September 9, 2014

San Leandro Police May Soon Get Armored Personnel Carrier

Although it has never been discussed at a San Leandro City Council meeting, San Leandro is poised to receive $200,000 towards the purchase of a Bearcat armored personnel carrier as part of a grant distributed by the Alameda County Sheriff. This is the same type of armored personnel carrier deployed in response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Lenco Bearcat in Ferguson, Missouri
Bearcat armored personnel carrier in action in Ferguson

The cities of San Jose and Davis recently announced that they would be sending back their mine-resistant armored vehicles. In Washington, D.C., Congress has been reconsidering whether loading up local law enforcement with used military hardware is a good idea.

According to the agenda for the Tuesday September 9, 2014, meeting of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the San Leandro Police Department will receive $200,000 towards the purchase of a Lenco Bearcat Medevac Tactical Armored Vehicle. The funds come from a $1.6 million “Homeland Security Grant for disaster assistance and overall management of regional emergency response activities.”

The armored vehicle has “steel armor plate certified to defeat multi-hit attacks from 7.62 AP / .50 Cal BMG, while ceilings and floors provide enhanced blast and fragmentation protection.” according to the company web site. It also features “a roof hatch with a gunner’s stand” and “gun ports.” There is also a military version of the vehicle, but the agenda item doesn't indicate which version San Leandro is getting.

The version of Bearcat sought by the San Leandro Police Department

While San Leandro gets $200,000 for an armored personnel carrier, other allocations from the grant were for emergency and disaster response equipment:

  • $300,000 for an interoperability communication system
  • $61,703 for protective chemical suits
  • $76,246 for a handheld chemical identification unit
  • $200,000 to support Community Emergency Response Teams
  • $83,930 for an automated remote air monitoring system
  • $115,786 to support a newly-developed Medical Reserve Corp

Mayor Stephen Cassidy, in response to questions about the vehicle, noted that it "is not a military personal carrier distributed to police departments through the U.S. Department of Defense 1033 program." In his response, Cassidy referred to the armored vehicle as a "rescue truck" and said, "Should the department receive the grant, it remains within the authority of the City Council to decide whether or not the police department should accept the grant." The City Council was informed on July 9, 2014, that the police department had applied for the grant, but apparently were not aware of the grant award on today's agenda for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Cassidy also confirmed that purchase of an armored personnel carrier has never appeared on a San Leandro City Council agenda.

The Oakland Police Department has a Bearcat armored personnel carrier that was used in response to the Occupy Oakland protests. The Hayward Police Department and Alameda County Sheriff have Bearcats as well. The Alameda Police Department and East Bay Parks Regional Park Police have similar vehicles made by The Armored Group.

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March 10, 2013

Heron Bay Homeowners Association Appeals Approval of Halus Wind Turbine

Two weeks after San Leandro's Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) approved a height variance for a 100-foot-tall wind turbine at Halus Power Systems at its February 7, 2013, meeting, the Heron Bay Homeowners Association filed an appeal with the San Leandro City Council.

On February 7, 2013, the BZA voted 4-0 to approve a height variance for a wind turbine at Halus Power Systems at 2539 Grant Avenue. Halus filed an application to install a wind turbine that exceeds by 40 feet the 60-foot height limit for structures on properties that are zoned IG (General Industrial), which necessitated approval of a variance. BZA members Janet Palma, Thomas Makin, and Jane Abelee were not present at the meeting. Catherine Vierra Houston, who was re-appointed to the BZA by District 4 Councilmember Benny Lee just three days earlier, voted in favor of the variance. BZA members Rene Mendieta, Phil Daly, and Lee Thomas also voted in favor of the variance. Councilmember Lee has actively opposed the wind turbine and was President of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association when it threatened to sue the City of San Leandro unless an Environmental Impact Report was required.

The appeal, filed by A. Alan Berg, the attorney for the Heron Bay Homeowners Association, claims that the BZA “improperly and illegally granted a variance to Halus Power Systems,” that approval of the variance was “not supported by required findings,” and that BZA member Janet Palma's actions prior to the hearing constituted possible prejudice.

The actions of Janet Palma referred to in the appeal are comments she posted to a San Leandro Patch article about the November 2012 election. Palma's comments that mentioned Halus included “...not true that Halus has no local support, in fact just the opposite.” and “I do believe that there is support for the Halus wind turbine and that all information needs to be heard before it is considered a dead deal.” These comments were made on November 8, 2012, three months before the BZA meeting. Palma did not attend the February 7, 2013, BZA meeting and did not vote on the variance. The appeal states, “...her prejudicial comments regarding appellant and her pre-determined decision to grant the variance were published on or about November 7, is certainly arguable and possible, that Ms. Palma infected and influenced the remaining Board members and city staff well before the public hearing.”

The appeal states that “it takes no great imagination to see that the turbine will constitute an eyesore. One that damages the near perfect scenic view of the marsh, the creek and the bay.” Halus is bordered on the west by a salvage yard, on the south and east by commercial/industrial properties, and 120-foot-tall electrical transmission towers are located between the Heron Bay development and San Francisco Bay. Photo simulations showing the wind turbine were prepared by Halus, but the appeal rejects the photo simulations, stating, “the subject photos simulations are all taken from public trail and bay views. None of them are taken from the home sites of the approximately 25 homes that would be directly affected...”

Councilmember Benny Lee's letter opposing the wind turbine is cited in the appeal: “The Association is aware that Benny Lee, the president of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association, has independently sent written comments listing six separate concerns that he has with the proposed project. The Association hereby incorporates and adopts each and every point raised by Mr. Lee in his comments.”

The wind turbine is cited as a potential hazard to air navigation, with the appeal stating, “There is little doubt that should an air catastrophe occur, and should disaster be traced back to interference from the proposed wind turbine, that the City would be liable for all resultant damages as the result of their refusal to demand a full EIR...” The Federal Aviation Administration disagrees, and on June 21, 2012, issued a letter stating the wind turbine “would not be a hazard to air navigation..."

The appeal claims that “All studies of wind turbines as they relate to property values indicate that property values will decline for both permanent and temporary periods.” However, a 2009 study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled “The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States” concluded, “Based on the data and analysis presented in this report, no evidence is found that home prices surrounding wind facilities are consistently, measurably, and significantly affected by either the view of wind facilities or the distance of the home to those facilities.”

The risk of bankruptcy is the final argument against the wind turbine, even going so far as to cite Solyndra's 2011 bankruptcy: “There also appears to be no plan in effect in the event that Halus would abandon the project and the site or file bankruptcy. This risk has certainly become more obvious is [sic] recent times as evidenced by the Solyndra disaster.”

According to city staff, there have been four appeals of BZA decisions in the past nine years. In all four cases, the City Council upheld the BZA's decision.

The appeal is scheduled for the April 1, 2013, San Leandro City Council meeting.

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February 6, 2013

San Leandro Perennial Candidate Lou Filipovich Dead at 90

Lou Filipovich in April 2008
Lou Filipovich in 2008
San Leandro's perennial political candidate and gadfly, Lou Filipovich, has died at the age of 90. Filipovich frequently attended meetings of the San Leandro City Council, where he asked his signature questions: “How much will it cost? Who pays? And for how long?”

Filipovich railed against taxes and fees and often took the San Leandro City Council to task for what he said were violations of charter city regulations and municipality boundaries.

He entered at least 30 races between 1990 and 2010, but won only twice. In June 2006, Filipovich won the Republican primary for State Senate District 10 against Laura Riffle. In June 2008, Filipovich was unopposed in the Republican primary for State Assembly District 18. His last election was for San Leandro Mayor, in which he finished last.

Here is Filipovich making an opening statement at a candidate forum in April 2008:

This a list of all of the elections we could find for Filipovich:

Election DateOfficeNo. of VotesWhere he finished
November 2, 2010Mayor of San Leandro9last of six
June 8, 2010Alameda County Supervisor2,407last of four
November 4, 2008Oro Loma Sanitary District Director6,525last of two
November 4, 2008San Lorenzo School Board Trustee3,914last of five
November 4, 2008State Assembly, District 1833,596last of two
June 3, 2008District 4 San Leandro City Council1,856last of three
June 3, 2008State Assembly, District 18 Primary9,009Winner - unopposed
November 7, 2006Oro Loma Sanitary District Director5,069last of five
November 7, 2006State Senate, District 1041,510last of two
June 6, 2006Alameda County Supervisor1,448last of five
June 6, 2006State Senate, District 10 Primary10,973Winner
June 6, 2006Mayor of San Leandro849last of four
November 2, 2004District 4 San Leandro City Council2,904last of three
November 2, 2004Oro Loma Sanitary District Director5,857last of three
November 2, 2004San Lorenzo School Board Trustee2,055last of seven
November 2, 2004State Assembly, District 1817last of three
March 2, 2004State Assembly, District 18Unknownlast of two
November 5, 2002Mayor of San Leandro1,775second of three
November 5, 2002Oro Loma Sanitary District Director5,026last of four
November 5, 2002San Lorenzo School Board Trustee1,493sixth of eight
November 7, 2000District 4 San Leandro City Council7,253last of two
November 7, 2000San Lorenzo School Board Trustee3,955last of six
March 7, 2000Oro Loma Sanitary District Director4,624last of three
November 3, 1998San Lorenzo School Board Trustee3,209third of five
June 3, 1998Mayor of San Leandro???last of four
November 5, 1996San Lorenzo School Board Trustee4,643fifth of six
March 26, 1996District 4 San Leandro City Council4,856last of two
June 7, 1994Oro Loma Sanitary District Director3,593last of five
April 12, 1994Mayor of San Leandro214seventh of eight
April 14, 1992District 4 San Leandro City Council3,458last of two
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January 1, 2013

Contamination Cleanup Slated for San Leandro's Sandpiper Townhomes Complex

Singer-Friden site location map

Elevated levels of toxic volatile organic chemicals were recently detected at the Sandpiper Townhomes complex, which was built on the former Singer Friden factory site. Although the California Department of Toxic Substances Control “certified the completion of the hazardous substances cleanup” at the site in 2003, trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), and vinyl chloride were detected in the soil at concentrations exceeding residential screening levels while TCE and PCE were detected at elevated concentrations in indoor air samples.

URS Corporation plans to install two 18-feet deep soil vapor extraction wells and three soil vapor monitoring wells to collect soil vapor samples to determine the requirements for using soil vapor extraction to clean up the site. Soil samples will also be collected from the wells and analyzed for chlorinated volatile organic compounds. The wells will be installed in Cornwall Way between Blackpool Lane and Claridge Place.

Trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene, were likely used to degrease metal parts as part of the manufacturing process and for plating. Vinyl chloride was used in aerosol spray propellants until 1974.


Friden Calculators on Washington Avenue in San Leandro
Photo of Friden Calculators from San Leandro Library Collection

In 1936, Friden Calculating Machine built a factory on Washington Avenue in San Leandro. The facility manufactured adding machines, calculators (including the first all-transistor electronic calculator, the Friden 130, in 1963) and other mechanical and electrical devices until it closed in 1976. A year later, Citation Home Builders built 190 townhomes in a gated community known as Sandpiper. In 1987, the Hudson Lumber Company sued Sandpiper because the Hudson property had been contaminated by chemicals from the Sandpiper site. In 1995, an investigation confirmed contamination of the Sandpiper site and since the homes were built on the contaminated soil, the contamination was treated in place using groundwater extraction.

Reports on the contamination investigations and monitoring at the Singer Friden/Sandpiper Townhomes site can be found at The new monitoring and extraction wells are scheduled to be installed sometime in 2013.

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December 14, 2012

San Leandro Tennis Great Art Larsen Dead at 87

San Leandro resident and former tennis great Art Larsen died December 7, 2012, in San Leandro at the age of 87. He had been a resident at San Leandro Healthcare Center at 368 Juana Avenue in San Leandro.

Larsen was born in Hayward on April 17, 1925. His father was a boxer and his grandfather was a baseball player. He moved to San Leandro when he was was 7 or 8 years old. At 11 years of age, he began playing tennis and won a tournament at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in 1939 when he was 14. George Hudson at the Berkeley Tennis Club began coaching him at 16 and he graduated from San Leandro High School two years later, in 1943.

Art Larsen at the San Francisco Olympic_Club after winning in 1939
Art Larsen at the San Francisco Olympic Club after winning in 1939
Photo provided by Cindy Simons from Art Larsen's collection

After high school, Larsen said, “I fought in the Battle of the Bulge” in World War II, according to an April 12, 2001, article in the San Leandro Times. After the war, he attended College of the Pacific and then the University of San Francisco (USF). While playing tennis at USF, Larsen was part of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship team and became nationally recognized.

He gained the nickname “Tappy” for his habit of tapping things on the court with his racket for good luck.

Larsen became the number one ranked U.S. Player after winning the US tennis title in 1950 by defeating Herbie Flan. In 1951, he lost in the U.S. Open finals to Frank Sedgman and ranked number three in the world. In 1954, he lost to Tony Trabert in an all-American final at the French Open.

As a result of an accident in Castro Valley in 1956, Larsen's tennis career ended after being ranked in the world top ten in 1954, when he finished second in the US tennis championship. In 1969, Larsen was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Thanks to Cindy Simons for providing information from her interview of Art Larsen in March 2008.

Update: According to his nephew, Larsen was buried on December 13, 2012, at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and Mausoleum in Hayward, California. He is survived by his sister Joyce Stengel; his nephews Willis C. Stengel and Carl A. Stengel and his niece Patricia Rickner. He has no wife or children.

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November 11, 2012

Chabot Dam Seismic Upgrade Will Temporarily Close San Leandro's Chabot Park and Trail

Chabot Dam Upgrade Map
The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is preparing for a seismic upgrade of Chabot Dam that is planned to take a year to complete, starting in the fall of 2014. The upgrade is in response to a 2005 study predicting that Chabot Dam would suffer settlement of 1.5 to 3.5 feet in the event of a maximum credible earthquake of magnitude 7.25 on the Hayward Fault. This potential for settlement was created in the 1880s when surface fill was added to the bottom of the dam. Since the dam is 23 feet higher than the water level, the settlement would not cause the dam to fail, but would require cleanup of the settled soil.

The report also predicts that the tower would fail, potentially damaging the outlet piping. The pavilion, which covers the tower, is scheduled to be removed as part of the upgrade process.

In order to complete the upgrade, between 6,000 and 12,000 truck trips will be needed to haul dirt to and from Chabot Dam. Although the route of truck traffic has not yet been determined, the trucks could use Estudillo Avenue and the bridge across San Leandro Creek at the end of Estudillo Avenue to haul the dirt. This means that San Leandro's Chabot Park will be closed for an extended period of time and will mean summer day camps will have to be moved. The West Shore Trail between Chabot Park and Lake Chabot will also be closed during construction.

The San Leandro City Council received a presentation on the seismic upgrade at its September 17, 2012, meeting. Similar presentations were made to Friends of San Leandro Creek on September 18 and the San Leandro Disaster Council on October 26.

EBMUD will prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prior to starting the project and will provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the draft EIR prior to 2014.

Chabot Dam created Lake Chabot, which provides an emergency water supply for EBMUD, in 1875. Water from Lake Chabot also supplies the Lake Chabot and Willow Park golf courses.

EBMUD's project page is available at and a list of frequently asked questions is available at For more information, contact Michelle Blackwell at

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October 31, 2012

Heron Bay Homeowners Association Threatens to Sue San Leandro Over Wind Turbine

Vestas V17 wind turbine
Halus' Proposed Wind Turbine (not the actual location)
In a letter dated July 31, 2012, the lawyer for the Heron Bay Homeowners Association threatened to sue the City of San Leandro unless it required an environmental impact report for a proposed wind turbine that Halus Power Systems wants to install at its facility. The letter was one of about 25 comments the City of San Leandro received in response to a comment period for a mitigated negative declaration for the proposed wind turbine.

The Heron Bay Homeowners Association, through its attorney, A. Alan Berger, stated that “the Association and its owner/members strongly object to the proposed adopted [sic] of a mitigated negative declaration and will take this matter to the City Council and the appropriate Courts should this MND be approved. The Association demands that an EIR be required for this project.”

Halus Power Systems, owned by Louis Rigaud, refurbishes wind turbines at its facility on Grant Avenue in San Leandro for installation at client locations. The facility is located across San Lorenzo Creek from the Heron Bay housing development.

The proposed wind turbine has become an issue in the San Leandro District 4 City Council race in part because Benny Lee, one of the candidates, is President of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association. Chris Crow, another candidate for the District 4 seat, reported a $500 contribution to his campaign from Halus. At a candidate forum, District 4 candidate Darlene Daevu said that Halus Wind Turbines was one of the two most important issues facing San Leandro and said we can't “afford to let innovative businesses with the potential to create local jobs slip through our fingers.” Justin Hutchison, also a District 4 candidate, wrote on Facebook, “They want to place a bunch of these refurbs [wind turbines] on the san leandro shoreline. Not only will it make it look like crap, there has been no enviromental [sic] study.”

Just days before the end of a 30-day public comment period on a Mitigated Negative Declaration by the City of San Leandro, Lee joined other Heron Bay residents in requesting an extension of the public comment period at the June 18, 2012, City Council meeting. On June 28, 2012, the City extended the comment period by 40 days to July 31, 2012.

Other commenters included the California Department of Fish and Game and East Bay Regional Parks District.

The California Department of Fish and Game, in a letter dated June 29, 2012, had no objections to the wind turbine, but recommended eight “measures to minimize the potential for avian mortalities.” The East Bay Regional Parks District, in its response dated June 21, 2012, said that the Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration prematurely discounted risks to the California clapper rail and California black rail, failed “to analyze or discuss what potential strikes would occur at the proposed projects height,” and didn't provide “supporting information concerning sensitive receptors or where measurements were taken was included” for its statement that noise levels wouldn't exceed 55 decibels.

Of the 22 letters and emails received from individuals during the extended comment period, 16 were identified as being from Heron Bay residents, including San Leandro City Council District 4 candidate and Heron Bay Homeowners Association President Benny Lee. All but one of the letters and emails were opposed to the proposed wind turbine. Concerns raised included the potential for bird kills, effect on recreation activities, effect on property values, visual blight, potential health impacts, and catastrophic failures such as fires and explosions.

Although Lee said in the September 5 edition of the San Leandro Times that he didn't want to share his personal opinion about the wind turbine, his email to the City on July 29 clearly states his opposition to the proposed wind turbine. In his email, Lee cites six reasons for his opposition: 1) Financial hardships for homeowners from declining property values while Halus is consistently profitable year after year in worst economy of last 70 years; 2) Real health issues severely taking away quality of life; 3) Adversely impacting bay shoreline natural aesthetic view with first of kind installation by bay shoreline which may set precedence inviting others to do the same and thereby removing it's natural beauty; 4) Imposes a new unnatural view to homeowners which would have altered their original purchase decision; 5) No defined wind turbine policies in City of San Leandro with public input since this wind turbine is directly adjacent to homes and a natural estuary; and 6) Halus' underlying purpose and intent.

Many of these concerns have been the subject of published studies, a few of which are detailed below.

In December 2009, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published a study entitled, “The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States.” Using data from nearly 7,500 single-family home sales, the study concluded, “Based on the data and analysis presented in this report, no evidence is found that home prices surrounding wind facilities are consistently, measurably, and significantly affected by either the view of wind facilities or the distance of the home to those facilities.”

To address potential health concerns about wind turbines, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Massachusetts Department of Public Health commissioned a study by an independent panel. That report, entitled “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study,” was published in January 2012, and concluded, “The strongest epidemiological study suggests that there is not an association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems.”

