New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 29 - Section 1

September 4, 2005

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos - More photos are in Section 2

JLHS Principal
Bill Rice


A tour of the
new City Hall

CM Campos and
Francis Zamora

Old fire gear at
the new City Hall


Dennis Nahat


Alum Rocks Again

The Jazz
Alumni Band

On the piano

And the



RMC's Sajit


"Soft Opening"

Nice seating

And mannequins

What more
could we want?


Grand Prix car
at Antipastos

Joe Leonard
and Dan Gentile

And the SJGP winner is ...

Rafiki's Coffee
Hut in Africa

Liesl and Luke



New monument
for Frankie


Carol Schultz
at Calvary in '93

Newsletter Headlines

bulletAdministration Adjustment at James Lick High School – Again!
bulletAvoiding the Sound of Silence at James Lick - Please help the Music Program
bullet“Clean Money, Fair Elections” – Yes, it could be done! by Craig Dunkerley
bulletNNV Takes Guided Tour of San Jose’s New City Hall with “Aide de Campos”
bulletMt. Hamilton Neighbor, Dennis Nahat, Announces New Ballet Season from Lee Kopp
bulletAlum Rocks Again - Great jazz, fine barbeque, enthusiastic audience by John Leyba
bulletThe Ultimate Film Challenge - Eastside neighbor produces “Cut to the Chase” in 48 hours
bulletNew COO at Regional Medical Center Oversees Hospital Expansion by Ben Stephenson
bulletEastridge “Soft” Opening was Soft all right! First steps towards the New Eastridge
bulletSan Jose Grand Prix Up-Close and Personal - Report to NNV Readers by Dan Gentile
bulletJambo! Habari aku? Greetings from Kenya, Africa and Rafikis Coffee Hut by Liesl Violante
bulletCalvary Cemetery Part III - History is being kept alive and well with TLC from loving staff
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletStrong Neighbor Turn Out for McKee/Vista Question - Auto Care Center Proposal Nixed
bulletLibrary System Adds Sunday Hours - CARL will be open every day of the week
bulletCounty Historical Heritage Commission “Scoping” Meeting Draws Few
bulletRichard Brown’s Alum Rock Photo of the Month - Indian Paintbrush
bulletSix South American Orphans “Camp” in San Jose by Ed Solis
bulletOn the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue: Chantilly Lace Shadow – Serendipitous discovery
bulletOn the Road – McKee Road: Squeaky wheel neighbors get results at Quality Tune-Ups
bulletKristin Henny, Lead Teacher at LUCHA School Honored - ARUSD “Small Schools”
bulletDecember Faire Planned for JLHS - Athletic Booster Club invites artists, crafters ... You!
bulletDuplexex? For Renta? Fascinating example of evolving language in Alum Rock Village
bulletEast San Jose Reads! Annual Community Literacy Event from Yenda Prado
bulletKnight Foundation Funds Ballet Scholarships - To enhance Valley’s cultural life
bulletDeckers’ Wonderful Home Open Again in October for YSI - Generous benefactors host
bulletFree-form Art Installation at Old Country Club Bus Stop - Masterpiece of color and form
bulletGoats on the Boccardo Trail reduce invasive plants and wildfire fuel by Charlotte Lewis
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletSeptember Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bulletSummer Favorites - California Native Plants thrive in East San Jose by Arvind Kumar
bulletCNPS Fall Native Plant Sale - Natives for stunning spring displays from Arvind Kumar
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletWho painted the letters and decorative shapes on the concrete “East Highlands” sign?
bulletWho is ARNC and what do they do besides paint large objects in the neighborhood?
bulletWhen will the parking lot for the new Alum Rock library be completed?
bulletWhat’s the need for rezoning at Foothill Presbyterian Church on McKee Road?
bulletWho’s responsible for the new blacktop in the Linda Vista Elementary parking area?
bulletWhen will the Mountain Mike’s Pizza Open? Where Alum Rock Florist used to be.
bulletDoes anyone know what businesses will be at the old barbecue place on White Road?

