New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 37 - Section 1

June 4, 2006

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

ARV Market
(Big PDF File)


Do you Shop the Rock?
Please support our local businesses!


Hector Vega,
JLHS Honors


CDF Director
Ruben Grijalva

Ray Turner
and trains ...

... on Mystic
Mountain with ...

Ellen Turner's

... and some
strong beliefs


Steve Von Till,


Vintage Rose
opens ...

... with a nice


Karen Tatro



Rattlesnakes in
Alum Rock Park


On Alum Rock


Amy Tan at
BTSA event



WCSV Hummer

Will someone
release me?


Fleming homes

Newsletter Headlines

bulletNNV Takes a Break, Next Edition in Early August - This is the June/July edition
bulletAlum Rock Village Farmers’ Market Grand Opening, Sunday, June 4, 9:00 AM at JLHS
bullet“Shop the Rock” – New Theme for Alum Rock Village!
bulletCall Owner to Keep Rents Affordable in Alum Rock Village from Councilmember Campos
bullet“Pride and Prestige” at James Lick High School - 2006 Scholars honored May 24
bulletNew ARUESD Superintendent Will “Maintain the Course” by Supt. Elect Norma Martinez
bulletAnnexation: Four Good Reasons Why We Need It by Andrea Flores Shelton
bulletNeighbor Ruben Grijalva Named California’s Fire Chief - Q&A with CDF Director Grijalva
bulletTwo Countywide Measures on the June 6 Ballot from County Supervisor Pete McHugh
bulletReform Measure Committee Vote Delayed from the California Clean Money Campaign
bulletThe Turners Do Garden Trains, Fairy Trains, Leprechauns, Crafts – For You!
bulletLegal Eyes: Who Pays if Tenant’s Dog Bites? by Stephen F. Von Till, Attorney
bulletVintage Rose = Village Charm - New little shop draws enthusiastic clientele
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletKaren Tatro is Gone - Her legacy will long be remembered
bulletYSI Invites Us to Do Lunch at the Wyndham Hotel – On Them!
bulletSlurpy the Kangaroo Visits Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch Picnic
bulletSanta Clara County Land Conservation Initiative by Peter Drekmeier
bulletWarm Weather Brings Out Alum Rock Park Critters by Richard Brown
bulletOn the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue Charm
bulletFirst and Second Year Teachers Appreciated by ARUESD - BTSA “Colloquium”
bulletMusic Lives! at Foothill Presbyterian Church by Margaret Montgomery
bulletWildlife Center of Silicon Valley Releases Hummers
bulletFlinty Fleming-ites Stare Down Neighborhood Development
bulletArt Show At Antipastos - East Valley Art Leaguers show and sell
bulletTurn Your Fancy to Thoughts of Firebreaks and Fuel Reduction?
bulletCome Get Your Chuckles While Benefiting the Alum Rock Youth Center
bulletThe Coffee Cup - Great coffee, Michelle’s wonderful smile by Sucheon Sung
bulletThree Fine Young Writers Making Their Marks - The Rodriguez brothers earn kudos
bulletHomemade Healthcare at Reasonable Costs by Sally Ryan, RN, MS, MBA
bullet“Boys” Car Club Meets California Mille Car Rally
bulletNeighbor Lisa Blaylock Named to Elite Real Estate Group
bulletTears and Smiles Mark Kiwanis Club Turn Around Luncheon
bulletPenitencia Creek Road – A History By Patricia Loomis
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletJune Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bulletNNV Visits Two Eastside Gardens on Going Native Tour
bulletHealthy Living Healthy Eating on the Run: A Month of Tips by Nancy Bugwadia, RMC
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletThe threat of “Pombo’s Road” being built through our neighborhood is all over, isn’t it?
bulletDo you know how much they’re asking for the new homes where Bill’s Pony Ranch was?
bulletAny word on the La Bodega business in the Village? Will that eyesore be fixed soon?
bulletWhat’s the new construction going on in front of James Lick High School?
bulletWhy didn’t they send an engine from Station 2 to a nearby fire?
bulletWhy are there so few adult fiction books at the new Cruz/Alum Rock Library?

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

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NNV Takes a Break, Next Edition in Early August

This is the June/July edition

No NNV in July! Your editor needs a breather. This edition of New Neighborhood Voice is the June/July edition. The next edition will be published in early August.

