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

Drones, Armored Vehicles Valuable to First Responders


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

Fire truck: $225,000.

Ambulance: $120,000.

Police Car: $45,000.

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

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

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

— Larry Arnold, San Leandro

Determining the Good Guys from the Bad Guys


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

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

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

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

— Brennan Kane, San Leandro

Bringing YMCA Youth & Government Program to SL


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

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

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

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

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

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

Great News for Breast-feeding Moms… and Cows


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

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

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

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

— Michelle Kretzer, PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Virginia

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

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


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

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

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

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

— Kent Kavasch, San Lorenzo

Pipe Water Down from Rainy Northwest?


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

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

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

— Fred Miller, Sheffield Village

Suspects SLPD is Angling for ‘More War Toys’


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

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

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

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Celebrate Start of Spring with Veggies


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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost 50% of the respondents

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

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

— Dennis Roth, San Leandro

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

On Punishing Guitly School Trustees and Their Electors


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

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

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

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

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

— Andrew Kopp, San Leandro

Leo West Calls for a Rent Control Law


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

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

Unlimited Increases for San Leandro Renters


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

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

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

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

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

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

— Robert Heron, San Leandro

School Board Said to Need a Financial Analyst


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

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

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

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

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

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

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Stop Whining and Work to Change Eductional Financing


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

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

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

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

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

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

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

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

San Leandro Expressing its Outrage on Wrong Priorities?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— John Clouston, San Leandro

Accuses Voters of Electing Incompetent School Trustees


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

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

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

Obviously the SLUSD did not.

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

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

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

— Mary Josephs, San Leandro

Health Officials Absent from Offering their Support of BearCat Purchase


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

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

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

Did I miss something here?

— Carroll Quam, San Leandro

Creating Something Positive from Tragic Slaying of Joel Ramirez


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you if you can help with either endeavor.

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


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

Could It Change Your Mind About the BearCat?


BearCat – Yes, no, maybe so!

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

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

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

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

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

— Larry Arnold. San Leandro

Consider a Meat-Free Diet Beyond Lent


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

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

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

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

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

— Dennis Roth, San Leandro

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

Thinks San Leandro was ‘Duped’ By Homeland Security


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

I find it hard to believe that San

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

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

— Alice Franco, San Leandro

Lots of Unanswered Questions about the BearCat


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Calls BearCat Purchase ‘Fleecing of the Gullible’


Can anyone site any credible

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

I doubt it.

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

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

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

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

BearCat Buy: Says Kudos to Reed, Shame on Prola


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

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

red-light cameras!

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

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

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

— Ken Kellogg, San  Leandro

Trains May Be Crowded, but He Loves BART


I wrote to you a few weeks ago

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

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

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

— Roy W. Daniels, San Leandro

Is Complaint About White Speaker ‘Reverse Racism?’


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

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

Isn’t this reverse racism?

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

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

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

— George Z. Banks, San Leandro

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

Says Library Picked Wrong ‘Black History’ Speaker


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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Voices Matter.

— Toni Guy, San Leandro

An Open letter to Oro Loma Director Laython Landis

Director Landis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Lena Tam, President, APADCAC

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


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

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

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

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Armored Vehicle Said to Lack Critical Response Time


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Armored Vehicle is an Assault Vehicle, Not an Ambulance


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

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

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

— Richard Mercouris, San Leandro

Mystified by the Conclusion of ‘American Sniper’


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

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

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

— Earl Cava, San Leandro

Senior Center Offers Lots of Options for Healthy Exercise


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

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

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

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

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

— Peggy Hynd Combs

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


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

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

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

— Susan Levenson, San Leandro

Bakersfield Seniors’ Cherished Memories of San Leandro


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

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

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

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

— Jack and Hilda Jones, Bakersfield

Letters • 01-29-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Sums Up Armored Vehicle: ‘Boys and Their Toys’


Regarding “Armored Vehicles Needed to Save Lives, Police Say,” (Page One, The Times, Jan. 15), this whole idea can be summed up in one phrase: “Boys and their toys.”

