New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 38 - Section 1

August 6, 2006

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

had to move


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


Isabel Awad
questions NNV


RMC receives
PAragon Award

JLHS Principal
Bill Rice


Mt. Hamilton


CM Nora
Campos at ...

the new Village
Farmers' Market


Station 2 Public
Art Project

Artist Robert


Alum Rock
Park Swallows

McKee and White Roads




Top Dad


Hillcrest July
4th Parade


Norma Martinez

with fanfare


YSI teaches

Newsletter Headlines

bulletNNV Will Stop in November - Will someone step forward and start a new publication?
bulletAlum Rock Village Upheaval – Rents Higher than Willow Glen’s? Businesses threatened
bulletAlum Rock Park Landslide “Fix” Fizzles - City decides not to protect landslide “toe”
bulletWall Street Journal Article Features Eastside Scholar - Draws attention and venom!
bulletIs New Neighborhood Voice Journalism? Who knew? Scholarly interview makes us think
bulletSan Jose Regional Medical Center Duo Wins National Recognition from Victoria Emmons
bulletMaking Sure Lick High School Soars Again - Ambitious programs will enrich school
bulletBoundary Changes Considered for East Side High Schools - Mark your calendar for 9/13
bulletNNV Crashes Mt. Hamilton Dwellers’ Annual Picnic – Ranchers discuss their concerns
bulletFarmers’ and Ranchers’ Concerns Ignored by Conservation Initiative from Jenny Derry
bulletAlum Rock Village Farmers’ Market Wholeheartedly Embraced! Fragrant Fruits, Veggies ...
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletMary Bumb DeTar, 1952-2006 - Requiescat in pace from Mark DeTar
bulletBig Bang-Up Alumni-and-Community Gathering to Celebrate Lick’s New Stadium!
bulletNew ARA Fire Station Two Planned - Public art being selected to enhance new facility
bulletSwallow-Tailed Aviators Train and Dine in Alum Rock Park by Richard Brown
bulletRecollections of McKee and White Roads Intersection “Back in the Day” from Linda Karadunis
bulletMcKee Green Plaza Breaks Ground on White Road near McKee
bulletUnlawful Marijuana Cultivation from Lt. Kristen Tarabetz, SCC Sheriff’s Office
bulletWant to Find Out Who’s Stealing Your Mail? One neighbor’s solution by Tony Logan
bulletAlum Rock Youth Shines in Top Dad Contest - Tells why his dad should be “Top Dad”
bulletHillcrest Neighbors Honor Founding Fathers on July 4th by Veronica Wildanger
bulletCelebrate at the Plaza from Darlene Tenes
bulletARUESD’s new Superintendent Norma Martinez Welcomed
bulletAlum Rock District Celebrates and Honors Its Employees from Al Gonzales
bulletFleming Neighbors’ Anti-New-Housing Campaign Pays Off
bulletYSI Tries New Fundraising Tack – Science Matters! Why not think big?
bulletOn Alum Rock Avenue: Growing number of “Available” signs in the Village
bulletLick Science Students Learn Wildland Fire Safety and Poll Others for Fire Safe Council
bulletWouldn’t It be Positively Utopian to Have a Reliable Handyman?
bulletLegal Eyes: Partnership Agreements - Get it in writing by Stephen F. Von Till, Attorney
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletAugust Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bulletPoppy Secrets Unveiled - Keep California poppies blooming by Arvind Kumar
bulletInterested in Becoming a Master Gardener? by Bracey Tiede, UCCE Master Gardener
bulletSly Individual Breaks In and Enters Editor’s Bedrooms - “He acted like an animal!”
bulletHistoric Overfelt House Opens Grandly for Saturday Fete
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletWhat happened after the arson fire which burnt-up the Little League equipment shed?
bulletWhen will the Eastridge Post Office move back inside the mall?
bulletIs it still true that a new Home Depot will move into the Mervyn’s-on-Story location?
bulletWhat happened to the pigeons on the utility wires of the Cruz Alum Rock Library?
bulletIs there still talk about undergrounding the wires at the library eventually?

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

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NNV Will Stop Publishing in November

Will someone step forward and start a new publication?