Other Sections:  Letters to the Editor  Deer Resistant Plants  Community Bulletin Board  NNV Archives

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Administration Adjustment at James Lick High School – Again!

“Three Amigos” finish their work – Principal Bill Rice now in charge

A little more than eighteen months ago then-superintendent of schools for the East Side Union High School District, Esperanza Zendejas, did a major shake-out of the administrators at most of the district’s high schools. At James Lick High, she transferred out the principal, Bernardo Olmos, and brought in three new administrators to share the task of “restructuring” the school. Each of the new leaders had been comfortably ensconced at other schools and transfer to troubled Lick was not something that had ever crossed their mind.

Rick Esparza, Joel Herrera and Bill Rice manfully took up the challenge early in 2004 – in mid school year. They were “co-directors” who divided up the administrative responsibilities according to their experience and strengths. All long-time professional educators, the three men took stock of the facilities, staff and students and vowed to do everything in their power to bring Lick High School “Achievement and Success – Nothing Less.”

They knew at the outset that their assignment would last eighteen months, but until very recently they did not know who would ultimately be the principal of Lick High – one of them or none of them! As of July 1st, Bill Rice is officially it. Joel Herrera and Rick Esparza will continue in vice principal positions for the near future.

About a month before NNV interviewed Bill in mid-August, he had a grievous bicycle accident during a vacation in the Northwest. Despite wheezing breathlessly due to several broken ribs and a punctured lung, he enthusiastically enumerated Lick’s recent successes and outlined his strategy for the 2005-2006 school year. Talking was difficult for him, but his enormous passion for the challenge at Lick allowed him to overcome his limitations and spend more than an hour discoursing on his favorite topic.

He says with obvious pride, “The school has changed enormously in the last eighteen months!” He is truly proud of the positive trends and he quoted statistics from memory. He said that, even with the No Child Left Behind Act still impacting enrollment, this year only 96 families of potential freshmen decided not to send their children to Lick. Last year, 151 families opted away from Lick because of the school’s low performance. Last year there was just one section of 9th grade geometry and only twenty students were in it. This year there are three sections with fifty-seven kids! Last year there was just one section of Honors English class. Fourteen kids were in it. This year there are two sections with thirty-five kids enrolled.

Something wonderful is at hand for Lick’s music program! The previous band teacher has moved out of the area and will no longer be available to teach at Lick. Bill Rice was totally ecstatic when he described the illustrious newly hired music teacher. A graduate of Boston University who holds a Masters degree in Music Education, flutist Tomoko Nakajima has joined the staff and will teach choir as well. She’ll have forty kids in the band program compared with last year’s twenty-six! See below for how you can help if you have musical instruments in your closets that are not being used.

Bill Rice is a man with a plan. He has designated this school year as “The Year of the Teacher” at James Lick. His vision is that the school can be improved by improving the quality of teaching. He said, “This school could fix itself if every kid had six good teachers!” and he’s sure that even the most effective teachers are capable of improvement. To accomplish his vision, he proposes a three part strategy. First and most important is “being very selective about hiring new staff.” Second, and no doubt most sensitive, is “being very direct with the current staff” and giving those who need it every opportunity to improve – or suggesting that they consider career changes to something they do better.

Third is evaluation and staff development. “Teachers will all be given release time from their classes to observe their peers at work. Some of our teachers have never observed another of our teachers at work,” he said with chagrin. His goal is to have all 39 teachers released to see other teachers teach. They will learn from one another’s strengths and shortcomings.

All teachers must teach to state standards. He says that it’s important for all the teachers to learn to use effective “instructional sets” – for instance to begin each class period by with a tightly structured first five minutes which set the tone and inspire learning.

During our interview there was a great din of background noise competing with Bill’s poor compromised voice. Not only is there grading work going on at the athletic fields, but the main administration and counseling building is being totally gutted and renovated. It would not be an exaggeration to say that mayhem reigns, but after more than fifty years of service, the old building is shabby and ready for a concentrated face-lift thanks to Measure G funds. Also on tap are new boys’ and girls’ locker rooms associated with the gymnasium. The gym itself will have its floor sanded and re-striped and new lighting will be installed. Next year the front entrance area will be revamped and re-landscaped. This school year should see marked improvement inside and out.

