Letters • 02-19-2014 | Print |  E-mail



Waste Management Fee Notification

Letter Went ‘Above and Beyond’

Legal Requirements


I appreciate Joanne Berden’s concerns expressed in her letter “Calls Voting System on New Waste Management Fee ‘Biased’,” (Letters, Feb. 12). But the public notification and decision process she criticizes was adopted by a statewide voter initiative amending the California Constitution: Proposition 218.

It is not an election, and we will not “count” those who do not protest as being in favor of the service or fee. By providing a detachable protest form as part of the notification letter, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority has gone above and beyond the requirements spelled out in the Constitution to make the process simple for those residential property owners who wish to oppose the fee.

It is unfortunate that the postal service made the process difficult for Ms. Berden.

Revenue from the fee ($9.55 per year for 10 years) will be used to support the countywide household hazardous waste drop-off centers and related services, which provide safe, legal, environmentally sound collection and disposal of residential household hazardous waste such as paint products, solvents and pesticides.

Without these services, most household hazardous waste will be illegally and improperly disposed of (e.g., abandoned on streets, poured down drains, placed in garbage or recycling carts).

Improper disposal of household hazardous waste is often dangerous and can detract from residential property values.

More information about the proposed fee and what it will fund is available at www.stopwaste.org/proposedhhwfee. I encourage residential property owners to make an informed decision about these services, which will be dramatically reduced if the fee is not adopted.

Gary Wolff, Castro Valley

Executive Director

Alameda County Waste Management Authority


Thinks Those Who Use Hazardous

Products Should Share the Costs


Joanne Berden, I read your excellent and very interesting letter (“Calls Voting System on New Waste Management Fee ‘Biased’,” Letters, Feb. 12) on the proposed, Alameda County Waste Management Authority tax of $9.95 for a new, household hazardous waste program .

Environmental-friendly and conscientious individuals will continue to bring any hazardous material to a proper disposal location.

I propose having a small fee at time of purchase and allow return of anything considered hazardous waste to the same location for disposal.

Everyone who uses such products should share the cost, not only the property owners. Let’s be fair!

To the decision makers: It’s sad to see Alameda Country Waste Management Authority allowing this type of biased behavior, where more and  more each day the county is allowing corporations to  increase their profits margins, while placing a burden on us property owners.

Josie Pastorino, Castro Valley


CV Could Use Some Little Shops in

Daughtrey Building Space


In response to recent news of a proposal that Daughtrey’s old building be replaced by a park, I would like to say that shoppers in Castro Valley could better use more varied choices of stores than now exist.

A number of stores have closed. We used to have a lamp and shade store here, we used to have a yarn shop, and a jewelry store.

How about taking a survey of what residents would like to see added to the choices they now have? I’m sure there are many more facilities that would be useful and convenient to have locally.

It seems that satisfactory renting of the big store building is not possible. Yes, raze it, and construct a little plaza of small shops around a place to sit, to rest and possibly to eat.

A bakery, an upscale restaurant, would be very pleasant. The little shops could have common walls, to reduce construction costs. May communities have these charming centers, such as the one described at www.santacruz.com, a site where you can find information about Swift Street Courtyard.

I think the suggestion to shop locally is a good one, which could be followed more completely by the addition of small shops at the Daughtrey site.

Lorraine Corden


50-year resident of Castro Valley

Retiring Mail Carrier ‘Has Been a

Blessing to Those She Has Served’


Thank you CV Forum for an excellent article giving kudos to retiring CV mail carrier Becky Blackburn for her 30-year career with the USPS.

Becky’s positive, friendly spirit and diligence in delivery of mail has been a blessing to those she has serviced. She will be missed in CV. Her plan and enthusiasm to give more service to her church and go on mission to Bolivia are evidence of her love for God and people.

Doug Tegner, Castro Valley


Friends of San Leandro Creek Gets

‘Amazing’ Check from Local Bank


Something amazing happened to Friends of San Leandro Creek the other day that everyone should hear about!

But first, some background: Friends of San Leandro Creek (FSLC) is a nonprofit organization that began work in the mid-1990s. Like most nonprofits, FSLC has run its program on a shoestring budget.

Two years ago I wrote to Fremont Bank for a grant, which I received. I quickly asked how I could keep up the relationship and receive help again. I was told not to expect more as we were not banking with them. I asked my Board of Directors to switch banks from our huge, impersonal corporation to the local and FSLC-friendly Fremont Bank. Paper work was completed in time for me to try for the same grant I had received the year before. This too was granted, and I believe it’s because FSLC joined Fremont Bank.

To my great surprise, last week the Director of Community Outreach for Fremont Bank knocked on my door. She asked me if I was aware that this is the 50th year of operation for Fremont Bank. I certainly was not. She said they were giving their favorite local nonprofits some money. And she handed me a nice, generous check. The kind I may get after many days of work.

It is FSLC’s mantra to “think globally and act locally.” That is what Fremont Bank does. Chances are that you have heard of and care about at least one of the deserving groups that received part of the 50th celebration monies.

The money we received will help pay for supplies for Creek Clean-ups, community outreach programs like our Environmental Forum and Earth Day/Watershed Festival, not to mention the many free school field trips we put on for the kids of the area.

Thanks, Fremont Bank. We at “Friends” wish you a most happy 50th anniversary with many, many more to come.

Susan Levenson

Watershed Awareness Coordinator

Friends of San Leandro Creek


Letters • 02-12-2014 | Print |  E-mail


Says Town Square on Daughtrey Site

Should Advance on its Own Merits


Castro Valley citizens launched a grassroots effort to convert the Daughtrey Building into a Town Square. Everyone with whom I’ve spoken thinks it’s a wonderful idea.

On February 4, the citizens presented the Town Square project to the MAC, I assumed to obtain their general support. In a regular city, citizens would bring ideas to their City Council, and the Council would direct Public Works staff to investigate the idea and report back to Council.

What the MAC did surprised me. Rather than treat the Town Square as a public project, the MAC instead treated the citizens as if they were private developers, and instructed them to perform a cost and feasibility study on the project.

The citizens are not licensed public engineers, nor should they have to pay for a public project study.

