire school districts of Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Diego have implemented Meatless Monday.

Some schools have dropped meat from their menu altogether.

As parents, we need to work with school cafeteria managers and our own children to encourage the availability and consumption of healthy, plant-based school foods. Entering “vegetarian options in schools” provides lots of good resources.

— Dennis Roth, San Leandro

Letters • 08-20-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

The Statue: ‘Sensitive People Can Avert Their Eyes’


Aww c’mon. So many people are appalled, offended, and disgusted by a sculpture that is still under construction and won’t be in place until 2016.

I’ve never been to Burning Man or to Marco Cochrane’s Treasure Island studio to see “Truth Is Beauty” in the flesh. I’ve only seen the Google images of the work. I invite all to go to the Internet to view pictures of it. Those who think the sculpture is pornographic can stay online, visit a few sites that show the real stuff and compare. Their opinions might change. It’s happened in the past.

An example is the Sistine Chapel with all that male frontal nudity, in a house of God, no less. Shortly after Michelangelo completed the painting, it was judged to be obscene. Almost all of the naughty parts within the critics’ reach were painted over. Fortunately, their’s was not The Last Judgment about the work.

If concern was a foot race, the amount of concern generated by this sculpture has surpassed the Heron Bay Homeowners Association’s concern about the windmill and concerns about the territoriality of the HBHA itself. It shot by the concerns about the oddly shaped lot at the intersection of E. 14th, Hesperian, and 150th. It’s gaining on concerns about flying the Chinese flag over City Hall.

Two issues that might substitute for concerns about the sculpture are, what will we do:

• If the El Niño doesn’t materialize over the winter? or

• If there is another financial/banking calamity like 2008’s in the works?

There are plenty of other, far more important, things to be concerned about.

Take a chill pill and relax. Parents can explain things to their children or take another route. Sensitive people can avert their eyes.

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Many Works of Art Considered ‘Porn’ in the Past


Truth is (!) beauty.

Shades of Victorian prudery. Let’s review “porn” from the past: “Venus de Milo,” Michelangelo’s “David,” Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” Donatello’s “Bronze David,” Auguste Rodin “The Kiss,”  The Discus Thrower, The Thinker.

If those world-famous works aren’t clearly illustrating the (shameful, pornographic) body parts, call me nuts. To be ashamed of a human body is to be ashamed of oneself. Pornography exists because we’ve made the body a shameful mystery. Add up the “moralists” who pop up in news who turn out unfaithful or “family friendly” comedians who turn out to be serial rapists.

When traveling in Gambia, the women I saw walked around topless until a white man is seen. They then hastily covered themselves having learned that the white man sees “baby spigots” as things of lust and cover up.

This sculpture is for the future of San Leandro and a statement about feminine empowerment. Sputtering disapproval shows little or no understanding of the art, engineering, vision and persistence necessary to create such a form using steel rods and metal fabric.

If you ever got a chance to tour the artist’s studio, your jaw would drop from the complexity of these projects which are worked on, by the way, by his two daughters as well as other volunteers. This isn’t “decoration.” This is art. What is the difference? Art causes controversy, discourse, and challenges old ideas and shakes things up. Decoration is… decorative. No muss, no fuss.

In other words; yawn. Who remembers controversy during the proposal for the Trans Am pyramid in San Francisco? Likely the ones who were against it are dead. We will soon be looking up and appreciating the intent of this project and the world will come to see also.

— Gary Branchaud, San Leandro

Accuses Church Objectors of Hiding Their Biases


It has been my experience, that when folks lead off their reasons for excluding some group or denying them equal treatment with the standard canard “I don’t have anything against _____” (fill in the blank), they are trying to blow smoke and hide their biases.

The dustup regarding this church has bigotry written all over it. I’m surprised they didn’t roll out that old standby excuse of “what about the children?”

Well, here’s a heads-up for some of our more conservative San Leandro residents: Change is here and change is here to stay. Live with it.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Thanks to Library Volunteers for Summer Reading Program


Every year, the San Leandro Public Library encourages patrons of all ages to stay engaged in reading and learning over the summer through our Summer Reading Programs. This summer, four different reading programs were offered:  “Read to Me” for babies and toddlers, “Every Hero Has A Story” for children ages 3 to grade 6, “Unmask!” for teens, and “Escape the Ordinary” for adults.

The highlight for the youth who complete the Summer Reading Program is attending the Carnival, which was held on August 8th in the Main Library parking lot.

Our Summer Reading Program would not be possible without the generous time given by our teen volunteers. Volunteering not only satisfies the high school community service requirement, but it also helps teens to gain valuable work experience. This past summer, the library had the help of over 200 teen volunteers. These awesome teens, who are going into grades 9 through 12, volunteered over 5,600 hours this summer by working with kids at the Summer Reading Program stations, helping at library programs, and more.

While the library is appreciative of the time and effort given by all of our teen volunteers, staff at all four branches have selected 24 Outstanding Teen Volunteers to be recognized for their achievements over the summer.

The exemplary volunteers are: Shirley Chen, Daniel Chu, Jiaxin Fei, Christopher Guan, Swan Htut, Isis Huang, Jenny Huang, Dora Khuu, Irine Le, Korina Macaspac, Natalia Macias, Joanne Miao, Ethan Ngo, Kelly On, Howard Peng, Veronica Quintanilla, Marco Siu, Justin Ta, Justin Tat, Caleb Taylor, Allie Truong, Kelly Tse, Brittney Wong, and Alison Yu.

Thank you to all our teen volunteers for your service this summer to our community of readers!

— Loryn Aman, Teen Services Librarian, San Leandro Public Library

Letters • 08-13-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Important Meeting for Tenants on Rent Review Board Law


The city has just released a press notice of a meeting on August 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center on East 14th Street regarding their proposed changes to the Rent Review Board Ordinance. They are only giving 8 days notice of this meeting, and also scheduling it on the first day of school.

It is of vital importance to the tenants of this city to attend this meeting. The link in the press release outlines the proposed changes, and those changes will virtually eliminate the few protections tenants now have under the ordinance.

Tenants need to know that the proposed changes will institutionalize a 10% rent increase across the board, and will eliminate the $75 cap for a tenant to bring a case before the board.

In real numbers for example, a tenant paying $1,300 a month in rent will automatically not be able to bring a case before the board unless the increase is over $130, almost twice what is currently provided under the $75 trigger. And if a landlord decides to increase rent every year at 10% – and there is nothing in the proposed ordinance to stop them from doing so – that means that under the example given above, the following year a tenant could see a rent increase of $143, and so on for ensuing years.

These proposed changes so favor landlords, they could actually have written the changes themselves. They contribute campaign money to candidates running for mayor and the city council, while the people these changes will impact tend to be overwhelmingly at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Tenants, please go to this meeting and let your voices be heard, even though the city – which has been criticized in every recent town hall meeting for favoring business over residents – will probably give us the royal shafting on this also.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

Concerned About How City Will Pick Pot Dealer


In reference to the recent article: “City Council To Pick Pot Dealer,” (Page One, The Times, Aug. 6) I am hoping our mayor and city council will do their due diligence to ensure the vetting of each stakeholder/vendors.

The discussions, by the mayor and council, about the type of dispensary desired in San Leandro has always been one of high standards that conforms to the state law, works well with the city and would be the right fit for San Leandro and our residents.

How much vetting has been/will be done by the consultant and staff? Sure the stakeholders/vendors have had to present a business plan and pass an individual criminal background. Though, will the mayor and council know if a stakeholders/vendor: (1) has been issued a permit and had it revoked; (2) sued a city/county/state agency over a permit or decision about a dispensary; (3) operated without a permit; or (4) pushes the limits of the law that draws national attention?

And if they do, will they willing share that with the public before they cast their vote? What criteria are being used to rank the stakeholders/vendors?

As noted in the article, San Leandro residents are of two minds on this issue. What information will the public have from this vetting process to help us understand really who the best fit for San Leandro will be? Will the meeting Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. have a presentation about each vendor before the vote?