I considered attending the presentation last week but decided: “Why bother?”

The majority of the City Council will always stay in lockstep with the SLPD as evidenced by last year’s vote for keeping those “Red Light Cameras” and to continue picking the pockets of drivers making those dangerous $450+ “Hollywood Stops.”

At some point, someone will need to exit the APC to pick up all those lives that are being saved. Who will that someone be...Robocop or Superman?

— Ken Kellogg, San Leandro

Welcomes Armored Vehicle for ‘a Safe Neighborhood’


I missed the meeting on Thursday night last, so I did not get to see the vehicle. However, I did hear the Police Chief talk about it this week.

I was not surprised to hear about the protesters being there on Thursday. These low-information agitators should move next door to Oakland, if that is the type of neighborhood they feel comfortable with. We here in San Leandro would prefer a safe neighborhood and welcome having this vehicle in our city.

Currently we have to borrow one from neighboring cities if we need to. We have the grant for it and will welcome it. It is a MedEvac vehicle, which means they can save some lives! Come on people, lets get with the 21st century.

— Carole Cordray, San Leandro

Armored Vehicle: Questions for the Mayor, City Council


I’m sorry to have missed the opportunity to see the BearCat. I’m certain the BearCat protects the occupants inside. After all, BearCats are designed for warfare. For the people outside, I’m not too sure, the Canadian situation not withstanding.

The tragedies at Columbine and Sandy Hook are often cited.

Concerning Columbine, police responded in 3 minutes, SWAT entered the school 47 minutes after the shooting began. It was all over by then.

Concerning Sandy Hook, police arrived 4.5 minutes and, SWAT arrived 10 minutes after the 911 call. It was all over by then.

Questions for the Mayor and City Council: What is the projected response time? Who will authorize deployment and how will it be recorded? What are the rules of engagement? What are the planned tactics, contingency plans, and training exercises? How will the drivers be trained? These vehicles weigh over 16,000 pounds and have a maximum highway speed of 85 mph. Who is responsible for oversight? What are the estimated annual fuel and maintenance costs? Who are the trained and certified mechanics? Are there any special conditions for storing the vehicle and armaments? Why are we militarizing the SLPD? As we have seen the Boston Marathon Bombing, attacks on religious facilities, ethnic businesses, and Charlie Hebdo would not have been prevented by a BearCat.

They can be useful in apprehending perpetrators. The attacks can’t be prevented.

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

On Aiding an Injured Raccoon


On Sunday morning, Jan. 4, I was on my way to the 7-Eleven when I saw an animal in distress in the intersection of East 14th Street and 135th Avenue.

I saw that it had been hit by a car but was still trying to get out of the crosswalk. Because of the injury, the raccoon was only able to go around in circles and collapse. I ran to a veterinarian’s office and Anna brought a cat carrier and cat gloves and a youngster tried to help us but to no avail.

We stopped traffic, and so did a lady driving down the street. She wouldn’t let anyone pass at the light, preventing the raccoon from being run over again. Thank you so much. A man ran up, leaving his van running and asked for the gloves. He was successful in getting the animal in the carrier. God bless him.

These were all strangers who understood that if it breathes and bleeds, its life matters. The raccoon was driven to a veterinarian emergency hospital a few miles away but they refused to treat him. A vet should have been able to at least euthanize the suffering animal.

Thanks to the Animal Control woman who got out of bed early Sunday morning to come and get the animal. People worked hard for the sake of the raccoon. Thank you all for your kindness and may you be blessed always.

In memory of the raccoon. The raccoon was euthanized but he was not run over again and again, and that matters.

— Sheila Sessons, San Leandro

The Wicks Blvd. Speedway


After reading about the poor woman hit in the crosswalk on Wicks Boulevard between Stenzel Park and the Community Center, I felt compelled to write about my own experiences at this crossing.

