Saturday, December 20, 2008

SMALL SCHOOLS: WAVE OF THE FUTURE?

Alum Rock has been doing it for years with Adelante Dual Language Academy
L.U.C.H.A. School and Renaissance Academy.
Now the idea of small schools (a school which occupies the same campus as a large school, but operates independently) is catching on everywhere. Check out this article from the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/education/21shared.html?_r=1&hp

Friday, December 19, 2008

CURETON KIDS GET CHRISTMAS JOYS, TOYS

San Jose City Councilmember Nora Campos helps Santa pass out toys to waiting kids. Photo by Len Ramirez

Horace Cureton Elementary students excitedly lined up in their school cafeteria for a special treat on Friday. The day before Christmas break was exciting enough, but other joys awaited them: SANTA! PRESENTS!

Each of the 570 students at Cureton received a new, wrapped toy to play with courtesy of Jolly Ol' Saint Nick, City Councilmember Nora Campos, her staff, Toys for Tots and corporate sponsors BAE Systems and Target Stores, which contributed toys, cash and gift cards. Rolando Bonilla, Campos' press aide, explained that the entire District 5 staff came up with the idea after a recent brainstorming session on ways to give back to the community. Cureton was chosen because it is a school where there is a critical need this year. About 80% of the student body qualifies for the state's free school lunch program.

NEW LAWYERS TO EXAMINE MARTINEZ DEAL

Another large audience attended Thursday's Alum Rock School Board meeting. Photo by Julie Ramirez

In a meeting that lasted until the midnight hour, Alum Rock trustees convened into a closed session with their newly hired lawyers to examine the severance deal previously granted to Superintendent Norma Martinez.

The trustees hired the law firm of Burke, Williams and Sorensen of Menlo Park to review, assess and analyze the severance agreement to see if it was legal and proper.

Earlier in the night, the school board faced criticism from members of the public still angry over the deal to give Martinez a $300, 000 "golden parachute" after she resigned.

"That's like winning the lottery," said community member Beth Johnson, "You don't deserve our trust."

Others demanded answeres, and resignations from trustees Frank Chavez and Patricia Potter, who are the only two trustees still on the board which approved the severance package. Trustee Gustavo Gonzales, who was elected board president tonight, voted against the December 2nd deal. Newly elected trustees Esau Herrera and Dolores Marquez were not on the board at the time when the package was approved 3 to 1.

"Chavez, you lost the respect of this community, Potter, you have no judgement," said neighbor AJ Sen, before demanding the two step down. Chavez and Potter did not immediately respond, and gave no indication that they would quit.

The board did approve the formation of a 16-member citizens advisory committee to assist in the search and hiring of a new superintendent. Interim Superintendent Jose Manzo will continue to serve until a new superintendent is hired, a process that could take four to five months.

Friday, December 12, 2008

ALUM ROCK SCHOOLS SHINE IN PERFORMING ARTS

First graders sing and dance onstage at Joseph George.


On the same night parents and teachers were telling the Board of Trustees what was wrong with the Alum Rock School District, hundreds of other community members were celebrating what's going right.
150 students showcased their talents in front of an audience of about 500 people in a first of its kind Visual and Performing Arts Showcase. Students from Linda Vista Elementary School joined Joseph George Middle School students on the George campus for a night of singing, dancing and instrumental performances.
Two stages (one outdoor) were in busy rotation to handle a wide variety of acts including a first-grade choir, a fourth and fifth-grade choir, elementary and middle school orchestras, a middle school mariachi group, an elementary bell choir and Hawaiian, line dance and hip hop dancing groups. The George library also showcased student art and photography walls. Parent volunteers also handed out free hot chocolate and cookies to the kids.
Ealier this year, Linda Vista and Joseph George became VAPA (visual and performing arts) campuses which strive to integrate art and music with traditional classroom subjects for a more well-rounded educational experience.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ALUM ROCK TRUSTEE QUESTIONS VALIDITY OF MARTINEZ DEAL