Meanwhile, the Community Bulletin Board and the Letters to the Editor will be updated as new material comes in. We have also added more links to our Favorite Links page. If you’d like to suggest a link we don’t already have on our list, please e-mail

We hope more of you will note that NNV is a monthly newsletter for, by and about the people who live in the foothills and neighborhoods east of San Jose. “By” means that you are our writers and reporters – please send us your stories, articles, photos, poems, letters and community events. More “Voices” = a richer NNV. E-mail or call (408) 272-7008.

If not having a new NNV to read in July causes you any anxiety, you could spend the month perusing all the archived NNV’s on our Web site. It’s all there, every word is there. Click here for the Archives.

If you prefer to read NNV on paper, it’s available at both the Alum Rock and Berryessa Libraries in their adult periodicals areas. The library copies don’t circulate, however.

Have fun!

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Grand Opening of Alum Rock Village Farmers’ Market

Sundays, June 4 through November 16 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Located at James Lick High School Parking Lot, 57 North White Road

It's fresh and it's fun - it's the Alum Rock Village Certified Farmers' Market. Stop by this new market for the season's freshest fruits and vegetables, direct from the farmer - asparagus straight from the Sacramento River Delta, beautiful sweet cherries from the San Joaquin Valley, and strawberries from Watsonville. There will be fresh cut flowers, specialty Asian vegetables, freshly baked breads, fresh fish, and delicious gourmet food items you can eat in the market or take with you to enjoy at home.

Join us at 11:00 AM for the ceremonial ribbon cutting, with special guest, San Jose City Councilmember Nora Campos. John Silveira, the market manager, says, “The community is anxiously awaiting the opening of the Alum Rock Village market. We hope it will become a vital element for the community and we look forward to providing the neighborhood with this new location where they can find the freshest California produce available.” The market makes its home at James Lick High School Parking Lot. Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association and the farmers selling at the Alum Rock Village Farmers' Market are grateful to James Lick High School - the parents, students, faculty, staff and especially principal Bill Rice - for helping to make the farmers' market a reality! The market is made possible through a partnership between East Side Union High School District, Alum Rock Village Business Association and PCFMA.

The Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association is the state’s largest operator of Certified Farmers’ Markets, operating over forty Certified Farmers’ Markets weekly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Certified Farmers’ Markets are locations that offer only California-grown products sold directly to consumers by the farmers that grew, nurtured and harvested the crops. All PCFMA markets accept WIC FMNP (Woman Infant and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons) and EBT (the Golden State advantage food stamp cards). For more information contact the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at (800) 949-FARM or (925) 825-9090, or go to

Click here for the poster for the Alum Rock Village Farmers’ Market (large PDF file).

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“Shop the Rock” – New Theme for Alum Rock Village!

Village Business Association chooses hip tag line

The member businesses of the Alum Rock Village Business Association (ARVA) have chosen a bright new motto, “Shop the Rock.” Working with mentor Andrew Mendoza from the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, the fledgling association has been meeting monthly to develop a cohesive plan for our community’s small flagship shopping district. Todd Rufo, representing Councilmember Nora Campos’ office, attends meetings as well and serves as a liaison between the Village and District 5.

The new Alum Rock Village banners which were installed on the light posts in the Village’s block-long median strip this past winter were the first sign of the new cooperative effort to make Alum Rock Village a “destination place.” Many of the old buildings have been dressed up with new façade treatments and folks say it could be a mini Willow Glen. That’s just what the member businesses hope.

A new advertising campaign has begun with periodic composite ads appearing in The Wave magazine. It was difficult for the association to know exactly the right place to start their advertising, but the price was right at The Wave. The association is also becoming a sponsor of NNV and we will help them promote our core neighborhood enterprises. The Wave promises to put one of their racks in the Village, so, if we weren’t already perusers of this bi-weekly, we may become so in the future.

The advent of the new Alum Rock Village Farmers’ Market in the James Lick High School parking lot helps give focus to the ARVA businesses. It is planned that the member businesses will have access to space at the weekly Sunday markets where they can show off their wares and hand out coupons and promotional materials.

Meanwhile, some Village businesses are in turmoil because of impending rent increases – 100% increases or more have been reported to NNV!  Read the next article for Councilmember Nora Campos' comments on this disturbing situation. And, there is something you could do to help!

Click here for the bright new Shop The Rock promotion.

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Could Peters Bakery Close Due to Exorbitant Rent Increases? Kattengell’s Will Move!

