June 25, 2009

Linda Granger Appointed San Leandro High School Principal

The San Leandro School Board unanimously approved the appointment of Linda Granger as Principal of San Leandro High School at its meeting on June 25, 2009. Granger served as the Associate Principal at San Leandro High School for five years and replaces Amy Furtado, who was hired as the Principal of Logan High School on June 2, 2009.

Granger grew up in San Leandro, attended Roosevelt Elementary, and graduated from San Leandro High School in 1985. She has a BA from Boston College and a Masters from Cal State Hayward.

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June 23, 2009

Free Screening of "Torturing Democracy" on July 2 at Zocalo

Torturing Democracy

The San Leandro Community Action Network (SLCAN) will show the documentary Torturing Democracy as part of its monthly film series on Thursday, July 2, 2009. Award-winning producer Sherry Jones presents a comprehensive documentary—more than 18 months in the making—"tells the inside story of how the U.S. government adopted torture as official policy in the aftermath of 9/11."

“Please watch ‘Torturing Democracy.’ It isn't easy to watch; but what so many innocent (and guilty) individuals were subjected to in your name was unimaginably harder. As readers know, I've been fixated on this since Abu Ghraib. But that documentary made me ill by forcing me again to absorb the enormity of what Bush and Cheney have done—and the urgent, urgent task of repairing the damage. If America is to recover, those responsible must be put on trial. Including the president.”

—Andrew Sullivan, Atlantic Monthly.com

The screening is free and starts at 7pm at Zocalo Coffeehouse at 645 Bancroft Avenue (near Dutton) in San Leandro.

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Swimming and Music at Farrelly Pool on Thursdays

farrelly flyer

Swim to the sounds of jazz music with Herd 'a Cats on Thursday night, June 25, 2009, at Farrelly Pool. Supporters of Farrelly Pool have organized a series of family nights on Thursday nights to encourage attendance at the pool and to help keep the pool open next year. The pool had been slated to close for the season as a result of City budget cuts, but supporters lobbied City Hall and managed to keep the pool open, but with reduced hours and increased fees.

Farrelly has grills for barbecues and you are encouraged to bring a picnic and family games.

For more information about Farrelly Pool, see the web site from the campaign to save Farrelly.

Admission is $5 (music included). Farrelly Pool is located next to Roosevelt Elementary at 864 Dutton Avenue in San Leandro.

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June 18, 2009

San Leandro School District Prevails at California Supreme Court

In a ruling issued on June 18, 2009, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the San Leandro Unified School District (SLUSD) in a case involving use of district mailboxes. In its decision, the court wrote, "The SLTA sought a writ of mandate to compel the District to reverse its policy against candidate endorsement literature in school mailboxes. Because we determine the District’s policy is lawful, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal reversing the trial court’s granting of SLTA’s writ petition."

The case arose out of the use of district mailboxes by the San Leandro Teachers Association (SLTA) during the 2004 election campaign. The SLTA distributed newsletters to its members in their district mailboxes that included information about SLTA-endorsed candidates, including requests for volunteers to help those candidates.

In October 2004, the SLUSD informed the SLTA that section 7054 of the Education Code prohibited use of district mailboxes to distribute flyers that contain political endorsements.

Section 7054 of the Education Code states:

7054. (a) No school district or community college district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.

The SLTA filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) in November 2004, which was dismissed in June 2005. Then the case went to the courts, where a trial court decided in favor of the SLTA, but the Court of Appeals decided in favor of the SLUSD.

The SLTA now has the option to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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June 17, 2009

Adult School Gets New Principal

At its June 16, 2009, meeting, the San Leandro School Board unanimously appointed Bradley Frazier to replace Susanne Wong as the Principal of the San Leandro Adult School. Wong recently retired after serving 10 years as Principal of the Adult School and nine years as Vice Principal. Frazier has served as Vice Principal at the Adult School since September 2006.