If we are going to have a dispensary in San Leandro, I am hoping it is one that can work well with the city, will not cost the city money in defending a law suit, builds relationships with the community and have a well maintained, secured, facility that achieves the goals of why one is needed in San Leandro by those supporting it: for our residents!

Diana Souza, San Leandro

Prayer Center Protest ‘Has Nothing to Do with Religion’


In response to Ms. Palos (“Upset with Prayer Center Protestors,” Letters, Aug. 6): Yes, I would object to any church proposing to move in next door to me in a residential neighborhood where not a single member of the congregation has any personal, social or economic ties to the neighborhood.

If you were at any of the meetings involving the matter, you would have heard Buddhists, Catholics, in fact members of many different faiths protesting. The issue has nothing to do with religion. It is simply a matter of anything being forced upon a neighborhood that is already zoned as R1. That is Residential, single family dwellings.

There is only one way in and one way out of our neighborhood. Home Depot, Office Depot, Sports Authority, Wal-Mart and several other stores are across the street; Costco, Burger King and several other stores are just down the street and the traffic is atrocious.

Davis West is a very diverse neighborhood. Caucasians, Mexicans, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese just to name a few of the people that I have met. We welcome families to come and make a home in our neighborhood. What we do not welcome is the City of San Leandro trying to shove something down our throats because they, the city, think that they know best.

Why bother with public hearings and then disregard everything the public says? If we are in a dictatorship, then let’s just call it a dictatorship, dispense with any pretense of caring what the citizens think or want, and just do what you are going to do anyway without wasting everyone’s time, effort and energy.

— -Jim Givens, Davis West Resident

Safety Cited as Reason to Block Prayer Center


In response to the letter written by Maria Palos (see above), one should never assume they know what the motives of others are without knowing all the facts, because that person will become the ignorant one.

None of the residents of Davis West that I have spoken to or who have spoken at meetings on this matter have mentioned religion being a factor.  It is not why we questioned the Prayer Center!

I have been a resident of this neighborhood since 1958 and had family living in this area long before that. The city realized that having only one way into and out of this area was not the safest way to go and left one lot vacant. That lot was to eventually give us a second road out to Davis Street.

However, the city sold the lot and our second road went with it. Our concern is the safety for the exiting and entering this area, residential parking, as well as accessibility of emergency vehicles.

We are not “lower San Leandro,” as I have heard people refer to this area, and we have the same rights as provided by law as do the rest of the citizens of this city. Nor are we “ignorant” simply because we have issues regarding how this area is treated by our city government or other neighborhood residents.

In closing, I suggest Ms. Palos should walk a mile in our shoes, as well as getting her facts right before passing judgement.

— Shirley Rocha, San Leandro

Times Puts the Funnies on the Front Page


Reading the San Leandro Times of Aug. 6 was mostly a hilarious experience. First I read the article “Downtown Benches Pulled Out” with the idea “to encourage people to linger downtown.” Okay, but did SLIA talk to the city about the parking time limit? Will there be more patrols for the increasing abundance of panhandlers? I have been downtown to shop, eat, and get a mani/pedi. But I can’t do all that in one parking spot without getting a ticket. There’s no way I can “have a seat.”

And the paper gets a kudo for the headline “City Council to Pick Pot Dealer.” That’s totally crass and absolutely hilarious simultaneously.

And of course there’s poor Mrs. Anderson (“Disturbed, Disgusted and Appalled by Statue,” Letters) who thinks a nude statue is porn – clearly she has not seen porn.

Thank you San Leandro Times for a morning filled with laughter!

— Diana Cohn, San Leandro

No Time to Think When You See a Crime Occurring


I recently learned a lesson in the hard knocks of life. On Wednesday, July 29, as I approached the Safeway store at East 14th and Davis streets in San Leandro, I saw a car parked in the traffic lane with the door open and no one inside.

It  looked strange until I saw a man grab a purse out of a nearby car and run for the open-door car.  I ran to block his path and to physically prevent his escape but was a step too slow, which was probably very fortunate for me.  I am 79; the thief was around 38 and outweighed me by about 35 pounds.  There was no one around to assist me.

In addition, the odds are high that the thief possessed a knife or gun. My reaction was dumb, and I now realize that each of us must be mentally prepared to react correctly when stressful conditions occur unexpectedly.

I should have instead concentrated on identifying the thief and his car and to also yell: “Thief! Call security, get the license number on this car!”  As it was, I don’t think anyone did.

Though not hurt, the victim was stunned and did not yell out or even get out of her car until long after the thief had fled.

Hopefully, others reading of my experience will be more alert and more mentally prepared to react correctly in this age of increased criminal activity.

Each of us should also take precautions to minimize potential losses of our valuables. Most of us do so when traveling but are too careless at home.  Carry only the cash and credit cards you will need on a particular outing; leave the rest at home. Do not put everything into one wallet, pocket, or purse.  Also keep in mind that while a purse is great for accessory items, it is very vulnerable to theft.

— Larry Graves, San Leandro

Letters • 08-06-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

No More Merit Raises, No More Consultants


Public Works Director Debbie Pollart’s letter (“Underground Utilities, Street Lights Installation Underway,” Letters, July 30) justifying how our money is being spent around town on infrastructure projects, instead details exactly what’s wrong with city hall right now — zero sense of urgency.

She talks about an $8.5 million project in the works that will be completed “in a few years.” Does that mean this decade? Seriously, before 2019?

We’ve only accomplished a 14 percent switch-over to LED street lights so far, where Richmond (a city of similar size and population) got theirs done all at once. So, when will the other 86% of our lights be done? Again, in this decade?

But first, we once again have to hire consultants to tell the city what to do. Why do we need to hire consultants to direct our city staff to do work around our own city? And, how much does this round of consultants cost...$100,000, $250,000, more?

This is ridiculous. If the people we’ve hired at city hall for their expertise have to then hire consultants to tell them what what to do, why do we need the people at city hall in the first place?

It’s time to stop wasting time and money. It’s time for our mayor to show some leadership. No more merit raises, no more consultants. No more wasting time. I know it’s not fun Mayor Cutter, but it’s time to hold people accountable.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Upset with Prayer Center Protestors


Regarding “Davis West Neighbors Shun Prayer Center,” (Page One, The Times, July 30), shame on the Davis West Neighborhood!

The Religious Freedom Law Restoration Act was approved by Congress, signed into law in 1993.

It appears that the group of people objecting to the prayer center are ignorant or don’t care, judging by their comments.

Twenty-five members for weekend service is not impacting traffic and I sincerely hope that the San Leandro City Council approves the prayer center.

I wonder if this same crowd would have objected if the request was from Catholic, Jewish, Baptist or any other religion.

— Maria Palos, San Leandro

Disturbed, Disgusted and Appalled by Statue


I am disturbed, disgusted, and appalled at the thought of having this giant naked statue in public in the family-friendly town of San Leandro.  I believe she is going to be larger than any building in town.

It is not wise to display pornography in the public square where our young children will see it. We do not allow pornography in our drug and grocery stores and other shops. Why should we allow it in the great out-of-doors?

— Mrs. Ute Anderson, San Leandro

Now, About That Companion Statue of The Arnold...


I was honored to read that Margarita Lacabe (“Sizing Up That ‘Arnold’ Statue Suggestion,” Letters, July 9) agrees with the idea to commission a partner for the Truth Lady’s as a wonderful tribute ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now we are founding members  of the “Arnold Statue” ad hoc committee.

She is also right in that Arnold did take steroids “back in the day” when he was a professional body builder, created huge biceps, which did “pique my interest,” as I have lifted weights “back in my day.”

However, I am unsure what  anatomical part she was referring to that required a magnifying glass; so, if Ms. Lacabe has any  “inside information” I hope she passes it along to us all.

— Pete Ambrosia, San Leandro

Martin O’Malley a Better Choice for Democrats?