Councilmember Campos urges residents to phone property owner

No commitment from The Lawrence Company to retain Village businesses

From San Jose Councilmember Nora Campos, District 5

NNV Note: We asked Councilmember Nora Campos whether the City could intervene to prevent the reported doubling of rents at many of the old time businesses in Alum Rock Village.  Here's her response:

Councilmember Nora Campos has spoken to The Lawrence Company (property owner) and expressed her concern about retaining the businesses in Alum Rock Village. On numerous occasions, Councilmember Campos has told the property owner there are landmark businesses in the Village that are important to the history, culture, and economy of the Alum Rock neighborhood. Sadly, The Lawrence Company has not made a commitment to the City about retaining local businesses in the Village. It is important to note that this is private property and the City cannot control the rent a property owner charges. However, private property owners should be held accountable for their business decisions. As the elected representative for East San José and as a member of the Alum Rock community, the Councilmember shares your concerns and urges residents to share their thoughts with the property owner.

Residents can phone The Lawrence Company at (408) 297-4500 to express their concerns.

Specifically pertaining to Peters Bakery, the Councilmember's staff and Redevelopment Agency staff has reached out to the Bakery. RDA's retail team is currently working with Peters and other retailers on strategies to keep them in the Village.

NNV Note: We faxed Councilmember Campos' message to The Lawrence Company asking for comment. There was no response as of press time.

Tony and Theresa Kattengell have told NNV that they are reluctantly moving their karate studio to a new location on Santa Clara Street in Little Portugal. The Kattengells have operated their business in the Village for nearly twenty years and they say The Lawrence Company has more than doubled their rent. The studio is Theresa and Tony’s livelihood; they cannot afford to stay. The Lawrence Company tells them they have “a waiting list” of interested folks who would like to do business in that corner location.

The Kattengells are longtime Eastsiders who live in Alum Rock. They feel fortunate to have found a decent space at a decent rent on Santa Clara Street. They don’t understand why The Lawrence Company thinks that Alum Rock Village will support a doubling (and in some cases, a tripling) of the rents. The community does not appreciate the greediness and lack of respect which The Lawrence Company is showing our historical core and its hard-working business owners.

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“Pride and Prestige” at James Lick High School

2006 Scholars honored May 24

Honor Night at James Lick High School is such a sweet event. The love that flows among Lick’s finest scholars is touching. Never mind that the young people on the stage represent myriad cultures – they so obviously admire and respect one another. The love is palpable.

Love flows, too, from Lick’s leaders and staff. Principal Bill Rice, addressing these fine students remembered that they were just sophomores when he arrived at the school, mid-year in 2004. He says they represent “the Renaissance.” He beamed as he told the scholars that he is their “Proud Principal” and lauded them as “the instruments who are restoring pride and prestige to James Lick High School.” They beamed under the praise.

Positivity is a given at Lick. It flows like a river – bathing students in its warmth. The teachers are inspired and devoted. Their passion for educating and growing fine human beings illuminates their faces. The students revere their teachers, mentors and counselors. They return Mr. Rice’s admiration.

All of these 2006 graduating scholars are going on to further education. Several are going to UC Berkeley, several to UC Davis – to study challenging arenas such as engineering and pre-med. The destinations mentioned most frequently were Santa Clara University and San Jose State. Many will study in San Diego. Some are starting out at community colleges. All are recipients of significant awards and many are receiving generous scholarship help.

The Lick band provided rousing processional and recessional fare to accompany the students’ transitions. A Cartoon Medley hastened everyone toward the dessert table.

James Lick High School’s scholars of 2006 will become our future educators, scientists, engineers, health care workers, musicians, and artists. Our community can be very proud of our high school and its growing “pride and prestige.”

Click here for photos from JLHS Honor Night.

Assemblymember Joe Coto was represented at JLHS Honor Night. Click here for his congratulations and hopes that our students will have a safe and sober graduation (PDF file).

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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; 


Mark DeTar, INTERO Real Estate Services, (408) 482-1727
Call or click today or e-mail  

And We'd Like to Welcome Our New 2005 and 2006 Sponsors


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.


Gustavo Gonzalez ABR, Real Estate, Finance & Investments, (408) 646-1236
VALLEY VIEW PROPERTIES, 342 Valley View Avenue, Web Site, E-mail


ANTIPASTOS by DeRose, Gourmet Meat, Fish, Deli, Dine In or Out, (408) 251-5647
3454 McKee Road (at the corner of Kirk and McKee).  Long-time neighborhood favorite!


