July 30, 2008

School Board Extends Superintendent's Contract

The San Leandro School Board voted five to two to extend Superintendent Christine Lim's contract by one year and give her a raise of three percent at its meeting on July 29, 2008. Trustees Stephen Cassidy and Mike Katz-Lacabe voted against the revised contract. Lim was hired with a three-year contract in 2003, which was extended by another three years in 2006. The revised contract extends until June 30, 2010, and brings Lim's salary to $214,649.

The School Board unanimously approved similar extensions and raises for Assistant Superintendents Cindy Cathey and Song Chin-Bendib.

Construction documents for the PG & E parking lot unveiled at the meeting showed a reduction in the number of parking spaces from 302 to 264 with 13 wheelchair-accessible spaces and 23 spaces for compact cars. Enough questions were raised by board members about the number of parking spaces and landscaping that it was referred back to committee.

The School Board also made a number of appointments:

  • Sheila Lawrence as Director of Student Support Services to replace David Lorden
  • Jaliza Eagles as GEAR UP grant coordinator
  • Laura McIntyre Hackel as Curriculum Specialist for visual and performing arts (VAPA), physical education, and Beginning Teacher Support to replace Julianna Sikes, who was hired in December 2006
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July 29, 2008

City Council Votes to Put Three Taxes on November Ballot

The San Leandro City Council voted to go ahead with three ballot measures to stabilize and enhance revenues at its special meeting on Monday, July 28, 2008.

The City Council voted unanimously to place a utility users tax on the November 2008 ballot that would reduce the rate from 6% to 5.7% while broadening the definition of telecommunications and video to include technologies such as voice over internet protocol (VOIP), internet protocol television (IP TV) and private communication services. The City's utility users tax for gas and electricity would remain at 6% and would not be affected by the ballot measure. Although the tax rate would be reduced by 0.3%, the amount of revenue would remain the same because of the broader definition of telecommunications and video. The utility user tax ballot measure requires a simple majority (50% plus one) to be enacted since it is considered a general tax.

The vote to rescind the City's Emergency Communication Access Fee Ordinance and replace it with an equivalent tax that would maintain the same amount of revenue passed with the support of five members the City Council and the opposition of Councilmember Diana Souza and Mayor Tony Santos. Charles Gilcrest provided revised language for the ballot measure that was accepted by the City Council. According to the staff report, "In April of this year the Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision that the City of Union City's 911 Fee was in fact a special tax and as such was void because it was enacted without a vote of the electorate pursuant to Proposition 218. This case is now being appealed to the California Supreme Court If the case is heard by the Supreme Court and the lower court 's decision is overturned then San Leandro's 911 Fee will not be impacted. However should the case not be heard or the lower courts are upheld then the City will lose this revenue source." The 911 tax ballot measure requires a two-thirds majority to be enacted. If the tax fails to pass, the existing fee will continue to be in effect pending the outcome of Union City litigation.

Councilmember Bill Stephens opposed a police services parcel tax that would raise $2.3 million to maintain a minimum of 94 sworn police officers and sunset after four years. Stephens said that the parcel tax wouldn't pass and it would likely drag down the utility user tax and 911 tax. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak abstained while the other five members of he City Council voted to place the parcel tax on the November 2008 ballot. The parcel tax was reduced from the original amount of $60 per residential parcel to $48 per parcel, which reduced the revenue raised by the parcel tax from $2.6 million to $2.3 million.

The City Council also awarded a contract to Alten Construction Co. to build a Senior Community Center on E. 14th Street. The facility will include an assembly hall, classrooms, computer learning center, exercise room, kitchen, and meeting and staff areas. The center will also serve as the City's emergency operations center during emergencies. There were 12 bidders for the project and Alten Construction was the lowest with a bid of $10,720,000.

The text of the ballot measures is shown below:

Utility User Tax Reduction and Fairness Measure:

"Shall an ordinance be adopted to reduce the City of San Leandro's existing utility users tax from 6% to 5.7% on telecommunications and video (cable-like) services; ensure that users of current and future technologies be treated fairly; and preserve funding for general municipal services such as police, maintenance of and improvements to city streets and sidewalks and graffiti removal?"

911 Tax Measure:

"Shall the City of San Leandro, with no increase in rates, convert its existing 911 Emergency Communication System Access Fee Ordinance into an Emergency Communication System Access Tax, to insure that all future modifications to the tax rate structure require a vote of the people rather than a vote of the council, and to maintain enhanced 911 Emergency Services to San Leandro residents?"