I suppose we can’t fault the MAC, since it’s their nature and role to advise on regulatory matters. However, the MAC has no legal or regulatory authority on public projects like a Town Square.

Let the MAC support or oppose a Town Square conceptually, but this public project should advance on its own merits. Qualified public engineers within the County should determine project scope, cost, etc.

Brian A. Foster, Castro Valley


Daughtrey Site: Concern That the Bar

Being Set Too Low for Castro Valley


I want to thank the CV community for contributing to the discussion about the Daughtrey’s building on Tuesday night. There were over 100 people there who had their first chance to meet the developer David Greensfelder and hear him discuss his vision for the site.

Newly introduced information that neither the public nor the MAC had ever heard came out at the meeting. We learned that the redevelopment successor agency is pursuing a 10-year Disposition Development Area agreement (DDA) for the site, and that the developer, Mr. Greensfelder, will be required to have a doorway with access to the paseo space.

Up until this meeting, no one had heard about a DDA for the site, how the site was going to be used, who the developer was, and no one had heard the costs to demolish or replace the building.

I want the CV community to remember that my concern is that the bar is being set too low for Castro Valley. The site has been a vacant blight for many years, and if it is remodeled, there is no guarantee this will change.

If the building is torn down, the additional parking alone would be a boon to Castro Valley. All of the people who spoke up at the meeting were in favor of tearing down the building. So why don’t we find a way to make it happen?

I look forward to bringing this proposal before the MAC in March, when we can engage in a more robust discussion about the options for the site.

Peter Rosen, Castro Valley


Calls for Continued Private Security

Patrols in Palomares Hills

Security is one of the important reasons that we all live in America.  This country has a great deal of security compared to other parts of the world.

Palomares Hills, like other Bay Area communities provides a private security patrol within our community. This patrol operates to help residents “keep an eye” on their property when we are not home.

And when we are home, the patrol provides other valuable services. They stopped to inform me that my car trunk was left open once, and another time that my garage was left open. They become familiar with the vehicle traffic, residents and can often notice things that are out of the norm.

The Alameda County Sheriff supports professional private security firms as being an important asset in being able to observe and report issues and concerns to them promptly.

While many Bay Area police departments are experiencing cutbacks and increased workload that affect their ability to respond quickly, private patrols are growing in value to homeowners. Private patrols can gather license plate numbers, descriptions of unusual events or activities, and provide a visual deterrent simply by their presence. Criminals do not want to be seen or noticed.

This service has been brought into jeopardy as the result of conflicting budget needs by the Palomares Home Owners Association. It is my opinion that a private security patrol is a valuable service. Other communities in the Bay Area use similar services with great success.

One Oakland neighborhood recently has shown a 30% decrease in property crimes compared to the month before the service was implemented. I have recently read some Castro Valley Realtor listings that went as far as citing the private patrols in Palomares Hills as a value added amenity to living here.

Tree trimming and lawn mowing are important. Swimming pool maintenance is critical. Painting the club house is necessary, and paying liability insurance is required. Cutting back on one of the ways that this community provides residents security should never happen.

I support private a private security patrol in our neighborhood,  and I hope that my other 1,700 neighbors do as well.

Robert Hoffman, Palomares Hills


Calls Voting System on New Waste Management Fee ‘Biased”


I received a notice in the mail that the Alameda County Waste Management Authority is considering adopting a fee of $9.55 per year per residential unit, collected through the property tax roll.

Revenue from the fee will be used to support the countywide household hazardous waste program and will support expanded services to all residents of Alameda County.

From the instructions, I learned that if you are a “yes” vote on this, you do nothing. If you are a “no” vote, you must sign a postcard and mail it back at your own expense. Or, you must attend a meeting on Feb. 26 in Oakland to deliver your postcard in person.

My first objection was that it penalizes people who want to vote “no” since a “yes” vote is free, and a “no” vote costs you a stamp (which is 49 cents as of Jan. 2014) or a trip to Oakland. Also, people who disregard the notice automatically become a “yes” vote.

My second objection came after I tried to mail my “no” vote. The design of the postcard is such that the post office gets confused. I have mailed my “no” vote card twice, taking it to the counter at the Castro Valley post office. And...it has come back to my house twice. If this holds true for other voters, their “no” votes will never be counted as a “no” and the default will be a “yes” vote.

Being a stubborn person, I placed the postcard inside of an envelope and mailed it for the additional expense of 49 cents. Will it be counted? I have no idea.

I feel that something is inherently wrong with a system that seems to be designed (even if not intentional) to fail its purpose. I feel that if the Alameda County Waste Management Authority truly wants to know what people think, they should require all “yes” and “no” votes to be mailed back.

If people choose to not participate, that is their prerogative. But, to have a system that presumes intent of all uncast votes, I feel, is biased. If we voted this way in other elections (example: public officials), I would imagine that the outcome of those elections could be quite different.

I have always held a harsh view of voting systems in our society. This is one example that illustrates how the system can be manipulated, in my opinion.

Joanne Berden, Castro Valley


‘Pedestrian Dodging’ on Redwood

Because of Lack of Crosswalk


I have written many letters to several different authority figures requesting a crosswalk be added to the intersection of Redwood Road and the on/off ramp of I-580 on the south side of the freeway. I pass through this area at least twice per day and find myself dodging pedestrians either running across traffic or standing in the middle divider waiting to get across the other side.

People going to and from the south side of the BART station are not going to walk all the way up to the far end of the park parking lot at Norbridge and walk all the way back to the station.

There have been mornings when I am dodging more than one person while driving from Lessley to get on 580 west. I have seen many close calls, have had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian and at times it feels like a real life and death game of the old Atari game Frogger.

As I’ve stated over and over, it is a matter of time before someone is hit, seriously hurt or killed. A simple inexpensive solution to a deadly planning shortcoming does not seem like too much to ask.

I will continue to write letters to the editor until the dreaded day that I write an “I told you so” letter when someone is hit by a car and killed.

Barb Espinoza, Castro Valley


Bots Dots Need to Be Replaced for Boulevard Drivers’ Safety


My wife Janis and I were driving Castro Valley Blvd. on a recent night and we noticed they’re doing more road work...this time on the West end of the Blvd. in front of that beautiful Castro Valley theatre.