Photo simulations prepared by Halus show the proposed wind turbine from a variety of angles. In most of the simulations, the electrical transmission towers are the dominant visual feature. Environmental Science Associates prepared a report for Halus with diagrams showing the shadow cast by the wind turbine. The report concludes, “Using the most stringent criterion for possible shadow effect, the study determined that the proposed project would cast no shadows on the residences from one hour after sunrise to one hour before sunset throughout the year.”

Concerns about bird kills have probably been one of the most well-known criticisms of wind turbines, especially of the turbines that line Altamont Pass. However, this is a single wind turbine and there are hundreds of wind turbines at Altamont Pass. A May 2007 report entitled “Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects” by the National Research Council addressed the issue of human-caused bird kills, including those by wind turbines. The report stated, “Collisions with buildings kill 97 to 976 million birds annually; collisions with high-tension lines kill at least 130 million birds, perhaps more than one billion; collisions with communications towers kill between 4 and 5 million based on "conservative estimates," but could be as high as 50 million; cars may kill 80 million birds per year; and collisions with wind turbines killed an estimated at 20,000 to 37,000 birds per year in 2003, with all but 9,200 of those deaths occurring in California. Toxic chemicals, including pesticides, kill more than 72 million birds each year, while domestic cats are estimated to kill hundreds of millions of songbirds and other species each year.”

Halus plans to use the wind turbine for research and development and provide renewable energy for operations at its facility, which is located south of San Lorenzo Creek from Heron Bay.

The Heron Bay housing development is bordered on the east by a railroad track, to the north by wetlands, to the west by wetlands and 120-foot-tall electrical transmission towers, and to the south by San Lorenzo Creek and a commercial/light industrial area. Halus is zoned as an Industrial General District.

The issue will be taken up at meeting of the Board of Zoning adjustments on December 6, 2012. A second comment period on the Mitigated Negative Declaration opened on October 12 and will end on November 13, 2012, at 4pm. Comments may be submitted by email to or in writing to San Leandro Community Development Department, 835 East 14th Street, San Leandro, CA 94577.

Relevant documents:

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October 20, 2012

Project Literacy Tutors and Learners Team Wins Trivia Bee

Project Literacy Tutors and Learners Team
Project Literacy Tutors and Learners Team with Project Literacy's Cinda Mariscal in foreground

Last year's Trivia Bee Winners, Friends of the Library Gift Shop, lost out to the Project Literacy Tutors and Learners team after nine sudden death question to break a tie at Project Literacy's 19th Annual Trivia Bee. Project Literacy Tutors and Learners came up with World War I as the answer to a question about which war poet Joyce Kilmer died in. Kilmer is best known for the first line of his poem Trees, which begins, “I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree.”

The Mayor and City Council team came in third place after prevailing in sudden death over the San Leandro Players and San Leandro Education Foundation teams.

As in past years, retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Kurtz and Leslie Frates, a San Leandro resident and former professor at Cal State East Bay who has appeared on the television quiz show Jeopardy 14 times, read questions. Students from San Leandro High School acted as scorekeepers for each of the teams.

The only controversy of the evening came in response to a question about the name of Neptune's largest moon. After initially stating the correct answer was Titan (which is actually the largest of Saturn's moons), Trivia Bee officials stated that the correct answer was Triton after objections by numerous teams.

The Trivia Bee also featured a raffle with an iPad, Disneyland tickets, gift certificates, Ghirardelli chocolate, and dozens of other prizes from local businesses and individuals. Funds raised by the Trivia Bee help Project Literacy to provide literacy services to more than 200 adults and 1,500 kids each year.

Twenty-four teams competed in the annual fundraiser that brings in more than $10,000 each year for Project Literacy. Although this is an election year, the only political team was Morgan for City Council. Teams included businesses like State Roofing Systems, San Leandro Times, and organizations such as San Leandro Rotary, San Leandro Players, Arts Council of San Leandro, Alameda County Firefighters, the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, and the San Leandro Police Officers Association.

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October 11, 2012

Lit San Leandro Brings High-Speed Internet to San Leandro Library

The City of San Leandro celebrated the connection of the Main Library to the new fiber-optic loop at ceremony on September 24, 2012. The ceremony featured speeches by Acting Library Director Theresa Mallon, Business Analyst Jeff Kay, OSIsoft founder and Lit San Leandro-owner Patrick Kennedy, and San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy.

The internet connection at the Main Library had previously been limited to 10 megabits per second (Mbps), which was shared between employees and the public. With the new connection, the wireless network used by library patrons will have its own 100 Mbps connection and employees will have a separate 100 Mbps connection. A speed test at the end of the speeches showed a download speed of almost 380 Mbps, but Kay acknowledged that the network was configured in a way to demonstrate the speed of the fiber-optic connection and did not reflect speeds that will be experienced by library patrons.

San Leandro Bytes tested the library connection on the weekend prior to the Monday ceremony and observed a download speed of more than 18 Mbps, nearly twice the speed of the library's previous connection.

The wireless network at the Main Library is free for any library patrons to use with a laptop, tablet, smart phone, or other wireless device.

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September 10, 2012

Two Months Until Partial Polystyrene Ban Goes Into Effect

Polystyrene Ban Ad - San Leandro Times

San Leandro restaurants must stop using polystyrene food packaging as of November 1, 2012, according to an ordinance passed by the San Leandro City Council in October 2011. The ordinance does not apply to retail sales of polystyrene food packaging, which means San Leandro residents will still be able to buy styrofoam cups, plates, and clamshells at local stores and supermarkets. Former Councilmember Joyce Starosciak was the only Councilmember that didn't support the ordinance.

The City of San Leandro has run a few ads in the San Leandro Times, like the one above, to inform local businesses of the upcoming ordinance deadline. The QR code in the ad directs readers to, where the City provides information about the ban.

Warnings will be given to violators of the ordinance, followed by possible fines of $150 for the first violation escalating to up to $600 for additional violations.

State law requires the City to reduce the amount of waste in sends to landfills, and since polystyrene is neither recyclable nor compostable, it doesn't help the City reduce its waste. Styrene is described by the U.S. Environmental Protection agency as "a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and respiratory system" and other health agencies classify it as a suspected carcinogen.

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January 11, 2012

Chris Crow May Be Removed From San Leandro Planning Commission

The agenda for the January 17, 2012, meeting of the San Leandro City Council includes an item for replacing Planning Commissioner Chris Crow. Chris Crow was appointed to the Planning Commission on November 1, 2010, by District 2 Councilmember Ursula Reed, who is up for re-election this year.

Reed said that she appreciates his service and wishes him well. Crow did not respond to questions at the time of this posting, but posted that the first he learned of his potential removal from the Planning Commission was today, a claim denied by Reed.

Appointments to commissions and boards are typically political decisions and appointees tend to be supporters of the Council member who appoints them. The nominations come from individuals members of the City Council but are voted on by the entire City Council. According to paperwork on file with the City of San Leandro, Crow filed to run for the District 2 City Council seat currently held by Reed on September 6, 2011. Former San Leandro School Board member Ken Pon is his campaign treasurer.

Crow isn't the first one to be removed from the Planning Commission. In March 2008, Marcene Nardine was removed from the Planning Commission. Nardine had been appointed by former Mayor Tony Santos, whom she endorsed shortly after finishing third in the June 2006 election. Nardine missed five of 12 Planning Commission meetings since being appointed, including three consecutive meetings.

The City Council Handbook section on Boards and Commissions is silent on reasons for removal of commission members, except for the following:

"If members of a board or commission absent themselves from three consecutive regular meetings of each board or commission, unless by permission of such board or commission expressed in its official minutes, or is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, or ceases to be a qualified elector of the City, their office shall become vacant and shall be so declared by the Council."

Crow works for McDermott Costa Insurance Brokers and graduated from San Leandro High School in 2002. On his application for the Planning Commission, Crow listed his qualifications for the appointment as, "AA, Certified Ins. Counselor, smart, go-getter, care about city, problem solver, hard worker." Crow is on the Board of the San Leandro Education Foundation, active in San Leandro Rotary, and an Assistant Wrestling Coach at San Leandro High School.

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December 21, 2011

Court Decides for Sutter Health in San Leandro Hospital Legal Battle

In a ruling issued today, the First Appellate Court of Appeal decided in favor of Sutter Health in its legal battle with the Eden Township Healthcare District. This means that the fate of San Leandro Hospital could rest with Sutter Health, unless the decision is appealed to and accepted by the California Supreme Court.

Eden Township's legal case rested on an argument that former District CEO George Bischalaney and board member Dr. Francisco Rico had a financial conflict of interest. The court found that "the only reasoned conclusion that can be reached here is that neither of the health care professionals whose actions are in question, Bischalaney or Rico, was afflicted with a conflict of interest that precluded them from participating in the 2008 agreements concerning the general operation and management of the District‘s public hospitals."

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December 5, 2011

San Leandro Police Press Conference on Black Friday Walmart Shooting

On Tuesday, November 29, 2011, the San Leandro Police Department held a press conference to announce the identity of the suspected shooter in the Black Friday robbery and shooting at Walmart. The suspected shooter was identified as 29-year-old Detwone Watson. Another suspect, Tony Phillips, 20, was restrained by the robbery victims until police arrived. San Leandro Police also released surveillance video from Walmart that shows the robbery and shooting. The shooting victim, Christopher Murillo, was shot in the neck, but survived.

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November 10, 2011

Former San Leandro Councilmember Ed Suchman Dies at 99

Edwin Suchman
According to a press release from the City of San Leandro, former San Leandro Councilmember Ed Suchman died on November 9, 2011, at the age of 99.

After he served in World War II in Europe and retired at the rank of Sergeant, Suchman was a Reserve Officer in the San Leandro Police Department for 13 years.

After leaving the police department, Suchman ran for San Leandro City Council in 1978, losing to Johan Klehs. Two years later, he ran for San Leandro School Board and lost to Lois McDonald. In 1982, he defeated Bud Rames to take the District 3 City Council seat and won re-election in 1986 over Julian Polvorosa. After being termed out in 1990, Suchman ran again in 1998, losing to Glenda Nardine. Suchman also served as the City of San Leandro's representative to the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District for 17 years.

Suchman remained active in local politics, even after he moved out of town, endorsing Bill McCammon for Assembly in 2006 and Charles Gilcrest for San Leandro City Council in 2008. Suchman also contributed to Tony Santos' mayoral campaign in 2006.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, November 15, 1:30 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward.

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October 21, 2011

Friends of the Library Gift Shop Team Wins Trivia Bee

From left to right, Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Trivia Bee winners Saul Schultheis-Gerry, Max Gerry, Michael Gerry, and Councilmembers Jim Prola and Diana Souza

In the end, the Friends of the Library Gift Shop team came up with the name of Netflix's short-lived DVD spinoff (Qwikster) to win Project Literacy's 18th Annual Trivia Bee after a three-way tie. The San Leandro Garden Club took second, followed by the Alameda County Firefighters. Last year's winners, former San Leandro City Manager John Jermanis' family, did not field a team this year,

As in past years, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Kurtz read questions for the first round and Leslie Frates, a San Leandro resident and former professor at Cal State East Bay who has appeared on the television quiz show Jeopardy 14 times, read questions for the second and third rounds. Kathy Kurtz served as the official time keeper. Students from San Leandro High School acted as scorekeepers for each of the thirty teams.

In addition to the Trivia Bee, a raffle featured an Apple iPad, Disneyland tickets, and dozens of other prizes from local businesses and individuals. Funds raised by the Trivia Bee help Project Literacy to provide literacy services to more than 200 adults and 1,500 kids each year.

Thirty teams competed in the annual fundraiser that brings in more than $10,000 each year for Project Literacy. Teams included businesses like State Roofing Systems, California Conservatory Theater, San Leandro Players, the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, and the San Leandro Police Officers Association.

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October 20, 2011

San Leandro Police Announce the Arrest of Triple Homicide Suspect

San Leandro Police Sergeant Ted Henderson announces the arrest of Paul Arthur Stevenson, 20, a suspect in a triple homicide at 2661 Alvarado Street in San Leandro on October 2, 2011. The three people killed were Leneasha Northington, 16, a student at San Leandro High School; Joshua Alford, 23, of Oakland; and Shanice Kiel, 19, of San Francisco.

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October 17, 2011

Brian Copeland Gets His Day in San Leandro

In 1972, when Brian Copeland was eight, his family moved from Oakland to San Leandro, California, hoping for a better life. At the time, San Leandro was 99.4 percent white, known nationwide as a racist enclave. This reputation was confirmed almost immediately: Brian got his first look at the inside of a cop car, for being a black kid walking to the park with a baseball bat. That story became the basis for "Not a Genuine Black Man," his solo show that began at The Marsh theater in 2004 and the last performance was more than seven years later at the Marsh Arts Center in Berkeley last month.

Thirty-nine years later, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy proclaimed October 19, 2011, as Brian Copeland day, honoring him as an ambassador of San Leandro. The text of the proclamation:

WHEREAS, Brian Copeland moved to San Leandro with his family as a small child and has remained a resident, proclaiming "San Leandro is my home town"; and

WHEREAS, Brian Copeland attained celebrity for his work in the news media, as a comedian, and most notably for authoring a poignant book about growing up in San Leandro during a time of discrimination and racism which grew into his highly successful one-man play, "Not A Genuine Black Man"; and

WHEREAS, in telling his story, Brian Copeland has become an ambassador for San Leandro, and demonstrates how one can overcome adversity, how neighbors can become friends, and the change that has occurred within San Leandro communities; and

WHEREAS, for more than twenty years, Brian Copeland has been a champion of the Davis Street Family Resource Center, supporting its programs and services in many ways, most notably by raising thousands of dollars every year for the children's nutrition program to ensure that preschool children in the Center's programs have a hot and nutritious breakfast; and

WHEREAS, Brian Copeland's philanthropy and celebrity have brought acclaim and honor to this community.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Stephen H. Cassidy, Mayor of the City of San Leandro, on behalf of the City Council, do hereby proudly proclaim October 19,2011 as "BRIAN COPELAND DAY" in San Leandro.

Copeland's new solo play, "The Waiting Period," will preview at San Francisco's Marsh Theater in November and will open in January. Copeland also is the host of the talk show 7LIVE weekdays at 3pm.

Brian Copeland and son Casey
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October 12, 2011

San Leandro's Second Coffee with the Cops Focuses on Online Information and Recent Incidents

Tuesday morning, San Leandro Police held the second "Coffee with the Cops" meeting with about 15 community members and 11 police officers in a banquet room at Dick's Restaurant.

After a brief introduction by San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli, Officer Pete Ballew stated that the $2.4 million COPS grant that San Leandro received in 2010 enabled the hiring of five former San Jose Police officers who were in the process of being trained. This enabled the department to add a bicycle officer , a school resource officer, and two more tactical officers. The COPS grant funds five police officers for three years and requires that San Leandro pays for the fourth year, estimated at $800,000. Ballew noted that the citizen police academy, which always has a waiting list, starts again in March and applications are accepted in December and January. The first teen police academy was launched this summer and had 16 graduates.

Officer Tim DeGrano was next up with a presentation about information available from the police department website. DeGrano explained CodeRed, a service from Emergency Communications Network that allows the police department to "record, send and track personalized messages to thousands of citizens in minutes." DeGrano recounted a use of CodeRed that enabled the capture of a suspect that had fled from police into the Bay-O-Vista neighborhood.

Next DeGrano showed off the new daily log web page that displays the daily dispatch log which includes most police responses since September 12, 2011. Incidents involving domestic violence, sexual assaults, medical responses, and incidents involving children are not included in the daily logs. Each day's log can be downloaded in PDF or Excel format.

DeGrano noted that San Leandro has a full service police department and will respond to barking dog and burglar alarm calls, unlike many cities. When asked if the police should be called for copper thefts, even when unsure of the date of the theft, DeGrano responded, "Absolutely," because there may still be evidence or may be indicative of a pattern.

Certain crime information can also be reported online, but DeGrano noted that crimes that include a suspect should be called in to the police department and not reported online.

When a business owner asked about whether lights should be left on at her business on E. 14th St., DeGrano said that some prefer to leave lights on while others close up everything to hide what they have. DeGrano asked that anyone who has a cash register empty out the cash register in a way that is visible.

DeGrano encouraged the audience to call the police, even for something like speeding cars, because officers may see the speeding cars just by happening to be in the right place in the right time. Officer Rick De Costa noted that one dispatcher will be on the phone taking a report while the other dispatcher is already sending out information to officers.

Spagnoli noted that there are seven beats throughout San Leandro and there are 7 to 15 officers patrolling San Leandro at any given time of day. According to Spagnoli, there are currently 89 officers, including the Police Chief, captains, lieutenants, and sergeants, a dozen detectives and investigators, three officers assigned to the schools, and two crime prevention and community outreach officers.

Officer Doug Calcagno presented a summary of the incident in which Darnell Hutchinson died after being restrained and tased by four San Leandro Police officers outside of Nations on October 9, 2011. Calcagno noted that "The four officers involved in it happen to be probably four of the nicest officers we have in our department." Calcagno summarized the triple homicide that occurred after a party on October 2, 2011, and noted that San Leandro Police are dealing with similar issues that face Oakland when it comes to trust of the police: the unwillingness of people to come forward with information.

Finally, Calcagno summarized the theft and car chase that resulted in the death of two suspects and major injuries to a third suspect involved in a theft from FoodMax.

One resident complimented the police and then said, "I think too many people try to make Oscar Grant a hero when he was nothing but a thug and the cops are getting a bad rap." Calcagno noted that nearby incidents in Oakland and other places reflect on all police departments.

Spagnoli responded to a question about the length of administrative leave by noting that the length of the leave is determined on a case-by-case basis. The administrative leave to ensure that the officers were mentally fit and have been appropriately debriefed.

Spagnoli went on to address questions she has received about tasers. She stated that, "Tasers are a best practice" and noted that tasers can be used to gain control of a suspect when "you can't gain compliance in another way. There's a fallacy out there that tasers kill people and actually, if you read every report that anybody has been killed associated with a taser, is tasers have not been the primary cause of death in any case. Taser International, the company that puts that out, is very active in defending their use of that equipment." According to Spagnoli, the taser can be used with or without darts. "And it's [an] effective tool, really, to maintain control of somebody who is not complying with peace officer's requests." Spagnoli added, the taser "comes in one speed and you can choose anywhere between one and five seconds, meaning it stops after X amount of seconds."

When asked about dealing with mentally ill people, Spagnoli said that there are specially-trained officers who deal with an estimated 1,000 police calls involving mentally ill people.

The next question involved gang activity in San Leandro, which Officer Neil Goodman described as a generational problem with two gangs, Davis Street Locos and Manor Dro Boys splitting San Leandro into north and south at Marina Boulevard. A shooting two years ago at McKinley Elementary involved the Davis Street Locos and resulted in a sentence of 22 years for the shooter because of gang enhancements to the sentence. Goodman said that kids begin in gangs between the ages of 12 and 14 and that the police are working on a diversion program.

The last question was about funding for more police officers and Spagnoli noted that funding at the state and federal level was drying up. Spagnoli said that they were working on a police foundation to raise money for specific programs and to talk to Officer Ballew for more information.

The next Coffee with the Cops is scheduled for November 8, 2011, from 8 to 9am at the Marina Inn, located at 68 Monarch Bay Drive.

