Holiday Expo at Temple Israel Sunday Nov 14

Come to the Holiday expo next Sunday November 14, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in Temple Israel’s Social Hall located at 3183 Mecartney Road in Alameda.

The event is free. Bring a canned good to donate to the Alameda Food bank and receive a door prize ticket.

Temple Israel is located near the Alameda Bay Farm Library.

For more info see

(510) 522-9355

or write to

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Who Is Being Repetitive?

I just read todays Nov 4 2010 Alameda Journal. There is a letter to the editor from Dennis Green. Green wrote in reponse to Seamus Wilmot of Alameda SOS, who had written previously about a proposed Alameda parcel tax in the works for next year.

Green wrote that Alameda SOS “puts forth the very same message we’ve been hearing for years… your money or your kids”. And he says we’ll be hearing many more of the same from Alameda SOS.  I too have been hearing a repetitive message— from Dennis Green over and over again that he is against the parcel tax.

Of course Alameda SOS will talk about parcel taxes, and the effect of failing to pass a parcel tax to school budgets and kid’s education– that is the mission of Alameda SOS, to push for a parcel tax. What other message should they push?

Alameda Unified is not perfect, but there has been measurable improvements. Here are some recent items from the AUSD website.

1. Alameda Schools Continue Gains with 2010 API scores

2. AUSD’s John Nolan wins Alameda County “Teacher of the Year” award.

Alameda County “Teacher of the Year” John Nolan supports a parcel tax in this article I found. The article notes:

Nolan’s dedication to Alameda’s schools extends outside the classroom: He’ll be donating the $2,000 check he earned as Teacher of the Year to the school district. And Nolan, who said he made phone calls in an effort to get the Measure E parcel tax passed, said he’ll be involved with any new effort to get a tax passed, too.

“I guess I need to be even more active this time,” Nolan said.

3. AUSD schools Earn High Marks with 2010 scores

Readers can go to the AUSD website for more announcements.

Green continues that “no real reforms have been pursued, except a few charter schools”. Wait a minute, isn’t that contradictory? I guess Green did not want to say “some reforms have been pursued, such as charter schools.”

Dennis Green asks readers to take notice of the repetitive message from Alameda SOS and parcel tax supporters. Well Dennis Green is being pretty repetitive himself.

Green writes that a vote for the parcel tax is a vote for the AUSD “status quo”. From the looks of the 2010 AUSD test scores, the status quo is not as bad as he paints it to be.

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Waiting for Superman, One Sided?

“Waiting For Superman” is getting a lot of buzz. The main takeaway that I have heard people say is the film is depressing. The film has an agenda to push charter schools.

Being an informed and critical thinker, requires one to listen to both sides of the argument. Since I cannot produce a film as rebuttal, here are some articles you may find informative
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AUSD update on Alameda Pools Oct 29 2010

The Alameda Unified website has a new update on the pool closures title “Alameda Pools Moving Towards Re-Opening

Most of the items mentioned have been reported in my report on the Wed Oct 27, 2010 meeting with Aquatic Design Group, AUSD, and the city. Click here to read my report.

The AUSD announcement included this additional info:

“…the school board directed that as soon as possible there be a meeting of the subcommittee of the school board and the City Council to reach agreements on working together on future management and maintenance of the pools.  The Mayor and Interim City Manager attended and spoke at the Tuesday board meeting and agreed to such a subcommittee meeting.  The subcommittee met to address these issues at 10 am, yesterday, Thursday October 28th.  At that meeting, the City agreed to share the cost of contracting with Aquatic Design Group and to work together on continued improved communication with the school district.  In the interim, the city will continue to manage the day to day operations and maintenance of the pools until they re-open.  At the joint subcommittee the elected officials agreed to look at a long term city operational lease of the district’s recreational facilities including the pools.  The Board of Education will be looking at this at their November 9th board meeting at City Hall.

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Alameda Real Estate Report from Pacita Dimacali of Alain Pinel Realtors

Ms. Pacita Dimacali writes in The Island about recent sales figures for Alameda homes. Click here to view the article.

Of interest, she reported that “In the third quarter of 2010, [bank owned properties] represent nearly 27 percent of total properties for sale.”

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Video: Alameda Educational Foundation AEF and PTA council hosts BOE candidates forum

Have you decided who to vote for in the AUSD board race? Clay Pollard, Mike McMahon, Margie Sheratt, James Pruitt and Rand Wrobel are vying for 2 seats.

The AEF and Alameda PTA council hosted a BOE candidates forum on Oct 19 2010. Please view the videos to listen to the candidates. Pick your choices wisely.

Click here to view part 1
Click here to view part 2

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Alameda High Pool Opening Soon. Encinal Pools Update

Today I attended the AUSD public meeting at 4pm Oct 24 2010. AUSD board member Trish Spencer let met know about this meeting at AUSD offices.

Walking into the 3rd floor conference room, I took a seat. I saw the representatives from Alameda Unified (AUSD) were board member Trish Spencer, board president Ron Mooney, superintendent Kirsten Vital, chief business officer Robert Shemwell, and counsel Danielle Houck, and Mr Robbie Lyng, director of facilities. Also present were Alameda County supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker and Mr Ruben Briones, deputy chief of staff. From the city present was interim city manager Ann Marie Gallant and ARPD director Mr Dale Lillard. Mayor Beverly Johnson arrived a little late. Mr. Dennis Berkshire, senior associate from Aquatic Design Group (ADG) of Carlsbad CA.

Members of the public were also present. Including Mr Don Krause, president of the Alameda Island Aquatics.

