Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos
Who talked to
Ready for the "Parlor
Schuster speaks out
|Another Beam of Light for Alum Rock Community - Our new library|
|A Report On Academic Progress at JLHS by Joel Herrera, Co-Director|
|Regional Medical Center Progress?|
|The Crothers Road Firebreak Is Done, Finished, Completed!|
|Help Unseat U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo – Derail “Pombo’s Road”|
|Three Vie for Trustee Posts in ARUSD - Tanya Freudenberger fills empty seat|
|New NNV Series to Feature Treasure Trove of Old Neighborhood Lore|
|Grandpa Tony's Orchard - A poem by Lara Gularte|
|Notes from the Edge of the Literary Box by Schuster Thompson|
|Henninger Hill Farm - Paradise on Crothers Road, A photo story|
|Birders Flock to Alum Rock Park for Rare Sightings by Dorothy "D.J." Johnson - YSI|
|Funding Your Child's Education - Part 2, Prices continue to rise by Jason Papier|
|You Dig It?
|“When in Rome” - Another take on Las Delicias Restaurant by Robin Edwards|
|FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
The hubbub around the new Alum Rock Library site on June 21st was for a “beam signing” event. A group of library aficionados and supporters was invited by Councilmember Nora Campos and her staff to come and rub elbows (well, not literally since there was a shortage of hardhats) with the construction workers who were ready to place the final steel roof beam in its ultimate position.
But first, the guests were provided with fat marking pens and given the opportunity to write on the beam their best wishes for the library and its community. Diana Wilkerson Graham, a local PACT (People Acting in Community Together) leader cleverly summed up the sentiment of the occasion by penning, “Another beam of light for our community” – an indirect reference to the 2003 completion of the Alum Rock Youth Center up the street.
All eyes were trained on the beam as a crane lifted it high over the heads of the guests and gently placed it in its niche where it was secured. A cheer went up as the workmen finished the procedure. It was obvious that the workers appreciated being appreciated. To cement the good feelings of the day, Ms. Campos arranged for everyone to “break bread together” (pizza and soda, actually) before the group disbanded and the construction workers went back to their labors.
Click here for some photos from this event. And read the related FAQs below to see one of the effects the new library is having on the Village.
Great news! James Lick had some significant improvement with the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) administered in March 2004.
CAHSEE scores are used to calculate a portion of the Academic Performance Index (API). As you know, California uses the API to rank and compare schools. There is a wealth of information about the API on the California Department of Education (CDE) web site at http://api.cde.ca.gov/.
Academic Performance Index history for James Lick
Let's review a brief Academic Performance Index (API) history for James Lick.
• In 1999, James Lick had an API of 533. All schools have a growth target based on the most recent API.
• In 2000, we did not meet our growth target after earning the API of 518.
• In 2001, James Lick earned an API of 513, again not meeting the growth target.
• Based on the score of 513, the target score for 2002 was set at 527. However, once again James Lick fell short of the target by earning a 2002 API score of 524.
• Based on the score of 524, the 2003 target score to meet required growth was set at 538. In 2003, James Lick earned an API score of 523, once again not meeting the required growth target.
The calculation of the API has changed over the last few years. In 1999, the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) was not factored into the API. Beginning in 2002, the CAHSEE accounts for 15% of the API. Now in 2004, the CAHSEE continues to account for 15%, and the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program accounts for 85%. More information can be found at the CDE website mentioned above.
2004 California High School Exit Exam results for
Now, let's review a little information about the 2004 CAHSEE for James Lick. The following results are based on the students tested. Each year we test a certain group of students determined by the state. For example, in March 2004, we tested all 10th graders.
• In 2002, passing percentage for English-Language Arts (ELA) was 36%.
• In 2003, passing percentage for ELA was 42%.
• In 2004, passing percentage for ELA is 66%.
We are excited about the improvement from 42% to 66%! However, we are not satisfied with our passing percentage. In ELA, James Lick did climb out of the bottom when compared to other schools in the district. Two other ESUHSD schools had a lower passing percentage. We know and believe we can do better at James Lick.
• In 2002, passing percentage for math was 13%.
• In 2003, passing percentage for math was 25%.
• In 2004, passing percentage for math is 61%.
Excited, but not satisfied
Again, we are excited, but not satisfied. The most recent math passing percentage is a significant improvement of 36 percentage points! However, compared to other ESUHSD schools, we have the lowest passing percentage for math. Again, we believe we can do better at James Lick.
