Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:49
PHOTO BY JIM KNOWLES
Members of the Black Student Union at San Leandro High honored Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday with a march from the campus to City Hall.
By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times
Martin Luther King, Jr. marched for equality so the Black Student Union at San Leandro High held a march in his honor on Monday.
About 40 students marched along the sidewalk from the high school to City Hall, chanting “Who had a dream?...Martin Luther King...What was his dream?...Equality.”
At City Hall, SLHS co-principal Reginald Richardson spoke to the students.
“You could have been at the mall or a movie today but you came here to honor Dr. Martin Luther King who risked his life for you,” Richardson told the students. “You don’t know how much this means to me. You’ll remember this years from now.”
Mayor Pauline Cutter and Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli both spoke, telling the students they support their efforts.
San Leandro High teacher Ms. Lewis-Jones said it’s important to keep the spirit alive by speaking up.
Martin Luther King’s birthday is Jan. 15 but the day is now celebrated on the third Monday of January.
The SLHS Black Student has another event coming up on Monday, Feb. 23, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the San Leandro High Performing Arts Center. BSU members and other SLHS students will have a talent show. A light dinner will be in the lobby from 6 to 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10 at the SLHS bank, or $12 at the door and include the dinner.
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:46
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
Kaiser Permanente and the California Nurses Association (CNA) have reached a tentative agreement for a three-year contract for the nurses after months of working without a contract and multiple strikes.
CNA nurses went on a 2-day strike at the new San Leandro Kaiser Medical Center and other Kaiser facilities all over Northern California last November. The CNA nurses were set to strike again this week before the contract agreement was settled.
The nurses union had been in negotiations with Kaiser since their previous contract expired last September.
The nurses said that the San Leandro facility (which opened last June) was understaffed and that Kaiser officials put money before patients. Kaiser countered that their hospitals are among the best-staffed in the country and that patient care is their number one priority.
The contract covers 18,000 nurses at 21 Kaiser facilities. Under the terms of the tentative contract, the nurses will receive a 14 percent pay hike over the the next three years, 500 more nurses will be hired, and a new committee of nurses will be created to work with management to discuss care standards.
CNA executive director RoseAnn DeMoro said her union was happy with the new contract terms and praised the “unity of the Kaiser RNs and their devotion to assuring the highest level of quality care” in a written statement.
“We look forward to a new chapter in our interactions with Kaiser,” DeMoro wrote. “We especially appreciate the commitment of Kaiser’s leadership to addressing our concerns, including working through the complicated problems associated with the changes in health care delivery, some of them related to the Affordable Care Act, and the attention it has paid in this contract to the health and safety of its registered nurses as well as patients.”
Kaiser officials also said they were pleased with the new agreement.
“Kaiser Permanente is committed to providing the highest quality, and most affordable care to the American people while also being the best place to work,” wrote Kaiser regional president Gregory Adams. “The agreement demonstrates that Kaiser Permanente and our nurses have a shared commitment to affordability for our members. Although we have had disagreements at times with CNA, as this agreement reflects, we have been able to work through those disagreements.”
The proposed contract will now be voted on by union members. If accepted, it will go into effect immediately and be made retroactive to last September.
CAPTION: Nurses picketed last year at a 2-day strike at the Kaiser Hospital in San Leandro.
TIMES FILE PHOTO BY AMY SYLVESTRI
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:44
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
The school board hired a financial advisor last month to try to mitigate the $108 million in debt the district has looming in its future.
The San Leandro school district has used Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs) to fund construction projects over the past decade.
The CABs are different from other bonds, which are gradually paid off throughout the life of the bond. With CABs, no money is due for years and then a huge balloon payment is due at the end of the term of the loan.
CABs have been so detrimental to school districts around California that the state school Superintendent Tom Torlakson and Treasurer Bill Lockyer issued a statement last year telling districts to no longer use them to finance projects. Over 200 districts in California are dealing with CABs.
The San Leandro school district currently has two CABs pending that could wind up costing taxpayers around five times or more that the initial amount of the loans – a total of up to $107 million on $20 million borrowed.
