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3,000 attend Families Belong Together rally in Redwood City’s Courthouse Square

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3,000 attend Families Belong Together rally in Redwood City’s Courthouse Square

In one of the largest Families Belong Together rallies between San Francisco and Los Angeles on Saturday, an estimated 3,000 people crowded Courthouse Square in Redwood City as part of a national call to end President Donald Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policies that have separated families.

The grassroots local effort, which began in an online messenger thread between Redwood City Education Foundation board members Whitney Black and Giselle Hale, swiftly swelled into a large rally featuring prominent guest speakers and attendees, with elected officials from Mountain View to Millbrae attending, including Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain, Redwood City Councilmember Shelly Masur, Millbrae Vice Mayor Wayne Lee and Belmont Vice Mayor Davina Hurt.

Among the speakers were Charlotte Willner, who along with her husband, Dave, launched a viral fundraiser that raised over $20 million to support separated migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who shared her experience from touring detention facilities in Texas and also revealed actions being taken by Congress.

During the rally, the large crowd chanted demands for immigrant rights, clutched signs denouncing the policy of separating children from families, and collectively sang to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

“I’m a mother, I’m here today with my family and two young daughters. My youngest is just two years old,” Hale told the crowd. “That is the life she will know. Because we will not rest until every one of those children are reuinited with their families.”

Hale encouraged community members to take “meaningful action right here in our community,” first by registering to vote, and also by supporting local organizations that work to protect families in local neighborhoods, such as Faith in Action. One small action, such as the online messenger discussion that led to Saturday’s large rally, can have a significant impact, Hale said.

The Families Belong Together rally was one of many held throughout the nation as part of a national movement organized by MoveOn.

Redwood City’s version was the latest large gathering at Redwood City’s Courthouse Square, which is increasingly emerging an important and central place of distinction and community gatherings on the Peninsula.

Redwood City firefighters’ breakfast the perfect fuel for a busy Independence Day

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Redwood City firefighters' breakfast the perfect fuel for a busy Independence Day

As we’ve reported in length here, a whole lot is happening in Redwood City for Independence Day, so you want to be prepared.

Stake out a good spot along Broadway for the parade?  Check.  Head out in the evening for fireworks?  Check.  Maybe even a stop in between for that open house at the San Mateo County History Museum.  Check.

But – that’s a long day.  So, a good breakfast to get you started?  Check – as long as you join Redwood City Firefighters Association for their annual Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast.

They do the cooking, the serving, the cleaning.  All you have to do is sit down and eat.

You can get off to an early start, because the firefighters start dishing up pancakes at 7:30 am, or you can sleep in a bit (last call is at 10:30 am).  And, breakfast is served at the main fire house (so if you’re wondering how to interest the kids in breakfast – here’s your answer:  eat out at a fire station).  You’ll find the fire station at 755 Marshall Street.  And, for a very reasonable $7 bucks a person, breakfast is served.

Consider donating to the Capital Gazette Fund

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We are devastated by the attack on our colleagues at the Capital Gazette, and we are inspired by its staff, which in the face of unthinkable horror and tragedy, exhibited the courage and dedication to continue serving its community by publishing today.

We encourage our readers to contribute to the fund that has been set up to support those impacted by clicking here.

San Carlos man pleads no contest after dogs found ‘living in squalor’

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A San Carlos man pleaded no contest to animal abuse charges Wednesday after five pitbulls were found living in squalor at his Brittan Avenue home last year, according to prosecutors.

Before his latest arrest, Javier Ian Larson, 37, was on probation for a 2016 misdemeanor conviction for possession of a dangerous pitbull after the dog bit an elderly man. In August last year, during a probation search of his home, San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies found five pitbulls living in horrid conditions.

“The female pitbull was in a closed bathroom with the floor completely covered in three inches of feces and urine, there was no water or food for any of the dogs, and the dogs appeared dirty and not properly cared for,” prosecutors said.

The Peninsula Humane Society took the dogs into custody.

On Wednesday, Larson pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect and admitted to probation violations in two other cases on condition that he serve no more than two years in county jail, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 12.

With a Redwood City Library card, you can learn 87 languages

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San Mateo County Libraries

Maybe you’re planning a trip out of the country. Maybe you’d like to learn the language your family once spoke in the old country. Maybe you’ve always wanted to follow La Boheme in the original Italian.

There are a lot of reasons to know at least a bit of another language. Whatever your reason, Redwood City residents have one single place to start: Pronunciator.  And the place to start Pronunciator is the Redwood City Library website.

Pronunciator is a fun and free way to learn a language.  All you need is a Redwood City Library card and a computer/tablet/smartphone.  If you’ve got those, you’ve got your choice of 87 different languages, from Afrikaans to Xhosa.  You can even learn your new language, in almost any of the other languages on Pronunciator.

