Letters to the Editor
A letter recently appeared written by Stewart Chen who serves on the City Council (“We all want what’s best for Alameda,” May 29). In the letter, he uses the number “800 houses” as the limit for a proposed development. What’s that, another 1,600 vehicles?
Such rhetoric shouldn’t be surprising even if it does ring of a poker chip laid on the table. Mr. Chen, what is your expertise in real estate? How did you arrive at the conclusion that a development needs high-density housing to be successful? Successful to whom? Developers and baggage?
There are many people in Alameda wondering why you are serving on the City Council. I myself, a novice when it comes to politics, had to ask the same question. Some may shrug their shoulders at your criminal record (17 counts of fraud you were indited for, followed by a plea bargain). Some might consider it old news. Who knows. A mask of integrity in politics is sometimes difficult to wear, and why bother with the accountability or accuracy of the fact.
The fact is that Alameda has enjoyed clean air for decades, even after the build up on the Oakland side of the Estuary. You, sir, and developers along with the present City Council, could never persuade or convince Alamedans that adding an untold number of vehicles — upwind, in close proximity or in Alameda — is “what’s best” for Alameda.
This letter is in response to the letters generated on May 15 (Teddy Stebbins, Taniela Moli, Curt Hennecke, Jahn Tibayan, Griff Loughran), May 22 (Elizabeth Walker, Katerina N. Milhausen, Elizabeth Inami) and May 30 (Nora Cesarep-Dense), regarding the Edison Elementary School fifth graders’ concerns about the lack of recycling and composting bins on Park Street.
I have been working very closely with Alameda County Industries, the City of Alameda’s Public Works Department, Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda, Park Street Business Association (PSBA) and Park Street restaurants for almost five years now, getting restaurants in Alameda to recycle and compost.
This is what I’m known for: Miss Alameda Says Compost! (MASC), which has helped the city of Alameda reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions and address Alameda’s Climate Protection Plan goals of reducing our carbon emission 20 percent bellow 2005 by the year 2020.
Almost all of the restaurants in Alameda are now composting and recycling. There are only a handful of restaurants left that are not and they will be soon. I am currently working with PSBA as a part of their committee, helping with their plans to make compost and recycling bins available on city streets like Park Street.
What is most important once this does happen is that all of you students at Edison and throughout Alameda continue to do your part in diverting from the landfill.
Please, help others participate with composting and recycling and make sure that people around town know that it is important for the City’s overall success in helping save the planet. Please make sure people place the right stuff in the right bins and that they understand why it is so important not to cross contaminate bins.
When you graduate and move to middle school, then high school, please continue to do a great job composting and recycling. You all should join your school’s green teams and continue to find clubs in college that do great environmental work.
By caring and helping educate others, you will be helping the global community create the cultural and social change in order to make a difference on the planet. Once we get those three stream bins on Park Street and throughout the city, we will need your help to be successful. Thank you and keep up the great work. Do not forget the importance in helping educate others and we will save our planet, Mother Earth.
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.