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Students renew call to change Sequoia High School’s team name

in Education/Featured/Headline by

A group of students have renewed an effort to change the name of Sequoia High School’s team name, the Cherokees, to the Ravens.

The group, called the Ready for Ravens Club, argues the team name Cherokee is insensitive and racially derogatory to Native Americans.

Cherokee became the team name and mascot in 1926. That’s because the school, founded in 1895, was named after the campus’ great redwood trees, which received their name from Chief Sequoyah, a Cherokee Indian scholar.

In recent decades, however, there has been a push at schools and professional sports teams to ban athletic team names, mascots and nicknames that are deemed racially derogatory or discriminatory, including those referring to Native Americans.

In 2000-2001, a similar effort to change the Sequoia High name resulted in the school board passing a resolution to change its physical mascot from a Cherokee to a Raven. However, the school retained Cherokee as the team name, even after the then-chief of the Cherokee Nation described the name as offensive.

At the time, the decision to keep the team name was to continue honoring Chief Sequoyah, while the decision to drop the mascot was to end the school’s physical representation of the Cherokee.

But the student group, Ready for Ravens, said it’s time to drop the Cherokee name entirely. The students plan to make their case today at the Sequoia Union High School District board meeting. They will present the following video, as well as results from their research that can be accessed in greater detail here.

“Since [2000-2001], many studies have been done and resolutions and laws have passed that make it the right time to revisit this, and we believe it is now time to change the team name to Ravens,” the student groups says.

The Ready for Ravens Club was formed by students in February with advisory support from school staff and parents. It held weekly meetings, conducted research and surveys, raised awareness and even produced a video report. The group gathered signatures and letters of support from over 600 students, staff and teams.

While some students want to keep the Cherokee name, preferring it over the Ravens, “many athletes are no longer proud to be called Cherokees, especially because of the controversies with the Washington and Cleveland professional sports native team names and mascots,” according to the club.

The club also met with the SHS Alumni Association, “many members of whom feel very strongly about keeping the Cherokee name,” the student group said.

The students will appear this evening at the Sequoia Union High School District Board of Trustees meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the Birch Conference Room of the Sanford Building at 480 James Ave.

Homeless spearhead effort to spruce up Redwood City campsite

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An effort to clean up a homeless encampment in Redwood City was spearheaded by the homeless people living there.

David Shearin, executive director of Street Life Ministries, the nonprofit serving local homeless and at-risk populations, told Climate Online he received a call Tuesday from some of the homeless folks living in the encampment located in the northern El Camino area. They decided to take the initiative to clean up their campsite, bagging up all of the trash and setting it on the side in a pile. Shearin was told it was an effort to draw less attention to the site from local authorities.

When Shearin saw the cleaned up site, he was impressed at the amount of work that was accomplished. Illegally dumped old mattresses and pallets had been collected, so Shearin  contacted Chris Rasmussen, the homeless outreach coordinator for the Redwood City Police Department, asking Rasmussen to contact Public Works. Public Works responded in a big way, joining in the cleanup effort, Shearin said.

“They went out there with their large trailers,” Shearin said. “[Public Works workers] saw how great a job [the homeless people] had done, and so they got out and started raking.”

The nonprofit shared photos of the effort on Facebook.

This isn’t the first time Streetlife Ministries has been involved in such cleanups. In April, it held a Community Clean Day at Shasta Street under Woodside Road alongside the Redwood City Police Department. The area was the site of an abandoned homeless camp and was neglected by state agencies.

“Thank you to everyone involved!” the nonprofit stated on the social media platform regarding the latest effort. “We love Redwood City and how our community comes together. Our homeless folks often get a bad rap, but we want ALL to know that this was a group effort that was started by our folks on the street to make our city look better and to be part of the solution.”

Peninsula electric car rebate program boosts dealership sales

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A program offering discounts for the purchase of electric vehicles in San Mateo County is gaining attention.

Now through Dec. 31, Peninsula Clean Energy’s Go Electric EV incentive program provides thousands in savings for buyers and leasers.

With rebates provided by Peninsula Clean Energy, the auto manufacturer, California Air Resources Board and the IRS, one Redwood City man reduced the price of his brand new all-electric Nissan Leaf by more than $13,000, according to ABC7 Bay Area’s Michael Finney and Randall Yip, who recently produced the story titled, “Generous electric vehicle rebate in San Mateo County offered.”

The news station reports drivers can get up to $23,000 in rebates in certain circumstances.

Since Peninsula Clean Energy started the program in October, Nissan of Burlingame reported a 66-percent increase in sales, according to the report.

Peninsula Clean Energy is funding the program via revenues generated from selling electricity. To learn how to access the savings, visit Peninsula Clean Energy’s site here to see the rebates offered from the organization as well as the local dealerships. At the bottom of that webpage, you’ll find links to information on how to access state and federal rebates.


Political Climate with Mark Simon: Redwood City mayor calls for respect on new council

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate by
Political Climate with Mark Simon: Redwood City mayor calls for respect on new diverse council

All over the Peninsula, new council members are taking office, incumbent council members are taking their leave and there are efforts to move past the natural disagreeability that unfolded during the course of a campaign season. But in some instances, those disagreements are still fresh and it is not yet certain if some will be able, or are ready, to move on.

