Therapist Alleges Juvenile Mistreatment at Facility | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 10 September 2015 16:05


By Amy Sylvestri


A top-ranking, veteran employee of the Alameda County Probation Department has filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging that she was wrongfully disciplined when she acted as a whistle-blower to expose mistreatment of the young men incarcerated at her facility

Lisa Hill is the superintendent at Campy Sweeney, a 50-bed minimum security facility in the San Leandro hills that houses male offenders ages 15-19. Hill, a Castro Valley resident and therapist with a PhD, has worked in probation for over 30 years.

Hill says that there is a systematic verbal and physical abuse problem at the camp, and that when she attempted to call attention to the issue, higher-ups removed her instead of addressing the problem.

“I believe there are civil rights violations occurring and when I started to raise those issues with my supervisors, it fell on deaf ears,” says Hill.

Hill was placed on paid administrative leave from last January until June, when she was given a desk job in Oakland. She returned to work at Camp Sweeney just last week.

Hill says that the major issue at the camp is that it is understaffed and that leads to stressed employees working too much overtime and corners being cut.

In its annual report this summer, the Alameda County Grand Jury also found that the camp was understaffed and asked that the issue be addressed.

“There are people working back-to-back shifts that can’t supervise properly,” says Hill.

She says the young men at Camp Sweeney are subject to “rampant” verbal abuse and that fights break out constantly because there isn’t sufficient staff to stop them. She says the youth are strip-searched without good reason in order to humiliate them, that a young man received a shoulder injury from being improperly restrained by a guard, and that the youths aren’t given the recreation time they are entitled to.

Hill says that in one case, an inmate was sent to the higher-security Juvenile Justice Center where he had the right to been seen by a judge within 72 hours, but instead was held for six days and that same inmate allegedly was choked by a guard and had marks on his neck.

“Fights and things do happen in these environments, but the staff needs to be held accountable,” says Hill.

Hill says that when she complained, she was removed from her position and told that she was being investigated for being “discourteous” to her subordinates. A county internal investigation eventually dismissed the staff’s complaints about her behavior – an allegation that Hill says remained vague from the beginning.

“I never really knew what I was being placed on leave for,” says Hill.

Now, she has filed a suit in federal court against the county.

Because the suit is ongoing litigation, Alameda County Chief Probation Officer LaDonna Harris says she cannot comment on it.

“I’d love to, but I cannot comment,” says Harris.

Harris would say, however, that the young men at Camp Sweeney are well taken care of and not subject to abuse.

“Nobody’s trying to hide anything,” says Harris. “We take very seriously our responsibility towards our youth. Very, very seriously. I say repeatedly that these youth are ‘gifted’ to us for rehabilitation. Myself and my staff would never stand for abuse. We investigate any violation. I challenge anyone to show me where an allegation has been made and no action has been taken.”

For her part, Hill is moving forward with her lawsuit and settling back into work at Camp Sweeney.

“I believe this is a classic case of whistle-blower retaliation,” says Hill. “But this isn’t about me, this is about what’s going on in these facilities and that is not going to change if I leave.”



Castro Valley Girl Finally Meets The Woman Who Saved Her Life | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 07 August 2015 16:09



By Sally Douglas Arce


The sun was beaming in anticipation of a joyous outdoor event that was to take place at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland last week.    

For the first time in her young life, 12-year-old Mailyna Mayate of Castro Valley met and hugged Kristine Sydney, the woman who saved her life. Both are of Filipino descent and were overjoyed to meet the other.

Mailyna was diagnosed at birth with Beta Thalassemia Major, a blood disorder that reduces the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body.

In April 2013, Mailyna was told she needed a marrow transplant, the only cure. Until a matching donor could be found, she required monthly blood transfusions and daily medications.

A search began in earnest. Finally that donor – Kristine Sydney, a teacher who lives in Rhode Island –  was found.

“This reunion highlights the power of donation and reinforces that one person can truly make a difference in the life of another,” said Dr. Stacy Month, the medical director of pediatric hematology oncology at Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center.

For a year, the Asian American Donor Program (AADP) in Alameda coordinated registration drives throughout the Bay Area in search for Mayate’s matching donor.