November will mark four years since we decided to start a newsletter to replace East – The Neighborhood Voice, a weekly Eastside newsprint newspaper which had gone out of business in 2001. There were concerns in the San Jose Country Club area which weren’t getting aired because there was no means of communication post-East. Starting a simple newsletter to get the word out seemed like an easy endeavor. Forty editions later, we know how simple it isn’t and we’re ready for someone else to take on the challenge.

Back in 2002 we had no idea that New Neighborhood Voice would grow into a complex 30+ page on-line newsletter read ten months per year by perhaps 2,000 people all over the East Side. We couldn’t have fathomed having scores of neighbors writing and taking photos for the newsletter. We didn’t picture that we would become community cheerleaders, reporters and photographers ourselves.

If people had told us that producing a publication would consume our lives, we wouldn’t have believed them. However, the truth is that, as much as we have enjoyed creating NNV, we need to get our uncomplicated pre-newsletter lives back. Not that life can ever be quite the same after meeting literally hundreds of wonderful Eastsiders via NNV. The inspiring and breathtaking experiences we’ve had while learning about our community have made us different people.

What we would like to see for the East Side is a real newsprint weekly such as East with paid reporters and real opportunities for advertising. Other areas have such a paper – why not East San Jose? We also feel strongly that any new publication should include an associated Web site, but we are not the folks who will be creating a new newspaper, selling ads or maintaining its Web site. That old cliché “been there - done that” applies and we’re retiring from the news business! We would share our insights with successors, of course.

We intend to maintain the NNV archives on our Web site for as long as there is interest. You’ll be able to look up your article or photos for the foreseeable future. We hope a successor will emerge and take over our archives with their history of the East Side and stories of the people and concerns of today. We also have lots of unused photos. We’re much more interested in a plan which would put this material to good use than we are in money for the rights to use the material.

To summarize:

• Our plan is that the November 2006 edition will be our last.

• Please don’t send us more money for paper subscriptions or donations. We’ll continue all the current advertisements, sponsorships and paper edition subscriptions until November.

• Please send us your comments or suggestions for an Eastside newspaper, newsletter or Web site. If we can publish your ideas, please put “Letter to the Editor” in the subject line and e-mail them to or phone us at (408) 272-7008.

• We will not sell or give away our subscriber list because we promised our readers we wouldn’t do that. However, if there is a successor, we could invite our subscribers to become acquainted with it.

• If a successor publication emerges during 2006, we could give it publicity in our remaining editions.

• Meanwhile, your subscriptions and money are safe. In November, we’ll honor any requests for unfulfilled subscriptions or sponsorships.

• Our Web site won’t disappear when we publish our last edition. You’ll be able to search all the archived editions even though we will not be adding to the material.

It was difficult to make this decision at this point, but it is time to do it. Thank you all for being our contributors, sponsors and most of all our readers. Our readers have been the wind beneath our wings.

Please do send us your comments and suggestions (e-mail above). 

Thank you,

Judy and Allan Thompson

Meanwhile, there are some people who spend a lot of time thinking about and studying community and neighborhood communications. Click here to read an article on this below.

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Alum Rock Village Upheaval – Rents Higher than Willow Glen’s?

Many businesses threatened; more will fold or move away

A reader asked recently: What happened to Kattengell’s? Another commented that The Village is beginning to look deserted with Kattengell’s Karate and Rafiki’s Coffee shop empty and the La Bodega corner empty and continuing to blight the neighborhood. They wondered: is anyone “minding the store” around here?

Kattengell’s was forced to move to a more affordable location on Santa Clara Street in Little Portugal last month after their rent was more than doubled, as I understand, by real estate investors, the Lawrence Company. Tony and Theresa Kattengell were very sad to have to relocate after nearly 20 years on that corner. They had developed a loyal clientele and hated to move away from their longtime home. The Kattengells live in our neighborhood and grew up here.

NNV asked Anne Stedler, the Redevelopment Agency’s retail recruitment specialist, when we would know if there are new tenants in discussion for Rafiki’s or Kattengell’s sites. Anne is not at liberty to talk about any details of tenant negotiations, she says, because revealing tenant interest “can sabotage a potential lease.” Her office “only announces or discusses new retail tenants when there is a lease that both tenant and landlord have signed.” As far as she knows, there are no new signed leases in the Village.