The good news is that the higher CAHSEE scores will have a positive impact on our 2004 API! We'll receive our new API in August when STAR results are released.
We know that we are on the road to improving the academic climate here at James Lick. A core group of students, teachers, and staff realize the sense of academic urgency needed to restore our desired level of academic performance. With the help of the entire James Lick community, we can achieve what we believe. Let's continue to believe we can improve our academic performance. We need to get as many people as possible working towards this end. Please keep us in mind and let us know how you can help! You can contact me at (408) 347-4559 or e-mail email@example.com.
Click here to read our recent NNV interview with Joel Herrera and see his photo.
The second Regional Medical Center Community Meeting was held on June 21, 2004, at MACSA across Jackson Avenue from the hospital site.
The content of the meeting and the content of this NNV report are the same – Very Low!
There was a brief review of the previous meeting and there were some comments on future meetings and on deadlines for comments on the Environmental Impact Report – but no new content at this meeting. Meeting attendees who asked for a summary of the EIR were summarily directed to the report itself – a thick, forbidding tome of hundreds of pages.
Councilmember Nora Campos was not at this meeting – nor was RMC CEO Bill Gilbert! Only a bird in a covered cage had useful comments (this is true – it was obviously not as quiet as the meeting planners planned). And many fewer people attended this meeting compared to the first meeting. How did they know this wasn’t going to be an important meeting? We sure didn’t!
As they discussed the schedules for various meetings for various purposes, we had the feeling that we were being “meetinged to death” (a well-known divide and conquer strategy).
Our conclusion is still the same (from our last meeting report, which has a lot more content).
“None of this is simple – the facilities downtown can’t be expanded easily and major earthquake retrofitting is needed. If the City forces HCA to expand and upgrade the downtown facilities, or another company takes it over, HCA will probably not expand Regional because these two facilities serve the same market, which can’t support two major hospitals. Both hospitals are losing money now ($38 million last year) so something has to be done soon. Basically, if the City and the residents don’t accept HCA’s plan, we won’t have any state-of-the-art hospitals nearby – either here or downtown.”
NNV still hopes to keep its readers apprised as opportunities for community input arise. Readers can contact project managers Rich Buikema at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 277-8551, or Deanna Chow at Deanna.email@example.com or (408) 277-8555 and Councilmember Nora Campos at District5@sanjoseca.gov or (408) 277-5157.
There are no photos from this meeting (since the bird was in a covered cage).
Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400
E.M.S. LLC, Environmental
Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
Windermere Silicon Valley
Properties, (408) 251-5860
Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, www.keithbush.org
The financial planning firm PW
Papier, (408) 747-1222
It’s really nice to be able to write about an important fire prevention project that has actually been done, finished and completed – rather than having to write about what needs to be done or what “might” get done a few years down the road.
And it’s even better when we can report that our local government agencies got something important accomplished during these times that we read so much about budget crises and what isn’t going to get done.
And when we can report that the City and the County, and lots of other people and agencies, all worked together to get it done – when it needed to be done – it’s a story that we seldom get to write.
What they did was to clear a firebreak along Crothers Road, on the south boundary of Alum Rock Park, from Alum Rock Avenue to Peacock Gap Drive. Clearing the brush and other flammable materials to make a firebreak helps protect the homes in the East Highlands (and thus East San Jose) from fires that originate in Alum Rock Park or the East Foothills above the Park.
To complicate a project like this, Crothers Road is the dividing line between the City and the unincorporated County areas along most of this firebreak. And part of this section of Crothers Road has been closed by a landslide for over five years. That makes it difficult for fire engines to maneuver safely in this area and also makes it difficult for the local agencies to focus to maintaining the firebreak.
The East Highlands residents have a lot of people to thank for the successful completion of this project.
Who can we thank for getting this done?
The credit for leading and organizing this project goes to Mike McClintock, the Supervisor of Alum Rock Park, and to Park Ranger Doug Colbeck, the Project Leader. In particular, when the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council was unable to get federal funding for this project, Mike figured out a way to do it with local manpower during these tight budget times. None of this is easy in an area like Alum Rock Park because there are endangered species in the Park and the City of San Jose is always concerned about the potential liability of people working there. Fortunately, this area of the Park is a long way from Penitencia Creek where the endangered species live so a detailed Environmental Impact investigation and report wasn’t required. And Mike had an idea for who could do the work under their existing contract with the City, which meant a new agreement wouldn’t be needed.