Click here for photos.

NNV Note: Because results of this year’s High School Exit Exam were in the offing, we asked Bill Rice’s take on the controversial test. Although he’s not a great advocate of standardized testing, he feels that this exam can make sure the high school diploma does mean something. He added, “The test is do-able if kids are paying attention.” Apparently Lick kids have not been paying enough attention so far. The recent results were most disappointing. Bill is probably cogitating now on strategy to redouble the effort. If it can be done, Bill Rice will do it.

Avoiding the Sound of Silence at James Lick
Do you have musical instruments or accessories to donate?
Are you a piano accompanist?

The music program at James Lick has grown nicely the past two years, and now it is under new leadership. Music Director, Tomoko Nakajima, was hired one week before school started. She is charged with continuing the growth of the program and improving the quality. Ms. Nakajima has rolled up her sleeves and begun the work in earnest.

However, she has run into a slight obstacle - several of her band students do not own their own instruments. In middle school, students borrow the instruments from the school, but in high school the students are expected to own or rent their instruments. Ms. Nakajima would like to provide instruments for all of her musicians to use and wants to build an inventory of instruments for the future. The large instruments such as drum sets, electronic keyboards, tubas, trombones, bass clarinets, saxophones, etc. are particularly needed.

If readers have musical instruments in their closets that are not being used, James Lick will happily put them to use. There are 47 students signed up to take guitar, but more than half the students do not own a guitar. The school owns four guitars and will have to purchase more. If you have a band instrument, guitar or keyboard that is just collecting dust, why not drop it off at James Lick’s music room or principal’s office? The music program will also gladly accept tax deductible money donations and could use accessories like music stands, stereo system parts, microphones, sound cables and music notation software. Please contact Bill Rice at (408) 347-4430, E-mail, or Tomoko Nakajima at (650) 575-5046, E-mail, if you can help. Ms. Nakajima is also hoping to find someone who would love to play piano for their "intimate" and enthusiastic choir.

Strike up the band!

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“Clean Money, Fair Elections” – Yes, it could be done!

We could kiss “special interest groups” good-bye for $5.50 a year

By Craig Dunkerley

Wouldn’t it be great if our elected officials really listened to our wants and needs and were more accountable to voters? And what if the political playing field was more level so that people with good ideas could run for office without having to be rich or powerful already?

If that sounds good to you, you’re not alone. And you could be from virtually any political party. The desire for more fair and more accountable government crosses all political lines. This is a decidedly non-partisan issue.

Fortunately there’s a sensible, inexpensive and proven way to encourage all these things: Public Financing for Political Campaigns … sometimes called “Clean Money.” I’m a volunteer with California Clean Money (, a non-profit, non-partisan group working to bring this proven system to California. A bill to do this is now before the Assembly, AB 583.

The idea is simple. Whoever pays for a candidate’s campaign is who they’re going to owe their allegiance to. The good news is that while there are thousands of special interest groups, there are millions of us voters. We actually have the advantage of numbers; all we need to do is use it. And it’s a lot cheaper for each of us to chip in a little (about $5.50 per year!) to take back our government than it is to forfeit that government to the special interest groups who essentially own it now. With that small amount from each of us, all candidates who qualify and agree to accept no private funds could have their primary and general election campaigns completely funded. At California Clean Money we think $5.50 a year per voter is a very reasonable amount to invest in good government.

In addition, as the halls of government fill up with Clean Money candidates, the cost of governing goes down and the Clean Money system actually pays for itself many times over. This is because there are far fewer expensive special interest projects and tax loopholes designed to benefit the few that make their way into law. Government is much more cost effective if everyone is paying their fair share, and no one is getting special favors.

And we’re not talking about some weird experiment. It’s already working in Arizona and Maine and it’s coming soon to Connecticut. The overwhelming consensus among voters and candidates who have tried it is that the new system works much better…and the cost savings are real.

Incumbents and new candidates say they love being able to spend more time courting voters and less time “dialing for dollars.” And once they get elected, they can do what they honestly think benefits the voters without worrying about offending any special interest group.