We asked Anne what had become of the campaign to get Peets Coffee to move into Rafiki’s. We wondered how we would know whether the campaign had been effective. Again, if a retailer is interested, we won’t know until a lease is signed, she says. Her office doesn’t encourage write-in campaigns “because they can undermine the confidentiality that retailers seek.” Why would a retailer seek confidentiality, one might wonder? Anne says: “Typically a retailer will be silent until a lease is signed, because disclosure alerts the competition, affects the freedom of negotiation, etc.” Who knew what machinations are involved in the retail turf arena?

NNV realized how impatient we and our readers have been when Anne revealed: “Retailers typically spend two years and more from the time they first start watching a neighborhood for potential site selection until they open a store. The lease takes a long time and is typically executed 4-6 months before the store opens, if permits and construction are needed for interior changes, or less if no internal construction is required.”

It sounds as if we will be lucky if whatever negotiations are in the works aren’t bogged down any longer than necessary. And, it sounds as if there could be a very, long, drawn-out, sea change in the Village if old time businesses continue to be priced out of their locations and new businesses complete the possibly years-long process of moving in.

Why would our little neighborhood shopping center suddenly warrant rents at double or triple current rates? This is a very good question and we’re not sure that anyone really thinks that it does. It is true that the Village looks better now because of the new “charm” conferred by the façade improvements of recent years. However, as much as we would like to think that the Village is like a tiny piece of Willow Glen, that’s a bit of a stretch! Oddly, we have been told that rents in the Village are higher than in Willow Glen in many cases. One businessman, who has a business in each location, confirms that his shop in the Village costs more rent per square foot than his WG shop. Rafiki’s owners told us long ago (before the recent purported tripling of their rent which drove them out of business) that they were paying more rent in the Village than a similar site in Willow Glen would be. What is wrong with this picture?

There are many folks in our neighborhood who want to enthusiastically support our little Village. However, it appears there are also some greedy, uncaring folks, who will make it difficult for a viable, thriving historic business district to exist. Because they simply don’t care whose livelihood they jeopardize or whose neighborhood they ride roughshod over, speculators like the men of the Lawrence Company, who have bought up properties on both sides of Alum Rock Avenue, will have their way and wring every buck out of the Village before they go their way to do the same thing to the next hopeful little business district. Neither Cesar Cadena nor Malcolm Denham, Lawrence Company principals, had the grace to return NNV’s calls and voice mails. It seems they truly couldn’t care less.

And shouldn’t the City’s Redevelopment Agency be “minding the store”? Nope, they cannot “intervene in the relationship between landlords and tenants,” says Anne.

So, what can we do? Who can help us? Who cares?

In the last edition of NNV, Councilmember Nora Campos said she “shares your concerns and urges residents to share their thoughts with the property owner.” Click here to read her article including what she told The Lawrence Company. She suggested we “phone The Lawrence Company at (408) 297-4500 to express (our) concerns.”

Let’s do that and let our Councilmember know what response we get and what we think about this situation. You can also write a Letter to the Editor to NNV (and copy Councilmember Campos if you wish).

Councilmember Nora Campos, District 5, Phone (408) 535-4905, E-mail

NNV Letter to the Editor: E-mail (please put “Letter to the Editor” in the Subject line so we know we can publish it – your name will be used but no contact information will be included).

Click here to see photos of the “available” signs and the sad faces of the former occupants and customers of Kattengell’s.”

Are all property owners like this? Click here to read the NNV briefs below about what’s happening at White and McKee and what we might be able to hope for at the Alum Rock Feed & Fuel corner.

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Alum Rock Park Landslide “Fix” Fizzles

City decides not to modify Penitencia Creek to protect landslide “toe”

The City’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services folks invited some Alum Rock Park area residents to a meeting at the Cruz-Alum Rock Library on Thursday evening, July 20th.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for discussion of topics outlined in a letter which PRNS sent earlier in the month. The gist of the letter was “that City staff is recommending not currently proceeding” with the “relocation or the high water by-pass channel” of Penitencia Creek which had been planned as a possible mitigating factor in stabilizing the Crothers/Alum Rock Avenue landslide of winter 97-98.

In 2005 the City “completed a study to ascertain the viability of relocating a portion of” the creek and building a bypass channel to keep the creek’s flow from eroding the bottom of the landslide. The slide runs from Highland Drive above the park, through Crothers Road, through the Park’s service road and through the Alum Rock Avenue entrance of the park. The City says they submitted “this alternative” to regulatory agencies including the National Marine Fisheries Service Division of the U.S. Department of Commerce who responded that they “would oppose any modification” of the creek. Reasons cited were the adverse effect to threatened steelhead and their habitat plus the probability that creek relocation might confer only a partial solution to the landslide problem.