For many Democrats, Hillary’s politics are too embedded with Wall Street, while Bernie seems too independent to be electable.

I recently discovered the candidate whose progressive politics are coupled with a proven ability to govern. Maryland’s former Gov. Martin O’Malley, also former Mayor of Baltimore, has the managerial experience and technical vision to apply information technology to make governmental decisions based on knowledge.

He applied the same mapping technology we use when finding a route through traffic, to identify where Baltimore’s worst crime was, and he allocated increased resources to those neighborhoods to fight the city’s crime problems.

With knowledge-based decision-making and O’Malley’s managerial savvy, Baltimore’s violent crime reduced by 41%.

As governor, he applied the similar methods to reduce Maryland’s unemployment and increase jobs faster than its neighboring states that had cut their budgets for necessary services.  He promotes a new way of managing to get things done, moving from innovation-limiting hierarchy to collaborative consensus-building.

O’Malley’s top goals are to reverse the causes of climate change by supporting clean, renewable power sources; to limit the influence of unaccountable big money in our political system; and to reduce the disparity of wealth and opportunity with affordable education, fair taxation, big-bank regulation and resistance to trade deals that threaten our environmental, labor, and health protections.

Americans are tired of seeing clowns run around the circus car when we need a President who knows how to work effectively for the shared concern of our survival on this planet.  Details at martinomalley.com.

— Bruce Joffe, Piedmont

Letters • 07-30-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Underground Utilities, Street Light Installation Underway


In last week’s San Leandro Times, a resident expressed concern regarding the City’s efforts with undergrounding utilities and conversion to LED street lights to save on energy (“Expansion of OSI Called ‘A Quiet Failure,’” Letters, July 23).

In 2012, the City completed utility undergrounding on E. 14th Street from 150th Avenue to the southern city limits at a cost of approximately $2.7 million. The City’s Engineering & Transportation Department is currently designing an $8.5-million undergrounding project on E. 14th Street from 150th Avenue to Thornton Street. Construction is scheduled to start in the next few years.

In late 2010, at the direction of Council, the City entered into an agreement with the Department of Energy for acceptance of $734,800 in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds.

These grant funds were spread out to encompass both energy efficiency programs made available to residents, as well as construction projects focused on improving the City of San Leandro’s energy efficiency.

At project completion in 2013, $188,972 was spent on upgrading 14 percent of the City’s street lights to LED, and $336,800 was spent on installing building management systems (HVAC and lighting controls) in several City buildings. Additionally, in 2013, the Public Works Department completed retrofitting all City traffic signals via a PG&E rebate program.

Earlier this year, City Council directed staff to pursue work with a consultant, who, after completing a citywide audit, will provide a list of recommended energy and water efficiency projects for the City’s consideration. It is anticipated that the conversion of the remaining street lights to LED will rank high on the list of projects and work could begin as early as the first quarter of 2016.

— Debbie Pollart, Public Works Director, City of San Leandro

There’ll Always Be Grumblers About City Improvements


I wonder what the folks at OSI did to incur so much wrath from certain quarters of the San Leandro population.

Week after week, the Times has a letter or two from some resident who is in a snit about their buildings or their taste in art for the OSI campus. It would seem that some of our local curmudgeons are so bent out of shape that they even drug poor former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan into the fray last week.

Well, my advice to the OSI folks is to ignore the babble. Some of these same complainers fought the new Kaiser Medical Center and can be counted on to mutter and grumble about anything that drags San Leandro into the 21st century.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

About the Food Change and How it Involves All of Us


As we give thought as to how to make our outdoor spaces more inviting for pollinators and humans alike, I encourage us to drop the word “yard” from our vocabulary.

What we are trying to create are gardens. That may help us to remember that our gardens are part of the wider web of gardens in our community. If we can keep this deep connection in mind, we really can begin to create an urban sanctuary for all living things, from the microbes in the soil, to the fruits and flowers we enjoy, to the birds in the air.

We cannot pick and choose. We need to consider them all.

I am reminded of this connection as I read the very fine book, “The Third Plate,” by Dan Barber. Yes, he is a chef writing about the food chain, but it is truly applicable to everything.

He writes, “What we refer to as the beginning and end of the food chain – a field on a farm at one end, a plate of food at the other – isn’t really a chain at all. The food chain is actually more like a set of Olympic rings. They all hang together… We can’t think about changing parts of our system. We need to think about redesigning the system. (21).”

That is both the beauty and the perils of being a pollinator. They connect us. We are in this together.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”  John Muir (Barber, 20).

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

Letters • 07-23-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Expansion of OSI Called ‘A Quiet Failure’


I have a very different vision for San Leandro than our current Mayor.

I know it sounds exciting to think we’re going to be the next Silicon Valley with our fiber optic loop but so far it’s been a quiet failure. In reality what we’re doing is helping pay for expanding OSI which will justify the cost of hooking up the library and malls to the loop.

It has not been a big job creator as sold to us by this Mayor and the last one, otherwise someone would have corrected my past letters with a glowing jobs report to silence my criticism. I think the silence from City Hall speaks volumes.

So right now we’re busy watching them erect some truly ugly, built-on-the-cheap office buildings that look nothing like the Spanish theme buildings on the east side to the BART Station and I think to myself we can do better.

Plopping a naked lady in the middle of cheap looking buildings isn’t some big win for the city. It’s as if you’re erecting a giant shrine to male chauvinism in San Leandro since just about zero women work in the tech industry and the Mayor thinks it’s really cool. I’m skeptical.

I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but I’d rather have safer streets, undergrounded utilities and LED street lights to save on energy. But instead we got the loop. I’m very skeptical.

I’m frustrated that we’ve elected someone as our Mayor without the common sense to deal with these issues. That somehow a naked lady statue trumps public safety and fiscal responsibility, but then, I think about what Oakland had to endure with Jean Quan as their Mayor. They suffered through four years of her bad decision-making.

I guess Mayor Cutter is now our Jean Quan.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Rep. Lee: San Leandro Moving In the Right Direction


Solar power is here to stay and that’s a good thing for our planet and for jobs.

The 13th Congressional District is home to more than 70 solar companies, six of which are located in San Leandro. These companies employ more than 1,800 workers in the green economy jobs of today and tomorrow. Solar energy powers more than 18,000 homes in the 13th Congressional District.

Most recently, the San Leandro Unified School District became connected to the city’s fiber optic loop because of a new solar panel installation. This connection opens the door to high-speed internet and 21st century technology in every classroom.

It’s clear that San Leandro and the entire East Bay are moving in the right direction.

Now, we must continue this progress and ensure that all Americans can access this clean energy source.

That is why I was proud to introduce the Low Income Solar Act (H.R. 3041), with Congressmen Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), to ensure that everyone has access to solar power and that our community benefits from the burgeoning solar industry.

H.R. 3041 would allow low-income families to obtain grants to install solar panels on their homes to decrease energy costs and increase sustainability.  Additionally, the bill establishes a loan program to create community solar facilities.

This bill is a step in the right direction to guarantee economic and environmental justice all while helping to create more jobs.

We must continue to invest in  21st century technologies.

— Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 13th Congressional District

Regulations, Trash Haulers Share Blame for Dumping


This is in response to the letter, “Fears Trash Dumping is Turning Ashland into a Slum” on July 16, 2015.

I would like to thank Avis Robinson of Ashland for her letter. Unfortunately it is not just happening in Ashland, but all over the Bay Area. On my street alone I can typically fill a 13-gallon trash bag every other week. I pick up the litter in the street and in people’s yards and I am always calling the City of San Leandro regarding the dumping (often of several rooms of furniture and garbage) along Foothill Boulevard.

While I agree that it is the responsibility of homeowners and renters, property managers, and business owners to ensure that their properties are kept trash free, I also place blame on regulation and the trash collection industry.

Regulation – the way trash is collected (by one driver and a truck) – and access to the County dump has made it virtually impossible to dispose of unwanted items. If it can’t fit in any of those cans it will end up in the street.