Deal or no deal? That's the question more than one hundred residents, parents and teachers wanted answered at a special school board meeting Wednesday night at the Alum Rock Youth Center gymnasium. The meeting was called late last week as a response to the public outcry over a recent board decision to give a $300,000 "golden parachute" severance package to superintendent Norma Martinez, who resigned.
"There is no severance agreement," said newly elected Trustee Esau Herrera as he held up an audio recording of the meeting. According to Herrera, who is an attorney, the previous board which approved the severance deal in a hastily called closed session meeting did not follow board policy or state law. "Nothing exists that is enforceable," he said of the severance package, "let someone else try to enforce it."
Dozens of speakers repeatedly asked Board President Frank Chavez to justify the agreement with Martinez but he provided no details. "It's not like we gave her a hundred million dollars," Chavez recently remarked to CBS 5 News. He also said people who criticized the deal were "way off base."
The board was not legally required to give Martinez any severance pay because she asked to step down for "personal reasons."
The severance package, which amounts to 18 month's salary for Martinez to walk away, was approved in a 3 to 1 vote on December 2nd, the last day before two newly elected trustees (Hererra and Dolores Marquez) were to take office. Trustees Chavez, Patricia Potter and outgoing member Lalo Morales voted in favor of it, while Trustee Gustavo Gonzales voted against it. Outgoing Trustee Tanya Freudenberger was absent due to illness.
Dozens of residents lined up to speak on the issue to the board. Some speakers called on Chavez and Potter to resign. Others noted how the severance package, which includes health care benefits to Martinez and her husband until age 65, comes at the worse possible time with state budget cuts to education looming. "If she wants to walk away, let her stand in the unemployment line with the rest of the people who got laid off," said one neighborhood activist.
"The people who are here tonight, don't represent the entire community," said board member Potter, a comment which drew astonishment, boos and hisses.
At the end of the four hour meeting, the Martinez severance was re-agendized until December 18th, when the board will seek advice from lawyers as to whether or not the deal is legal and proper.
Martinez did not attend the meeting because of illness but she was represented by Pat Souza, of the Association of California School Administrators. Souza told the board and community that Martinez believes the separation agreement with the Alum Rock School District was properly put together and valid. Souza also said Martinez asked the association's attorneys to review the agreement.
The board also voted unanimously to designate Deputy Superintendent Jose Manzo Interim Superintendent for the Alum Rock Union School District.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

ALUM ROCK SUPERINTENDENT QUITS THEN GETS A RAISE

It appears the Alum Rock school board gave Superintendent Norma Martinez the mother of all golden parachutes. Moments after Martinez asked to step down in a closed board session, a lame duck school board went into open session and voted 3-1(with one member absent) to give her a raise that boosted her severance package to almost 300 thousand dollars plus medical, etc. until she is 65. Parents are outraged that money is being wasted during these times with budget cuts looming. Word is Martinez wanted to step down because the current board has a majority that favors her. The new board coming in after November's election would be at odds with her and she read the writing on the wall.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I'm a parent in the district, and my wife is a PTA officer and sits on the Superintendent's Resource Council as a parent adviser/volunteer.

MERCURY NEWS ARTICLE:
http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_11132593

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

LIGHT UP ALUM ROCK FOR THE HOLIDAYS

By Judy Thompson

Another first is taking place in Alum Rock Village! This coming Saturday, December 6th, Santa Claus is taking up residence in his own house in what is newly designated as the “East Pole”! His presence is part of the Alum Rock Village Business Association’s (ARVBA) third annual Light Up the Village holiday celebration from 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM.

Around 1:00 PM, Santa will arrive at his house at 4300 Alum Rock Avenue in an antique car convoy after a mini-parade through the neighborhood. Neighbor Ray Fontaine has signed on as Santa’s chauffeur in his 1925 Model T touring car – top down. (Please keep your fingers crossed for a nice day!) East Foothill old car enthusiasts Rick Willson, Bob Sletten and Doug Moore will all be accompanying Santa and Ray in their own precious collector cars.

At “Santa’s House in the Village” Santa will see children from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. His house is at the east edge of the Village at the corner of Alum Rock Avenue and Millar Avenue. Don’t let its 4300 Alum Rock address fool you – it’s just one house removed from the 3100 block which is “the Village.”

Santa’s participation is just a small part of an all-afternoon community holiday celebration. Entertainment will be non-stop at the stage area on the sidewalks of the Village near the Planned Parenthood Clinic. Look for neighbor (and Channel 5 news personality) Len Ramirez to emcee a program of caroling, a hand bell choir, school bands, a youth choir and Mr. Andres Faz, a fabulous long-time professional classical guitarist.

The sidewalks will be festive with booths including Regional Medical Center’s ornament-making project for kids, various supportive neighborhood entrepreneurs and vendors. The trees will be beribboned, the shop windows will be lighted – it will be a lighthearted afternoon! Free refreshments will be served to kids.