The sixty-or-so neighbors who came out at dinner time in 95 degree heat to attend the meeting were basically from two camps: the folks who live near Crothers Road and the (now-closed-to-vehicles) Alum Rock Avenue park entrance near the landslide and the folks who live near the Penitencia Creek Road (now-exclusive) vehicle entrance to the park. Each camp had its own reasons to care about stabilizing the landslide. The Alum Rockers want the landslide to be controlled so that Crothers Road, the main thoroughfare around the East Highlands, can be reopened. The PCRoad neighbors would love to see the old Alum Rock Avenue entrance restored so their neighborhood would no longer host ALL the vehicular traffic into the park.

A PRNS presentation made it clear that no plans to fix the landslide will be pursued. The only other alternative to working on the creek was to fix the entire slide – a plan which was deemed too costly years ago. Since there seemed no point in beating a dead horse, the meeting attendees sought to get attention to the neighborhood problems which have become ubiquitous as a result of the park entrance changes.

PRNS Division Manager Matt Cano, who led the meeting, decidedly had his ducks in a row – but some of them were pointing in the wrong direction. Every possible “expert” was waiting to address community concerns. There were representatives from the Police and Fire departments, a trails expert and a roads guru. Promises of improved signage and more patrolling plus assurances about fire response and evacuation plans were meant to satisfy the crowd. However an air of resigned cynicism pervaded the room, partly because several of the “experts” obviously didn’t understand the history of the subject or even know where San Jose ends and the unincorporated County areas begin (which determines who has jurisdiction over the streets and signs, etc.).

If anyone disagreed when one man called the creek relocation plan a “red herring” (intended to keep folks mollified and quiet?), no one spoke up. Now folks are wondering why anyone wasted time and money on a study if it was such a slam-dunk that the project would be immediately shot down by the environmental regulatory agencies. Surely the City’s parks people, who work around creeks and endangered species all the time could have quashed this pie-in-the-sky “alternative” before it became a tantalizing hope for people whose lives and property have been forever impacted by the landslide. What were they thinking?

Adding insult to injury, the City reps condescendingly “educated” the crowd by explaining that Alum Rock Park is a regional park. They implied that it’s neither-here-nor-there that Alum Rock Park has effectively become a Berryessa park. They aren’t concerned that park-goers from Alum Rock (and other areas like Evergreen) have to drive to Berryessa to enter the Park. And they’re not overly concerned about the parking problem near the closed Alum Rock Avenue entrance to the Park. And they’re not at all concerned about the East Highlands traffic problem caused by keeping Crothers Road closed.

No wonder folks are cynical – and disappointed (and some are fuming) – and no wonder that “County pocket” residents don’t want to be annexed into such a dysfunctional city. The “can-do” attitude of the County is such a contrast even though they have much less taxpayer money to use.

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Wall Street Journal Article Features Eastside Scholar

Ambitious scholarship winner draws attention and venom!

An Eastside high school boy, an outstanding scholar at his school, was the topic of a Wall Street Journal article in May, but not for the reason he supposed.

The boy was a brilliant, straight A student leader at his school who had come from Mexico during the middle of his eighth grade year on a short term visa - not speaking English. He lives with his single mother who works two low-paying jobs. Because of his “will to have a better life,” he says, he threw himself into learning English with the same intensity he applies to every aspect of his young life.

His focus in high school was literature. He likes to write (and does it beautifully) and “contemplate the world,” he says.

During all but one of his high school years, he held down a job even as he did community service. He was deeply involved in Californians for Justice - advancing to a leadership role and representing his school at the regional level. He was a leader of many organizations and he held high student body office in his senior year. He won a $20,000 merit scholarship from the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation. He earned a full, four-year merit scholarship to Santa Clara University.

The boy knew that his hard work and extreme success were newsworthy so he wasn’t surprised when a Wall Street Journal reporter called to interview him. She asked him about his struggle to learn English and she also asked him about his disappointment when, initially, Coca Cola told him they couldn’t award him a promised $4,000 scholarship because of his immigration status. The boy sensed that the reporter was being evasive when he asked her to tell him a little about the article she was writing about him – and she waffled.

