Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:35
But police, city officials say the microphones won’t be turned on
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
The police surveillance cameras that the city is installing around City Hall and the police department are equipped with microphones that can record sound, a detail not discussed when the City Council approved their installation last month.
These are the same cameras that the city is considering installing in public places around town.
But the police department promises that the microphones won’t be switched on and conversations won’t be recorded.
“We have no plans to use the audio, it’s strictly video,” said Capt. Jeff Tudor of the San Leandro police. “It’s not something we would do.”
The City Council unanimously approved installing 35 cameras around the civic plaza in July. After that, school board member and current City Council candidate Mike Katz-Lacabe researched the model of the cameras and discovered that they had microphones.
At the time the City Council approved the cameras, they were not aware the cameras had microphones. Mayor Stephen Cassidy said that the audio should have been included in the conversation before the City Council voted. He also called Katz-Lacabe’s discovery “a good catch.”
“It’s something that should have been discussed up front,” Cassidy said. “We are aware of it now and we are not going to install them without putting a policy in place that will make it clear that the council only approved video and not audio.”
At a City Council meeting earlier this month, City Manager Chris Zapata said that the microphones will be disabled from the time they are installed. City staff is currently drafting a policy about the cameras and they won’t be installed until regulations are written, Zapata said.
“We will not be using the audio portion of the cameras,” said Zapata. “Theoretically, someone could (turn it back on) but their job would be at risk.”
The police department will be operating the cameras but police chief Sandra Spagnoli referred inquires about the cameras to city information technology manager Anton Batalla.
Batalla said that the MOBOTIX cameras were selected by the city because they are “cost-effective and high-quality” and that most cameras come with an audio option standard so it wouldn’t be practical to seek out cameras that didn’t have that function.
Audio Won’t Be Recorded
“The audio will be physically disabled on each camera, thus never recorded to begin with,” said Batalla. “It was never the intent of the city or the police department to record audio outside of the City Jail.”
The cameras that are currently installed in the City Jail already record audio, as will their replacements.
The $156,000 installation of cameras around civic plaza are what city staff is calling “phase one” of a two-part plan.
If approved, “phase two” would be installing the same brand of cameras at places yet to be determined around town using the software and and other technology from the “phase one” cameras.
A discussion about approving the “phase two” cameras and where they might be located will go before the City Council later this fall.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:32
By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times
One cool school bus driver took the ice bucket challenge last Friday afternoon at John Muir Middle School.
Chris Pagan, who drives the bus for special needs students, sat down on a chair on the lawn and said he was ready. It took two people to lift the big bucket of ice water, special education teachers Jessica Toda and Suzanne McCallin.
The teachers could have gotten it over with a little quicker, in Pagan’s opinion. But the crowd gathered around urging them to pour slow, reeeeal slow. Who would have known that the Muir teachers were versed in Dick Cheney’s school of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Pagan took the dousing in stride. When it was over, he jumped up out of the chair and shook it off like a dog shakes after a swim, and the crowd gave him a cheer.
“Whoo!” Pagan exclaimed. “That was cold!”
The Ice Bucket Challenge fad sweeping the country raises money for the ALS Foundation to assist people with ALS and for research on finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
If you’re nominated, you have 24 hours to make a donation to the ALS Foundation or take the ice water. And then you nominate someone else.
Many people have opted for the ice water and make a donation, too. Pagan was nominated by a student. As he dried off with a towel, a teacher asked him who he was nominating. Pagan said, “Mr. Asper.”
A student took off, apparently to notify science teacher Mr. Asper that he is next in line for a refreshing bucket of ice water.
CAPTION 1: School bus driver Chris Pagan took the Ice Bucket Challenge last Friday, as teachers Jessica Toda and Suzanne McCallin did the honors.
CAPTION 2: Chris Pagan takes a towel after his ice water ordeal to benefit ALS research.
PHOTO BY JIM KNOWLES
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:29
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
David Anderson says he’s the right candidate for the District 1 City Council seat because he will “work from the heart” if elected.
Anderson, a former sheet-metal worker and member of the Oakland School board, is facing off against Deborah Cox, Mike Katz-Lacabe, and Ken Pon for the seat.
