Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:11
City will allow only one marijuana dispensary to open in San Leandro
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
The City Council has hired a consulting company to help pick a medical marijuana retailer for San Leandro.
Earlier this year, the City Council approved a plan that would allow one dispensary to open in San Leandro with only councilwoman and mayoral candidate Diana Souza dissenting on that vote.
Souza has long been the council member most vocally against having a medical marijuana dispensary in San Leandro.
Interestingly, Souza recused herself from the discussion about hiring the consultant at the council’s July 21 meeting because she said her son works for one of the medical marijuana operators considering applying to open a store in San Leandro.
The “cannabis consultant” would help the city select the single operator who would be allowed to open up shop in San Leandro, according to Eric Englebart, assistant to the city manager.
The city has selected ICF Consulting, a company which with now “craft” a plan for selecting the dispensary, Englebart said.
The store will face several restrictions – it cannot be within 500 feet of schools, parks, libraries, or any residence. It would have to be located in a commercial area and could be subject to higher taxes and business license fees. It could be open no later than 7 p.m. daily.
The City Council has previously discussed whether a tax could be placed on the dispensary that would go directly to the city’s public safety budget. (That would require a two-thirds public vote.)
In the past, San Leandro has had a series of temporary moratoriums on pot clinics. However, the city’s attorney advised that it might be illegal to permanently ban dispensaries in town under the state’s Compassionate Care Act.
The list of medical marijuana patients would be kept confidential but available to officials including the police chief. The dispensary would be allowed to grow marijuana on site and edible products like brownies would be able to be sold.
“This is new ground and we are treading into new territory,” said City Manager Chris Zapata on why a consultant is necessary.
Mayor Stephen Cassidy agreed that the city could use the consultant’s help on deciding who should run the dispensary.
“Our goal is to have a well-established, reputable dispensary operator,” said Cassidy. “We want this to be a success.”
Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:10
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
An 11-year-old San Leandro girl escaped an attempted kidnapping earlier this week by breaking free of the suspect using skills she had learned in a self-defense class.
The girl was walking alone on Kent Avenue in Ashland Monday afternoon when a man beckoned her to come near his parked car, according to Sgt. J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.
The man had his pants down and was masturbating inside the car. When the victim got close to him, he tried to pull her inside, Nelson said.
She broke free using techniques she was taught at weekly self-dense classes she takes at the REACH Ashland Youth Center – a class that was taught by one of the deputies that reported to help at the scene of the crime.
“It’s just so fortunate that she was able to break away,” Nelson said.
The girl ran off and got help. Sheriff’s deputies found the suspect, 54-year-old Martin Gonzalez, nearby and placed him under arrest, according to Nelson.
Gonzalez was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday for attempted kidnapping, sexual battery, indecent exposure, and committing a lewd act on a minor. He is currently being held in lieu of $170,000 bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:08
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
Campaign season is up and running, with three candidates so far in the race for mayor – current City Councilwomen Diana Souza and Pauline Cutter, and businessman Dan Dillman.
From now until the November 4 election, we will be taking a look at the mayoral candidates as well as those seeking office on the City Council for Districts 1, 3 and 5, and the San Leandro School Board for Areas 2, 4, 6, and the At-Large seat.
This week, Pauline Cutter talks about why she should be mayor.
Cutter has served the city in one capacity or another for nearly 20 years, with three terms on the San Leandro school board and one as the District 5 City Councilwoman. She says that it is that experience which puts her above her fellow candidates.
“I have a history of public service and how I vote and how I think reflects the public I represent,” said Cutter. “And during all that time, I’ve met so many people, created so many relationships. I have an ability to be collaborative.”
While on the school board, Cutter was one of the trustees who oversaw the $109-million Measure B bond which paid for the ninth-grade campus as well as the high school arts center, among other projects.
And while on the City Council, she says she spearheaded the vote to have all council members pay their share into their pension funds – a practice that was later carried over to all city employees.
“I believe in leading by example. There was a domino effect (with the pensions) that was important to the fiscal health of the city,” said Cutter.