The School Board also unanimously appointed Andrew Soliz as Executive Director of Food Nutrition Services. He replaces Aulani Cler, who is retiring. Soliz was the Director of Maintenance, Operations, Transportation and Child Nutrition at West Fresno Elementary School District and is the President-Elect of the California School Nutrition Association.

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June 15, 2009

Reprieve for San Leandro Hospital?

According to Charles Gilcrest, at this afternoon's meeting of the Government Affairs Committee of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, Eden Medical Center CEO George Bischalaney announced that Sutter Health would exercise its right to provide notice of termination within the next 30 days of its lease at San Leandro Hospital. Sutter Health also sent a letter to the Eden Township Heathcare District stating that it would assign all of its purchase rights to Alameda County or the Alameda County Medical Center.

The agenda for the June 15 meeting of the Eden Township Healthcare District does not include any action item for the Board to vote on, so it appears that there will be no vote at tonight's meeting. However, there is an item on the closed session agenda for discussion of real property negotiations for the San Leandro Hospital property.

Attendees of the Government Affairs Committee meeting included Alice Lai-Bitker representative Shawn Wilson, Eden Medical Center CEO George Bischelaney, San Leandro Councilmembers Michael Gregory and Diana Souza, and former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young.

Activists who want to keep San Leandro Hospital and its emergency room open are discounting these reports and encouraging a big turnout at tonight's meeting.

Tonight's meeting of the Eden Township Healthcare District will take place at 6pm at the San Leandro Library at 300 Estudillo Avenue in San Leandro, California.

Coverage in the Daily Review.

Update: Removed information about possible extension of retrofit deadline since it hasn't been confirmed.

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June 9, 2009

County Supervisors Approve the Eden Hospital EIR 5-0

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Sutter Health's environmental impact report (EIR) for Eden Hospital at its meeting on June 9, 2009. Opponents of closing San Leandro Hospital had hoped to use approval of the EIR as leverage in keeping San Leandro Hospital open.

The day before, hundreds of people who support keeping San Leandro Hospital open crowded the San Leandro Library for a meeting of the Eden Township Healthcare District. The meeting is the first of three meetings to be held at the San Leandro Library to discuss the future of San Leandro Hospital. Subsequent meetings will be held at 1pm on Thursday, June 11, 2009, and at 6pm on Monday, June 15, 2009.

Although not originally on the agenda, Prime Healthcare Services CEO Prem Reddy received a standing ovation after presenting his company's proposal to keep San Leandro Hospital open.

More video after the jump.

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June 4, 2009

Prime Healthcare Services Expresses Interest in San Leandro Hospital

In a letter dated May 29, 2009, Prime Healthcare Services has expressed an interest in leasing and operating San Leandro Hospital.

The proposal states that Prime Healthcare would hire most of the employees of the San Leandro Hospital and "assume the existing Collective Bargaining Agreements."

But is Prime Healthcare the type of company that Sutter Health critics want?

Prime Healthcare is run by Prem Reddy, a cardiologist and healthcare entrepreneur. Prime Healthcare was started by Reddy as Desert Valley Medical Group in 1985. It has since acquired 13 hospitals, mostly located in Southern California.

According to published reports, Prime Healthcare has developed a reputation for taking over hospitals that were losing money and turning them around. However, its business practices have attracted the attention of the California Department of Managed Health Care, which filed a lawsuit in July 2008 to stop Prime Healthcare from a practice known as balance billing. According to a press release, the Knox-Keene Act "prohibits Prime’s practices, where the consumer is billed for emergency services which are the responsibility of the health plans." California DMHC Director Cindy Ehnes described Prime Healthcare as a "serial balance biller whose actions have unjustly threatened the credit rating of thousands of Californians.

A July 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times states, " When Reddy's company, Prime Healthcare Services Inc., takes over a hospital, it typically cancels insurance contracts, allowing the hospital to collect steeply higher reimbursements. It has suspended services -- such as chemotherapy treatments, mental health care and birthing centers -- that patients need but aren't lucrative."

