Letters to the Editor

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Editor:

This coming Tuesday, June 24, Alameda’s Board of Education has one final opportunity to vote to place a bond measure on the November ballot that, if passed, would generate nearly $180 million in funding to upgrade Alameda’s schools.

As detailed in the most recent language, the money would be used for such core needs as “improving earthquake safety,” “improving heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems,” and “replacing leaky roofs.”

It also seeks to address an inescapable space issue, as 1,000 additional students are expected to squeeze into Alameda’s schools over the next ten years; currently there is no space to accommodate this growth.

The bond measure was formulated through a months-long process of engagement between a team of architects, administrators and parents and teachers at every school across the district.

As a parent of two children at Otis Elementary School, the choice of whether to support this bond is a no-brainer.

At Otis, some of the programs that parents cherish are already threatened for lack of space, and the problem is only projected to get worse in coming years. At other facilities, such as Lum, aged heating systems are creating uncomfortable conditions; at Alameda’s two largest high schools, decades-old structural issues pose a threat to students’ safety.

Still, while every public school in Alameda would receive much-needed funding, the future of this bond is sadly uncertain, as two of the board’s five members are blocking the measure from going forward.

For Trish Spencer, casting a “no” vote has simply become a reflex. But for Barbara Kahn, a lifelong schools advocate, the opposition is more surprising.

Ms. Kahn told me personally that she “wants a bond” and admitted that the schools’ condition is “shameful,” but that her opposition has to do more with politics and asserting board control.

As the June 24 meeting is the last chance to put the bond on the ballot, I would urge Ms. Kahn to join her three colleagues and vote to put the bond on the ballot, while working with the administration to build a more collaborative working relationship.

The future of our schools is far too important to stake over politics and personal grudges.

The thousands of students enrolled across our district (not to mention the hundreds of teachers and staff members) deserve safe, modern classrooms, and our entire community deserves the benefits — such as increased property values and higher standards of living — that go along with having high-quality schools.

— Chuck Kapelke

Editor:

Gov. Jerry Brown declared California in a state of drought emergency in January. I have been shocked to see people, here in Alameda and elsewhere, hosing down their sidewalks just to remove leaves. 

There is a better, faster and more efficient way to clean your sidewalks and driveways: the rake, broom and dustpan have been the low-tech solution for at least a few hundred years. Please don’t pour our drinking water down gutters and storm drains. That is the most thoughtless example of waste, ever!

— Elisabeth Eliassen

Editor: 

City Manager John Russo and the City Council have bypassed the citizen vote needed to change the City Charter at least two times if not more. 

The first obvious time was when the City Charter got changed to allow the defunct Alameda Power and Telecom Company to use electricity funds to help pay for the failing cable business. Why the powers to be were allowed to do this and not end up in jail is beyond my comprehension.

Closing City Hall on Fridays. This was tried during another city manager’s tenure and overturned because it violated the City Charter. John Russo tried to bypass the voters by using a resolution instead. He and the City Council should have known better.

Now they want to find a way to bypass the citizen vote when it comes to Measure A. How much more are we going to take from them? In my opinion, the council and some of the city management including the city manager are receiving payment to allow all the “hurry up and cram as many houses in as possible” situation in what used to be a really great city to live.

— Marion F. Miller

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