Lisa Blaylock, Coldwell Banker, 408-377-LISA (5472),,
Coldwell Banker’s TOP 100 Agents! Serving my clients since 1986. I grew up and live in the East Foothills!


Home Care Network, Inc., Home Care Professionals,
Low Cost In-Home Care. Call Sally Ryan, RN, MS, MBA at (408) 254-4650 or e-mail


ALUM ROCK VILLAGE Business Association, "Shop the Rock"  << New Sponsor
Conveniently located at Alum Rock Avenue and White Road in San Jose


Utopia Home Services, Quality On-Time Home Repair Services  << New Sponsor
Call Dave Leone at (408) 506-2297 or e-mail for quotes

New ARUESD Superintendent Intends to “Maintain the Course”

Twenty-six high achieving schools is her goal

By ARUESD Superintendent Elect Norma Martinez

NNV Note: NNV invited the incoming Superintendent of the Alum Rock School District, Norma Martinez, to share her philosophy and mission with our community in this edition of the newsletter. Following is her message in English and the Spanish translation from ARUESD.

Statement by Superintendent Elect Norma Martinez

The district’s vision statement reads as follows:

“Our vision is to provide a safe, nurturing, child-centered environment in which every child’s potential is achieved.”

I am fully prepared to serve as Superintendent to maintain this course. As a member of the Eastside community, I am well aware of the demographics of the district and the needs of our students and families. I will continue our work towards transforming the district into one of high performing schools. Most of my career, I have championed the cause of the student at risk, and specifically the needs of the English Learner, so that the work that began in the district five years ago to increase achievement for all students, will remain a constant focus during my tenure. In addition, high expectations and graduation from high school and college for all students, and increased parent involvement will be the driving forces for continued systemic change while allocating resources to provide professional development and quality instruction for all students.

In order to fully implement the district aspirations, goals, objectives, and activities, it is extremely important to “stay the course” with a focused vision, mission, and plan. My primary goal is to continue this course and develop action plans for continued improvement while considering input from all stakeholders to sustain results over time. I also intend to foster and sustain the management team momentum that provides outstanding leadership on a daily basis to ensure that we work together as a team to make this a reality. I am a firm believer in participatory management, collaboration, and seeking input in order to make informed decisions. We will maintain a district culture of “we can do it” in reaching the district-approved goals in all areas, including curriculum and instruction, business services, human resources, facilities, and student services. We have collaborated in putting new systems in place, forming better partnerships, aligning District goals, and increasing accountability for students and staff. Through hard work, continuity, and fidelity to this vision, we will raise the bar for all stakeholders. We are well on our way to establishing stability throughout the system and we are confident that what we are doing works, and that we will accomplish our goals over the next few years. We must continue working on our team approach at all levels while improving student achievement.

Our over-arching district goal is to develop twenty-six highly effective schools that are recognized at the state and national levels as “high achieving” schools. Our students deserve the same opportunity for a quality education as any of our neighboring districts provide their children. I truly believe our schools are on their way to receiving recognition including California Distinguished Schools, Blue Ribbon Schools, and Title I High Achieving Schools. Working together with the board, administration, staff, parents and community, WE WILL SUCCEED!

Click here for a photo of Superintendent Elect Norma Martinez in the May edition of NNV. Click here for the ARUESD Newsletter featuring Superintendent Elect Martinez (PDF file).

Declaración de la Futura Superintendent, Norma Martínez, Sobre la Filosofía de la Educación

La visión del distrito establecida es la siguiente:

“Nuestra visión es proveer un ambiente sano, educativo, centrado al niño, y en el cual el potencial del niño se alcance.”

Estoy completamente preparada para servir como Superintendente del distrito y apoyar esta visión. Como miembra de la comunidad del Este (Eastside), sé de las demográficas del distrito y de las necesidades de nuestros estudiantes y familias. Como superintendente, continuaré nuestro trabajo hacia la transformación del distrito en un distrito de escuelas de alta capacidad. La mayor parte de mi carrera, he defendido la causa de los estudiantes que tienen dificultades para aprender y sobresalir académicamente, especialmente las necesidades de los alumnos aprendiendo inglés como segundo idioma. Por lo mismo, el trabajo de aumentar el aprovechamiento para todos los estudiantes que empezó en el distrito hace cinco años, permanecerá como enfoque constante durante mi permanencia como superintendente. Además de las altas expectativas para que todos los estudiantes se gradúen de la preparatoria y universidad y el aumentar la participación de los padres en la educación de sus hijos, éstas serán las fuerzas que me lleven a continuar este cambio sistemático, conjuntamente con la distribución de recursos para proveer desarrollo profesional e instrucción de calidad para todos los subgrupos de estudiantes.