What’s the San Jose Conservation Corps and Charter School?
From the corps’ Web site: “Founded in 1987, the SJCC has provided more than 10,000 "at-risk" disadvantaged, young men and women (mostly minority) with the academic education, hands-on learning, and development of basic skills such as leadership, communication, computer literacy, and employment training needed to enter and succeed in the Silicon Valley skilled workforce.”
The Charter School “Provide(s) education opportunities for students to earn a High School Diploma or prepare for the G.E.D. exam” and they “offer high-quality vocational instruction and paid job training in the areas of Environmental Conservation projects and Community service.” Many of the 18-27 year-olds at SJCC come from the East Side of San Jose so they didn’t have far to go for this project.
What Was Proposition 12?
As SmartVoter.org explains, “This act provides two billion one hundred million dollars ($2,100,000,000) to protect land around lakes, rivers, and streams and the coast to improve water quality and ensure clean drinking water; to protect forests and plant trees to improve air quality; to preserve open space and farmland threatened by unplanned development; to protect wildlife habitats; and to repair and improve the safety of state and neighborhood parks.”
Most of the brush clearing was done by a crew from the San Jose Conservation Corps and Charter School. Bob MacFarlane worked with Mike to organize the project. A crew of eight from SJCC and their supervisor spent about ten days in mid-June clearing brush and trimming branches along the south edge of Alum Rock Park for this project. Sounds easy? Think about all the poison oak in the Park. Click here to see piles of the brush and other fuels on Crothers Road waiting to be removed.
Where did the money come from to pay for this? Remember Proposition 12 from the March, 2000 election? It’s nice to see some of this money spent in our area.
OK, now we’ve got big piles of stuff on Crothers Road. What happens to it? Mike and Doug arranged for Green Waste Recovery, through their contract with the City, to come and pick it up and the big piles were all gone by July 1. However, on Saturday, July 3, City of San Jose crews were picking up more piles of brush and hauling old tires out of the area by the Lions Den (which is in the Park just off Crothers Road between Miradero and Peacock Gap Drive).
Meanwhile, the County, thanks to Alan Jones and Ron Neal of the Santa Clara County Roads and Airports Department, took care of the grass and weeds below the retaining wall on the south side of the closed section of Crothers Road to widen the firebreak in this area (that part is County property). And Mike arranged for the weeds to be cut near the corner of Miradero and Alta Vista Way (that part is within the City limits even though it is on the south side of Crothers Road).
The San Jose Fire Department, which is responsible for the fire protection in both the City and County areas near here, was also an important part of this project. Chief Jose Luna from Fire Station 2 on Alum Rock Avenue worked with Mike to be sure the firebreak would meet their recommendations, particularly near the Lions Den. This is one of the most fire-prone areas on this side of the Park where a fire could jump Crothers Road and go up the “chimney chute” to the hills to the south. Chief Luna says he’s “much more comfortable” bringing fire engines on this part of Crothers Road from Miradero to Peacock Gap Drive now that he has more defensible space to work with. The SJFD has recently updated their plans to fight fires and protect the homes in this area.
And some of the neighbors “chipped in” to do their part. Click here to see Ralph Purdy’s chipper where he is working on the south side of Crothers Road. Other property owners have also cleared their side of the road. These are good examples of what individual property owners need to do in this area. Ralph is interested in this because he remembers a major fire in the Park about 20 years ago. Click here to see the photo if you missed it in the last edition.
So how long does it take to organize a project like this? The plan for this project started about two years ago when Mike Will was the Alum Rock Park Supervisor and started talking to the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council about it. Both the CDF and the San Jose Fire Department were involved from the beginning (the CDF envisions this as part of a series of firebreaks which go around San Jose and the other major population areas in Santa Clara County to protect the most populated areas from fires starting in the hills on either side of Santa Clara Valley). The work on this section means we now have a reasonably good firebreak along Crothers Road from Alum Rock Avenue all the way to Mount Hamilton Road. The section from Peacock Gap Drive to Mt. Hamilton Road was already in much better shape because so much of it is in open areas with wider clearances on each side of the road and it doesn’t have the heavy fuels that were in the lower part of Crothers Road.