The drivers often do not get out of their truck to pick it up (I have witnessed this many times) leaving the “collecting” to others to have to pick up!

I don’t want to live in a slum either as this results in the loss of my property value. Everyone should help out by bending over once in awhile to remove trash and weeds from their yards and businesses. Take some pride in living in a well kept community!

— Donna M. Meyer, San Leandro

Sharing Our Resources


In a recent on-line discussion, a neighbor reported that while she was out hand watering her garden someone ran by and shouted, “Water waster!” and kept on going.  The label puzzled my neighbor, as she was trying to comply to gardening guidelines that suggest deeper, less frequent watering.

She was not able to have that conversation with the one running by because that person did not stop to converse. Yet, that evening she was blessed to spend time in her garden with several hummingbirds who did indeed opt to linger and enjoy her garden.

I confess that I believe everything we plant or dig up must be attended with our pollinators in mind. The same is true of the choices we make about what to water and what to let go dry. We need to share our watering and gardening resources with our birds, bees, and other pollinators because that is what they do for us. We need their presence in our gardens now, and we will need them long after this drought has passed.

We also need to be in good relationships with our human neighbors as well.

If you are interested in being part of a group exploring how and what to plant for our pollinators, please send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . If you are on Facebook, go to Bee Friendly, San Leandro, www.facebook.com/beesinsanleandro.

Also, please keep in mind that Tuesday, August 4, is National Night Out, a great time to connect with neighbors. Tuesday morning’s earthquake should remind us all that none of us are on solid ground. The neighbor we rush by in a huff today may very well be the neighbor whose assistance we will need tomorrow. Let’s nurture and enjoy good relationships now.

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

Letters • 07-16-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Better Check Your Water Bill For EBMUD ‘Estimate’


The drought has raised alarm and concern for all of us. As a citizen of San Leandro, I have been doing my part to conserve water. I’ve turned off my automatic sprinkler system and water by hand just enough to keep my browning lawn alive. We are also conserving water indoors washing dishes by hand and taking abbreviated showers.

Despite all our efforts to conserve I received a bill from EBMUD that was over three times the amount of my previous bill. It stated I was using an astonishing 760 gallons a day. Much of my new bill was calculated using the new “premium rate.”

I looked at my bill closely taking note of the current meter reading stated there. I went outside and pried off the lid and took a look at the meter. To my surprise the meter read 49 units less than what was stated on my bill. In other words I was over-billed 36,652 gal. or 564 gal. per day.

I called EBMUD. The person I spoke to suggested I must have a leak somewhere on my property. I explained that the bill showed more usage than what my meter indicated. After some “investigation” she stated that my current bill was an estimate. Apparently the meter was not actually read. Their estimate increased my bill by $224.13 from my previous bill, much of it at premium rates for water abusers.

So is it their policy to charge people using an estimate that does not take into account the efforts customers have made to conserve? After more discussion it was agreed that my bill should be lowered by $215.02. I’m wondering how many others are being billed using “estimates” that put them into the water abuser category.

— Steve Witt, San Leandro

Applauds City Council for Passing Pro-Union Pact


It’s not often that your publication has great news for regular folks like me, your headline on July 9 2015, was just that incredibly good news.

A community benefit agreement guarantees that San Leandro residents have a seat at the table when developers come to town. Local hiring and prevailing wage means that local workers will get money to spend in our city and in that way grow our economy allowing everyone to prosper.

You will get the un-informed anti-union rhetoric from the Fox news set as  predictable as the 7:30 a.m. BART train is late. I urge the readers to question the motivation of people who would give away public lands or public financing without asking for guaranteed benefits to San Leandro workers.

I applaud Jim Prola and the rest of the council. Now, lets get to work.

— Guillermo Elenes, San Leandro

Says Pro-Union Agreement Tosses Competitive Bidding


I can’t believe that the City Council unanimously approved the “Community Workforce Agreement” which will give the unions more power.

The unions will now have the power to screen which companies can bid on San Leandro contracts and this will throw competitive bidding right out the window.

The union says that they will make a “good faith effort” to hire companies that have 30 percent of their workforce living in San Leandro, which reminds me of the used car dealer that said “this car was owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays.”

Who’s kidding who?

In addition, the Union must hire a San Leandro resident (apprentice) for every $5 million of the contract. Big deal, like that’s really going to put a dent in San Leandro’s unemployment.

I find it very interesting that only two other cities (Berkeley and Martinez) in the entire Bay Area have adopted this business policy, which makes me wonder what the other cities know now that our clueless City Council is about to go along with this hair-brained idea.

It appears that Councilman Jim Prola spearheaded this insane idea and it makes me wonder how much money the unions contributed to his campaign.

In addition, city business development manager Jeff Kay already acknowledged that this agreement will cost the city more money. Now I totally understand why the City of San Leandro wanted to boost our sales tax a few months ago to the highest level in the state. They wanted to do it to support the unions – and just look what that did to the city of Detroit.

— Brent Heath, San Leandro

Fears Trash Dumping Is Turning Ashland into a Slum


As I drive around the unincorporated Ashland area, I shake my head at all the litter and illegally dumped items – mattresses, tires, couches and chairs everywhere. Five years ago, Ashland was clean. So what happened?

Property managers, homeowners and stores have stopped cleaning up the sidewalks and streets and cutting overgrown vegetation in front of their buildings. Trash cans at almost every bus stop are overflowing with trash spilling onto the ground.

Homeless people toss garbage everywhere as they go through trash cans. Cigarette butts are strewn on the ground. And, the garbage and recycling companies don’t pick up trash that falls on the ground as they empty bins. They just leave it there and drive away.

The creek running through the unincorporated area, which used to be beautiful, is now littered with garbage and trash, as are the streets and area surrounding Bayfair Mall and the Bayfair theater, BART, the medical center and Walgreens.

Where is the pride in keeping the unincorporated area clean? It’s simple. If everyone were to keep their property clean and maintained, residents and visitors would use trash cans, and the cans would be picked up when they’re full, smokers would dispose of cigarette butts properly, and if people stop dumping items illegally, the unincorporated Ashland area would be clean and beautiful again! I don’t want to live in a slum, so please help to do your part.

— Avis Robinson, Ashland

‘Our Readers Remember’ Brought Back Many Memories


Thank you so much for the articles last week in “Our Readers Remember.” It brought back many memories, especially the one about the corn and squash, a trip we made each week when things were in season.

I enjoy reading the Times each week.

— Erma Lazzereschi, San Leandro

Letters • 07-09-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Outraged by PUC’s Action Changing Electricity Rates


It is outrageous that the California Public Utilities Commission released its plan for changing electricity rates on Wednesday before the July 4th weekend, and approved it on Friday, giving no time for public comment, or even for public awareness of its action.

Current rates which reward energy conservation will be reversed, so low-usage customers will be paying higher rates while high-usage energy wasters will pay lower rates. This would mean higher bills for about 75% of electricity customers in the coming years, while rate reductions would go to the top 5% of users. That just ain’t right.

In addition, customers who have installed solar power will pay an additional surcharge “to keep the electric grid running.” What about California’s goals for clean and sustainable energy? These rate changes shove in the wrong direction.

Can Governor Brown reverse the CPUC’s bad decision? Can the Democratic-majority legislature save us from this blunder? Perhaps yes, if enough angry citizens let them know we aren’t gonna take this any more.

— Bruce Joffe, Piedmont

‘Welcome to Progressive, Post-Constitutional America’


Jeff Sturm (“Are We Celebrating the Wrong Document on the Wrong Date?” Letters, July 2) suggests we all are celebrating the wrong document and date with our July 4th celebrations, apparently based on the Declaration’s alleged erroneous “all men are created equal” misstep.

He goes on to suggest celebrating the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day rather than the Declaration of Independence on July 4.

But if Mr. Sturm’s perceived “imperfections” in American history are valid, his solution is a non-starter. Provisions in the Constitution allowed states to count slaves as 3/5 of a person for purposes of apportionment, expressly denied Congress the power to ban importation of slaves until 1808, and prohibited free states from enacting laws protecting fugitive slaves.