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October 5, 2011

San Leandro City Council Adopts Partial Polystyrene Ban

At its October 3, 2011, meeting, the San Leandro City Council took the final step in approval of a partial ban on polystyrene food packaging in San Leandro. Although Councilmember Diana Souza had voted against the ban at the September 19, 2011 City Council meeting, saying that "we're moving too fast," Souza changed her mind and supported adoption of the ordinance banning styrene. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak, who abstained from the Sept. 19 vote, also abstained from the Oct. 3 vote.

The ban covers "any establishment that prepares and packages prepared food or beverages within the City for public consumption on or off its premises including supermarkets grocery stores delicatessens restaurants sales outlets shops cafeterias mobile food preparation trucks caterers and roadside stands The ordinance also applies to the City of San Leandro and its facilities including vendors who provide food services in City facilities and at City-sponsored events." It does not apply to retail sales of polystyrene food ware, such as cups and plates, nor does it apply to pre-packaged food brought into San Leandro or pre-packaged food prepared in San Leandro for sale outside of the City.

The ban will take effect November 1, 2012, to give businesses time to use up existing inventory and find suitable alternatives.

According to the staff report, the styrene ban is modeled on Hayward's ordinance. Similar bans are already in place in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward and Oakland. Like San Leandro, the bans do not apply to retail sales of polystyrene food ware.

At the September 19 meeting, speakers against the ban included Mike and Cheryl Miraglia of Miraglia Catering, a certified green company that doesn't use polystyrene, Dave Johnson of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, and Tim Holmes of Zocalo Coffeehouse. Johnson called the ordinance bad legislation towards a worthy goal while Holmes supports a ban, but said that the ordinance was not a ban, because it didn't apply to retail sales of polystyrene food ware. Other opponents who contacted the City Council to oppose the ban included the California Restaurant Association and the owners of Porky's Pizza Palace.

Speakers in support of the ban at the September 19 meeting included Miriam Gordon of Clean Water Action, Mario Juarez with the Sierra Club, Christopher Chin with COARE (Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education), and local residents Carrie Spector, Sarah Marxer, Don Franke, Mark and Laura Stout, Walden Smith with 4-H Green Teens, and Jack Pretsky. Eight local residents also contacted the City Council prior to the meeting to indicate their support for the ban.

Councilmember Jim Prola has been outspoken in his support of the ban, stating, "We should have done this yesterday...How much of a neurotoxin should a child have?"

Starosciak's initial comments appeared supportive of the ban: "We all want a healthy community. And so it's really important that we are focused on helping maintain a healthy environment in San Leandro. And this proposed ordinance puts a dent in some of the bad stuff that polystyrene does in our community." Starosciak then listed some things that the City Council has done that she believes have negatively impacted local businesses: the sales tax increase, increased sewer treatment fees, cost-of-living adjustments to business license fees, 911 taxes, paramedic taxes, reduced permit counter hours, restrictions on smoking, parking, and signage, and reduced financial support for the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. Some of these, like the increased sales tax, business license fees, 911 fees, and paramedic fees, Starosciak supported. Starosciak abstained from the vote on increasing the sewer treatment fees last year.

After Starosciak noted that "I do think it's a good idea to help the environment wherever we can," she also said that the City Council is negatively affecting businesses repeatedly and then abstained during the vote.

Before the vote, Mayor Stephen Cassidy stated that he supports the ban and believes "that this is desirable policy." Cassidy compared the current use of polystyrene to the use of lead by the Romans, which led to poisoning.

At the October 3, 2011, meeting all of the speakers supported the polystyrene ban, including Carrie Spector, who said that she didn't believe that the ban went far enough. Leah Scheibe spoke in favor of the ban and wants San Leandro to become a leader in sustainability by banning plastic bags and adopting more stringent energy efficiency requirements. Mario Juarez of the Sierra Club spoke again as well and local resident Mia Ousley reiterated styrene's damaging health effects.

Souza stated that she voted against ban previously not because she's against it but because she thinks that the City should have worked with businesses and not alienate them. She then voted in favor of the ban, which passed 6 to 0 with Starosciak abstaining.

The next environmental ordinance likely to face San Leandro is a ban on plastic bags, which is being considered by (the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and Recycling Board operating as one public agency).

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September 14, 2011

Cops Answer Community's Questions during "Coffee with the Cops"

Tuesday morning, San Leandro Police held the first "Coffee with the Cops" meeting with about two dozen community members and 13 police officers at Main Street Bagel.

The meeting was standing room only as San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli started by addressing a question about the legality of using medical marijuana in an apartment building where children were present. Spagnoli and other members of the police department answered questions on medical marijuana, the recovery of a gun at the high school, loud car stereos and the Nex Cycle recycling facility at the Bancroft Avenue Safeway parking lot.

In response to a question additional safety measures being implemented in response to the gun incident at San Leandro High School, Spagnoli first stated that an additional School Resource Officer will be assigned to the high school, where there is currently one. She added, "You could actually use 3 or 4 School Resource Officers just at the high school." "We're going to be revisiting our daytime curfew which is the curfew that says that kids need to be in school, right, based on the education code. We know that when kids are out of school, they can become victims of crime or they can commit crimes or they can just be away from school, which is obviously a concern from a public safety standpoint. So, we're working on making some revisions to that ordinance, have some teeth in it, that parents have responsibility."

The San Leandro City Council unanimously adopted a daytime curfew for children on July 30, 2007. It applies between 8am and 3pm on days when school is in session. A similar curfew was already in place between 10pm and 5am.

When Stephen Carbonaro asked Chief Spagnoli about police staffing levels, she said that the department had 89 officers but that "you could have over 100 police officers and that would be great." She then asked Captain Stephen Pricco for the highest number of officers that the police department previously had and Pricco responded that the maximum number of police historically was 94. [Editor's note: San Leandro had 98 police officers in 2000 and 96 officers in 1997 and 1998.]

Spagnoli noted that the implementation of e911 has resulted in thousands more calls to local dispatchers, leading to installation of an automated phone system for callers to San Leandro's local non-emergency number. Prior to implementation of the e911 system, 911 calls went to the California Highway Patrol's dispatch center in Vallejo.

One resident complained about traffic near Muir Middle School, especially parents and children who crossed the street outside of crosswalks.

Near the end of the meeting, Captain Pete Ballew noted that, "last year, in San Leandro, crime was at the lowest level it's been in 30 years, but if you were burglarized last night, it's not the lowest level in 30 years." Ballew noted that robberies and burglaries are up a little bit this year. Detective Isaac Benabou said that burglaries were up largely because of a person who was burglarizing multiple houses each day.

For those who were not able to ask questions, before time ran out, forms were available to submit questions.

Coffee with the Cops was first announced by Chief Spagnoli at a June 30, 2011, Town Hall Meeting. The next Coffee with the Cops is scheduled for October 11, 2011, from 8 to 9am at Dick's Restaurant, located at 3188 Alvarado Street.

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August 12, 2011

California Attorney General Files Amicus Brief Supporting Eden Township Healthcare District

On August 10, 2011, the California Attorney General's office, acting on a request by San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy and San Leandro City Attorney Jayne Williams on behalf of the City of San Leandro, filed an amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief on behalf of Eden Township Healthcare District (ETHD) in its legal battle with Sutter Health over the future of San Leandro Hospital.

The amicus brief from the California Attorney General argues that George Bischalaney, then CEO of ETHD, and Dr. Francisco Rico, then an ETHD board member, had a conflict of interest because they "… actively guided the District through contract negotiations with two private healthcare entities, Sutter Health ("Sutter") and Eden Medical Center, Inc. ("EMC"), at the same time they were receiving income from one of those entities (EMC)." After stating that "Section 1090 [of the Government Code] provides that an officer or employee of a state or local public agency may not make a contract in which he or she is financially interested." the brief argues that courts have interpreted Section 1090 to require only a financial interest and not a financial benefit for there to be a conflict-of-interest. The brief concludes, "Insofar as the trial court misapplied the law to the facts in this case, the judgment should be reversed."

The request was sent by fax on July 27, 2011, two days after the San Leandro City Council voted to file its own amicus curiae in support of ETHD.

In its own brief, the City of San Leandro described Sutter's argument that "the interest of the district and respondent Eden Medical Center "EMC" were perfectly aligned" as "sheer sophistry." The City's brief states, "…San Leandro Hospital is far from being an underutilized community resource. It is only when the Sutter views this vital community resource through the lens of private economic gain and profitability that shutting it down for an alternate use rises to a 'highest and best use.'"

The City's brief also makes the same argument about the conflict-of-interest of Bischalaney and Rico by stating "…that no person can, at one and the same time, faithfully serve two masters representing diverse or inconsistent interests with respect to the service performed."

The California Nurses Association's amicus curiae brief, filed on August 8, 2011, states that in 2008, while Bischalaney was CEO for ETHD and as CEO and Director for EMC, Bischalaney received a total of $601,865 in compensation from EMC and Sutter-related organizations. The brief also states that Rico was a 56% owner of Alameda Anesthesia Associates Medical Group, which received $2.2 million from EMC/Sutter each year in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

While there is no guarantee that an amicus curiae brief will affect a court's decision, the amicus filed by the California Attorney General, which is responsible for enforcement of government code on conflict-of-interest, is certain to have supporters of San Leandro Hospital optimistic that the trial court decision will be overturned.

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July 26, 2011

San Leandro City Council to File Amicus Brief Supporting Keeping San Leandro Hospital Open

At a special meeting held on Monday, July 25, 2011, the San Leandro City Council voted 6-0 (Gregory was absent) to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief on behalf of Eden Township Healthcare District in it fight with Sutter Health over San Leandro Hospital.

Councilmember Michael Gregory has spoken out in support of San Leandro Hospital at two Town Halls and a rally and current Mayor Stephen Cassidy has also been vocal in his support of San Leandro Hospital at town Town Halls and during his campaign for Mayor.

However, Monday night marks the first time that the San Leandro City Council has decided to spend money and offer concrete support for keeping San Leandro Hospital open.

According to San Leandro City Attorney Jayne Williams, the law firm of Meyers Nave will prepare the brief at a cost not to exceed $7,500. Williams also stated, "A letter will also be sent to the Attorney General on behalf of the City encouraging the AG [Attorney General] to file an amicus on behalf of the District with respect to the conflict of interest (Government Code 1090) issues that have been raised in the appeal.

The deadline to file an amicus brief is August 8, 2011.

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July 18, 2011

Bal Theatre's Hearing at San Leandro Board of Zoning Adjustments

Last week, the San Leandro Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) approved a new permit for the Bal Theatre, a restored 1946 theater owned by Dan Dillman.

Despite a Conditional Use Permit that explicitly prohibited live performances, the Bal Theatre held a comedy event on New Year's Eve 2010. Complaints about that event brought the theater to the attention of City staff, which sent a letter demanding that the theater not hold such events. Dillman rallied supporters to his cause to get his permit changed to permit live events, resulting in a new permit that allows a limited number of live performances each month.

Below are videos from the meeting. The first is a presentation by Elmer Penaranda, a Senior Project Specialist with the City of San Leandro:

The city presentation was followed by a presentation by Chris Crow, a neighbor of the Bal Theatre representing Dillman (Crow is also on the San Leandro Planning Commission). Crow asked to remove the restrictions on dancing, the hours of operation, the frequency of permitted activities (live performances), and a requirement to have changes in activities reviewed by the Community Development Department or BZA (for larger changes):

Supporters and opponents of the Bal Theatre's new permit then expressed their opinions:

In the end, despite members of the BZA expressing their displeasure at being asked by Crow for significant modifications to the proposed permit, the BZA approved the Bal Theatre's new permit (with no modifications) unanimously.

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June 20, 2011

Car Crash Into Apartment Causes Gas Leak


From the Alameda County Fire Department:

On Monday, June 20, 2011, at 8:18 AM, 5 companies of Alameda County Firefighters and one Battalion Chief responded to a report of a gas leak and vehicle into a building at the Parkside Commons Apartment Complex at 900 143rd Avenue. First arriving units from Station #12 responded within two minutes to find a two-story apartment building with a red, four-door Mitsubishi Montero Sport lodged into the corner of the building where a utility closet was located.

After quickly confirming that a gas line was sheared as a result of the vehicle crashing into the building causing a high pressure natural gas leak, firefighters worked quickly to evacuate approximately 30 residents from adjacent buildings as a safety precaution. Of the 27 buildings in the Parkside Commons Apartment Complex, a total of 7 buildings were evacuated by firefighters.

Throughout the incident, San Leandro Police Officers worked collaboratively with Alameda County Firefighters to provide site access and control, ensuring the temporarily evacuated residents did not return to their units while first responders and PG&E representatives worked to locate and cap the source of the gas leak.

Residents were allowed to return to their units at 10:03AM, after PG&E representatives completely plugged the source of the natural gas leak. Approximately 15 minutes after shutting off the gas leak, firefighters and police officers were made available for other emergency responses and the incident was turned over to PG&E.

The driver and sole occupant of the Mitsubishi Montero did not sustain any injuries after accidentally crashing her SUV into the apartment building. According to the driver, after pulling into her parking spot she accidentally hit the gas pedal, not the brakes, resulting in her vehicle hitting the apartment building.

There were no injuries to firefighters, police officers or other community members reported during this incident.

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May 19, 2011

Wide Support for St. Rose/San Leandro Hospital Merger at Town Hall

Supporters of San Leandro Hospital came out in force to a Town Hall meeting held on May 17, 2011, at the San Leandro Senior Center. Speakers included California State Senator Ellen Corbett, St. Rose Hospital CEO and President Michael Mahoney, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Vice Mayor Michael Gregory, and Eden Township Healthcare District Director Carole Rogers.

Under the proposed plan, St. Rose and San Leandro Hospitals would merge operations and be owned by Eden Township Healthcare District. Details on the finances of such a move have not been released and Sutter has not indicated whether it would support such a plan.

If you missed the meeting, here are the speeches, courtesy of Mia Ousley:

California State Senator Ellen Corbett

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan

Carole Rogers, Eden Township Healthcare District Director

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy

Michael Mahoney, St. Rose President and CEO

More speeches after the break

Nurse Carol Barazi

Michael Gregory, San Leandro Vice Mayor

Miles Adler, former Eden Medical Center Chief of Staff

Vin Sawhney, Eden Township Healthcare District Director

John Kalafatich (Big John)

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April 28, 2011

San Leandro Teacher Katy McCarthy Honored by President Obama

Katy McCarthy, a science teacher at San Leandro's Washington Elementary, was honored today with the 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Education.

The honor includes a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation and "an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Administration."

McCarthy earned National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in 2008 and received a commendation from the San Leandro School Board in September 2009.

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April 13, 2011

Alameda County Gives $100K to Operate San Leandro's Senior Center

At its meeting on April 12, 2011, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved a measure that will help fund operations at San Leandro's senior center. The measure, mentioned by Supervisor Wilma Chan at her open house on April 9, allocates $50,000 a year for two years.

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April 10, 2011

San Leandro Proclaims April 10 as Nonito "Flash" Donaire Day

In an event organized by San Leandro School Board trustee Hermy Almonte, Lions Club President Leroy Smith, and State Assembly candidate Jennifer Ong, an absent Nonito Donaire Jr. was honored for his boxing accomplishments and providing inspiration to others. San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Vice Mayor Ursula Reed read a proclamation declaring April 10, 2011, as "Nonito Donaire, Jr. Day."

While Donaire Jr. and his father weren't able to make the event, Donaire's brother and fellow boxer Glenn and mother Imelda were on hand to receive proclamations and commendations from a variety of elected officials and their representatives. Representatives from State Senator Ellen Corbett's office, State Assemblymember Mary Hayashi's office, State Assemblymember Fiona Ma's office, and Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan's office all feted Donaire. Finally, Philippine Deputy Consul General Wilfredo Santos thanked the Donaire brothers for "bringing so much honor and glory to the Bay Area Filipino-American community."

Donaire was born in the Philippines but was raised in San Leandro and graduated from San Lorenzo High School. After winning three national amateur championships in 1998, 1999, and 2000, Donaire began to box professionally in 2001. In 2007, Donaire won the IBF and IBO flyweight world titles and went on to win the WBA Super Flyweight Interim World Title in 2009. In February 2011, Donaire defeated Fernando Montiel to win the WBC and WBO bantamweight world titles.

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Supervisor Chan Has Plans to Keep San Leandro Hospital Open, Help Fund Senior Center

Newly-elected Alameda County District 3 Supervisor Wilma Chan held an open house at her Hesperian Blvd. district office on Saturday, April 9. Chan's district office staff includes former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young, Gene Calderon, who worked for Chan's predecessor Alice Lai-Bitker, and Kevin Cunningham. After a flag ceremony by local girl scouts, Chan addressed a crowd of elected officials and constituents of her district.

For San Leandro, Chan said that on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors will vote on a measure that would provide $50,000 each of the next two years to help fund the operation of the newly opened San Leandro Senior Center. Chan said she expects the measure to pass, despite a 19th straight year of budget cuts for the County.

On San Leandro Hospital, Chan sounded optimistic, saying "We're working very hard on San Leandro Hospital and I'm happy to tell you too (it's certainly not done) but we have at least two viable plans to keep the hospital open."

Chan said that she was working to rename the street in front of Bayfair Center and noted that the Chamber of Commerce is interested in this as well. San Leandro Bytes followed up with Calderon, who stated that the street in question is Fairmont Drive. The idea is to give Bayfair Center some extra attention by adding its name to exit signs on Interstate 580. Fairmont Drive runs from Hesperian Boulevard to Lake Chabot.

With recent storms causing at least one large branch to fall at San Leandro Creek, Chan stated, "We'll have three public hearings, probably [starting] in the first week of May" concerning trees in San Leandro Creek so that the beauty of the area can be preserved and homeowners can be safe. To date, there have been five community workshops on trees in San Leandro Creek, after an initial meeting in May 2010.

She's also working with the Chamber to match businesses with local schools, noting the financial situation facing local governments, where local services are being cut.

Update: Corrected the name of Chan's staff member.

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April 9, 2011

Oak Knoll Hospital Implosion Rattles San Leandro

The implosion of Oak Knoll Naval Hospital rattled portions of San Leandro on Friday April 9, 2011, with residents wondering what that loud noise was. The hospital originally opened in 1968 and was closed in 1996. SunCal Oak Knoll LLC,, the owner of the site, filed for bankruptcy in 2009, putting development plans on hold. The footage above was posted to YouTube by the Associated Press.

Update: Corrected the date that the hospital opened and that SunCal Oak Knoll LLC filed for bankruptcy, not SunCal. Thanks Joe!

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March 10, 2011

270 San Leandro Street Lights to Get Energy Efficient Upgrade

BetaLED Street LightSan Leandro's street lights will become more energy efficient under a new contract that will replace 270 high pressure sodium (HPS) lights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Similar lights are in place on the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge.

The contract, awarded to Omega Pacific Electrical Supply, is worth $83,320. Omega will be installing LED streetlights manufactured by BetaLED, a division of Wisconsin-based Ruud Lighting. Funding for the project comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant that is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and from PG&E rebates for purchasing qualified LED fixtures.

A similar program to replace traffic signal lights with energy-efficient LEDs was done in the early 2000s, according to San Leandro Public Works Director Mike Bakaldin. All green and red traffic signals and most of the yellows are now LEDs. Bakaldin noted that the red LEDs have been very reliable, but the green LEDs had to replaced within a few years.