But the real credit goes to ARP Supervisor Mike McClintock for finding a way to get this project done. A word of thanks to him or the rangers would be appropriate the next time you are in the Park. For them, the first priority each year is to maintain the firebreaks on the more fire-prone north side of the Park (where the sun shines on the hills more directly and there is more danger of the fire burning uphill). They also did a lot of work on that side of the Park this year, including grading the road to Eagle Rock so fire engines can get up to the homes above the Park in that area. Pat Congdon, the General Manager of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (which owns the Boccardo Trail area above the Park) says he really appreciates the work Mike has organized in and around the Park this year. Pat is also the current President of the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council.
Those of us on the south side of the Park appreciate the work on our side and can sleep a bit easier this fire season knowing that a major firebreak project has been completed.
Click here to see photos of the firebreak project. Yes, we know there are still a few piles of brush to be picked up and that the firebreak will have to be maintained each year, but, for now, let's celebrate what has been done!
Not surprisingly, it appears that U.S. Representative Richard Pombo (R-Tracy) has made himself persona non grata with a bunch of other folks besides us East San Joseans. Mr. Pombo is the man who would like to build his six-lane highway over and through the Mount Hamilton Range into our neighborhood and seems to be blindered to the fact that there is a large community of people here whose lives and properties would be forever impacted – negatively to say the least.
Late in June, NNV received a forwarded message which explains that there are serious plans afoot to unseat Pombo who has been termed an “eco-thug” by the Sierra Club. While prying Pombo loose from his seat in the House of Representatives will be an uphill battle, Carolyn Curtis, who wrote the message, assures us that political change is happening. We East-siders who would be affected drastically by Pombo’s Road certainly have a stake in defeating Pombo even if we don’t vote in his district or necessarily consider ourselves kindred conservationists with Ms. Curtis.
In the message, you will see mention of July 1st as a goal date for supporting anti-Pombo candidate Dr. Jerry McNerney. Of course that date is past, but it’s not too late to help.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carolyn L. Curtis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 10:57 PM
Subject: defeat Pombo?
I'm sending this email to fellow conservationists who I hope will join me in supporting Jerry McNerney's campaign to defeat Richard Pombo for the 11th Congressional District seat. I don't need to tell you what a disaster Pombo is for the Endangered Species Act & other environmental matters locally and nationwide.
Most of us aren't in the 11th Council District, but it's right next door, & it's a race where we can make a difference. We are only eleven seats away from retaking the House. Dr. Gerald (Jerry) McNerney is a noted expert on alternative energy, including wind power. He is of course dedicated to environmental protection and to international cooperation. For a look at his positions, see www.jerrymcnerney.org.
You might have heard about McNerney's unprecedented win as a write-in candidate; he organized that in two weeks. This is an energetic candidate who means to win, this is no token bid. Throughout the Bay Area activists (lots of Dean & Clark supporters especially) are volunteering to work on this priority campaign. This is THE race in northern California. Please get on his email list, he sends excellent, informative messages, about once a week. You can also e-mail at http://www.jerrymcnerney.org/volunteer.asp to help. Besides the main office in Stockton, the campaign has opened an office in Pleasanton.
Incumbent Richard Pombo is Northern California's worst Congressman, financially backed by the oil and energy companies (including El Paso which joined Enron in the California ripoff) and is rated Zero by organizations for women's rights, NEA, environmental protection, retirees, AFSCME, SEIU, postal workers, and AAUW. He'd like to make Hwy 130 a six-lane highway, right through endangered plant habitat. The Sierra Club has called Pombo an "eco-thug."
The 11th CD is gerrymandered as a majority Republican district (39% Dem-46% Rep); however, its demographics are changing. When I table every weekend in our county I see people reregistering Democratic. In Marin County, a group of Republicans raised $80,000 for Kerry at a fundraiser last month. Stephanie Herseth won in South Dakota, which has a 10-point spread in favor of Republicans. People all across the US agree that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Change is in the air. Just look at the success of Fahrenheit 9/11, including in Army base towns.
The immediate goal is to raise $100,000 for McNerney before July 1, the next reporting date. This will give a powerful running start to this grassroots campaign, and prove to the party leaders that Dr. McNerney warrants high-priority support. Don & I have contributed to this campaign & will do so again. The campaign is hoping for an average contribution of $100, but any amount is welcome. To contribute online go to http://tinyurl.com/38f4p. Or print out the webpage, fill it out, & send it with a check to McNerney for Congress, P. O. Box 692407, Stockton, CA 95269-2407 .
- get on Jerry's email list: www.jerrymcnerney.org
- contribute: http://tinyurl.com/38f4p
- help out in the campaign: http://www.jerrymcnerney.org/volunteer.asp
Feel free to share this message.
co-chair, Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley
formerly active in California Native Plant Society (state & local), Friends of Edgewood Natural Preserve, etc.