As part of the work we noticed they seem to be removing more of the “Bot’s Dot’s.” Since I had written a letter back in June of 2013 asking why the County hadn’t replaced the safety dots after they reworked the other end of the Blvd. and because the rainy season is once again upon us...I thought it would be a good time to follow up.

My understanding is the dots were invented over 20 years ago by some guy at CalTrans. The “Bot’s Dot’s” as we know them were not originally intended to keep drivers awake by making that thumping noise we all know and love when you drive over them. Instead they were intended to provide a reflective lane which would be visible “day and night – rain or shine.” The thumping just turned out to be an unintended bonus.

As drivers have seen, painted lines are fine when dry, but mostly disappear when the roads get wet making it very hard to stay in your own lanes...and hence making it very dangerous.

A little dot trivia: maybe you’ve even noticed those blue dots every once in a while...those are for the fire department and mean there is a fire hydrant at the point in the street on the sidewalk.

Anyway, those dots are for driver safety for people driving through Castro Valley and were originally put there for that purpose. I’m just wondering who decided we didn’t need them anymore? Or when we can expect them back?

Keith McColm, Fairmont Terrace, Castro Valley


Letters • 02-05-2014 | Print |  E-mail


To the Charity Thieves


On Friday, Jan. 10, I placed items on my front lawn for the charity CARH (Community Assistance for the Retarded and Handicapped) donation pick-up. The items were clearly marked with the CARH donation tag.

Early in the morning, a series of drive-by scavengers examined my donation and removed two items. Later that morning another drive-by scavenger removed another item. Perhaps those three items may have been sold in the CARH store for $10 to $20. My donations were meant to aid a charity that helps those who are truly in need. They were not placed in my driveway with a “free” sign for anyone who wanted any of those items.

For those who take part in this early morning scavenger ritual, you did not steal from me. You stole from people that are truly in need. You also stole from the CARH organization which uses a portion of the donation to support their collection truck operation and collection personnel.

To steal, not from me, but from those who support CARH defines you as a very special low-class person. If you are a drive-by scavenger, then think hard about who should benefit from donation materials before you steal them.

Conrad Wilgus, Castro Valley


Scores ObamaCare, Calls Individual

Mandate ‘Unconstitutional’


Mr. Dreyfoos’ letter (“Legislators Not Reading Bills Because They’re Too Long, Too Many,” Letters, Jan. 15) defended the Democrats for passing ObamaCare without bothering to read it. He said that modern laws are too long and complex to actually read.

That’s easy to disprove. Recall that the Republicans requested a two week delay in order to read ObamaCare before voting on it. The Democrats simply refused, claiming “a national emergency.” So we can indeed read bills, but only if we are given a reasonable time.

It’s hypocritical that Democrats insisted the “emergency” was so urgent, they could not wait even two short weeks to let people read the bill.  Because now they are happy to let Obama postpone the most important parts of the law for a full year...Some emergency!

Mr. Dreyfoos cited an author named Cannan to support passing laws without reading them. That’s just an “appeal to authority.” It’s worthless. Such appeals are only useful when a subject is so complex that laymen cannot understand it.

Well I understand ObamaCare, and I understand why the individual mandate is unconstitutional, regardless of what four statists and one fool on the Supreme Court currently claim. If you want to know why ObamaCare is unconstitutional, (and therefore illegal) just read Federalist Paper 45, by Madison.

Mr. Dreyfoos challenged me for alternatives to ObamaCare. OK.  Republicans have already proposed health savings plans, tax credits, and the elimination of federal regulations that prevent insurers from competing across state lines. The media just refuses to discuss Republican alternatives.

Better still, let’s just follow the Constitution. Let each state impose an individual mandate if they want to. At least this would be constitutional. If you don’t like the mandate, then you can move to another state. That’s called “freedom.” Under Obamacare, the mandate is national, so you cannot escape the mandate by moving. That’s called “central planning.”

Peter Hauer, Castro Valley


Motorcycle Noise? Says Accept

The Things You Cannot Change


Robert Thomas (“And More,” Letters, Jan. 22) suggests Ms. Molina and I are somehow culprits. A culprit is one charged with an offense or a crime or one guilty of a offense or a crime.

I don’t know Ms. Molina but I doubt seriously that she is a culprit. I know I am not. Everything about my motorcycle is completely legal. I made sure of that.

Secondly, to suggest that because you feel my motorcycle might exceed, for what you assume, to be beyond the standards for noise levels in populated areas that my it should be banned from the Bay Area. That is ridiculous! This sort of thought process is down right scary. Almost like the governor of New York suggesting that people that don’t agree to what he feels is appropriate should be banned from that state.

Myself, and anyone else I know, is not intentionally trying to disturb your peace. I doubt that you are bothered continually throughout the day nor are there parades of motorcycles doing burn outs on your street or throughout Castro Valley.

No doubt there are some motorcycles out there that are noisier than what is considered legal. You need to accept the fact that there are things in life that you do not like and there are also some things you cannot change. Life is full of inconveniences and if this is your biggest issue, you should be very happy.

Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy riding my completely street legal motorcycle around Castro Valley, the Bay Area and anywhere else that a free and legal person is able. Hopefully I do not irritate you and if I do, I am truly sorry. Have a happy life Mr. Thomas.

Doug Lessa, Castro Valley


Letters • 01-29-2014 | Print |  E-mail


Got an Opinion on the old Daughtrey Site? Attend

MAC Meeting Next Tuesday


I want to let the Castro Valley community know that there will be a MAC meeting next Tuesday, Feb. 4 that they should attend.

The long vacant Daughtrey’s building was purchased in 2010 with Redevelopment funds, and the property is being considered for sale. The new owner is not going to tear down the building, and some local citizen’s (myself included), have suggested that this is a mistake.

Once the building is sold, the Castro Valley community will have little control with what happens to the site, and we may end up with another vacant building.

We have suggested that they explore demolishing the building to create a “town square” at this crucial downtown location. This would create additional parking, and be the perfect place to host summer concerts, movie nights, the Rowell Ranch Rodeo Parade, and perhaps even the farmers market.

This is your opportunity to speak up and let your voice be heard.  More information can be found at castrovalleymatters.org.