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Rally to Save San Leandro Hospital Attracts Enthusiastic Crowd

A rally to save San Leandro Hospital sponsored by the Community Coalition to Save San Leandro Hospital was held on June 2, 2009, and attracted more than 100 nurses, doctors, community members, and elected officials.

San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos and San Leandro Councilmembers Jim Prola and Michael Gregory were joined by California State Senator Ellen Corbett and California State Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi's representative Chris Parman. Former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young and former San Leandro School Board Trustee Stephen Cassidy were also on hand to show their support.

Fifteen speakers, including doctors, nurses, community members, and elected officials Gregory and Corbett, spoke out against the possible closure of San Leandro Hospital.

Links to additional videos can be found after the break.

Mike Brannan, Calif. Nurses Association Labor Representative
Rabbi Harry Manhoff of Temple Beth Sholom
Jim Ryder and Kay McVeigh
Carole Rogers, R.N.
Dr. Miles Adler, Former Chief of Staff, Eden Medical Center
Dr. Vin Sawhney
Roxanne Lewis
Jennifer Ball
Subroto Kundu, Neurologist
Steven Rosenthal, Chief of Staff, Eden Medical Center

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June 3, 2009

San Leandro High School Principal Has New Job in Union City

San Leandro High School Principal Amy Furtado was hired on June 2, 2009, to be the new Principal at Logan High School in Union City. Furtado has served as Principal of San Leandro High School since 2004 and was hired as an Assistant Principal in 2001.

More details in The Argus.

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June 2, 2009

Councilmember Gregory on the State Money Grab

San Leandro District 1 Councilmember Michael Gregory is featured in a League of California Cities campaign to tell state legislators and the Governor how the state raid on local property taxes will impact their communities. The State of California could take $1.8 million in property tax revenue from City of San Leandro.

San Leandro resident Gabrielle Koizumi also posted a video:

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2009 San Leandro Cherry Festival Schedule and Map

The 2009 Cherry Festival is scheduled for 10am to 6pm on Saturday, June 6, 2009, on West Estudillo Avenue between Hays Street and San Leandro Boulevard. Admission is free.

According to a press release from the City, "The Cherry City Cyclists will provide free valet bicycle parking during the festival at the corner of Davis and Carpentier streets. San Leandro residents are strongly encouraged to walk or bicycle to the festival or take transit to avoid the hassle of traffic and parking."

Other activities include:

  • An Alameda County Fire Department pancake breakfast at Station #9, located at 450 Estudillo Avenue, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., cost: $5.
  • The City’s first juried art exhibition – called “Images of Northern California” – featuring the works of 20 local artists will be on display at the San Leandro History Museum and Art Gallery.
  • The History Museum will also feature a history exhibit focusing on the activities and notable citizens involved with the 1909 Cherry Festival.
  • San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos will welcome festival-goers and issue special anniversary proclamations at 1 p.m. on the Main Stage.
  • Passport to San Leandro History – A commemorative passport booklet will be available for collecting stamps at 10 historic sites downtown between noon and 4 p.m. Passports booklets can be obtained from the History Museum.
  • Casa Peralta tours will be held throughout the day at the historic Casa Peralta site, located at 384 West Estudillo Avenue.
  • Living History Activities for kids will be offered at the History Museum courtyard between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., where children can play old-fashioned games such as bowling hoops and graces, make tin art, rope the museum’s own pet cow (made of plastic and wood!) and create tile rubbings.
  • The festival’s Cherry Store will once again offer a variety of cherry-themed items, such as canvas bags, coffee mugs, wine glasses, jewelry and other hand-crafted items. [Receive a free water bottle with purchase of $5 or more (while supply lasts).]

