Letters • 10-16-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Think About Those Campaign Contributions Before Voting


Nothing “makes it rain” like an election. All kinds of money flows into the various national, state and local races.

Some of it comes from sources that are not afraid to identify themselves. Yet, some if it comes from sources that hide behind spurious names like “Americans for a Happier Ever After.” Some names are buried in the hard-to-read fine, white print at the bottom of TV ads. Others are listed in near-subliminal “nano-second” voice-overs in radio ads.

The sources mentioned in the Page 1, Oct. 9 Times article are of the first type, not the latter ones. I appreciate the SL Times shining some sunlight on this campaign financing. From this article, we can see what interests are involved and what they probably want. Now, beyond the rhetoric and platitudes, we have a much better idea of where the candidates stand.

Too frequently, contributions and endorsements are viewed as investments, on which a return is expected. Often, quite often, those returns are realized. I’m not saying, suggesting or implying that the reported campaign contributions received by the mayoral candidates were illegal, unethical or immoral. However, it does call to my mind the expression: “There’s nothing for nothing.”

Think about that when you mark your ballot on November 4, and in future elections.

Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Thinks Pauline Cutter Has What it Takes to be Mayor


So, Pauline Cutter thinks she’s got what it takes. Well, let’s see. She’s got to work with people who whine, cry and complain about everything. Well, what kind of experience does she bring to the table? She was a teacher for 25 years. I’m sold!

Don’t waste your vote on anyone else. Common sense is hard to come by.

Larry Arnold, San Leandro

Opposes Chamber’s Choice, Supports Souza for Mayor


Our city needs thriving and prosperous businesses, and candidates who support them. I am a small-business owner, a resident, a taxpayer and a long-time member of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce’s PAC recently announced endorsement does not support my interests.

Diana Souza is my candidate for mayor. This past year, Diana worked with Chamber members, union representatives and other businesses to develop a local inclusion policy that the entire city council supported. The policy serves our local economy. Diana gave early in support of the now famous Lit San Leandro: an economic benefit in her current district and the entire city.

Chamber members as a whole do not participate in the endorsement. No one polls the 500-plus membership to see who they want to endorse. The three men on the San Leandro Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) made the recommendation. All three are businessmen with activities in San Leandro; but two are based outside of the city and are not San Leandro residents.

The PAC money contributed to campaigns does not come from the chamber membership dues. It is raised through separate donations of business owners. The question is: Where is the real San Leandro business voice in this discussion?

My voice is here. Join me and other local business owners and leaders in supporting Diana Souza for Mayor.

Surlene Grant, Founder, Business Assoc. of South San Leandro, African American Business Council

Marina Advocate Backs Dillman for Mayor, Katz-Lacabe for Council


On Nov. 4th, voters will elect a mayor and city councilmembers – important officials if San Leandro is to pull itself out of the economic doldrums that has constrained growth, limited infrastructure improvements, and not allowed for preservation of important city landmark assets, such as our marina. Losing our now blighted marina is evidence of government in disarray and a shameful disgrace.

Citizens are tired of hearing councilmembers say, “We don’t have the money.” This response is indicative of city administrations not capable of effectively planning for the future. This isn’t a recent phenomenon; it’s endemic with administrations over the past 20 years.

What happened?

Millions of unpaid dollars in General Fund loans to the Enterprise Fund is just one indication of city business conducted with the sword of deficit continually hanging over the necks of citizens, prompting powerless utterances such as, “We don’t have the money.”

What happens when a technology business isn’t performing as expected? The CEO and senior management are summarily replaced, and a new start made.

San Leandro needs much more than a reshuffling of incumbent councilmembers with the same-as-usual business model. We need thinkers with the power of imagination, a fearless and staunch willingness to make things happen, along with responsible shoreline development serving local businesses, residents, citizens and visitors alike.

We need city government transparency, clearly knowable and understandable by all citizens, inspiring confidence with San Leandro on the right track to recovery and prosperity.

Voting for mayor and councilmembers not part of the old guard is essential. Candidates Dan Dillman for mayor, and Mike Katz-Lacabe for councilmember are truly worthy, valuable people with know-how, imagination and the drive to direct San Leandro towards a “Prosperous New Future.”

Dwight Pitcaithley, San Leandro

Teachers’ Association’s Picks


Outstanding communities have one thing in common – outstanding public schools. Since 2006, San Leandro voters have generously passed two school construction bonds and one school parcel tax. The San Leandro Teachers’ Association and its 465 members want to extend our heartfelt gratitude for your support and partnership in helping us build momentum toward our common goal: to build our schools into first-rate learning centers.

Dynamic leadership is a crucial component of any successful endeavor; and, to this end, we ask you to stand behind excellence by joining with us in our efforts to elect the education team for San Leandro: Leo Sheridan and Evelyn Gonzalez for school board. Evelyn and Leo are long-time volunteers in our schools and are both committed to insuring that every student graduates with 21st-century skills. They also understand how important collaboration is with all San Leandro stakeholders to insure that our schools continue to improve.

We who are concerned with our schools and our city are on an exciting and promising journey. This is a journey of improvement, modernization, collaboration and partnership. In order to continue this journey, we need the help and support of our city leaders. San Leandro teachers urge you to support our schools by voting for city council candidates: Corina Lopez, District 5; Lee Thomas, District 3; Mike Katz-Lacabe or Debra Cox, District 1; and Pauline Cutter for mayor.

Each candidate understands that better schools enhance our community and have committed themselves to collaborating with our school district to maintain and fuel the positive momentum. The San Leandro Teachers’ Association is proud to endorse and ask your support for these exciting candidates who are the San Leandro Teachers’ Education Team.

Jon Sherr, President, San Leandro Teachers’ Association

Agrees With ‘That Gary’ – Wants Hall at City Hall


As a resident of San Leandro’s Broadmoor, I couldn’t agree more with last week’s “That Gary.”  He is right when he asserts we need intelligent, imaginative leaders with backbone and integrity – and that’s why I am voting for Leah Hall.