Peter Rosen, Castro Valley


Tells Critics of Loud Motorcycle Riders: It’s for

Bikers’ Protection


Questions for those of you that do not understand why those motorcycles have loud mufflers!

Can you accurately tell the difference of how fast a car or motorcycle is approaching you at an intersection that you have decided either vehicle is far enough away for you to drive across? Did you even see the motorcycle approaching you and understand a motorcycle will get there faster than a car? Do you often do a California stop and just roll through a stop sign barely looking cause you think you are in the right? Have you ever speeded up on those yellow lights so you can cross just as it turns red or worse still do you follow the car that just did? Do you see the motorcycle approaching you on the freeway first or do you hear it first?

The answers to these questions is the real reason motorcycle riders all want loud muffler systems and why we should leave it status quo.  Safety!  Too many motorcycle riders have been injured or killed because of your answers to the above questions. That’s why they have loud mufflers – so you can avoid hitting them.

Jennifer Baity, Castro Valley


Would Like to See Eden Hospital Open Second

Waiting Room for ‘Contagious Symptoms’


Recently my six-year old grandson slammed is finger in our bathroom door. We were referred by his pediatrician to Eden Hospital ER for x-rays. Unfortunately, it was broken but we came away from the ER with much more than that.

Our beautiful state-of-the-art hospital has one room for triaging all of the emergency patients. We, being very careful to don the provided masks and sanitized hand cream, had several people sit next to us coughing, sneezing and vomiting into the handy green bags provided.

I would really like to see Eden ER take more care for their patients, at the very least “Contagious Symptoms” and “Non- Contagious Symptoms” waiting rooms.

Bonnie Rigo, Castro Valley


Letters • 01-22-2014 | Print |  E-mail



Letters • 01-15-2014 | Print |  E-mail


Taxpayer Advocates Happy That

Public Got a Better Deal on Park Land


As co-founders of CVACTS (Castro Valley Association of Concerned Taxpayers), we are very happy to hear that HARD is purchasing the East Bay MUD “Measure Q” parkland for $5.6 million.

The original plan in 2006 was for Castro Valley taxpayers to spend $60 million (including interest) on property taxes to purchase and develop this land and other unspecified properties.

CVACTS was the ONLY group that opposed this tax. The proponents said the tax was necessary, or else the land would be “lost forever.” It turns out they were completely wrong.

We are thankful for the courage and foresight of those who voted against Measure Q. Due to the vigilance of these voters, HARD will be able to buy the property from EBMUD for 1/3 of the original $15.6 million asking price.

In the future, if some other group wishes to impose a new tax on the residents of Castro Valley, we hope voters will demand that their government act responsibly, and not always assume that the voters will agree to pay more taxes.

Peter Kavaler, Castro Valley

Steve Rosenberg, Castro Valley


Says Park Money Would Have Been Better Spent on Cull Canyon Park


It is amazing to me how $5.6 million can be found to purchase an “unused” piece of land in Castro Valley to make another park, yet money is needed for Cull Canyon Park i.e. dredging the pond in order to maintain a park that has been in Castro Valley for years.

Is it environmentally conscious to call land “unused” when native animals including birds need open land? What are the authorities going to do? Put up a huge lawn area requiring maintenance and water right in the middle of a drought?

The native birds need native grasses to live not some lawn that belongs in England. California is a desert state and as I have stated we are in the middle of a drought.

The right thing to do is leave this land as open space and not do anything to it. If people want to walk on natural land then fine. At the same time the authorities need to find the money to dredge the Cull Canyon pond so that wild animals can live among us. They deserve their natural areas as well.

Dan Dalton, Fairview

Thinks Complaining Residents are Too Intolerant of Loud Motorcycles


There are two issues I would like to address. First, the complaints about loud motorcycles. Have we become so intolerant of other people that we complain about the smallest issues.

I’m pretty sure the motorcycles in question are Harley Davidson’s. They are now and always have been loud machines. It’s part of the thrill of riding one or listening to it as they travel by.

Due to the fact we live in a congested area we need to be a little less judgmental of our individual differences.

Issue number two is the article about the HARD purchase of 24 acres from EBMUD. I found it very interesting that the property was purchased in the 1950s and never used.  Twenty to 25 homes were destroyed. The article doesn’t say if the purchase was done through “eminent domain,” in which case those home owners had no choice in the matter.

Just thought it would be interesting to know what the circumstances of that purchase were.

Judi Molini, Castro Valley


More Important Things to Worry

About Than Cruising Motorcylists


I have read two articles in the Forum lately from a couple residents complaining about loud motorcycles that “cruise the streets of Castro Valley.”

One even suggested that when past the age of 14 or 15 that one should get rid of their loud toys.

I am a “young” man in his 60’s that have one of those loud toys. A beautiful 1999 Harley Davidson FLSTF that could be considered loud. It is, however, completely street legal. I too “cruise the streets of Castro Valley” along with others that drive loud pick ups, loud cars, loud garbage trucks, loud PG&E trucks, occasional loud dump trucks etc, etc. In fact all of the above cruise up and down my street pretty much on a daily basis.

If you guys really want to complain about something then complain about that lousy roads, lack of sidewalks, the obscenely long traffic lights on week days between 3 and 7 p.m. on the Blvd., and the wasted money on the Blvd. beautification project.

I suggest to you to get a life and find a real cause to complain about.

Doug Lessa, Castro Valley


Legislators Not Reading Bills Because

They’re Too Long, Too Many


This is a response to a letter from Peter Hauer of Castro Valley (“Charges ObamaCare Rammed Through Congress Without Having Been Read” Letters, Jan. 7).

Mr. Hauer said that “None of the Democrats who voted for this bill actually read it.” That statement was likely true, but very misleading.

I daresay that legislators of both parties vote for bills that they have never read. More likely they have read parts of a bill. The ones who haven’t read any part of any bill likely can’t read. They’re the ones we need to watch – and send back to first grade.

The process of a major bill becoming law has become incredibly complex and we should be concerned about that. For anyone interested, I highly recommend a scholarly work by John Cannan, published in the Law Library Journal.  The title is “A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History.”  I assure you it’s not a partisan rant.  Google it...It’s not a complete snore...it’s scholarly, factual – for law librarians, and for those concerned about the processes of Congress.

