Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It dawned bright and clear the morning after a big storm in San Jose, so we decided to take a hike in Alum Rock Park. We parked near the Youth Science Institute and wandered up the North Rim trail. It was still quite cold and windy in the shady areas of the park, so the added warmth of the sun on that side of the canyon was a welcome bonus. We hiked up to Eagle Rock, enjoying the views of the city as we went. We also got to see a little of the park's wildlife: several hawks silently gliding, rising and falling as they were swept along by the updrafts. We also saw numerous deer including two large bucks. The trails were very quiet but there were a few other hikers and runners around. The kids are finally old enough to climb on Eagle Rock itself. It was a very nice moment, being at the top with the family, enjoying some solitude in a hectic week. This is one of the main reasons we have chosen to live in the East Foothills: the natural beauty of the surrounding hills. So close to the city, yet seemingly so far away. What a treasure.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Nice cool autumn evening, a sprinkle of rain and friends all around celebrating the Green and White on the football field. James Lick High School's homecoming football
game against San Jose High was a well attended, fun community event. Lick has been through a lot of changes over the years, but it's still good ol' Jimmy Lick to many of us. I took my three kids to the game tonight and we had a great time hanging out with friends and watching some very good and competitive football. Despite the Comets losing the game, James Lick has a very good team this year and they are fun to watch. I left in the fourth quarter to get my 7 year old home and in bed to rest him up for soccer Saturday morning.

The Homecoming festivities were fun to watch, including the crowning of the homecoming queen, Melody Gonzales. I got a chance to talk to Melody and her mom (also a former Comet). Coincidentally, Melody wishes to pursue studies in Journalism upon graduation. I invited her to be a student correspondent for The Neighborhood View. I hope she takes me up on that. It would be a good training ground for her or anyone since traditional journalism jobs are converging into digital media.

Halftime also included a chance for all JL alums to get together for a group photo. That was a fun moment. Here we were, a lot of middle age men and women rubbing elbows next to cheerleaders from the class of 2007. It was cool, we all had something in common, the James Lick connection. We are all still true to our school. After the tragic events of the past week here on the East Side, it was nice to be able to get out and enjoy a nice event with the family.


About 100 people gathered at Story and the video.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


There have been 3 major incidents of gang violence in San Jose over the past week, with two of them happening on the East Side.
Two boys, ages 12 and 13 were shot and stabbed while trick or treating near Story and Hopkins on Halloween night. Four suspects have been arrested.
A woman was shot while driving at Hwy 87 and 280.
And a 20 year old man was shot and killed on White Road at Warm Springs.

Thursday night, there will be a candlelight vigil for the victims of gang violence at Story and King with a march to the intersection of Hopkins. Police are planning for what may be a spike in violence due to retaliation.

For more on what's been happening, including my own video coverage on CBS 5 click on the link:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Jimmy Lick is undefeated in football at 2-0 for the first time since forever...and the team is getting some great recognition from the San Jose Mercury News. JL is on the upswing academically too. As a JL alumnus, it is great to see!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Ground was officially broken for the East Foothill's first new park in decades. San Jose City Councilmember Nora Campos and her staff joined neighbors, parks officials and firefighters to celebrate this milestone at the corner of Fleming Avenue and Waterstone Court. The 1/2 acre "pocket" park was approved in 2006 and will be completed in the spring of 2010. The park will feature a children's play area, a par course, a trellised picnic area and open space.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


East Side Union High School District Trustee and James Lick grad Eddie Garcia has proposed a three point plan to save interscholastic sports in the district. His plan just got a major boost by the San Jose Mercury News Editorial Board, which is endorsing it:

Editorial: A credible plan to restore athletics to East Side high schools
Mercury News Editorial
Posted: 05/06/2009 08:00:00 PM PDT

Parents and friends of East Side Union High School District made an impressive down payment last weekend on the restoration of school sports. The next move is for the school board to assure them that their efforts won't be wasted. The board should build interscholastic athletics back into next year's budget.

On Sunday, about 2,000 runners and walkers at a 5K race at Mount Pleasant High raised about $120,000. That's not yet close to the $2.3 million that athletics cost for the 11-high school district, but voluntary fees of $200 per athlete and other fundraising efforts could bring in an additional $500,000 or more. And the district has some additional options.

Trustee Eddie Garcia is proposing a three-pronged strategy to restore athletics, which the school board cut to help erase an $11 million deficit from next year's $240 million budget.
First, the board would guarantee that athletics would be reinstated. That's important, Garcia reasons, to persuade parents to raise money. Without knowing that there will be baseball and track in the spring, parents won't hit the bricks for money in the fall.

Second, the district would take advantage of the Legislature's option for school districts to lower reserves — from 2 percent down to 1 percent in large districts like East Side Union. As a one-year fix, Garcia would use the extra $2.4 million to save sports as well as restore some of the 80 teaching jobs that have been eliminated.