“I’m the perfect candidate because I’m a great listener. I’m out there listening to people and what you hear is what you take action on,” said Anderson.”
Anderson previously ran for the District 1 council seat in 2010, but was defeated by incumbent Michael Gregory. Anderson has lived in San Leandro for eight years and is president of the Bay-O-Vista homeowners association.
Before living in San Leandro, Anderson was on the Oakland school board, where he was chair of the budget and finance committee.
Anderson says he is a supporter of Measure Z, the proposed half-a-percent, 30-year sales tax increase and extension that will be on the November ballot.
“Initially, I had questions about the length of the tax, but then I thought “Why not have this steady source of $8 million coming into the city for 30 years?’” said Anderson. “We can use that money to repair streets and fund police and public safety, which is what the public wants.”
Anderson said he would like to see more diversity on the council, so that it reflects the diversity of the city. To that end, he would like to see city information put out in multiple languages.
Anderson said his work on the Oakland School Board prepared him to negotiate with unions and communicate with anyone from high-powered politicians and business people to parents and students.
Anderson likes to tell this story about how much he values public comments. One time while on the school board he ran into a parent at the grocery store while buying ice cream. He heard the parent’s concerns and got so wrapped up in conversation that his ice cream melted.
“Everybody has ideas that are worth listening to,” Anderson said.
Anderson is retired, so he promises to be a “full time” councilman, with the time to consider each issue and speak with San Leandrans.
“I think the biggest challenge San Leandro will face in the next few years is to successfully continue on the path we are on – we need to attract new business as well as maintain the business we already have.”
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:26
By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times
Dorothy Cook’s relatives came from all over the country to celebrate her 100th birthday on Sunday.
Dorothy and her twin sister Evelyn graduated from McClymonds High School in Oakland in 1931.
In about 1950, Dorothy and her husband Bill, who was an appliance salesman for Westinghouse, moved to a house on Dutton Avenue in San Leandro and raised their family.
“My brothers and I went to Roosevelt, Bancroft and San Leandro High,” said Dorothy’s son Bill Cook who came all the way from Baltimore, Maryland for the party.
As everybody gathered around, Bill read a birthday card to his mother from the White House, signed by Barack and Michelle Obama. Bill also mentioned that Dorothy was the first female head of the vestry at All Saints Episcopal Church in San Leandro.
Dorothy did volunteer work for the Heart Association after her husband had a heart attack. Dorothy and Bill also liked to take walks around Lake Chabot.
My mom’s Italian and my dad was Irish, Bill said.
Bill Cook couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a pun with all the family gathered in the room at a retirement home in Hayward for the occasion.
“We have a lot of Cooks here and they say that too many cooks spoil the broth,” he said. “But my mom is the best cook I have ever known.”
CAPTION: Dorothy Cook, center, turned 100 on Sunday and relatives and friends from around the country came for her birthday party. Dorothy’s son Bill Cook is on her left in the tan sport jacket.
PHOTO BY JIM KNOWLES
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:25
A small grass fire broke out Monday afternoon, leading to the closure of several roads in Bay-O-Vista.
Alameda County Firefighters put out the fire, which was sparked in the unincorporated area west of Lake Chabot at around 3:30 p.m., according to officials.
Bay-O-Vista was accessible only through Benedict Drive for a while, but roads later opened up.
The fire was contained to half an acre around the 1400 block of Lake Chabot Road. The fire burned some grass on a hillside, so responders to shut down Lake Chabot Road between Fairmont Drive and Estudillo Avenue for about an hour.
The fire was put out in under 30 minutes and no people or structures were harmed.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:22
Audrey and Tom Sorce celebrated their 70th anniversary last week. They were married on Sept. 3, 1944, during World War II.
Audrey and Tom met on a blind date set up by Tom’s Navy friend. Tom grew up in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He joined the Navy and was stationed at the Naval Air Station in Alameda. Audrey lived in Oakland at the time.
Tom was a chief petty officer and the radioman on bombers flying off of aircraft carriers. Audrey was a registered nurse.
After the war, Audrey and Tom settled in San Leandro and raised a family of three children – Barry, Barbara and Todd. After retiring, they enjoyed traveling and seeing their five grandchildren – Patrick, Nick, Andy, Samantha and Megan.