Tsk, tsk.  Maybe while we’re busily burning Confederate flags we should take a moment to burn Old Glory, too, no?  And the Constitution? Let our Ayatollahs, the Supremes, be our guide. They’re ignoring it entirely as evidenced by their recent gay marriage decision.

It’s not about the Constitution at all.  It’s about penumbras, emanations, meanings, rainbows, fulfilling oneself, love and equality. Ahh, equality. Trumps all. But there is equality in dungeons.

Welcome to Progressive, Post-Constitutional America. Bring it all down, man.

— Patrick O’Rourke, San Leandro

July 4th: ‘We Must Consider Circumstances of the Times’


I disagree with Jeff Sturm’s (see above) assertion that we should celebrate the signing of the Constitution rather than the Declaration of Independence because the latter did not deal with the issue of slavery or women’s suffrage.

Yes, there are apparent hypocrisies in view of the declaration’s language affirming “...that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...” But we must consider the circumstances of the time.

Many historians say that the colonists considered themselves as English, not yet  “Americans.” Being  English in their orientation, they believed and explained in the Declaration that they were being oppressed by their government, that they had been subjected to “... a long train of abuses (evidence of) a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism.” Efforts at redress were fruitless. It was time to “dissolve the political bonds” which had connected them with England.

These were colonists vs King George, leader of the world’s most powerful nation. Slavery, as horrific as it was, simply was not part of this issue. Without the Declaration and the successful war for independence, however, the Founders would never have had the opportunity to craft the Constitution and The bill of Rights.

Additional amendments followed. Together, these brought forth the country which did abolish slavery which gave women suffrage and affirmed their equality with men. This in stark contrast with what still goes in too much of the world.

— Fred Reicker, San Leandro

Takes Issue with Bertolero’s Comments on Herbicide Use


I think Ms. Ruff (“Good, San Leandro, for Saving Water...but Don’t Let Yards Go Unkempt,” Letters, July 2) brings up an excellent point. Yes, there are many alternatives to simply letting our gardens and front yards die.

I think few of us will disagree that the time of the lawn has passed, and given California’s growing population, our water table will probably never go back to the glory days of green lawns. They require too much water and too many chemicals to maintain – neither of which our environment and our Mediterranean climate can afford. Yes, life and lawns have changed for us.

There are many alternatives to be found in mulching, planting dry gardens, and drought-tolerant plants. With just the use of a plastic bucket, capturing at least some of the water that is normally sent down the drains everyday in kitchens, showers, and bathroom sinks can be redirected to keeping simpler landscaping alive, including vegetable gardens.

Therefore, I was really surprised to read Buzz Bertolero’s suggestion about using Round-Up (brought to us by Monsanto, the creator of Agent Orange and is one of the companies at the heart of the controversy of the GMO connection to dying bees) and another controversial herbicide, Monterey Weed Stopper, to prepare ground for mulching.

We must mulch and plant with the protection of pollinators in mind. The picture is much bigger than simply trying to keep our individual spaces looking attractive in these dry times with as little effort as possible.

It is learning how to care carefully. It is learning that toxic solutions are not solutions, but will more than likely exacerbate the problem. It is recognizing that bees, birds, and butterflies are important to the well being of all of us. It is understanding that If we lose our pollinators while trying to kill a few weeds, we will fail. We cannot exist without them.

Please, talk to your gardening neighbors. Talk to our local nursery. Share what you learn. Let’s create an environment where information and creativity, not herbicides are shared. Let’s find some sustainable ways of living in times of water shortage. We are certainly not the first humans to do so, and these shortages may be around for a long time.  However, if we do not exercise thoughtful land stewardship, life as we know it may not be.

— Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, San Leandro

Sizing Up That ‘Arnold’ Statue Suggestion


I applaud Peter Ambrosia’s (“Suggests Pairing ‘Truth’ Lady with Anatomically Correct ‘Arnold’ Statue,” Letters, July 2) idea of giving the “Truth is Beauty” statue a male companion modeled after former Governor Schwarzenegger in his “prime.”

Of course, given the side effects of the steroids that Schwarzenegger used to develop his famous physique, we might need a magnifying glass to see the “anatomical parts” that pique Mr. Ambrosia’s interest. Maybe we could call that statue the “Truth of Beauty.”

— Margarita Lacabe, San  Leandro

Book Re-Labelling Project Could Use Some Volunteers


As a retired person with many outside activities that include caring for an elderly family member, I try to carve out time for volunteer work in my town of San Leandro. 

I recently had the opportunity to work with an incredible group of dedicated souls at SLED. The project entails re-labeling every book in each of San Leandro’s eight Elementary schools! This means pulling each book, matching it with the new label and re-shelving.

When a student finishes a book, a computer scans the code on that new label and generates a quiz for that specific book that challenges the student, gives the teacher the results and tracks that student for reading levels and comprehension. Wow! It’s a huge job and if you could see all the retired teachers, neighborhood volunteers and retired folks like me diving in, you would be very impressed.

However, this is a daunting project. SLED hopes to be finished by Aug. 19. I would urge anyone out there who has a child in the system, cares about the quality of education in San Leandro or has a few extra hours in the day to please get involved!

I have never had a child in a San Leandro school, as we moved here after our sons were grown, but my neighbors do, and I care about them. If you have a passion for education and have some time to give, check out the SLED website: www.sledfund.org. I’m definitely going back to help. My husband has signed up too. The volunteers are dedicated, have entertaining stories and snacks! This is a great step forward for our San Leandro schools.

— Suzanne Anderson, San Leandro

Says Texas Deserves Our Ridicule and Scorn


Regarding “Times Editorial Cartoon Wronged Texas,” Letters, July 2,” I have to say “I beg to differ.” The voters in Texas continue to elect the most vociferous, anti-government wingnuts they can find. These morons obstruct and hinder any and all efforts by government to move this nation forward on issue after issue. After Hurricanes Karina and Sandy, Texas politicians marched in lock step with other red state, mossbacks to hinder the legislation needed to help millions of Americans who were impacted by these disasters.

As is typical with hypocrites, the minute they found their sorry butts in trouble they came whining to the rest of us for help. Texas deserved our help because they are our fellow human beings. They also deserve our ridicule and scorn for their backward voting habits.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Letters • 07-02-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Are We Celebrating the Wrong Document on the Wrong Date?


The Declaration of Independence is a more complex – and troubling – document than is assumed.

The 4th of July, like many American holidays, comes wrapped in patriotism and accompanied by door buster sales and fireworks. There is a surprising amount of contradictions, disagreements, and opinions about what the document says or doesn’t say, even what type of document it is, given its importance to the American myth.

For example: While the document states that all men are created equal with unalienable rights, we know that in the reality of 1776 it applied to some men and no women.

While this was a statement of freedom, the English lexicographer, Dr. Samuel Johnson asked, ”How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”  Forty-one of the 56 signers owned slaves, a practice that was legal in all 13 colonies in 1776. So, why is this the document we celebrate?

Due to its historical and ongoing influence on our society, the document worthy of commemoration is the Constitution. Constitution Day (September 17) should be the national holiday when we take the opportunity to reflect on how words written centuries ago give us something to celebrate today.

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

“Truth in Beauty” Statue “Would be Right at Home in Las Vegas”


As a 45-year resident of San Leandro, I have been pleased with the new and improved look of our city. And along comes “Truth Is Beauty” and with her own light show.

Truth is beauty, but tacky is forever. I don’t think she is porn, but I don’t think she fits into the art category, maybe craft.

OSIsoft should build a 56-foot atrium for “Truth Is Beauty” to reside in, or send her to live in Las Vegas where she would be right at home. Although I would like to see what the graffiti group could do to improve the lovely “Truth Is Beauty” and her lights.

— Gerry Isham, San Leandro

Applauds Mayor, Council for Bringing Statue to San Leandro


I address this letter to the Mayor and City Council as well as the readers of this paper.