Finally, the trustees would put a parcel tax on the ballot in 2010, with the money dedicated to funding athletics, rehiring librarians and preserving other vital programs that will be under siege for at least several years. Assuming that elderly homeowners are exempted, a $100 tax, for instance, would bring in approximately $11 million.

It's a reasonable approach, and trustees should adopt it at their May 21 meeting. However, we'd add one stipulation. Parents should pledge not to let up in their fundraising or, for those who can afford it, not shirk to paying the voluntary sports fee. That's important, because the more money they raise privately, the more money from the reserve could be used to preserve other programs.

This plan will become more complicated if the state propositions on the May 19 ballot are defeated. This would put billions more dollars for K-12 schools in jeopardy, including millions for East Side Union schools, over the next two to three years. Many more teaching positions and programs could face elimination.

But it will be months before the Legislature works its way through the next budget crisis. Parents need to know the status of sports now, so they can start raising money. And if the worst does happen May 19, passing a parcel tax will become even more important, and the support of thousands of sports boosters will be critical. Killing sports even for one year could doom the tax.

Trustees should reinstate sports for a year but do so with their eyes wide open. They are likely to face more ugly choices.
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Check out the stylish designs for the new SJ Fire Station number 2 under construction now on Alum Rock Avenue. Neighbors demanded a new station for the area, not a remodel of the old station. This is what the city gets for it's 9.5 million dollar investment.
Local fire safety guru Frank Crane wrote in a recent ARNNE posting: "If any of us ever visited the old station we were quickly aware of how outdated the old place was. Additionally, we are reminded that the new facility is not like your neighbor's house. This is an up-to-date, technically equipped, fire station, emergency response, and residential facility. And it removes any fear that the Alum Rock Area will be left without a nearby emergency crew on hand 24/7."

Friday, April 10, 2009


East San Jose City Council member Nora Campos(center) is joined by Mayor Chuck Reed, City Manager Debra Figone(left) and others for the ground breaking of a new state of the art fire station on Alum Rock Avenue.

When shovels hit the ground for San Jose's new fire station #2, it was more than just another groundbreaking for a big city project, it was a symbolic victory for the residents of Alum Rock. The old Station 2, known by firefighters as "The Rock" was growing weary after decades of service and was in need of repair and seismic upgrade. It was a significant safety issue because Station 2 was also the busiest fire station in San Jose, with more calls for service than any other location.
But city leaders differed on how to upgrade the station. Mayor Chuck Reed favored a less costly "retrofit" while District 5 Council member Nora Campos argued for an entirely new modern station house. That's when the neighborhood got involved. People wrote letters, lobbied the city council and showed up in force at council meetings whenever the issue was discussed. The community's efforts paid off when the council was persuaded to support the building of a new station. The 60-plus year old firehouse was demolished, firefighters and equipment were relocated to a temporary firehouse up Alum Rock near St. John Vianney. New construction is now underway. The new station will add to the redevelopment of the Alum Rock corridor and ensure a safe environment for the dedicated men and women of the SJFD, plus provide reliable, upgraded fire protection for the residents of Alum Rock.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


photo by Len Ramirez
Fresh cut grass, sunshine and soccer! Those are the ingredients to a perfect Saturday morning in San Jose. My son's team the sharks did not end up winning this game, but the team played well despite some giants on the other team (under 8? c'mon!) The games were played on the nicely tended fields of Rancho Middle School in Milpitas. Great times.

Friday, April 03, 2009


Norma Rodriguez of Dorsa Elementary wins 2009 Elementary Principal of the Year for Santa Clara County.

By Aurora Quevedo

SAN JOSE, CA – The Association of California School Administrators recently announced Norma Rodriguez, Dorsa Elementary Principal, as 2009 Elementary Principal of the Year. In May of this year, Ms. Rodriguez will be recognized by her peers for her county-wide recognition at the Annual Awards Dinner sponsored by ACSA Region 8. Ms. Rodriguez will also receive her state-wide award at the annual ACSA State Leadership Summit which will be held in Sacramento November 5-7, 2009. "Norma is a shining example of what is possible in public schools when the right person is in the position to lead," said José L. Manzo, Interim Superintendent of Alum Rock Union Elementary School District. "She is a model leader, a fierce advocate for education equity, and an inspiration for educators." During Ms. Rodriguez’s four years of leadership at Dorsa, the school has experienced a positive increase in student achievement, boasting an Academic Performance Index (API) growth score of 715 which represents a total gain of 123 points. Norma has led the school transformation through a systematic and complex program. The Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) strategy embraced by Ms. Rodriguez and her entire school community requires knowledgeable leadership and a strong commitment by all involved. Now in its third year of implementation, RTI2 encompasses high-quality instruction, early intervention and prevention, and behavioral strategies. By using culturally relevant, research-based instruction, and with continuous assessment of student learning and increased parental involvement, student learning is accelerated. The RTI2 program integrates resources from general education, categorical programs, and special education into a comprehensive system of instruction and intervention that best fits the needs of the students. Therefore, the focus of the program is on the individual student and what will best help him or her learn. Through her strong leadership, Ms. Rodriguez has motivated the total school community and harnessed its energy and dedication to make this an effective instructional method, resulting in significant student academic growth. In a recent interview, Ms. Rodriguez appeared humbled and honored by the recognition. She gave kudos to her dedicated staff, supportive parents, and district resource professionals. “Even though ACSA is giving me this award, I feel like it has been a team effort,” said Ms. Rodriguez, acknowledging a student’s education involves teachers, support staff, and parent participation. Dorsa Elementary serves approximately 574 students in grades K-5; its demographics include a high Hispanic/Latino community (92.7%) and a high English learner population (66.9 %). The efforts at Dorsa have significantly narrowed the achievement gap.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