Audrey and Tom’s family celebrated their anniversary with a surprise party with many relatives and friends.
CAPTION 1: Audrey and Tom with their three children, Barry, Barbara and Todd.
CAPTION 2: Audrey and Tom Sorce on their wedding day in September 1944.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:20
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
Lee Thomas says he is “ definitely the strongest candidate” for City Council in District 3 because of his professional background in city services and his experience serving on several boards and committees.
Thomas will face off against Victor Aguilar and Allen Schoenfeld for the District 3 City Council seat in the Nov. 4 general election.
Thomas and his wife moved to San Leandro shortly after getting married and are now raising their two daughters in town. Thomas is a past president of the Floresta Homes Association and a currently member of the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment and the police chief’s Citizens Advisory Board.
Thomas says that experience makes him a good candidate.
“I’ve worked with a lot of different people and also been in the position of making important decisions,” said Thomas.
Thomas works for the city of East Palo Alto as their Youth and Family Services manager. He says he’s dedicated his professional life to working with at-risk children and families and wants to continue that work as a city councilman.
“We need more programs for young people and families in San Leandro,” said Thomas. “San Leandro is moving in a good direction right now and working with young people will help build a strong platform for the future.”
Thomas said that, if elected, one of his major focuses will be public safety. He says he has heard about several home burglaries around town and that is unacceptable.
‘We need more funding for police,” said Thomas.
Thomas says some of that funding could come from Measure Z, the half-cent, 30-year proposed sales tax increase that will be on the November ballot.
“I stand behind Measure Z,” said Thomas. “If it is approved, I would support a strong citizen’s oversight committee to guide it.”
Thomas’s endorsements include outgoing Mayor Stephen Cassidy, the San Leandro police union, and the Chamber of Commerce.
“I’ve wanted to be a part of the City Council for two years now,” said Thomas. “I really want to pitch in and make this city great. It just makes sense for me to run.”
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:18
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
Allen Schoenfeld hasn’t held an elected office since he was on the student council at San Leandro High School in 1971, but he says that he cares so much about his neighborhood and city that he is an ideal candidate to represent District 3 on the City Council.
Schoenfeld will be facing Victor Aguilar and Lee Thomas to replace termed-out District 3 City Councilwoman Diana Souza in the general election this Nov. 4. Souza is running for mayor.
Schoenfeld has lived in San Leandro for 45 years, raising his four kids and six grandchildren. He works as a salesman for a door installation company and is happy with his status as a political outsider.
“I really love my community and care about it a lot. There are a lot of changes I would like to see,” said Schoenfeld. “There are all these plans to develop the area with hotels and such but it is stupid to have a marina with no boats.”
He says he’s unhappy that the dredging of the marina was never put up for a public vote and said he would “give his right arm” to see the channel dredged again.
Schoenfeld says he spoke with police chief Sandra Spagnoli about bringing the DARE anti-drug program back to schools, which he said benefited his kids growing up.
Schoenfeld says he’s all about practicality - the city needs its pot holes fixed and other essentials completed immediately. He says he likes the Cherry festival and it’s nice that it’s back, but says he would have taken care of infrastructure needs before spending money on a party.
Schoenfeld doesn’t agree with Measure Z, the proposed 30-year half-cent sales tax that is on the November ballot.
“We pay enough taxes,” said Schoenfeld. “There are other ways to generate income than to tax people.”
As for how to pay for city improvements, Schoenfeld says he would heavily tax the medical marijuana dispensary the city has approved opening. He’d also cut spending.
Schoenfeld, who turns 61 today, says that his passion for San Leandro can override his lack of experience.
“There is so much I want to do for San Leandro if I’m given the opportunity to do it,” said Schoenfeld.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:16
PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN LEANDRO POLICE
San Leandro policeman Bob Buss poses for a photo with the downtown ambassadors.
By Amy Sylvestri • San Leandro Times
You may have seen some people in bright green shirts working downtown recently – they are the new “ambassadors” for the downtown Community Benefit District (CBD).
Last year, the CBD was approved by a majority vote of downtown property owners who pay a special tax for maintenance, increased security, and other programs.