Cutter worked as a teacher for 23 years and currently works as an energy consultant for the San Leandro school district, but says she’ll quit that job if elected because the city needs a full-time mayor.
It was time constraints, in part, that led current Mayor Stephen Cassidy, a lawyer, to not seek re-election. Cassidy has lent his endorsement to Cutter.
Cutter supports the extension and increase of the Measure Z sales, the sales tax that was originally one-quarter percent and set to end in 2018, but which is now being put on the ballot in November as one-half cent and set to expire in 30 years.
If the tax does not pass this year, Cutter said she’d continue to put it on future ballots.
“I don’t believe in waiting for grant money to fund important things,” said Cutter. “We would work to find a way to make it (the tax) palatable for voters. But I believe it will pass this year because the community realizes that we’ve used the money well in the past and can trust us to use it wisely in the future.”
If elected, Cutter says she’ll prioritize the city’s current trend of attracting tech business, focus on public safety, and work to collaborate with both the San Leandro and San Lorenzo school districts.
She said she’d also like to find a way to support more activities for the city’s younger generations – such as entertainment in the industrial area.
“There are little changes that could be made that could really help quality of life in our community,” said Cutter. “I want San Leandro to be the place my kids and their generation want to come back and live, and raise a family.”
It’s not too late to throw your hat into the ring for any office – more candidates could still enter the field as the filing deadline for the general election is next Friday, Aug. 8.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:07
The woman who crashed into a liquor store on July 22 is now facing more charges, in addition to suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, after police found out the truck she was driving was stolen.
Last week, Rosa Figueroa, a 40-year-old San Leandro resident, was arrested after crashing into the storefront of the House of Liquors at 1167 Manor Blvd., causing severe damage to the store.
During the investigation into the incident, police learned that Figueroa had stolen her elderly mother’s pick-up truck, which was the vehicle involved in the crash, according to the San Leandro police.
The alleged theft wasn’t discovered until family members saw the media coverage regarding the collision and notified the mother.
Figueroa has now been charged by the Alameda County District Attorney for violations, including driving under the influence, auto theft and elder abuse.
Figueroa was also discovered to be on probation for elder abuse charges at the time of her arrest last week. She remains in police custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
— By Amy Sylvestri
Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:05
Last week, a new class of California Highway Patrol (CHP) canines joined the ranks of the department.
Their graduation marked the end of an intensive 11-week training course.
Several of these canines and their handlers have been assigned to serve the Golden Gate Division, which covers the nine Bay Area counties.
The CHP Canine Academy pairs a canine with an experienced officer, and puts them through 440 hours of intensive training in criminal apprehension and narcotics detection.
The training program meets all guidelines specified by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. After graduation, the canine and handler are paired for the entirety of the canine’s career.
The teams continue training even after graduation, and are required to train together at least eight hours per week.
“Our CHP Canine teams are essential to our efforts of providing the Bay Area with the highest level of Safety, Service and Security,” said Chief Avery Browne. “I am honored to be the commander of such dedicated officers and loyal canines.”
The CHP Canine training program is funded entirely through monies seized from criminal operations.
Currently, the CHP has over 40 canine teams deployed throughout California, with six assigned to Golden Gate Division.
These canine teams are trained not only for criminal apprehension and narcotics detection, but also for the detection of explosives.
CAPTION: The California Highway Patrol recently graduated eight new police dogs, many of which will now patrol San Leandro and the rest of the Golden Gate Division.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CHP
Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:03
Friends of Terry Dale will honor him with a karaoke party on Sunday, Aug.3, at Dino’s Restaurant in Castro Valley.
Dale was a guitarist and singer who played at Dino’s for 23 years. He passed away last month at the age of 63.
The karaoke party will run from 4 until 8 p.m. at Dino’s, 3600 Castro Valley Blvd.
“Everybody is welcome at Dino’s on Sunday to sing karaoke and enjoy pot luck,” said customer Al Rhodes.
Dale was born in Arizona in 1951 into a musical family. He worked as a singer all over the country, including several years in Las Vegas. He sang here in the East Bay over the years for many weddings, anniversaries and memorials.
