Self-Help Groups | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 15:35

Top-of-the-Hill Toastmasters meets Thursdays 7-8:15 p.m. at Eden Hospital. Improve your public speaking skills in a professional environment. Contact: Roger Mc Cluney at 510-489-4114.

Castro Valley Toastmasters Club meets 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Baywood Court Retirement Community, 21966 Dolores Street.

Take Off Pounds Sensibly meets Thursdays 9:30-11 a.m., Fridays 9-10:30 a.m. at United Methodist Church, 19806 Wisteria St., Castro Valley. Contact (Thurs): Tommie 888-1997; Contact (Fri): Bernice 537-0699.

Overeaters Anonymous meets Mondays 12-12:45 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. at Unity Church, 1420 Santa Maria Ave., Castro Valley. For information, visit

Food Addicts In Recovery Anonymous meets Wednesdays 7-8:30 p.m. at Valley Baptist Church, 19835 Lake Chabot Rd. Contact: Betty 886-4286 or visit

HOW Overeaters Anonymous meets 7-8 p.m. Fridays at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley and 4-5 p.m. Sundays at All Saints Church in Hayward. Info at

The Forum Crossword • 08-01-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 15:00

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Adopt-A-Pet • 08-01-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 15:31





Horoscope • 08-01-2012 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 15:16


by Salomé





Top 10 Legal Mistakes Made by Home Sellers — Part 1 | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 15:21

Real Estate Reality

By Carl Medford, CRS

Special to the Forum




Minefields frequently remain long after wars have ceased; we’ve all been horrified by reports of children inadvertently activating hidden mines.

Similarly, the real estate legal system has plenty of hidden “landmines” ready and waiting to catch homesellers unawares.

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) reports that there are 10 legal mistakes frequently made by those selling their properties — here are the first five:

1. Accepting the buyer with the highest offer without regard to other contractual terms.

A solid contract is not just about price: length of contingencies, close of escrow, “as-is” and many other factors need to be considered. Some sellers are so enamored by the price they fail to read the remainder of the fine print.

Truth is, a lower-priced offer that closes smoothly may be worth more than a higher-priced contract that may not close for a long time, if at all, and/or result in litigation.

2. Not properly handling multiple offer situations.

By law, all offers, written or oral, need to be submitted to the seller as quickly as possible. If requested by the buyer, the seller must provide proof that their offer was actually viewed and rejected.

3. Not properly handling back-up offers.

If an offer is placed in a back-up position, to be legally binding, it needs to be signed by all parties and accompanied by a CAR Purchase Agreement Addendum (Form PAA) which identifies which backup position the offer is in.

If the initial offer fails, then the backup offer in position No. 1 is legally next in line. Sellers cannot choose a different offer, even if the terms are better.

4. Entering into an agreement with no earnest money deposited by the buyer, or a very small amount.

The more “skin” a buyer has in the game, the higher the chances they’ll stick to it in the end. The normal minimum good-faith deposit is 1 percent, while in multiple offer situations it’s frequently increased to 3 percent.

Technically, the contract is not valid until the buyer’s earnest money has been deposited in escrow. Further, this deposit is only at risk after all the buyer’s contingencies have been removed.

5. Entering into an agreement before verifying the buyer’s financial ability to close escrow.

Excited by high offers, some sellers fail to ensure the buyers can actually close. This can tie up the property needlessly, resulting in financial losses and, in extreme cases, litigation.

Next week: Part 2 — Mistakes 6–10

Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Prudential California Realty in Castro Valley. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association at


Sources Available For Grandparents Raising Grandkids | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 14:42

By Jim Miller

When it comes to raising grandkids, you definitely have plenty of company. Across the country about 5.8 million children are living with their grandparents, as the parents struggle with a variety of problems such as financial hardship, drug and alcohol addiction, prison time, domestic violence, divorce and more.

To help with the day-to-day expenses of raising grandkids, there are a variety of government programs and tax benefits that can make a big difference in stretching your budget.


Financial Assistance

For starters, find out whether your family qualifies for California’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which may include cash assistance, food stamps and free or low-cost daycare. Or, if your household income is too high to qualify as a family, ask about the “child-only grant” for just the grandchild’s support alone. Also, check on any additional programs like guardianship subsidies, non-parent grants or kinship care. Contact or call your county social services office for more information.

You also need to find out if your grandkids are eligible for Social Security, including benefits for children, survivor benefits or SSI. You can find this out at your local Social Security office, or call 800-772-1213 or see

And finally, use, a comprehensive web resource that helps you search for additional financial assistance programs that you may be eligible for, such as lower energy bills, discounts on prescription medications and more.


Tax Benefits

In addition to the financial assistance resources, Uncle Sam offers some tax benefits that may help you too like the Dependency Exemption which allows you to deduct $3,800 in 2102 on each qualifying grandchild.

There’s also the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC which is available to those with moderate to low incomes, or the Child Tax Credit if you make too much money to qualify for the EITC.