Con el propósito de completamente implementar la visión, metas, objetivos, y actividades del distrito, es extremadamente importante mantenerse enfocado con la visión, misión y plan. Mi meta primordial es continuar enfocada y desarrollar planes de acción para un mejoramiento continuo así como también considerando el punto de vista de todas las personas con interés en nuestra comunidad para de esa forma mantener los resultados a medida que pase el tiempo. Además, es mi intención fomentar y mantener el impulso del grupo administrativo que provee diariamente un liderato de lo mejor y asegurar que trabajemos juntos como un equipo para hacer esto una realidad. Creo firmemente en una administración que participa, colabora y está bien informada para hacer decisiones efectivas. Vamos a mantener la cultura del distrito de ”Sí Se Puede” para alcanzar las metas que el distrito aprobó en todas las áreas como el Plan de Estudios e Instrucción, Servicios de Contabilidad, Recursos Humanos, Mantenimiento, y Servicios Estudiantiles. Hemos colaborado en mantener nuevos sistemas, formado mejores sociedades, alineado las metas del distrito e incrementado la responsabilidad de los estudiantes y del personal. A través de nuestros esfuerzos, continuidad y fidelidad a esta visión tendremos altas expectativas para todos los que se interesen en nuestra comunidad. Vamos camino a establecer “estabilidad” mediante el sistema, tenemos fe que lo que estamos haciendo funciona y que lograremos nuestras metas durante los próximos años. Debemos continuar trabajando en equipo en todos los niveles a medida que incrementamos el aprovechamiento del estudiante.

Nuestra meta primordial es desarrollar veintiséis escuelas altamente efectivas que sean reconocidas a nivele estatal y nacional como escuelas “Sobresalientes”. Nuestros estudiantes merecen una educación de la más alta calidad al igual como la que les brindan a sus estudiantes cualquier otro distrito en nuestra área. Realmente creo que nuestras escuelas van en camino a sobresalir y recibir reconocimiento, incluyendo: Escuelas Distinguidas de California, Escuelas de Listón Azul, y Escuelas de Alta Capacidad del Programa Título Uno. Trabajando juntos con la mesa directiva, el personal docente y administrativo, padres y comunidad: ¡LO LOGRAREMOS!

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Annexation: Why We Need It

Four good reasons to “become City”

By Andrea Flores Shelton

Recently, the City of San Jose announced it will be annexing unincorporated urban pockets under 150 acres. This does not include most of us who live in the large 1,400-acre pocket that makes up the bulk of Alum Rock. It will benefit smaller pocket residents on streets like Rosemar Avenue near Fleming where I grew up and where my parents still live. I also have experienced living and working with unincorporated pockets – as a current resident and as a former policy advisor to County Second District Supervisor Blanca Alvarado.

I am a proponent of annexation for four reasons – enfranchisement, efficiencies, fairness, and improvements.

Enfranchise Me – I want to vote!

What a year to not vote in a city election! The future direction of this city – development, transportation, housing, community services, public safety, big or small government are all at stake. That is the big picture. But, as the late Tip O’Neill said, “all politics are local politics.”

While the current and past council members have been responsive to county residents, it is an abomination of the democratic system that all the residents who are affected by their decisions do not elect the local representative. I believe urban pockets, and the disenfranchisement that comes with them, foster apathy and isolation from the city in which we live.

Promote Efficiencies – Resources focused not wasted.

Maybe you don’t care about being disenfranchised. But, urban pockets only exacerbate government ineffiencies with resources scattered about. Here are two examples:

Law Enforcement - We all know the Sheriff and SJPD criss-cross each other doing essentially the same job. We know the Sheriff deputies do a great job, but so does SJPD. In our community, the reality is that we have a high rate of the city’s gangs and State parolees, I want to know that law enforcement and the prevention strategies are focused, responsive, and comprehensive. The Sheriff’s operation is all over the place, serving communities in Cupertino, Saratoga, Stanford, VTA, and rural South County and providing bailiffs in courtrooms. San Jose has the experience here, hands-down.