Yes, sadly, both parties have some liars, and each of us likely has one’s own view of which has more than its share. In this instance, I would like to hear Mr. Hauer be explicit in his criticism of ObamaCare.

How would he deal with the bills racked up at emergency rooms by people who can’t afford those bills, or the premiums for health insurance, or the preventive care it can provide? How would he get it through the two houses of Congress and signed by the President?

The legislation that passed was a mountain to climb in every respect and not the single payer universal that I would have preferred. Let’s carefully criticize from facts, from credible sources – not from media which too often is only in business to gin up controversy – to sell  commercials.  BTW, I’m not a derelict.  I’m a former Goldwater Republican – and definitely an adult.

Roger Dreyfoos, Castro Valley


Alamedan Finds Castro Valley

Family ‘Kind and Generous’


I want to publicly thank the sweetest young lady I have ever met who helped me at the Castro Valley Safeway a few weeks ago.I am an elderly lady who has somewhat of a hard time (as a lot of us elderly people do!) I had visited my daughter in Castro Valley and decided to grocery shop before I went home to Alameda.

It was extremely busy and this young lady who was with her young child allowed me to cut in front of her in line. We chatted a little and I thanked her again.

We met up again in the parking lot and she proceeded to help me load my groceries into my car! Not only that, but even her 3 year old daughter helped!  I had asked her name and she told me it was Christina. It was so nice to see a young person (who couldn’t be more than 30) be so kind and generous.

As she was leaving, I noticed her license plate said “Spinardi.” The Spinardis are a huge family and my family has known some of them for many years. I don’t know what branch of the Spinardi family she is from, but I want to say that this is a kind and beautiful young lady! Her parents did a wonderful job. They should be very proud.

—Theresa Vocci, Alameda




Letters • 01-08-2014 | Print |  E-mail


Sen. Corbett Congratulates CV’s

Jensen Ranch Elementary School


I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the students, staff, faculty and administrators of Jensen Ranch Elementary School in Castro Valley for their continued dedication to academic excellence both inside and outside of the classroom.

It is this commitment to success that led the “Jensen Ranch Jaguars” to become a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School.

Just a few days ago, my office joined Superintendent Jim Negri, Principal Melodie Stibich and members of the Castro Valley Unified Board of Education to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment.

Jensen Ranch Elementary is one of only 286 schools honored nationwide and one of 15 California schools to be recognized for 2013, including Joshua Chadbourne Elementary

School in Fremont also within the 10th State Senate District.

Former Jensen Ranch students joined in the celebration as a local Boy Scout Troop retired the school’s previous American Flag, raising a new flag in its place. Especially noteworthy were Class Presidents Miguel Bernas and Oliver Zhang who offered encouraging remarks to their fellow students.

As the State Senator representing the 10th State Senate District, I am always impressed by the outstanding achievements of our students, not just in Castro Valley but throughout the district. Our students are well equipped to continue to succeed and thrive and I certainly look forward to learning of their future successes.

Go Jaguars!

Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett

10th State Senate District


More Complaints About Those Loud (Illegal?) Motorcycles


Several years ago, I had decided that I must be the only one bothered by the noisy motorcyclists that cruise the streets of Castro Valley. Their exhaust systems must be illegal – without the original mufflers.  But then I read the letter to the editor by Robert Thomas (Letters, Jan. 1). So, I’m not alone after all.

Questions: Does the Sheriff or the Highway Patrol ever cite the excessively noisy motorcyclists? And, if not, why not? Perhaps it would be a difficult chase unless the officer was also on a motorcycle.  Difficult prosecution? Does the judge ride an unmuffled bike? What is the responsibility of the motorcycle dealers and repair shops?

Mr. Thomas wondered what leads to this activity...activity that I would describe as mechanical belching, burping, bellowing, etc. as they gun their unmuffled engines in our ears. I’ve also tried to figure this out. Is it because these gentlemen are afraid and feel that the bellowing will keep them from getting bumped off their saddles by something bigger? Should pedestrians be tooting a tuba to announce their presence?

Some of these loud “lads” might consider becoming pedestrians to get another perspective, some respect for others, and some exercise. Or is it indeed, just a juvenile need for attention that they seek? Save it for a parade or the boonies.

And hats off to those truly mature riders, of any age, who are politely sticking with their original equipment mufflers.

Roger Dreyfoos

Castro Valley

Letters • 12-18-2013 | Print |  E-mail


No Winners, Just Sad Stories When it Comes to DUI


On Friday night, my wife Carol and I had the privilege to address over 150 Peace Officers at the kick-off for the “Avoid the 21” Campaign. We were at the kick-off to represent MADD and our son Scott Leister, who was killed in a fiery crash by a drunk driver going over 100 MPH while on the Bay Bridge.

Avoid the 21 is composed of the 21 different law enforcement agencies in Alameda County that are so very committed to protecting us from drunk drivers. These 21 police agencies coordinate together to run DUI checkpoints and focused enforcement against drunk drivers.

The program is called Avoid the 21 because drivers can “avoid” being arrested by planning for safe, sober rides before they start drinking so they never drink and then drive. Other Bay Area counties have similar Avoid programs.

Unfortunately, on that very Friday morning before our speech, I read of two DUI crashes that claimed the lives of two more innocent people. I can assure you that the parents and the families of those victims are, at this very moment, experiencing unbelievable agony, worse than they have ever experienced.

Your local Peace Officer’s involvement in the Avoid the 21 Task Force is absolutely critical in preventing other families from going through the hell these families and our family continue to go through.

What do you think those families would have given to have had that drunk driver pass through one of the Avoid the 21 checkpoints? Or to have had that driver pulled over for erratic driving while they were on patrol? I know I would have given anything, including my own life.

I was surprised to learn from other speakers at the kick-off that during many DUI arrests the Peace Officer takes verbal abuse from the drunk driver, as if they are doing something terrible to that person.

I suggest the arrest could be preventing him from having to live for the rest of his life with the horrible knowledge that he killed innocent people, and financial ruin. Or, as in our case, saving him from a sentence of 10 years in prison and having a strike on his record.