The City of San Leandro has more than 5,000 street lights, so these conversions include about 5% of existing street lights. However, the energy savings is estimated at 20 to 50% of an HPS light and LEDs are expected to last much longer than HPS lights, reducing maintenance costs. Other advantages include no lead or mercury that is in many HPS light fixtures, improved lighting from the higher quality of the light emitted, and no need to warm up before they are fully lit.

Update: The lights will be installed in the Bonaire area where a pilot project was started in 2010.

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March 8, 2011

New Census Data Puts San Leandro's 2010 Population at 84,950

Data from the 2010 census indicates that San Leandro's population was 84,950 as of April 2010, an increase of 5,498 or 6.9% from 2000. Alameda County's population increased 4.6% over the last 10 years, while Piedmont and Oakland had slight decreases. Dublin and Emeryville increased by 53.6% and 46.5% respectively.

The population breakdown by race/ethnicity is 29.3% Asian, 27.4% Hispanic or Latino, 27.1% white (non-Hispanic), 11.8% African American, 3.2% two or more races, 0.7% Asian Pacific and Hawaiian, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, and 0.2% other.

Total housing units in San Leandro increased from 31,334 in 2000 to 32,419 in 2010, an increase of 3.5%. Vacant housing units increased 146% from 692 to 1,702. In Alameda County, housing units increased by 7.8% while vacant units increased by 122.5%.

This data was compiled by California's State Data Center, part of the Department of Finance, from U.S. Census reports and data.

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December 30, 2010

San Leandro Police Press Conference on San Leandro Police Officer Shooting of Woman

At 2:45pm on December 30, 2010, Lt. Jeff Tudor of the San Leandro Police Department held a press conference about the fatal shooting of a Hayward woman by a San Leandro police officer on December 29, 2010.

The shooting occurred in Oakland near the border with San Leandro. According to Tudor, the suspects' vehicle came to the attention of San Leandro police when it quickly left a liquor store. When the police called in the suspect vehicle's license plate, they learned it had been stolen from the 600 block of Lewelling earlier in the day and police attempted to pull it over. The vehicle crashed and one police officer shot and killed the driver when he said that he feared that the driver would run over the other police officer.

Tudor would not release any information about the police officers involved except to say that they were veteran officers. Similarly, the only information Tudor revealed about the suspects was that both had criminal records, the female driver was from Hayward and the male passenger was from Oakland.

A KTVU news story said that neighbors "heard at least nine shots," but when Tudor was asked how many shots were fired, he replied, "It's an unknown at this time."

KTVU reporter John Sasaki noted, "It [the suspects' stolen car] ends up in a 180 degrees, crashes into the green car that's parked the right way - It's a Pontiac sitting there on the street and my understanding is that it was parked with its rear quarter panel against that car with a police car, perhaps the pursuing officers, their car in front. So essentially that sounds like the car was boxed in and couldn't go anywhere." Tudor replied, "Again, this investigation is ongoing. I don't have all the details."

Sasaki continued, "The reason I bring that is some witnesses have told us they didn't think that individual needed to be shot." Tudor responded, "There's various witnesses that have been identified and there's been various statements made regarding the incident."

The complete press conference can be seen below:

More coverage at San Leandro Patch.

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August 30, 2010

Wimax Wireless Broadband Coming to San Leandro?

Wimax wireless broadband is set to come to San Leandro with the installation of an antenna on the top of the Foursquare Church at 525 Manor Boulevard. Wimax stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access and provides mobile broadband service and an alternative to cable and DSL for residential broadband service.

The Foursquare Church lost a lawsuit against the City of San Leandro in 2008 after claiming that the City of San Leandro violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by not agreeing to change the zoning of an industrial-area property that the church wanted to use for a new location.

According to the conditional use permit application, which will be considered by the Board of Zoning Adjustments on September 2, 2010, the antenna will be operated by Clearwire. Clearwire, which offers Wimax service as Clear, has merged its wireless spectrum with Sprint Nextel, Google, Intel, Comcast, Bright House, and Time Warner.

Currently, Clear only offers coverage in Merced, Modesto, Stockton, and Visalia, but is expected to make an announcement today about additional service areas. Clear's prices ranges from $44 per month for mobile broadband to $64 per month for mobile and home broadband.

Clearwire has not yet responded to a request for additional information.

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August 14, 2010

Human Remains Uncovered at Site of New Kaiser Hospital

San Leandro Police were called to the site of the new Kaiser Hospital in San Leandro this morning after "workers discovered a human skull and bones approximately 11ft under a slab of cement."

The Coroner's Office was called and stated that the remains are likely from the Ohlone Tribe, a group of Native Americans that lived in the area. According to the police report, the California Native American Heritage Commission will take over the investigation.

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August 1, 2010

Local Author and Solo Performer Brian Copeland Gets a TV Show

Local San Leandro writer, comedian, and star of the auto-biographical solo show "Not a Genuine Black Man," Brian Copeland debuts a new weekday television show on September 13, 2010. The one-hour show, "7Live" will air on 3pm and replaces "View From the Bay."

The show will feature a live audience and Copeland says he aims to combine "classic TV [including live commercials] with cutting-edge technology.

Copeland also hosts a weekly radio show on KGO 810 and is approaching his 500th performance of "Not a Genuine Black Man," based on his memoir of the same name.

Upcoming performances of his solo show are scheduled at Altarena Playhouse in Alameda on August 14, 2010, San Francisco State University on September 17, 2010, and the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek on September 11, September 25, and October 2, 2010.

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May 30, 2010

Small Earthquakes Shake San Leandro

A series of small earthquakes shook San Leandro beginning just before midnight with a magnitude 3.0 earthquake. That was followed, less than five minutes later, by a magnitude 2.6 earthquake, and a 1.7 magnitude earthquake at just after one in the morning.

According to the US Geological Survey, the epicenter of the earthquakes was along the Hayward Fault, in unincorporated San Leandro in the area of Fairmont Ridge, between the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center and Lake Chabot.

Earthquakes with a magnitude smaller than 4 are not expected to cause any damage and news reports about the quakes have not indicated that there was any damage.

On October 21, 1868, a magnitude 7 earthquake at the southern end of the Hayward Fault destroyed the Alameda County Courthouse, which was located in San Leandro near the present site of St. Leander Church. In Hayward, "almost every building was damaged extensively or wrecked."

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February 5, 2010

Ranked Choice Voting Challenged in Federal Court

According to the San Jose Mercury News, a group of six people, including the person that lost to Ed Jew in 2006, have filed a federal lawsuit alleging "that voters are disenfranchised because they are limited to only three choices."

Ranked choice voting, as implemented in San Francisco and San Leandro, limits voters to three choices, whereas, there are no limits in countries such as Ireland and Australia, that have also implemented RCV.

No word yet on how this might affect San Leandro, which recently voted to implement RCV for November 2010.

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December 21, 2009

San Leandro Checkpoint Nabs Robbery Suspects

The sobriety checkpoint conducted by the San Leandro Police Department this weekend resulted in four arrests for suspicion of driving under the influence, two arrests for being drunk in public, and the arrest of two suspects in a strong-arm robbery earlier in the day at Lucky's. A "be on the lookout" alert had been issued for the robbery suspects and they were arrested without incident. The checkpoint, which had been publicized in local media, also resulted in six other citations and ten vehicles being towed.

A total of 537 vehicles passed through the checkpoint, which was scheduled to be held from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. on December 18 and 19, 2009. A similar checkpoint conducted in August 2008 netted 10 arrests for people suspected driving under the influence, but the checkpoint lasted slightly longer, from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m.

The checkpoint was funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, which provided the grant as part of the "National Impaired Driving Campaign" campaign from December 16, 2009 to January 3, 2010.

According to a fact sheet from the California Office of Traffic Safety, "In California, 1,029 people were killed in alcohol related crashes in 2008, down from 1,132 fatalities in 2007 – a decrease of 9.1 percent (FARS). Additionally in 2008, there were 28,457 people injured in alcohol-related crashes, down from 30,641 in 2007 (SWITRS 2008 provisional data)."

As noted in an article about the August 2008, sobriety checkpoint, guidelines for sobriety checkpoints were established by the California Supreme Court decision Ingersoll v. Palmer (43 Cal.3d 1321 (1987), which include advance notice of the checkpoint and using a neutral formula (not officer discretion) to decide which cars are selected to be stopped. Critics claim that the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment, but the Supreme Court said that the infringement of this right was outweighed by the public interest in reducing drunk driving.

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November 4, 2009

City Council Brings Back Crossing Guards

At its meeting on Monday, November 2, 2009, the San Leandro City Council approved a contract with All City Management Services for crossing guards at eleven schools throughout the city. The total contract was approximately $76,000 and will cover eight schools in the San Leandro Unified School District and three schools in the San Lorenzo Unified School District. Each of the school districts will contribute a portion of the cost to the City of San Leandro - about $27,000 for San Leandro Unified and $11,000 for San Lorenzo Unified.

According to the City staff report, crossing guards should be back on duty this week.

While the agreement is good for the current school year, the San Leandro Unified School District used one-time money that is unlikely to be available next year. Parent volunteers tried to fill in the gap at some schools and the San Leandro Teachers Association donated $100 to each elementary school to fund crossing guards, but volunteer efforts proved difficult to coordinate at many of the schools.

The crossing guard program was eliminated this year in order to balance the City's budget. The San Leandro Unified School District came up with an alternative that involved the City and School District contracting out to All City Management Services and splitting the cost. However, the San Leandro School Board asked the City to engage All City Management Services and the School District would contribute half of the cost to the City.

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October 16, 2009

Firefighters Win 16th Annual Trivia Bee


The Alameda County Firefighters Local 55 team correctly answered all 10 of the last round of questions to win Project Literacy's 16th annual Trivia Bee held on October 16, 2009, at the Marina Community Center. Second place went to Friends of the Library Team #4. Third place went to last year's champions, 24 Desperate Lost Heroes, after a sudden death round against four other teams tied for third place at the end of the last round.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Kurtz read questions for the first round and Leslie Frates, a San Leandro resident and professor who has appeared on the television quiz show Jeopardy 14 times, read questions for the second and third rounds. Kathy Kurtz served as the official time keeper and former Library-Historical Commission member Sue Kleebauer was the emcee. Students from San Leandro High School's Interact club acted as scorekeepers for each of the thirty teams. There were 30 questions in the first round, 20 in the second round and 10 in the last round.

In addition to the Trivia Bee, a raffle featured a flat-screen television, a GPS system, and dozens of other prizes from local businesses and individuals. Funds raised by the Trivia Bee help Project Literacy to provide literacy services to more than 200 adults and 1,500 kids each year.

Thirty teams competed in the annual fundraiser that brings in more than $10,000 each year for Project Literacy. Teams included businesses like State Roofing Systems, the San Leandro Library, Project Literacy, former City Manager John Jermanis family, Mayor Tony Santos, San Leandro Players, the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, the San Leandro Times, and the San Leandro Police Officers Association.

Mayor Santos and most of the San Leandro City Council were on-hand to present trophies and medals to the top three teams.

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September 23, 2009

EPA Files Suit Against The North Face Parent Company

According to a press release dated September 22, 2009, "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed suit against San Leandro based VF Corporation for the alleged sale and distribution of unregistered pesticides" by The North Face.

The EPA alleges that health claims The North Face made about antimicrobial agents in 70 footwear products violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act because The North Face failed to register the antimicrobial agents with the EPA. VF Corporation, the parent company of The North Face faces nearly $1 million in fines, despite ceasing and removing the claims.

Although the press release states that VF Corporation is based in San Leandro, the VF Corporation web site lists Greensboro, North Carolina as the World Headquarters. The North Face is located at 2013 Farallon Dr. in San Leandro.

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September 16, 2009

Protest Against Creekside Partners


On September 15 and 16, 2009, a protest against low wages has been taking place outside the Creekside Partners construction site at the corner of Davis Street and San Leandro Boulevard. The protest appears to consist of a single person dressed as the grim reaper next to an upright coffin that says, "Don't bury me in low wages" and a large sign that claims Creekside Partners "Uses contractors who Fail to Pay Area Standard Wages & Benefits."

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September 8, 2009

Cell Biosciences Buys San Leandro Company for $17.9 Million

In a press release issued September 8, 2009, Cell Biosciences announced that it had agreed to buy San Leandro-based Alpha Innotech for $17.9 million or $1.50 per share.

According to its web site, "Alpha Innotech is a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of digital imaging and analysis systems for the life science research and drug discovery markets."

Alpha Innotech reported $4.2 million of revenue in the second quarter of 2009 with a net loss of $15,785 compared to a net profit of $23,199 in the second quarter of 2008.

Alpha Innotech is located at 2401 Merced Street in San Leandro.

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September 3, 2009

Eden CEO Threatens to Call Sherriff to Disperse Hospital Meeting Attendees

At today's meeting of the Eden Township Healthcare District, members of the public have been prohibited from offering any public testimony on the one agenda item.

The agenda item was for consultation with legal counsel about Sutter Health' exercise of its option to purchase San Leandro Hospital. Unlike other public entities and previous meetings of the Eden Township Healthcare District, the public was not given an opportunity to comment on the closed session agenda.

According to attendee Mia Ousley, Eden Medical Center CEO George Bischalaney has threatened to call the Alameda County Sheriff to disperse the would-be attendees of the meeting. Those attendees included San Leandro Councilmembers Jim Prola and Michael Gregory, former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young, and representatives from Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker and California State Senator Ellen Corbett.

Update: The attendees were being locked out of the building as of 6:35pm.

Correction: Councilmember Joyce Starosciak was among the would-be attendees and the attendees were locked out of the meeting room, not the building.

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May 3, 2009

Former San Leandro Mayor Jack Maltester Dies

Former San Leandro Mayor Jack Maltester died Friday, May 1, 2009, at the home in San Leandro where he was born in 1913. Maltester was 95 years old.

Jack Maltester was first appointed to the San Leandro City Council in 1948 to replace Helen Lawrence, who served as his mentor. He served for just a few months and lost when he campaigned for City Council in the April 1948 election. He was subsequently elected to the City Council in 1956 and became Mayor in 1958. In 1962, Maltester became the first Mayor elected directly by the residents of San Leandro instead of the City Council. Maltester was re-elected in 1966, 1970, and 1974, but was forced to leave office after term limits were enacted and he had served as Mayor for 20 years.

On May 6, 1967, Maltester testified at a hearing of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which was investigating housing discrimination.

While he was Mayor, Maltester served as President of the US Conference of Mayors from 1969 to 1970 and introduced a resolution at the 1971 annual conference calling for the US to withdraw from Vietnam. In the resolution, of which he was quite proud, he stated, "I might ask you: Have we left anything up until now to the military experts or have we been running a political war in Vietnam? My city, a small city in California with less than 70,000 people, proposed this resolution and it is supported by the citizens of the community. It is not a resolution of condemnation. It is not offered in rancor. It is a positive statement of principle. To support this position, I believe, is an obligation none of us can ignore in the name of humanity. I ask your vote for an end to this war."

In 1973, Maltester ran for the California State Assembly against San Leandro School Board member Bill Lockyer after Robert Crown was killed while jogging in Alameda. Lockyer, who served as one of Crowns' aides and was helped by Willie Brown in his campaign, prevailed over Maltester.

Maltester remained active in San Leandro affairs, founding The Sentinels, a group of local businessman that provide campaign contributions to local candidates and ballot measures. He also served as President of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce and President of the California League of Cities.

San Leandro residents who knew him remarked that Maltester always worked to bring resources and development to San Leandro and described his passing as a great loss to the City and community.

Former San Leandro City Manager John Jermanis said that "all of us that had opportunity to meet and know him benefited greatly." Jermanis also described Maltester as a "great political leader" who had a "major influence on development of the City," especially the Marina.

Former Councilman Kent Myers, who has known Maltester for 30 years, noted that Maltester's "mind was still active to the very end. The City is going to miss him."

San Leandro resident Brian Copeland, who has had a successful solo performance and book based on his experience growing up in what was an essentially segregated San Leandro said of meeting Maltester at his most recent birthday, "Although he was in a wheelchair and past 90, he was as sharp as a tack and regaled us with stories about how he loved (and knew) JFK yet hated Bobby Kennedy. We talked some about the research I had done. I found him to be gracious, charming and funny."

Copeland continued, "I got word a few weeks back that his daughter had called Jake at Vila Cereja and said that Jack was happy and excited to have met me and wanted to have me to his home for lunch and to talk more about the era I've written about. We were supposed to pick a date soon. Sorry I won't get the chance.

"The one thing you can say about Mayor Maltester, whether you agreed with policies enacted and maintained during his 20 year tenure or not, is that he truly loved this city and gave it his all. I am truly sorry to hear of his passing and my sincere condolences go out to his family."

San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos learned of Maltester's on Friday afternoon and stated that Maltester "was obviously San Leandro's icon. He and his colleagues on the City Council in the 1970s set the industrial base for San Leandro and was instrumental in developing the Marina."

Maltester continued to be involved in politics until the end as Santos confirmed that Maltester endorsed him for Mayor in 2010. Maltester had endorsed Orval "OB" Badger for Mayor in 2006 and previously endorsed Santos for City Council when Santos was unopposed.

City flags will be flown at half-staff until services are held for Maltester.

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March 18, 2009

Local Companies Buck Economic Trend

Three local companies are bucking the economic trend by growing while much of the state continues to struggle.

Santos Spice Products recently purchased a 26,400-square-foot industrial building in Hayward for $2.64 million for food storage and distribution. Santos is located at 1188 Montague Street in San Leandro.

TriNet, a human resources outsourcing firm, is seeking to acquire Gevity HR, Inc. for $98 million. However, a lawsuit has been filed that claims the $4 per share offer is too low. TriNet is located at 1100 San Leandro Blvd. in San Leandro.

Energy Recovery, Inc. reported a 59% increase in revenue in Q4 2008 over the same period the previous year. Energy Recovery went public in July 2008 and has seen increasing revenues since 2005. Energy Recovery is located at 1908 Doolittle Drive in San Leandro.

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February 4, 2009

Prola Appoints His New Commissioners

At the San Leandro City Council meeting held on Monday, February 2, 2009, Councilmember Jim Prola's commission and board nominations were approved by the City Council.

René Mendieta was nominated to the Board of Zoning Adjustments and will replace Amanda Goldt, who resigned in June 2008 after serving for nearly seven years. Mendieta is a real estate agent and Vice President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He has been active in Democracy for America and has a BA in Chicano Studies from UC Berkeley.

Carmen Fewless was re-nominated to the Human Services Commission, where she has served since June 2005. Fewless was one of 12 applicants for the District 6 City Council seat in February 2007 for which Prola was appointed. Fewless works at the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and has an MS in Water Resources Planning and Management from CSU East Bay.

Library-Historical Commission member Carole Rinaldi was re-nominated to the Library-Historical Commission, where she has served since March 2005. Rinaldi is active in the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce and previously served as President of the Marina Faire Homeowners Association.

Esther Collier was re-nominated to the Planning Commission, where she has served since March 2001. Collier is the owner of Holcomb's Home Repair. Like Fewless, Collier was one of the 12 applicants for the District 6 City Council seat in February 2007. Collier served on the San Leandro School Board from 1992 to 2004 after unsuccessful runs in 1984 and 1988. Collier also made an unsuccessful run for Alameda County School Board in 2006. In 2004, she received a Council Leadership Award from then Councilmember Tony Santos for her activism in the community and schools.

Prola nominated Robert Fox to replace Luster Knight on the Recreation and Parks Commission. Knight, who lost his battle with cancer in October 2008, had served on the commission since August 1998. Fox was a strong backer of the Downtown Farmers Market is active in the Green Party and Congregations Organizing for Renewal.