Her intelligence served the San Leandro community when she decided to organize a meeting with immediate neighbors meeting the challenge of packages being stolen off porches. She knows one household cannot do this alone.  She showed intelligence in alerting her neighbors and broader community to impending planning meetings for the BRT project down East 14th – she empowered her neighbors with knowledge and voice by providing easy access to meeting times and locations.

Hall shows creativity when drilling down opportunities to organize and think critically about supporting complete streets and access to bike-friendly, traffic-calming measures. She understands the connection between greening our communities and lowering crime rates. And, she shares her knowledge.

Leah Hall has proven backbone. It isn’t easy to face waning resources on the city and community level and still choose to serve the community. She shows strength in outreach, incorporating small business owners, community leaders and everyday residents to standup against blight at bank-owned homes and illegal activities in traffic situations. Her activism has proven, verifiable results.

Finally, Leah Hall is a leader with the utmost integrity that can be seen in the youth she serves through the Youth in Government program she has been a main supporter of, in the organizing of the YMCA consideration of San Leandro, and in attending meetings across the city and serving on the Human Services Commission – not for personal gain, but for the better good of the people.

We deserve a leader with intelligence, imagination, strength and integrity. So, vote Hall this fall!

Janell Hampton, Public Educator, San Leandro

Durant Task Force Supports Hall for District 5


The Durant Avenue Task Force is  proud to have Leah Hall as their choice for San Leandro City Council, District 5. She will  proudly represent all the neighborhoods of our city. Leah Hall is the ideal candidate to advocate for safer neighborhoods in the North Area and she will take her experience and training to City Hall.

Leah Hall makes positive things happen. She stands shoulder to shoulder with her neighbors advocating for safe streets. She has helped make Durant Avenue better – not only for the people who live on Durant Avenue, but for the larger area as well.

Leah Hall works hard and listens to people. It is clear that she believes that neighborhoods are people – it’s in her DNA. She cares about the San Leandro/Oakland border area.

We cannot ignore our city service challenges and public safety problems – unfortunately this is an attitude of many uninformed people.

Oakland’s streets and services are interrelated with San Leandro’s. Being isolationists is a losing strategy, especially with housing and employment figures improving on both sides of the border.

Both our cities must work together to solve our shared concerns. A high percentage of the crime in our area is related to the impoverished neighborhoods of Oakland, and a lot of San Leandro’s resources are spent to keep our streets clean and safe. Working together, we can solve the challenges our communities face, like crime and high car traffic volumes on our residential streets.

Some Task Force members are seniors. These members love Leah Hall’s energy and compassion. She is like that favorite granddaughter that checks up on you and answers your concerns. Leah’s focus on building clean and safe neighborhoods includes making it possible for both seniors and youth to thrive in San Leandro. Elect Hall this fall!

Gus Roldan, DTF-Founder, San Leandro

Somebody Who Can Get Things Done in Broadmoor


Gary Langbehn’s Oct. 9 letter, “Broadmoor Needs New Leader Who Will Get Things Done,” aptly describes himself as a “big meany and curmudgeon.” He was just scratching the surface.

His involvement in community issues can pretty much be summed up as “somebody else needs to be doing something about it.”

Mia Ousley has been doing something about it since she moved to San Leandro 17 years ago. She selflessly devotes time and energy to public service in addition to raising a family and working a job. She has articulated her positions on the issues facing San Leandro precisely and clearly. I believe that everyone in San Leandro must share in our prosperity so we can have a safe, diverse and economically vibrant town.

Nobody will work harder to achieve these worthy goals than Mia Ousley. Please join me in voting for Mia on November 4th.

Ben Frager, San Leandro

Time for a Woman in Oro Loma’s ‘Old-Boys Club’


As a longtime friend of Shelia Young, I urge you to vote for her as a Director of the Oro Loma Sanitary District.

While a city councilmember and Mayor of San Leandro, Shelia always gave her all for the good of the citizens and the city of San Leandro. Personally, I think it is time for a woman to join this group and bring new ideas to what appears to be an old-boys club.

Gerry Mellen, San Leandro

He Says We’re No. 1! (In Sales Tax Rates)


According to tax-rates.org, San Leandro has higher sales taxes than 90.6% of California’s other cities. Furthermore, between federal, state, county, city, property, gas and sales taxes, a middle-class family in San Leandro pays 50% of their paycheck in taxes.

This money is mismanaged, misspent and, at the local level, a very large part of it goes to pay for lavish pensions and almost free healthcare for public workers that no one working in the private sector (most of the rest of us) come even close to.

So, what does the average citizen of San Leandro get for these massive taxes after the resulting waste and give-aways? We get high crime, bad schools, deteriorating roads and minimal public services for average working people.

Now, already stretched to the limit, we are being asked to pony up more money for BB and HH. Our inept politicians are incapable of curbing the waste, so are now threatening to hold the citizens of San Leandro hostage by telling us our roads will not be fixed and we’ll be more unsafe due to lack of money for streets and public safety personnel. Extortion anyone?

The money is there for all of the schools, infrastructure and services that we require if it would stop being funneled into bad projects, fat pensions, almost free healthcare and early retirement for the minority, many of who don’t even live in San Leandro. See www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area/ for the shocking costs of employment we are on the hook for.

We’re paying too much; and, as long as we keep letting them take more, it will never stop. We will continue to be shaken down until we stand up and so no. Say no to BB and HH.

Larry Schumacher, San Leandro

No Mention of ‘Tax Increase’ In City Manager’s Mailer


I have received several brochures asking a yes vote for measure HH. Not one of these brochures mentions that the measure contains a tax increase.

The “Dear Neighbor” brochure from the City Manager, Mr. Zapata, says measure HH extends San Leandro’s local voter-approved sales tax at the half cent rate. I think anyone reading that would think that we are already paying a half cent rate when in fact we are presently paying one quarter percent.