No matter which side of the steering wheel you are on, there are no winners when it comes to DUIs, just sad stories, filled with misery. Programs like Avoid the 21 cannot lessen the misery and pain of these stories, but it can reduce the number of these stories.

Indeed, I understand that as of Sunday morning, over 80 DUI arrests were made in Alameda County. We will never know how many lives were saved by these arrests, but saving even one family from experiencing what Carol and I have gone through is well worth the effort.

Whether you are a Peace Officer or a Designated Driver, on behalf of Scott and our family, as well as our MADD family and all the families in our communities who you save from the nightmare of losing a loved one to a drunk driver, thank you. We are grateful to each one of you who fights this battle with us.

Chris & Carol Leister, Castro Valley

Criticism is Not the Same as Persecution’


Based on his letter, Scott Richardson (“Blames Sexual Freedom Advocates For Causing Incalculable Harm,” Letters, Dec. 11) appears to have difficulty distinguishing between a church and a business.

A church may teach that women must be subordinate to men, that gays are immoral by our very existence, that birth control is a sin, that their god created the so-called “races” separately, that illness or disability is divine punishment, that people not of their faith are headed straight for hell, or anything else they wish.

Other religious bodies, of course, may teach the opposite. Both are covered by the First Amendment and cannot be persecuted, no matter how repugnant their views may be to others. (Criticism is not the same as persecution.)

A business is a secular institution governed by civil law and open to the public. Businesses, while privately owned, are also supported by the public. This Jewish lesbian’s tax dollars provide police and fire protection to Mr. Richardson’s hypothetical antigay business.

My tax dollars pay for the roads and public transit their employees and customers use to get to the place of business, the schools where their employees learned basic skills, the required Health Department inspections, sanitation, street cleaning, and dozens of other services.

A business may no more refuse service to a gay couple seeking to be married than they may refuse to provide service for a Jewish wedding, or an interracial wedding, or the wedding of people with disabilities, regardless of the owner’s personal religious views. Because a business is not a church. Similarly, anyone who considers birth control a sin need not use it; but a business owner has no right to dictate whether or not his/her employees use birth control.

The Spanish Inquisition was religious persecution. The Nazi Holocaust was religious persecution. The killing going on right now in the Central African Republic is religious persecution. A business providing service to all customers equally is not persecution. It’s good business.

Carol Sholin, Castro Valley


A Clarification on Billy Bradford’s Letter


Last week in the letters, Billy Bradford (“Urges Visiting Places of Worship With ‘Welcoming Congregations’,” Letters, Dec. 11) commended local faith communities who had made educated, conscious and faithful decisions to be actively welcoming places for people who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer.

We were incorrectly named, but are proudly one of those congregations, having educated ourselves, considered spiritually, and voted as a congregation in 2001 to become a Welcoming Congregation.

In 1980, Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church called as its senior minister, Rev. Mark Belletini, an openly gay man. He served for eighteen years, before moving on to a larger church.

Unitarian Universalism has had a long history of acceptance and love for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities as part of its values to welcome all people and a diversity of beliefs.

We have deep roots in the Christian tradition, but encourage our members to be faithful to their highest aspirations and their most deeply held convictions.

Our seven principles are statements of our shared values, and the sources of our faith come not only from those Jewish and Christian roots, but Earth-centered traditions, Buddhism, Humanism, and other world religions. The outcome of our faith is to work for justice in the world, so we are active and engaged in the community. I hope to see you at the next CV Pride event, or welcome you at our worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m.

Rev. Katie Kandarian-Morris, parish minister,

Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church, Hayward



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Letters • 12-11-2013 | Print |  E-mail



Says There’s No Shortage of Lies Among GOP Presidents


Peter Hauer (“Calls President Obama ‘a Tyrant, a Socialist, a Liar’,” Letters, Nov. 27) either has a very short memory of presidents who have lied to us or, like many right-wing extremists, he is capable of nothing but contempt for any politician with a “D” next to their name.

Arguably the most memorable lie of all time came from President Richard Nixon who look right into the TV camera and told all of America, “I am not a crook.” Of course we all know how that turned out.

Then came George Bush, who promised us all, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Oh really!

Not to be outdone by his father, George W. Bush made a complete fool of himself by standing on an aircraft carrier with a big sign behind him that declared, “Mission Accomplished.”

Just for the record, President Obama accomplished the mission of hunting down and killing terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.

And what do all of these presidential liars have in common? But of course, they are all Republicans.

Just a little history lesson for the Peter Hauers of the world who seem to have a Holier Than Thou attitude.

Chris Scott, Castro Valley


Blames ‘Sexual Freedom’ Advocates For Causing ‘Incalculable Harm’


If Peggy Kerby (“‘No Room for Homophobia’ Signs in Castro Valley?” Letters, Nov. 20) thinks that Evangelical Christians are fearful of homosexuals, she is quite mistaken.

There is no reason for us to fear homosexuals any more than any other kind of people. Those whom we fear are activists and judges who wish to tell us that it is now immoral and illegal to hold the natural, rational, traditional, piously Biblical moral views of humanity, marriage, gender, and sexual conduct that have helped our country flourish. We, who are faithful Evangelical Christians, are compelled to hold these views as sacred, objective, eternal values given to us by God in writing and validated by the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

There are now many people in this country who value sexual freedom over religious freedom and will naturally fight to take more ground. Their actions will cause incalculable harm to our country, as they force service business owners like photographers, bakers, florists, doctors, and even corporations to obey, pay or forfeit their livelihoods.

I wonder if Peggy knows why Jesus was killed. She decries those who hold religious principles above individual rights and says that we cannot do that in a free society. Uh, what? How can our society remain free while our rights to exercise religious beliefs, express free speech and conduct business are being taken away? Well, the Bible is clear which side of history is morally and eternally wrong. So to aim our prayers at those, like Billy (Bradford), who are ‘suffering victims’ of religious bigotry and intolerance in the hope that they will find truth, peace, deliverance and eternal life is right on target.

Most Evangelical Christian churches meet on Sunday mornings and would love to have everyone visit to learn about Jesus Christ and the history of His Story.