I walk my dogs every day, and have to cross Wicks Blvd. to return to my car. I have had many near misses with cars that refuse to stop, or are going too fast to stop. My dog has been missed by inches by motorists that refuse to stop.

Wicks Boulevard is treated like a race course. I have seen cars flying by at 50 or 60 mph.

Something must be done about making it safer to cross the street. Many of the people that live nearby are elderly or infirm and cannot walk quickly enough to cross safely when cars refuse to stop, or speed by thinking they can beat the people trying to cross here.

Lighting up the crosswalk, like the one on Manor Boulevard by the library, would  be a good start.

Patrolling the area near the crosswalk would net ticket after ticket I’m sure. For speeding as well as not allowing pedestrians to cross. I feel I take my life in my hands every day at this crossing.

For those that feel the same way, I implore you to write in, talk to the city council, whatever it takes, to make this crossing safe for everyone.

— Nancy Graham, San Leandro

Home Run Ball Damaged Depot’s Roof 67 Years ago


Regarding the S.P. Railroad depot picture of the roof damaged by the tree in a storm (Page 16, The Times, Jan. 8), the SP Railroad Depot roof was previously damaged, but less heavily, by a baseball hit out of Thrasher Park by  Kendall Green (SLHS ’52) in 1948.

— Fred Martin (SLHS ’52), a teammate (Lt/Col Fred A. Martin USAF Ret.)

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

An Open Letter to the SL City Council on Those Escalating Garbage Rates


My ACI invoice of April 2012 was $56.53.

My ACI invoice as of July 2012 increased to $59.64.

My ACI invoice as of July 2013 increased to $62.18.

And notice was recently mailed that the City has agreed to increase the fee yet again by 4.01 percent.

In less than 6 months in 2012 it was increased by approximately 5.02 percent. In less than a year it was increased approximately 4.5 percent. And now it is being increased  another 4.01 percent.

Total: In three years the ACI bill has increased between 13 and 14 percent.

The City Council has done the citizens of San Leandro a disservice with these preposterous prices.

I, as a single person, only put my garbage out for collection every other week and then I only fill them half way.  At work 12 hours a day, I do not generate much waste. There is no reduced waste plan for me and others with minimal use.

The waste contracts should go out for a truly competitive request for proposal and a public, transparent bidding process. As a City Council you have a fiduciary obligation to manage the public purse prudently, represent your citizens, and keep their rates low.

As managers of the public purse you have made San Leandro one of the most taxed and expensive cities in the nation to live in, according to many statistics.

Why has the Public Utilities Commission allowed these expensive rates to increase so drastically? It seems as though there is no government oversight of the San Leandro City Hall spendaholics.

The ACI increases are out of control. I’m truly flabbergasted.

— Theresa Gibbons, San Leandro


A Correlation Between BART Parking Rates and Ticketing?


I think it’s not a coincidence that, as BART almost doubles the parking rate, BART Police begin nit-picking while issuing many more parking tickets around the BART Station.

My rear bumper was maybe 6 inches over the red curb ... maybe.  A word of warning.

— Roy W. Daniels, San Leandro


Says New Council Shows Little Support for Diversity


Monday evening, Jan. 5, our new  mayor and city council members had their first opportunity to let their constituents know their position on embracing the diversity of our great city as they voted for our next vice mayor.

I believe that all of them took a positive position on embracing the diversity of the city in their campaigns, and this  was the time for them to start building that reality. Every council member is qualified to be vice mayor and there is great diversity amongst them to choose from.

Along with diversity, they might have considered other things before they decided who they felt could best represent our city as vice mayor, such as working well with others and availability to attend functions.

I would be surprised if any one of them would not work well with each other and I am confident that there are several, if not all of them, that would have extensive availability to attend functions. Though I am sure that our new mayor, who has committed to being a full-time mayor, should be able to attend most all functions and events.

Unfortunately for our diverse city, there was little support to embrace diversity on the council; so unfortunately, I anticipate little genuine  support to embrace the diversity of our city. In addition, I  hope that this simple vote is not the first  sign that  demonstrates they may be more concerned with their political career than what is best for our great city.