From the time this measure was proposed and voted on by the city council, all articles and discussion about it fail to mention that it contains a tax increase.

The words “tax increase” usually mean more “no” votes, so one wonders if the failure to mention tax increase is just coincidence or planned. I think it would have been more fair and upfront with the voters if the politicians and other supporters of measure HH had said in plain English that this measure contains a tax increase.

Donald Van Kirk, San Leandro

Collapsed Levees, Poisonous Snakes...Those #@% Squirrels!


The man who thought squirrels don’t damage levees doesn’t know much about them.

I have seen a squirrel hole destroy a levee. First, there is a leak through the squirrel hole and then the dirt collapses, breaking the levee. Fortunately, the one I saw was high on the levee, so water loss was partial.

I have also seen a squirrel hole through asphalt, on a country road, with the squirrel going down the hole as my car approached! I have seen so many squirrel holes under the foundation of a building that it collapsed.

Also, squirrel holes and colonies attract snakes, even poisonous ones. Kids should learn all this about squirrels.

And, on the disappearance of the dead bodies, I think it is more likely that cats, raccoons, skunks or vultures found and ate them. That is why secondary poisons were so bad, and I hope the rodenticide the state uses is one of the two types allowed farm owners.

Cynthia Melendy, San Leandro

Letters • 10-09-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Says ‘Shame on Those’ Who OK’d Chinese Flag-Raising


Shame on those that approved the raising of a flag in our Marina Park that stands for tyranny and repression. A flag that represents Communism and a one-party dictatorship. A flag that represents repression of freedom of press and speech. A flag that was flown as the Chinese army in Tiananmen Square massacred it’s own people with tanks and machine guns. A flag that has terrorized the peaceful peoples of Tibet. A flag that represents a government that hacks into American computers stealing trade and military secrets. A flag that makes threats to our service men and women. A flag that contributes more toxins into the environment that any other nation on Earth.

So Councilperson Ursula Reed believes “that flying the flag at the Marina instead of City Hall is a good compromise.” You are so wrong, Councilwoman Reed. There are many of us here in San Leandro and the free world that feel that this shameful rag has no place other than the Altamont dumps, where it truly belongs.

— Victor Krevocheza, San Leandro

Why Rank-Choice Voting Is Undemocratic


The excellent article “Explaining Ranked Choice Voting, Says Reader” (Oct. 2, page 8) illustrates why ranked-choice voting is undemocratic.

The fact that the candidate with the fewest votes will have his or her second choice votes distributed to the remaining candidates is a manipulation of the voting process and shows that the voters have lost control of their choice of candidate. The candidate with the most votes should always win, even if it takes several run-off elections. Saving money at the expense of democracy isn’t worth it.

— George Banks, San Leandro

Mayor: Pass HH Now or Face Bigger Price Tag Later


We all benefit by living in a safe, well-maintained City with quality services. San Leandro has received national recognition for Lit San Leandro, an ultra-high speed fiber network. New companies are relocating to San Leandro creating quality jobs for residents. Thousands of new jobs have been created since 2010. Our City is on the right track. This is why I ask the community to vote yes on Measure HH on Nov. 4.

Measure HH  continues Measure Z, the local quarter-cent sales tax approved in 2010, for 30 years and increases the rate to a half-cent. All funds will remain in San Leandro.  Measure Z is temporary and expires in four years. Without the $4 to $5 million dollars Measure Z produces annually, we will have to make significant cuts in local services.

Revenue from Measure HH will flow into the City’s General Fund and be used to  maintain vital local services, including police and emergency medical response, as well as to repair neighborhood streets. The 173 miles of city-maintained roads in San Leandro are unfortunately among the worst in the county. While Measure HH will not fix all roads in San Leandro, it will allow us to repair the residential streets in the worst condition.

Why does Measure HH last for 30 years? Similar to financing the purchase of a home by obtaining a 30-year mortgage, repairing San Leandro’s roads is a major capital improvement project that requires a long-term revenue source to pay for the project. And the sooner we start, the more work we can accomplish. If we delay, the price tag for repairing our neighborhood roads increases substantially.

Please keep San Leandro moving forward by voting Yes on Measure HH.

— Mayor Stephen Cassidy, San Leandro

Broadmoor Needs New Leader Who Will Get Things Done


I’m a big meany, a curmudgeon, the neighborhood ogre. I’m actually known as “That Gary.”  

Here’s why I’m in such a bad mood.

I got involved in the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association (BNA) after the editor of our newsletter knowingly printed a false negative article to try and sway opinion against the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. She said her arm was “twisted” into doing it by the BNA president. Now Mia Ousley is running for city council. Do we need someone on the council whose arm is so easily twisted?

And then we have Leah Hall who used the BNA email to discuss among other things; her insistence no one use SL Blvd. anymore because she and her daughter witnessed a bad accident on it, that the SL Police prescreen potential buyers for a house for sale on her block, and my favorite, her concern about a “pot growing hippie commune” moving into the neighborhood.  Now Leah is running for city council too. Do we really want her on the council?

So you see, there’s a reason for my discontent. I’m hoping a new breed of leader emerge in the Broadmoor with intelligence, imagination, personal integrity and the backbone and drive to actually get something done for the Broadmoor. Till then, with this cast of characters, I remain “That Gary”.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Argues Against Raising the Minimum Wage


Raising the minimum wage reduces employment. Period. If Doug Jones, Mia Ousley, or Mike Katz-Lacabe is confused, do the thought experiment: “what would happen to my job if the minimum wage were $50/hour...or if you’re even more well off, how about $100/hour?” Either you would lose your job, or the general price level would rise (inflation) to the point that your “raise” still bought the same standard of living. Increasing wages by fiat, without an increase in productivity yields nothing but a combination of inflation and unemployment.

The Congressional Budget Office came to the same conclusion:  Raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hour would reduce employment by 500,000 to 1 million jobs. Note:  This is reduction of employment which includes employers withholding hiring, a pernicious effect of raising the minimum wage which is largely unnoted by the studies that claim raising the minimum wage has no effect on jobs.