I am in favor of this statue coming to San Leandro. I have traveled extensively and have admired art in many forms. Beautiful naked statues adorn all cities in Europe and all over the world. Please do not be swayed by those who do not appreciate art. I love that it will be displayed here.

I’ve lived here 40 years, (and God willing will be here another 40), raised five children here and they appreciate art, in all forms.

I applaud the Mayor and Council for bringing this art work to San Leandro.

And as to Girls, Inc. leaving SL, they moved for larger facilities and to be closer to the people they serve, but the writer knows this.

— Cathy Costa, San Leandro

Suggests Pairing “Truth” Lady with Anatomically Correct “Arnold” Statue


I tend to side with the ladies of the issue that this “Public Art” statue is a bit much – if not inappropriate – in a public setting.

As the Cole Porter song refrain: “Anything Goes.” Therefore, if the lady is going to just stand there all day, I propose that the Burning Man artist be commissioned to create her a male partner, modeled after California’s ex-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, with all anatomical parts in place (just like the woman). Should make a dazzling light show.

— Peter Ambrosia, San Leandro

Good, San Leandro, for Saving Water… but Don’t Let Yards Go Unkempt


All of San Leandro’s residents are hopefully conserving water by now. The city is doing a wonderful job of keeping landscaping looking beautiful due to drought tolerant plantings within the new downtown shopping center at East 14th Street and Juana Avenue.

We, as residents, who are conserving water must remember to do our part as well. Even though our grasses are all brown or dying we need to keep our lawn mowed.

Not watering is a great thing, but if our properties look uncut with high weeds it makes all of San Leandro look bad as you drive around. The residents with wells are hopefully watering at night when you get the best soaking.

Let’s all keep San Leandro as beautiful as we possibly can, with well kept brown lawns.

— Georgina Ruff, San Leandro

Times’ Editorial Cartoon Wronged Texas


With its petroleum, technological, and agricultural industries, the Republic of Texas pours more tax money into the federal government coffers than most states, including California.

Texas accepted and sheltered more Louisiana victims of the floods and hurricanes than any other state. They are entitled to FEMA assistance in a disastrous act-of-God situation.

Their refusal to participate in a health program which was passed by a Congress that did not read, discuss, or analyze was a more cerebral response than that of states which jumped for the bait without seeing the balloon payment down the road.

It is the right of any state to govern for its people. Would that the federal government shared this view.

You have provided honest, family-oriented reportage for so long; don’t get into the yellow journalism of hatred and ridicule. Especially when you reprint a political cartoon run in a lesser, less responsible publication in Kansas (Opinion Page, June 25).

Using any state for a punching bag when its people are suffering loss and death cannot be defended or respected.

— Ester M. Picazo, San Leandro

Questions Theorists Who Brand Climate-Change “a Hoax”


I am guided in life by the truth of certain proverbs, including “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” I say, “Tell me what your theories are and I’ll tell you what I think you are.”

The June 11 Letters to the Editor included three which branded climate change a “hoax.”  Two were from Leo West and Don Grundmann, men well known in this community for their homophobic comments. Grundmann has a “Gay = Pervert” sticker on his car. West recently likened today’s Jews to Nazis.

Peter Ambrosia, the author of the third letter bemoaning the “global warming hoax,” refers readers to the website Real Science. The creator of Real Science is Tony Heller, but he publishes his blog under the pseudonym “Steven Goddard.”  I don’t know how old Heller/Goddard thinks the earth is, but he published a rather lengthy article arguing that President Obama was born in Kenya.

The Heartland Institute, which celebrates its label by The Economist magazine as “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change,” charges that “the public health community’s campaign to demonize smokers and all forms of tobacco is based on junk science.”

I’m no scientist. I cannot personally confirm or refute theories. So I am forced to look to other, more knowledgeable people I respect for guidance. When I look to authority and expertise on a subject, I look to a body of theories and beliefs that I respect. If a scientist demonstrates through a body of beliefs and theories that his/her intellect is trustworthy and sound, I am more likely to believe him/her.

For me, homophobia and bigotry are not a body of beliefs that inspire confidence. And if you still think Obama’s from Kenya, well . . . .

— Andrew  Kopp, San Leandro

Wants to Debate Believers of “The Religion of Global Warming”


Since Renee Harper (“Climate-Change Naysayers’ Letters ‘Easily Debunked’,” Letters, June 18) has provided the latest pablum regarding the Religion of Global Warming, I am happy that she will debate me regarding the entire fraud/scam/lie. Can your paper moderate our debate? We can hence bring to the public facts and not “the sky is falling!” hysteria of those who claim that the seas are rising (they are not), all ice is melting (ludicrous), more severe storms (there have always been severe storms and there are less hurricanes recently than before Al Gore proclaimed there would be more), and polar bears are dying off (a total joke).

We can discuss the real reason for the Climate Change Religion panic which was first mentioned in “ Report from Iron Mountain,” a book which explains why this social engineering fantasy first started by proclaiming “global cooling.”

I look forward to debating all such facts (such as one volcano eruption overwhelming any and all silly ideas of reducing so-called “green house gases”) with you, Ms. Harper.  Lets discuss both reality and denial – yours specifically. You can promote banning water vapor which constitutes 95%-plus of such “gases.”  You can promote stopping volcanoes from erupting to “save the planet.”

— Don J. Grundmann, D.C., San Leandro


Letters • 06-25-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

OSIsoft Statue Called ‘a Beautiful Addition to Our City’


Regarding the “Truth is Beauty” statue soon to grace our new Tech Campus, Corey Anderson (“OSIsoft Statue: Will SL Become ‘Capital of Outdoor Porn,” Letters June 18) suggested we contact our mayor/city council questioning the statue.

I’ll be making my contacts in

support of the statue. What a beautiful addition to our city!

It will be uplifting for San Leandro to be seen as a city appreciative of all artistic expression. It is not a “disgrace” or “indecent” as the writer suggests.

If everyone had these thoughts, our world would be without the

Michelangelo’s, the Rodin’s...

Regarding the statue, Ms. Anderson claims it to be “salacious” among other things, and says her mind is drawn to places she would rather not go.

Hopefully she can redirect herself at some point and enjoy our city’s new addition. Porn? I think not!

Congratulations are in order on the acquisition of this art installation.

— Lisa Gaspari-Salmon, San Leandro

Applauds City for Commissioning Statue


Corey Anderson (see reference above) thinks the new statue coming to San Leandro is outdoor porn.

I’m guessing that Corey has never seen the statue, I have. I assume that Corey has never traveled outside of San Leandro to visit a museum other than the street art in Branson, Missouri. I applaud the City of San Leandro for commissioning this art work and look forward to continued viewing. Besides, no water needed.

— Brent Heath, San Leandro

Says Mayor, Women on City Council Should Be Ashamed


Does the City Council of the City of San Leandro have no word in what private enterprise trashes our City with?

Really? A 55-foot sculpture of a naked woman arched backwards with fully exposed and protruding breasts (and everything else) is intended to exemplify a female’s “safety, equality and opportunity” ..... with 2,500 colored lights no less?! And this statue is to “de-objectify” women? Good gosh, no wonder Girl’s Inc. of Alameda County moved out of San Leandro last year...they must have seen this coming!

And the statue’s 2,500 colored lights can be programmed to create different light shows for passersby?! Oh, be still my heart! This is progress for females in what capacity??

This is what I think. I am a retired successful business woman who worked 44 years in the corporate arena of investments. I was working in that world before maternity benefits, or computers were invented. I didn’t ever need a 55-foot statue of a naked woman to speak for me.

I have four adult nieces who all grew up in San Leandro. They are college-educated independent women, all in very successful careers, and I dare say that nothing about this statue speaks of them either.  Their “safety, equality or opportunity” as working women cannot be defined by a naked woman with 2,500 colored lights on her.