Garbage - My parents live near the bottom of Rosemar Avenue (county). At the top of the street are city residents. Beyond the annoyance of two garbage days, think of the ineffiency and waste of precious resources. A garbage truck goes up the street, picks up part of the trash and turns around only to have another garbage truck pass their house and pick up the rest of the trash up the road.

Fairness and Improvements – Use of Sales Tax

Have you ever wondered why the Alum Rock Business District, the Village, and the Country Club Villa are in the city but the surrounding homes are not? Sales tax. Cities survive from sales tax. Why shouldn’t the sales tax dollars we pump into the city we live in, go towards improvements in our neighborhood or street?

Since moving back to the east side, where we live off of Staples Avenue between McKee and Madeline, my eyes have opened up once again to the lack of basic amenities. On McKee Road between White Road and Staples Avenue, the combination of lack of sidewalks and traffic speed result in unsafe conditions on a stretch of road with a significant volume of pedestrians particularly moms with strollers – like me. While the County struggles to provide the basics to residents, the City moves along with the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative to tackle the exact problems urban pockets residents need fixed – blight, real blight.

Don’t Fear Annexation

I see the fear of being annexed perpetuated by assumed unknown tax burdens and stricter control of property rights. I don’t think we can assume there will be expensive assessments. Resisting annexation on the basis of potential costs, which to-date have been identified as minimal to property owners, misses the point of long-term benefits of incorporation. According to the City, more detailed cost analysis should be forthcoming in about three months. And, the county has been heading towards making its zoning and code standards more aligned with the city to limit the incentives of staying in the county.

The psychology of being ‘in’ the city is different for everyone. But, since we are all really ‘in’ the city, let’s be treated like it and given our voice and our fair share.

Click here for our lead article on this subject in the May edition of NNV.

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Neighbor Ruben Grijalva Appointed California’s Fire Chief

Firefighting Career – “The Greatest Job On Earth”

Says he would pay to do his job!

Lifelong Eastsider, Ruben Grijalva has been appointed as director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a James Lick High School graduate with an exemplary career in public safety. NNV interviewed Ruben to shine a light on his extremely successful career and his roots in our neighborhood.

New Neighborhood Voice: How did your background as an Eastsider contribute to your career?

Ruben Grijalva: I am grateful for my life in Alum Rock/East San Jose. I grew up in a diverse area with many cultural and political influences associated with growing up in East San Jose. It was natural for me to support a diverse workforce and to advocate for women and minorities in the fire service. These values are a direct result of my family and my neighborhood.

NNV: What years did you attend James Lick?

R.G.: I attended and graduated from James Lick High School during the 1972-73 school year. I transferred from Bellarmine College Preparatory where I attended for three years. I was influenced to transfer by Coach Al Cementina, and my uncle, Jim Plunkett, an earlier James Lick graduate.

NNV: Were there any particular teachers or mentors there who guided you significantly?

R.G.: Al Cementina, Dick Barrett and Rene Marful were influential to me during my year at Lick. They provided guidance and direction in many ways. They were role models and mentors.

NNV: Were you an athlete – or did you have any other special focus?

R.G.: I lettered in football, basketball, and tennis. I was active in journalism, the student senate, the yearbook, and photography. I was voted the “most amiable” student during my senior year.

NNV: Do you consider yourself a “Comet Forever”?

R.G.: While I only attended James Lick for one year, it was my favorite year in High School. I made many friends and will always look at my time at Lick with pride and happiness.

NNV: Why did you decide to become a firefighter?

R.G.: At a career day at James Lick, a San Jose Police Officer talked about a career in law enforcement. My brother, Bill, was an Oakland Police Officer at the time. He also encouraged me to pursue a career in law enforcement. He was killed in the line of duty in 1993.

NNV: Where and what did you study to prepare for your career?

R.G.: I went to San Jose City College and majored in law enforcement. I would later apply to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, a fully consolidated police and fire department. During my 16 years working in Sunnyvale I worked in both police and fire capacities. In 1990, I accepted a position with the Palo Alto Fire Department, choosing fire as my preferred career.

NNV: What would you like to say to James Lick students now who might be considering a career as a firefighter?

R.G.: A career as a firefighter offers both personal and professional satisfaction. I would pay to do this job. In my 32 years of public safety I can count on one hand the number of days that I didn’t look forward to going to work. You work hard and play hard, much of it outdoors. The training is great. You have the ability to make a difference in many people’s lives. You develop lifelong friendships. The camaraderie is like no other work place, and is national and international. I can go anywhere in the world and be welcomed like I am at home with the local firefighters. Most simply stated, it is the greatest job on earth! Today, the competition is significant to get a job in the fire service. There are over a hundred applicants for every opening, but the prize is worth the challenge. Don’t give up.

