City Council Gives Manager Contract, Raise PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 15:47

By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times

The City Council extended City Manager Chris Zapata’s contract for the next five years by a unanimous vote last week.

Zapata first came to San Leandro in 2012 from a city manager position in National City a suburb of San Diego. His new contract runs through Jan. 30, 2020.

Zapata will make $223,000 and he will get raises each year based on the Consumer Price Index, as well as a one-time $22,300 bonus “in recognition of his performance.”

Zapata said that getting a 5-year contract was a real show of confidence in his abilities –  the City Council could have made the contract as short as six months in length. He says that he has “five years left in me” but likely will step down after that.

“The council wanted that stability,” said Zapata. “The council has changed since I was first hired, I believe only three of the seven council members are still there from when I was hired, so it was a great show of support to get the contract from the new council. We want to build on that momentum that we have right now.”

Zapata says that  “momentum” includes several large-scale projects the city has begun under his management.

“I think the biggest challenge is making sure the larger projects we’ve had going for the last several years keep progressing,” said Zapata.

Zapata says that support for the south end of the city, particularly keeping Bayfair mall “strong and relevant” is important, as is the development of the marina, and keeping the infrastructure maintained.

Zapata says his most proud accomplishments include negotiating contracts with five city employee unions that included the employees paying into their own pensions, which saved the city money.

During Zapata’s tenure, the city has had a major turnaround in the highest positions in several of the the government’s various departments. Zapata has overseen the hiring of new directors in the public works, human resources, information technology, finance, and library departments.

Zapata said other big achievements during his first three years as city manager included loaning the school district $1.2 million to build a heath clinic, extending the fiber-optic, high-speed data loop from 11 miles to 18 miles, and bringing back the Cherry Festival.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve all accomplished,” said Zapata. “There have been some major changes and the ship is sailing in the right direction.”


BART Guitarist Hauls In Big Tip PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 15:44

022615n1By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times

Luke James and his brother Nick play their guitars at the San Leandro BART station and they’re happy if somebody drops a dollar in their case.

But Luke got a little more than he expected on Monday evening.

“A guy came by and dropped a thousand dollars in my case,” Luke James said. “Just a regular looking guy. No fancy clothes or anything. It’s crazy.”

The guy, who looked to be about 40, dropped the bills and left before James could count the money and thank him. James thought he was just going to peal off a dollar, but he dropped the whole roll of bills into the case.

“I just want to say thanks to him, and thanks to all the people who give us a tip,” James said.

Right after that, James said he called his mom to pick him up, so he could put the money away.

The money will be put to good use, James said. The two brothers, Luke and Nick, are working on an album at a studio in Hayward and this will help finance it. Nick also works at Horatio’s Restaurant at the San Leandro Marina.

Luke and Nick played at a talent show recently at Arroyo High with their younger brother, Christian, who has Down’s Syndrome. The three brothers all played “The Weight” by The Band, which Luke said will be up on YouTube pretty soon.

Christian, who is 16, is “unbelievable,” Luke said. “He’s into all that old music we taught him. He sings Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.”

The James Bros. Band can be seen on YouTube, playing at First Fridays in downtown Oakland and other venues.

CAPTION: Luke James sings and plays his guitar for commuters at the San Leandro BART station, the day after somebody dropped a thousand dollars into his guitar case.


Bird Rescue Expert Talks to Rotarians PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 15:42

By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times

A little more light has been shed on the mysterious “goo” that has killed over 170 birds along the East Bay shoreline.

Dr. Rebecca Duerr, who spoke at the San Leandro Rotary Club meeting last week, is a veterinarian from the International Bird Rescue organization in Fairfield that oversaw the efforts to help the birds.

In January, birds began showing up sick and dead along the shore from Alameda to Hayward, with many found at the San Leandro marina. Almost 400 sick birds were collected and treated in addition to the dead birds.

So far, there is no definitive answer as to what the goo is, but officials from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife have narrowed it down to a non-petroleum based fat or oil. That could be anything from synthetic oil to wood rosin to animal fat or seed oil.