— Diana Souza, San Leandro


A Good Word for San Leandro Department of Public Works


Kudos to the City of San Leandro’s Department of Public Works. Debbie Pollart and her department are very responsible to reports of areas needing cleaning up, burned out street light replacement and sports facility repair.

Great job. Thank you.

— Chuck Young, San Leandro

PETA: No Need to Shell Out Extra Money for Eggs


With the price of eggs going up, some people are concerned about having to shell out extra money. But there’s no need: You can make great-tasting brownies, cookies, and cake, and even breakfast scrambles and “egg” salad, without cracking open a single egg.

Commercial egg replacers like Ener-G Egg Replacer and Beyond Eggs can easily be used in baked goods, or you can use one banana or 1/4 cup of applesauce in place of each egg in a recipe. You can also use flaxseeds — which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids — when making baked goods. One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds whisked in 3 tablespoons of water equals one egg.

Tofu is great for custardy dishes like quiches, puddings, and mousses. To replace one egg in a recipe, purée 1/4 cup of soft tofu. Tofu can also be used in eggless egg salad and breakfast scrambles.

Egg replacers are typically inexpensive, and foods made with egg replacers taste just like those made with chicken eggs—but they’re healthier and humane. And since vegan foods are cholesterol-free and generally low in fat, you also won’t have to shell out money for statins or blood pressure pills down the road. For more information and free egg-free recipes, visit www.PETA.org.

— Heather Moore, PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Virginia

Questions Electors’ Choice for Oro Loma Board


After reading about Oro Loma Sanitary District Boardmember Layton Landis’ latest brain lock I couldn’t help but wonder, who are the folks who keep voting for this bigot?

Why any sane voter would choose to keep voting for someone who is clearly living in some long passed era is a mystery.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Letters • 01-08-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

A Thank-You Message from Mayor Stephen Cassidy

Thank you for providing me the privilege and honor to serve as your mayor. With your support, as well as the

incredible support of my wife Amy and children Fiona and Maeve, I dedicated myself to making our richly diverse city a more prosperous, tolerant, safe, and sustainable community for all San Leandrans.

In December 2010, shortly before I took office as mayor, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that for America “to thrive in the 21st Century” we must invest in education, infrastructure, and innovation, yet we could not lose sight of fiscal accountability. We need, Friedman advocated, “what I’d call ‘pay-as-you-go progressives’ — those who combine fiscal prudence with growth initiatives.”

I took Friedman’s commentary to heart and this is what the City Council, in coordination with the city manager and city staff, sought to achieve.

We balanced the budget each year and negotiated in good faith with city employees to curb rising pension costs which left unchecked threatened San Leandro’s long-term fiscal solvency.

With a balanced budget and a growing local economy, we restored the Cherry Festival, re-opened the Art and History Museum, began classes and programs at the Senior Community Center, and kept our libraries and community pools open.

We contributed funds to save San Leandro Hospital from closing and assisted the school district in purchasing property across from San Leandro High School for a new student health center.

We boosted funding for nonprofits like Davis Street and Building Futures that provide vital services to those in need in our community.

At the same time, we set the audacious goal of San Leandro becoming a new center of innovation in the San Francisco Bay Area, and made remarkable progress. Our high-speed fiber optic network, called Lit San Leandro, is bringing advanced manufacturing and other high tech businesses to San Leandro, creating quality jobs and generating revenue for the city to invest back into the community.

We wanted San Leandro to not only come strongly out of the Great Recession, but to achieve greater economic progress than neighboring cities.

Nearly five thousand new jobs have been created and

unemployment has dropped by more than half since the peak of the recession. Moreover, assessed property values have risen in San Leandro at a greater rate than all other cities in Alameda County, except for one city, since 2011.

Our economic progress has been noted by the news media. “This small town between Oakland and Hayward is coming out of the downturn like few places around, attracting tech startups, artists and brewers to a one-time traditional industrial hub,” the Mercury News reported.