So, the boy was not totally amazed to find that, in her article, he was the figurative “Example A” in an above-the-fold front page (B1) story about scholarships and undocumented winners. The article includes information about the boy, but, unlike the story the reporter implied she was writing, it’s primarily about the challenge facing American corporations and their scholarship-awarding foundations: “whether to award scholarships to students who are in the U.S. illegally.”

The boy’s high school mentors had helped him apply for scholarships. They also had come forward to intervene when the initial scholarship was to be withdrawn because of the immigration problem. They knew, of course, that the boy is an undocumented person. There are many students in San Jose in that status. To the mentors, a deserving student is a deserving student no matter what his citizenship status is.

In the article, the reporter explained how the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation, despite reservations, found a way with which they were comfortable to award the boy $4,000. Not only that, after more interviews, they chose him as one of 50 (out of 250) winners who would each receive a $20,000 award!

According to his mentors, the boy is a phenomenal person, “the All-American boy,” and they are proud of their role in exhorting him never to give up. “He turns negatives into positives!” said one. Both got tears in their eyes when asked what a boy in this position can do to assure he will eventually become a legal U.S. citizen. The current anti-immigration sentiment in the U.S. is very discouraging, they say. “And there’s no going back to Mexico,” they add, “there’s nothing there for an achiever like him.”

A Wall Street Journal reader responded to the article with a fury that took the boy’s breath away. The boy had assumed that Americans reading the article would appreciate his hard work and talent and not begrudge him scholarship money he had won on his own merit.

The reader wrote an angry diatribe in which she characterized the piece as “an interesting article sob/story.” And she referred to the boy as “the illegal (last name)” She took to task the companies which grant college scholarships to “illegal aliens” and suggested we ask ourselves if we “want to finance this by continuing to by (sic) their products.” She suggests that generous companies make undocumented people’s “entry into and survival in our country easier and more attractive.” “… you get rid of more bees with vinegar than honey,” she concluded.

The boy starts at Santa Clara in the fall. He plans to major in political science and is already thinking ahead to getting his masters degree. He would love to work for the U.N. someday – as an American. Asked whether there is a topic he feels very strongly about, he answers, “Immigration!” He says the scathing response to the scholarship story opened his eyes to a degree of anti-immigrant sentiment he didn’t realize was there.

“Everybody deserves what they work for!” he says emphatically.

NNV Note: We have not named the boy because we don’t want to jeopardize his opportunities to take advantage of the fine education which awaits him. The boy had willingly granted interviews (with the encouragement of his mentors) until he (and they) realized the level of anti-immigrant vitriol evidenced by the WSJ reader.

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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"
Conveniently located at Alum Rock Avenue and White Road in San Jose


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

Is New Neighborhood Voice Journalism? Who knew?

Scholarly interview makes us think

A terrific young Stanford scholar came to visit us. As a result of our community associations which have grown out of producing New Neighborhood Voice, Isabel Awad asked to interview us to further her research. It was fun being on the other end of an interview, but it also made us think seriously about the role journalism plays in a community – and about our contribution.

Isabel, a native of Chile, is a PhD candidate at Stanford, where she does communication research encompassing “the intersection of cultural studies, anthropology and literary theory.” She is particularly interested in the way Northern California’s minorities are included or excluded in the media and how this “translate(s) into actual participation of these minorities in America’s supposedly multicultural society.”

So, how do Isabel’s interests relate to NNV? We wondered about that, too! Isabel explained that, in her quest “to understand the role the media play, may play, [or] should play in the empowerment of the community,” she interviewed community leaders here in East San Jose.

“New Neighborhood Voice came out in one of my interviews,” she wrote, and “I’m really interested in what you are doing.” Muy flattering, we thought!

Before Isabel’s visit, it had never occurred to us to think of ourselves as “journalists” even though we have been creating the newsletter for almost four years. We’re more of a newsletter/Web site team composed of one Fine-Arts-major-who-likes-to-write and one Electrical-Engineer-who-likes-to-exploit-the-capabilities-of-computers. To us “Journalism” implied all sorts of social responsibilities, rules of syntax, restraints, constraints, and ethical considerations. Heck, we just find out stuff about the community and we write about it. It was slightly embarrassing to try to express to Isabel just why we do what we do.