Carol Gillespie, AADP executive director, said finding a matching donor can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

“Patients need a marrow transplant as soon as possible. People of all ethnicities are encouraged to join the registry. You could potentially match anyone in the world, this is truly a global effort.”

The organization presented Mailyna and Kristine with matching double heart bracelets inscribed with “Mailyna and Kristine – Forever One May 8, 2014” – the date of the marrow transplant.

This fall Mailyna will be in the 8th grade. She is excited to return to school, happy and healthy for the first time in her life.

For more information, contact AADP at 1-800-593-6667 or Sally Douglas Arce is a public relations representative for the AADP.


CV Man Charged in Arson Attempt | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 10:29


By Amy Sylvestri


Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a man for arson after he allegedly set fire to at a neighbor’s home.

Investigators say the suspect, identified only as a 59-year-old Westbury Road resident, may have been responsible for several other fires in the neighborhood. He was arrested in connection with a fire in the 3900 block of Westbury Road on May 29.

At around 8 p.m. that evening, the resident retuned home to find smoke coming from under his raised wooden porch, according to Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

The homeowner found a wooden shoe rack and planter box had been pushed towards his house and set on fire. The flames were about four feet high and had burned within a few inches of the house.

The homeowner extinguished the flames with buckets of water. Deputies said his home would have been set ablaze if he had not acted quickly.

An investigation determined that the fire had been deliberately set. A security video from another neighbor’s home showed the suspect entering the property where the blaze was set and later standing on his own property to watch the fire.

A further investigation has preliminarily linked him with another house fire on Westbury Road several months ago as well as another arson fire on Almond Road near where he formerly lived. The investigation is ongoing.

The suspect is due in court on July 31.

Coding is so Cool— Learn JavaScript Today At Castro Valley Adult and Career Education | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 08 April 2015 15:06


By Linette Escobar



The tech boom is changing the Bay Area job market. Did you know the median wage for computer programmers in California is $88,000?  This is according to the most recent labor market information from the California Employment Development Department.

It’s anticipated jobs will grow in this field by 12% in the coming years. If you wonder if this field might be a good fit for you, Castro Valley Adult & Career Education (CVACE) is offering two basic programming courses this spring and summer.

So, what is programming? According to Kerry Principato, Career Technical Education Coordinator at CVACE, it’s a universal language used to write a series of instructions that automate a task. “The fundamentals of coding is becoming a basic digital literacy skill that people need to learn,” she observes.

The CVACE classes are designed to offer an affordable introduction to this language.  The first course is JavaScript which starts May 5 and costs $175.  In July, CVACE will offer Game Development with JavaScript that builds your coding knowledge and applies it to basic video game development.  That course is only $150.

So do you have to be a technology whiz to take these courses? Principato says, “This class is good for everyone. While it’s great for the person thinking about a new career, it also can sharpen anyone’s problem solving skills.”

Both courses will be taught by an instructor who has extensive experience in computer science, software development and teaching. Register early for these classes to ensure a spot. Visit or call 510-886-1000.

Lynette Escobar is marketing chair of Castro Valley Adult & Career Education. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Parvin Ahmadi Named New CV School Superintendent | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 16:04



Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi will join the Castro Valley School District on July 1.

The Castro Valley School Board announced last Thursday that it has selected Parvin Ahmadi as the district’s next superintendent.

Ahmadi has served as superintendent of the Pleasanton School District for the past five years.

Board President John Barbieri said Ahmadi was chosen following an extensive search which included some 20 highly qualified candidates. The field was narrowed to six, and finally to two.

After in-depth interviews on their strengths and commitments, Barbieri said “we found a new superintendent who meets and surpasses” the district’s long list of qualifications.

Superintendent Ahmadi started her career in education as a teacher. After several years in classrooms in San Jose, she moved to Fremont where she served as vice principal, principal, director, and assistant superintendent for 13 years before becoming superintendent in Pleasanton.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree from San Jose State, a Masters in Teaching from National Louis University in Chicago, and a Masters in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s College of California.

“I am very excited about joining a wonderful community of Board of Trustees, educators, and parents to serve and nurture students in the Castro Valley Unified School District to fulfill their dreams, aspirations, and to positively impact their community and the world,” she said in a statement.