The CABs were issued in 2010 – one for $5.6 million that will reach maturity in 2035 with interest adding up to $27.5 million. The other for $14.3 million, which will reach maturity in 2039 with interest totaling $80.7 million.
The CABs aren’t due for 20 years, but the board has said that they want to start making payments as soon as they can.
At a school board meeting last month, the district approved a contract with Dale Scott & Company to help them come up with a plan for paying off the CABs.
The board voted 4-2 in favor of the contract, which will cost $100,000 to $200,000 depending on the length of time the company takes to restructure the debt. Trustees Mike Katz-Lacabe and Diana Prola dissented, with Katz-Lacabe saying the district should shop around more for other consultants before settling on one.
“I agree with the desire to move quickly, but I want to make sure we get the best value for the taxpayers of the district,” said Katz-Lacabe.
School district finance specialist Paul Disario admitted that they hadn’t considered any other firms, but later said they chose Dale Scott “basically because he is the best.”
At the meeting, Katz-Lacabe also brought up the fact that it was Dale Scott & Company who was advising the district when they entered into the CABs in the first place.
“It’s interesting to me that the same company that got paid for issuing the bonds is now being paid to fix it,” said Katz-Lacabe. “There’s the old adage, ‘consultants never lose money.’”
But Dale Scott said that it was his advice when the CABs began that will enable San Leandro schools to get out of debt sooner because he recommended that the district get the type of CABs that can be restructured.
In San Leandro, unlike some other school districts with CABs, the bonds are “callable” and can be repaid before they mature.
Scott says his company has helped other districts get out of the balloon payments by restructuring the debt into Current Interest Bonds (CIB), which pay off some principle and a larger chunk of interest each year until the debt is paid.
“I think we can restructure in a way that will mean savings,” said Scott.
Another way of paying off the bonds would be to locate the investors that bought the bonds and see if they are willing to sell them back at current market value before they mature.
Scott said he did that for the Stockton school district and had enough sellers within two days to save that district a significant amount of money. Scott said that if 50 percent (a figure he admitted was generous) of investors would be willing to sell, San Leandro could save $30 million.
Although, the “saving” Scott refers to means paying an amount that isn’t quite so exorbitant but still very high. Restructuring may save the district some money, but the CABs are still costly. If Scott did get the bonds sold back for $30 million, that would still mean that the district paid almost $80 million for about $20 million in loans.
The board approved his contract and now Scott will get to work on a specific plan for San Leandro.
The school board expects some preliminary figures from Scott in January.
“This type of restructuring has worked in other districts,” said Scott. “And it has resulted in extraordinary savings to future taxpayers.”
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:37
Local students experiment, answer questions at science fair
By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times
How does a chick breathe inside the shell?
Which freezes faster, hot water or cold water?
Which golf ball goes farther, the expensive Calloway or the cheaper Top Flite?
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
If you ever wonder about things, all your questions were answered on the night of Jan. 8 at the Main Library at the 2nd Annual San Leandro Youth Science Fair.
A group of scientific minded San Leandro students put their questions to the test using the scientific method – laying out the problem and doing the experiments.
The first sight entering the library’s meeting room was the active volcano. Fourth graders made the lava flow with the secret formula of mixing Mentos and Diet Coke. They say diet works better than regular for making lava. It’s amazing what you learn at a science fair.
Just past Mt. Vesuvius, Amiri Taylor and Easton Jackson were all tied up in conversation. Their project was the old-fashioned string phone. They quickly discovered that a little tension on the line is the key to transmitting sound. And then they were in business, communicating the way kids did before cell phones.
The students wrote their projects in class and did the experiments at home, said biology teacher Rachel England, a faculty advisor.
In case you’re wondering, the expensive Calloway golf ball did travel farther than the cheaper model. A chick breathes through pores in the shell. and the number of licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop was in the hundreds, depending on the type of lick.
