Category: San Leandro

San Leandro City& Library website frustrations

The city of San Leandro unveiled a new website a few weeks ago, and I’m already frustrated with it. For one, it can be really slow. Unfortunately like so many others the city chose bells and whistles instead of basic functionality. But my real beef is with the library website, or, more accurately, websites. There are two of them.
If you do a google search for “San Leandro Library”, the first hit, under the title “San Leandro Public Library” is http://www.library.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/. Here you find the full catalog of the library as well as access to your personal library account, allowing you to see what books you’ve checked out, renew books and place holds. It’s very useful and quite functional.
But that website is of no use whatsoever if what you are looking to do is find out library hours, services, activities or talk to a librarian. To do so, you have to go to: http://www.sanleandro.org/depts/library/default.asp – but to find this page, you either have to go to the City website and look in the “Departments” folder for “Public Library”, or go to the second page on google, which few people do.
Now, just HOW HARD would it be to put a link to the Public Library homepage from the catalog page? Not that hard, I’m sure – and yet, they haven’t done it. Just in case it was an oversight, I just e-mailed the head librarian about it. Let’s see what happens.
On the plus side, the Public Library homepage now has a chat tool with the information desk which you can use to ask your questions and even request books! Of course, someone has to find this webpage first ๐Ÿ™‚

A visit to Thriftown

Today my friend Lola came to visit me and, as the kids are out of town, we spent a great day hanging out. We had lunch at Aroma in Castro Valley, did some shopping at Santos Spice Products in San Leandro, and Lola taught me how to do an embroidery stitch – It was the first time I ever embroidered (I made a wobbly “M”) since I was a little kid.
In the afternoon we went to Thriftown, my favorite thrift store. Well, it’s the only thrift store I ever go to. I hadn’t been there in a few weeks, and they changed the lay out and now it looks more open, lighter and more attractive. And the stuff is still impossibly cheap (for the most part).
I like Thriftown because the stuff is not only cheap, but also generally good quality and in usable to great condition. I buy most of my kids’ clothing there, and Mike has had a lot of great finds, from a great jacket to roller skates and other sports equipment. The only thing I usually buy for myself are tea cups, but now with this new lay out, I was actually able to find out quite a lot of things I liked – mostly for the kids, of course, but still, I think I did great. In this visit (and mind you, it was a pretty quick visit), I got:
Magic Hair BeaderA Girl Crush Magic Hair Beader. The kit seems to be in good condition. It was opened, a lot of the beads seem to be missing, but the fasteners and many other beads are there – I think that some of the plastic pony beads I have may also work with it. I still haven’t tried to see if it works. It gets very mixed reviews at Amazon, but it retails for $16+ plus shipping, and I paid $4 for it. Of course, if it doesn’t work at all it’ll be $4 down the drain.
hairwraps.jpgHair Wraps is one of those kits by Klutz that comes with an instruction book and some materials to do something. This one, of course, making hair wraps. It looks pretty cool and I know Mika will LOVE IT. Well, she’ll at least love my making hair wraps on her if they probe to be not too difficult. Wish me luck! ๐Ÿ™‚ It retails for about $10, and I paid $3.

fairiesklutz.jpgFairies: Petal People You Make Yourself is another cool kit from Klutz. It seems to have been gently used and to have most of the contents. Basically it’s a little kit that allows you to make tiny fairies. It looks super cute. It retails for about $11 and I paid $2.
jewelflowers.jpgFinally, as far as the kid kits go, I got a Totally Me! Jewel Flowers kit. I couldn’t find anything about it online, and apparently it’s manufactured for Toys R Us Australia (which doesn’t do online sales). Still, not one mention of the product? It’s weird. The package seems to be unopened and I don’t want to open it quite yet.
Indeed, my plan is to put all these kits away before the kids come (so Kathy, don’t tell them I bought it for them), and then take them out one by one during the summer when we’re looking for new activities.
hellokittybag.jpgI got a bunch of other things at Thriftown. A shirt for Mika (shhh!) and a few very cute bags where to put handmade gifts. I got a VERY CUTE Hello Kitty “bag”. Alas, it was a backpack and it’s missing one of the handles, plus it needs to be re-sewn but I think I can do that and turn it into a pillow for Camila (who loves Hello Kitty). I also got a little photo album, and a huge lot of felt left-overs (including five felt sick-on sheets), for $1.50. Now let’s hope I can find reasons to use it.
I think that was it. In all I spent $18 (I had a $3 off coupon) and had a great time.
4/10 Update
I went back to Thrifttown with Mike today and this time I actually decided to look in the kids toy section (which I usually ignore given the dismal state of most of the toys there) for games. Wow, was I lucky! I got three great finds:
illustory.jpgIllustory is an amazing kit which allows you to write and illustrate your own book (it even comes with markers) on special pieces of paper, which you then mail to the publisher who sends you back an actual printed copy of the book you made! Tres cool and I think it’s perfect for what Mika is doing right now (writing lots of stories about girls who babysit difficult kids for money). Of course, Camila and MIka are going to have to figure out a way so that they can collaborate on the book – I do foresee frustration. What is most incredible is that the whole kit was in the box: the order form, the envelope, the forms, even the sealed markers. Somebody wasted $20 ๐Ÿ™ I got it for $2.


hullab.jpgHullabaloo is another game by Cranium, this one apparently has you do silly stuff as ordered by a speaker. Whatever, it gets great reviews in Amazon.com, it’s age appropriate for my kids, and, amazingly, the game seems unopened. Of course, that doesn’t mean it works – but hopefully it does. It retails for $30 – I paid $3.
Finally, I got Are You Afraid of the Dark, a game named after an old Nickelodeon program. Mika LOVES Goosebumps, and I’m sure she’ll love the game just as much. Of course, I have no idea what the game is about, but though it’s a couple of decades old most of the pieces seem to be in the box. I think it was also $2.
So off they go to the suitcase where I’m placing all the games and crafts to take out in the summer.