Attendees of all ages will be invited to take part in the third annual free “bingo raffle” where they will take a bingo-type card to participating Village businesses to be stamped. The stamped cards become part of a drawing for numerous prizes donated by local businesses. The raffle will end around 3:00 PM with the drawing not long after.

The icing on the cake will be a lighting ceremony at the corner of Alum Rock and White Road. Folks will gather in the vicinity of Starbucks at around 4:45 PM. They will be serenaded by carolers from the James Lick choir, meet local dignitaries and enjoy a carol sing-along. James Lick’s huge pines behind the marquee will come to life with hundreds of colored lights. It will be an occasion which little kids will long remember.

Please come for the afternoon. Make a point of getting acquainted with our local businesses. Meet your neighbors and celebrate community! The Dr. Roberto Cruz – Alum Rock Library will also welcome visits during its concurrent holiday event. Look for parking at the James Lick High School lot and the City lot behind YSI and Planned Parenthood.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

ALUM ROCK UNION SCHOOL BOARD RACE PROFILE

The San Jose Mercury News profiled the race for Alum Rock School Board in their
Sunday editions. In case you missed it, you can find it here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_10578731?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ALUM ROCK SCHOOL FEATURED ON CBS-5 NEWS

Adelante Academy's dual immersion program was featured on CBS-5 Eyewitness News last night by your friendly neighborhood blogger and TV newsman Len Ramirez. It was a fine report if I do say so! Check it out:

http://cbs5.com/video/?id=39639@kpix.dayport.com

Thursday, September 04, 2008

CHAVEZ MEMORIAL DEDICATED AT SJSU


Hundreds of students, faculty and community members gathered at San Jose State University on Thursday to dedicate a monument Cesar E. Chavez. The Arch of Dignity, Equality and Justice stands 20 feet tall and is capped by the Aztec eagle emblem that became the symbol for Chavez' United Farm Workers union. The arch, created by Chicana artist Judith F. Baca of Los Angeles, also features a mosaic of Chavez and larger than life paintings of farmworkers, Chavez' role model Mahatma Ghandi and Dolores Huerta, Chavez' partner in the UFW.
Chavez grew up in East San Jose near Alum Rock Avenue and spent his early adult years as a community organizer in the Community Service Organization with other East Side legends such as Herman Gallegos and Leonard C. Ramirez. Before moving on to found the UFW, Chavez and other early CSO members staged voter registration drives and fought for paved streets, sidewalks and street lights in East Side neighborhoods.
The arch stands near the entrance to the SJSU student union and organizers hope the artwork will inspire students of all backgrounds to get involved in community activism.
Portraits of Dolores Huerta (left) and Mahatma Ghandi.Students will see this mosaic of Chavez as they pass through the arch. Artist Judith F. Baca (left) stands with Dolores Huerta under Huerta's portrait.
The arch was blessed with holy water during the dedication.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

SALSA FESTIVAL HEATS UP ALUM ROCK

Photos by Len and Amanda Ramirez


The first ever San Jose Salsa Festival in Alum Rock Village was a smashing success! The sounds of Latin Affect and Orchesta America got the crowd moving. The salsa and the moves on the dance floor/Quick Stop parking lot kept it hot. And the dozens of vendors and food booths made the afternoon fun. Hundreds of Alum Rock neighbors and families turned out for this first ever Salsa Festival in The Village. There was also salsa tasting, a dance demonstration, dance lessons, a dance contest, a raffle and much more. Check out all the photos and give us your comments on the festival in the space below!














































Thursday, August 14, 2008

HOT SALSA PARTY COMES TO ALUM ROCK

By Judy Thompson

Our own charming Alum Rock Village will be the site of some terrific “firsts” on Saturday, August 23rd. The Village Business Association (ARVBA) is hosting The First Annual San Jose Salsa Festival which will be held on the street and sidewalks of our historic little business district. This is the first time in anyone’s memory that Alum Rock Avenue will be closed to traffic for nearly 24 hours to accommodate an honest-to-goodness Family Street Fair. And, this will be the first time ever that such an ambitious event will take place at our community’s crossroads hub, Alum Rock Avenue and White Road.

Countless hours of planning and organizing are going into preparations to make this community-building festival an event to remember. Midblock between White Road and Millar/Manning there will be a very large stage. On this stage there will be non-stop musical programming featuring two professional bands, our neighbor Len Ramirez (of Channel 5 fame) emceeing and Village business owner “Salito” Cortes doing vocal impersonations. Local dignitaries will be on hand to greet festival-goers from the stage. DJ’s will round out the program.