Ambassadors to Provide Safety, Maintenance and Hospitality
The ambassadors have three jobs, according to CBD director Rezsin Gonzalez – safety, maintenance, and hospitality.
The annual CBD budget is $187,060 with the most to fund six employees and equipment. Two or three ambassadors at a time will patrol the downtown from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.
Among other things, the workers clean up litter, remove graffiti, “keep an eye out” for suspicious activity to report to police, and discourage panhandling, according to Gonzalez.
They have also been trained in “customer service” and talking with the public, giving directions and getting to know business owners, Gonzalez said.
Will the Popular Stepping Stones Street Sweepers Stay on the Job?
Before the CBD ambassadors started, street sweeping downtown was handled by workers from Stepping Stones, a non-profit organization that helps developmentally disabled adults find work.
For the past five years the Stepping Stones sweepers in their orange safety vests have been a familiar sight downtown as they took care of litter. As the CBD took over downtown maintenance, the future of the Stepping Stones program has been in question.
The city’s contract with Stepping Stones is for a crew of four people working three days a week, with the city paying $2,500 a month, which will remain the same despite splitting work with the CBD ambassadors.
Stepping Stones director Marcia Hodges says she is working with the CBD to find a long-term way for both organizations to work together.
For now, both Stepping Stones and the ambassadors maintain the downtown area. The Stepping Stones contract is expiring at the end of 2014.
But Hodges says she will meet with the city and the CBD in the coming weeks to come up with a plan to keep the Stepping Stones workers on the job in the long-term.
“We are still out there, working side-by-side,” said Hodges. “There are conversations about what will happen in the long-term. If we can keep a contract going, that would be wonderful. It’s a great program.”
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:14
PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN LEANDRO ADULT SCHOOL
The San Leandro Adult School held a job fair this summer to connect students looking for a career with potential employers.
San Leandro Adult School hosted a job fair in July for students from the Certified Nurse Assistant & Home Health Aide, and the Homecare Worker programs.
The job fair was the culminating point of a multi-faceted Career Technical Education (CTE) approach to student support services now being offered onsite to all San Leandro Adult School students.
Before the event, the adult school offered free resume writing and interview preparation workshops. These sessions will be offered on a regular basis, free of charge, through the adult school’s new Transitions Center once it opens later this fall.
“We have made it our mission to provide every opportunity for our CNAs and homecare workers to move into the competitive health industry job market by bringing employers onsite to recruit,” said Adult School Principal Bradley Frazier. “These hard-working individuals have earned every level of support that the adult school can offer.”
The Transitions Center will give students access to college and career planning assistance that will elevate their prospects for a secure and prosperous life, said Vice Principal Rachelle Parham.
Individuals interested in enrolling into Career Technical Education (CTE) courses should visit the San Leandro Adult School’s website at www.sanleandroadultschool.org for a complete list of class offerings.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:11
Here is the list of who is running for the San Leandro City Council in 2014 election, which will be on Tuesday, Nov. 4:
Pauline Cutter, former teacher and current part-time school district energy consultant. Currently District 5 City Councilwoman.
Dan Dillman, owner of the Bal Theatre and computer repair shop.
Diana Souza, in human resources director for a trucking company, current District 3 City Councilwoman.
City Council District 1
David Anderson, former Oakland school board member and retired sheet-metal worker.
Deborah Cox cofounder of the San Leandro Education Foundation and member of the city Human Services Commission.
Mike Katz-Lacabe, computer consultant and current San Leandro school board member.
Kenneth Pon, accountant and former school board member.
City Council District 3
Victor Aguilar, Jr., account manager for a legal firm and former field representative for a member of the Los Angeles City Council.
Lee Thomas, member of the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustments.
Allen Scoenfeld, a 45-year resident of San Leandro and salesman for a door installation company.
City Council District 5
Leah Hall, community volunteer and member of the city’s Human Service Commission.
Corina Lopez, San Leandro school board trustee and computer consultant.
Mia Ousley, financial analyst.
San Leandro Unified School District School Board Area 2
Incumbent Lance James is running unopposed.
School Board Area 4
Latrina Dumas, parent of a San Leandro High student.