Superintendent Ahmadi will officially start her duties in Castro Valley on July 1, replacing Jim Negri who is retiring this month after a 41-year career in education.

She and her husband are the parents of two sons.

Church Statue Latest | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 16:01



Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly yesterday said that investigators have a promising lead in the theft of a large statue of Jesus that was stolen from a cross at Transfiguration Church on East Castro Valley Boulevard, but he could not disclose any details.

The bronze statue, weighing nearly 300 pounds, was taken sometime during the night of May 19 from the back parking lot of the church and was not visible from the street.

The statue was likely damaged when it was stripped from its mounting, but the church is hoping for its safe return as in cannot be replaced. It is a one-of-a-kind custom statute commissioned a decade ago by a Canadian company and the mold used to make it has since been destroyed.

“It’s basically irreplaceable,” said Castro Valley businessman Mel Speed, a parishioner at the Catholic Church. “Whoever took  it must have wanted it very badly.”

Amy Sylvestri

Empty cross at

Transfiguration Church

CV Track Club Trail Challenge Is This Sunday | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 15:59


Ready, set... RUN


By Bruce Dughi



This year, Eden Hospital will not be hosting its annual Run to the Lake fun run. Fortunately, runners can still get their “high” on Sunday at the 32nd Annual Trail Challenge, sponsored by the Castro Valley Track Club.

Last year, more than 400 runners came from all around the Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley to enjoy this event.

Runners can choose between a 5K (3 miles) or a half-marathon (13.1 miles). This USA Track and Field (USATF)-sanctioned event will be held at Lake Chabot this Sunday, June 7, starting at 8 a.m.

Medals will be given to the top three in each age division.

The half marathon is a challenging, hilly loop around scenic Lake Chabot mainly on dirt fire roads with 5 aid stations.

Come join the fun at


Bug Bites and Stings: When to See a Doctor | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 15:33




Although most bug bites and stings are harmless, some can be dangerous. This is especially true if you are allergic to the bug’s venom, or if the bug is carrying a disease.

In the U.S., it’s common to experience a bite or sting from mosquitoes; fleas; spiders; bees, wasps and hornets; biting flies; mites; ticks; fire ants; and bedbugs.

“Most bug bites and stings can be safely treated at home with topical medication, such as hydrocortisone cream or ointment, or an oral antihistamine to reduce the itch,” says Dr. Margaret Parsons, associate professor of dermatology at U.C. Davis. “Sometimes, however, a bug bite or sting could turn into something serious, particularly if you have been bitten or stung by many insects at the same time.”

Dr. Parsons advises going to emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after a bug bite or sting:

• Difficulty breathing or the sensation that your throat is closing

• Swollen lips, tongue or face

• Chest pain or racing heartbeat lasting more than a few minutes

• Dizziness, vomiting or a headache

• A red, donut-shaped or target-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite: This could be a sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics.

A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads: This could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.

“Although most bug bites and stings do not turn into a severe or even fatal illness like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it’s important to pay attention to your symptoms,” says Dr. Parsons. “If you feel tired all the time, you have a headache, fever or body aches, or you develop a rash after a bug bite, see a board-certified dermatologist immediately.”

Memorial Day 2015 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 14:36



The hundreds attending the 112th Memorial Day ceremonies at Lone Tree Cemetery (above) saluted the flags of Castro Valley VFW Honor Guard Post 9601 and American Legion District 10  as a Huey helicopter flew overhead Monday morning. Highlights included patriotic selections by the Hayward Municipal Band, speeches by local veterans, and the placing of memorial wreaths. At right, guests chatted and took pictures after Monday morning’s services at Castro Valley’s Veterans Memorial. The program, sponsored by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, included the reading of the Gettysburg Address and the naming of known Castro Valley natives who were Killed In Action.




