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    Commentary: Why Albany Needs an Open Container Ordinance

    March 9th, 2010

    By Jordan Sampietro

    Would you be surprised to learn that drinking alcoholic beverages on the streets and sidewalks of Albany is legal? People are legally able to stroll down Solano Avenue or walk by a school with a beer or Jack Daniels whiskey in hand. According to the Albany Police, our city lacks something called an Open Container Ordinance which would make drinking in public illegal. All of the cities that surround Albany have Open Container Ordinances in place: Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, and Richmond. One police officer I spoke with said Albany may be the only city left in Northern California that doesn’t have an ordinance.

    The City of Albany’s Social and Economic Justice Commission will be considering an Open Container Ordinance at its meeting March 10 at 7 p.m. at City Hall on San Pablo Avenue.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Transition Albany hosts climate change film

    March 5th, 2010

    Information submitted by Miya Kitahara

    A small band of Albany residents has formed “Transition Albany,” one chapter in a growing global movement to foster community resilience in the face of climate change and related challenges of peak oil use and the economic crisis. (visit www.transitionalbany.org)

    Transition Albany is the 59th official Transition Initiative in the United States, according to Transition US. The Transition Movement represents one of the most promising ways of engaging people in strengthening theircommunities against the effects of these challenges, resulting in a life that is more abundant, fulfilling, equitable and socially connected, Transition US says.

    This coming weekend, Transition Albany is showing the acclaimed 2008 British independent docu-drama on climate change, “The Age of Stupid,” at Albany’s movie theater on Solano Avenue, on Sunday, March 7th at 11:30 am.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    City looks at dog issues at Albany Waterfront

    August 9th, 2009

    By Caryl O’Keefe

    Albany waterfront visitors, and those who might be visitors if conditions were different, will have a chance soon to offer suggestions concerning dogs on the publicly-owned 88 acres at the waterfront.

    The City of Albany’s Waterfront Committee (WC) on July 27 voted to ask City staff to provide a report of conditions and issues related to dogs at the waterfront. This vote followed extensive discussion of a report prepared by committee member Francesco Papalia. Papalia researched waterfront conditions by interviewing park visitors onsite this spring. He concluded that Albany’s waterfront is “a de facto off-leash dog park without any enforcement of any rules.” (read Papalia’s report at These public parklands are contiguous, with few boundary markers, so Papalia’s report encouraged coordinated rules for an ordinance.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Letter from Albany resident on green living

    July 11th, 2009

    By Catherine Sutton

    Dear fellow Albany residents,

    I want to invite you to join me on a very important project, to start a “Transition Albany Initiative.”

    When I was in England this Spring I saw a premier of the movie Age of Stupid and vowed to put my best energy this year into moving as many people as I could influence towards a lifestyle that would begin to lessen our effect on global warming and climate change.

    A few weeks later I discovered Transition US and took a Training for Transition in Oakland with 35 other people of all ages and demographics. I brought away a lot of good information about the seriousness of the triple threat of Climate Change, Peak Oil and economic insecurity, and, most important, on a positive way to look at the opportunities they present in our very own communities. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany joins East Bay Green Corridor

    July 8th, 2009

    By Barbara Grady

     The City of Albany has joined the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership, which should open the way for Albany to participate in the green jobs creation and green business recruitment that its neighboring cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and Richmond pursue.

     Joining should also help Albany to benefit from $76 million in federal Stimulus money awarded to the Partnership for weatherization, green job training, bio-energy research and carbon capture endeavors.

     “We are a small city,” without the space or clout to attract large businesses, said Albany Mayor Marge Atkinson. “But by leveraging strengths with the other cities and sharing information,” Albany can participate and benefit by the burgeoning green economic activity, she said.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany residents petition City to act on nuisance houses

    June 8th, 2009

    Albany resident Mindi Ritzman and Jennifer Dyment wrote the letter below to urge city officials to solve the problems with two dilapidated houses on their block:

    “We live on the 900 block of Jackson Street, which contains two abandoned houses – 947 and 953 Jackson Street. Over the years individuals in our neighborhood have asked the city – Community Development Director, Building Manager, City Attorney, Council Members, and other city staff – for help in correcting these problems. Unfortunately, all of our individual requests have been disregarded. So we created a petition to ask, as a large group of residents affected daily by these properties, that our elected officials on the City Council simply do what is outlined in Chapters 12 & 18 of the Municipal Code. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: A new vision for the waterfront comes out of your participation

    May 1st, 2009

    Albany Mayor Marge Atkinson and Vice Mayor Joanne Wile wrote the following letter responding to the commentary Albany’s public funds should not be used on a disappearing waterfront published on Albany Today earlier this week.