Mayor Pauline Cutter presented a special commendation to the International Bird Rescue Center and Duerr for their efforts in keeping San Leandro’s marina safe and healthy for birds.

“It is very exciting work,” said Duerr. “And it is very gratifying to help the animals.”


Daylight Savings Means It’s Time to Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 15:41

The Alameda County Fire department is warning everyone about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and the importance of installing CO detectors in homes.

March 8 is the start of Daylight Savings Time, so it’s good time to remind yourself to check on your home’s CO and smoke alarms.

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” CO is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without an alarm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CO poisoning sends about 15,000 people to emergency rooms each year.

Alarms should be installed on every floor of the home and near every sleeping area to help detect the presence of CO throughout your home, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Make sure alarms are installed at least 15 feet away from potential sources of CO to reduce the chance of false alarms. Test alarm function monthly and change batteries every six months.

Nearly everyone has carbon monoxide sources in their home. CO may enter your home through leaks in furnaces or chimneys; back-drafts from furnaces, gas-fueled water heaters and fireplaces; gas stoves and generators; and car exhaust from an attached garage, among other sources, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

CO poisoning is also notoriously difficult to diagnose. The symptoms may mimic those of many other illnesses and may include nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and shortness of breath. In more severe poisoning cases, people may experience vomiting, confusion or unconsciousness.

If a CO alarm sounds, the NFPA says you should move outdoors or go near an open window or door for fresh air and then call emergency responders.

Make sure to clear CO alarms of all dust and debris. Ensure that alarms are plugged all the way into the outlet or, if solely battery operated, have working batteries installed.

Check or replace batteries when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall  and make certain each person in your home can hear the alarm sound from his or her sleeping room and that the sound is loud enough to awaken everyone.


CHP Wants New Cadets PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 15:40

The California Highway Patrol is seeking qualified candidates for the position of cadet. The CHP open application period begins on Monday, March 2 at 8 a.m. and ends on Thursday, March 5 at 5 p.m. Applicants must be between 20 to 35 years of age, have no felony convictions, be a U.S. citizen, and have attained a high school diploma or equivalent.

If you desire to serve your community and the people of California, this is the career for you. Apply online at

A special seminar on women joining the CHP is being offered this Saturday, Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Concord Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord. The event showcases accomplishments by women in law enforcement, but all interested people may attend.

An applicant preparation physical training workout is scheduled for March 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Canyon Middle School in Castro Valley. New attendees must bring a waiver form, available on the CHP website.


Family of Missing CV Man Seeks Answers PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 15:39

The family of a man who went missing from Castro Valley four years ago is asking for any information anyone may have about his disappearance.

Dan Van Voorhis was reported missing from his home on Cull Canyon Road on Feb. 27, 2011. His family held a memorial for him about a year after his disappearance and no longer believe he is alive, but are looking for answers as to what happened to him and are offering a $15,000 reward for information.

Van Voorhis, who was 40 at the time of his disappearance, left behind his car, ID, keys, cell phone, and dogs, all of which his family said he would not leave home without.

Anyone with information about Van Voorhis is asked to call the Alameda County Sheriff’s department at 667-7721.


SLED Foundation Receives Large Donation PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 26 February 2015 15:37

022615n2In February Rinetti and Co., founding members of the Realty Referral program,  presented a check of $1,156.25 to Deborah Cox., president of the San Leandro Educational Foundation. Said Deborah, “This is an excellent example of how everyone in the community can come together to help kids receive a great education. We are so appreciative of Rinetti and Co. and Earle Shenk for participating in this program and for their generous donation.”

The Realty Referral program allows a portion of the brokerage commission to be donated to the SL Education Foundation. For more information about this program visit SLED’s website,, or by calling the SLED offices at 618-4483.

CAPTION: Realtor Earle Shenk with Rinetti & Co. in San Leandro presents a check to Deborah Cox, President of the San Leandro Education Foundation.



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