Questions on Pombo Family real estate interests?
On the same topic, an NNV reader sent us the following message in mid-June. It covers some of the same material that was bandied about in February of 2003, when Pombo’s Road first came to light in the Mercury News, but we figure that it will be news to some of our newer readers.
“One point which I haven’t seen emphasized is the Pombo family’s real estate interests. I understand that they are extensive and he and his family would stand to profit handsomely if the new freeway were constructed. The Central Valley land in the general area of the proposed freeway would appreciate significantly because housing prices would appreciate in proportion to the relative ease of access to Silicon Valley jobs. Commercial property, serving the growing population, would also escalate. While I do not know the full extent of the Pombo family holdings, they should be investigated in detail. With those substantiated, the media could expose the real motivation behind Rep. Pombo’s enthusiasm for another freeway.”
Click here to read our previous story on Pombo's Road. Click here to see an illustration of the proposed road.
There was an overflow crowd in the board room at the district office of the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District on July 15th when three would-be school board candidates faced the current trustees for a two-hour grilling on the “hot seat.” The immediate mission of the specially called meeting was to fill the seat of resigned trustee, Adriana Garza, until elections can be held in November.
Trustees Jason Rodriguez, Kim Mesa and Lalo Morales led by board president, Esau Herrera, bombarded potential trustees Tanya Freudenberger, Darcie Green and John Leyba with challenging questions aimed at understanding the candidates’ reasons for running for this elective office, their backgrounds, their level of commitment to the district and their knowledge of the workings of a school district. District Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Anaya sat among the trustees, but did not participate in the questioning.
Tanya Freudenberger, an area parent and veteran volunteer whose commitment to the community verges on “professional volunteer” status clearly demonstrated a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the school district. She told the board members that, because her youngest child is off to college this fall, she has the “time and energy” to do a good job on the board and that community relations are a special priority of hers. She loves “to hear what people have to say” – probably a reflection of her many years with PACT (People Acting in Community Together) which specializes in listening to people to understand the concerns of the community.
Darcie Green is a 22 year old woman who has dedicated herself for many years to act as a role model in the community. She has worked for numerous and varied causes, including in Joe Coto’s recent Assembly campaign and has helped others in public office. She cites “pride in the neighborhood” as a driving force for her enthusiasm for volunteering. She contends that her youth allows her to understand the problems in local schools from a student’s point of view. Darcie pointed out that “respect and trust” must flow between the board members and the Superintendent of Schools and vice versa.
John Leyba is a recent graduate of Dartmouth College who has returned to San Jose with a passion for change and sees the need for a “tremendous far-reaching vision” for the district. He suggested “structural change” for board meetings and pointed out that meetings sometimes go on until as late as 12:15 AM. He would like to see ARUSD operate like “high functioning districts” such as Palo Alto. He said that “people need to know that they are the owners of the schools, districts, etc.” He pointed out that “neighborhoods aren’t yet ‘owning’ their school.” John says that he’ll bring budget expertise to the board and ruefully cited the fact that the district had to spend $815,000 for legal fees for the 2003-04 school year!
All three candidates were quick to point out the many strengths of the district (for instance, two California distinguished elementary schools, a fine music program) when asked by one of the interrogators.
After the candidates expounded and defended their positions for about two hours, Trustee Jason Rodriguez made a motion that Tanya Freudenberger be appointed to fill the vacant trustee seat. Trustees Morales and Mesa seconded the motion. Trustee Herrera discussed candidate Green’s merits and suggested that she would fill the vacancy well. Trustee Morales commended John Leyba for his detailed knowledge of the district and his willingness to speak the truth. However, when the vote was taken, all four trustees voted unanimously for Ms. Freudenberger.
The next school board election will be held in November. At that time Freudenberger, Green, Leyba and Morales will presumably all be running for three seats on the board.
Click here to see photos of Tanya Freudenberger and John Leyba at another recent event.
(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)
--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information
Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: JudyET@NNVESJ.org Fax: (408) 272-4040
E-mail subscriptions are free. Your ideas and comments are always welcome.
To Subscribe: E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org with "Subscribe" in the Subject line.
To Unsubscribe: E-mail JudyET@NNVESJ.org with "Unsubscribe" in the Subject line.
Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.
Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson. All rights reserved. Updated 7/30/04.