Police Services Parcel Tax Measure:

"Shall the current level of police protection services be maintained at a minimum of 94 sworn police officers by adoption of a parcel tax in an annual amount of $48 for single-family residences, $24 per multi-family/mobile home unit, $12 per thousand square feet for Commercial/Industrial, $10 per thousand square feet for Non-Profit/Places of Worship and $3 per thousand square feet for Unimproved Land, to end after four years?"

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July 27, 2008

School Board Candidates So Far

Four of the San Leandro School Board seats come up for re-election in 2008 and just four candidates have stepped forward so far. Incumbent T.W. "Rick" Richards is the sole candidate for Area 1 and Carmen Sullivan is the sole candidate for Area 3, the seat being vacated by Linda Perry. Incumbent Ray Davis and Diana Prola have both pulled papers for Area 5, Davis' current seat, and the At-Large seat being vacated by Stephen Cassidy.

The filing period for most seats ends on August 8, 2008, but will be extended to August 13, 2008, for the At-Large seat and the Area 3 seat, since the incumbents will not be in those races.

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July 26, 2008

San Leandro High Teacher Recognized for Community Service

Jack Nelson is a teacher and coach in San Leandro. San Leandro High School history teacher and coach Jack Nelson received the Jefferson Award for public service and was recognized in the July 26, 2008, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Nelson also teaches physical education at John Muir Middle School. Two years ago, Nelson formed a Jefferson Service Group at San Leandro High School. The students volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, and senior centers and pick up trash.

He has raised money for Children's Hospital, the families of two San Leandro High students who were killed in Oakland, a boy who was shot and paralyzed while taking piano lessons in Piedmont, and for San Leandro sports programs. His next fundraiser is a half-marathon and will benefit the Davis Street Family Resource Center.

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July 23, 2008

City Seeks Members for Shoreline Development Citizen Advisory Committee

According to a press release issued on July 23, 2008, the City of San Leandro is seeking 20 to 30 "residents, property and business owners, boating enthusiasts, affordable housing, labor and environmental advocates and members of City boards and commissions" to serve on its Shoreline Development Citizen Advisory Committee.

The mission of the committee is to provide input to the San Leandro City Council and master developer Cal-Coast Development on the future of development of a portion of the San Leandro shoreline.

The committee is expected to meet six times over nine to 18 months on Wednesday evenings, including one or two Saturdays, and may convene as early as October 2008. Applications are available from the Office of Business Development on the second floor of City Hall or online. Applications must be completed and submitted by August 29, 2008.

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July 22, 2008

San Leandro Auto Shop Accused of Fraud

Midas logoOn Monday, July 21, 2008, the California Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Automotive Repair (DCA/BAR) accused 22 Midas Auto Service Center franchises of "charging for parts and services that were not needed and in some cases not provided, making false or misleading statements, and departure from accepted trade standards." One of the franchises named in the 100-page complaint is the Midas Auto Service Center located at 13745 E. 14th Street in San Leandro. Midas Auto Service Centers in Hayward, Dublin, and Fremont, were also named in the complaint.

The franchises are all owned by Maurice Irving Glad. A three-year investigation found 105 alleged violations, including a classic "bait and switch" where the franchises "advertised brake services and repairs at the advertised prices, but intended to entice consumers into more costly transactions."

If you have a complaint related to these businesses or any auto repair facility, call 1-800-952-5210 or visit the BAR’s Web site at www.autorepair.ca.gov.

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Council Delays Action on Revenue-Generating Measures

On Monday, July 21, 2008, the San Leandro City Council made no decision whether to proceed with three possible ballot measures to generate revenue for the City. The City Council recently approved a budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year with a $4.4 million structural deficit and an ad-hoc committee was formed to look at ways to increase revenue for the City.

The possible measures recommended by the ad-hoc committee include an update to the utility users tax, originally adopted in 1972, which taxes telephone, electrical, gas, and cable television. The tax generates about $4 million each year and unless changes are made, the City may lose out on $3 million each year.

Another possible measure to protect existing revenue is to change the 911 fee to a tax without changing the $2.5 million in revenue it provides each year. The legality of the 911 fee has been challenged in other cities and there is a chance that if the challenges are successful, the City could lose this as a source of income. However, in order to change the fee to a tax, it would require the approval of 2/3 of voters.