Voters love it too. They end up with an elected representative who’s more accountable to them and less vulnerable to the pay-to-play politics that undermines our current system.

I’m very excited to be working on something with such a large potential to help all Californians of all political stripes. If you’d like more information or would like to pitch in, just go to, or call me, Craig, at (408) 929-3865.

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NNV Takes Guided Tour of San Jose’s New City Hall with “Aide de Campos”

Report to NNV readers from the Eastsider point of view

During the week of the City Council’s first meeting in their brand new chambers, Councilmember Nora Campos’ Communications and Events Coordinator, Francis Zamora, made an enticing invitation to your editor to come on down and see the City’s new digs. He rightly supposed that we wanted to see for ourselves and give a report to our New Neighborhood Voice readers on just what hath been wrought between South Fourth and South Sixth Streets on East Santa Clara Street.

So, following the NNV weekly jaunt downtown to the San Pedro Square Farmers’ Market on Friday, August 12th, we took Francis up on the offer. His instructions were very clear and precise so we knew to enter the underground parking via the 6th Street entrance. There were extremely patient and friendly folks at the top of the ramp and at the bottom of the ramp. It was duck soup getting parked and finding the elevators to the lofty white lobby. There, a helpful information lady pointed out the elevators which take people up in the office tower and specifically to the 18th (top) floor where the councilmembers and the mayor have their offices.

While waiting about five minutes for Francis to appear, we took a gander out the windows looking north where we could see planes descending and taking off at the Norm. Another set of windows gives a birds-eye view of the top of the still-in-progress big dome below the tower and provides a good look at downtown San Jose with the ornate old Bank of America Building holding down the center of the tableau.

Francis appeared with his ready smile and politely helped to identify the buildings east of City Hall on the grounds of San Jose State for a curious citizen who just happened to be on floor 18 hoping to see “what (his) taxpayer dollars have bought.”

Then Francis escorted your editor through the double doors of the Councilmembers’ inner sanctum. It looks much like any other modern office building, but, of course, all is shiny and new. As in the rest of the building, the absence of color is stark – only a bright rainbow flag framed on the end of one of the cubicles makes any statement of color. The staff of each councilmember inhabits a warren of cubicles outside the councilpeople’s private office. Councilmember Campos was waiting in her office which, like those of all of her peers, faces west toward downtown. She graciously posed with Francis for the NNV camera before disappearing back into her office as we set off on The Tour.

Francis Zamora is a charming, bright, unassuming young man. He is a graduate of San Jose State (Political Science, of course) and has six years of the Marines under his belt. He is a native of Alameda, but has adopted San Jose and represents the City with great aplomb. We had to ask if he lives on the East side as his boss must do, but found that he lives on the near-west side of downtown.

The building truly is a gem! While it’s not opulent enough to compete with Los Angeles’ Getty Museum (another of architect Richard Meier’s designs), it does have some of the Getty’s simple understated elegance and hefty structural elements. Like the Getty, it has vast, lofty spaces, crisp edges, and deeply textural components particularly in the areas which serve the public. The palette is totally neutral – all the better to not compete with the people who work and congregate there. And, it must be said here that, while the complex is starkly white, it’s also “green” when it comes to taking advantage of Mother Nature’s free lighting and cooling and using them thoughtfully.

Francis knew all the best look-outs to appreciate the nuances. We spent quite a lot of time in the Council Chambers. It’s built theatre style with the rows of audience seating rising from the floor. Just the opposite of the old city hall chambers where spectators had to look meekly up at the council, in the new building the councilmembers must look out at the spectators arrayed in a panorama straight ahead of and above them.

The lectern is really special: not only does it rotate so speakers can speak in the direction of the council, it can be turned at the touch of a button to face the audience. The lectern also can be lowered to accommodate speakers in wheelchairs. The room is long and narrow as opposed to the old chamber’s shallow, wide configuration. It appears that the new chambers, with 330 seats, does not have the capacity that the old one had – however, this may be an illusion. If it doesn’t seat as many spectators, Francis assures us that there are provisions for the overflow in conference rooms equipped with closed circuit television. The chambers’ seats are upholstered in brown, the walls are off-white, the woodwork is blond with much texture and exposed grain. Like the rest of the building, there is an absolute minimum of color.