Stephen Cassidy announces his candidacy for Mayor of San Leandro

Stephen Cassidy, a former school board member in San Leandro, has announced his candidacy for Mayor. I’ve known Stephen for a number of years and I’m impressed by his passion and his work ethic. He’s also very intelligent, which doesn’t hurt ๐Ÿ™‚
I’ll be working on his campaign and I’m hoping all my San Leandro readers will support him. Below is his press release. You can find his website at www.cassidyforsanleandro.com. Also, please join the facebook group Cassidy for San Leandro Mayor.

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San Leandro: a grossly mismanaged city

I’m not really sure why I haven’t blogged much about San Leandro. I’m pretty active in the community. I’m part of the San Leandro Community Action Network and have been pretty active in a couple of campaigns (I think I’ve blogged about that). But I haven’t written much about the issues that come up in our fair city. Perhaps that is because Mike runs a blog on San Leandro: San Leandro Bytes. He writes about what’s going on there and there is little reason for me to repeat it. My friend and former school board trustee Stephen Cassidy also runs a blog, Go San Leandro, where he explores in detail some the issues that face our community. But still, I probably should at least voice my opinion on issues that come up.
One that has been concerning us all a lot lately is the issue of the crossing guards. For the last decades (our crossing guard has been working as such for 35 years), the city of San Leandro has employed 13 crossing guards to help children in the San Leandro and San Lorenzo school districts cross the street. Many of our elementary schools are located on main arteries where traffic is both fast and dangerous.
But, faced with the need to make budget cuts (though, despite those cuts, the city council managed to pass a bigger budget than last year, mostly by increasing the salary/benefits of police officers – who have a *very* strong union over here), they decided to cut the crossing guards. The crossing guard program costs only about $100K a year. That may seem a lot, but consider that San Leandro just hired an assistant city manager (reputedly so that our city manager, Steve Hollister – who, btw, just moved to Castro Valley, possibly to not have to personally experience the mess he’s created -, can take leaves from work without worries). I haven’t gotten the details of her package yet, but it should cost the city about $250K, $250K that could have been used to fund the crossing guard program. Below, you can find a recent letter I wrote to the local newspaper about this issue.
But this is by no means the only or more egregious example of bad priorities. The city just funded the partial dredging of the San Leandro marina to the tune of two million dollars (you didn’t misread). The San Leandro marina is used mostly by a few out-of-town residents. There was definitely some support among resident boat owners and others who just like the look of sailboats on the water, but the majority of San Leandrans were against it. Not that that bothered the city council in the least. It’s impossible to know what their twisted reasons for spending two million dollars on a useless endeavor were, but I can tell you that in addition to their incompetence, it showed their hypocrisy and dishonesty. City council member Michael Gregory, for example, told the community time and time again that he would vote against the dredging – only to completely turn around. Jim Prola, meanwhile (who, btw, also opposes the crossing guard program), likes to tout himself as an environmentalist, but he had no problem subjecting San Leandrans to the CO emissions caused by the hundreds of truck trips that will be needed to move the mud that comes out of the bay. And all for what?
Oh, and let’s not forget the city council’s support for the Transit Oriented Development – which will crowd hundreds, and eventually thousands, of housing units in the downtown area. Now, I’m very much for smart growth, and that includes building housing (and most importantly employment) developments near public transportation. But smart growth is only smart when /all/ factors are considered. And what the City Council has purposely ignored is the fact that San Leandro cannot offer the needed public services to serve those units. One public service that San Leandro can definitely /not/ provide is education. The two elementary schools closest to the TOD development are currently impacted and have been so for years. Both middle schools operate at capacity, as will the high school once the 9th grade academy is built (it is currently severely overcrowded). There is just no room in them to accommodate more children. San Leandro, moreover, does not have school buses, public transportation to many of the schools is poor, and even if it wasn’t – there is no way in hell the schools will be able to accommodate the hundreds to thousands of new students that will come. There is neither money nor space in the city to build new schools, so the prospects are that students will be crowded in tight rooms and portables which will overtake the limited outside areas that the schools now have. So what if the kids can’t play outside or exercise?
The City Council has basically said “we don’t give a damn”. They maintain that this is the School District problem, and if they can’t solve it, well, “too bad”. Mayor Santos personally told me that the district should build more schools and that “God” should pay for them. Great planning.
What this current city council is basically making clear is that families with children are not welcomed in the city.
Anyway, enough of a rant for now. Here is the letter I sent to the San Leandro Times:
Dear Editor,
I have a solution for the crossing guard problem. Members of City Council have talked about how the job should be manned exclusively by volunteers. I propose that the City Council should also be made out of volunteers. If City Council members gave up their $1400 monthly stipend, the thousands of dollars they receive in health insurance benefits, their car allowance and their cell phones – there would be enough money to fund the whole crossing guard program, and perhaps to hire that additional policeman they keep saying they want. Letโ€™s see if the Mayor or any of the City Council members show any leadership by volunteering to be the first ones to make sacrifices. I bet they wonโ€™t.
Sincerely,
Margarita Lacabe

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