I will give you 10 good reasons why we should pass "Measure H."

  • A lot of kids in elementary would like to play sports when they get into middle and high school.

  • Kids are worth paying $10 a month for four years.

  • A lot of people have been working on the parcel tax, including me, and if we don't pass it, Alameda just won't be Alameda any more.

  • My dad, Rob Siltanen, teaches A.P. classes and they're cutting those too.

  • My music teacher Lynn Tousey would lose her job and not get to teach kids when they're in K-3. I personally think she's the best music teacher in the world, and I really want kids to have music taught by her.

  • A lot of teachers would lose their jobs.

  • People won't stop protesting until we pass the parcel tax.

  • The government of California is trying to cut $4.5 million in Alameda, and $4 billion from the whole state.

  • They will close down one or more schools in Alameda.

  • If you're 65, or older, and poor, you don't even have to pay the parcel tax.

    Lots of hope from:

    Ruby Siltanen

    3rd grader at Paden

    Block party celebrates Encinal band event

    This year the 13th annual Encinal Extravaganza of Bands was held on April 26, which also marks the 300 block of Haight Avenue's 13th annual Block Party, launched in response to having marching bands from all over the state being judged on our block.

    Year after year Armen Phelps, the band director at Encinal High School, consistently provides an incredible venue of marching band talent to visit our neighborhood.

    Recently we have had a greatly increased number of new neighbors amass to our block and I believe I can speak for everyone that they were truly wowed by this unique block party experience.

    Memorable occurrences of the day include: the outstanding venue of marching band talent reverberating down the block; Bob Smith being the Grand Marshall in a convertible behind the mayor, in recognition of his support to Encinal High School; Nancy's Orange Knots, that were talked about for weeks in advance; the jumpy house provided by Marlo and Alan, which included a teen session; a large red wading pool filled with youngsters al fresco; water balloon launcher competition; alternative transportation expert John Knox-White bused to the party from the East End with kids in tow; volleyball; ping pong; massive amounts of barbecue and other goodies including homemade panzit and adobo from Lou's girlfriend Marie, and finally a four-hour session of rock 'n' roll by the Bankrupt Sugardaddies, with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for former block resident Martin Kunz.

    What can I say, the Encinal music department has sparked an incredible neighborhood community for 13 years.

    Heartfelt thanks to Armen Phelps, Band Director Extraordinaire.

    Debra Cramer

    Community rallies to help the local students

    As a senior and new resident in Alameda, I am impressed to see such political alertness, community spirit and friendliness. Events a week ago Friday at Alameda High and Saturday at the Alameda Museum, both in support of music education in our schools, showed these qualities and were wonderful to behold. People contributed freely of time, money and energy in support of a worthy cause. There is nothing more important than giving our kids the best possible education.

    My wife and I are proud to be a part of what we've experienced here. Congratulations, Alameda.

    Conrad Montell

    City should not be in mortgage business

    Reading the Friday Journal was quite a surreal experience.

    So the city of Alameda is getting into the mortgage assistance business? The proposed initial funding for the Refinance Mortgage Recovery loan program is almost $530,000. That is a loan of almost $60,000 to each of nine families or individuals to stay in homes they cannot afford. The city should not get into this business as it is risky, expensive and ripe for abuse. If Alameda has extra money sitting around, put it to good use and give it to the schools.

    If people are in mortgages or houses they cannot afford there is a very simple solution, sell the house and move. It has worked before and will work now. After all according to Michael Studebaker on page C4 now is "a great time to move ahead with investing in real estate." This is sound advice from someone with no vested interest in an individual making that decision. Well, isn't it?

    Ken Bentz

    Vote for Measure H to support our schools

    I have lately been taken aback by some of the anti-youth and anti-teacher letters that I've read in the Letters to the Editor section of this paper. As a community, this is a time when we should be banding together, to nurture and support our schools. Our schools have been in the top 5 percent in the country. And in the Bay Area, where one does not often hear about success in the schools, this is an achievement that should inspire our civic pride and encourage us to continue to strive to be among the best. It is not the time to say that parents could send their kids to private schools, or that teachers should have their salaries cut, or why should people without children have to support the schools at all. Whatever happened to the idea that children are the future — that we as a community should step up and provide for our youngest citizens?

    A vote in favor of Measure H means that we can continue to provide young Alamedans with an excellent education. As one homeowner without children said to me, "I'm supporting Measure H because I want to live in a community where we care about educating our youth."

    Our schools are a big part of what makes our community such an enviable place to live. More than this, it means that we are living in a community that cares about the greater good, about supporting all our children, to ensure we provide them with opportunities for the future. Let's not let our schools go the way of other Bay Area school districts. Support our public schools, vote yes on Measure H.

