Letters to the Editor

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In response to the letter "Voting ‘no’ is no solution," Sept. 25, while Mark Irons sees Trish Spencer as a naysaying obstructionist, I see her as a courageous critical thinker. Let’s take a look at some of her "obstructionism."

1. She withheld support for the development of an anti-bullying curriculum in the high schools until it expanded from being dedicated to solely LGBT issues to include all bullying. (The board finally expanded the curriculum.)

2. When our business community sued the school district to invalidate a parcel tax (Measure H) that taxed them at a different rate than residences, she advised the school board to place the parcel tax paid by these businesses in escrow pending resolution of the litigation. The board ignored her advice, lost the case and now faces a multi-million dollar obligation to refund the taxes. She supported the subsequent parcel tax (Measure A), which addressed the concerns of the business community.

3. She voted "no" on the recent land swap with the city because the school district failed to get an appraisal of a portion of their land behind the Del Monte warehouse. The majority of the board described the land as worthless tidal lands, notwithstanding the fact that a very active private marina is operating on the site.

4. She voted "no" on Measure I, the proposed $179 million school bond issue because the ballot summary statement fails to inform the voters that the issuance of the bonds would result in an additional real estate tax with no opt-out for seniors of $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation and because $90 million of the bond is allocated for high schools before the board has decided how the schools will be utilized.

5. She voted against outgoing Superintendent Kirsten Vital’s raise and the lease of the new district offices at Marina Village.

6. She voted against "Plan B," which would have closed Franklin, Otis and Washington elementary schools, while keeping open Edison, Haight, Lum, Paden, Ruby Bridges, Earhart, and Bay Farm elementary schools. She agreed with parents that Otis is a larger campus, adjacent to a Krusi Park, thus able to accommodate more students, than Edison.

I leave it to the readers to determine if Spencer is a naysaying obstructionist or a courageous critical thinker.

I would agree with Irons that Spencer has not been an effective consensus builder, but, based on her positions outlined above, does that reflect poorly on her or the rest of the school board? I see a much better chance of her building consensus on City Council. In addition to having the leadership position of mayor, the public statements of City Council candidate Frank Matarrese indicates that he agrees with her in opposing excessive residential and retail development; instead seeking to replace the good paying jobs that were lost when the Naval Base closed.

If Spencer and Matarrese unseat Gilmore and Chen we may also see other Council members rethinking their support of the currently proposed developments

Paul S. Foreman


On Sunday, Sept. 28, arsonists started seven fires. One of them totally destroyed Angela’s restaurant just as it was set to open.

Saboor Zafari is a refugee from Afghanistan. He managed to get to France, where he learned French cooking and became a chef.

He then moved to Wisconsin, where he learned American tastes and blended his dishes. Then he moved to Alameda with his wife and daughter, Angela, and opened his own restaurant, named after his daughter,with a blend of French Mediterranean, American and Afghan dishes.

He quickly drew a following as one of the area’s most imaginative chefs. He then moved twice — just recently to a new location in a fast developing location on Park Street in Alameda. He worked feverishly to get the restaurant ready to open. When you do that, sometimes you forget things. This time, he didn’t stop to get insurance.

The Zafari family was a classic immigrant success story. After leaving Afghanistan with nothing, Zafari built a new life for his family based on hard work and skills. All that he built has now been destroyed, based on a random act of violence.

Yes, he should have had insurance. But his dream was destroyed through no fault of his own — a random victim of serial arsonists. We have the power to restore his dream (and someday soon enjoy his cooking.) A small donation from many of us will see a new Angela’s — and an old dream — rising from the ashes.

I have no connection with the Zafari family or Angela’s restaurant, except as a satisfied customer and a person inspired by his struggle and success.

Please help me restore this family’s hopes.You can contribute at www.gofundme.com/f9ruzs

David C. McGaffey


I was just reading in the news that our severe drought is going to continue for at least another year and possibly longer. As this situation continues water conservation will soon be mandatory with monetary penalties.

So here we are in Alameda with 4,000 new housing units and an untold number of new businesses and office spaces. That means maybe 10,000 to 15,000 more toilets? Should we plan on at least another 10,000 daily showers with at least 4,000 more dishwashers and washing machines? Even with 1.5 gallons per flush how much additional water is it going to take to support development?

Why should the residents of
Alameda be placed in the position to have to conserve more water and pay more for their water because of this City Council’s focus on over-development?

I’ve also been thinking about traffic. So with 4,000 new units and about 2.5 cars for each unit, that means there will be at least 10,000 or more cars on the Island. Where will we put them? Even with provided parking spaces what about roommates and visitors? Even if only half commute how in the world are we all getting off the Island? How many more buses, ferries and water taxis is it going to take to get an additional 5,000 to 6,000 people off the island a day? Is Alameda and AC Transit planning on adding buses and lines?

I just heard that BART is gaining passengers every day, the cars are packed and additional train cars won’t arrive until 2017. Does BART know thousands of people will be coming from Alameda and Tim Lewis Communities’ water taxis to Brooklyn Basin?

Exactly how many trips does a water taxi have to make to get 2,000 or 3,000 people off the Island? When will our regular ferries be adding ferries? What if our new neighbors don’t work in San Francisco but have to commute to Palo Alto, Sunnyvale or Cupertino?

There’s no BART, no water taxis, no ferries, just more traffic.

That brings me to another question, just how safe are the Posey and Webster tubes? Cal Trans has done earthquake safety upgrades. However, in a good-sized earthquake there will be major damage to both tubes. I would like to propose a question to our City Council. What will happen if and when the tubes are red tagged? With an estimate of repair of five to six years what would happen to the West End?

The thought process of our city government baffles me. Our city officials are thoughtless and their legacy will be despised by true Alamedans. The decisions they are making now are completely changing Alameda until an earthquake liquefies the ground, the toxics become intolerable, or the ocean covers up development. If they want a pretend Palo Alto or Emeryville or whatever place they are trying to make Alameda into, why don’t they just go there?

Gail Wasserman Howell