When she asked us to define our agenda, we were at an uncharacteristic loss for words. We never had an agenda – except to provide a forum and means of communication for the neighborhood after East – the Neighborhood Voice folded! The issues which prompted us to start NNV (mail theft in the San Jose Country Club area, closure of Crothers Road, the impending disruption of the Miguelito bridge improvement) have mostly had their day.

What we had to tell Isabel is that, as we began to understand the relationship of our Country Club neighborhood to the rest of East San Jose, we realized that our little neighborhood was a tiny cog in a much bigger engine than we had ever contemplated. As we grew to appreciate the historic relationship between our neighborhood’s hub, James Lick High School, and the Alum Rock area, we knew that the concerns of hill-dwellers were miniscule in the grand scheme of the overall neighborhood and that we are part of something really big and important – and wonderful.

Essentially, we told her, our role has evolved into “advocating” for an area which has had a bum rap. We have enjoyed pointing out the positives of living in this demographic of diversity. We figured out early on that, if we focused on the negatives, we could do significant harm. It is clichéd, of course, to cite the East Side’s cultural diversity, but in meeting the people who live here as we wrote about them, we have come to appreciate the humanity of every soul who lives here.

We think we might actually have played a role in the “empowerment of the community” even though, with just one exception, we have published in English only.

Charming Isabel took reams of notes about us, our motivation and NNV. They’ll be processed as miniscule bits for her PhD thesis. Our data will be in there someplace, we’re proud to say!

We don’t want to take ourselves too seriously but we hope Isabel is on to something. As an ex-Mercury News reporter wrote to us recently, “What you do is better than a real newspaper. You are on the cutting edge. I went to a writers’ conference at Harvard in December and folks there were all excited by talk of communities starting what you are already doing. You are ahead of your time.”

We appreciate the praise but we don’t know how to transform what we are doing into what the community really needs in terms of a much wider-read news vehicle. This is the challenge we pass on to any successor.

Click here for a photo of Isabel.

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San Jose Regional Medical Center Duo Wins National Recognition

Honored for “unique relationship of trust, collegiality and mutual respect”

From Victoria A. Emmons, VP Public Affairs & Marketing

Cyndy Flores, PA-C and Elaine Nelson, MD, have forged a unique and highly effective partnership - one that received national recognition this spring.

As lead Physician Assistant and Medical Director in Regional Medical Center of San Jose’s Emergency Department (ED), their clinical duties are accompanied by responsibility for the smooth functioning of all Regional’s emergency and urgent care services. It has been a daunting task for the duo, especially since they had to blend two hospital cultures (Regional’s and now-closed San Jose Medical Center’s) and the number of patients presenting at the ED has increased 40 to 50 percent since December 2004. Additionally, Regional became a Level 2 Trauma facility last year and opened an Urgent Care clinic.

Despite these challenges, Flores and Nelson have led an operational reorganization that has transformed Regional’s ED. Overseeing a combined total of 30 PAs and physicians, they have implemented changes such as Rapid Medical Evaluation, helped reduce the time it takes for a patient to see a medical provider from more than 70 minutes to less than 30 minutes, reduced to less than one percent the number of patients who leave without being seen, and dramatically decreased ambulance diversion time from 40 hours per month to less than five hours. Some patients are seen and discharged without ever having to be admitted. And best of all, patient satisfaction has climbed from the lowest quartile to score well above the mean consistently.

Those achievements have caught the attention and admiration of their peers. Last year, Regional Medical Center received the “Emergency Department of the Year” Award from California Emergency Physicians Medical Group, and in May, Flores and Nelson’s 13-year partnership as a physician/PA team was recognized with the coveted PAragon Award from the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The award honors one physician-PA team nationally “that exemplifies the unique relationship of trust, collegiality, and mutual respect that is essential to the PA profession.”

“Elaine and Cyndy have led us through an incredibly challenging period, displaying unquestionable leadership at every moment,” said Bill Gilbert, CEO of Regional Medical Center. “Their achievements have been extraordinary. They make us proud.”

Flores gives much of the credit to her friend and colleague.

“I think the high level of morale in the Emergency Department is a testament to the example that Dr. Nelson sets,” said Flores. “Her commitment to patient care shines through in everything she does here - both clinically and administratively. Whether it is fighting for more equipment or increased staffing, she is always focused on doing things that have a positive effect for patients.”