Mr Shemwell began with a brief agenda:

  • Review of directions from the Oct 26 AUSD meeting
  • Report on the Oct 27 meeting earlier in the day between AUSD, Mr Berkshire, and Alameda County
  • Discussion of pool facilities at Encinal HS and Alameda HS
  • The next steps after today.

Mr Shemwell recapped on the Oct 26 board meeting, the school board directed him to contact the representative from Alameda’s privately run Lincoln and Franklin pool association. Mr Steve Dunn from Commercial Pool Systems of Martinez CA, was not available today Oct 27. But Mr Shemwell had arranged to have Mr Dunn come on Oct 28 at 2pm and walk and inspect both AHS and EHS pools. Mr Shemwell noted that Mr Steve Dunn was not working for free and that Mr Dunn knew of his Mr Berkshire from ADG.

On today’s Oct 27 meeting with Alameda County, Mr Shemwell began by saying that pools have different designs and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Mr Shemwell and Mr Berkshire spoke to County Environmental health group including Mr Ariu Levi.

Mr Levi had previously suggested to Ms. Spencer regarding the possibility of using safety vacuum release system (SVRS) and 24×24 drain covers. Mr Berkshire spoke to Mr Levi and discussed the design of AHS Emma Hood pools.

Mr Dennis Berkshire spoke about the previous contractor hired by the city had made changes to comply with the federal VGB standard, but not with California’s law, AB 1020. Mr Bershire was able to make a persuasive argument that the existing work done on AHS pools to make it compliant to VGB was acceptable because the pool drains were gravity fed. And that the current AHS pool system would not create an “undue suction hazard”.

Alameda County requested that ADG put their application for AHS pool in writing and resubmit. The Emma Hood pool would just need a written description that supports assertion that the current VGB repairs would be sufficient. The county’s environmental health department would review it and get back to AUSD by next week. Mr Shemwell gave the good news that if all goes well, they expected to be able to reopen the Emma Hood Swim Center by middle of next week Nov 3 or 4.  Alameda county also wanted written assurance that Alameda would not “substantially change the program”, or use of the AHS pool. Mr Berkshire would include in the written submission his assessment that AHS pools currently are able to “maintain clear water” and “maintain safe water” and that AHS would not change the usage which would affect these. Mr Shemwell and Mr Berkshire thanked county supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker for assisting to arrange the meeting and expediting the process.

The discussion next focused on the 3 pools at Encinal HS. The pools were built in 1955 and renovation was done in 1967. We were told that the many changes at the pool resulted in a “hodge podge” and there were remnants of original drains an upgrades. The Encinal pools are not totally gravity fed drains that go to a surge tank. On the other hand, the Alameda HS pools are gravity-fed (not suction).

Mr Berkshire and Mr Shemwell reiterated that they will work to find a solution for Encinal pool that would reopen the pools in the shortest time. Mr Shemwell added that they want a solution that is the “least invasive” and “least financial burden”. Mr Berkshire discussed with the county several proposals that would satisfy the County’s regulators. Mr Berkshire noted that there may need to be some piping work done on Encinal to make it compliant to the laws. And the best case is Encinal may be able to open in 2 weeks after Alameda HS pools reopen. But the worst case, he said may take “2 to 3 months” to reopen Encinal pools. Mr Shemwell will be making additional details available next week regarding Encinal.

Mayor Beverly Johnson spoke on how she is proposing that the city help the swimmers affected by the closure. Interim city manager Gallant mentioned they will try to work with organizations with private pools to “lease pool time” for use by Alamedans. There was discussion of the pool at Mariner Square Athletic club. And there was mention of a private pool on Hegenberger road in Oakland.

Mr Don Krause spoke on how the Harbor Bay Club has been so generous in opening their pools for displaced swimmers. And the Franklin and Lincoln pool association for allowing pool time for the Alameda Aquatic masters team. And coach Bob’s team is currently swimming at Chabot College’s pool at 5am in the morning daily.

In summary, it is good to hear about the AHS pool opening in the near future. This is not the end of the issue. This is a good start after a drastic closure. We hope to continue to advocate for Alameda’s swimming community.

  • I want to especially thank the many swimmers, parents, Alameda citizens and athletes who attended and spoke up on the Oct 26 2010 AUSD meeting. This includes the many Alameda HS and Encinal HS students and graduates. And thanks to Ash Jones, Lil and Norma Arnerich. Thanks to Coach Bob Radecke, Mr Don Krause, and Mr Eric Delore of the Alameda Islanders. Thanks to coach Lani Molina. Thanks to the coaches on the swim, water polo and masters.
  • I also want to thank board member Trish Spencer, who was the only AUSD board member who attended the Wed Oct 20th meeting. I especially appreciated Ms. Spencer for responding to emails and asking more questions, and engaging with us in dialogue.
  • I want to thank vice-mayor Doug deHaan, council member Frank Matarrese, and Mr Rob Bonta who attended the Oct 20th Wed meeting.
  • I want to also thank Mr Robert Shemwell, Ms. Danielle Houck, and superintendent Vital who gave time to listen to Mr Eric Delore of Alameda Islanders and water polo athletes at the Oct 18th meeting at Bay Farm elementary school.
  • Thank you to Mr Berkshire for getting results for AHS pool.
  • Thank you to Alameda county supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker and Mr Ruben Briones, chief of staff.
  • Thank you to Harbor Bay Club, Piedmont Swim Club, and Franklin and Lincoln Pool associations.
  • Thank you to Chabot College for the use of the pool.
  • I want to thank any unnamed city, county, ARPD and AUSD officials who worked together on this pool issue.


10/30/2010 AUSD has posted this on their website

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