It’s all online – at your pace – on your schedule.  If you’d like the human touch – Pronunciator also has live teaching sessions online.  And with the Pronunciator app, you can do a lesson at home on your computer, and pick up where you left off on your phone or tablet, while you’re on the road (just not while you’re actually driving, please).

Even if you’re just planning a trip north of the border, Pronunciator still has you covered with lessons in Canadian English, eh.

Political Climate with Mark Simon: These local ‘YIMBYs’ want constructive online debate

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The hesitancy felt by some candidates for office this election year is a reflection of how our local dialogue has been infected by a national discourse that is distasteful, uncivil, personal and harsh.

Certainly, negative and outlandish accusations frequently trump the more positive attempt to focus on facts and positive discussion, but there are local efforts underway to influence this election cycle to be fact-based and to have disagreements that are policy-driven.

Redwood City Forward was launched in 2015 as a Facebook page and has evolved into a small group of people best described as YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard), who seek ways to advocate and influence policies. It is part of a loose network of such groups – there’s a Bay Area Forward and a Palo Alto Forward, to name a couple. You can find their web page here.

But in their advocacy and on their Facebook page, they are focused on the specifics of policies and are absent ad hominem attacks that descend into the personal or suspicious.

Started and led by Isabella Chu, an associate manager for the data center at the Stanford Center for Population Health Science, she described RWC Forward as an “organization that wants to advocate for evidence-based policies in Redwood City with an eye toward health, prosperity and reducing inequality.”

RWC Forward will not endorse candidates in the upcoming election, although its members are free to do so as individuals.

“We endorse policy, not politics. Good policy really bridges the political divide,” she said.

Good policy is defined by RWC Forward as building more and more dense housing that translates into a wider range of opportunities for a wider swath of the community and a healthier lifestyle centered around transit, biking and walking.

Chu, who relies on a bicycle for her commute, said she has been concerned for some time that Redwood City’s land use policies and, therefore, health and inequality, have been driven only by those who make the most noise.

“The only high-level engagement was a group of people very upset about the changes and seemed to want Redwood City to go back to 1978,” Chu said. “Restricting housing only helps the financial well-being for anyone over 50.”

On transportation, RWC Forward advocates for a city that is easier to use for pedestrians and cyclists, which means a city where high-density housing is close to a center city that is served by a vibrant, high-frequency system of transit options, and not dependent on the automobile or weighted down by parking.

On housing, RWC Forward advocates policies that encourage small developers, who are capable of building an 8- or 10-unit apartment complex.

“NIMBYs have made sure the only people who can develop are the big-time developers,” Chu said.

WE VOTE RWC: Chu was among those on hand at the kickoff last Thursday at the Club Fox of a nonpartisan, independent and grassroots voter registration drive named We Vote Redwood City and aimed at dramatically increasing voter participation in the November city election.

Mayor Ian Bain opened the event and serves as honorary co-chair.

“The City Council makes decisions every day that touch the lives of our residents. We want to hear from the public and the best way to hear from the public is at the ballot box,” Bain said.”

The event and the drive have been organized by civic activist Jason Galisatus, who said the voter registration effort is the starting point for the goal of voter turnout in the November election, where local races are likely to be overwhelmed by statewide campaigns and ballot measures, and citizen engagement beyond the election. The coalition in support includes Bay Area Forward, RWC Forward, Casa Circulo Cultural, the Redwood City Downtown Association, neighborhood associations from Woodside Plaza and Mt. Carmel.

“We couldn’t care less who people vote for,” Galisatus said, “but it’s important that they vote.”

An extensive outreach is planned, including setting up registration tables at public events and contacting people directly through social media.

Kickoff attendees represented a cross-section of the community, including Council members, John Seybert, Shelly Masur, Janet Borgens and competing Council candidates incumbent Councilman Jeff Gee, Diana Reddy, Giselle Hale and Christina Umhofer.

POSITIVE VOICE: When a discussion on a local Facebook page devolved into angry exchanges and unsupported accusations, Umhofer posted this message: “As a candidate for Redwood City City Council, I am asking that we, as residents of Redwood City, focus on the positives of the candidate/s that you support and not the negatives of the ones you do not support. Regardless of who wins, we are all still residents of Redwood City. We are in this together. Use this page for good.”

Well done.

Contact Mark Simon at

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

Photo credit: City of Redwood City

Free small electronics recycling event coming to Redwood City this month

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Get rid of your old small electronics the green and easy way.

If you live in San Mateo County, you can do that, and do it for free, at the Small Electronics Recycling Drop-Off.

So if you’ve got an old microwave or phone, TV or fax machine (remember those?), computer or printer or stereo – and you want to get rid of it, responsibly – this is your chance.

The place? Redwood City Public Works Facility parking lot, 1400 Broadway.

The day? Saturday, July 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This recycling drop-off is in Redwood City, but it is for ALL county residents.  Just bring proof that you live in San Mateo County (driver’s license, utility bill, that sort of thing).