But as the PAragon Award highlights, the accomplishments also are a credit to the unique partnership between PAs and physicians - exemplified by Nelson and Flores - that exists within Regional, where Physician Assistants play an essential role, providing care to many patients, especially those with less acute illnesses or injuries. Physician/PA teams not only have implemented improved patient care and satisfaction in Regional’s ED, but have made a positive impact on the bottom line despite a high percentage of uninsured and underinsured patients. Nursing and other staff turnover has dropped dramatically, too.

Nelson and Flores have led the way, making it look almost easy; but both maintain punishing schedules, balancing work and home life. In addition to heading the ED at Regional, Dr. Nelson serves on many committees and advisory boards, is active in her church, and somehow manages to find time for recreational activities that include running and hiking with her husband of 22 years. The Sacramento native, now a resident of Los Altos, has four children ranging in age from seven to 19 (the oldest attends UCLA.) Still, she says her proudest career achievement is what she and Flores have achieved at Regional.

Physician’s Assistant Flores, a native of Sedalia, Missouri, who now lives in San Jose, is a past president of the California Academy of Physician Assistants, and currently chairs their Continuing Medical Education (CME) committee. But she describes her family as her top priority, and is proud that her professional success was achieved while still maintaining “a wonderful, loving relationship with my husband” - whom she describes as “my number one fan.”

Ironically, few outside the medical profession understand the role of a Physician Assistant, the modern version of which was an outgrowth of the Vietnam War, when there was a shortage of MDs to meet the needs of the military. Thousands of paramedics became trained and skilled in clinical care, handling nearly all of the same tasks as regular doctors, but under the supervision of a physician. When these soldiers started coming home, both government and the medical profession recognized that their experience and skill could be put to use meeting the growing need for primary care providers in the U.S. - especially in underserved areas.

The first Physician Assistant class in a degree program - shorter and less expensive than physician training programs - graduated from Duke University in 1967. Since then, more than 50,000 new PAs have entered the profession - but that still isn’t enough to meet the burgeoning need. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates there are at least 65,000 PA positions available, and 15 percent of PAs hold more than one position. In clinics and hospitals throughout the country, Physician Assistants work interdependently with physicians to diagnose, treat and prescribe drugs to patients. Their presence helps moderate the rising costs of care and also helps address a growing gap in the availability of primary care for low income and isolated populations.

Neither Nelson nor Flores expected to win the PAragon Physician/PA award. “I’m humbled just to be considered,” said Nelson. “There are some amazing Physician/PA pairs out there, doing great things, often in non-profit settings. To receive this recognition represents a career high mark for me.”

“Personally, I cannot begin to explain what an honor it is to win this award alongside Dr. Nelson, who is my mentor, an exceptional medical director and one of my best friends,” said Flores. “It doesn’t get any better.”

Nelson and Flores received the award at the National AAPA Conference in San Francisco May 28th at a special awards luncheon.

Regional Medical Center of San Jose is a full-service, 204-bed hospital and an affiliate of HCA (NYSE:HCA), the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services, composed of approximately 190 hospitals and 91 outpatient surgery centers in 23 states, England and Switzerland. For more information, visit

Click here for a photo of this team which works in our community.

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Making Sure James Lick High School Soars Again

Ambitious programs will enrich school

New leadership must be carefully chosen to replace strong outgoing principals

Beginning in May a series of meetings was held at James Lick High to discuss the future of our local high school. The attendees varied from meeting to meeting, but overall involved ESUHSD Superintendent Bob Nunez and other district representatives; Principal Bill Rice and Lick staff members; student body leaders; parents; alumni; and interested community members. The topic under consideration was the future of the school and how to ensure that Lick thrives.

The old bugaboo of Lick’s negative perception in the community received the most scrutiny. It was noted that in the past, the school suffered from a negative reputation in other regions of the city. Now, not only do Northsiders, Southsiders and Westsiders denigrate our school, but so do the very members of our Eastside community! Obviously the time has come to aggressively demonstrate James Lick’s many strengths to our own community.

The consensus of the meeting was that it would take a great deal of positive PR to counter the layers of negativity which keep the school’s strong assets in shadow. It seems that parents and students in our area are unaware that James Lick has an exceptional staff of highly trained and motivated teachers. They don’t realize that a small high school offers much more personalized attention for students. If they knew that the school offers Advanced Placement courses in many subjects, they have forgotten. Most don’t know there are programs such as band and choir or that most Lick kids are fabulous individuals. Instead it seems some urban rumors (which were never true in the first place) are viewed as distressing reality at Lick.