While there are certainly people struggling to raise a family or otherwise support a household on the minimum wage, this is a very small minority of American workers.  As of Sept. 8, 2.6% of American workers earn the minimum wage, with over half being aged 16-24.  Less than 1% are heading up a household.

The effects of raising the minimum wage will largely be felt by teenagers and young adults, who will lose the entry-level job opportunities that are critical for those with less education and skills to attain work experience. There is no doubt about that – simply look at demographics.

— David M. Nierengarten, San Leandro

Letters • 10-02-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Urges ‘No’ Vote on BB, HH


San Leandro voters will see two tax measures on their November ballot, BB and HH. These aren’t new taxes though, just extensions to existing taxes scheduled to sunset in a few years. The county transit tax we’ve paid since 2000 will expire in 2020. Most of the projects funded by this tax will be completed by then, but the county wants to modify the terms of the measure six years before it expires.

Measure HH will replace an existing “temporary emergency” sales tax due to expire in 2018. It will double that tax and extend it for another 30 years! The city of Concord has an identical tax increase on its ballot (Measure Q), as does Richmond (U) and Union City (JJ).

The provisions of all five tax proposals are startlingly similar. It’s as if each one was copied from the same boilerplate document. It should surprise no one that the same consulting firm crafted all five of these proposals, surveyed 700 likely voters in each city to identify the best ways to sell the new taxes to them, and pocketed generous consulting fees for their hard work.

Don’t be deceived. Measure HH is not being proposed for your benefit. The original tax (Measure Z) was supposed to fix our streets, but only 5 percent of the revenues went to public works projects. Even less went to maintain parks and after-school programs. The majority of the funds went to the police and fire departments and to pay off debts incurred by the remodeling of City Hall and refinanced the city’s pension obligation bonds.

The City Council broke its promise to use this money for street repair. Let’s make sure they keep their promise to sunset this tax in 2018. Vote NO on HH.

— Terry Floyd, San Leandro

HH Would Give SL One of the Highest Tax Rates in County


This November I am encouraging all my friends and family in San Leandro to vote “No” on Measure HH, the 30-year, half-cent sales tax.

It would be enough to know that some of the money will likely be used to buy and maintain an armored personnel

carrier for the police department for me to vote no and encourage others to do so. Since the city’s leadership seems committed to allow our police force to develop more military capabilities without open debate and input from the community, we as citizens must deprive them of taxpayers’ funds to do so.

In addition, measure HH will give San Leandro one of the highest sales tax rates in Alameda County, while companies like WalMart enjoy the lowest business taxes in the county. The city could raise  substantial revenue by restructuring its business license fees for big box stores to have them based on gross receipts, rather than number of employees.

The City could also raise more than a million dollars in permanent revenue, by instituting a parking lot tax like Oakland has. Our leadership has failed to seriously consider these viable options.

During the recession, the City Council assured us that Measure Z, which imposed a 1/4-cent per dollar sales tax for 7 years, was needed as a temporary measure to stop the bleeding. The economy has improved, as have the city’s revenue, and City Hall has promised us that the fiber optic loop, which they invested in, will usher an economic renaissance in San Leandro which should put the City on good financial grounds. It’s not clear why this new tax is needed.

Don’t let your elected officials continue to pull the wool over your eyes. Vote No on Measure HH.

— Chris Crow, San Leandro

No Mention of Mosques?


In reference to “Recognizing Those Who Care For the Homeless,” (Letters, Sept. 25), I see many churches, but no mention of any mosques.

Was this just an oversight or what?

— Chuck Gavrilis, San Leandro

Oro Loma Director Kerr Urges the Election of Dan Walters


It’s not often that a ready-made and well experienced candidate  runs for public office for the first time, but Dan Walters is on the November ballot running for election to the Board of Directors of Oro Loma Sanitary District.  For the sake of the future continued successes of the Sanitary District he deserves your vote to be elected to its governing board.

Dan Walters is a successful business owner and operator in San Leandro, has been very active in civic affairs regionally, is past president of the Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Board of Directors of “The California Small Business Association,” a statewide organization representing business owners.

Dan Walters  knows well of Oro Loma’s accomplishments and has committed to maintain low rates, good service and high efficiency that is so well  known by Oro Loma Sanitary District’s customers.

For Oro Loma, vote to re-elect incumbents Tim Becker and Howard Kerr, and vote to elect newcomer Dan Walters.

— Howard Kerr, San Leandro

Urges Support for Lopez for City Council


I urge our Voting Public to join the San Leandro Teachers Association and the Alameda County Democratic Party in supporting Corina Lopez for San Leandro City Council, District 5. She demonstrates the ability to enact our commitment to making San Leandro a better place for all. Most notably, during her tenure as a School Board Trustee, Corina, and  her colleagues, prioritized modernizing San Leandro’s schools reducing the ratio of computers to students from 40:1 to 2:1.

Corina has earned the endorsement of the Sierra Club, the Mayor, the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce PAC, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, Councilmembers Jim Prola and Ursula Reed, and many other community organizations and elected officials because she is committed to improving public safety and to creating a closer and more proactive relationship with our school districts.

Corina has had a successful career as a financial analyst with her husband, Luis, and a business owner of a technology company based in San Leandro. The daughter of migrant farm workers growing up following the lettuce harvests between the Salinas Valley, Bakersfield, and Yuma, Corina learned throughout her life that keys to success are education and hard work.

She is a competent bridge-builder and a genuinely very hard worker. The organizations that take time to interview all of the candidates and assess their qualifications are backing Corina Lopez because she is the best-prepared and most qualified candidate for City Council District 5. I urge you to vote for Corina Lopez for San Leandro City Council, District 5 as the ballots now get delivered, or at the polls on November 4th.

— Vince J. Rosato, San Leandro, Neighborhood Watch Captain

Letters • 09-25-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Pon’s Her Favorite in a Field of Four Great Candidates


District 1 has four great candidates for City Council. Any one of them would make a good representative for us.  