Scott Richardson, Castro Valley


Urges Visiting Places of Worship With ‘Welcoming Congregations’


Last week I attended the wedding of my dear friend, Reverend Roland Stringfellow, at First Congregational Church of Oakland. That church is welcoming and affirming, and Rev. Stringfellow is the director of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations (CWC).

The CWC is a faith-based organization that brings together the roughly 200 Bay Area churches, congregations and faith groups that welcome, affirm and embrace their LGBT friends and neighbors.

From their website: “By creating a strong network of congregations and local faith communities of various religious traditions and denominations throughout the Bay Area, the CWC (www.clgs.org/bay-area-cwc) connects local religious leaders, religious congregations/communities, and individuals of faith who are highly motivated to act as agents of positive social change.”

Castro Valley Pride has always been joined and supported by the CWC, and this year we had representation from six different local faith groups as well. They all took the stage together with a wonderful invocation to start our event; they let the crowd know that we are all truly welcomed and embraced  just the way we are.

There are no disclaimers like “as long as you understand that being gay is a sin” and there were no sermons telling us that our relationships, marriages and families aren’t valid in God’s eyes. With these congregations there are no exceptions; when they say “welcome” they mean it.

Joining Castro Valley Pride were Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Congregation Shir-Ami, Eden United Church of Christ, Starr-King United Church of Christ, God’s Rainbow of All Saints Catholic Church, and St. Paul Lutheran Church of Oakland.

I urge you to visit their places of worship and thank them for including all of Castro Valley’s diverse families. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Eaid Saeed to all!

Billy Bradford, Castro Valley Pride


Supporting the Work of Obse Lubo In Ethiopia


Thank you so much for your article Dec. 4 on Obse Lubo and her vision and commitment to her birthplace in Nejo, Ethiopia. If today’s readers did not see the article telling the story and work of the East African Medical Relief Foundation, please do run it down and read it. A perfect article anytime, but especially at this time of year.

Obse’s supporters and friends are celebrating her safe return home.  In an update to the Castro Valley Rotary Club of her ministry trip to Nejo for the cataract and cleft lip surgery campaign, she reported that one hundred and seventy (170!) cataract surgeries were performed as well as thirteen (13!) cleft lips in the nine days!

Obse is not only gifted in establishing and following through faithfully with her commitment to her birthplace, she also is a marvelous communicator! I recommend that any service club, church or school that needs an inspirational speaker with a tremendous message contact Obse to speak at your meeting.

And she also lives in Castro Valley! One of ours!

Bruce D. Johnson, Superintendent

Redwood Christian Schools


Letters • 12-04-2013 | Print |  E-mail



Getting a Historical Date Correct


Thank you for the interesting article “WWII Veteran’s Trip Back in History” (Page 16) in the Nov. 27 issue.

However a detail was not correct. The first use of the Lunar Rover was not until Apollo 15 with David Scott and James Irvin in 1971, 2 years after Neil Armstrong’s historic Apollo 11 mission.

James Aaron, Castro Valley


Grateful for Ray Harris and his Outreach Volunteers


Over 20 years ago, Mr. Ray Harris began partnering with the Castro Valley Unified School District and local businesses to provide local families in need with holiday meals.

This wonderful tradition started by a true Castro Valley hero continues to grow, and Castro Valley Outreach provides a quality Thanksgiving meal to more and more families each year.

Last week, I had the opportunity to work side by side with volunteers as we prepared canned food, turkey and fresh produce boxes to be delivered to hundreds of Castro Valley families.

I would especially like to thank the many students from various schools throughout the area that helped collect, pack and deliver these generous items. I sincerely hope that these students recognize the lasting impact they have on the lives of so many Castro Valley residents.

I am so proud of the work that Mr. Harris and the Castro Valley Outreach volunteers are doing in Castro Valley. I look forward to continuing to partner with this great organization in the months and years ahead.

As always, if my office can ever be of assistance, please feel free to call my District Office at (510) 577-2310, via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or follow me on twitter at @EllenCorbettCA.  From my family to yours, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Ellen M. Corbett, Senate Majority Leader


Schools Provide Holiday Boost for Overseas Troops


The students at Proctor Elementary and Creekside Middle schools donated 344 pounds of Halloween candy, letters of support, and other needed items for our overseas troops.

We delivered your donations to Blue Star Moms who will send it in their Holiday Hugs care packages.  Thank you!

Elaine Connolly, Castro Valley


Buy More ‘Made in the USA’ and ‘Grown in the USA’


I was happy to read that those new, beautiful AC Transit buses are made in Hayward by the Gillig Co. (“New Transbay Commute Bus,” Page 14, The Forum, Nov. 13). They have been in Hayward for many, many years. We should buy items made in the U.S.A.

It is so sad to see all of the fresh produce coming in from other countries, even canned fruits, even canned peaches are from Australia and they are not as good as the peaches from California.

I would like to know why our grocery ads don’t have that license plate that says “California” in the ads anymore. I thought they passed a law that said they had to say if the produce was raised in California.

The Hayward area was once all agriculture. We may have to grow produce in our back yards. Oranges that are grown in Castro Valley are delicious. How can we be healthy if we don’t have good fruits and vegetables? I’m 80 and I remember how wonderful the produce used to be.

Betty Ortega, Castro Valley

Letters • 11-27-2013 | Print |  E-mail



Says It’s Easy to Be Informed About What Rep. Swalwell is Doing


I am writing in response to the letter “Calls for Election of Representative That Support Our Values,” (Letters, Nov. 13) in which the author states “concern that no one knows what Swalwell stands for.”

It is regrettable that the author of the letter has made no effort to get informed. Congressman Swalwell posts daily about what he’s doing in Washington and in our district via Facebook and Twitter (which he manages) and via his website and emails.

Congressman Swalwell also welcomes letters and calls to his local offices in Pleasanton and Hayward. I have always found his office staff and the Congressman himself to be very responsive.

The author of the letter also states “He campaigned on the idea that he could reach accord with the Republicans in Congress. As ambitious as this idea is, in view of the lack of any progress getting Republicans to vote with the rest of America, it is time for a reality check.”

Does the author of this statement seriously believe that one first-term member of Congress could single-handedly turn all Republicans around? If the author had investigated (or simply followed the Congressman’s Facebook page) for himself, he would have found that Congressman Swalwell is one of the leading members of the bipartisan United Solutions Caucus which is actually trying to get things moving in Washington.