Superintendent Nunez has ordered up some ambitious additions to the school’s core program. These include reinstating Lick’s Communications Magnet program by moving state of the art broadcast equipment from Evergreen Valley High and installing it at Lick at a cost of about a million dollars. Nunez also wants to see Lick become a college prep school or university academy in the very near future. And, to make sure the community is aware of these rich enhancements at Lick, he proposes to hire professional Public Relations experts who will get the word out and poll the community to be certain the message registers.

Beloved lead principal Bill Rice has announced his retirement at the end of the 06-07 school year. Co-leader Joel Herrera (one of the “Three Amigos” leadership team which included Rice, Rick Esparza and himself) has moved on to a position as Director of Personnel in the Oak Grove School District. Nunez proposes hiring a new interning principal to spend this next school year learning the ropes from Bill Rice before Bill leaves.

These are ambitious changes for our small school and they will mean great challenges for the leadership and staff. The choice of the leader of the communications magnet will be critical as will the choice of the new principal who will be expected to fill Bill Rice’s enormous shoes. It’s not that Bill has big feet, of course, but he has a huge heart, charisma, passion and commitment. The Lick staff, parents, students and community members who went to bat to retain Bill Rice during the past school year (when Mr. Nunez wanted to move him to Independence High), will insist that a leader of no uncertain capability is hired. Ask any Lick staff member about changes to the school under the leadership of The Three Amigos (and ultimately Bill Rice), and they will tell you how important it is to continue the positive momentum with a very carefully chosen person.

Meanwhile, the staff is trying to stem the tide of transferring incoming freshman students who haven’t gotten a just picture of James Lick High School. Often it requires meeting with each set of parents individually to counter the misunderstandings about the school. Obviously it’s time to educate our community about our wrongly perceived school.

Click here for photos from the meeting.

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Boundary Changes Considered for East Side High Schools

Mark your calendar for September 13 at James Lick gymnasium

Is it really important for your student to attend a certain high school? Sure about that?

Some ESUHSD schools are overflowing with students and wanna-be students. Some high schools are operating way below capacity. In an endeavor to even out enrollment, the school district is planning to change school attendance boundaries, probably in time for the 2007 school year.

Here in our Eastside neighborhood, Mt. Pleasant High is currently enjoying enormous popularity – and its near 2,000 member student body is pushing the limits of the school. Overfelt High’s enrollment is around 1,700 after a loss of several hundred students since 2000. James Lick High could qualify as a “small school” with fewer than 1,000 students.

ESUHSD, the largest high school district in Northern California, has about 25,000 students. The capacity of the district is about 31,000. The problem is that it’s not easy to divvy up the students in a way which will maximize each school’s capacity without disappointing some students and parents who have their hearts set on a specific school with specific attributes. Often, the determining factor is a school’s test results.

Test scores should not be the only parameter considered by parents and students. While they measure the test-taking ability of the student body as a whole, they don’t necessarily reflect other important aspects of school life. Students in uncrowded schools can expect to prosper by the “big fish in small pond” advantage where they can stand out and shine in a way they never could in the large, impersonal, more competitive atmosphere of the popular “school du jour.” If more parents thought less about test scores and considered the “fit” between their children and the school space available, the pressure would be off the trendy overcrowded schools and all schools would enjoy a better balanced student body.

NNV wonders whether parents really want their children to be subjected to the high stress competition in high-test-score schools such as Evergreen Valley High which is bursting at the seams. If eventually getting them into a name-brand university is the impetus for putting children in highly competitive high schools, it needs to be pointed out that all ESUHSD schools send graduates to top drawer universities – every year.

A Proposed Boundary Change public hearing specifically covering Lick, Independence and Piedmont Hills was held in May. Some attendees were pretty riled at the prospect of imposed boundary changes which would affect their students. The next public hearing involving Lick, Mt. Pleasant and Overfelt will be held in Lick’s gymnasium on September 13 at 6:30 PM. NNV hopes readers who are facing unwanted boundary changes will attend that meeting with an open mind.

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Click here for Section 2 of the August 2006 Newsletter

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

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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 8/4/06.

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