If this statue is allowed to be erected anywhere in the City of San Leandro by this firm, or any firm, the women on the City Council, including the Mayor of San Leandro, should be ashamed of themselves. What does this statue have to do with the City of San Leandro?

Pray tell, I just want to know, will the lights blink? And, what color lights will be affixed to her nipples???

— Antoinette Troya, San Leandro

Questions City’s Priorities: Neighborhood Improvements or Public Art?


More than 3 years ago I sounded the alarm about the broken-window effect going on in the Broadmoor and how dangerous it is to cross Bancroft Avenue, especially for mothers with strollers. Bancroft is a major north south artery through town with a high volume of traffic at all times of the day.

Two years ago we presented a petition to the city council asking for neighborhood improvements including curb bump outs on Bancroft to make it easier for those mothers with strollers (and everyone else) to cross the street safely and we were met with push back from the city about how there was no money for anything more than a plastic garbage can, a cinder block bus bench and security lighting for the bus stop fit for the back of a Walmart store.

Now I read the city has just allocated $750,000 for public art on West Juana. Please, Mayor Cutter, explain to me and especially those mothers with strollers how public art can trump crossing Bancroft Avenue safely. When did your priorities get so convoluted that you think pleasing Westlake Partners is more important than ensuring the safety of the good citizens of this city?

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Answers Critics of Students’ Climate-Change Letters


It’s disappointing that three adult readers thought it was appropriate to shout down the first foray’s into public life of three high school students over the topic of climate change and global warming (Letters, June 11).

To those 3 students I say please don’t be intimidated by the rants expressed in these response letters. Keep exploring. The scientific method is alive and well in the world and apparently outside of the knowledge of these people. Just watch this.

Mr. (Peter) Ambrosia: During the Cretaceous Period, CO2 levels were 4x of today, Yellow Stone was a big volcano, and where your house is now was under hundreds of feet of water. The Earth cooled rapidly because 66M year ago a massive comet/asteroid hit at the site knows as the Chicxulub Crater. Climate change killed an estimate 75% of plants and animals due to atmospheric dust being thrown into the air, blocking the sun, and resulted in a quick and extended cooling period.

Mr. (Don J.) Grundmann: There are plenty of climate change scientist that show up to debates and explain their theory and the evidence that support it. Invite Dr. Bill Nye to debate you so our local students can see you get publicly crushed. Just bring up your theory that Greenland was a Viking Napa Valley a thousand years ago. Bill would just laugh I am sure. Everyone accepts that Eric the Red gave Greenland its name, and likely not Greenland specifically since Vikings didn’t speak English, to dupe people into settling there during his banishment. Check the Viking Saga’s of the period. Those people starved to death. Your evidence of grapes and vineyards comes from where? Maybe your great 30x grandfather made some notes? It was the island of Newfoundland, Canada that the Vikings called ‘Vineland’ and only berries, not grapes, ever grew.

Mr. (Leo) West: Students, Mr. West actually put forth no argue against climate change. Of the three, this letter has the most anti-climate change scare tactics due to lack of an argument. All the letter says is: that the weather channel reports on weather; that when climate change theory predicts hotter, dry summers and colder, snowy winters (3 in a row) just forget about it, and that Spanish explorers named California for it’s Mediterranean climate 300 years ago. Okay. So where is the argument? Climate change is only political because the politicians make is so. I don’t see us arguing about Atomic theory or if microbes exist anymore. And, Mr. West, “biblical” people thought the Earth was flat. It was the “roundees” that got lynched...just like people who currently believe in climate change.

— John Clouston, San Leandro

Thankful World is Waking Up to Peril of Climate Change


When those who stubbornly deny human impact on the climate, they always seem to resort to quoting debunked propaganda and nonsense from The Petroleum Institute or they claim some diabolical liberal conspiracy. They cling to this nuttiness in the face of the fact that over 97 percent of the thousands of accredited scientists from around the world agree that man is altering the climate with fossil fuels. These flat-earthers see this as a political issue and bury their collective heads in the sand.

Thankfully more and more the know-nothings and wingnuts are being ignored. Worldwide, more countries are waking up and trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Young folk, like those who wrote in the Times see this issue as what it is. The survival of the planet.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro


Letters • 06-18-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

OSIsoft Statue: Will SL Become ‘Capital of Outdoor Porn?’


Am I to understand that we will now have a giant nude woman to look at as an expansion of OSIsoft? That San Leandro will now be known as the “capital of outdoor porn?” This should strike everyone as a disgrace for our fair city.

We are told this “art piece” is meant to get people thinking about female “safety, equality and opportunity” and “de-objectivy” women.  Women, do you feel de-objectified or more safe because of this statue? That is most absurd.

This statue does the very opposite of what the artist tells us it is supposed to do. This is salacious and indecent at best, and is an insult to every moral person in our town. It draws my mind to places I would rather not go. Should we now put Playboy pictures, or worse, on our office halls and call that “art?”  Is this not what some object to as a sexist message, and a 55-foot tall one at that?

We don’t need this here, or anywhere. I urge you to call the mayor’s office and our city council and protest this insult to women, as I am doing.  Let’s protect women from being objectified, as this statue does not do.

— Corey Anderson, San Leandro

Students’ Letters on Climate ‘A Voice in the Wilderness’


The June 4 letters of three San Leandro High students – Hana Fe Agustin, Sebastian Valdez and Toby Frager – were like a voice calling out in the wilderness. Thank you all. While most people are quasi living in cyberspace, these three young people live in the real world and have the courage to speak out.

Please, let’s not wait for the government to do anything significant about climate change – they are handicapped by big business, their supporters. It is up to us to do something about climate change before it is too late.

Get rid of lawns. They waste most of our water and the upkeep causes pollution. Plant trees that do not lose their leaves in the fall so oxygen will be produced all year. Stop the encroachment of new houses adjacent to wilderness areas. They are often the cause of wildfires and displace the few wild animals we have left.

Let’s drive responsibly and smart to cut exhaust. We all must do our part and great things can be accomplished. The time to start is now. Thank you for participating.

— Anna M. Joe, San Leandro

Climate-Change Naysayers’ Letters ‘Easily Debunked’


Last week’s letters disputing climate change were, as is typical, filled with false and irrelevant statements, and unsubstantiated conclusions easily debunked with minimal research and a basic understanding of climate science.

Changes in worldwide global temperatures since the beginning of the industrial revolution are rising at an unprecedented rate. This temperature is far greater than can be explained by any causes other than human influence, and overwhelmingly correlates to increased carbon dioxide.

Nine of the ten warmest years in recorded history have occurred since 2000, and we can identify the source of increased carbon dioxide that has occurred since humans first began burning fossil fuels, since these carbons have a unique chemical signature different from other carbon sources.

All the letter writers apparently fail to understand that “climate” is not the same as “weather,” and isolated incidents of colder years say nothing about long term trends. Global warming is the long-term increase in globally and seasonally averaged surface temperatures. The changes seen worldwide in recent years (extreme heat, severe storms, flooding, sea level rise, and droughts) have all been predicted decades ago and correlate with a rapidly warming world.

Understanding climate change and the urgent need to take action is not a political issue. Informed and responsible Republican leaders acknowledge the reality and have called for action to address the threat. Even our military recognizes the threat climate change poses to our national security. If you follow the facts, global climate change is here now and accelerating, and we all need to under-stand how dire the threat is and act accordingly.

Reality is scary, but denial is deadly – for all of us.

— Renee Harper, San Leandro

Refutes Complaints About City Budget


Regarding the letter, “Flabbergasted’ by SL’s City Budget,” (Letters, June 11), the writer claimed “...our salary and benefit obligations are now $45 million or almost half the budget. This is too much.”

Almost all services the City provides must be performed by people who need to be paid fairly for their services. I’m surprised that less than half the budget is taken up by personnel costs. Why is this “too much”? No evidence was presented.

“The common excuse at City Hall for not getting projects done in my neighborhood is: There is no more money,” he wrote. What are these projects, and why are they so important? Again, we are left wondering.