Free Pet Adoptions This Weekend | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:05



Families who have been wanting to adopt a pet will have the chance to get one – or more – free this weekend at the Hayward Animal Shelter. In a collaborative effort of countless people to save the lives of shelter animals during the national “Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days 2015,” the shelter will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, May 30-31, to find homes for as many of their adoptable pets as possible. All shelter fees will be waived, paid for by the Maddie’s fund. Dog adoptions by Hayward residents will require the city’s regular license fee. Those who plan to visit the shelter over the weekend are urged to visit ahead of time to get pre-qualified. The shelter is located at 16 Barnes Court, near the Hayward DMV office.

Call 510-293-7200 or visit for information.

Noisy Jets Disrupt CV Neighborhood | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:07



By Amy Sylvestri



When Sal Tanner is at home, he can’t hear himself think. That’s because planes come roaring over his Tyee Street house several times a day on their way to and from Oakland Airport.

Tanner says he has lived in his house near Strobridge Avenue for decades, but the plane noise has only been problematic for the last few years.

He says that they are mostly smaller commuter-type private jets and a few commercial flights too, and they are coming in so low that he can read the numbers on their tails.

“I could have a bow and arrow and hit them, I think,” said Tanner. “There are more and more coming and it is just so aggravating – you can’t sit down and enjoy watching TV or have a barbecue outside.”

Tanner says the noise is the worst around 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. He figures that’s when people are commuting to and from distant jobs.

Larry Galindo, Oakland Airport’s noise affairs supervisor, says that Tanner is probably correct and added that he sympathizes with anyone who has to deal with too much noise.

Galindo says that no fight patterns have changed, so he’s unsure why Tanner has only noticed a problem in the past few years, but the most likely answer is simply that more planes are traveling to the airport.

“Traffic is up a bit,” said Galindo. “We had a dip in traffic with the 2008 recession, we were down 30 percent, but it has picked back up.”

Galindo says that flights coming from the north and east make the “right turn” to Oakland over the interchange of I-580 and I-238. And, he says, that same area also gets a bit of traffic from Hayward Executive Airport because they turn east in Castro Valley in order to avoid traffic from Oakland International.

“That area is kind of a ‘perfect storm’ for air traffic,” says Galindo.

Another issue is what the airport calls the “Southeast Plan.” When there is a storm in the Bay Area, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose all reroute their planes and many of them make their climbing turns over Castro Valley instead of the Bay.

It doesn’t happen that often, says Galindo, but people tend to notice flights when they are where they weren’t before.

There is a sensor near Lake Chabot. Flights should be at an altitude of around 3,000 feet when they pass over it, Galindo says. But Tanner says they are much lower when they pass over his place.

Oakland Airport offers sound-proofing programs to San Leandro and Alameda residents, but nothing for Castro Valley.

On the airport’s noise website ( you can file a complaint, and Galindo said he wants to hear from people who are having issues.

Another interesting feature of that website is that you can live-track flights over your area by entering your street name. A check of Tyee Street where Tanner lives showed a half-dozen flights over his place in a half-hour period, many commuter jets with under 15 passengers and most coming in at around 3,000 feet, just as Galindo says.

Tanner has contacted County Supervisor Nate Miley and Congressman Eric Swalwell, but he says they told him that there’s not much that can be done. Tanner says he hopes other people in his neighborhood and around Castro Valley will contact Miley, whose office said that maybe changes could be made if enough people complain.

“It’s just crazy,” says Tanner. “It’ll drive you nuts.”

Take-Back Drug Law Stands | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:00


A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday is allowing

Alameda County’s Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance to stand.

The law, spearheaded by Supervisor Nate Miley and passed by the Board of Supervisors in July 2012, requires makers of prescription drugs sold in the county to pay for the picking up and disposing of unwanted or outdated drugs. It was designed to keep drugs that linger in medicine cabinets from being abused by children or flushed down toilets and eventually ending up in the Bay.

Soon after its approval, trade groups representing drug manufacturers and distributors filed a lawsuit, arguing that the ordinance, the first of its kind in the nation, violated the Constitution because it interfered with interstate commerce.

After a federal appeals court upheld the ordinance last fall, the trade group asked the Supreme Court to review that ruling. But yesterday, in a major set-back for drug manufacturers, the high court declined to hear the suit, allowing the law to stand.

Alameda County officials immediately called on the pharmaceutical companies to assist in making the take-back program a success in Alameda County and in creating a model program that can be followed by the rest of the country.



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