So, why do I think Ken Pon is the best of the best? It’s his track record of always being willing to volunteer his time to make San Leandro a better place to live.  

Our kids grew up together here, so I’ve known Ken for over 30 years and seen his commitment to our community. He served 25 years on the Bay-O-Vista Improvement Association, and our neighborhoods benefited from his dedication. Eight years Ken spent as a SLUSD School Board member, where he worked hard for the successful 1997 School Bond measure that strengthened and improved SL’s public schools.  

For 20 years he has been an active Director of the San Leandro Downtown Association, producing events like the Farmer’s Market, the Sausage and Suds Music Festival, It’s a Wonderful Night, and Bike SL. Ken knows these kinds of events bring the community together.

A salute to his heritage, Ken has worked for 10 years with the Asian Cultural Association.  He has worked hard to bridge the gap between Asians and others in the East Bay community, a gap our two sons bridged long ago, on the very first day of kindergarten.  

The point is that Ken Pon has been a San Leandran in every sense of the word. And, in every step along the way, he has the best interests of this city in mind. The thing that defines Ken Pon is that he is always willing to “walk the talk.”  He is always willing to work hard at making San Leandro shine.

— Suzanne Pershing, San Leandro


Supports Ousley’s Stance on Minimum Wage, Rent Control


It is good to see that Mia Ousley’s City Council candidacy, and her calls for a higher minimum wage and reasonable rent control in our City, are getting attention. The rich have gotten richer and the poor and middle-class have fallen behind in recent decades. It is important to consider where government policies have enabled those trends, and where they can begin to repair the damage done.  

David Nierengarten listed his Doctorate in molecular cell biology to infer he has economic expertise which was not on display in his letter. Mia pointed out that a full-time worker at current minimum wage laws in town makes around $16,000 a year. This makes it impossible for those full-time workers and their families to create jobs by spending money at local businesses, to afford decent rental units in today’s seller’s market, or to have good living standards.

In opposing Council candidate Ousley, Dr. Nierengarten supports keeping local consumers poorer every day while forcing taxpayers to subsidize a rotten business model. More than half of those who receive support from government social welfare programs, including SNAP (aka food stamps) and Medi-Cal, are now from working families. It is wrong to force taxpayers to subsidize the poor wages and unaffordable benefits that mega-rich corporations like Wal-Mart often offer workers. Mia wants to help move us away from this flawed model.

Nierengarten may feel that his work for a leading investment firm which concentrates on maximizing profits for pharmaceutical companies should earn him a fine living, and that servers, janitors, clerks and other lower-wage workers should not be paid enough to afford a decent life. I’m glad that Mia Ousley believes all workers should live in dignity and have some spending money, and that she wants to serve us on the City Council to bring that day closer to us.

— Doug Jones, San Leandro


Recognizing Those Who Care for the Homeless


Since Building Futures’ founding in 1988, generous community members have cooked and delivered nightly dinners to be enjoyed by the women and children living at the San Leandro Shelter.

These caring men and women do more than ease our food budget – although they do that, too. They give of their time, treasure, and energy. Most importantly of all, they let homeless women and children know that our community cares about them.

Building Futures thanks these individuals and groups, who have purchased, cooked and delivered dinners during the past quarter: Suneel Alam, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Celia Bacina, Melanie Blagburn, Brookins AME Church, Ingrid L. Del Carlo, Grace Baptist Church (Pastor Robert Parma, Ron Schultz, Kathy Manos, Carolyn Smith, Janice Sharpe, Rachel Burbank), Mary Gregory, Kat & Paul Haas, Angela Herman, La Shawn Hill, Sue Jardine, Charlene Kehret and Bethel Church, John Kovacevic, Tracy Kuczak, Autumn McFarland, Andrea Malhi, Sarah Marxer, Rejoice in Christ, Kim Robinson, Sai Baba, Brenda Salgado, San Leandro Church of Christ, Alicia Schwemer, Melody Seguine, and Dora Walton.

For information about donating a monthly dinner to the 30-bed shelter, call Lorie Curtis at 510-357-0205, extension 206. To learn more about Building Futures, visit www.bfwc.org.

— Patricia Bidar, Development Director, Building Futures, San Leandro


Calls ISIS ‘Product of 20 Years of Barbaric U.S. Bombings’


No, Peggy Heubel (Letters, Sept. 18), ISIS is not Nazi Germany by any stretch, not even close. ISIS is the product of more than 20 years of criminal and barbaric U.S. bombings of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, Yemen, Somalia, etc. This is just more of U.S. bombings under false pretenses .

The main objective of the Obama Administration is to have an excuse to intervene directly in Syria. Of course, the U.S. media doesn’t show the men, women and children blown to pieces in the Middle East and North of Africa by U.S. planes and drones, which makes it easier for Obama-ites to support another “humanitarian” mission  by the Great Liar.

Regardless, even if the results of U.S. bombings were shown on TV, they wouldn’t bother Peggy Heubel, nor the more recent bombings of Gaza by the Jewish State that killed more than two thousand men, women and children in Palestine.

Hypocrisy runs high.

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

Letters • 09-18-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

United We Stand, Divided We Fall


As a 98-year-old veteran, I recall the letter “U” stood for United.

Many decades ago when Pearl Harbor was bombed, the word United was the dominant word, not only on the battlefield but also at home. We demolished the enemy.

The present decade has changed U.S.A. to D.S.A. (Divided States of America) and R.S.A. (Republican States of America), which now spells divided.

After the nation has voted for the candidates to lead them, the D’s and R’s organize their coffee, tea, beer, etc. parties with one objective – to make sure our choice fails. As a result, a confused and disgusted ever increasing number of voters have a champagne party throwing their ballots in the trash can.

— Jack Jones, San Leandro


Amused but Disconcerted Over Police Explanations on Cams, Armored Vehicle


I found the juxtaposition of two articles in the September 11 edition of the Times to be both amusing and disconcerting.