In Redwood City, newly elected Councilwomen Diana Reddy and Giselle Hale took their oaths of office last night amidst the customary ceremonial flourishes,and each of them pledged to represent the whole city, not just those voters who supported them.

For each, their election was more than a little improbable.

Hale, by her own description, was turned down for a Planning Commission appointment little more than four years ago. Yet, here she was, being sworn in as the top winner in the November election with an historic number of votes.

Reddy referenced her own history outside of elective office, seeking a voice for those who feel they are overlooked by the power structure. “I will serve Redwood City as the community organizer that I am,” she said, “by listening and by bringing people to the table.”

Hale reflected the sentiment of her now-colleagues, when she said, “Tonight is about putting the campaign behind us and uniting as one council in service to this great community.”

She said during the campaign it was clear what people wanted: housing affordability, less time in traffic, they want to “get around safely” and, “particularly for working families,” they want day care more widely available.

Addressing her opponents in the campaign, Hale said, “I know that each of us loves this city and we are committed to a prosperous and vibrant future. … My door is always open to partner with you on shared goals.”

Reddy said her campaign was “an all-volunteer, grassroots campaign that resonated with the residents of this community. … We made a covenant to this community to listen. I’m making this covenant to all residents that I will listen.”

Mayor Ian Bain, in his own remarks preceding the two newcomers, also appeared concerned that the disagreements of November might be hard to leave behind.

“We are a diverse group with a diverse set of opinions, but this is a group that is committed to modeling civil civic engagement,” Bain said. “We are going to agree to disagree. We are going to disagree respectfully and we’re going to model that behavior for the community.”

FRACTIOUS FOSTER CITY: Whatever happens at the round of installation meetings taking place this month, they’re all likely to look like a lovefest compared to Foster City.

With two new council members, Richa Awasthi and Sanjay Gehani, sworn in last night, the council promptly split 3-2 in re-electing Sam Hindi as mayor, with Awasthi joining Hindi and Herb Perez in denying the post to Catherine Mahanpour. Then, they did the same thing in electing Perez as vice mayor and rejecting Mahanpour by a 3-2 vote.

A PAIR OF PAPANS: The moment has passed, but for a week or so,San Mateo County had two mayors named Papan. Diane Papan was elected mayor of San Mateo last week, and today, her sister, Gina Papan, finishes her term as mayor of Millbrae.

Their late dad, legendary Assemblyman Lou Papan, would have been thrilled.

Contact Mark Simon at

Photo by City of Redwood City

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.

A Redwood City first: Not enough in my back yard

in Featured/Headline/Infrastructure by
Only objection to this Redwood City housing project: 'Should be bigger'

Housing crisis or not, any council meeting on the Peninsula is more likely than not to hear from NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard) opposing new housing development.

And so it came as a surprise to members of the Redwood City Planning Commission last week when a townhouse development near downtown received nary an objection from the community, except for one: That it’s not big enough.

A three-story residential development featuring 10 townhouse-style units at 211 and 217 Vera Ave. received unanimous approval by the city’s Planning Commission. The development, which will feature units of about 2,000 square feet with garages and private porches, is set to replace aging homes at the site.

The project received no push back from neighbors. No protest signs were drawn up. No outrage was expressed in social media groups. All commissioners supported the addition of housing options near downtown.

However, there was one comment from the owner of three nearby properties that came close to opposition. In a letter to the city, Kevin Guibara, owner of three nearby properties, voiced “strong support for any type of new construction to help ease the housing crisis.” But he felt the project should have been five stories with at least 20-25 units.

“Zoning has failed to keep up with the population growth,” his letter stated.

The dissent was not unnoticed by the Planning Commission.

“It’s very rare we get letters from the public saying, ‘This project should be bigger,” Commissioner Giselle Hale said.

Photos courtesy of the City of Redwood City

Online fundraiser launched in wake of teacher’s death

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An online fundraiser has been launched for the family of a Redwood City father who was fatally shot by police Monday.

The community is mourning the loss of Kyle Hart, 33, a middle-school teacher who leaves behind his 32-year-old wife, 2-year-old son and newborn daughter, according to the account. The fundraiser was launched by loved ones and had amassed over $2,000 in donations as of Tuesday afternoon, with a goal of $25,000.

About 8:50 a.m. Monday, police responded to the family’s home in the 400 block of Lincoln Avenue after receiving a call that Hart was trying to cut his throat and wrists. When officers arrived, they encountered a woman in the front yard covered in blood, according to the Redwood City Police Department.

She directed officers to the back yard, and two initial arriving officers encountered Hart in the side yard armed with a butcher knife, police said.    The officers, both trained in Crisis Intervention Techniques, attempted to get Hart to drop the knife, but he refused and began running at the officers, police said. After a failed attempt to deploy a TASER by one of the officers, the other officer, a 20-year veteran, used his firearm to shoot Hart in order to keep him from advancing, police said.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the shooting, per protocol in officer-involved shootings.