Bella Comelo was nominated to the Senior Commission, where she will replace Betty Bailey. Bailey had served on the commission since 2002. Comelo was active in the campaign to get a living wage ordinance passed in San Leandro. Comelo served on the Board of Directors for the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and the board of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. Comelo also wrote a children's book entitled, "Raju and the Snake Charmer."

The agenda of the next City Council meeting will include the formal appointments to the commissions and boards and it is likely that all will be approved.

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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

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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September 11, 2008

Ten Arrested for DUI at San Leandro Police Checkpoint

On August 30, 2008, the San Leandro Police arrested 10 people on suspicion of driving under the influence at a sobriety checkpoint on E. 14th Street near 148th Avenue, according to San Leandro Police Sergeant Randall Hudson. The checkpoint, which was publicized in local newspapers beforehand, also netted citations for 20 drivers without driver's licenses and the subsequent towing of their vehicles.

Fifteen police officers, one sergeant, one lieutenant, two community safety officers and one jailer were involved in the checkpoint, which lasted from 9pm until 3am. The checkpoint was funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, which provided the grant as part of the "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." campaign from August 15 to September 1, 2008.

Guidelines for sobriety checkpoints were established by the California Supreme Court decision Ingersoll v. Palmer (43 Cal.3d 1321 (1987), which include advance notice of the checkpoint and using a neutral formula (not officer discretion) to decide which cars are selected to be stopped. Critics claim that the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment, but the Supreme Court said that the infringement of this right was outweighed by the public interest in reducing drunk driving.

Sgt. Hudson reported that more than 400 cars passed through the checkpoint and the police considered it a success.

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August 11, 2008

Local Company Gets $7.4 Million Contract to Build EMP Generator

l3-sign.jpg According to an August 5, 2008, press release from the U.S. Department of Defense, L-3 Services, Inc. recently received a $7.4 million contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division "for the design, development, integration and production of a form, fit and function, environmentally sealed, state-of-the-art Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Pulser and its associated control system." The work is to be performed in San Leandro and is expected to be completed by August 2010.

Electromagnetic pulse is a side-effect of nuclear blast and it can be used to disable semiconductor-based electronics, which are in most current electronic products. The pulser will be used to test military systems' ability to survive EMP.

L-3 Services was one of the companies sued on June 30, 2008, by four former Abu Ghraib detainees who claimed that they were tortured by L-3 Services contractors working for the U.S. military in Iraq.

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August 5, 2008

Daily Review Reporter Leaves for Grad School

Daily Review reporter Martin Ricard announced today that he will be leaving his post covering San Leandro as of August 8, 2008. In his announcement, Ricard said he's leaving not because of "any lack of commitment to my journalism career or to my beat," but because he will be attending UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism in a few weeks.

Prior to his reporting job at the Daily Review, Ricard was a Diversity Institute Fellow at The The Tennessean. In June 2007, Ricard was awarded first prize in news analysis with fellow reporter Matt O'Brien at the 30th annual Peninsula Press Club Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards. Ricard covered San Leandro for the past two years and had recently begun adding video to some of his articles.

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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

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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 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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June 19, 2008

San Leandro's 2008 Population Estimated at 81,851

According to data released on May 1, 2008, by the Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance, San Leandro's population was 81,851 as of January 1, 2008. This is a 0.7% increase from San Leandro's estimated population of 81,273 as of January 1, 2007. The 2007 population had previously been estimated at 81,466 and last year's increase was 0.5%.

Alameda County's overall growth rate was 1.3% (1,543,000) and California's was 1.3% (38,049,462), the same as 2007. The fastest growing city in Alameda County was Dublin with a 7.7% growth rate and the slowest growing cities were Berkeley, Piedmont and Newark, with respective growth rates of 0.5%, 0.64%, and 0.65%.

Click here for the E-4 Population Estimates for Cities, Counties and the State, 2001-2008.

Chart of San Leandro population from 2000 to 2008

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June 1, 2008

Not a Genuine Black Man Selection of Silicon Valley Reading Group

Not a Genuine Black Man coverNot a Genuine Black Man, Brian Copeland's story of growing up in one of the first African American families in San Leandro in the 1970s, has been selected by Silicon Valley Reads for 2009.

Copeland's book will be the topic of discussion at dozens of events throughout Santa Clara County during February 2009, some of which will include talks by the author. Silicon Valley Reads will also select a companion children's book so that families can read and discuss the experience of growing up different.

“I am honored that my book has been selected for Silicon Valley Reads,” said Copeland, who still lives in San Leandro. “I hope that my story will resonate with readers and spark meaningful dialogue about racism in America.”

The book started out as a solo performance at The Marsh in San Francisco, where it became the longest running show of its kind. The show has been performed in Los Angeles, Off Broadway, and around the Bay Area. In August 2008, the show will open at the Hoover Theatre in San Jose.

Silicon Valley Reads is presented annually by Santa Clara County Library, Santa Clara County Office of Education, and the San Jose Public Library Foundation with funding from community groups, corporate and individual donors.

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May 31, 2008

San Leandro Student Wins Regional Business Plan Competition

On May 29, 2008, San Leandro High School student Huong Cheng won first place at a regional business plan competition, according to Merrill Lynch, which sponsored the contest. Cheng received $1,500 for her "Personal Person" business plan and an expense-paid trip to New York to compete in the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship for a $10,000 prize.

According to Merrill Lynch, "Since its inception in 1994, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) of Northern California has taught thousands of students the basics of starting and operating a small business. Merrill Lynch and NFTE work together to promote entrepreneurship education for low-income youngsters ages 14 to 18 by helping them improve their academic, business and life skills."

Cheng also plays on the badminton team at San Leandro High School.

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May 21, 2008

New Vietnamese Restaurant Coming to San Leandro

Pho Anh-Ha Vietnamese Restaurant

The signs are up for a new Vietnamese Restaurant coming to San Leandro on East 14th Street near McKinley Elementary. The building has been vacant for months after Fashion City, an urban clothing store, went out of business.

Pho Anh-Ha is located at 2089 E. 14th Street near the intersection with Estabrook Street.

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May 5, 2008

BZA Approves Abatement of City Council Candidate's Home

Mark Tichy The Alameda County Health Department and San Leandro Building Department aren't the only ones forcing City Council candidate Mark Tichy to comply with regulations. At its March 20, 2008, meeting, the Board of Zoning Adjustments approved a staff recommendation to "obtain a court order to enter the property and abate the violation" consisting of "Unlawful outdoor storage of items in the front yard."

A complaint about the property, where Tichy resides with his wife Candus Baca, was first received on October 4, 2007. The staff report noted, "Weeds and grasses were approximately 1 1/2 feet tall throughout the property. The driveway was filled with appliances, boxes and miscellaneous debris."

Subsequent visits were made on October 18, 2007, November 12, 2007, November 27, 2007, and March 20, 2008. Although the grass and weeds were cut prior to the October 18, 2007, visit, the items stored in the driveway still haven't been abated and the BZA will require Baca, the property owner, to pay fines of $300 and the cost of the contractor hired to abate the violations.

A photo taken by city staff on one of the visits to the property:

Photo of 2042 Marina Court taken by San Leandro City staff on March 4, 2008

The relevant San Leandro Municipal Code sections are 3-2-205 for the height of the weeds and grass and 3-1-200 for unlawful outdoor storage.

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April 29, 2008

Automated Buses Get Tested in San Leandro

PATH automated bus The California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) is testing vehicle guidance technologies on a bus on a stretch of E. 14th Street in San Leandro from 140th Avenue to 150th Avenue.

The vehicle guidance system consists of "magnetic markers embedded in the lane center" that are detected by magnetometers mounted under the bus as it moves along the street. Based on the strength of the magnetic field, an onboard computer steers the bus to keep it properly positioned within the lane and at bus stops.

Video of the bus being tested in San Leandro has been posted on YouTube:

Testing started in February 2008 and is being performed several times per month, usually during the early morning hours. According to Associate Research Engineer Han-Shue Tan, a driver is always present during the testing, but as can be seen in the video, the driver is only a backup to the computer-controlled guidance system.

According to documentation provided by Tan, the test site was chosen because it is part of the planned route for AC Transit's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service, it is part of SR-185, for which CalTrans has responsibility, and it's a representative urban corridor.

If the testing is successful, it should make BRT "more competitive with rail transit quality of service," reduce the right-of-way needed for buses, and reduce the "width of future truck-only highway facilities so that they should cost less to build and require less right of way."

More information about PATH can be found at and Transit Operations Research at

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April 8, 2008

San Leandran to Carry Olympic Torch in San Francisco

Robin Luo Robin Luo, 21, of San Leandro, will be one of 80 people to carry the Olympic torch through San Francisco on April 9, 2008. Luo was selected as part of an essay contest called "Sustainable Journey" in which she wrote about her battle with cancer. Luo was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 2006.

Luo attended San Leandro High School, where she competed in cross country.

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April 1, 2008

San Leandro Company Takes First Step Toward IPO

er_logo.gifAccording to an S-1 filing on April 1, 2008, with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Energy Recovery, Inc. is planning an initial public offering (IPO) of common stock. The amount of the IPO may total $175 million, but the company said that it is subject to change.

Energy Recovery is "a leading global developer and manufacturer of highly efficient energy recovery devices utilized in the rapidly growing water desalination industry. We operate primarily in the sea water reverse osmosis, or SWRO, segment of the industry. In the SWRO process, high pressure is used to drive sea water through filtering membranes to produce fresh water."

In the filing, the company said that its product, the PX Pressure Exchanger, reduces the amount of energy needed for SWRO by 60%. Its product has been installed in more than 300 desalination plants. The company claims a "green" component to its product as well, stating that its products shipped as of last year will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 1.5 million tons per year based on reducing electricity consumption by 300 megawatts.

Revenue has increased from $10.7 million in 2005 to $35.4 million in 2007 with almost 94% of that revenue from international sales. Earnings more than doubled from $2.4 million in 2006 to $5.8 million in 2007.

Energy Recovery was incorporated in Virginia in April 1992 and reincorporated in Delaware in March 2001. The company is located at 1908 Doolittle Drive in San Leandro.

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February 20, 2008

San Leandro Sailor May Play Role in Shooting Down Wayward Satellite

Fire Controlman 2nd Class John Whitby, from San Leandro, Calif.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 16, 2008) Fire Controlman 2nd Class John Whitby, from San Leandro, Calif., operates the radar system control in the combat information center during a ballistic missile defense drill aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70). Lake Erie is currently operation off the coast of Hawaii. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Hight. (Source: US Navy)

The USS Lake Erie is set to launch an SM-3 missle to shoot down a classified National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite that lost power shortly after it reached orbit on December 14, 2006.

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February 19, 2008

Suspect Arrested in Murder of San Leandro Girls

Oakland resident Gumaro Baez, 18, was arrested on February 6, 2008, and charged with the February 3 shooting deaths of San Leandro High School students Dominique Hoover-Brown, 15, and Melissa Jackson, 17, in Oakland. Baez was also charged with the attempted murder of two 23-year-old Oakland men that were with Jackson and Hoover-Brown.

Police allege that Devashawn L. Walker, 19, of Oakland, was with Baez at the time of the shootings and have charged him violating his probation.

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February 12, 2008

San Leandro Soldier Killed in Iraq

Michael T. ManibogSan Leandro resident and US Army Specialist Michael T. Manibog, 31, was killed on February 8, 2008, when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Taji, Iraq, according to a press release from the Department of Defense. Manibog was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

Manibog grew up in San Leandro and graduated from San Leandro High School in 1996. He leaves a nine-year-old son. Click here for Manibog's MySpace page.

San Francisco Chronicle and Daily Review coverage.

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February 10, 2008

Local Man Wins $150,000 on Big Spin

San Leandro resident Aaron Chavez won $150,000 during the show "The Big Spin," which aired on Saturday, February 9, 2008. Chavez, a purchasing manager, had to play and win the game Aces High before spinning the Big Spin wheel.

The Big Spin is part of the California Lottery, which was authorized by voters in November 1984.

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February 8, 2008

Two San Leandro Students Shot and Killed in Oakland

Melissa JacksonDominique Hoover-Brown, 15, and Melissa Jackson, 17, were identified as the teenagers who were shot and killed on Sunday night, February 3, 2008, in Oakland. Two men, both 23, had been traveling with Hoover-Brown and Jackson and had been shot as well.

The girls, who were recent students at San Leandro High School, were found in a van that had crashed into several parked cars in the 6500 block of Outlook Avenue. Police believe that the incident may have started in the 1400 block of Havenscourt Boulevard, where one of the injured males was found.

Donations are being collected to help cover funeral expenses. Checks payable to San Leandro High School may be mailed to the school, attention Jack Nelson, at 2200 Bancroft Ave., San Leandro, CA 94577-6108.

There is a reward of up to $30,000 leading to the arrest of a suspect. If you have information about this crime, call Oakland Police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-238-6946.

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January 30, 2008

Belly/Pole Dancer Spotted on 880

According to the California Highway Patrol, a woman used a highway sign on Interstate 880 for a pole dance near the San Lorenzo/San Leandro border on Monday, January 28, 2008.

Officers responded, but the woman clad in a black halter top and black pants made her way across the freeway and escaped into the brush before she could be apprehended.

As reported in the Contra Costa Times.

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January 25, 2008

San Leandro BART to Get Electronic Bike Lockers

The BART Board decided at its January 24, 2008, meeting to install 198 electronic bicycle lockers at six East Bay BART stations, including San Leandro. The San Leandro station already has bicycle lockers, which are rented out to one person at a time for $30 a year. The BART Board also decided to increase the bicycle locker rental fee to $40 a year.

The lockers will be installed by late July 2008, can be opened and closed using a pre-paid charge card, and will cost three cents an hour. Funding for the lockers at the San Leandro BART station comes from the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority's Bike/Ped Countywide Discretionary Fund and the City of San Leandro.

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January 13, 2008

Substation Fire Near Georgia Pacific on Marina Blvd.

Around 10am on Sunday, January 13, 2008, a fire broke out at an electrical substation behind Georgia Pacific near 1990 Marina Boulevard. Firefighters first tried to access a vacant lot adjacent to the fire, but were unable to cut the locks using bolt cutters. By the time firefighters used a gas-powered grinder to cut through the lock, the fire appeared to be buring itself out. One of the bystanders noted that the lights in his house had flickered at about the time the fire started.

substation fire near Georgia Pacific on Marina Boulevard

Another photo and eyewitness account.

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December 30, 2007

Former Mayor Shelia Young Featured in East Bay Business Times

Former San Leandro Mayor Shelia YoungFormer San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young is profiled in an East Bay Business Times article in the December 31, 2007, issue.

Young served as the San Leandro District 2 Councilmember from 1996 to 1998 and as Mayor of San Leandro from 1998 to 2006. She ran for Alameda County Supervisor in 2006 and lost to Alice Lai-Bitker.

According to the article, Young is currently working towards an associate degree in liberal arts.

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December 19, 2007

OSISoft Software Recognized by Microsoft for Contribution to Environmental Sustainability

According to a Microsoft press release dated December 17, 2007, local software company OSISoft was one of the winners in its Ingenuity Point contest. The contest recognizes "software solutions that are making a meaningful difference in the areas of education, healthcare and environmental sustainability."

OSISoft was recognized in the environmental sustainability category for PI System, a software product designed for managing and monitor the infrastructure of plants and facilities. According to the press release, "OSIsoft’s PI System helps companies in manufacturing, energy, utilities and other process industries monitor, manage and track performance indicators in real time. Several water utilities have used the PI System to more closely manage their water supplies and reduce the cost and energy associated with treating water and wastewater."

According to OSISoft, PI System is used by more 11,000 installations around the world. OSISoft is located at 777 Davis Street in San Leandro.

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December 3, 2007

Former San Leandro Football Player Named PAC-10 Offensive Player of the Year

According to a December 3, 2007, press release from the Pacific-10 Conference, former San Leandro High School football player Dennis Dixon was unanimously chosen as Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. From the press release:

Dixon, a senior from San Leandro, Calif., was a unanimous choice for Pac-10 offensive player of the year despite missing the final two games of the regular season with a knee injury. Dixon led the Pac-10 in passing efficiency by completing 172 of 254 passes (67.7%) for 2,136 yards and 20 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He also was dangerous as a runner with 105 rushes for 583 yards (5.6-yard average) and nine touchdowns. Under Dixon's direction, Oregon led the Pac-10 in both scoring offense (36.7) and total offense (462.1). He was named Pac-10 offensive player of the week three times this season following Oregon victories against Michigan, Stanford and Arizona State. Dixon has been named one of three finalists for both the Maxwell Award and the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. In addition, he has been selected as one of 15 National Scholar-Athletes by The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame and is a finalist for the Foundation's Draddy Trophy.

Dixon was the quarterback for the San Leandro High School football team from 1999 to 2002. He was also drafted by the Cincinnati Reds baseball team in the 20th round in the 2003 draft and by the Atlanta Braves in the 5th round in 2007.

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November 14, 2007

San Leandro Chamber CEO Resigns Effective December 31, 2007

Diana GentryThe San Leandro Chamber of Commerce anounced today that CEO Diana Gentry has resigned for personal reasons effective December 31, 2007. Gentry assumed the role of CEO less than a year ago on January 2, 2007, after serving as director of operations and communications for the Orange Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau. Gentry replaced Heidi Finberg, who left the San Leandro Chamber to take a position with the Chabot College Foundation.

Rose Padilla Johnson, the President-elect of the Chamber will form a search committee for a successor to Gentry.

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November 1, 2007

San Leandro Times Starts a Blog (Kind of)

On October 25, 2007, the San Leandro Times started a blog at Unlike many newspaper blogs, it contains snippets of stories that appear on the web site instead of new or different content. But for those people who use RSS, you can point your newsreader at feed: to see the latest from the San Leandro Times. The blog also enables readers to comments on articles now, as one reader has done in the article about the discussion of the fate of Timothy Drive.

As of November 1, 2007, there were categories for automotive, entertainment and news.

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October 30, 2007

Earthquake Felt in San Leandro October 30

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake centered seven miles east of Milpitas was felt around the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Leandro, at 8:04pm on October 30, 2007. The shallow quake was centered on the Calaveras Fault and knocked items from shelves in areas close to the epicenter. No injuries or damage was reported.

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October 5, 2007

Fire Destroys M.A.R.’s Engineering Building in San Leandro

A fire destroyed one of two buildings at M.A.R.’s Engineering Company Inc., on Montague Avenue on Friday morning, October 5, 2007. According to an employee, an explosion ignited the fire, but nobody was seriously injured. Two employees were reportedly treated for minor injuries. The mutiple-alarm fire generated a overwhelming response from the Alameda County Fire Department, ensuring that the fire didn't spread to neighboring businesses.

Firefighter battles MARs fire from above
Firefighters battling MARs fire

According to the company's web site, M.A.R.'s Engineering started in 1964 with two automatic screw machines purchased at an auction. The company produces screw machine products and performs light assembly work. The web site also states, "M.A.R.’s currently employs thirty-six full time employees in two side by side buildings consisting of 15,000 sq. ft."

M.A.R.'s Engineering is located at 699 Montague Avenue in San Leandro.

More coverage from CBS 5, the Daily Review, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Overhead video from NBC 11 and KGO 7.