There is a short list of things you CAN’T bring (like batteries and fluorescent lights), and you can find the full list (plus the full list of what you CAN drop-off) here.

Families Belong Together rally planned for Courthouse Square on Saturday

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Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

New details have been released about the Families Belong Together rally set for Courthouse Square in Redwood City this Saturday, including that Charlotte Willner — who along with her husband, Dave, launched a viral fundraiser that has raised over $20 million to support separated migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border — will be speaking at the event.

Also, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo is set to attend the Redwood City rally to share her experience from touring detention facilities in Texas, along with actions being taken by Congress.

The rally, scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon at the square at 2200 Broadway St., is being held in solidarity with the national Families Belong Together Day of Action, where rallies and marches across the nation will call for an end to the separation and detention of immigrant families.

The local rally is a grassroots effort that began in an online messenger thread between Whitney Black and Giselle Hale, who both serve on the Redwood City Education Foundation board. They registered the event with the national movement organized by MoveOn and then quickly began building a team that represents a broad base of support for the immigrant community across San Mateo County. The local rally features a long list of “co-hosts” from city councils and other public agencies throughout the county.

Hale, an active member of numerous local organizations, a Redwood City planning commissioner and also a candidate for City Council, said the effort to oppose and change President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is fundamentally about “love of country and family.”

“At the core of who we are as Americans is our love of country and family,” Hale said. “From the border to our neighborhoods, we must not only ask ‘where are the children’ but how we as residents locally stand up against a federal government forcibly breaking up families.”

The national immigration debate heated up after the Trump administration imposed a “zero tolerance” initiative against illegal entry in the U.S., which led to passionate opposition across the nation against the separations of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Last week, a pressured President Trump signed an executive order to end the process of separating children from families, but the president said he would maintain a “zero tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting all adults caught crossing the border illegally, in order to bolster national security.

This weekend’s Courthouse Square rally aims to proclaim that detaining families is “not a solution, it is a jail sentence,” adding those fleeing violence and poverty “must be protected and safe.”

“Our demand is clear and not negotiable: Trump’s policies of separating and detaining families must be stopped indefinitely and families must be reunified,” according to the Facebook e-vite.

Stanford’s new outpatient building in Redwood City celebrated with ribbon-cutting

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Stanford celebrates opening of state-of-the-art outpatient building in Redwood City

The newly built “high-tech, high-touch” medical building at the Stanford Medicine Outpatient Center in Redwood City is scheduled to open for patient care on July 9.

On Monday, Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain, Councilmember Janet Borgens and Amy Buckmaster, president and CEO of the Redwood City/San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce, joined community members and medical professionals at a ribbon-cutting for the new facility at 420 Broadway St., called Stanford Medicine Outpatient Center, Pavilion D.

The three-story, 90,000-square-foot clinic will complement services provided by Stanford’s first outpatient center at 450 Broadway that opened in 2009.

The building aims to achieve a new level of collaborative patient care — the design includes “clinic pods” that place specialists across different practices into the same workplace so they can more efficiently discuss a patient’s care, according to Stanford officials.

“Having a world-class facility like the Stanford Medicine Outpatient Center in Redwood City makes health care more convenient and accessible to our residents,” Mayor Bain said. “This new medical building broadens the range of expertise and services available here, and throughout San Mateo County.”

The medical building boasts a new Orthopaedic Clinic; Digestive Health Center; Pelvic Health Center; Endoscopy Procedure Suite; and Imaging. And it will complement services provided at 450 Broadway such as orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, dermatology, sleep medicine and pain management, according to Stanford.

The facility also includes extra-wide exam chairs in spacious rooms, consultation rooms for telemedicine visits, a health library, and private surgery prep rooms located just outside each of the procedure rooms.

“The Stanford Medicine Outpatient Center captures the essence of the high-tech, high-touch concept that is so important to our Precision Health vision,” said Lloyd B. Minor, M.D., dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Stanford Medicine is excited to expand and improve upon our ability to deliver leading-edge health care throughout our community, making it more convenient for our patients to receive a broad range of health care services.”

Google, HandsOn Bay Area help make over SVDP Thrift Store

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SVDP Thrift Store gets makeover thanks to Google, HandsOn Bay Area

A volunteer effort involving Google employees and HandsOn Bay Area led to the makeover of a Redwood City thrift store.

In a Facebook post Monday, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of San Mateo County expressed gratitude to volunteers from Google and HandsOn Bay Area for helping beautify the thrift store at 2406 El Camino Real.

Google employees “categorized hundreds of pieces of delicate glass items, sorted/color coded/sized dozens of racks of clothing, built shelving and display units, and gave the dressing room area a little love with beautiful paint, all the while staying positive and eager to continue,” according to SVDP-San Mateo County.

HandsOn Bay Area, which helps coordinate volunteer projects, was credited with helping to organize the makeover.

SVDP-San Mateo County provides a variety of services to San Mateo County residents in need

Photo: Facebook via SVDP

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