Near the council chambers are displays of historic artifacts provided by History San Jose. The old squirrel-tailed fire wagon, alone, is worthy of a family trip! There are large, complicated old fruit-canning implements, a 1962-era satellite and a gigantic vacuum tube representing Silicon Valley achievements and a replica of the early San Jose broadcasting studio of the first person in the U.S. to do a regularly-scheduled radio broadcast. Along the route between the City Hall dome and the council chambers, there is a fascinating collection of photographs to be enjoyed as one makes the trek.

The huge glass dome was still a hive of workers and off-limits to Francis’ tour, but it was not difficult to appreciate its enormous size and get a sense of its importance to the composition of the City Center. Without this 108 foot tall, 100 foot diameter dome, City Hall would pretty much be just another tall office building. Mayor Ron Gonzales deserves appreciation and respect for his diligence in finding a fine architect and insisting on a novel design with sufficient importance and gravitas for the City Hall of the tenth largest city in the United States.

Reports in the Mercury News have made much of the fact that the councilmembers’ offices “turn their back on East San Jose,” because all of their windows face west toward downtown. It seems to NNV that this is a good plan – who wants their councilperson addlepated by the beautiful, distracting views of East San Jose’s voluptuous foothills?

NNV Note: We (as in my camera and I) also made a quick tour of S. Fifth Street which connects the back of the City Center with San Fernando Street and San Jose State. Here’s where seven of the sixteen planned concrete and tile “parade floats” will be erected. Each will involve a theme of San Jose’s heritage. The rest of the parade will mark the sides of Fifth Street north of Santa Clara Street. It remains to be seen whether this unusual installation will triumph over San Jose’s sometimes less-than-stellar reputation for its public art.

Click here for photos from the tour and here to see where the City Councilmembers (and the Mayor) are now working.

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Mt. Hamilton Neighbor, Dennis Nahat, Announces New Ballet Season

Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley offers another stunning array

From Lee Kopp, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley

NNV Note: Dennis Nahat, Artistic/Executive Director of our outstanding local ballet company and his partner, John Gerbetz, the company’s gifted principal photographer, find their muse right here in our East Foothills neighborhood where they enjoy the sunsets and city lights from their patio high up off Mt. Hamilton Road.

Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley announces the 2005-06 Season which includes a four-program subscription series, two world premieres, and two programs available as single ticket add-ons: THE NUTCRACKER in December and a children's production of THE LITTLE MERMAID in May, 2006. Director Nahat will premiere a new setting of FIREBIRD in October in the season-opening program. Daryl Gray (choreographer of this past season's Pirates of Penzance) will premiere CINEMA SOUNDTRACKS, set to famous movie theme songs played by two onstage pianists.

Fry's Electronics will again host a VIP Grand Opening Dinner Party to celebrate the season. Last season Fry's bought dinner and drinks for 2,300 people who attended the Friday night opening performance of PIRATES OF PENZANCE. This season Fry's will host some 4,000 (estimated) subscribers. ALL subscribers to the season will be invited to the Friday, October 7th event at The Fairmont Hotel, just two blocks from the Center for the Performing Arts.

Subscriptions are available now from the Ballet Box Office, (408) 288-2800 or by downloading an order form from the web site at Prices range from $80 to $240 per subscription with discounts for students and seniors in the orchestra and balcony sections.

The 2005-06 Season at a Glance

October 6-9, 2005
PHAEDRA (Flemming Flindt/Philip Glass)
FIREBIRD (Dennis Nahat/Igor Stravinsky) A World Premiere

November 17-20, 2005
GRAND PAS DE DIX (Nahat/Alexander Glazounov)
CINEMA SOUNDTRACKS (Daryl Gray/movie theme songs) A World Premiere

December 15-24, 2005
THE NUTCRACKER (Nahat/Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky)
Available as a subscription add-on

March 9-12, 2006
ROMEO AND JULIET (Nahat/Sergei Prokofiev)

April 20-23, 2006
SLAVONIC & HUNGARIAN DANCES (Nahat/Anton Dvorak & Johannes Brahms)
A SPECIAL BALLET (To Be Announced)

May 19-20, 2006
THE LITTLE MERMAID (Lise la Cour/Bent Fabricius-Bjerre)
Available as a subscription add-on or as part of the Children's Series Subscription.