“Now it’s time to sing for Terry,” Rhodes said.
CAPTION: Terry Dale, who died last month, sang and played guitar at Dino’s Restaurant for 23 years. This Sunday, his fans will meet at Dino’s for a memorial karaoke party in his honor.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 15:00
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
Visits to the emergency room at San Leandro Hospital are quicker than ever according to hospital officials – time spent waiting in the ER has been reduced by nearly half since the first of the year.
The average wait time to be seen in the emergency room was 77 minutes at the start of the year and now it’s around 35 minutes, according to Viki Ardito, the hospital’s assistant vice president of patient care.
The shorter waits are due to a renewed focus and cutting waste. Also, doctors and nurses have their wait times recorded and compared to each other – “a little healthy competition,” says Ardito.
The average time from a patient’s arrival to the time a patient walks out the door for minor injures like cuts and bruises has gone down 32 percent over 2013, from 147 minutes to under 100 minutes, on average.
Hospital staff records the time a patient checks in, the time he or she is seen by the doctor, and the time the patient leaves the emergency room on the person’s chart.
“For patients, it’s a big difference,” said Ardito.
The decreased time doesn’t mean a compromise on care, Ardito says, it’s about being more efficient.
“Every day we look at what we can do to better the system,” said Ardito. “We are getting better by the week, tweaking things here and there.”
Ardito says that the quicker times mean more patients can be seen. Where the hospital was seeing about 78 patients per day in the emergency room last year, they are seeing around 90 per day now and think they could see up to 120 with further improvements.
The changes have come since San Leandro Hospital joined the Alameda Health System in late 2013.
For years, the fate of San Leandro Hospital was uncertain. When it was owned by Sutter Health, that company wanted to shut down emergency services and turn the hospital into a rehabilitation center.
But years of campaigning by local politicians and a huge public outcry prevented the closure and Sutter sold the hospital to the county.
“For years people thought the emergency department might close down all together, but now here we are thriving,” said Ardito.
CAPTION: San Leandro Hospital staff track the time a patient checks in, the time they see a doctor, and the time they leave.
PHOTO BY AMY SYLVESTRI
Thursday, 31 July 2014 14:58
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and other district attorneys throughout the state have successfully sued the Sysco Corporation – the nation’s largest food distribution company – for over $20 million.
O’Malley’s consumer protection suit alleged that Sysco and it’s subsidiaries held food in unrefrigerated and/or unregistered storage sheds and transported food unsafely.
Sysco provides food to numerous facilities including schools, restaurants, and hotels using fleets of refrigerated trucks.
But, according to O’Malley, investigators from the California Department of Public Health discovered last year that Sysco used unsafe storage for some small orders and some Sysco marketing employees transported food in their personal vehicles.
The investigation found over 20 unregistered storage sheds, some unsanitary, according to the district attorney’s office.
Sysco will pay $15 million in civil penalties, $4 million in restitution (including a $1 million donation to food banks throughout California), and $3.3 million to fund a state-wide program for the inspection and enforcement of proper food transportation.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 14:54
The Chabot Space & Science Center is looking for volunteers to make earth and space science come alive for visitors through interactive and hands-on experiences.
The Center, on a 13-acre site in the Oakland Hills, is a state-of-the-art education facility and part of the Smithsonian Affiliations program.
Volunteers don’t have to have a science background. They will be taught everything they need to know, including operating the center’s historic telescopes and assisting with special events.
Daytime shifts are available Tuesday through Sunday and evening shifts on Fridays and Saturdays for free telescope viewing, weather permitting.
Volunteers are asked to work 8 hours per month and for at least one year.
Anyone interested should register for an orientation that will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 10000 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland.
For more information on the volunteer program or to RSVP for the orientation, visit www.chabotspace.org/adult-volunteers.htm or call 510-336-7304 or send an email to
CAPTION 1: A volunteer describes the MoonOdessey-Capsule to visitors at the Chabot Space & Science Center.
CAPTION 2: The 86,000-sq.-ft. facility sits atop the Oakland Hills.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHABOT SPACE & SCIENCE CENTER