    “Both of us, along with all the members of the City Council, have supported a visioning process, so that we can hear everyone’s ideas, including those who think we should do nothing.”

    Dear Readers of Albany Today:

    We are glad to see that Albany’s “Voices to Vision” community visioning process with Fern Tiger Associates is already generating ideas.  We respect Mr. Barnes and Mr. Blanchard, the authors of the latest opinion piece in Albany Today, about this planning process.  We hope that they will participate in the community meetings in their neighborhoods and express their ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary:Albany’s public funds should not be used on a disappearing waterfront

    April 26th, 2009

    Charlie Blanchard and Michael Barnes, two former members on the Albany School Board, wrote the following opinion article on the waterfront issue. They warn about the risk of high tides flooding the Albany Waterfront and oppose using the city’s  public funds to develop the land.

    “As Albany residents,the two of us do not want our tax dollars spent to acquire and upgrade land for parks that will soon  be submerged. And we certainly wouldn’t want to live there, either.”

    The controversy surrounding the Albany waterfront is presented as a choice between two opposing positions — commercial development or parkland. But these two positions are not really so different. They are both models of development. Read the rest of this entry »

    Donation needed for emergency supplies at Albany High School

    January 27th, 2009

    Keng Lam, a student at Albany High School, wrote the article below calling for donation from the community to help the school purchase emergency supplies. Lam is also  President of the Red Cross Club at the school.

    It was eight o’clock at night. I looked through the emergency classroom bag inventory sheets filled out by the Albany High faculty members. I sighed. None of the sheets showed satisfactory results for the emergency classroom bags. Some bags were missing non-aspirin, while others were missing bandages. None of the emergency classroom bags were ready for disasters. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary:The value of adding instructional minutes is very questionable

    December 14th, 2008

    Boardmember Miriam Walden of the Albany Unified School District wrote a commentary on Albany Today explaining her ideas on issues related to the staggered reading program:

    There are really three issues being discussed.  First, no board member denies the value of small group reading instruction. I personally believe this program is enormously valuable. Second, the value of adding instructional minutes, which I personally believe is very questionable – more minutes does not necessarily mean more learning. We have not yet received an evaluation of the impact of the additional minutes that we added to the 1-3 grade schedules this fall. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: Isn’t the change worthwhile for the sake of our children’s education?

    December 13th, 2008

    Bori Ha, a junior at Albany High School, commented on the controversy over staggered school schedule:

    If I can remember correctly, I was a late bird all throughout 1st to 3rd grade at Ocean View Elementary School. But I had two luxuries 10 years ago that some elementary students don’t have now: a stay-at-home mom and a stable economy. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: “What a mess we avoided here in Albany”

    December 6th, 2008

    Albany resident Bill Dann wrote an article commenting on the latest news of the possible ownership handover of the Golden Gate Fields racetrack:

    The Berkeley Daily Planet front page headline reports: “Golden Gate Fields for Sale as Magna Reorganizes.” It was only a few short weeks ago that GGF was reassuring us that the property was not up for sale.  That may or may have not been true back then, but it’s surely wrong today. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: Who will be the next mayor of Albany?