And hot water freezes faster than cold water. Yes, but only if it’s a shallow or small amount of hot water – it’s something about the vapor. But if it was a big container of water, the cold would freeze faster. So this seemed a little like a trick question.
The next event will be on Monday, Feb. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Karp Room of the Main Library, 300 Estudillo Ave.
The 2nd Annual Youth San Leandro Science Fair results:
High School Results Individual
1st Place- Vanessa Wu (9th grade)
Project: How Do Chicks Breathe In A Shell?
2nd Place- Joylia Jackson (9th grade)
Project: Egg Bounce
3rd Place- Kobe Nguyen (9th grade)
Project: Will Vinegar, Water and Bleach Accelerate Rusting?
High School Results:
1st Place- Alex Allamanno, Bryant Flores, Jacques Fajilago Villaflor (12th grade)
Project: Operation Iron Horse
2nd Place- Julianna Horcasitas and Yessica Chavira (9th grade)
Project: Rock Candy: Cold Water vs. Hot Water
3rd Place- Symarah Griffin, Nofo Osa (9th grade)
Project: What factors affect plant growth?
Elementary School Results:
1st Place- Allyson Guan, Andy Quack, Shanae Lee (5th grade)
Project: String Telephone
2nd Place- Jacob, Michael, Quyn-Anne (4th grade) Project: Volcano
CAPTION 1: Bancroft 7th grader Easton Jackson and Roosevelt 5th grader Amiri Taylor fine tune their string phone at the 2nd Annual San Leandro Youth Science Fair.
CAPTION 2: The volcano was a crowd-pleaser, made by fourth graders Jacob Mangahas-Lu, Michael Mehari and Quyn-Anne.
PHOTOS BY JIM KNOWLES
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:32
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
Getting a job is hard enough, but getting a job with a record for a conviction or an arrest is even more difficult.
That’s why a group of lawyers, advocates, and business owners in Alameda County have banded together to create “A Good Hire.”
A Good Hire is a campaign to help hiring managers get over some of their inhibitions about hiring convicts and make it easier for people with records to find jobs.
According to the group, more that one-in-four adults has an arrest or conviction record, usually for old or minor offenses. That is an estimated 375,000 people in Alameda County.
A Good Hire points to people like Bill Gates and Richard Branson who have records. Sure, not everyone with a record goes on to be a titan of industry like those two, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be hard workers who deserve job opportunities.
Meredith Desautels is an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.
For years Desautels has worked with people with records to try to help them find jobs.
Job seekers can go to that group’s Second Chance Legal Clinic for tips on background checks, how to fill out applications, and how to clear up old records.
And now Desautels and A Good Hire are reaching out to business owners to help them see the validity of candidates with previous records.
“There is a huge untapped pool of talent in Alameda County,” said Desautels. “We thought we could do more to reach out to employers and create ‘fair chance’ employment opportunities.”
One employer that hires former convicts is Michael Hannigan, president of Give Something Back Office Supplies.
Give Something Back is California’s largest independent office supply company.
They have several locations locations, including their headquarters in Oakland and a warehouse in San Leandro.
Hannigan, who has a masters degree in criminology from UC Berkeley, says he doesn’t hesitate to hire people with checkered pasts and that often they are his most dedicated workers.
“We put a priority on filling jobs with people who might have obstacles to opportunities,” said Hannigan. “If two applicants come in and one has a record and the other doesn’t, they will be equally considered.”
That philosophy of fairness is a core tenet of Hannigan’s business. Give Something Back is modeled on the Newman’s Own line of charitable products, with profits being channeled to local charities
Hannigan says that if an applicant is competitive, there is no reason a past conviction should hold him back.
The job application at Give Something Back doesn’t include a section asking about criminal history.
After someone applies, all the candidates that look good are put in one group. That’s when the background check happens.
If something pings on the background check, Hannigan and his management crew won’t throw someone out of competition, they’ll just carefully consider the situation.
Hannigan says that, for example, if someone has a history of arrest for reckless driving, they might not be a good fit as a driver for the company, but that doesn’t preclude them from being hired for another position.