Headline: City Surveillance Cameras Will Have Microphones.

“But don’t worry,” says the police department, “we won’t turn the microphones on.” The question of why the City would pay extra for microphones that will go unused remains unanswered.

Headline: “SL Police To Get Armored Vehicle; Vehicle Has Rotating Gun Turret.” Police Chief Spagnoli was unavailable for comment as to whether or not the gun would be loaded.

— Rob Banks, San Leandro


More Questions about Police Cams, Armored Vehicles


I read “City Surveillance Cameras Will Have Microphones.” Are there other standard “features?” Why wasn’t  the question asked, “what else does this thing do?”

It’s appalling to discover it took a private citizen to discover “a good catch.” Thank you Mr. Katz-Lacabe.

I have a great deal of respect for law enforcement officers for dealing with disagreeable, and often, very dangerous, people and situations.

However, Capt. Tudor’s states, “We have no plans to use the audio” is not enough. Plans change, so our government is based on checks and balances.

Who requested purchasing of the cameras? Who vetted the vendor(s)? The audio recording should have been in the vendor’s sales pitch.

About purchasing the Lenco Bearcat, who requested this procurement for San Leandro? Alameda County officials? Why? Was the SLPD consulted?

Why is this armored vehicle even being considered? Are future crises anticipated, or is this vehicle for ”just in case?”

Because the funding comes from another agency’s budget is not a good reason to make a purchase. What need is being addressed?

Are we really that fearful in San Leandro? Is the city that dangerous? If so, we need to do something else that one vehicle can’t. The action needed is to address the root causes of any dangers before they get out of hand. This is a better use of $200,000.

The cameras and armored vehicle will not prevent terrorism, social unrest, or any crime. Militarizing the police is not the answer. The issue already is here and deserves serious attention now. It’s too important.

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro


Says San Leandro Doesn’t Need an Armored Vehicle


I read the “SL Police to get Armored Vehicle?” article in your September 11 issue with trepidation.

I urge the city council and police Chief Sandra Spagnoli to decide against the purchase and the acceptance of these funds for the following reasons.

(1) The grant money was given to the Alameda County Sheriff’s department and they should bear the responsibility for managing it. I do not understand their motivation

regarding passing the money out to other agencies, and I do not agree with the principle either.

(2) The cost of the vehicle is one thing, and would be covered by the share of grant money, but what about the cost of training (I would hope there would be special training), maintenance and long-term storage?

(3) Who will bear the responsibil-ity of deciding when to deploy such a vehicle? How will that decision be made?

(4) In light of recent events across the country calling into question the excessive militarization of our police forces, I believe the purchase of an armored vehicle will cause friction between the SLPD and this city’s citizens.

I say, let the county keep the re-sponsibility for the task/funds that they were granted. Our local police force should not be expected to spearhead a response to terrorist acts, their mission should be to protect local citizens from local crimes and threats.

— Michelle Fugere, San Leandro

A Comparison of ISIS to Nazi Germany


As the U.S. and its allies prepare to take military action against ISIS, there is talk from several corners about how this terrorist group is not a threat to the U.S.

Whether or not we can accept it, we live in a world community intertwined at all levels and this will not change. ISIS is a cancer within that community – one that is killing men, women, and children indiscriminately; raping women/girls; globally boasting and publicly posting the beheading of two journalists, etc.

ISIS is being portrayed only as a general threat and even some of our congressional leaders castigate President Obama for planning military action instead of supporting the need to be decisive.

Says an article in the New York Times, ISIS is “the wealthy militant army that has seized wide portions of two countries and attracted thousands of foreign fighters who some officials fear could at some point be sent home to carry out attacks.”

No country with a conscience can let this cancer grow without trying to excise it. To ignore it would be tantamount to accepting the continuation of mayhem, torture, rape, murder, etc., by saying “it’s not a threat to us” (the U.S.).  Sound familiar?

This stance evokes the World’s apathy (and our own) as Nazi Germany ran rampant across Europe without sanction or comment. It can happen again. The threat is there.

In my opinion, the World

Community has a right to attack ISIS without mercy and since the U.S. is part and parcel of that community, we are obligated to act to the fullest extent.

— Peggy Heubel, San Leandro

Letters • 09-11-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

‘Sickened and Shocked’ by Rifle Club Picture on Page 1


I was sickened and shocked to see beautiful young people on the front page of the Times holding guns (“Jr. Marksmen Set Sights on Olympics,” Sept. 4).

My dad taught me to shoot a rifle. I never saw the point.

I would like to see our young people giving their energy to making the world a better place. I can no longer see guns as good. All we have to do is watch the news and our hearts break.

— Nancy Powers, San Leandro


Keeping Heron Bay Gates Open a ‘Best’ Decision


I want to applaud the City Council for rejecting the bid by Heron Bay residents to put a gate around their development. It’s one of the best decisions they’ve made in years.

Residents of Heron Bay have done everything they can come up with to prohibit access to the people of San Leandro, including making parking in the area impossible. I’m appalled they have gotten away with what they have so far. They knew that the area provided access to the Bay when they moved in. If they wanted to live in a gated community, they should have moved into one.

Their excuse of preventing crime is ridiculous. All of us have crime in our neighborhoods. I live in the San Leandro Hills and can’t count how many automobile break-ins we’ve had this year. As for murders, we have had one that was all over the media. Should my neighbors and I ask that our hill is gated off at Highway 580 so that we can feel safer? Would anyone allow it? I don’t think so.

The Heron Bay residents have been exclusionary for years and want to live in a perfect world where they can have their own private Bay-front property and trail and no one can enter except their families and friends. Well wouldn’t that be wonderful?

I am not paying taxes to keep up trails for the sole pleasure of the residents in that small neighborhood. If they want to curb crime, their homeowner’s association should have more Neighborhood Watch meetings, install alarms in their homes and put cameras on the streets.

