January 30, 2009

Ghirardelli Gets PETA Award for Best Vegan Chocolate

San Leandro's own Ghirardelli Chocolate won an award for Best Vegan Chocolate from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for its Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, according to a press release issued January 30, 2009.

Ghirardelli beat out Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, Tropical Source Rice Crisp Chocolate Bars, and Junior Mints Deluxe as part of PETA's annual Libby Awards.

The Ghirardelli factory and factory store are located at 1111 139th Avenue in San Leandro.

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January 26, 2009

San Leandro Teacher Sets Another Running Record

Bancroft Middle School teacher Jim Sorensen set a new record for the men's elite mile at the 42nd annual Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile held at Cornell University on Saturday January 24, 2009. With a time of 4 minutes, 17.08 seconds, Sorensen eclipsed the record set in 1993 by John Bermingham and the fastest time in the events history.

Sorensen is 41 years old and has been setting new running records since he turned 40.

Some of his earlier accomplishments have been covered in June 2007 and December 2008.

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Second WalMart Opening Merits Only Two Councilmembers

San Leandro Councilmembers Ursula Reed and Bill Stephens were the only two to make it for the opening of San Leandro's second Walmart store on January 14, 2009. Although the new Walmart touts more than 300 new jobs in a tattered economy, other Councilmembers skipped the event. Councilmember Jim Prola has consistently opposed Walmart's labor practices and spoke out against the original San Leandro Walmart on Davis Street while other Councilmembers have or want to have close ties to organized labor.

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State Schools Superintendent Stops in San Leandro to Push for School Meal Funding

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell held a press conference in San Leandro on Friday, January 23, 2009, to advocate for passage of AB95, a bill to provide for additional funding for subsidized meals in California's public schools. O'Connell was joined by the bill's author, Assemblymember Tom Torlakson, who is running for State Superintendent in 2010, Sandee Larsen, Director of Child Nutrition for the San Lorenzo Unified School District, and Ken Hecht, the Executive Director of California Food Policy Advocates.

Larsen noted that San Lorenzo Unified has seen a 6% increase over the previous year in students who are qualified for free and reduced meals. San Leandro Unified has had a 17% increase in students receiving free and reduced meals over the previous year. Last year, California ran out of money for subsidized meals in May and local school districts made up the difference.

According to the California Department of Education, more than 770 million free/reduced meals were served in 2007-2008, a 4.5% increase over the previous year. The subsidized meal program dates back to the "safety net" programs enacted in response to the Great Depression.

The press conference was held at Corvallis Elementary in San Leandro, California.

Superintendent Jack O'Connell's remarks:

Assemblymember Tom Torlakson's remarks:

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January 13, 2009

San Leandro Gets "F" For Efforts at Discouraging Smoking

The American Lung Association of California gave the City of San Leandro an "F" for its efforts to discourage smoking in its 2009 State of Tobacco Control report. The report grades California cities in areas such as smokefree housing, reducing sales of tobacco products, and regulating outdoor smoking.

Neighboring Alameda also received an "F" while Hayward received a "C" and Oakland received a "B." Oakland and Berkeley received the highest scores.

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January 8, 2009

Second San Leandro Walmart to Open January 14, 2009

San Leandro's second Walmart will open on Wednesday, January 14, 2009, at the site of a former Target store. After a ribbon-cutting at 7:30am, the store will open for business at 8am.

In a press release highlighting the store opening, San Leandro Chamber of Commerce President David Johnson states, “The San Leandro Chamber is committed to the vibrancy of our business community, and we welcome Walmart and the more than 300 jobs this store is bringing to our community...We urge San Leandro residents and businesses to ‘Shop San Leandro First!’, supporting our businesses and keeping our tax dollars local, thereby helping to maintain our vital city services.”

Walmart is donating $15,000 to local organizations such as the Davis Street Family Resource Center, Catholic Charities, Boys and Girls Club, Girls, Inc., and the San Lorenzo Unified School District to demonstrate "its support of the area."

Despite the faltering economy, Walmart, the largest U.S. retailer, reported a 1.9% increase in same store sales in December 2008 compared to 2007. Walmart also recently agreed to settle 63 class-action lawsuits that alleged violations of labor laws. The settlements could cost up to $640 million.

The new Walmart is located at 15555 Hesperian Boulevard at the intersection with Lewelling.

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January 6, 2009

Faith Fellowship Church Loses Lawsuit Against San Leandro

According to a press release dated January 6, 2009, from the City of San Leandro's legal firm, Meyers Nave, "United States District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton rejected each of the Church’s [Faith Fellowship] nine legal claims" against the City of San Leandro.

The Church's lawsuit contended that the City of San Leandro violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) when it didn't agree to rezone land that the church had purchased for expansion. Judge Hamilton said that there was no evidence of religious discrimination or arbitrary treatment, that the City had a compelling interest in maintain the zoning designation of industrial areas, and that RLUIPA does not require preferential treatment for churches over other property owners.

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January 4, 2009

City Council Seeks Applicants for Boards and Commissions

San Leandro Councilmembers Ursula Reed, Joyce Starosciak, and Jim Prola are looking for residents willing to serve on the nine boards and commissions that provide guidance to the City Council.

Those boards and commissions include the Board of Zoning Adjustments, Human Services Commission, Planning Commission, Library-Historical Commission, Recreation and Parks Commission, Personnel Relations Board, Senior Commission, and Youth Advisory Commission.

The Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Adjustments and Youth Advisory Commission are scheduled to meet twice a month and all other commissions meet once a month or less frequently.

Applicants must be registered to vote and live in San Leandro in Districts 2, 4, or 6 (see the City Council district map at http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/CouncilWeb2007.html to find out which district you live in). The members of the City Council submit nominations which are approved by the entire City council.

For more information about each of the commissions and boards, download the application at http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/pdf/commission.pdf.

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