In case anyone is wondering, I don’t work for Congressman Swalwell. I chose to be informed about what our elected members of the government are doing. If a person chooses to not be informed, he/she has no one to blame but him/herself.

Elisabeth Xiezopolski, Castro Valley


Calls President Obama ‘a Tyrant, a Socialist, a Liar’


Obama is a tyrant, a socialist, and a liar. Here’s proof: Obama is personally deciding which parts of ObamaCare he will enforce, and which parts he will not enforce. However, under our Constitution, the president does not have power to pick and choose which parts of federal law he will enforce. Congress is supposed to make the law, and the president is supposed to enforce it, period.

But instead, Obama is personally deciding what the law shall be.  He is “dictating” the law, like a classic Roman “dictator.” John Adams warned us that our leaders may become tyrants, even if they are elected.  Adams was obviously correct.

Is Obama a socialist? In 2008, Obama said “I think when we spread the wealth, it’s good for everybody.”  That’s a restatement of the famous socialist ideal: “To each according to his need, and from each according to his ability to pay.”

ObamaCare is pure socialism. Young healthy people are having their rates increased, so that insurance companies can offer artificially low rates to people with pre-existing conditions. This means ObamaCare is a transfer of wealth, from one group of people, to benefit another group of people. Pure socialism.

Is Obama a liar?  “If you like your health plan you can keep it, period!”  As far back as 2010, Obama was lying. According to an IRS memo from 2010, 40% to 67% of all privately insured individuals (people who have insurance not through their employer) will lose their policies due to ObamaCare.

But it gets worse. Next year, when ObamaCare is applied to large employers, another 57 million Americans will lose their coverage...unless the tyrant changes the law to delay their suffering, until after the 2014 election!

Peter W. Hauer, Castro Valley


Faults ‘Us’ for Current Economic Crisis


Who’s most at fault for our current economic crisis? Here’s a different perspective.Taxpayer “A” is a kid who worked her first job as a soccer referee.  She worked hard and made over $800 last year. Her parents paid for her referee gear and she was transported or bicycled to all her games. She has no deductions. She will owe about $100 in self-employment taxes.  That’s the law.

Taxpayer “B” is an ASE certified auto mechanic. He started receiving SSA disability when he became “unable” to work over 10 years ago. He continues to repair cars at home, but (most likely) does not report this because – if this were known to SSA – he would not receive his four-figure monthly SSA check.

What’s the point? As we know, the Social Security “trust” fund is nonexistent – money is transferred directly from those who pay into the system to those who receive it. So, the ambitious kid – and another dozen like her – will pay 15% of their meager annual incomes to support Taxpayer “B” for just one month.

In 1960, approximately 11% of Americans received some sort of federal assistance. Today, that figure is approximately 22%. Are we really twice as needy as we used to be?

Some blame our economic problems on public unions, corporations, and/or Congress, but I blame us. The more Taxpayer B’s we have, the faster our country will sink into insolvency – unions, corporations, and Congress notwithstanding.

Oh, BTW, Taxpayer “B” (and his working spouse) own three houses (two are rentals), a two-bedroom, two-bath 42-foot boat, recently vacationed in Hawaii and purchased a Lexus. Apparently, the new definition of “needy.”

Stacy Spink, Castro Valley


Letters • 11-20-2013 | Print |  E-mail



Raising a Few Chickens in Castro Valley

Backyards Not That Difficult


Thanks to Linda Sandsmark for the article on the history of chicken ranching in Castro Valley (“Where Have All the Chickens Gone?” Page 1, The Forum, Nov. 6).

As a child I remember visiting family friends who had a small chicken ranch on Seaview Ave. during the poultry hayday. I do want to point out an error in the article.

The Alameda County ordinance (covering all of unincorporated Alameda County) allows for up to 3 hens without having to purchase a permit (exempted under Poultry Husbandry).

More than three hens requires a permit. Three hens is a fine number of chickens for a family. Each breed has its unique attributes and some hens are less vocal (hen songs when laying eggs) than others so you can find the right breed for your situation.

There are many of us in the greater Bay Area who are active in backyard chicken keeping and it is easy to meet the location and cleanliness requirements with a well-built coop and run. Cleaning and proper food storage is important for the health of your hens. You also become popular with your neighbors when you come to their door bearing fresh eggs.

Chicken keeping is evolving as more urbanites take to growing our own food and regional ordinances are being overhauled to support urban farming. To learn more about chicken keeping, I recommend visiting www.backyardchickens.com

You can also learn about our own Girls (Henny, Buffy, and Blanca) by visiting www.fingersinthedirt.com

Linda Nunes, Castro Valley


‘No Room for Homophobia’ Signs in Castro Valley?


I’d like to thank Billy Bradford for his enlightening letters and to also weigh in on the issue of renting space in Castro Valley public schools to anti-gay church groups.

Yes, these groups have the right to free speech, to assemble and to rent these spaces. Should we though, as a community, be renting these spaces to homophobic Evangelical Christians? Like “Nuclear Free Zone” signs in Hayward, or “No Room For Racism” signs in neighborhood windows, how about “No Room For Homophobia” signs in Castro Valley?

To say Billy Bradford “discriminates,” and is “anti-Christian.” “intolerant” and “a bully” is just plain silly. I only know Mr. Bradford through his letters, but recognize him as a fellow Child of God who loves his community and is unwilling to uphold the belief in the inerrancy and literalization of the Bible.

Let’s remember that the Bible has also been used to justify racism, segregation, and the unequal treatment of women. It is immoral for any church leader to broadcast hateful homophobic prejudice under the guise of freedom of religion.

I am grateful for all of the Christian leaders, and there are more and more each day, who refuse to include their hatred and prejudices as a worthy accompaniment to their church services. However, some Church leaders, ever on the wrong side of great moral questions of history, never seem to learn history’s lesson that religious principles that violate human rights cannot continue in a free society.

I think prayers for Billy Bradford to find deliverance and peace are condescending and misdirected. Better to aim those prayers at the still suffering victims of religious bigotry and intolerance.

Peggy Kerby, Castro Valley




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