They have no sympathy from the rest of us who are reminded of their selfishness every time we have to park a mile away just to get into that trailhead.

— Mary Medeiros, San Leandro


Wonders What Heron Bay Will Try to Restrict Next


Thank you, City Council, for saying no to the proposed gates to Heron Bay. It is bad enough that parking for citizens are restricted there. The Marshland is public domain. It has always been accessible long before the cracked stucco homes built on silt came into existence.

In my opinion, they are always crying about one thing or another. Last time they were claiming that wind turbines obscured their views and created sound pollution. All the while right behind their homes freight trains rumble through shaking the foundations. What’s next, restricting the Herons from flying over?

— Victor Krevocheza, San Leandro


Minimum Wage: Whose ‘Econ 101’ is Right?


David Nierengarten (“Says Candidate Ousley Lost His Vote,” Letters, Aug. 28) claims that it’s “Econ 101” that “an increase in minimum wage leads to fewer jobs.” The economic reality, however, is quite different.

More than a hundred research studies done since the 1990s are nearly unanimous in finding that raising the minimum wage does not decrease employment rates.

A review by the U.S. Department of Labor of 64 studies, for example, found that raising the minimum wage had no effect on employment. U.C. Berkeley professor Michael Reich found similar results in a recent study on the effects of raising the minimum wage in San Francisco and eight other cities.

An increase in the minimum wage will benefit all of San Leandro. Not only will it help reduce income equality, raising the minimum wage will help reduce worker turnover, support local businesses, and increase worker efficiency.

Finally, raising the minimum wage will help people rely less on safety-net programs funded by taxpayers.

Let’s work together and do our part to address income equality and make San Leandro a better place for residents and businesses.

— Mike Katz-Lacabe, San Leandro


Souza: Stories and Letters Sometime Distort Facts

Editor and Residents:

I love San Leandro. As a City Councilmember for over seven years, and now a candidate for your  Mayor, I know that there are many times when stories and  Letters to the Editor are printed that distort the facts or do not tell the full story.

I  am committed to the residents of San Leandro and will ensure San Leandro continues to be a great place to live, work and play.

Furthermore, I  remain committed to ensuring that I am available to you, and that your voice is heard in City Hall. If you ever have a questions or read something that you want clarification or more information on, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can contact me by mail: Diana Souza, 699 Lewelling Blvd. No. 146, P.O. Box 175, San Leandro 94579; by phone: 510-895-9460; or by email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I am available to meet with you or talk with you on any issue that is important to you.

I look forward to hearing from you and working with you, working for you and working beside you as San Leandro’s next Mayor.

— Diana Souza, San Leandro City Council member

Upset with Mayoral Candidates Lee and Souza


Benny Lee, how dare you identify yourself as a representative of me and my city while voicing your private opinion to Oakland’s City Council. I want elected officials who look out for the interests of San Leandro’s finances and jobs.

You on the other hand, have the audacity to speak in an official capacity while sabotaging jobs and millions of dollars in city revenues. At a time when the city has just established a financial footing, you support a company who sends recycling jobs not only out of state but out of the country.

Again I must ask myself, “What is Benny Lee’s real agenda?” And ... can city council members be impeached? How far does this conspiracy go? Diana Souza accepting campaign contributions from the very same company who is taking millions from my city.

And you want to be my mayor? Shame on you both!

— Cammy Arnold, San Leandro

Letters • 09-04-14 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

West’s ‘Grotesque’ Comparison ‘Deserves Immediate Apology’


Leo West’s comparison of Jews to Nazis (Letters, Aug. 21) is both grotesque and outrageous. It is also a profound insult to the memory of Six Million Jews systematically murdered by the German Nazis and their allies during the period 1939-1945. And in addition it is equally deeply insulting to the American Jewish Community and all Jews throughout the world.

It is a pernicious comparison that certainly deserves an immediate retraction and apology.

— Mervyn K. DankerRegional Director, AJC, San Francisco

Would Like to Know How Candidates Stand on HH and Z


At least Ken Pon admits he is just as uneasy with the scale and scope of Measure HH as many of the taxpayers who may be saddled with this burden for the next three decades. Michael Katz-Lacabe has likewise expressed grave misgivings about how Measure Z is currently being administered and questions the need to modify it only four years into its term.

I’d appreciate knowing how all the City Council candidates stand on the issue. It is likely that the answer to this question will determine how I cast my vote in November.

Pon is correct when he says that the key to San Leandro’s future prosperity is through increasing the city’s sales, rather than increasing the sales tax. If the first can be achieved successfully, the second won’t be necessary. Let’s give Measure Z at least 7 years to prove it was a good idea before we re-engineer it into a monster that we and our children will have to feed for the next 30 years.

Mayor Cassidy, in his 2014 State of the City address, boasted at how well our booming economy is doing, pointing to the many new businesses recently opened or soon to be opening this year. Home sales and property tax revenues are rising and he predicted a prosperous new fiscal year.

It seems to me that Measure Z is doing a pretty good job, and I’m curious why a new long-term tax is suddenly vital to the city’s survival. What new fiscal emergency can justify this dramatic proposal? Is San Leandro facing imminent bankruptcy, as Vallejo, Stockton and San Bernardino did when Measure Z was proposed in 2010? That was what convinced many voters to support that “emergency funding measure.” Is there something you’re not telling us Mr. Mayor?

— Terry Floyd, San Leandro

Suggests Souza Should Run for Mayor of Oakland, Not SL


After reading the front page article in the Aug. 28 San Leandro Times about Andy Doung of California Waste Solutions hosting a fund-raiser for Diana Souza’s upcoming campaign for mayor of San Leandro, and Benny Lee attending the Oakland City Council meeting urging them to approve California Waste Solutions to collect Oakland’s trash instead of Waste Management, it really makes me wonder what they were smoking when the City of San Leandro will lose $500,000 in revenue if Waste Management loses their appeal of the bidding process.