Mark Schneider, librarian at Arroyo High School.
Leo Sheridan, parent of a Monroe Elementary School student.
Chike Udemezue, government employee.
School Board Area 6
Incumbent Ron Carey is running unopposed.
School Board At-Large
Evelyn Gonzalez is a community volunteer.
Elsie “Jeanne” Kinkella is a retired school teacher.
Peter Oshinski is a child nutritional administrator.
Monique Tate is a parent and works as an administrative assistant.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:10
Standard & Poor’s has raised its issuer credit rating for the City of San Leandro to “AA-” from “A+” in its latest review, published on Aug. 15.
The rating applies to the city’s lease revenue bonds, certificates of participation, and pension obligation bonds. The upgrade has the potential to save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in future borrowing costs, and is based on San Leandro’s strong economy, strong budget flexibility, liquidity, and strong management, according to Standard & Poor’s.
“This credit rating upgrade from Standard & Poor’s is a testament to the City of San Leandro’s continuous efforts to manage tax payer dollars in a prudent and responsible manner,” said Mayor Cassidy.
S&P’s decision was also based on practices instituted by the mayor and City Council, including contracts that increase the contributions employees make towards their benefits, added Finance Director David Baum.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:08
The San Leandro Public Library is launching its California Reads 2014 project entitled “War Comes Home,” which will run from Sept. 20, to Nov. 9.
This program has been made possible thanks to a $5,000 grant that was awarded to the Library through the Cal Humanities – California Reads grant program. As part of this initiative, participants will read the book What It Is Like To Go To War, by author Karl Marlantes.
The book offers a powerful and profound account of combat experiences and a critical examination of how the United States might better prepare its soldiers for the psychological and spiritual aspects of war.
California Reads provides a springboard to think about and discuss ideas using thought-provoking books about issues that are of importance to California. For 2014, the program will focus on the veteran experience – aiming to increase public understanding and empathy for those who have served, as well as to spark a conversation on how the public may best support reincorporating veterans into the fabric of civilian life.
“This grant award is exciting because it will allow our library to host a great program focusing on the veteran experience,” stated Mayor Cassidy. “I encourage anyone interested in learning more about this important topic to sign up today.”
The San Francisco Chronicle praises the book, saying, What It Is Like To Go To War should be mandatory reading by potential infantry recruits and by residents of any nation that sends its kids (Marlantes’ word) into combat.”
The San Leandro Public Library will offer a variety of activities related to the book. Copies of the book will be distributed and book discussion groups will be formed at the kickoff event on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Main Library, 300 Estudillo Ave.
Book discussions will take place at the Main Library, the Manor Branch (1241 Manor Blvd), the Senior Community Center (13909 East 14th Street), and in private book clubs.
Other activities will include an appearance by Marlantes to discuss his book on Monday, Oct. 6, a series of films about war and the issues related to it, a discussion by a panel of service groups representing the range of services available to veterans, as well as a field trip trip to the Red Oak Victory ship and Rosie the Riveter National Park in Richmond.
A full listing of Cal Reads 2014 events is available for pick-up at the Main Library, branch libraries or Senior Community Center. California Reads is a program of Cal Humanities in partnership with the California Center for the Book.
It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.
For more information about this program, call Mary Beth Barloga at 577-3992, or visit the library’s website at www.sanleandrolibrary.org.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:07
By Jim Knowles • San Leandro Times
A group of young people are apparently going around to businesses and asking for donations for the Boys and Girls Club, but it’s a scam.
The young people in their late teens or early 20s have made fliers and forms with the club’s logo that they present to businesses and customers, but the forms are phony says the San Leandro Boys and Girls Club director.
The club doesn’t do business that way – they don’t send out kids to seek donations, said Bob Glotch, director of the San Leandro Boys and Girls Club on Marina Boulevard.
Glotch said he heard about the scam recently when he was talking to the manager of a store on Hesperian Boulevard. He said the manager told him the young people asked for a donation for the club but their fliers didn’t look right. The manager reported it to the police.
The San Leandro Boys and Girls Club has fundraising events during the year, but never sends kids out to ask for money.
“That’s not our policy,” Glotch said.