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August 29, 2007

Local Company Fined by EPA

According to a press release issued August 29, 2007, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Copper Harbor Company, a San Leandro firm that manufactures pesticides, was fined $5,200 for allegedly violating reporting requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Copper Harbor reportedly failed to submit its annual pesticide production report for 2006 by the March 1, 2007, deadline, but has since filed the report.

Copper Harbor is located at 2300 Davis Street in San Leandro.

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August 27, 2007

Housing Bust Hits San Leandro

With housing prices on the decline, increasing numbers of foreclosures, and fewer people buying houses, Wachovia Bank announced it is laying off 100 people in San Leandro and 15 people in Walnut Creek. According to a spokesman for Wachovia, the people being laid off were loan closing specialists, underwriters and loan processors. According to this posting, those laid off were in the "ELOC group and Portfolio Retention."

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August 18, 2007

Fire Destroys West Coast Sporting Goods

West Coast Sporting Goods Fire

West Coast Sporting Goods at 13720 E 14th St. was destroyed by a fire late Friday, August 17, 2007. The business was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, filling the neighborhood with smoke while burning embers floated up and over the adjacent building of doctors' offices. The fire spread to the wall of the neighboring Casa Camelias apartment building. Firefighters were able to put it out before it damaged the interior of the apartment building, but smoke and water caused some damage. With nearly a dozen fire engines, including some from Oakland, the firefighters had nearly extinguished the fire by midnight. No injuries were reported.

New coverage from KTVU, Daily Review, San Francisco Chronicle, and KPIX.

Update: According to the Alameda County Fire Department, the cause of the fire was accidental. West Coast Sporting Goods is now operating out of its warehouse at 1855 Alvarado Street in San Leandro.

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July 29, 2007

San Leandro Company Produces Dive Mask with Built-in Computer and Display

DataMask HUDSan Leandro-based Oceanic Worldwide has developed a dive mask that displays current depth, elapsed dive time, cylinder pressure, and dive time remaining inside the dive mask. The DataMask HUD (heads up display) doesn't project the information onto the diver's mask, but uses a small LCD to display vital dive information. The Oceanic website includes a slide show and PDF demo.

Originally developed for the military, the website indicates that it will be available in July 2007, for nearly $1,500.

Oceanic Worldwide is located at 2002 Davis Street in San Leandro.








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July 27, 2007

San Leandro Boy Loses Leukemia Battle

Harrison LeonardoHarrison Leonardo, a two-year-old San Leandro boy who had been battling leukemia, died on July 16, 2007, at Children's Hospital in Palo Alto.

Thousands of potential bone marrow donors were tested for a possible match for Harrison. For Harrison, this was very difficult because of his mix of Filipino and Caucasian parents.

A funeral mass was held Friday, July 27, 2007, at St. Monica's Church in San Francisco.

Harrison is survived by his parents O.J. and Stephanie and his brother Lucas.

Previous stories on SF Gate blog, San Francisco Chronicle, KPIX, KCBS, KGO, and the Rice Daddies Blog.

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July 24, 2007

Shark Bites San Leandro Man's Kayak

San Leandro resident Dan Prather was fishing in his kayak off Bean Hollow State Beach when a great white shark bit into the kayak on Saturday, July 21, 2007. The shark knocked Prather out of his kayak but he was able to get back in the kayak after falling out two more times. Prather was uninjured, despite the tooth marks on his kayak.

For eyewitness accounts and picture of Dan and the damaged kayak, click here.

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July 20, 2007

Small Quake in Oakland Jolts Area

A 4.2 magnitude earthquake struck just a few miles from Oakland on the Hayward fault at 4:42am early on July 20, 2007.

No injuries were reported, but windows at a Safeway store in Berkeley reportedly broke.

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July 7, 2007

San Leandro Man Wins World Boxing Title

San Leandro's Nonito Donaire won the IBF and IBO flyweight championships on Saturday, July 7, 2007, after a technical knockout of undefeated Vic Darchinyan. The end came 38 seconds into the fifth round when Donaire, The Filipino Flash, nailed Darchinyan with a left hook. Darchinyan fell to the floor, tried to get up, but ended up on his knees with his hands raised. The referee stopped the fight and awarded the win to Donaire, his first world title.

Donaire is originally from General Santos, Philippines. The win improves Donaire's rcord to 18 wins and 1 loss with 11 knockouts.

Click here for news article from Connecticut Post.

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July 6, 2007

Local Man Gets Posthumous Carnegie Hero Award

Marlin and Jacqueline CoatsMarlin A. Coats, 29, a store manager from San Leandro, Calif., received a Carnegie Hero Award on July 6, 2007, for helping to save two boys, ages 11 and 14, from drowning when they were caught in a riptide off Ocean Beach in San Francisco on May 14, 2006. According to the press release, "He swam out to the older boy and helped him toward shore, and that boy left the water. Coats turned back for the other boy, who was farther out. Others entered the water, including two lifeguards who had been alerted. Finding that Coats had submerged, the lifeguards pulled him to the surface of the water and placed him on a rescue board. They returned him and the other boy to shore. Coats and both boys were taken to the hospital for treatment, but Coats could not be revived, as he had died of drowning."

The mission of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1904, is "To recognize persons who perform acts of heroism in civilian life in the United States and Canada, and to provide financial assistance for those disabled and the dependants of those killed helping others." Winners of the award are announced five times a year.

According to this San Francisco Chronicle article, Coats' widow is facing deportation to Kenya because her husband died before immigration paperwork needed for her to remain in the country was completed. In response to this, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced S. 420 on January 29, 2007, a bill that would grant permanent residency to Jacqueline Coats.

Each of the honorees or the next of kin receives $5,000 and becomes eligible for one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

Click here for Daily Review coverage.

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June 27, 2007

Bancroft Teacher Jim Sorensen Sets Masters Track Records

Jim Sorensen competing at Occidental in May 2007Local teacher Jim Sorensen won the men's masters exhibition mile at the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships held from June 20 to 24, 2007, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sorensen finished the mile with a time of 4 minutes, 13.21 seconds. The masters record for the mile is held by David Moorcroft, who ran the mile in 4 minutes, 2.53 seconds in 1993.

On June 3, 2007, Sorensen set the world masters record in the 1,500 meter race with a time of 3 minutes, 44.06 seconds at the Jim Bush Invitational/USATF West Regional Track & Field Championship at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Sorensen's was just 0.18 seconds slower than the time he set when he finished second while attempting to qualify for the 1996 Olympics at age 29. The previous masters record for 1,500 meters was 3 minutes, 44.89 seconds set by Luis Jose Gonsalvez in 1999.

Two days after Sorensen turned 40, he set the American masters record for 800 meters with a time of 1 minute 51.57 seconds at the Occidental Invitational on May 12, 2007. The previous record of 1 minute 52.42 seconds was held by Olympian Johnny Gray.

Update: At the American Milers Club meet at Indiana University in Bloomington, on Saturday, June 30, 2007, Sorensen set the world masters record for 800 meters with a time of 1 minute, 50.34 seconds, besting the previous world record set in 2000 by Ireland's Colm Rothery by 0.35 seconds.

Sorensen teaches physical education at Bancroft Middle School in San Leandro, California.

Text of interview from Masters Track Blog in May 2007

Click here for a summary of Sorensen's running career.

Video of a mile race at Stanford.

Video of interview with Sorensen.

Video from 1986 800 meter at Cerritos College

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June 10, 2007

San Leandro Boy Dies During Soccer Game

Sixteen-year-old Michael Ezeh Ifeny Jr. suddenly fell down during a soccer game on Saturday, June 9, 2007. Ifeny was transported to Alameda Hospital, where he was pronounced dead later that day at 9:12pm. An investigation will be performed to determine the cause of death.

Daily Review and San Francisco Chronicle coverage.

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June 4, 2007

Brian Copeland Shows in San Francisco and Malibu in June 2007

Local comedian, radio show host, writer, and performer Brian Copeland will perform Not a Genuine Black Man as a benefit for the American Conservatory Theater's Masters Program on June 18, 2007, at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

For tickets ($10 to $30), call (415) 749-2ACT or click here.

Copeland will also be performing Not a Genuine Black Man at the Malibu Stage Company in Malibu, California, June 21-23 and June 28-30, 2007.

Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 1-800-838-3006 or going to

If you haven't seen or read Not a Genuine Black Man, find out more at Brian Copeland's web site.

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May 30, 2007

Google Offers a Street-Level View of Parts of San Leandro

Google Maps has a new Street View feature that enables you to see a street-level view of an address in addition to an aerial photograph and street map. Basically, a vehicle with photographic equipment travels through an area shooting video. This video is converted into seamless images and mapped. When you click on the Street View button in Google Maps, the streets for which street level photographs are available are highlighted in blue and you can drag a human icon to the area you want to see.

Portions of downtown San Leandro, Bay-o-Vista, Assumption Parish, Davis Street, Bancroft Avenue, Estudillo Avenue, Washington Avenue, Halcyon Drive, and Hesperian Boulevard have already been photographed. This means you can see Casa Peralta, San Leandro High School, Zocalo Coffeehouse and the San Leandro Library.

Once you have a street level view, you can rotate the picture and turn around a full 360 degrees. You can also zoom in and out. It is very clear and you can see license plates of cars and people's faces.

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San Leandro Company Recalls Its Sesame Tahini

In a press release dated May 25, 2007, nSpired Natural Foods of San Leandro is recalling its "MaraNatha Sesame Tahini in 16-oz sizes with a Use By Date of 04/11/08 and earlier, and 15-lb and 32-lb sizes with an expiration date of 01/05/08 (lot 07130) and earlier", because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

"Potential salmonella contamination was discovered during routine, random sample testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency." "Consumers who have purchased MaraNatha Sesame Tahini are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-883-8312."

In related news, Whole Foods issued a press release on May 22, 2007, recalling 365 Organic Everyday Value Sesame Tahini after it was notified by the manufacturer of possible salmonella contamination.

nSpired Natural Foods, Inc. is located at 1850 Fairway Drive in San Leandro.

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May 5, 2007

San Leandro's Population Almost 81,500

According to a press release issued on May 1, 2007, by the Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance, San Leandro's population was 81,466 as of January 1, 2007. This is a 0.5% increase from San Leandro's population of 81,071 as of January 1, 2006.

Alameda County's overall growth rate was 1.1% (1,526,148) while California's was 1.3% (37,662,518). The fastest growing city in Alameda County was Emeryville with a 7.3% growth rate and the slowest growing cities were Albany, Newark, Piedmont, and San Leandro at 0.5%.

Click here for the complete spreadsheet of preliminary 2007 data and revised 2006 data.

Posted by mike at 7:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 16, 2007

Associated Aerospace Wins $14.6 Million Air Force Contract

According to a press release from the Department of Defence, Associated Aerospace Activities, Inc. was awarded a $14,641,822 firm fixed price, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to provide divergent flaps for the F101 engine used on the B-1 Bomber. Contracting is being handled by the Air Logistics Center Headquarters at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma under ID# FA8104-07-D-0006.

Associated Aerospace Activities manufactures and supplies jet engine components and high temperature alloy sheet metal fabrication for all industries, according to its website. The facility is located at 2502 Williams Street in San Leandro.

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April 10, 2007

Broadreach Capital Partners Buys Old Kelloggs Site

Broadreach Capital Partners of Palo Alto recently paid $21.5 million for the 22-acre former Kellogg Co. production facility and an adjacent 3.9-acre parcel. The property contains a 186,000 square-foot manufacturing and warehouse building and a 278,727-square-foot warehouse and office building.

The Kellogg Company ceased operations at the site in late 1995, eliminating 325 jobs in the process. The site is located at 2040 Williams Street in San Leandro.

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March 31, 2007

Man Killed in Marina Boat Fire

According to the Alameda County Fire Department, one person person was killed in a boat fire at the San Leandro Marina on Friday, March 30, 2007, at abour 8pm. Firefighters responded to reports of a boat fire, but it had been extinguished by people with hoses and fire extinguinshers by the time firefighters arrived. A body was discovered when firefighters closely examined the boat.

Update: The man was identified as 55-year-old Stanley Garvin, who lived on the boat.

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March 14, 2007

Harsch Investments Buys Polvorosa Business Park

Harsch Investment Properties of Portland, Oregon, has reportedly purchased Polvorosa Business Park from Chamberlain Associates of Pleasanton.

Polvorosa Business Park consists of three buildings totalling 92,250 square feet located at 1555 Doolittle Dr. and 2235 and 2265 Polvorosa Ave. at the intersection of Doolittle Dr. and Polvorosa Ave. The property comprises 5.6 acres and was developed in 1987. Current tenants include TiNi Aerospace, Northern California Marine Association, Bridgepoint Systems, California Teachers Association, Sutter Health, and Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation.

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March 1, 2007

Earthquake Shakes San Leandro

An earthquake of magnitude 4.2 centered 1 mile northeast of Lafayette shook San Leandro on Thursday, March 1, 2007, at 8:40pm.

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January 25, 2007

San Leandro Pastor Sentenced to Jail for Poaching Sharks

In a press release issued on January 23, 2007, US Attorney Kevin Ryan announced that San Leandro pastor Kevin Thompson was sentenced on January 22, 2007, to one year and one day in jail for poaching juvenile leopard sharks.

"The indictment specifically charged that approximately 465 juvenile leopard sharks were sold to companies in Miami; Chicago; Houston; Romulus, Michigan; Milford, Connecticut; the Netherlands; and the United Kingdom."

Thompson was also ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution.

Thompson is the pastor at the Bay Area Family Church, Holy Spirit Association for Unification of World Christianity, located at 2305 Washington Avenue in San Leandro. He is scheduled to surrender into custody on March 19, 2007.

According to the press release, "Hiroshi Ishikawa, 36, of San Leandro, was a member of the Church and was sentenced on October 11, 2006, to three years probation, and $40,000 restitution."

Others who were charged and pleaded guilty are John Newberry, 34, of Hayward, California, Ira Gass, 53, of Azusa, California, Vincent Ng, 43, of Oakland, and Sion Lim, 39, of San Francisco, California. Lim was sentenced on June 6, 2006, to one year probation, a $5,000 fine, and $20,000 in restitution. The others are awaiting sentencing.

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January 2, 2007

San Leandran Marches as Stormtrooper in Rose Parade

San Leandro resident Ian Hiebert marched in the 118th Rose Parade on January 1, 2006, as one of 200 Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion. The 501st Legion is a group of Star Wars fans that makes their own costumes and Hiebert is the commanding officer of the legion's Golden Gate Garrison.

The 200 Stormtroopers from 22 countries preceded the Parade's Grand Marshal, George Lucas. The selection of Lucas as the Grand Marshal coincides with the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars in 1977. The Rose Parade also featured Star Wars-themed floats of the planet Naboo and the Ewok forest from the moon of Endor.

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December 24, 2006

Two Dead and Six Wounded in Shooting at San Leandro Bar

Daniel Camarillo, a 23-year-old man from Union City and Ruby Vega, a 26-year-old woman from Hayward, were shot and killed outside the Lucky Star Lounge early Saturday, December 23, 2006. The shooting occured after an argument between two groups of people. One group was at the bar for a birthday party. A person involved in the argument left and when he returned, he opened fire on a group of people outside the bar. Six people were also wounded and all are expected to survive.

According to Bay City News, "police are looking for an Asian man, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and in his 20s, who may have played a role in the shooting."

These were the third and fourth homicides in San Leandro in 2006.

Coverage also in the Daily Review, Bay City News, and San Francisco Chronicle.

The Lucky Star Lounge is located at 2090 Doolittle Drive near the intersection with Marina Boulevard.

Update: Johnny Deneng, 21, of Oakley, was arrested on December 24, 2006, at the hospital where he was recovering from injuries suffered at the scene of the shooting. According to police, Deneng was subdued by a group of people after his gun jammed. Police initially believed that he had been a victim.

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December 21, 2006

Small Earthquake Jolts San Leandro

A magnitude 3.7 earthquake was reported by the United States Geological Survey at 7:12pm on Wesdnesday, December 20, 2006. The epicenter of the quake was 2 miles east-southeast of Berkeley on the Hayward Fault.

The quake was reported to cause a brief and light shaking, such that it was noticeable if you were sitting and was missed by many who were moving around at the time.

Posted by mike at 6:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 17, 2006

San Leandro Company to Build New Redwood Shores Library

San Leandro's Sausal Corporation was awarded a contract to build a branch library in Redwood Shores for its bid of $14,472,500. The Redwood City Council rejected all bids for the project in September and put it out to bid again in November. Although Sausal's bid was 26% above the initial estimate, it was the lowest of the five bids received.

According to its web site, Sausal Corporation was "licensed as a General Building Contractor in November of 1972" and has been at its location at 422 Whitney Street in San Leandro since the company started.

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December 7, 2006

San Leandro Software Company Sues Sun and StorageTek for Copyright Infringement

In a December 4, 2006, press release, San Leandro software company Netbula announced that it was suing Storage Technology Corporation (StorageTek) and Sun Microsystems, Inc. for copyright infringement. Netbula alleges that Sun's LibAttach software infringes on its core technology, that Sun defrauded Netbula and violated a contract.

According to its web site, "Netbula is a technological leader in RPC (Remote Procedure Call) development tools for distributed computing..."

Netbula is located at 2777 Alvarado Steet, Suite C, in San Leandro.

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November 21, 2006

Hormel Buys Saag's Specialty Meats

According to, Hormel Foods has purchased San Leandro's Saag's Specialty Meats. According to Hormel, the deal was for "$12 million cash plus the assumption of certain obligations."

Saag's products include rankfurters, traditional entrée sausages, gourmet poultry sausages, breakfast links, roast beef, roast turkey, hams, paté, sandwich meats, dry and semi-dry salamis, and snack meats.

Saag's was founded in Oakland in 1933 and had been owned by the Mosle family. According to, "Saag's recently completed a remodel and renovation of its San Leandro plant." Saag's is located at 1799 Factor Avenue in San Leandro.

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November 7, 2006

State Agency Declares Cleanup Complete at Cintas Site

In a press release issued on November 3, 2006, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control said that "all required hazardous substances cleanup activities have been completed for the [Cintas/Dedominico] site" at 777 139th Avenue in San Leandro.

According to the press release, Ross Rental Services used the property from 1971 to 1983 to clean clothes using tetrachloroethylene (PCE). PCE is commonly used for dry-cleaning and is a suspected carcinogen and can damage the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. PCE leaked from underground storage tanks into the soil and groundwater at the property and spread via groundwater to the Bonaire and Mulford Gardens neighborhoods. Cleanup activities included removal of underground storage tanks, removal of contaminated soil, and using wells to extract vapors of PCE and the breakdown products trichloroethene (TCE) and petroleum hydrocarbons.

In 1992, the DTSC ordered Cintas to begin an investigation and cleanup of the property. Cintas still operates a commercial laundry facility at the property.

Groundwater quality will continue to be monitored and a deed restriction has been put in place for the property.

Click here for Daily Review coverage.

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October 18, 2006

Brian Copeland off to the big screen

Brian Copeland has been cast as Morgan Freeman's son in Rob Reiner's new film THE BUCKET LIST. The film, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, is about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. Brian will start three weeks of shooting at the end of November.

Brian's show, Not a genuine black man, continues drawing crowds at the Marsh Theater. The show's run at the Marsh was supposed to end in October, but has now been extended until November 25th - right before Brian heads to Hollywood. Tickets for October are sold out, so get your November tickets early!

Brian's book "Not a genuine black man" continues to be a Bay Area bestseller and has recently been profiled in Ebony Magazine as a "must read".