SUBSCRIPTION PRICES: $80 to $240 for the 4-program season.
Student and Senior discounts may apply to Orchestra and Balcony seating.

BOX OFFICE: (408) 288-2800 or download subscription order form from

PERFORMANCE LOCATIONS: All performances will be held at San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Boulevard (at Park Avenue) in San Jose with the exception of THE LITTLE MERMAID which will be performed in the California Theatre, 345 South First Street in downtown San Jose.

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New Neighborhood Voice Founding Sponsors


Lifestyle Properties, Call Ellen Rauh at (408) 929-1925,
The REALTOR© You Choose Does Make a Difference, E-mail 


Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400


E.M.S. LLC, Environmental Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
A full service construction & demolition cleanup, hauling and recycling company


Eileen Parks, Windermere Silicon Valley Properties, (408) 251-5860
"When the follow through counts, call Eileen" - or e-mail 


Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, 


MBA ARCHITECTS, Marvin Bamburg AIA, (408) 297-0288, 
Residential, commercial, industrial, historic preservation & mixed use projects; 


Call or click today or e-mail 


The financial planning firm PW Johnson, Jason Papier, (408) 747-1222
"Our best product is peace of mind."

And We'd Like to Welcome Our New 2005 Sponsors


RAM REALTORS - "Serving you since 1965" in Alum Rock Village
Call us at (408) 259-4920 or E-mail Frank B. Morales or Cecilia Echavarria


The Coffee Cup, Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Sun-Mon 6AM–2PM, Tue-Sat 6AM – 4PM, 3477 McKee Road, (408) 254-0755


Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering Contractor, (408) 244-4791
CA Lic. 762792 A&B, "Basements, retaining walls, and complex foundations"


Regional Medical Center of San Jose, 
225 North Jackson Avenue, San Jose, CA 95116-1691, 1-888-RMC-8881, Dedicated To Your Well Being.

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Alum Rocks Again, and Again

Great jazz, fine barbeque, enthusiastic audience mark AREF fundraiser

By John S. Leyba

Mission accomplished! On June 17, almost two hundred friends, family, and friendly strangers came together to support the future of the Alum Rock Jazz Program at “Alum Rocks Again,” at Le Petit Trianon in downtown San Jose. The evening was co-sponsored by the Alum Rock Educational Foundation (AREF), the City of San Jose, Lou’s Village, Music Village, the San Jose Jazz Society, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. Several dozen alumni and friends played jazz for a full evening, while guests feasted on a barbeque dinner and competed to come out on top for a variety of silent auction items. The Friday evening program, titled “Alum Rocks Again,” showcased CSU East Bay professor of music Dave Eshelman, who was commissioned to write an up-tempo rock-jazz piece of the same name in the 1970’s. Proceeds from the program will benefit uninterrupted operation of the Alum Rock Jazz program, begun in 1973, and in continuous existence except for a brief hiatus from 1976-1980.

Eshelman, CSU East Bay’s (formerly Hayward) 2002-2003 Outstanding Professor of the Year, plays trombone, composes, arranges, and conducts. The Jazz Alumni Band played his piece, “Alum Rocks Again,” a peppy rock-band chart thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. Other pieces performed by the band included songs from the Alumni Band’s repertoire including “Watermelon Man,” “Sing Sing Sing,” “Pig Lickin’ Blues,” and “New York, New York” with a vocal performance by this author. The Dabalos sisters (Lindsay, Amy, and Brooke) and classmate Jessica Haws collaborated to sing the old standards “Lullaby of Broadway” and “Route 66.” Other ensembles featuring jazz alumni, such as Lado Oriente, The Subliminal Jazz Quartet, Acai, and The Outlet played until 9:30 PM, when Silent Auction winners were announced. Jazz Program Director Bill Nicolosi said of the evening, “I was really honored that so many of the alumni and friends came back to share their talents on behalf of our kids.”