“We always consider the risks, but most situations work out for us,” said Hannigan. “Many people wind up in jail for things that aren’t necessarily speaking to the core of their character. It can be a mistake that they continue to pay for.”
Hannigan says that he has about 90 employees at his Alameda County facilities and right now 5 or 6 are ex-convicts, but it’s not something that is publicized around the office.
Hannigan says that not everyone he hires with a record works out, but that’s true of any new employee.
“We’ve had misfires, but no more turnover with those employees relative to any others,” said Hannigan.
A Good Hire is looking to reach out to business owners and human resource directors all over Alameda County to help them get educated about hiring people with records.
Check out www.agoodhire.com for more information.
CAPTION: The delivery trucks are ready to be loaded at the Give Something Back warehouse on Alvarado Street. The office supply company is the largest in California and has a policy of being open to hiring people with past criminal records.
PHOTO BY AMY SYLVESTRI
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:42
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SLPD
The San Leandro Police Department recently graduated the latest class of their Citizen’s Police Academy. During the academy, cops from throughout the department cover topics that included daily law enforcement, SWAT, traffic, and more. Each session provided hands-on activities, along with classroom instruction. The academy includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the department as well as a police patrol ride-along.
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:36
The “Avoid the 21” DUI crackdown by all of Alameda County’s law enforcement agencies will be conducting increased patrols and enforcement on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1.
Avoid the 21 concluded their winter holiday enforcement period on Jan. 1, announcing that DUI arrests were down over that 20-day enforcement period – 289 people were arrested in Alameda County for DUI compared to 415 during the last holiday season.
Though arrests were down by around 30 percent, deaths from DUIs were up, with three people dying compared to just one last year.
A recent report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) indicated that California could improve its DUI policies and punishments. California got four out of five stars from MADD and 13 other states got five star ratings.
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:35
Earlier this month, the Alameda County District Attorney’s office unveiled billboards all over the county to create awareness of human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.
District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said the campaign is timed to coincide with National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Many victims of sex trafficking are under 18.
There are more people in slavery now than at any other time in human history.
An estimated 100,000 children in the U.S. today are domestic victims of sex trafficking—primarily adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 16.
California is a top destination for human trafficking in the nation and within California, the Bay Area and Los Angeles have the highest rates of trafficking.
“We aim to raise the public’s awareness that children are bought and sold for sex every day in our own back yard,” said O’Malley in a written statement. “Each of us must be informed about the crisis and understand how to be a part of the solution. Every exploited child must be offered a way out that is safe and immediate.”
According to CIA statistics, more than one million people are currently being trafficked within the United States.
“This is a difficult topic, but it must be part of the community conversation if we are going to succeed at ending this form of modern day slavery,” said O’Malley.
For more information, visit www.protectCAkids.org.
Thursday, 22 January 2015 16:30
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
The City of San Leandro wants to hear from the public about how to best spend federal grant money on citizens with low to moderate income.
The city is in the process of forming a “consolidated plan” to spend the $700,000 in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and $150,000 in Home Investment Partnership Program grants it receives annually.
A survey is being put out asking people to prioritize needs in the areas of housing, homelessness, special needs programs, senior facilities, parks and recreation, and infrastructure improvements.
“We’re trying to get input on where you think those federal dollar should be going,” said Steve Hernandez, the city’s housing specialist at a meeting about the consolidated plan Tuesday night.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the CDBGs. HUD classifies the income range to be considered low income as 80 percent of the area’s median income.
People making 50 percent of the median income are classified as very low income and those making 30 percent of the median or less are classified as extremely low income.
In San Leandro, that means a “low income” single person would make $47,350 per year, a family of two would have a household income of $54,100, three people would be $60,850, four would be $67,600, and five person household would have $73,050 a year.
A survey about where to spend the federal money will be available at the next meeting on the plan which is set for next Wednesday, Jan. 28, as 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center, 13909 East 14th Street.
The surveys must be submitted by Feb. 27.
The final plan is expected to go to the City Council in April and be submitted to the federal government in May.