We worked to enrich our city artistically by creating an Arts Commission, allocating funds for murals and “art wraps” on utility boxes, and requiring that public art be incorporated into new development projects.

Finally, we embraced and promoted San Leandro’s rich diversity in numerous ways, including celebrating major events of the members of our community to ensuring equal

opportunity in the hiring and promotion of all persons in city positions.

I see a bright future for San Leandro. The best days for our city are ahead of us. I look forward to supporting Mayor Pauline Cutter and the new City Council, as well as the trustees of the San Leandro and San Lorenzo Unified School Districts, in seeing our city continue to thrive.

I love San Leandro. It’s been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve as your mayor. Thank you again for providing me this honor.

Stephen Cassidy, Mayor of San Leandro, 2011-2014


An Invitation to Democrats to Vote on Saturday


There is an important election taking place this Saturday. Local residents who are registered voters and members of the Democratic Party will be choosing our delegates to the state party. This election is taking place on January 10th at the Teamsters Local 70 office, 400 Roland Way, Oakland. Registration and voting begin at 11:00 am, and party members must arrive by 1:00 p.m..

I’m honored to be on the slate of seven women and seven men who are supported by our Assemblymember, Rob Bonta. Many good things have happened during our last delegate term. The state budget has been stabilized, which has restored funding to our schools and many other priorities while paying down our long-term debt.

Our local and state economy has improved substantially, with reduced unemployment and increased hiring. San Leandro and Alameda Hospitals have been saved as providers of emergency and other acute care hospital services at the same time that Kaiser has established a brand new hospital and clinics for its members. And, the Affordable Care Act had its largest implementation, with millions of Californians gaining health care access by gaining health insurance.

These took place with a state legislature which had Democratic caucus supermajorities helping restore a sane budget process.

All state constitutional offices are now held by Democrats, and our county and local officeholders are almost entirely Democrats.

There are still many challenges faced by our district, state and nation, however, and the next Democratic Party nominee for president will be selected during the term of these California Democratic Party delegates.

I ask all registered voters in our party to join us on Saturday and vote for

Assemblymember Bonta’s slate.

Thanks for participating and for working to create a healthier democracy!

— Doug Jones, San Leandro

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

Times’ Headline Left Out an Important Word


The headline of an article on page 2 of the December 18 Times reads

“Thousands March in Oakland to End Police Brutality.”  This comes across as if the police have been convicted of being brutal.

A better title would have been “Thousands March in Oakland to End Perceived Police Brutality,” or “Alleged Police Brutality.”

As the father of an Oakland policeman risking his life each day to keep Oakland safe, I would hope that the San Leandro Times is not anti-police!

— Ed Hubbard, San Leandro

A Resolution of Support for Law Enforcement


New Year’s resolution: Support your local police department.

— Larry Arnold, San Leandro

A Resolution to Avoid Meat and Dairy Products


It’s time for New Year’s resolutions, particularly those about our health. Although gun violence remains the leading cause of death among young people, our most dangerous weapon is still our fork. Forty-five times as many die of chronic diseases linked to a diet containing animal products, sugar, and salt.

Hardly a month goes by without another study linking consumption of animal products with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. No reputable study has ever shown an opposite result.

But times are changing. Hundreds of schools, colleges, hospitals, and corporate cafeterias, have embraced Meatless Monday. According to a Gallup poll, 22% of American consumers are avoiding meat and 12% are avoiding dairy products. Harris Interactive claims that 47% of American consumers are reducing consumption of animal products.

Accordingly, plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products are growing explosively, propelled by investments from Microsoft, Paypal, and Twitter founders. Fast-food chains like Chipotle, Subway, and Taco Bell are rolling out vegan options.

Let this New Year’s resolution be about exploring the rich variety of plant-based entrees, lunch meats, cheeses, ice creams, and milks in our supermarket. The internet offers tons of recipes and transition tips.

— Dennis Roth, San Leandro



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