Hart’s death has caused deep sadness in the community and the Palo Alto school district where he worked. For the past three years, he taught English and Social Studies at Greene Middle School and had previously worked at J.L. Stanford Middle School, both part of the Palo Alto Unified School District.

Counselors were being made available to students who knew Hart.

In the GoFundMe, Hart was described as an “incredible father, husband, son, brother, teacher, and friend.” He had the “biggest heart and smile” and was passionate about teaching and looked after his students.

“Although the Hart family would never ask for help, they are some of the most loving and generous people, so we are asking others to consider donating to support the family in the short- and long-term,” according to the fundraiser. “With two little ones at home, their family has many daily, monthly, and yearly expenses that quickly add up, and we want to make sure the Hart family can focus on their health and happiness rather than expenses for the foreseeable future.”

Shoplifter pleads no contest to threatening security at San Carlos Home Depot

in Crime/Featured/Headline by
Shoplifter pleads no contest after threatening security at San Carlos Home Depot

A Redwood City man who threatened San Carlos Home Depot employees with a pocket knife after being caught shoplifting — then dropped his U.S. passport, Oregon birth certificate and cellphone during his getaway — pleaded no contest Monday to felony  attempted criminal threats, prosecutors said.

The no contest plea came on the condition that Eric David Mills serves no more than 16 months of incarceration, prosecutors said.

The items that Mills dropped during his getaway on May 10 helped San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies track him down. A week later, an officers spotted Mills in a car on 5th Avenue in Redwood City, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. The car was stopped and Mills was arrested.

Prosecutors said the day of the crime, Mills had picked up $672.57 worth of tools and then walked out of the Home Depot at 1125 Old County Rd. Two loss prevention officers ordered him to stop and chased after him. Mills tried to run but eventually turned, dropped his tools and took a fighting stance before running off to his car parked in the store’s lot, prosecutors said. At the car, he pulled out a pocket knife and threatened the loss prevention officers.

Mills had faced a three strikes prosecution due to residential burglaries committed in 2002 and 2016.

But in an agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded no contest to felony attempted threats, admitted to the serious felony allegation and admitted the prior felony strike conviction.

His sentencing is expected to occur this morning.

Resolution sets standards for lactation rooms in new county buildings

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Resolution would require lactation rooms in new county buildings

Worksite lactation rooms will be required in all new San Mateo County-owned buildings in which employees will work as part of a resolution approved by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Providing private, convenient space and time for nursing workers is already required under California labor codes, but the county resolution requires amenities that exceed state standards. 

The existing California labor codes require all employers to “make reasonable efforts to provide break time to nursing employees.. in a location that is private, not a toilet stall and is in close proximity to the employee’s work area,” the county says.

“In order to further promote the healthy practice of breastfeeding and to enable nursing county employees to do so, all county maintained buildings and future county maintained buildings should include lactation rooms with features and amenities such as access to electricity outlets, sinks, refrigeration, locks, a chair or sofa and a permanent sign outside the lactation room to indicate its location and whether it is currently in use by a nursing employee,” according to the proposed resolution.

Already, the County of San Mateo’s Human Resources Department has exceeded the state mandate for worksite lactation rooms. Through its Employee Wellness Program, 32 county worksites have a lactation room, with 19 designated solely for that purpose, the county said. Read more about the Worksite Lactation Program here.

The resolution points to the important health benefits of breastfeeding as cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Breastfeeding has benefits for both mother and child, decreasing “risks in obesity, childhood infections and breast and ovarian cancers,” it states.To view the agenda for Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, go here.

Officer-involved shooting in Redwood City

in Crime/Featured/Headline by
Officer-involved shooting in Redwood City

A 33-year-old man attempting to commit suicide was fatally shot by Redwood City police at a home in the 400 block of Lincoln Avenue about 8:50 a.m. Monday, police said.

The incident occurred after police responded to a call about an attempted suicide in progress. A woman called 911 frantically requesting help and reporting that her husband was trying to cut his throat and wrists, police said.

Multiple officers armed with less-lethal weapons responded to 450 Lincoln Ave. They encountered a female in the front yard covered in blood. She directed officers to the back yard. Officers heading in that direction encountered the 33-year-old man, identified as Palo Alto teacher Kyle Hart, in the side yard armed with a butcher knife, police said.

The two initial arriving officers, both trained in Crisis Intervention Techniques, attempted to get Hart to drop the knife, but he refused and began running at the officers, police said.

One officer tried to use a TASER on him, but it wasn’t successful, police said.

“The other officer on scene, a 20 year veteran, was left with no choice but to utilize a firearm to stop the male from advancing,” police said.

‪Per protocol during officer-involved shootings, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office will conduct an investigation. Anyone with information on this incident are asked to call‬ (650)363 4636.‬

Redwood City firefighters battle blaze at tire shop

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The Redwood City Fire Department were battling a blaze at an tire shop early this morning.

The one-alarm fire was reported at Beltran Tire Service at 35 Hazel St. about 4:40 a.m.

The fire is being investigated as suspicious, officials said.

At about 5 a.m., Redwood City police advised residents to avoid El Camino Real south of Woodside due to the fire, recommending alternative routes to get where they need to go.

Further information wasn’t immediately available.

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