An amateur Salsa Dancing contest will be held - but not until guests have had a chance to avail themselves of some free lessons given at the stage. Prizes will be awarded!

Salsa of the edible kind will be featured at a special tasting booth where guests can vote for their favorites from among local restaurant’s offerings.

Food and retail vendor booths will line the median strip offering delicious comestibles and outstanding shopping opportunities. The festival will be the perfect place for family lunch or dinner amid the happy throng.

Along the sidewalks, local non-profits will set up shop offering information and literature - and freebies for kids. There will also be a special kids’ area with a wide array of activities. A free betta fish will be available for every child! Smokey Bear will be there.

Many Village shops and restaurants will be open for business – and most will welcome visitors inside. It will truly be a community event celebrating the people of the Alum Rock neighborhood.

Entrance is free. Parking is free (at James Lick High School, Cruz/Alum Rock Library, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Logos Christian Fellowship Church). However walking is encouraged! Alcohol will not be served assuring children a safe and welcoming environment. A portion of event proceeds will be donated to Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley and James Lick High School.

Hours: Noon to 7:00 PM. Street closure will begin around midnight the night before (to allow installation of the temporary “village within a village”).

And, of course, It Will Be HOT!!!


To learn more about ARVBA, visit our new Web Site at http://www.arvba.org/ or go to http://www.sanjosesalsafestival.org/.

Friday, May 16, 2008

NEW STORE COMES TO ALUM ROCK VILLAGE

After being vacant and an eyesore for months in Alum Rock Village, the former Bodega Market space is getting ready to re-open this summer. You probably noticed the bright new paint and modernized store front. Those are just a few of the upgrades that are taking place to make The Village Store ready for its first customers this August. According to San Jose's Redevelopment point person for Alum Rock, the new store will be a small grocery with fresh fruit and veggie bins out front, and a deli/eating area in the back. The new owners are reportedly trying to get things ready for the grand opening in time for the Alum Rock Salsa Festival, which is coming on August 2nd. The Salsa Festival will be a local street happening with a closure planned for Alum Rock Avenue in the village area. It should be fun!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

NEW SKATEBOARD PARK OPENS AT LAKE CUNNINGHAM

video

Opening day at the new skateboard park. Skaters gave it rave reviews. They tell me this puts East San Jose on the map in a big way with pro and amateur skaters from all over the country.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

REED'S SPORT SHOP TO CLOSE

If you grew up on the East Side, there was only one place for athletes and sportsman to go if they were taking up a sport or planning a camping or fishing trip: Reed's Sport Shop. But after 60 years in Alum Rock, Reed's is calling it quits. No word yet on the official story, but a clerk confirmed the rumor yesterday, saying Reed's planned to close it's store in July and move the gunshop to its indoor range in Santa Clara. There are no going out of business signs on the outside of the building, but store employees are telling customers informally of the plans. Reed's has been an anchor business and a family-run operation in Alum Rock since 1948

Sunday, April 13, 2008

TWO TEENS SHOT IN ALUM ROCK

Two teenagers are suffering from critical injuries after being shot in our Alum Rock neighborhood early Saturday morning.
The double shooting happened at about 1:10 a.m. in an unincorporated neighborhood off Madeline Drive, according to Sgt. Don Morrissey of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
Although the gunshot wounds were serious enough to be life threatening at the time, Morrissey said the victims look like they will pull through.
Morrissey also said homicide investigators are handling the case, but there's no word if anyone has been arrested or if suspects have been identified.
Father Eddie Obero opened mass at nearby St. John Vianney Catholic Church on Sunday morning by asking parishoners to pray for the victims and for peace in the neighborhood.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

TEAM UP TO CLEAN UP ALUM ROCK

Clean up kits include an orange vest, gloves, trash bags, a mechanical litter-picker-upper and a voucher that allows you to put out extra trash bags on your curb for pick up.

Let's pitch-in! If you're tired of seeing littered streets, clogged gutters and graffiti tags in the area, here's a chance to do something about it. Cool clean up kits and graffiti-removal kits will be given away to the public on Saturday, April 12th from 8 to 1pm at the Plata Arroyo Park basketball courts at the corner of McKee and Jackson.