Brian will be talking at the San Leandro Main Library on Thursday, October 26, 2006 at 7:00 PM. He will read from, discuss, and sign copies of his new book Not a Genuine Black Man. Refreshments will be served, and copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. For more information call (510) 577-3971.

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October 17, 2006

Otis Spunkmeyer Sold to Irish Food Company

In a press release dated October 16, 2006, IAWS Group Plc, an Irish food company, announced that it had purchased Otis Spunkmeyer from Code Hennessy & Simmons LLC for an estimated $365 million.

The IAWS Group web site also has a PowerPoint presentation summarizing details of the purchase.

On June 20, 2006, Otis Spunkmeyer had filed papers for an initial public offering to raise up to $230 million.

According to its web site, Otis Spunkmeyer sells "frozen gourmet cookie dough, ready-baked muffins, and a variety of other premium bakery products..." Otis Spunkmeyer made news in 2005 by becoming one of the first US cookie makers to eliminate trans fats from its frozen cookie dough.

Otis Spunkmeyer's corporate headquarters is located at 14490 Catalina Street, San Leandro, California.

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October 16, 2006

Early voting comes to Bayfair on Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On Tuesday, October 17, 2006, Alameda County's Registrar of Voters will bring its mobile voting unit to Bayfair Center for those voters who want to get their voting done early. Normally, early voting is available at government buildings and city halls, but acting registrar of voters Dave Macdonald wants to make voting even more convenient. Early voting will be available at the Fremont and MacArthur BART stations on Friday and California State University East Bay (CSU Hayward) and UC Berkeley in the near future. For more information, call the Alameda County Registrar of Voters at (510) 272-6961.

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September 29, 2006

San Leandro Teen Creates Backyard Special Effects Show

The September 29, 2006, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle features an article about Andrew Vivas Anabu, a former San Leandro student at Moreau Catholic High School, who created a special effects show in his backyard. Anabu was inspired by Disney themes and a Terminator show at Universal Studios. The show was created for about $300 using bubble machines, spotlights, an electronic parrot, and video screens. Anabu said that he was teased and ridiculed at school and the show provided an escape. He is now at the Academy of Art college in San Francisco

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September 26, 2006

San Leandro Company Cleans Up Bay Area Buses

More than 1,700 diesel buses in the Bay Area are being fitted with diesel exhaust purifiers from San Leandro-based Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls. In a press conference scheduled for 1:30pm on Tuesday, September 26, 2006, at Treasure Island, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will focus on the program that is cleaning up the exhaust from diesel buses. According to a press release from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, "these high-tech emission control filters each year capture more than 50 tons of particulate matter and 436 tons of oxides of nitrogen, a precursor to ozone."

Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls is located at 14775 Wicks Blvd. in San Leandro, California.

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September 20, 2006

San Leandro Chamber CEO Leaves for Chabot College Foundation

According to a press release from the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, CEO Heidi Finberg will be leaving to take the newly-created position of Assistant Director for the Chabot College Foundation. Her appointment was confirmed by the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Board of Trustees at its September 19, 2006, meeting.

Finberg served as CEO of the San Leandro Chamber since 2001. She also serves on the City of San Leandro Recreation and Parks Commission, San Leandro's Transit Oriented Development Citizens Advisory Committee, and is a member of The Sentinels and the Political Action Committee for Excellence (PACE). In an East Bay Business Times article, Finberg noted that she wants to run for political office. In 2002, she pulled papers to run for the District 5 City Council Seat in San Leandro and in 2006, she pulled papers to run for the Area 2 San Leandro School Board Seat, but both times she decided not to run.

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September 6, 2006

Pee Wee's Pizza Suffers Roof Damage from Fire

Local pizzeria Pee Wee's suffered roof and internal damage from a one-alarm fire early Tuesday morning, September 5, 2006. The fire was reported to authorities at about 5am and took about 20 minutes for firefighters to extinguish. One firefighter suffered a sprained ankle. Firefighters are investigating the cause of the fire as the front door was open when firefighters arrived. Arson investigators were on the scene most of the day Tuesday.

The only visible damage is a broken window covered by some wood but the inside of Pee Wee's was gutted by the fire.

Pee Wee's is located at 2198 E. 14th Street.

More details from the San Leandro Times.

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August 11, 2006

San Leandro's Associated Aerospace Activities Gets $22.4 Million DoD Contract

According to a Department of Defense August 10, 2006, press release, Associated Aerospace Activities, Inc., was awarded a $22,409,592 firm-fixed price contract for F-16 fighter engine parts and B-1 Bomber engine parts. The work is being contracted out of Headquarters Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base, in Oklahoma.

Associated Aerospace Activities is located at 2502 Williams Street in San Leandro.

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August 9, 2006

Cinemark USA to buy Century Theatres

Century Theatres, the owner of the Century 16 Bayfair at Bayfair Center, will be acquired by Cinemark, USA. San Rafael-based Century Theatres has more than 1,000 screen in 12 states.

Century Theatres is one of the few movie theaters that doesn't show television-like commercials before previews for upcoming movies.

After the purchase, Cinemark will have 4,395 screens, behind AMC Entertainment's 4,437 screens and Regal Entertainment Group's 6,383 screens.

According to its web site, Century Theatres started in 1941, when "founder Raymond J. Syufy opened his first indoor movie theater in Vallejo, CA."

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July 18, 2006

Brian Copeland on People Magazine!

Brian Copeland continues to make news with his one-man show and his brand new book "Not a genuine black man". He's appearing on this week's People magazine (the one with Jennifer Anniton on the cover). He has his own page with a picture and a review of the book. It got 3 1/2 out of 4 stars!

Here is what Josh Emmons of PEOPLE wrote:

"Comedian Brian Copeland once got a letter accusing him of not being a
genuine black man, and his memoir would seem to support this. He doesn't
play basketball. He quotes James Garner from MAVERICK. He listens to Rick
Springfield. But the book does more than list his tastes; with humor and
pathos it traces a life spent dodging racial epithets from blacks and
whites (he's been called Oreo as often as the n-word) and achieving what
he sees as the true African American atribute: resilience. A native of the
once all-white San Leandro, Calif., he concludes that "no one person or
group...holds the monopoly on what in this society is the 'true' black
experience." He has demonstrated as much in this affecting book."

We weren't the only ones to notice Brian's appearance, The SF Chronicle's Lea Garchnik wrote this in today's paper:

"Brian Copeland's "Not a Genuine Black Man" book gets a 3 1/2-star review, with picture, in this week's People magazine. "I'm walking on air," he writes in an e-mail, "knowing that for the next week, 3.8 million Americans will be sitting in their dentists' offices and on their toilets looking at my mug." "

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July 13, 2006

Olson and Co. Steel Receives $9.5 Million in Financing

Olson and Co. Steel, headquartered in San Leandro, received a $3.5 million loan and a $6 million line of credit, Bridge Finance Group announced on July 13, 2006. The money will be used to expand operations and reduce a backlog of orders.

According to its website, OCS employees "engineer, fabricate, and erect everything from base isolation seismic supports to stainless steel sculptures."

OCS "is the consolidation of Bostrom Bergen Metal Products and Meddco Metals."

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More on the San Leandro Pastor Charged With Poaching Leopard Sharks

The July 12, 2006, edition of the East Bay Express has a lengthy feature article by Robert Gammon about the leopard shark poaching ring operating out of San Leandro. As reported previously, Kevin Thompson, 48, pastor of the Bay Area Family Church in San Leandro, was indicted by a federal grand jury on January 24, 2006, along with five others, of illegal trade in leopard sharks.

The East Bay Express article goes into much greater detail about how Thompson may have been responsible for poaching 6,000 leopard sharks since 1990 or 1991. Testimony from co-defendant John Newberry revealed that Thompson and Newberry "stowed their fishing poles, line, hooks, and bait, along with three of the church's shark boats, at the San Leandro sushi warehouse owned by True World Foods. Newberry also disclosed that at the rear of the True World property was a large shack where they kept their live baby leopard sharks."

The Bay Area Family Church is part of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church and True World Foods is one of the church's commercial enterprises.

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June 29, 2006

No Kids Injured in Davis Street Family Resource Center Bus Crash

A bus carrying 32 children from San Leandro's Davis Street Family Resource Center was involved in a crash on Interstate 580 on Thursday morning, June 29, 2006. The Ford Explorer changed lanes into the bus and overturned, but the driver only received minor wounds. None of the children or the chaperones were hurt.

The bus was on its way to the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. The crash closed down the Foothill exit of eastbound Interstate 580 for approximately 45 minutes.

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June 28, 2006

Patty Price, Public Interest Lawyer, Dies of Cancer

On June 15, 2006, Patricia "Patty" Gail Price, 54, died at her home in San Leandro from ovarian cancer. Price had worked at Public Interest Law Firm from 1991 to 1998, where she worked on the historic Denny's discrimination case, which resulted in a $54 million settlement in 1994.

Price is survived by her domestic partner Teresa Friend, daughters Lindsay Price-Friend, 10, and Aimee Price-Friend, 6, and brother Jim Price.

More information is available in the San Francisco Chronicle article and Los Angeles Time article. has an obituary and guest book.

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San Leandro Toddler Dies After Hotel FallO

On Saturday, June 24, 2006, three-year-old Leialoha Fotu of San Leandro died after falling from the third floor onto the lobby floor of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Burlingame. Although she was breathing when she was discovered, she died hours later at San Francisco General Hospital from her injuries. According to what the girl's family told police, Leialoha wandered away from a family member who was watching her. Police are treating the girl's death as an accident.

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June 21, 2006

San Leandro Cop Appointed to California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training

San Leandro Police Officer Michael Sobek was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).

According to the POST web site, Sobek, 43, of Dublin, "has over twenty years experience in law enforcement, serving with the San Leandro Police Department since 1991 and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department from 1984 to 1991. Additionally, Sobek has served as adjunct faculty at Chabot/Los Positas Community College since 2002. Sobek is an American Independent."

According to the Daily Review, Sobek "oversees the department's field-training program, is also an instructor at the Alameda County sheriff's Regional Training Center and vice president of the San Leandro Police Officers Association."

Sobek was the police officer who found the bodies of the USDA and state inspectors at the Santos Linguisa factory after they had been shot and killed by Stuart Alexander in June 2000.

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June 20, 2006

Otis Spunkmeyer to Go Public

On Tuesday, June 20, 2006, San Leandro-based Otis Spunkmeyer filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering that could raise up to $230 million. Merrill Lynch & Co. and JPMorgan were listed as the underwriters.

In 2005, Otis Spunkmeyer had sales of $336.3 million with $5.4 million in profit.

Private equity firm Code Hennessy & Simmons bought Otis Spunkmeyer for $275 million in 2002 and its partners, Andrew W. Code, Steven R. Brown, and Thomas J. Formolo, and Vice President Mark A. Dolfato are on Otis Spunkmeyer's Board of Directors.

According to its web site, Otis Spunkmeyer sells "frozen gourmet cookie dough, ready-baked muffins, and a variety of other premium bakery products..." Otis Spunkmeyer made news last year by becoming one of the first US cookie makers to eliminate trans fats from its frozen cookie dough.

Otis Spunkmeyer's corporate headquarters is located at 14490 Catalina Street, San Leandro, California.

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June 13, 2006

Village Voice on Copeland's Not a Genuine Black Man

In the June 13, 2006, review of Brian Copeland's Not a Genuine Black Man, The Village Voice's Alexis Soloski writes of Copeland's musings on what it means to be black that "These jokes amuse, but they aren't nearly so compelling as his autobiography...Clearly, the comedy comes easier to Copeland... It's a shame director Bob Balaban couldn't help infuse this far more powerful material with the onstage naturalness Copeland is capable of. Copeland is undoubtedly a genuine black man and a genuine memoirist..."

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June 12, 2006

San Leandro Chamber CEO Featured in East Bay Business Times

San Leandro Chamber of Commerce CEO Heidi Finberg was featured in an article in the East Bay Business Times over the weekend.

The article notes that Finberg spent four years in the Coast Guard as a communications specialist followed by 13 years working for ANG's Oakland Tribune in advertising management. She joined the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s as the Vice President of Government Affairs, a volunteer position. When then CEO Tom Guarino left to take a job with PG & E, Finberg asked to be considered for the job, which she has held since.

The article notes that two of her dreams are to own a community newspaper and to run for political office.

According to the article, the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce is the second biggest in the East Bay, with almost 1,000 members.

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June 5, 2006

San Leandro Resident Drowns in Wisconsin

San Leandro resident Cameron K. Talauta, 27, drowned on June 2, 2006, after jumping off a pontoon boat in Round Lake's Hinton Bay. He was swimming with friends and yelled for help, but went under before his friends could get to him. Divers recovered his body in 18-feet of water.

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May 19, 2006

San Leandro Widow Faces Deportation

Today's San Francisco Chronicle reports that San Leandro resident Jacqueline Coats, 26, faces deportation after her husband died while trying to rescue two children who were caught by rip tides at Ocean Beach.

According to the article, Coats' student visa expired in 2003 and on April 6, immigration authorities began deportation proceedings. Eleven days later, Coats married Marlin Coats, which would have guaranteed her legal residency.

Coats is from Kenya and studied at San Jose State University. A hearing is scheduled for August 3, 2006.

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May 16, 2006

Mercator MedSystems Raises $2.25 Million in Venture Capital

In a May 15, 2006, press release, San Leandro-based Mercator MedSystems announced that it had raised $2.25 million from Palo Alto Investors and Crocker Capital.

Mercator MedSystems is named after Gerardus Mercator, a 16th-century cartographer and mathematician. Accoridng to its website, "Mercator MedSystems has developed a medical technology that enables the safe and accurate delivery of therapies anywhere in the body, ranging from drugs for diseased blood vessels, to stem cells that regenerate ailing tissues and organs."

Mercator MedSystems is located at 3077 Teagarden Street in San Leandro, California.

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May 15, 2006

Planning Commission Recommends Blocking Traffic at Dangerous Intersection

In its meeting on May 11, 2006, the San Leandro Planning Commission decided to recommend blocking Castro Street traffic from being able to cross San Leandro Boulevard. This solution was recommended by the Engineering staff after a report completed by Dowling Associates, Inc. in February 2005 entitled "Analysis of High Collision Locations in San Leandro."

The recommended solution, estimated to cost $50,000, consists of a concrete S-shaped barrier that will allow left turns from San Leandro Boulevard onto Castro Street, but will prevent traffic from Castro Street from crossing San Leandro Boulevard. The propsed barrier is shown in the following photo from the report:


The report noted, "A possible cause of the collisions may be poor judgment of the crossing distance by drivers on Castro Street. This theory is supported by the fact that over half of the right-angle collisions occurred at the far side of the intersection. The remaining collisions mostly involved eastbound Castro Street traffic and northbound San Leandro Boulevard traffic, with poor sight distance considered a possible cause. High speeds on Castro Street and violation of stop controls may also contribute to the high collision rate. It was observed that some vehicles did not abide by the stop sign if there were traffic gaps on San Leandro Boulevard wide enough for more than one vehicle to cross."

The council's recommendation was unanimous.

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November 30, 2005

Most people can't tell a city hall from a museum

San Leandro's city hall was one of the buildings used in a study to determine whether form follows function in American architecture. Apparently, the answer is no. The photos used for the study included this one of San Leandro's city hall:


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November 22, 2005

No Xbox Mania at Downtown EB Games

While local television news stations were reporting live this morning about hardcore video gamers lined up for Microsoft's new video game console, there was no line outside the EB Games, at 1415 E. 14th St. in San Leandro. A sign on the door said, "NO 360 FOR NON-PRE-ORDERS."


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November 20, 2005

Power Outage Affects San Leandro

The power went out from about 2:20am until about 6:30 am for 90,000 customers in the East Bay early Sunday, November 20, 2005. The power outage, affecting Pacific Gas and Electric customers in San Leandro and Oakland, was caused by a problem with a relay switch at the Moraga high-voltage substation in San Leandro. Power was completely restored by about 7:30am.

Posted by mike at 7:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2005

Kaiser Permanente Buys Albertsons Distribution Center

The East Bay Business Times reports that Kaiser Permanente has purchased the Albertsons Distribution Center, located at 1701 Marina Boulevard, on the west side of Interstate 880. The 63-acre site would be the site of a new hospital by 2012, if the plans are approved by Kaiser's management and regulatory authorities.

The hospital would replace Kaiser's Hayward Medical Center, which was built in 1957 and is not in compliance with state seismic requirements.

Update: Selling price was $94.5 million, according to this article, which has more details about the purchase process.

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June 12, 2005

Plans for Casino Near Oakland Airport are "Dead"

According to a letter received Friday, June 10, 2005, from the owners of the proposed Oakland casino site to Oakland City Council President Ignacio de la Fuente, plans for the casino are "dead." The casino proposed by the Lower Lake Rancheria Koi Nation had been opposed by the cities of Oakland, San Leandro, Alameda, and Berkeley and Alameda County.

The tribe had an option to purchase the site, which expired at the end of May, according to Legacy Partners, owners of the site.

See the Oakland Tribune article for the full story.

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June 6, 2005

San Leandro Teen Dies After Inhaling Aerosol

Josh Edmond, a 17-year-old from San Leandro, was found dead on Wednesday, June 1, 2005, by his father at their home on Oaks Boulevard. A can of aerosol was found next to his body and investigators determined that he was trying to get a high from inhaling the product.

Edmond had been expelled from high school and had a history of drug use, but had recently begun volunteering and planned to join the Navy.

The inhalant was Maxell Blast Away, an aerosol used to blow away dust from computers.

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June 1, 2005

San Leandro Native a Likely Force in Softball College World Series

San Leandro's own Saskia "Ski" Roberson is likely to play a big role when the DePaul Blue Demons take on the #1 seeded Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Softball 2005 Women's College World Series on Thursday June 2, 2005.

Roberson, a senior at DePaul, plays first base, is a switch-hitter and slugged 15 home runs during the season. Her batting average was .360 and she has DePaul's school record for total home runs, with 51.

You can catch the game on ESPN2 at 4:30pm local time (6:30pm Central).

Update: Michigan beat DePaul 3-0.

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May 29, 2005

Two Killed by Amtrak Train

Larry David McDaniel, 53, and a 52-year-old woman were killed at approximately 6:35pm on Saturday, May 28, 2005, when they were hit by an Amtrak train as they were sitting on the tracks near the intersection of Hesperian Boulevard and Springlake Drive in San Leandro. Police have not released the identity of the woman pending notification to her family.

Police speculate that the victims may have been homeless because there have been a number of complaints about homeless encampents near the area. Suicide has not been ruled out as a reason for why the two victims were sitting on the tracks.

Update: The woman was identified as Susan Diane Haskett-Mayo, 52, of San Lorenzo.

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May 5, 2005

San Leandro's CafePress wins the Retail Webby

San Leandro-based won the 2005 Webby award for best retail web site, announced on May 3, 2005.

According to its web site, " is an online marketplace that offers sellers complete e-commerce services to independently create and sell a wide variety of products, and offers buyers unique merchandise across virtually every topic." CafePress is perhaps best-known for offering customized t-shirts, along with coffee mugs, underwear, mousepads, and other assorted products. was noted in this May 4, 2005, Wall Street Journal article, and you can see a portion of the article at The

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April 13, 2005

Local resident in Rome to see Pope

San Leandro resident Brigett Vasquez traveled all the way to Rome to see the Pope's body at the basilica, but had to settle for seeing the tomb.

