How dare the school remove girl's picture?

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, a Catholic school here in the Bay Area, excluded Jessica Urbina from her yearbook. If you search her name on Google, you will see a beautiful girl dressed in a nice tux, snappy box tie and white dress shirt with black studs for buttons. She looks adorable.

But because of her chosen outfit, the Catholic school removed her image from the senior yearbook, her last high school yearbook. I still have mine as a treasured memory.

To say that this was coldhearted is being kind. This was orthodoxy and religiosity with a dark side. It was an act of narrow hearts belonging to another century.

More than one priest dreams of becoming a cardinal, all dressed up in a red silk dress, lots of white lace and a giant gold cross that would make a rapper swoon. Like I said, an act of narrow hearts.

Though Jessica broke down and cried when she was excluded, she can console herself with this: Church leaders are not the church. Catholic doctrine says it clearly, the Sacred Body of Christ is the entire church. That includes you, Jessica.

Morten Wellhaven

Development wanted for Alameda Point

This is in response to the letter to the editor, "Redirecting Alameda Point Efforts," written by my friend, Frank Matarrese. He was critical of the city's planned development of Alameda Point and advocated no new housing. Suggesting that we have no new housing at Alameda Point is essentially advocating that we do not develop Alameda Point.


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I, too, would like to create more jobs and have more open space, but I understand that this cannot be done without building new housing. However, I would like to limit the number of new housing units as much as possible. There are also certain points in his letter that I would like to address and clarify.

First, in the City Council debate that Mr. Matarrese mentioned, I was advocating to limit the number of new housing units at site A to 800, which is the minimum quantity required for a residential/commercial mixed-use project to work. Any unit over the 800 cap will have a $50,000 penalty. It is just not financially feasible to develop Alameda Point without new housing. About $600 million in infrastructure costs will be required to develop Alameda Point and transform it to a vibrant community. This cannot be funded solely by expanding open space nor developing commercial buildings.

Second, the historic bachelor quarters are too costly to reuse or renovate. We actually considered this and offered them to the Veterans Affairs Department, but they declined after determining that it is cheaper for them to build a new facility.

Third, the City's Economic Development Commission no longer exists, but this City Council has long been working on initiatives to attract new businesses and solidify current ones.

We all want what's best for the city of Alameda, including having more jobs, more open space and smooth-flowing traffic, and we all recognize the value of Alameda Point. This City Council is responding to the community's desire to develop Alameda Point and is trying to do it with the least amount of new housing possible.

Stewart Chen

Alameda City Council member

Kind act to animal shows Island's virtue

If you see 10 little brown ducklings swimming in the Bay Farm Island lagoon where it crosses under Robert Davey Jr. Drive, one of them has a real tale to tell.

I was walking along the lagoon en route to my homeowners' association meeting one evening when I stopped to admire Mom and Dad Mallard swimming with their 10 offspring. As I retraced my steps afterward, I stopped again to look in on the family when I noticed nine little ones swimming with Mom while Dad was near the tenth one.

The little tyke was in the lagoon a foot from the shore, furiously flapping its tiny wings and thrashing about in the water but going nowhere. Mom would half-fly, half paddle to the tenth one and quickly swim away, hoping to provide an example for her little one to follow; but try as he might flapping and splashing, he was somehow stuck in place.

An older couple came walking past and I pointed out drama occurring before our eyes along the water's edge. The man gingerly walked out along the mud flat toward the duckling, but the shore was soft and slippery underfoot so he stopped short.

Then we saw a young man jogging toward us and asked for his help. Pausing briefly to assess the situation, he then quickly walked into the soft mud toward the little stuck duck and knelt down to try to free him. After some tugging and pulling, the young man picked up the duckling and brought him to us. Barely a handful, this little guy had one webbed foot trapped firmly by a two-inch long black mussel which in turn was entangled in vegetation.

The older gentleman had a small pocket knife (I bet he was a former Boy Scout) and started to pry away at the mussel shell while the younger man gingerly held the duckling. After what seemed like an eternity, the little webbed foot was freed, seeming undamaged. The young man quickly released the duckling back into the lagoon, and the little one raced rapidly toward the culvert under the street into which the rest of his family had disappeared.

We are truly fortunate to live in Alameda with good neighbors and human beings such as these. Thank you. Next time I take a walk, hopefully I'll see a family of 12 serenely paddling in this wonderful community.

Joe Chan