The kits are being given away to residents as part of a wider effort to clean up our neighborhoods called "The Great American Litter Pickup," and is being sponsored by the City's Parks and Recreation Department. The event also includes a free lunch from 12 to 1pm for volunteers. Let's all get involved to make Alum Rock a better--and cleaner--place to live!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

ALUM ROCK LITTLE LEAGUE KICKS OFF WITH PARADE

Indians coaches Franciso Haro(left) and Joseph Raya led a happy tribe of T-ballers into their first season.(photo by Julie Ramirez)


Play Ball! Hundreds of boys and girls and their families celebrated a great American tradition: Little League!! The streets around Ben Painter Elementary School were filled with Yankees, Giants, Indians, Pirates, Reds and A's as well as White Sox, Red Sox and Mets. There were also Pink Panthers, Crushers, Bruisers, Knock Outs and Icy Hots as the girls kicked off their softball season. San Jose Police cars and fire engines added to the pageantry and let their sirens wail as the ball players entered the school fields. Alum Rock's Little League fields underwent some upgrading over the off season to accommodate disabled access. As Vin Scully might say..."it was a beautiful day for baseball!"
Respect, teamwork and fair play are part of the Little League players motto recited during opening ceremonies.(photo by Len Ramirez)


Friday, April 04, 2008

STARBUCKS GRAND OPENING THIS WEEKEND

Open for Business! James Lick High School student Lizete Carapinha(center) and friends are among the first customers this morning at the new Starbucks at the corner of Alum Rock and White. Manager Farrah Myers says the coffee house had a soft opening Thursday, but is planning a grand opening this weekend with free samples. (photo by Julie Ramirez)



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

MISS CAFE ON CBS 5

Alum Rock is in the news again. In case you missed it on CBS 5 at 11 last night, here's a report from inside Miss Cafe:

http://cbs5.com/local/sj.cafe.controversy.2.690059.html

Thursday, March 27, 2008

ALUM ROCK COMMUNITY UNITES, PLEDGES TO IMPROVE NEIGHBORHOOD

Alum Rock neighbor James Cape and Todd Trekell of Barry Swenson Group shake hands after Trekell pledged to include the community in any new plans to develop the PEO home property on Kirk Avenue. Cape and others promised to hold the developer to his word.

By Len and Julie Ramirez

If anyone ever doubts the commitment of Alum Rock neighbors to improve their community and their ability to defend it, let them hear about what happened tonight. "I left excited and ready to roll up my sleeves," said one long time Alum Rock resident after attending the standing room only meeting at the fellowship hall of Foothill Presbyterian Church on McKee Road. About 150 residents packed the room for the Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition's regular March meeting. Community spirit was reborn and special commissions were set up so neighbors working in small, cohesive groups could tackle some of areas of concern:
  • Graffiti Removal
  • Blight
  • Beautification
  • Neighborhood Watches
  • Roads and Traffic
  • Schools and Education
  • Community and Business Relations
  • Public Relations/Media
But two items dominated the night's agenda: the future of the PEO home on Kirk Avenue and the ongoing concern over the proliferation of swanky nightclub-style cafes on Alum Rock Avenue.

Interest over the PEO property exploded during the last 10 days while talks of a women's prison surfaced and later fizzled. Intense emails and phone calls flooded the in-boxes of local officials, news reports aired, and tempers flared, while neighbors rallied. "Calls went from nothing to 50 the next day over this issue," explained Darcie Green of Assembly Member Joe Coto's office. Applause broke out as ARNC President David Sanchez proclaimed, "What's the latest on the PEO home? Nothing--it's over!!"

The sigh of relief was short lived; however, while neighbors realized the future of the property is still a big question. Todd Trekell, representing property owner and developer Barry Swenson, also noted the overwhelming response of neighbors to his office over the prison plan. "We heard you loud and clear," he said. Trekell also assured the community that Barry Swenson will work with the community in the future. Trekell tried to gain credibility with the skeptical crowd by citing his own family ties to the East Side as well as Mr. Swenson's (he graduated from James Lick High School). Trekell told neighbors that the site is an excellent location for an assisted living center, and that his company is working with a couple of entities in that regard, but noted that the land is for sale, and thus could be sold and developed by others.

Neighbors also heard a presentation by Greg Lippman, of ACE Charter Schools, over his company's interest in the PEO site as a potential charter middle school. Citing its beautiful grounds, good driveway access and ample classroom and meeting areas, Lippman said the site is an excellent candidate for a school of about 400 students. But he also noted that his company is not yet ready to move forward with formal plans.
The owner of Miss Cafe on Alum Rock Avenue faced a large and skeptical audience of concerned East Siders.