    Esther Saidman

    Don't be misled by words of the governor

    Last week, Governor Schwarzenegger tried to pull a fast one on the people of California. Thanks to some creative bookkeeping, the governor tried to claim that his revised budget "fully funds education." What the governor failed to mention is that his new budget just moves money away from one stream of revenue to the schools and into another stream of revenue to the schools. The bottom line, however, remains more or less the same. Public schools still face devastating budget cuts.

    Refuting the governor's full funding claim, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said this: "To say that education is fully funded in this budget is an overstatement... Schools still must absorb the 10 percent cut made to specific programs like class size reduction, counselors and targeted remediation programs. These cuts remain in today's proposal and have real-world impact on our students... the failure to fund a cost-of-living adjustment amounts to a serious budget cut in practical terms."

    In other words, don't be misled by the elaborate shell game and the creative soundbites the governor is using to fool the public. Alameda schools are still facing devastating funding cuts, and Alameda still needs to pass Measure H.

    Page Barnes

    Water rules punish those who already conserve

    The EBMUD restrictions on water usage are necessary, but the rules, as I understand them from the robot call I received, are unfair.

    Requiring an across the board 19 percent reduction for all users unfairly punishes those who have conserved for years. If you've used very little water for the last three years, you're now asked to reduce further. However, if you've squandered water in the past, it should be easy to use 19 percent less.

    There should be a baseline amount that requires no reduction. Usage above this minimum usage could then be charged at higher tier rates.

    Then you're not punishing the good citizens who have reduced their water usage over many years. Those are the ones you want to reward, not punish.

    I'm happy to reduce my water usage. I just think the rule is misguided and not well thought out.

    Keith Nealy

    Thanks for making staff luncheon a success

    On May 9 the Alameda Parent Teacher Association Council coordinated a luncheon for the district staff of the Alameda Unified School District. The purpose of the luncheon was to thank the staff for their efforts on behalf of Alameda's children. Many parent volunteers worked hard to make the event a success, but we are indebted to several local restaurants and businesses that graciously provided food and other support.

    On behalf of the council I would like to thank publicly the following (in alphabetical order): Ark Chinese Restaurant, Calafia Taqueria, East Buffet Restaurant, Hong Kong City Seafood Restaurant, Jim's Restaurant, L & L Hawaiian Barbecue, Linguini's Pasta & Vino, Lucky Supermarket, Mountain Mike's Pizza, The New Zealander Restaurant, New York Pizza, Otaez Restaurant, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Starbucks Coffee (Webster & Atlantic), Togo's Sandwiches, and Toomie's Thai Cuisine.

    We are lucky to have such civically engaged and generous businesses in our community. Thank you very much.

    Bram Briggance

    Girls Inc. board supports Measure H for schools

    As the California budget crisis worsens so does the prospect of maintaining excellence in Alameda's public schools. At Girls Inc. of the Island City we work directly with Alameda children, both at public schools with boys and girls and in our center-based girls' programs. We care deeply about what happens to Alameda's youth.

    The Alameda Unified School District has already cut $7.7 million from its budget over the last seven years. Further proposed cuts of another $4.4 million in academic and co-curricular programs will have profound negative impacts. Therefore our board of directors voted unanimously to endorse Measure H. Supporting Measure H is vital to protecting public education for our youth in Alameda.

    Marilyn Sandifur

    President, Board of Directors

    Girls Inc. of the Island City

    Library May Book Sale is a big success

    The Friends of the Alameda Free Library would like to thank those who helped make our May Sale at the Alameda Point Al DeWitt O'Club our best ever. The Friends is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for the library. The monies raised from our semi-annual used book sales are used to fund library programs such as the Children's Summer Reading Program and other special event programs throughout the year.

    First, we would like to thank those who donated materials for the sale and those who came to the sale and bought the sale items.

    Our thanks to the Alameda Park & Recreation Department for the use of the O'Club — especially Deana Huie for shepherding us and providing other invaluable assistance and Steve Zecher, who set up the club.

    Thanks to the "Monday Crew" who over the past six months sorted, priced, boxed and moved over 1,100 boxes of books and audio/video material to storage for the sale.

    A very special thanks to the Coast Guard and police department personnel and other volunteers who spent Thursday moving those 1,100 boxes from storage to the sale site and distributing them to the appropriate tables for the sale. Without their able-bodied assistance, the logistics of such a move and the sale would have been impossible. Thanks also to the volunteers who spent most of Friday unpacking and spreading material on tables.