NNV: Can you tell us where your family lives or lived when you were at Lick?

R.G.: I was born and raised in East San Jose and still live within 3 miles of where I was raised after 51 years. San Jose, however, has changed since then. As a youngster, I played baseball in a cow pasture that is now Capitol Expressway. I used to cut apricots at an orchard in the area. It was one of many orchards that used to mark the landscape of San Jose. I remember the days of milkmen from local dairies and bakers from local bakeries delivering to our front door.

NNV: Where do you live now?

R.G.: I still live in San Jose, although I now spend most of my time in Sacramento or somewhere else in California. My job requires me to travel throughout the state.

NNV: Do you have a family?

R.G.: My wife, Judy, and I have been happily married for nearly 31 years. We have four sons ranging in age from 15-25 (Ruben, David, Timothy, and Paul). Our sons all attended San Jose Schools (Mt. Pleasant, Silver Creek, and Independence High Schools) and are currently attending local colleges (West Valley, Evergreen, and San Francisco State University).

NNV: Any future firefighters coming along in your family?

R.G.: None of my sons are currently pursuing a career in the fire service. They are pursuing careers in filmmaking, technology, and graphic design. My nephew, James Gonzales, is a San Jose Police Officer.

NNV: Did you spend time at Alum Rock Park as a youngster?

R.G.: I used to love to go to Alum Rock Park as a youngster with my mom, dad, brother, and sister. I enjoyed the Zoo, the indoor swimming pool, the playground, the sulfur caves, and hiking up to the falls. I used to play in the creek for hours at a time, while my family BBQ’d in the Park. Just last week, for Mother’s Day, my wife took all my sons to Alum Rock to take pictures of them in the park.

Click here for a photo of CDF Director Grijalva. Click here to read more about his career.

NNV Note: The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) is dedicated to the fire protection and stewardship of over 31 million acres of non-federal wildlands, responding to emergencies, and protecting and enhancing forests, range lands and watersheds. In addition, the Department provides varied emergency services in 36 of the State's 58 counties via contracts with local governments. The Department's firefighters, fire engines, and aircraft respond to an average of more than 5,600 wildland fires each year. Those fires burn more than 172,000 acres annually.

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Two Countywide Measures on the June 6, 2006 Ballot

Funding shortfall prompts need for property tax increase (Measure A)

Sunsetting park fund needs renewal (Measure B)

From Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3

On June 6, Santa Clara County residents will have the opportunity to vote on two countywide measures. Measure A would increase the current sales tax by a half-cent, from 8.25% to 8.75% and has the potential to generate between $153.9 million and $170.3 million. Measure B would renew the Park Charter Fund for another 12-year term from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2021. It would allocate at least 15% of the funds to acquire land, at least 5% for park improvements and development, and the remaining 80% for park operations.

The County’s Office of Budget and Analysis projects a Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 deficit of $164.6 million in its most recent forecast. Additional deficits are expected in FY 2008 through FY 2010. This trend has continued since 2001 due to a persistently sluggish economy and budget cuts from both the state and federal governments. Furthermore, Congress recently passed a measure that will reduce spending by $40 billion and will result in less funding for some County administered programs. As a result, in the past four years, the County has cut more than $640 million from its budget and eliminated nearly 10% of its general fund positions.

Measure A is a general tax that will go toward any general County purpose and will require a simple majority for passage. Some community members believe Measure A sounds more like a special tax, which requires a two-thirds majority for passage. However, the Board of Supervisors has made no determination on how the funds would be spent and, if successful, will initiate a public process to determine uses of the new revenue. Some in the community have also questioned whether a half-cent sales tax is more than what is necessary to address future budget deficits. The County Executive has determined that revenue estimates are in line with future budget deficits. Passage of Measure A would tie Santa Clara County with Alameda County and the City of Richmond for the highest sales tax rates in the Bay Area.

Beyond structural deficits, the county’s population is expected to grow by 400,000 residents over the next 20 years. These new residents will require important recreational opportunities that the County currently offers to its residents. The Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for maintaining a park system that includes almost 45,000 acres encompassing over 260 miles of regional trails and 10 reservoirs. Maintaining this park system requires significant funds from the Parks Charter Fund. The Fund sets aside 1.425 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in property taxes for the Department to devote toward expansion, development and stewardship of the County's park system.