Some of the most heated discussions of the night centered around two of the newest members of the Alum Rock business community: Miss Cafe and Thien Y, which are Vietnamese cafes that feature short menus and even shorter skirts and skimpy tops for their waitresses. Attorney James Barrett, who represents Miss Cafe brought up the businesses owner (who was not named), his wife and two toddlers and said "these are the faces of Miss Cafe." The audience gave a collective chuckle, but bit its tongue on voicing more pointed comments until after the wife and children had left the front of the room. Miss Cafe attorney James Barrett fielded questions and criticism from neighbors while Miss Cafe's owner and manager stood by. Barrett said "I want Miss Cafe to be a part of this community."

"This is an issue of appropriateness and its impact on this community," said neighbor James Cape referring to the dark, reputedly smoky environment and skimpy outfits. Maureen Behlen pointed out how she currently avoids using the Wells Fargo ATMs next to its entrance after her 12 year old son was shocked by what he saw during their last visit to get cash. "Would you take your children there?" she asked the owner. To her surprise he admitted he took them to work with him and his wife. As the audience gasped, she snapped, "Shame on you!"

Attorney Barrett said he would meet with ARNC's newly formed community and business relations commission next week, while insisting he wants Miss Cafe to "be a part of this community."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ALUM ROCK CAFES UNDER SCRUTINY

Mercury News Columnist Scott Herhold attended a recent ARNC meeting and wrote the following article after interviewing Alum Rock locals Julie Ramirez and ARNC President David Sanchez. His article takes a look at the Alum Rock Vietnamese cafe controversy:

http://www.mercurynews.com/scottherhold/ci_8688825?nclick_check=1

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PEO PRISON PLAN DROPPED!

The following is a letter to the Alum Rock community from Leaders in Community Alternatives President Linda Connelly formally withdrawing from the PEO/Prison plan:

Dear Neighbors,

I submitted a letter to the State of California today officially withdrawing our application for a Female Rehabilitative Community Correctional Center at 10 Kirk Avenue. Our intent was never to develop this site without the consent of the neighbors, and it was apparent there was not enough support to continue with the process.I want to apologize to you that it appeared as though we were trying to push this project on the neighborhood without your involvement. We were in the very early stages of discussions with the State of California for the project. This was a highly competitive bid process (funding was availablefor 1200 beds and there were 10,000 beds bid throughout the state), and there was no certainty that Santa Clara County would be selected. We were in the planning process with some Alum Rock neighbors strategizing the who,what, where, why, and when of talking with neighborhood groups andindividuals, and the best way to go about that. We planned this process to take several months, and did not want to begin in a major way until we knewif the state was even interested in Santa Clara County for the women'sprogram. Unfortunately this very preliminary concept of possibly using the 10 Kirk Avenue site for a rehabilitative program for women was leaked to the pressvery prematurely and we were not given a chance to talk to each of you. I know this has been very distressing, and has caused great concern for manyof you. I understand completely, and am deeply disappointed that this washow you heard about our proposal. I have worked in the criminal justice field for 34 years, and have opened many residential programs over the years. Our typical process if to lookfor potential sites. When we find one, we first talk to immediate neighborsto see if there is any major concern. If not, we begin the process of talking to police, elected officials and neighbors. This process is done over several months because it takes at least six-nine months to go through a conditional use process. It is during this time that we decide if we canget the community support to open a program,. If not, then we back away from a site. Neighborhood support is crucial, and without it, there is no point in going forward. There is a serious lack of programming available in Santa Clara County for women and men returning from state prison to their home communities. Theresult of this is high recidivism rates, increased crime, and significant expenses to the local infrastructure. The State of California, Departmentof Corrections and Rehabilitation, is attempting to mitigate the revolving door of our criminal justice system, utilizing evidence-based research, and developing intensive treatment programs in the community offenders will bereturning. This is a huge asset to local communities and a significant benefit for the clients in the program and the communities housing theprograms. Obviously, though, the program site needs to be in the rightlocation. All of the programs I have started, and the hundreds of programs my colleagues across the country have started, have completely integrated themselves into their respective neighborhoods in a positive way. Neighbors end up loving these programs because of the value they bring to thecommunity - jobs, tax revenues, community service and neighborhood projects,resources for neighbors as well as program clients, 24-hour awake presence,decreased crime, and increased housing pricing. The research and actual programs demonstrate this over and over again. I know it would have been true at 10 Kirk, and I know it can be true where ever we end up.The silver lining in what has transpired over the last week is that thisvery serious issue of re-entry has been brought to the forefront of not only the Alum Rock neighborhood, but also the city of San Jose and County of Santa Clara. There has been a lot of interest in working with us to providethis necessary treatment services in the right location within the County. The other silver lining is that your neighborhood has demonstrated its cohesiveness and ability to coalesce around an important issue in a short period of time. It was impressive. I wish you the best, and again, my heartfelt apology that this process did not work itself out the way it was intended. Regardless if the end result had been the same, you and the program deserved to be fully vetted and understood before a decision was made. Thank you.