Dozens of donors contributed items for the Silent Auction, including baseball tickets, gourmet dinners, sports memorabilia, pet gift bags, American Musical Theatre tickets, and much, much more. Ticket revenue and silent auction proceeds netted over $8,000 for Alum Rock Jazz. AREF President Kathy Chavez Napoli said, “This is one of the things the Foundation was created for: to support programs like this that make a difference in students’ lives. That’s what our mission is.” These funds will be used in the 2005-2006 school year to pay for musical instruction and, hopefully, will be supplemented soon by a $1000 sponsorship from Councilwoman Cindy Chavez, who promised her support on the spot at AREF’s fundraiser last March.

The Jazz Program and the Alum Rock Educational Foundation also wish to thank the editorial staff of the San Jose Mercury News for featuring articles about the program and helping to get the word out. Special thanks to New Neighborhood Voice for continued coverage of the Foundation’s endeavors to improve educational opportunities in the District.

As for the future, Nicolosi says, “I feel from an instructional standpoint, and because we have the right people to teach, we’re in business. From logistics and a musical standpoint, we’re on the right track. I think the challenge is fiscally.” The Alum Rock Educational Foundation will continue to collect donations on behalf of the Jazz Program at

Click here for photos from Alum Rocks Again.

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The Ultimate Film Challenge

Eastside neighbor produces “Cut to the Chase” in 48 hour competition

Neighbor Robin Edwards apparently doesn’t get enough excitement in his normal workaday life constructing retaining walls and digging basements for his clients. The Construction Engineer (NNV readers may remember his “Yes dear, the Engineer” stories of hillside engineering challenges and restaurant reviews in earlier editions of NNV) has recently temporarily lost his senses by tackling The 2005 48 Hour Film Project (

Not that “the Project” is exactly a household word yet. After reading of Robin’s feat, however, other NNV readers may want to tax their nervous systems to the hilt and choose to sacrifice their peace of mind for 48 hours just as Robin did over one weekend in July.

What exactly is this daunting challenge? Well, how about if you took it upon yourself to create a competition quality 4-7 minute film/video using your video or film camera without advance knowledge of the topic or genre of the story until 48 hours before it’s due to be finished? That’s right, the 48 hour clock starts running on a specific Friday evening when you’re given the particulars of your task. Between then and the following Sunday evening, you and your team (all must be unpaid volunteers) will write a script based on the theme you were assigned (incorporating some “required elements”), assemble props and costumes, rehearse, do the filming, editing and printing and have the finished film in the hands of the organizers by the deadline on Sunday evening.

In Producer Robin’s case, his team created the film “Cut to the Chase” as part of this year’s San Francisco competition. San Francisco is the closest of the more than thirty cities on three continents taking part in the competition. About 750 teams compete worldwide. Participation is quite selective – teams are chosen by lottery. Robin felt quite fortunate to be among the chosen few. His wife, Fiona, always the more level-headed of the twosome, was not as thrilled.

Robin’s crew had to pick up their assignment in San Francisco that Friday evening. They raced back to San Jose and wrote a script based on their assignment including one particular character, one required prop and one specific line of dialogue. Robin & Co.’s arbitrary assignments were a character named R. Ramsay, R.N., an out-of-ink pen, and the line, “I’m craving something salty.”

To say they worked feverishly would be a vast understatement. It was well after midnight when the script was finished. There was a raft of arbitrary little details to incorporate in the preamble to the film. All stipulations must be met. No fudging at all. Anywhere.

Most of the filming took place on Saturday. NNV readers might have caught a glimpse of some criminal-appearing activity being filmed against the backdrop of a blank wall on the side of the McKee Road Save-Mart! Other locations were our otherwise quiet neighborhood streets, and a bank and restaurant in Menlo Park

Altogether, there were about thirty volunteers working on Robin’s film. None knew each other until a week prior to beginning the contest. Among their talents were scriptwriting, acting, directing, filming and editing. Robin and Fiona’s place was a madhouse of frenzied activity and frazzled nerves by Sunday afternoon. (Fiona confides that she wisely went to bed!) Robin says that some of the competing teams spend thousands of dollars producing their film. The production of “Cut to the Chase” cost Robin nada, he says – other than the cost of a few pizzas.

