August 27, 2004

Former San Leandro City Employee Quits in Disgrace from San Jose

Wandzia GryczWandzia Grycz, San Jose's Chief Information Officer, resigned on August 8, 2004, after it became clear that a city audit of an $8 million Cisco contract would include findings that city officials allowed Cisco to design the network for the new building, provide the list of 18,000 Cisco parts to be purchased, and help prepare officials to defend the plan before the city council.

On Wednesday, August 11, 2004, Wendy Walker, San Jose's Deputy Chief Information Officer, followed in Grycz's footsteps and resigned her position as well. Walker was previously the Administrative Officer for the Information Technology Department and the IT Masterplan Project Manager for the city of San Jose.

In June 2004, Grycz defended the contract before the city council and said that Cisco had nothing to do with the bidding process. During the audit, Grycz and some members of her staff allegedly lied to the investigators.

Earlier in the year, Grycz was featured in Cisco's IQ Magazine, where she was quoted as saying, "That's a big selling point [state-of-the-art technology] when you're trying to hire and retain people....We're able to say we've made a commitment to this kind of network and show how it's going to benefit the employees personally as they serve our community."

Grycz had served as CIO since December 2000. She received a raise of $9,858 in 2002 on top of her $164,302 salary. Previously, she served 12 years as Information Services Manager and Assistant City Manager for the city of San Leandro. Rayan Fowler is currently the Information Services Manager for the city of San Leandro and Ed Schilling is the Assistant City Manager.

So if Grycz left her $174,000-a-year job after these allegations, one wonders what happened while she was at the city of San Leandro. When San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young was asked about Grycz, she replied, "I always found her to be extremely talented and capable....Everybody had to change their thinking in the late '90s to keep up with all the things coming on the market, and she put us on the right road even though she left....I never found her to not put the city's interests in the forefront at all."

Update 9/10/04:The auditor report is available from the City of San Jose's Office of the City Auditor. Thanks to Mark for letting me know it is available online.

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August 15, 2004

Police Hunt for Armed Robbery Suspect

San Leandro Police searched for an armed robbery suspect late Saturday night, August 14, 2004, near Washington Avenue in downtown San Leandro. According to police, the suspect held up the Quik Stop convenience store at 206 Marina Boulevard at the corner with Washington Avenue. Police used flashlights and dogs to search for the suspect, and at about 12:30am, a police helicopter began circling at low altitude with its spotlight aimed at the area where the suspect was believed to be hiding. The police helicopter was called off at about 1:30am Sunday morning, but police continued to search the area with search dogs.

Police cordoned off the one-block area bounded by Washington Avenue, Hays Street, Williams Street and Castro Street as they searched for the suspect.

As of 1:40am Sunday morning, the suspect was still at-large.

Update: According to police, the suspect was still at-large as of Monday, August 16, 2004. The Quik Stop clerk on duty at the time of the robbery said that the robber made off with about $500.

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August 11, 2004

San Leandro Coughs up Cold Cash for Candidates

When it comes to making political contributions, its no surprise that the Democrats get more money from San Leandro than the Republicans. After all, San Leandro's state and federal elected officials are all Democrats, including the fiesty Congressional Representative Pete Stark.

What may be surprising is that San Leandro only gave Democrats about 1.5 times the amount given to Republicans.

We took a look at the interesting statistics provided at the Fundrace web site, which provides information about political donations to a presidential campaign or national committe between January 1, 2003 and May 31, 2004. All of this information is part of the public record and is required for people who contribute more than $200 political campaigns.

The information in this article is based on review of information from the Fundrace web site and searches for contributions from the San Leandro zip codes 94577, 94578, and 94579.

Democratic Presidential candidates Al Sharpton, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and Wesley Clark received just one political contribution each from San Leandro residents, with Lieberman getting the biggest contribution of $1,250. Dennis Kucinich received slightly less, at $1,175, but it took three contributions to reach that amount.

Assemblymember Ellen Corbett gave $250 to John Kerry's campaign. Charles Kremer and Naomie Kremer made contributions to Kerry's campaign from the same address on Juana Avenue, which happens to be the law office of David J. Newacheck, a tax attorney. Without jumping to conclusions, we may just have learned who does taxes for these political contributors.

According to records for zip code 94577, school board candidate and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein Associate Attorney Stephen Cassidy spread it around, with contributions to John Kerry, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, and John Edwards. An expanded search shows that Mr. Cassidy made additional contributions to Kerry and Edwards with addresses listed in Oakland and San Francisco, making him the single biggest contributor from San Leandro, with nearly $6,000 in contributions.

Close behind Mr. Cassidy in political gift-giving were Transbox Systems founders Mr. Ron J. Boehm and Mrs. Charlotte E Boehm. Together, they gave more than $10,000 to George Bush and the Republican National Committee from one San Leandro address and two Oakland addresses.

It probably comes as no surprise that a Professor of Taxation would donate to the Republican National Committee, as did Joe Walsh of Golden Gate University.

Here's a table summarizing political contributions from San Leandro residents:

Candidate or partyAmount
Al Sharpton500
Dennis Kucinich1175
Dick Gephardt1200
George W.Bush11810
Howard Dean4443
Joe Lieberman1250
John Edwards550
John Kerry20220
Wesley Clark294
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August 10, 2004

Ross opens an even cheaper store in San Leandro

Pleasanton-based Ross Stores opens a new discount store today called dd's DISCOUNTS at 561 Floresta Blvd. in the Washington and Floresta Shopping Center. According to Ross spokeswoman Katie Loughnot, the average price for an item at dd's DISCOUNTS is $8 while the average price for an item at Ross is $10. According to the press release, dd's DISCOUNTS is targeting household incomes of $30,000 to $40,000, which is $10,000 to $20,000 less than Ross' target market.

The new store is located where the seasonal Halloween store shows up every year.

See the Ross press release here.

The official grand opening is on Saturday, August 14, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Friday, August 20.

Two more stores will open this week in Vallejo and Fresno. Seven other stores will open in the next two months in the Sacramento, Fresno, and Oakland metropolitan areas.

Posted by mike at 9:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 7, 2004

Ford Store Settles with DTSC for $11,000

On August 4, 2004, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), announced that it had reached an $11,000 settlement with the Ford Store for hazardous waste violations at the auto body repair shop it operated at 2763 Teagarden Street in San Leandro.

The settlement is a result of violations observed during inspections in October 2000 and December 2001. The Ford Store was cited for:

  • Improper storage and handling of hazardous waste

  • Failure to characterize waste material

  • Improper labeling of hazrdous waste and containers holding hazardous waste

  • Inadequate aisle space

  • Failure to properly train employees on waste handling procedure

Here is the June 30 consent order and the August 4, 2004, DTSC press release.

The facility at 2763 Teagarden Street is now owned by Cooks Collision.

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