He appears unhappy with the condition of City streets; he claims the City Manager’s strategy is “...what roads won’t we pave this year to pay for my raise?” Unfortunately, his preferred budget strategy would cut the compensation of the workers who pave our roads.

“No more raises at City Hall – except for the brave men and women of the police and fire departments...” Inflation and cost of living increases mean that freezing pay for those who would complete neighborhood projects for our selfish San Leandran is a de facto wage cut.

Our City’s best public servants would take up the letter-writer’s bizarre invitation to “go negotiate with some other municipality.” Hundreds of workers would have less money to patronize businesses in town.

If the writer was so angry that he took the time to write a letter attacking the people who serve him, it would be less disappointing if he thought his critiques and remedies through more thoroughly.

— Doug Jones, San Leandro

Thrift Shop Theft Means Less for Special Child-Care Home


Shame on the person who stole the sterling silver brooch on Friday, June 12, that was on display at our shop, the Treasures Hospice Thrift Store on Washington Avenue in downtown San Leandro. It was on auction to raise money to help the George Mark House for Children.

— Dee Gonzales, Lorraine Heether, and all the Treasures Hospice volunteers

Letters • 06-11-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

‘Flabbergasted’ by San Leandro’s City Budget


I was completely flabbergasted reading about our city budget. On a total projected budget of $95 million next year, our salary and benefit obligations are now $45 million or almost half the budget. This is too much.

Mayor Cutter and the city council gave the city manager a big fat raise and added to our $158 million in unfunded pensions. His retirement will result in millions more in unfunded obligations.

We should not have to continue to pass tax increases to get basic service done because of handing out unnecessary and unfunded raises. We don’t have the money.

The common excuse at City Hall for not getting projects done in my neighborhood is: There is no more money.  Mayor Cutter has ensured we’ll never get anything done now.  And, since Mayor Cutter has talked for years about her concerns about the pension crisis, I find the city manager’s exorbitant raise very hypocritical.

Here’s what common sense approach should apply during this ongoing financial crisis. No more raises at City Hall – except for the brave men and women of the police and fire departments out risking their lives for the good people of our city. The city manager, the chief of police and all the department heads make enough money.

If someone at City Hall doesn’t like their salary, let them go negotiate with some other municipality. We need salary caps in place and common sense returning to the city council to ensure our financial security.

The “Rubiks cube” the city manager refers to in dealing with the city budget is really… what roads won’t we pave this year to pay for my raise? Someone has to say, enough is enough.

Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Says Students’ Conclusions on Climate Change ‘Have No Scientific Basis’


This letter is in response to the letters of June 4, from the students of San Leandro High: Toby Frager, Sebastian Valdez and Hannah Fe Agustin.

I am encouraged and applaud their concern for the environment, which I share. However, in my opinion, the conclusions (cause and effect) they present have no scientific basis, especially Miss Agustin’s statement that “deforestation plays a part in the drought” has no science to back it up.

I would like to present a few examples and references for these students, and anyone, concerning the “man-made” climate change hysteria to read and study:

1. The climate is always changing and will always change, and man has no control. Note that during the Cretaceous period in Earth’s history Alaska had a tropical climate; that is why Alaska is oil rich. Do any of these  students have any clue as to what mechanism caused the Earth to cool so dramatically?

2. During the 1970s, the media and so-called “climate scientists” were announcing America was caught in a “global cooling scare.” In 1974, a Time Magazine cover showing a penguin smothered in ice was titled: “51 Things to do to survive another Ice Age.”

This was one of many similar “scientific” articles by several magazines.

3. Richard Lindzen, climate scientist and professor emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (a pretty good school), called global warming alarmists a “cult.”

4. June 2, 2015: Nuuk, Greenland is having the coldest year on record.

5. The current “models” that are feeding all the climate change frenzy are contrary to the data gleaned from the Vostok Core drilling. This data debunks almost all “global warming” hysteria. This requires study and research.

There are scores of scientists with tons of data that challenge all of these students’ conclusions as well as the whole hysteria of “global warming,” so I hope that inquiring minds will do their own research and not be “brainwashed” by the political agenda, power struggles and money grabbing that drives today’s hysteria. A good place to start is the website Real Science. “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

Peter Ambrosia, San Leandro resident since 1994

Wants a Debate to ‘Blow Apart Scam’ of Climate Change


Since you have published the letters of two teenage members of the Church of Global Warming/Climate Change perhaps you can sponsor a debate so that the hysteria/panic induced by this Social Engineering produced hoax/scam/religious belief can be neutralized by true science.

There is a Mount Everest of such true science, also known as “reality,” such as “Greenland” gaining its name from being warm enough – hundreds of years ago – to have grapes and vineyards grown there.

An “excess carbon footprint” did not warm it then just as it does not warm us now since CO2 is less than one half of one percent of so-called “greenhouse gases.” More than 95 percent of such “gases” are water vapor.

Will the believers advocate for banning water vapor? Climate change believers run in panic from any debate. Will even one have enough courage to debate so that the whole scam can be blown apart?

Don J. Grundmann, D.C., San Leandro

Calls Climate Change Coverage ‘Scary Tactic’ to Keep Public on Edge


Judging by the letters on “climate change” in the San Leandro Times, it seems that the schools follow the same line of the “catastrophic” news where all of the channels devote half of the time to the “weather,” assigning up to four correspondents to cover whatever is happening – floods, ice storms, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, etc.

The scary tactics are very effective politically to maintain the population on the edge.

“Climate change” used to be known as “global warming,” but since the last three long winters that buried two thirds of the United States in snow, the term is not very catchy, hence the change.

The term “climate change” is equivalent to saying: “The water is wet.” This planet started as a ball of fire with all kinds of cataclysms going on for billions of years; then there were the ice ages and so on.

In the end, “climate changer” retrogrades would like to go back to the fraudulent biblical stories about an earth being a perfect sphere where everything is in perfect order and harmony, “terra in eternum est,” which has never been.

Finally, the Spaniards called it California: “Cali” for “cálido” (Hot) and “Fornia” for “forno,” old Spanish for furnace. Hot furnace. There you have it. That was more than 300 years ago!

It’s the school of “political correctness.”

Leo T. West, San Leandro

San Leandro ‘Angels’ Aid Woman Who Fell


During a recent trip to the Best Building in downtown San Leandro on May 27, my mother fell in the parking lot. Two young men and a young woman rushed to assist her.

They were so kind and gentle with mom. They offered to call an ambulance, which mom refused. The young woman had some hand wipes and helped put them around mom’s bleeding fingers. Mom sat up with their assistance and then we helped her to stand.

After we got to a bench and sat down, our three wonderful helpers waited until they were assured mom was OK. Even as each “angel” drove off, they waved and smiled. Mom calls you “her angels” for your kindness and caring. Thank you for your help.

Toni Macaluso, Castro Valley

The High Cost of Antibiotic Use in Raising Livestock


Last Tuesday, President Obama directed federal agencies to serve antibiotic-free meat and poultry in government cafeterias.

The FDA will require animal producers to obtain authorization from a licensed veterinarian to use drugs to treat a specific disease, rather than just to promote rapid growth, as is current practice.

As much as 80 percent of all U.S. antibiotics are used in animal agriculture.

The moves come amid growing concern about the link between routine antibiotic use in animal agriculture and human infections by bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics because of their excessive use. The CDC estimates that antibiotic resistance causes 2 million illnesses per year in the U.S. and 23,000 deaths. It also adds $20 billion per year in health care costs and $35 billion in lost productivity.

And we thought that animal products were just linked to heart disease, cancer and stroke…

While government agencies reduce antibiotics in animal products, the rest of us can do better immediately with wholesome vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, and a rich variety of plant-based meats, cheeses, milks, and ice creams available in every supermarket.

These foods contain all the nutrients we require, without the deadly pathogens, antibiotics, carcinogens, cholesterol and saturated fats.

Kurt Champler, San Leandro



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