    Finally, thanks to those volunteers who helped in various capacities during the three days of the sale. Their assistance in keeping tables neat and organized and providing courteous customer assistance greatly contributed to the success of our May Sale.

    Gertrude Woods, Adair Jorgensen, John Kennedy

    Shaken by the news of the earthquake in China

    My family was startled by the news of the quake in Sichuan County of China on May 12. Now a few days have passed and we are continuing to hear the terrible news of the increasing number of people, especially children, who died.

    This bad news has left all of the victims' families, relatives, friends as well as everybody in sorrow. My family is about full of sorrow due to the tragedy.

    My son traveled to Sichuan last summer to take table tennis training. His table tennis school was located in Chengdu city. He got along well with the school's students.

    The school has trained many excellent Table Tennis students in China. He enjoyed Chengdu and Sichuan very much. During those times, we also visited the Sichuan famous panda grounds. Also on the last day of our trip, we were invited to a party with the International Table Tennis players in Du Jiang Yan (this is the central place where the quake hit). At the party, we enjoyed the famous Sichuan opera — "Face Change" Actor. My son was so privileged to learn more about the culture of China. Actually, we made plans to travel back to Chengdu again this summer .

    We just heard the good news about the table tennis school in Chengdu. They were safe from the quake. But they told us there were so many damaged buildings in the central area of Du Jiang Yan. We could not believe that only nine months ago, this place we had visited has been changed to ruins and so many people died.

    Where are the panda we had seen? Where are the people we met? Our hope is that they are safe.

    Sichuan, we will once again come to visit you. Du Jiang Yan, we still enjoy your wonderful view.

    Esther Cheung

    Join Alamedans in Relay for Life event June 21-22

    Celebrate. Remember. Fight back. These four powerful words are this year's new platform for the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life event. As a five-year participant at the Relay For Life, I invite Alamedans to join me at this year's event, scheduled for June 21-22 at Encinal High School.

    Relay For Life is a fun-filled, 24-hour event that mobilizes communities in the fight against cancer. Teams consisting of families, friends, businesses, churches, hospitals and schools form to raise money in support of the American Cancer Society's mission. During the event, teams raise awareness by providing information regarding free services, offering support and honoring and remembering those who have battled cancer.

    Team members take turns walking on the track, keeping at least one team member on the track at any given time for the entire 24 hours. The Relay features family-friendly activities; including games, music, food, an inspiring opening lap celebrating cancer survivors and a moving luminaria service at dusk where candles are lit to remember those lost to cancer. The luminaria light up the night and give Relayers hope that a cure will be found.

    I walk to celebrate the lives of my parents, sister-in-law and grandfather, to remember their strength and courage, and to fight back in hope that other families will not lose those they love to cancer.

    For information on how to participate in this year's Relay For Life, contact Amanda Harris at the American Cancer Society at 925-933-2784, Option 3.

    Jo Berning

    Voters need full fiscal disclosure of funds

    As Tom Pavletic alluded to, a budget can be anything AUSD says it to be and almost always increases yearly. If local media would quit this incessant "shilling" for the AEA and provide the AUSD's financial history, the voters would be grateful. For the last seven years I'd love to know the actual dollars spent, broken out by salaries and benefits, number of teachers and classified employees and number of students.

    Contrary to all the rhetoric "about the students," Measure H is really about teacher compensation, i.e., automatic step-rated salary increases, generous taxpayer-paid health and dental benefits (my contributions as a single are $300 monthly) and pensions more liberal than the average private employee.

    Contrary to the Oakland and Berkeley school districts' focus on teacher layoffs, AUSD's campaign for passage of "H" has been the "grandstanding" of the highly visible cuts in sports, arts and music. As several writers have suggested, it is time for AUSD to stop targeting the homeowner (they know the majority of parents with children in school are renters) and consider a student fee. Piedmont Unified, in addition to significant parcel taxes, has a "voluntary" student fee that goes directly to the teachers' union and you had better contribute (there is a very high compliance rate).

    In addition to their ceaseless villainization of Schwarzenegger, the California Teachers' Association continues to harp on the ill-advised and handcuffing Proposition 98. (Can you imagine if every public entity which has their fingers in the state tax trough had as much clout as the CTA and passed similar measures — utter chaos.) In Sacramento right now there is legislation promoted by the CTA to remove the two-thirds voter protection in lieu of a simple majority note for school parcel taxes. Before committing to an additional $480 grab out of your wallet, be prepared with a "yes" vote on "H" for an endless onslaught on your property taxes. The sunset provisions are completely phony.

    Ronald Wimer