    November 27th, 2008
    Albany resident Mac McCurdy wrote an article below commenting on the recent City Council election:

    The recent election results appear to reflect a surprising change in voter sentiment since 2006. As most of you know, candidate Peggy Thomsen received the most votes, followed by Farid Javandel, with incumbent mayor Robert Lieber coming in third. But a further analysis may tell us a bit more about the temper of Albany voters than we’ll learn by simply looking at individual results. I’ll try to address that here and also consider the question of who will be the next mayor of Albany when the new council is formed. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: The trust between a teacher and her students has been broken beyond repair

    November 21st, 2008
    The article below is written by Bori Ha, a junior at Albany High School who used to be in Kay Sorg‘s class:

    The bond of trust between a teacher and a student is something that cannot be easily formed. It is often impeded by the pupil’s inability to receive information or the lack of communication between the two people. A teacher must give enough of herself in order for the student to have confidence and feel comfortable in learning,  but she must also protect the student by drawing lines in their relationship. It is a difficult equilibrium but once balanced, the trust between the teacher and the student can last a lifetime.         Read the rest of this entry »

    Ellen Toomey: “I’ve learned to trust the connections we’ve created”

    November 5th, 2008

    Ellen Toomey, one of the candidates who did not prevail in the City Council election, wrote an inspiring artcle on her thoughts at the election result and ideas for solidarity in the community:   

    “I am celebrating the awesome victory of Barack Obama. On the local front, the Albany City Council was INCREDIBLY close, between all six candidates. I, alas, did not prevail.

    Conventional wisdom held the day — two seats were won by the two incumbents, with the third seat (and highest vote count) going to a well-known, long-time candidate re-entering city council. The closeness of the race plus other factors were in no way conventional, though! Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: What Albany needs, a second visioning process!

    October 30th, 2008

    Albany resident Mac McCurdy commented on the city’s budget transparency and financial viability in the article below:

    Those who follow Albany issues are well aware of the $600,000 waterfront “visioning” exercise which is currently underway. But there is another visioning process that is far more critical to the future of Albany.  Take a little quiz:

    What does the city currently spend in a year to “run” Albany? Where does our money come from? How is this money spent? Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: The Sierra Club as a Political Organization

    October 17th, 2008

    Albany resident Karen McKeown wrote the article below criticizing Sierra Club’s political role in local elections, in response to the Commentary: Here’s why I plan to vote for Lieber, Panian and Toomey.

     “How self-serving of Ms. Wishner to publicize her support of Sierra Club candidates for Albany City Council without disclosing that she was a member of the Sierra Club committee that interviewed Council candidates for inclusion on its slate. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: Here’s why I plan to vote for Lieber, Panian and Toomey

    October 16th, 2008

    Albany resident Nan Wishner wrote an opinion article on the current City Council election: 

    “Here’s why I plan to vote for Robert Lieber, Leo Panian, and Ellen Toomey for Albany City Council:

    Robert Lieber has a solid list of environmental and progressive accomplishments from his four-year term, including leading both the Albany City Council and the mayors of Alameda County to take a strong stand opposing aerial pesticide spraying of the Bay Area for the light brown apple moth (LBAM). If not for Lieber’s courage and vocal leadership on this issue, we would already have been enduring airplanes spraying pesticides over our homes for as long as eight months. As Chair of the City’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Task Force, I worked closely with Lieber on this issue and saw firsthand his ability to speak out effectively, persuade those who disagreed, communicate to the media the urgency of the threat, and get results. Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: A City Council of One

    October 16th, 2008

    Albany resident Mac McCurdy wrote an opinion article on the City Council leadership and the election:

    “Let’s start with a look back at the last election:

    In 2006 the Atkinson/Wile team received 6538 votes while O’keefe and Papalia received 4774. That’s roughly a 58% to 42% split and represented a clear rejection of the Caruso development proposal by the majority of Albany voters. But it also showed that a substantial minority of voters had an interest in seeing a development plan make it as far as a measure C vote, where all the voters in Albany could express their sentiments on a complete and detailed proposal. Caruso’s last proposal did include 17 acres of park along the waterfront (roughly 17 football fields in size). Read the rest of this entry »

    Commentary: Special Education Program shouldn’t be cut back

    March 4th, 2008

    Albany resident Sabine Geiger, mother of a special education child,  has recently written a letter to Principal Ted Barone of Albany High School on the teacher layoff incident.  She sent the letter to Albany Today for circulation among members of the community.  

    Dear Mr. Barone,

    I was shocked when I heard a few days ago that you decided to release the three teachers in the resource department.  I also heard that your reason was that the way the resource department had been structured up to now, does not fit your vision of Albany High School.  It is very sad for me as the parent of a resource student to hear this… Read the rest of this entry »