The third measure to generate revenue under consideration is a parcel tax to support police services. According to the staff report, the tax would be linked to the Police Department Strategic Plan and staff recommends a sunset clause that would end the tax after four years. The parcel tax would generate an estimated $2.6 million annually. A parcel tax would also require the approval of 2/3 of voters.

Recent parcel taxes put forth by the City of San Leandro and the San Leandro Unified School District (SLUSD) have both failed. In November 2004, Measure DD, a police and fire parcel tax, failed with just 50.5% of the vote (66.67% was required to pass). That parcel tax would have assessed $78 for single-family residences, $46.80 per multi-family unit and $16 per thousand square feet for industrial and commercial properties and had a sunset clause of five and a half years.

In April 2006, Measure A, a parcel tax for San Leandro schools failed with 61.04% in favor (66.67% needed to pass). The tax would have assessed one-and-two tenths cents ($0.012) per square foot per parcel for a period of six years.

The meeting coincided with Mayor Tony Santos' 53rd wedding anniversary and the City Council approved a resolution to increase the Mayor's car allowance from $250 to $375 each month. The allowance had been set at $375 per month in 1997 and was decreased in January 2007 to $250 per month. City Councilmembers may receive up to $125 for travel reimbursement each month.

The City Council revised its contract with City Manager John Jermanis to extend his employment through September 5, 2008. Assistant City Manager Steve Hollister received a contract to be Interim City Manager from September 6, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

The three potential ballot measures will be revisited on July 28, 2008.

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July 21, 2008

New Book on History of Portuguese in San Leandro

The Portuguese in San Leandro cover On July 7, 2008, Arcadia Publishing released a new book entitled The Portuguese in San Leandro, a photographic history of Portuguese culture in San Leandro.

Current indications of San Leandro's Portuguese history include the União Portuguesa do Estado da Califórnia (Portuguese Union of California or U.P.E.C.), which was established in San Leandro in 1880, the annual Holy Ghost festival, the Holy Ghost Chapel and Ides Hall, and the monumument to the Portuguese immigrant at Root Park.

The book is part of Arcadia's Images of America series, which has produced more than 3,000 similar books focusing on the photographic histories of towns and local cultures throughout the United States. The author, Meg Rogers, is a volunteer with the Milpitas Historical Society, who also wrote The Portuguese in San Jose. It was while she was researching that book at the J.A. Freitas Library at UPEC in San Leandro, that she found the information published in her newest book.

Autographed copies of the book are available at A World of Books, located at 137 Pelton Center Way in San Leandro.

Arcadia Publishing will also be publishing a photographic history of San Leandro authored by Cynthia Vrilakas Simons, known to San Leandrans as Cindy Simons, in October 2008, entitled San Leandro.

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July 14, 2008

Two Angry Moms to Screen at San Leandro Library on Wed. July 16

Two Angry Moms Poster On Wednesday, July 16, 2008, the documentary Two Angry Moms will be shown at the San Leandro Library. The documentary follows Susan Rubin as she tries to get her school district to make its school lunches more healthy. The film was produced by independent filmmaker Amy Kalafa, who shared Rubin's goal of replacing fatty and sugary foods with fresh fruit and vegetables.

Rubin writes, "My hope is that other parents who aren't too pleased about the food and junk food rewards their kids receive at school will be inspired by the film to take action in their own schools. If you’re not angry about what is being served in your kid’s school, maybe you ought to be!"

Two Angry Moms will be shown at 7:30pm at the San Leandro Library at 300 Estudillo Ave. Admission is free but registration is required.

The movie is sponsored by Shaping Youth, Bay Area Parent, the Downtown San Leandro Farmers' Market, and Fresh Approach.

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July 12, 2008

City of San Leandro Website Unavailable Again

Surfers trying to reach the City of San Leandro web site on Saturday, July 12, 2008, were greeted with a login prompt:

City of San Leandro web site unavailable

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July 11, 2008

San Leandrans Line up for the iPhone

Waiting in line for the iPhone 3G in San Leandro

More than 40 people lined up before 8am at the AT&T store in downtown San Leandro on Friday, July 11, 2008, the first day that the new iPhone 3G was available.

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July 9, 2008

San Leandro Opens Cooling Center at Marina Community Center

According to San Leandro Recreation and Human Services Director Carolyn Knudtson, the Cooling Center at the Marina Community Center will be open from 11am to 7pm today, Wednesday, July 9, 2008, to provide residents with a safe, air-conditioned environment.

Water, television, movies, and games will be available for those who take advantage of the cooling center.