Main Stage Entertainment
10:00amTamika Nicole
1:00pmMayor's Welcome and 100 Year Anniversary Recognition
2:00pmDani Paige Band
3:30pmWilly G
5:00pmLa Ventana
Community Stage Entertainment
9:30amSan Leandro Municipal Band
11:00am100 Year Anniversary Royal Procession and Pageant
12:00pmB’Dazzled Dancers
1:00pmPallen's Martial Arts Demonstration Team
1:30pmChinese Community of San Leandro, Chinese Lion Dance
2:30pmDC Dance
3:30pmThe Ruach Players

2009 San Leandro Cherry_Festival Map - small

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June 1, 2009

San Leandro City Council Adopts $134.6 Million Budget

On a vote of 4 to 2, the San Leandro City Council adopted a $134.6 million budget for 2009-2010 on June 1, 2009. Councilmembers Joyce Starosciak and Diana Souza voted against adoption of the budget. Ursula Reed was absent. The budget includes $78.2 million in the General Fund, $15.1 million for the Redevelopment Agency, $12.8 million for water pollution control, environmental services, shoreline fund, and storm water fund, and $28.5 million for other activities.

Starosciak criticized the Finance Committee (Jim Prola, Tony Santos, and Michael Gregory) for saving services (the branch libraries and Farrelly Pool) instead of communicating the City's "desperate situation." Starosciak also objected to the use of "$250,000 insurance reserves to save" these services. The budget transfers a total of $1.4 million from the Self Insurance Fund, but Starosciak didn't object to the other $1.15 million transferred from that fund. Starosciak's comments are reprinted after the break.

The vote against the budget by Starosciak and Souza came as a surprise to Mayor Santos and the other members of the City Council. Santos noted that the budget had been discussed during the preceding eight months and these issues had been referred to the Finance Committee as appropriate.

Starosciak's vote and her comments are viewed by some insiders as the opening salvo in a possible run to unseat Santos as Mayor of San Leandro. Former School Board member Stephen Cassidy and former Mayor Shelia Young have also been mentioned as possible Mayoral candidates. When asked about whether they planned to run, Young and Cassidy said that they hadn't decided and Starosciak hadn't responded at the time of this article.

In other actions, the City Council nominated Thomas Makin as the District 2 member of the Board of Zoning Adjustments Makin served on the Recreation and Parks Commission for six years and will replace Melody Marr. Makin is the Deputy Director of Operations for the Housing Authority of Alameda County. Marr is the CEO of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.

Lee Thomas was nominated as the District 3 member of the Human Services Commission. Thomas also serves on the Shoreline-Marina Committee and replaces Robert Vergara, who had served for a year and a half.

Lawrence Smith was nominated as the District 3 member of the Library-Historical Commission. Smith replaces Renee Souza, who was appointed in March 2007.

The complete text of Starosciak's comments from the June 1, 2009, San Leandro City Council meeting:

I’d like to thank the City Manager and Staff for their very hard work on the budget this year. The City Manager and Finance Director informed the Council early on that cuts in staffing would be required to balance our budget for the coming year. The communication with the City Employees has been excellent. The City Manager’s goal of a 5% reduction in public safety and a 15% reduction in all other departments was a well-chosen, measured and equitable strategy. It balanced our priorities, with a need to trim in all departments.

I also want to thank the Department Heads for their special efforts this year to maintain a hiring freeze, and in general to keep budgets tight which led to $300,000 in savings for our reserves this next fiscal year.

As hard as the Staff has worked this year, I am voting “No” on the recommendation from the Finance Committee for the 2009-10 budget. This budget started out equitable and realistic, it has become political and unrealistic.

The 15% reductions in all departments but public safety was agreed to be equitable and the Council was fully supportive. However, the community did not fully understand this and so when their local services were announced to be cut, they challenged the Council to return their favorite service.

Instead of communicating our desperate situation, the Finance Committee looked for ways to save the services that had the loudest clamoring.

The suspension of the Mulford Marina Branch and the South Branch libraries generated a great deal of fervor. Rightfully so, as many people enjoy all of our branch libraries. However, to keep them open, even at reduced hours, we are required to change our 15% strategy of reductions to a 10% policy for Libraries only and utilize almost a quarter of a million dollars of our insurance reserves.