It’s not surprising that Mayor Stephen Cassidy is not running for re-election when you have this pair representing the City of San Leandro. I would sure like to attend the city council meeting when Souza and Lee tell us how they’re going to replace $500,000 in lost funds to the city of San Leandro and if they can’t, I suggest that Diana Souza should run for mayor of Oakland and Benny Lee should join her as they both care more about Oakland’s interest than the City of San Leandro.

— Brent Heath, San Leandro

Blasts Lee for Lobbying Against Waste Management


I am incredibly disappointed in our City Council’s inability to lobby the Oakland City Council to stick with Waste Management as their garbage contractor. With the potential loss of $2 million in revenue to San Leandro, our city council members should have spoken up to lobby against such change.

Even more disturbing though is that one of our members, Benny Lee, would attend an Oakland City Council meeting to lobby for a company that went against his city’s financial best interests and stability.

The result of Mr. Lee’s actions, will cost the city about $500,000 annually and potentially over 100 jobs. Councilmember Lee stated that he was not aware of the ramifications to San Leandro’s general fund, that his actions may have caused and that he wants to keep the money in the region.  If there is any truth to this, I am incredibly disappointed in his incredible ignorance.

No public official should speak publicly without knowing what they are speaking of. To do otherwise, shows a complete lack of respect to their office and the people they represent, in addition to just being uninformed.  I am not sure how keeping the money in our region is beneficial to the city and supports the city’s loss of funds.  As it stands, as a city, we are just starting to show signs of recovery but we still have many things going unfunded, particularly in regards to social services.  Maybe Councilmember Lee can wave his magic wand to pay for these services, with the benefits this contract loss will provide by staying in our region but not in our city.

— MaryAnn Frates, San Leandro

Questions Lee’s and Souza’s Alliance with Oakland Council


Re: Times’ article: “Mayor Cassidy Objects To Oakland Pick On Garbage Firm,” (Page 1, Aug. 28), thank you Mayor Cassidy for your action on this important matter.

We hope Alameda County Superior Court Judge overturns Oakland City Council’s decision-reopening its inappropriate if not fraudulent bidding process. Should the bidding not be reopened this billion dollar disposal contract has the consequence of millions of dollars lost for San Leandro.

How could there be such dissension in City Council. Our Councilmembers supporting Oakland California Waste Solutions in opposition to San Leandro’s own proven Waste Management, favoring the untested Oakland fledgling recycling business.

Why would there be such an alliance from our Councilmembers? Economic and political ramifications are huge!

Councilmember Benny Lee’s feckless response regarding his choice for California Waste Solutions was vain narrative lacking any credibility.

Councilmember Diana Souza, now campaigning for mayor, recently participated in her campaign fundraiser sponsored by Oakland California Waste Solutions owner Duong. The Duong’s family ties to City Council is an inherent conflict of interest, considering alone Souza’s vote for raising the Chinese flag over City Hall.

What were our Councilmembers thinking supporting Duong’s recycling business, considering the fact of San Leandro’s well publicized indebtedness, important economic and City needs.

Our City Council’s purpose is to support its collective decision-making with what’s best for San Leandro. How Lee and Souza could act in this dysfunctional fashion, considering San Leandro’s cash strapped economy, is inconceivable.

It’s time for Benny Lee and Diana Souza to either move to Oakland or wise-up and honor their City Council positions and responsibilities by putting San Leandro first! And stop being, “A Waste For San Leandro.”

— Dwight Pitcaithley, San Leandro

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

Says Candidate Ousley Lost His Vote


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

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

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

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

— David Nierengarten, PhD, San Leandro

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


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

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

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

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

— Carolyn Escorcio, San Leandro

Believes Katz-Lacabe Will Represent Diverse Community


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

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

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

— Frances Leidy, San Leandro

Not All Fox Viewers Are Uninformed or Misinformed


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

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

— Ron Robinson, San Leandro

Accuses SLz School Board of Issuing False Minutes


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Mark Schneider, San Leandro

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

Ousley Seeks Your Vote


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

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

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

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

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

Vote for Mia Ousley for City Council in District 5.

— Mia Ousley, San Leandro

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


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

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

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

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

the subject by the police or City Hall.

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

— Allan Lindsay-O’Neal, San Leandro

Hamas’ ‘Heinous Propaganda’ Exploits Deaths in Gaza


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

Burton: A Benchmark for Fox News?


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

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

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

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Says Wall Street Money Shows Its Power in the Middle East


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

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

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

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

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

— Jim Mehner, Oakland

End the Hate: Embrace the Two-State Solution


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

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

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

— Elie Parker, San Leandro







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

Wants to See Ferry Service Come to San Leandro


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

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

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

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

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

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

— Johanne Dictor, San Leandro

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— John Clouston, San Leandro

A New Role for California Conservatory Theatre?


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

— Brent Heath, San Leandro

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Corey Anderson, San Leandro

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

Supports City’s Increased Use of Surveillance Cameras


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

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

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

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

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

— Russ Gebhardt, San Leandro

Questions on Cameras for Mayoral, Council Candidates


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

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

the following questions in any “meet the

voters” gatherings, debates or other public appearances.

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

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

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

veillance center for a broader

territorial coverage?

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

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

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

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

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

DeWitt Takes Out Papers to Run for School Board


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

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

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

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

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

— Joel DeWitt, San Leandro

Says Israel Must Share Land with Palestinians, or Leave


Israelis and Palestinians Must Share the Land.

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Elie Parker, San Leandro

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

California on a Learning Curve About the Use of Water



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Proposed Monument on East 14th Called ‘Ludicrous’



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

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

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

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

— Lito A. Micheli, San Leandro


Open Letter to the Mayor on Disposition of the Marina



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

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

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

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

— Sandra Headley, San Leandro


Calls Jones’ Letter ‘Nothing More than Liberal Arrogance’



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

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

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

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

— Allan Lindsay-O’Neal, San Leandro


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


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

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

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

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

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

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro



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