Although the activation temperature for the cooling center has been set at 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 38° Celsius) like other cooling centers in Alameda County, it may be set lower since San Leandro doesn't get as hot as other parts of the Bay Area and most residents do not have air conditioning.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has declared Wednesday, July 9 a "Spare the Air" day and Pacific Gas & Electric has requested that consumers and businesses reduce their power use over the next few days to reduce the possibility of brownouts and blackouts.

The Marina Community Center Cooling Center is located at 15301 Wicks Blvd. in San Leandro.

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July 2, 2008

San Leandro Company IPO Raises $119 Million

Energy Recovery Inc.'s building

San Leandro-based Energy Recovery, Inc. raised $119 million in its initial public offering on July 2, 2008. The price of $8.50 per share was near the top of the expected range of $7 to $9 per share. The stock trades on the NASDAQ exchange as the symbol ERII.

As San Leandro Bytes reported in April 2008, Energy Recovery develops and manufactures energy recovery devices used in water desalination, primarily sea water reverse osmosis. From 2006 to 2007, Energy Recovery's earnings more than doubled.

Energy Recovery is located at 1908 Doolittle Drive in San Leandro.

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July 1, 2008

San Leandro Schools Awarded $3 Million Grant

At the June 30, 2008, meeting of the San Leandro School Board, Emily Kaplan, the School District's grant-writer, announced that the School District was awarded a six-year, $3 million grant. The grant is part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), a competitive grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

According to the GEAR UP website, "This discretionary grant program is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools. GEAR UP grantees serve an entire cohort of students beginning no later than the seventh grade and follow the cohort through high school." In 2007, just six GEAR UP grants were awarded, including one to the San Francisco Unified School District. In 2005, a partnership including Cal State East Bay and Oakland Unified School District was awarded a GEAR UP grant.

SLUSD will partner with the University of California's Early Academic Outreach Program and Chabot College to focus on students in 7th grade at Bancroft and John Muir Middle Schools. In order to increase the number of students who are prepared for colleges and universities, the grant will be used for increased student support such as tutoring and enrichment programs, financial counseling, and college awareness and preparedness training and professional development for teachers.

For more information, see the press release below:


Press Release
July 1, 2008

San Leandro Unified School District to receive $3 million multi-year GEAR UP funding to support college bound students

[San Leandro, CA July 1, 2008] Superintendent Christine Lim announced last night during a special meeting of the Board of Education that the District received notification that it will be one of twenty school districts nationwide to receive a GEAR UP grant award from the United States Department of Education.

GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a discretionary grant program designed to significantly increase the number of underrepresented students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. The District will receive $3 million over six years to provide extensive professional development and intensive academic supports to an entire cohort of seventh grade San Leandro students, following these students through high school and graduation.

"We cannot begin to describe our excitement over getting this six year grant," said Superintendent Lim. "We have participated in ongoing reform work related to equity, culturally relevant teaching, and the needs of English Learners, all designed to close the achievement gap for African American and Latino students while improving the achievement of all students. We have seen some success through this work and are certain that with additional support, we will truly be able to close the achievement gap and prepare our students for post secondary educational opportunities."

Lim added that GEAR UP will support AVID activities at both middle schools, and follow the entire seventh grade class through graduation of high school, providing a wide array of services and opportunities to see that they continue their education and learn the skills necessary to succeed. Currently, both John Muir Middle School and San Leandro High School are AVID National Demonstration Schools and 95% of SLHS AVID graduates go onto a four year college.

"Limited resources have prevented us from implementing AVID at both middle schools," said Superintendent Lim, "but now GEAR UP will provide us the resources to see that AVID is district-wide." According to Lim, the college preparation program targets students in the middle who are capable of doing rigorous work but not reaching their full potential. "Many are African American and Latino students, or from low income families, and are the first in their families to attend college," Lim added. "GEAR UP will allow us to provide important outreach to families about the pathways to college, as well as financial aid workshops. Many families who want their children to go to college do not know the steps needed to make it a reality."

GEAR UP funding will also provide supports for after school programs and interventions, professional development for teachers, community partnerships and visits to college campuses. "We continue to see transformations taking place on our campuses, and in the lives of our students and families," added Superintendent Lim. "GEAR UP will provide greater opportunity to a greater number of students."

"It was the district's equity work that secured us this grant," said the district grant writer Emily Kaplan. "This work is garnering us national attention and creating better opportunities for all San Leandro students."

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