According the AP article:

"Brigett Vasquez, 37, a Mexican housewife living in San Leandro, Calif., came to view the Pope's body on display at the basilica last week and waited 14 hours in line - only to end up on the far side of the throng where she never even got a glimpse."

""We came seeking blessings for the whole family, for those who couldn't come," said Vasquez, who returned Wednesday to see the tomb. "My family was crying because there wasn't enough money for all of us to come.""

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April 1, 2005

San Leandro Rights Pioneer Korematsu Dies

San Leandro civil rights pioneer Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu died on Wednesday, March 30, 2005, at his daughter’s home in Larkspur, California at the age of 86. Korematsu became a symbol of opposition when he refused to report for internment and remained at his San Leandro home.

On May 30, 1942, Fred Korematsu was arrested in San Leandro for refusing to report to a Japanese internment camp. A newspaper headline wrongly declared “Jap Spy Arrested in San Leandro.” He was later convicted of violating the presidential internment order. Along with other U.S. citizens of Japanese descent, he was taken to Tanforan race track in San Bruno, California, (now a shopping mall) before he was transferred to the Topaz “concentration camp.”

Korematsu challenged his internment with help from the ACLU. In 1944, in what is considered one of worst Supreme Court decisions of the century, his internment and that of all people of Japanese descent, was affirmed.

Korematsu kept fighting, and in 1983, his conviction was vacated by federal judge Marilyn Patel. In her decision, Patel wrote, “"Korematsu stands as a constant caution that in times of war or declared military necessity our institutions must be vigilant in protecting constitutional guarantees.” Patel’s decision paved the way for the historic apology from the U.S. government in 1988 and the paltry compensation of $20,000 to those internees who had managed to survive.

Korematsu with fellow Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Rosa Parks in 1998.

President Clinton awarded Mr. Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1998. He has also been honored by the San Leandro City Council, the Oakland school district, and received an honorary law degree from California State University, Hayward (now CSU-East Bay). In 2001, he was featured in the PBS series P.O.V. Emmy-award winning documentary “Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story.”

Korematsu returned to live in San Leandro after his internment and continued to be active in civil rights, including opposition to parts of the USA PATRIOT act that he believed violated Arab-Americans’ rights.

He is survived by his wife Kathryn and children Karen and Ken.

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February 22, 2005

Another San Leandro Man Dies on Freeway

36-year-old San Leandro resident Ngoc Ha died today from head injuries suffered from an accident on Interstate 880 near the Fremont-Newark border on Friday, Februrary 18, 2005. Ngoc Ha was in a car that was struck after an unsafe lane change caused a 1989 Honda to hit another car before striking the guard rail and then hitting a 1992 Chevrolet in which Ngoc Ha was riding.

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February 14, 2005

San Leandro Man Dies 10 Days After Hit-and-Run

Omar Fontillas of San Leandro died on February 12, 2005, of injuries he received from a hit-and-run accident that occured on Interstate 980 in Oakland on February 2, 2005.

From news reports, it is unclear whether Fontillas had stopped to assist another motorist or he was the driver who needed assistance. Fontillas was struck by an SUV, which subsequently fled the scene.

Police are looking for a 1989 light green Ford Bronco with a tan top that struck Fontillas. If you've seen the Bronco or have any information about the hit-and-run, contact the California Highway Patrol at (510) 450-3821.

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February 7, 2005

One-year-old San Leandro Boy Missing Since Sunday

One-year-old Anthony Waller of San Leandro has been missing since Sunday, February 6, 2005. According to police, the child was with a relative visiting a beauty salon in Oakland when he disappeared. Police are looking for a woman named Jama'e who 16 years old, 5'3" tall, and weighs 180 pounds and was seen in the area.

Click here for the San Francisco Chronicle article.

Photograph of Anthony Waller:

Anthony Waller

Update: Oakland police found the suspect and the toddler late Monday/early Tuesday. The toddler was uninjured.

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November 26, 2004

Not the Holiday Spirit at San Leandro Walmart

From the November 26, 2004, Investors Business Daily:

    "Chaos was the norm at a San Leandro, Calif., Wal-Mart (WMT) where a screaming match broke out among the weary waiting in a layaway line that doubled back in such confusion shoppers complained about losing their place.

Be careful out there!

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November 23, 2004

San Leandro Cop is former Oakland Raider

Did you know that former Oakland Raider (1996-1999) Kenny Shedd is now a San Leandro policeman? Neither did I. He joined the force in 2002 and you can read about him in the Sacramento Bee article.

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November 19, 2004

San Leandro Teacher Voted Off Survivor

San Leandro teacher Chad Crittenden fell victim to a gender-based alliance and was voted off of Thursday night's Survivor by a vote of 6 to 2. He was one of two remaining men on the latest season of Survivor, held on Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Chad becomes the second member of the jury, the group of seven survivors that will decide who gets the $1 million prize.

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October 17, 2004

Wet Weather Crash on Washington Avenue

A Toyota Tercel traveling south on Washington Avenue between Estabrook Street and Marina Boulevard collided with a Toyota 4Runner at about 4pm on Sunday, October 17, 2004. The Tercel lost. The first substantial rainfall of the year may have been a contributing factor.


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September 23, 2004

Kohls at Bayfair to Open Oct. 7, 2004

The new Kohls at Bayfair Center is set to open on Thursday, October 7, 2004, at 8am. Ten other Kohls stores around the Bay Area are scheduled to open at the same day and time as well.

If you're interested in working for the San Leandro Kohls, you should fill out an application (Solicitud de Empleo) and bring it in to the store at 15555 E. 14th Street, San Leandro, CA 94578.

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September 22, 2004

Neighbors of Proposed Development Speak Out at Community Meeting

Neighbors of the proposed low-income housing development at the corner of Estabrook Street and E. 14th Street spoke out against the development at a meeting Tuesday night at the First United Methodist Church.

The September 21, 2004, meeting was the second of four community meetings held by Resources for Community Development (RCD) to discuss the development proposal for the southwest corner of the intersection of Estabrook Street and E. 14th Street across the street from McKinley Elementary School.

The 2.2-acre site is currently occupied by Sir Richard's, a used car lot, and a Salvation Army Thrift Store. RCD is proposing to build 94 units of low-income rental housing along with ground-floor retail space at the location. The development would also include 171 parking spaces, just meeting the City of San Leandro requirement for the number of parking spaces per unit. The 94 units would be a combination of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. Rents for the apartments would range from $430 to $740 for one-bedroom units, $514 to $979 for two-bedroom units, and $601 to $1,235 for three-bedroom units. According to RCD, their typical tenants have one to two cars and two and a half children per household. Occupancy of the units would be four people in a two-bedroom unit and six people in a three-bedroom unit.

Community Development Director Hanson Hom, Senior Transportation Engineer Reh-Lin Chen, and Planning Manager Debbie Pollart were among the City of San Leandro staff on-hand to answer questions about the proposed development. Sergeant Tom Overton of the San Leandro Police Department was on hand to answer questions about crime and related issues.

The first question from the audience was about the presence of members of the San Leandro City Council and specifically, Vice-Mayor Orval Badger, who represents the area in which the proposed development is located. Neither Vice-Mayor Badger or any other members of the San Leandro City Council were present. Vice-Mayor Badger was present at the beginning of the August 19, 2004, community meeting, but appeared to have left when the meeting was moved to a larger meeting room at the San Leandro Library.

The next question from the audience was from man who noted that he worked two jobs in order to buy a house in San Leandro and move his family from Oakland. However, he was unable to enroll his children at nearby McKinley Elementary School for nine months because of overcrowding. He asked whether there were any representatives from the San Leandro Unified School District, but there were none.

One member of the audience spoke up in support of the proposed development, claiming that housing projects in San Francisco and Berkeley did not bring down property values of nearby homes. The audience expressed skepticism at her claim and she was nearly drowned out in the resulting din.

Dan Sawislak, Executive Director for RCD, said that City of San Leandro regulations would allow up to 140 units to be built at the proposed location while RCD had only proposed 94-units. He also said that no study has shown that projects similar to that proposed by RCD have brought down nearby property values and that some studies have shown an increase in nearby property values. He challenged the audience to use an Internet search engine to search for studies about the impact of affordable housing projects on nearby property values. He also sought to answer a question that he has been asked repeatedly: Why did RCD choose the location at the intersection of E. 14th Street and Estabrook Street? His answer: because the City of San Leandro had identified the site for the type of housing project that RCD develops.

Information provided by RCD included a printout of the document Myths and Facts About Affordable & High Density Housing, a report by the California Planning Roundtable and California Department of Housing & Community Development and a handout making RCD's case for the project. On display at the meeting was a drawing showing an aerial view of the area of the project, poster boards of statistics about the housing, and pictures of tenants at other RCD projects.

Lauren Sanborn of the John Stewart Company, stated that her company would provide property management services. She said that her company managed 20,000 units of housing with a focus on affordable housing. In response to concerns about possible increases in crime from the new development, she stated that tenants are subjected to rigorous screening including a credit check, criminal background check, and two landlord references.

In response to concerns about parking in the area, Rick Williams, the architect from the architectural firm Van Meter Williams Pollack designing the project noted that he looked at surrounding apartment buildings and estimated that they needed between 70 and 77 more parking spaces to meet current parking City of San Leandro parking requirements. Existing buildings do not to meet the current parking requirements. This helps to explain why it is difficult for visitors to park on Estabrook Street and Estabrook Circle. The architect also noted the problem of traffic that cuts through the neighborhood on its way from Marina Boulevard to Sybil and suggested that speed bumps on Estabrook Street or a stop sign at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Estabrook Street could be a possible solution to the problem.

In the subsequent session of questions and answers, every person that was selected spoke out against the proposed project or asked questions that indicated they were concerned about the impact of the project. Most members of the audience were very passionate about their opposition to the proposed development, including one young woman who spoke of her concern that the 1930s art deco house built by her father might be devalued. Audience members expressed concerns about traffic, overcrowding at McKinley Elementary School, parking, crime, vandalism, visitors to the development, and depressed property values. While RCD intended to answer some of the community's concerns expressed at the first meeting, it was unable to assuage most of the concerns expressed by the audience. So many people wanted to ask questions or make statements opposing the proposed project that the meeting ended with numerous audience members not having had the chance to ask a question or make comments.

Community Development Director Hanson Hom noted that the project is in a very preliminary stage and that RCD has not yet purchased the property, but information from RCD indicates that RCD has entered into a purchase contract with the current property owner.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

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September 11, 2004

Friends of the Library Bookstore Opens Sat., Sept. 18

The grand opening of the Friends of the Library Bookstore at the San Leandro Library is Saturday, September 18, 2004. According to their flyer, new, used, and collectible books will be available for sale beginning at 10:30am. The bookstore is located inside the main San Leandro Library at 300 Estudillo Avenue.

On October 16, 2004, the semi-annual book sale takes place starting at 9am for members of Friends of the Library and 11am for everyone else.

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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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July 22, 2004

Small Grass Fire Near BART

A small grass fire near the San Leandro BART station was quickly extinguished by firefighters early Thursday afternoon, July 22, 2004. The area burned was bordered by Alvarado St. and Martinez St. just west of the parking lot for the San Leandro BART station. Although the fire wasn't even a full one-alarm fire, the fire generated a large amount of smoke that got the attention of nearby residents. No injuries or damage to properties were reported.

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Tutto Mio Runner-Up in 'Most Obsolete Office' Contest

San Leandro's Tutto Mio was the first runner-up in a nationwide Xerox contest to find the "Most Obsolete Office." Tutto Mio is a distributor and importer of Italian ceramics from the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany and Northern Italy.

The winner was Mad Science of Scottsdale, Arizona.

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July 14, 2004

Toddler Dies a Week After Falling in Pool

Three-year-old Anjelyca Tippery died on Tuesday, July 13, 2004, eight days after she was discovered at the bottom of a pool at Chateau Manor, 724 Lewelling Blvd. According to reports, she fell into the pool during a poolside picnic on July 5, 2004, while the babysitter was busy helping another child with a minor injury. Yet another reminder to be extremely careful if you have kids near water at any time. These are photos of the pool from

Chateau Manor Indoor Pool

Chateau Manor Indoor Pool

According to the posts at Apartment Ratings, it doesn't seem like it's a place you'd want to live.

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July 7, 2004

Smoky Scare at Oasis Laundry

Neighbors near the intersection of E. 14th Street and Estabrook Street spotted smoke coming from the roof of Oasis Laundry Wednesday night. Fortunately, there was smoke, but no fire. It turned out that some laundry had overheated in one of the laundromat's dryers.

An employee of the laundromat and the owner of the neighboring El Novillo Restaurant were inspecting the roof and neighbors were hosing down the roof as three fire engines arrived to assess the situation. After a group of firefighters entered the building, two firefighters climbed a ladder onto the roof.

A short while later, firefighters brought out two laundry carts of what appeared to be small pieces of white carpeting. Many of the pieces were smoking and some were red-hot and gave off sparks as the firefighters spilled them onto the parking lot outside the laundromat. The firefighters watered down the smoking carpet pieces and later placed a fan at the entrance of the laundromat to blow remaining smoke out of the building.

According to the manager, the damage to the laundromat was limited to some smoke damage from the dryer where the carpet pieces had been placed.

One of the fire trucks responding to the smoke at Oasis Laundry
One of the fire trucks responding to the smoke at Oasis Laundry.
The source of the smoke at Oasis Laundry
The carpet pieces that overheated in the dryer at Oasis Laundry.
Posted by mike at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2004

Revised San Leandro Budget

A revised San Leandro budget was presented at the June 21, 2004, meeting of the San Leandro City Council. In the working session a week earlier, the main option for securing extra revenue was a $5.85 million parcel tax. After taking into account suggestions from last week's working session, City Manager John Jermanis proposed bridging the $5.85 million budget gap by instituting a new 911 communication fee to raise $2.35 million and sending a parcel tax totaling $3.5 million to the voters in November.

Heidi Finberg, representing the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, said that while the Chamber spoke in favor of an increase in the business license fee at the working session a week earlier, it didn't object to a parcel tax if it contained a sunset clause (which would automatically repeal the tax after a certain amount of time), there was a moratorium on business license fee increases, and the parcel tax reflected the business and residential use of public safety services.

The City Council voted unanimously to adopt the budget for fiscal year 2004-2005. The exact details of the proposed ballot measure for the parcel tax and the 911 fee will be presented at the July 5, 2004, meeting of the City Council.

The City Council also voted 6-1 to adopt a somewhat controversial ordinance establishing a business improvement district (BID) to fund the West San Leandro Shuttle. The dissenting vote was cast by Council Member Glenda Nardine.

Mayor Sheila Young suggested that an ad-hoc committee be formed to come up with alternative funding for the Cherry Festival, Miracle on E. 14th Street, and Sausage and Suds events since funding for these activities was significantly reduced or eliminated in the proposed budget. At the end of the meeting, council members Orval Badger and Tony Santos agreed to join Young on the committee.

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June 15, 2004

San Leandro Budget Presentation

On Monday, June 14, 2004, San Leandro City Manager John Jermanis presented the proposed budget for the City of San Leandro to the City Council and the public.

The short story is that the city is facing a $9.35 million deficit because of a decrease of $2.1 million of revenue and an increase of $7.25 million in expenses. Unfortunately, many of the expenses can't be controlled by the City Council: things like contributions to the public employees retirement system (PERS), workers' compensation, the fire department contract, and elections.

Cuts are proposed for all departments, except for the fire department, which gets a 9% increase, and the police department, which gets a 14.5% increase. Proposed program reductions include $784,000 from the City Manager's Office, $167,000 from City Development, $185,000 from Engineering & Transporation, $75,000 from Finance, $89,000 from Human Resources, $450,000 from the Library, $623,000 from Public Works, and $331,000 from Recreation & Human Services.

The total workforce is expected to be reduced by about 12 people, some through elimination and others through attrition.

In the area of revenue enhancement, three options were presented:

  1. a parcel tax split evenly between residential and commercial that would raise a total of $5.85 million. Each homeowner would end up paying $95/year and each commercial property owner would pay $34 per thousand square feet.
  2. a parcel tax split 60% residential and 40% commercial that would raise a total of $5.85 million. Each homeowner would end up paying $126/year and each commercial property owner would pay $27 per thousand square feet.
  3. increase business license fees by 260% (yes that's 260%) to raise $2.85 million and cut $2.7 million in public safety expenditures (one fire engine company, nine sworn police officers and two non-sworn)

Only eight people came forward with comments on the proposed budget. Three people spoke out against the proposed cuts to the library (including the author of this article). Three people representing apartment owners and Chuck Pershing of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce spoke out against the parcel tax and in favor of increasing the business license fee.

Contact information for the San Leandro City Council can be found here. Contact them and let them know how you feel about the proposed budget.

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May 11, 2004

San Leandro Mayor on Junket to Israel

San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young was one of nine US mayors participating in the 22nd Annual Jerusalem Conference of Mayors from May 9 - 15, 2004. The conference is sponsored by American Jewish Congress Council for World Jewry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Tourism and the Konrad Adenauer foundation.

Although the theme of the conference is The Role of the Mayor in Times of Crisis, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, was quoted as saying, "We believe that this visit and others like it are paving the way for a genuine turnaround in tourism for 2004 and beyond." American Jewish Congress Chairman Jack Rosen said, "Every mayor who takes part becomes an ambassador of good will for Israel..."

To that end, the mayor will get to do some tourism of her own, visiting sites in Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Golan Heights and the Dead Sea. As part of the conference, Mayor Young will also be visiting Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center to meet with the head of the trauma unit and to the Israeli Defense Force's Home Front Command to view a live exhibition of integrated first response. A complete list of her tourist itinerary is available here.

No word of whether the mayors will visit Jewish settlements in the occupied territories or get to see the Israeli Defense Forces perform an assassination.

Click here for the official press release from the the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel - Touring Hadassah Medical Center
Touring Hadassah Medical Center
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel - Touring Hadassah Medical Center
Touring Hadassah Medical Center
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
Touring Hadassah Medical Center
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
Hard at work for the people of San Leandro in the Old City
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
Hard at work for the people of San Leandro in the Old City
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young at a demonstration by the Israeli Defense Forces
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young after a demonstration by the Israeli Defense Forces
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young celebrates her birthday in Israel
Posted by mike at 4:32 PM | Comments (0)

May 4, 2004

Thinking of Eye Surgery?

According to KGO, the Turner Eye Institute is the only place in the Bay Area where you can get the new crystalens, a surgically-implanted lens that eliminates the need for glasses and contacts. That's because only San Leandro ophthalmologist Dr. Stephen Turner is certified to insert the lens.

The lens is attached to muscles so that the lens flexes and changes shape to maintain focus near and far away. The procedure is eye surgery, unlike Lasik, and is similar to cataract surgery. The crystalens seems to be marketed towards baby boomers whose age is causing vision problems: "Imagine. Being able to see your world as well as you did when you were younger, without the help of glasses or contact lenses."

The Turner Eye Institute is located at 420 Estudillo Ave. San Leandro, CA 94577 and can be reached at 800-339-2733.

Posted by mike at 2:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 11, 2004

Power Outage Throughout City

As of 9pm Sunday, April 11, power was out through large parts of San Leandro. A PG & E crew was observed at the corner of Elsie and Bancroft Avenue, but it is not known whether this area was the source of the power outage. San Leandro Police were directing traffic at the corner of Sybil and Bancroft Ave., but most intersections were uncontrolled and drivers were apparently forgetting to stop. Hopefully, nobody will get hurt in one of the accidents that is bound to happen.

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