If you’re working, and are incurring child care expenses in order to work, there’s a Child and Dependent Care Credit that can help. And, if you choose to legally adopt your grandkids, there’s an Adoption Credit that provides a federal tax credit of up to $12,650 per child.

There are even education-related tax credits through the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit to help if your grandkids go to college.

To learn more about these tax benefits call 800-829-1040, or visit You can also call the IRS publication line at 800-829-3676 and ask them to mail you the following publications: 501, 503, 596, 970, 972, and Form 8839.


Health Insurance

If your grandkids need health insurance, depending on your income level, you may be able to get free or low-cost health insurance through your state’s Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. See or call 877-543-7669 for more information.


Legal Issues

You also need to talk to a family law attorney to discuss the pros and cons of obtaining legal guardianship, custody or adoption. Without some sort of legal custody, you may not be eligible for many of the previously listed financial assistance programs, and there can be problems with basic things like enrolling your grandkids in school, or giving a doctor permission to treat them.

If your need help locating affordable or free legal assistance use, or call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for referrals.

Savvy tip: To find support with other grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, visit the AARP GrandCare Support Locator at where you can search for support groups in your area.


Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit

Spotlight on Castro Valley Adult and Career Education | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 13:37

By Paula Evans


Our economy is still in the slow lane to recover. Though growing, it still doesn’t feel that way for millions of Americans who are unemployed or whose wages are barely rising.

Job seeking has become the new “full-time job” for many along with retraining in a sustainable occupation.

If you are researching a career change and considering the medical industry for your future, then mark your calendar for Castro Valley Adult and Career Educations Medical Careers Information Night at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21  in Room 16.

You will learn about a range of medical careers, employment projections and compensation, in addition to the required technical skills needed for successful employment.

It’s free – there’s no cost! The Medical Information Night is an excellent opportunity to compare types of programs (public verses private school), costs, pre-requisites, duration, training outcomes, course schedules, ask questions of instructors, and learn how our courses articulate with the local community colleges.

Attendees can also ask questions comparing one type of medical occupation to another.

We hope you will join us for this important event that may help define your future career decisions and direction.


For more info on educational programs offered through Castro Valley Adult and Career Education,  visit, contact the Adult School, 886-1000, or stop by in person at 4430 Alma Ave. in Castro Valley.

Movie Review: New ‘Dark Knight’ Best Yet | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 13:34

By Trevin Smith



In all of the superhero movies I have seen, never have I watched one go through such agony as Batman does in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

In two hours and forty minutes, Batman is banned a traitor, despised in Gotham city, his reputation torn to shreds, making for a movie that pulls the audience in philosophically rather than through violence.

The story takes place eight years after “The Dark Knight.” Batman (Christian Bale) has become an unshaven recluse, nearly excommunicated from Gotham city and its people.

A terrorist leader named Bane (Tom Hardy) then steals a nuclear reactor the city had planned to use for energy and threatens to detonate it.

Director Christopher Noland brings out the emotionally darker side as Bruce Wayne, not Batman, has to revive himself after having everything he holds dear, even Alfred, ripped away from him.

My only problems were Batman’s butler Alfred, who in nearly every scene is snibling and wining at Bruce Wayne, telling him how much he loves him. The next is Bane’s voice, which sounds like a cross between Darth Vador, Barry White and Robin Leach.

I could count the number of fight scenes on my hand, and you see more of Bruce Wayne struggling to identify who he is, rather than being Batman, which I think will turn off the people who only want to see fights and bat-gadgets. But it is because of these struggles that I loved seeing who this hero is, rather than what he can be.


Trevin Smith, of CV, is currently studying journalism at Las Positas College where he has been the Arts and Entertainment Editor of the school newspaper, The Express. You may read more of his work at and emai: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The Forum Crossword • 07-25-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 10:26

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Adopt-A-Pet • 07-25-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 14:48





The Right Way to Remove Ticks From the Family Pet | Print |  E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 10:14


07252012TRWTRTOne way that we used to remove ticks from our dogs many years ago was by smearing a dollop of Vaseline over the embedded tick, covering it completely. Eventually, the tick would suffocate or try to escape.

In recent years, however, veterinarians and disease-control experts have recommended against using Vaseline because it can take up to 48 hours for the tick to suffocate.

Ticks need to be removed quickly – within 24 hours or less. Why? Because after a day of feeding, the tick is completely engorged with blood.

To keep feeding, it regurgitates that blood right back into your pet – and if the tick is carrying a disease like Lyme, your pet is likely to be infected.

Ditto with the old-fashioned match trick. When a lighted match is held to the tick, the tick often pulls out quickly -- but it tends to regurgitate as it does so.

So what’s the best way to remove ticks? Experts recommend tweezers, grabbing as close to the tick’s head as possible. Slowly pull the head out without twisting or jerking, being careful not to squish the tick for the reasons listed above.

If the tick’s head or part of its head breaks off in the skin, monitor your pet for a few days. It should be worked out by your pet’s own body, but if signs of infection appear, contact your veterinarian.


For more pet care-related advice and information, visit

© 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.


Question of the Week • 07-25-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 09:08






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