This has become a political decision and it is inequitable to all other departments.

It was only 3 years ago that the Manor Branch library suspended its service for over 18 months to be rebuilt. During that time all of District 4 had to utilize other locations for library services. Then, as now, the suspension of the branch library service was for a better future in San Leandro. We knew that, and survived without our local library and felt fortunate to have long hours of operation at alternative locations in San Leandro. This year, we should have better communicated to our constituents that the suspension of the branch libraries means longer hours of operations and maintenance of the alternative locations. In the future, under this proposed budget, we are destined for drastic reductions in library and other operations.

Then, the suspension of Farrelly pool services brought out a literal flood of protests. Farrelly is well used by the neighboring families and it is right that they work to keep their pool open.

Still, in 2005, the Washington Manor Pool was closed for over a year and a half, which meant a season and a half of swimming was completely suspended. And even beyond that, when it reopened, Washington Manor was without its diving depth pool. To this day, all parents on the west side of town must take their children across town for advanced swimming lessons and teenagers can no longer walk and must be driven across town to enjoy swimming at their level. District 4 has not complained because they knew in 2005 that eventually they would be given all of the services that have been enjoyed by the rest of the City in both shallow and diving depth pools.

Washington Manor suffered a year and a half of concurrent library and swimming services suspended. To this day, we still don’t have a diving depth pool. Yet we knew it was for a better San Leandro future.

That is the same as we are asking our citizens today. The suspension of the Mulford/Marina branch and South branch services and the suspension of Farrelly pool services are for the betterment of the City’s future. By suspending those services, we are maintaining services for long hours in other parts of town. And with this inconvenience, our plan is to have enough revenue to re-open those facilities in future years. We should be communicating that message, not giving in to the clamoring.

There were also community protests over the Community Assistance Grants and the Children’s History Museum program – one which has been recommended for funding, and one which has not.

This shows how political the budget has become.

Our budget has also become unrealistic because of the growing number of optimistic projections that have received our quiet consent. We are budgeting based upon a number of assumptions that have us collectively crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Some of the assumptions are:

  • 6 police officers will be fully funded by the Federal Recovery Act

  • Business license fees, property taxes and sales tax revenue will increase in a year of continued recession

  • The State will not carry out their plan to borrow $1.8M to balance California’s budget

These are not conservative projections, but have been defined as optimistic projections. When these assumptions fail, it will mean an additional shortfall of Millions of dollars further diving into our emergency reserves.

For all of these reasons, I am not in favor of using our $250,000 insurance reserves to save any programs this year.

However, in a spirit of consensus, at our last meeting Councilmember Souza, in an effort to balance community needs, suggested, and I supported, a Finance Committee consideration of using the insurance savings that supported the branch libraries to help fund the Farrelly pool services.

Instead, the Finance Committee took a different tact, proposing to double the pool entrance fees and potentially reduce hours at all our other pools. This means we plan to serve the same number of swimmers at twice the cost at up to half the hours. This does not make sense to me.

So I plan to make a motion for the Finance Committee to reconsider redistributing the $250k insurance reserves between library and recreation services to:

1. Provide some hours of operation at Farrelly without raising prices or reducing hours at the San Leandro Family Aquatics Center.
2. Maintain the Children’s History Museum program with a school fee to recover 50% of the costs.

And also the Council should communicate to the Community Assistance Grant applicants that funding this year will be whole, but in future years their General Fund support will likely be devoted to core services like Public Safety.

A balanced budget in this economy requires a firm stand and an effort to communicate our dire situation to our citizens. Although it feels difficult, this budget has been relatively easy due to the use of 3 million dollars in reserves. Next year, with no remaining reserve, it will be much, much worse, and we must start communicating that message. I plan to work with the community to do all we can to weather the coming 2010-11 budget storm.

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