In 1996, County voters renewed the Parks Charter Fund with a sunset date of July 1, 2009. The renewal of the Fund resulted in the acquisition of 6,500 acres of new parkland. It also opened three interpretive Centers dedicated to inspire and educate the community about the County's rich cultural and natural history. The Board has placed Measure B on the June 6, 2006 ballot to maintain the park system's stability. This measure would provide County residents a seventh opportunity to determine how it wishes to fund the Parks and Recreation Department.

These measures are but two issues on the June 6th ballot. I encourage all voters to educate themselves about the various issues before they head to the polls. Voting is crucial to democracy and I urge everyone who is eligible to vote to go to the polls on June 6th.

Pete McHugh
Supervisor, District Three
Santa Clara County

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Reform Measure Committee Vote Delayed

Senate President pro tem Don Perata meets with fifty Clean Money
supporters and says he wants to strengthen bill and help it pass

From the California Clean Money Campaign

In a year in which corruption scandals have the public clamoring for reform in Washington and Sacramento, the California legislature delayed acting on reform by pulling AB 583, the California Clean Money and Clean Elections Act, authored by Assemblymember Loni Hancock (D-El Cerrito), from the Senate Elections Committee calendar.

Senator Gloria Romero (D-Baldwin Park) was reportedly not ready to vote for AB 583. Her vote was critical for the message's passage, so Assemblymember Hancock and Senate Elections Chair Debra Bowen (D-Marina Del Rey) decided to delay the vote to give more time for the author and the California Clean Money Campaign to work with the committee and Senate leadership to strengthen the bill.

Following the unexpected announcement, over fifty Californians who'd traveled to Sacramento from all around the state to testify in favor of the bill marched over to Senate President pro tem Don Perata's office to ask for his clarification on the import of the delay. Senator Perata met with the activists and had an open, responsive discussion with the crowd. He once again pledged his support for the measure and for public funding of election campaigns.

AB 583, which would create a voluntary system of full public funding of election campaigns in California modeled upon successful systems working in Arizona and Maine, passed the California State Assembly earlier this year on a 47-31 vote. At their recent state convention in Sacramento, the California Democratic Party adopted Clean Money as a part of their party platform. The 2006 platform now states: “California Democrats believe that a healthy democracy is based on clean elections. . . Support and implement clean money legislation.” AB 583 is supported by a wide array of good government groups, civil rights organizations, women’s organizations, minority groups, environmental groups, labor organizations, political clubs and religious organizations.

"It is disappointing that Senator Romero is not yet ready to vote for AB 583. We are glad to have additional time to address her concerns. Clean Money has substantial support in diverse communities throughout the state, including among Latino communities and groups and we hope that Senator Romero will become a leader in supporting this necessary campaign innovation which has had positive effects for Latino communities and candidates in Arizona," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of the California Clean Money Campaign.

“We are pleased that Senate President pro tem Perata seems to understand how much Clean Money is needed to make our democratic system more accessible to ordinary citizens and stated his desire to help bring the strongest form of Clean Money possible to California. We look forward to working with him, Assemblymember Hancock, and our numerous coalition partners to make that happen," concluded Lerner.

The California Clean Money Campaign is a non- partisan, non-profit organization building statewide support for public funding of election campaigns. Our vision is achieving an open and accountable government that is responsive to the needs of all Californians. Learn more and see the members of the Clean Money coalition at

NNV Note: Craig Dunkerley, who wrote earlier articles for NNV on this subject, adds that on Tuesday, May 23rd, the San Jose City Council passed a resolution in favor of the California Clean Money Act, AB 583 ... and they did it by unanimous vote! Now we need as many letters, phone calls, and faxes as possible before June 15 to Gloria Romero, Senate Majority Leader, urging her to bring her leadership to this issue. She will move if she sees a groundswell of voter demand for this reform.

Her contact info is as follows:
Gloria Romero, Senate Majority Leader
State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814
ph: 916-651-4024, fax: 916-445-0485

Thanks again for all your help. We will take back our democracy. Craig Dunkerley, California Clean Money Campaign, South Bay Coordinator, (408) 453-3865.

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Click here for Section 2 of the June 2006 Newsletter

(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)

--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: Fax: (408) 272-4040 
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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 7/29/06.

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