Linda Connelly,
President/CEO Leaders in Community Alternatives, Inc. (LCA)594 Howard Street - Suite 300San Francisco, CA 94105415-546-5222 (Phone)415-546-1932 (Fax)mailto:lconnelly%40lcaservices.comhttp://www.lcaservices/.com

Monday, March 24, 2008

PEO HOME MEETING SET

By ARNC President David Sanchez

This Thursday's Alum Rock Neighorhood Coalition Community Meeting will be held at the Foothill Presbyterian Church, 5301 McKee Road and will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m.. An agenda will be posted but the main focus of this meeting will be on the PEO Home/FRCCC (Female Rehabilatative Community Correctional Center) with updates from last months meeting.

Please use the evite invitation link ..... HERE ...... to RSVP, it will help us get a rough idea of the attendance. The invitation is and open invitation so please share this email and the evite link with others who may be interested in attending. If someone would like to post the invitation at some of the local businesses as well, that would be great!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

LET'S KEEP THE COMMUNITY SPIRIT ALIVE

By Julie Ramirez

The energy and momentum generated in Alum Rock over the last week is inspirational and a real testiment to the will, committment and wealth of knowledge in our community. Our neighborhood has sent a clear message to San Jose and state leaders that our neighborhood is not a suitable area for a prison. Aside from the buzz of the proposed prison site, neighbors have begun asking: "What's next?" "How can we keep the momentum going to build a better Alum Rock? How can we attract [and sustain] more businesses to our area?" The answer has clearly emerged: We need to invest in our neighborhood!!

Among the many hidden treasures in our area, one that is often neglected and bashed is our school system. My children attend an award winning school. It offers extra curricular activities including GATE, band, drama, and dance. They are exposed to and enjoy the diversity of cultures and languages. Their teachers are credentialed. They're offered a hot breakfast and lunch and a free after school YMCA program. They go on several field trips throughout the year, attend enrichment festivities like a Back to School Carnival, Family Literacy Nights and an International Dance Festival. And, they are receiving a great education!

I don't pay high tuition rates; I don't transport them across the Valley. And I don't settle for mediocrity. I proudly send them to Linda Vista Elementary school. If we are looking for a place to start investing in our community, it makes sense to start with the schools.

Linda Vista is a California Distinguished School with an execellent, experienced staff. Principal Paddy Douglas and Vice Principal Colin Ford are dedicated and work closely with their staff and students to create a welcoming environment and great educational experience. Over the last three years, it has consistently improved its API scores, and is getting very close (765) to breaking the 800 barrier which many parents shopping for neighborhoods and schools look for. It's an outstanding achievement for the students and staff given the diverse community Linda Vista serves.

Unfortunately, many families in the area are quick to look beyond our local schools when it comes to their kid's education. Just imagine what the schools in the area can become if more parents invested in them? And we get so much in return. As a family, we have built great relationships with our neighbors because of our ties to Linda Vista.

The Alum Rock Unified School District also houses three other Distinguished Schools-- including McCollam, which is also in our immediate area. Alum Rock has 27 schools throughout its District, including three so called "small schools." Our Superintendent Norma Martinez was recently named "Administrator of the Year" by the Association of California School Administrators and many of its teachers have been recognized as well.

Schools are the heart of a community, more so than trendy businesses and fancy chain stores. They are where families meet. If you build strong schools, more people will be attracted to the area, and prosperity will follow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

PEO PRISON PLAN DEFEATED?