The R-rated film (for “language, guns and fast cars,” says Robin) may win some awards. Robin says, “The winners of the competition have not been announced (that'll happen soon). Only the audience award has been handed out, and that's not from the professional judges. There are many awards, and while we don't EXPECT to win some, we won't be too surprised to take home one or two awards.” His appetite for under-the-gun film-making has been whetted. But Fiona might just hold her ground and insist that the production take place at someone (anyone!) else’s house next time.

The winning 48 Hour Film Project entries will be shown at next spring’s CineQuest film festival in San Jose. Mark your mental calendar. Warning: knowing the story behind these films can make watching one of them mentally exhausting – after all, the frenetic filmmakers had to “make every second count, for 48 hours”!

Click here for a photo of Robin recovering from this project.

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New Chief Operating Officer at Regional Medical Center Oversees Hospital Expansion

“It's a very exciting time and we’re running at a fast pace.”

By Ben Stephenson

Sajit R. Pullarkat was named Regional Medical Center of San Jose's chief operating officer in June. In that short time frame, the hospital’s newest administrator has been directly at the center of one of the most exciting and prosperous times in the venerable hospital's long-standing history.

An alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth and George Washington Universities, Pullarkat joined Regional's management team following more than two years as an associate administrator for Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas. As Regional's COO, the New York native's responsibilities include the overseeing of the hospital's $150 million expansion effort, as well as all facility support services, quality, and patient safety.

Taking time out of his daily schedule, Pullarkat sat down for New Neighborhood Voice to discuss, among other topics, Regional's expansion impact and the rewards of managing a large and growing healthcare facility.

What ultimately attracted you to Regional after two years at Wesley Medical Center?

What attracted me the most to Regional is the expansion project. Regional is going through a current “transformation” as the hospital continues to add new services, such as the recently approved trauma service. This expansion project will help to support these new services and position the hospital with “state of the art” facilities.

With everything happening at Regional - from the expansion efforts to the new trauma center to the several new programs being implemented - is it safe to say you've had to hit the ground running since coming on board?

Yes, the amount of change that is occurring at Regional is great and has required me to hit the ground running indeed! Helping me to do this is my training in HCA’s COO development program which is an internal program to develop executives in the company. Additionally, and even more critical, has been the support of the entire executive team at Regional.

Our efforts at Regional have recently resulted in the successful approval of the trauma center and helipad. In the future, we are looking towards the expansion of cardiovascular services. It's a very exciting time and we're running at a fast pace, seemingly growing by the minute. In the end, all of these programs will help Regional to become a full-service, acute-care hospital.

Were there any specific aspects or rewarding qualities about the healthcare industry that attracted you to it as a career opportunity?

I originally wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps into medicine; he is a trauma surgeon. However, while in college, I also discovered a genuine interest in finance and business. As it turned out, a few people suggested hospital administration as an option because it was a great way to merge both healthcare and finance. Above all else, the most powerful aspect of this job is the fact we're saving lives and making life better for those who come into our facility.

Can you describe the positive impact Regional's recent and future endeavors will have on the overall healthcare environment in San Jose and Silicon Valley?

Like I said, the image of Regional being just a primary care facility is changing to that of a full-service, acute-care facility. Having these services will allow for patients to be treated at Regional for their varying conditions rather than having to be transferred to another facility for a higher level of care. With that said, Regional's recent efforts will give San Jose residents, especially those living on the East side, a hospital that not only focuses on patient safety, but features staff and services that meet their specific care needs. We want to provide the quality facilities and health care treatment area residents deserve.

For more information on Regional Medical Center of San Jose, please contact 1-888-RMC-8881 or visit (Use the Contact button on the lower "toolbar" if you would like to contact RMC by e-mail.)

Click here for a photo of Sajit.

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