SAN JOSE - Mayor Chuck Reed invites residents to attend a community discussion regarding a proposal to establish the César Chávez Memorial Walkway in San José. The meeting will take place on Thursday, January 29 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza Pavilion from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“With the recent addition of the César Chávez Arch of Dignity, Equality, and Justice on the campus of San José State University, Downtown and Alum Rock have many landmarks related to César Chávez that reflect his great contribution to our City,” said Mayor Reed. “Many people have approached me with the idea of tying these locations together. This meeting will bring the community together to get feedback and ideas for a walkway commemorating the life and legacy of César Chávez.”

The outreach meetings will elicit the community’s opinion on topics such as the proposed route, sign design, landmarks to include, and overall thoughts on the project. Proposed plans for the Memorial Walkway consist of street signs attached to existing poles and will connect various landmarks being considered include Plaza de César Chávez, César Chávez Arch of Dignity, Equality, and Justice, Mexican Heritage Plaza, Chávez’s former home, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

The project has received the blessing of the family of César Chávez to move forward. “I convened a family meeting… their response was overwhelmingly positive and everyone agree[d] to endorse the project,” said Rudy Chávez-Medina as President of the Chávez Family Vision, Inc. in a letter to Mayor Reed. “We believe that the plans need to move forward and we are committed to working with you on this endeavor.”

In October of 2007, Mayor Reed established the Mayor’s Committee to Honor César E. Chávez in order to help expand on the civil rights leader’s legacy in San José. The volunteer, community advisory panel consists of Reverend Deacon Sal Alvarez, Monsignor Eugene Boyle, Monsignor John Sandersfield, Rudy Chávez-Medina, and former Mayor Susan Hammer. The César Chávez Memorial Walkway was expressed as a committee priority through a letter to Mayor Reed in October 2008.

“This walkway will be able to unite relevant landmarks in San José while recognizing the connection and influence that César Chávez had in our community,” wrote committee chair Sal Alvarez in his letter to Mayor Reed. “We believe that it is vital for citizens to remember the contributions of César Chávez and recognize his profound impact in protecting the exploitation of the underserved community.”

The Mayor’s Office will be planning two additional outreach meetings on the project. Those unable to attend are encouraged to submit their thoughts electronically by emailing

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Just back from Washington DC. My flight landed at 1:00 am Thursday morning after a whirlwind trip. What an amazing experience it was. I will update this post but for now, this is what it was like to be in the crowd on that historic day:

Monday, January 19, 2009


Hi everybody back home in the good ol' East Foothills. I am writing this to you in a luxurious home in suburban Virginia where the temperature outside is about 20 degrees. I'm staying with National Hispanic University President Dr. David Lopez and his family and friends. What a time!
I left sunny California yesterday for a trip to witness history: the inauguration of Barack Obama as our nation's 44th President. I took off from SFO after hugs and kisses from my wife Julie and our three kids. My flight on United was packed. I changed planes in Chicago, and made the hop, skip and jump to DC aboard what seemed like the Obama Express: lots of people heading to the inaugural. The plane was packed with excited people: ladies in Obama sweatshirts, guys in Obama caps and everyone ready for a party! Arriving in DC at 9:30 local time, it was a madhouse at Dulles Airport. The place was packed with people very dressed up for the occasion. I saw many ladies in fur coats and men in suits and topcoats. I also saw one man being helped into his outerwear while sitting in a wheelchair. The man was wearing a cap signifying him as a member of an elite and dwindling group of pilots: The Tuskeegee Airmen. This was a group of African American World War II pilots who overcame severe racism and silenced doubters in their struggle to get their wings. They not only flew, but several became aces in dogfights against enemy pilots over Germany. I interviewed one of them last year at an event in Morgan Hill. One thing that will always stick with me is a statement the pilot made about what happened to him when he got shot down. He said the Germans treated him better as a prisoner of war than his fellow countrymen on the streets of Tuskeegee. Something to think about as we head into this historic week.