The recent groundswell of opposition to a proposal to locate a state women's prison facility on the PEO Home site may have forced the plan's backers to look elsewhere. Here is how NBC 11 covered the controversy tonight:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CITY CRACKS DOWN ON ALUM ROCK CAFES

The following letter was sent as a follow up to the recent Alum Rock Neighborhood Coalition meeting in which several neighbors urged city planning and code enforcement officials to take
a harder look at the cafes. The specific complaint neighbors made is that the cafes applied to be restaurants, but are not operating as such.


Miss Cafe/2880 Alum Rock Avenue

Code Enforcement issued a compliance order to the property owner and business owner requiring that entertainment activities cease until such time as the business can demonstarte that the business is operating as a "bona fide eating establishment" as defined by the Zoning Ordinance. In addition, the property owner and business owner were ordered to remove the outdoor seating located to the rear of the building that was added without Planning approval. Finally, the business owner has been issued administrative citations for allowing smoking to occur inside the business.

Please be advised that I personally accompanied staff during inspections conducted on Monday, March 10th and Wednesday, March 12th. The Miss Cafe has created a menu that now offers a variety of menu choices for customers. You may recall the original menu appeared to serve only appetizers. In addition, I inspected the kitchen area and observed silverware and plates/cups necessary for a restaurant use. Finally, I observed the kitchen refrigerators and observed food items necessary for preparing food when ordered. During my inspection yesterday, at noon, I did not observe any of the customers eating food, of the approximate 20 customers in the Cafe'. In addition, I observed several tables and chairs to the rear of the building for smoking customers. I was accmpanied on the inspection with Principal Planner Jeannie Hamilton as I was interested in her viewpoint as to whether the business was operating as a restaurant as described by the Zoning Ordinance.

I am not convinced, at this point, that the Miss Cafe' is operating as a restaurant as described in the Zoning Ordinance, though I believe that the Cafe' is moving towards compliance with there efforts to date. I admonished the business owner on allowing outdoor seating and ordered that the outdoor seating cease immediately, pending subsequent Planning review and approval. I advised the business owner that entertainment may not be reinstated until Code Enforcement is convinced that the use is that of a restaurant and not a "coffee shop".

Thien Y Restaurant/3116 Alum Rock Avenue

Code Enforcement staff has been monitoring the business since the original complaint was received, and on March 3rd obtained enough preliminary evidence to begin enforcement proceedings. Additional evidence was obtained yesterday, March 13th, to support Code Enforcement's position that this business is not operating as a bona fide public eating establishment.

Code Enforcement has issued a compliance order advising the property owner and business owner of the following violations: entertainment, specifically karaoke, must cease at 10:00 p.m. and for failing to obtain building permits for the mounted television monitors that exceed 50 pounds as previously instructed. The compliance order will provide the property owner and business owners notice of violations and corrective action required as follows :

1. Obtain a building permit or remove the mounted television monitors that exceed the 50 pound limitation no later than Thursday, March 27, 2008;
2. Cease any live entertainment, specifically the karaoke entertainment, after 10:00 p.m., no later than 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, 2008.

Thus far, Code Enforcement has issued the business owner a $250.00 administrative citation for failing to obtain a sign permit.

Please let me know if additional information is desired. Please share this e-mail with community/neighborhood members.

Cordially,

Michael Hannon
Code Enforcement Official
Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department
City of San Jose

Saturday, January 12, 2008

BIG CHANGES COME TO ALUM ROCK VILLAGE

After more than a year of waiting and wondering if a new coffee house would be coming to Alum Rock Village, the question seems to be answered. "Starbuck's Coming Soon" banners were hung this week from the top of the old Rafiki's coffee house space at Alum Rock and White Road. Several residents were hoping for a Starbuck's or perhaps a Peet's and negotiations had been going on for some time to bring a major coffee house to the corner. No word yet on when the store may be open, but it appears work inside the space is moving quickly along. The space has been gutted inside.
This means that not only will great coffee be coming to Alum Rock, but so will jobs.
A notice in the window of the door says there will be a Starbuck's Coffee Company Hiring Fair on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 at 2990 East Capitol Expressway (Capitol and Tully) from 10am to 12pm. No word on how many full or part-time jobs will be created.
Meantime, across the street, the Thai White Rock Cafe has sadly closed down. The signs have been taken down and the windows have been shuttered. Word that the restaurant would be shutting down circulated in the neighborhood for months and it finally happened. It was a well-regarded restaurant and had several good reviews. There is now a notice in the window that says there has been a change of ownership. And it appears a new Vietnamese restaurant will take it's place. No word on when the new restaurant will be open.