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Food for fines at San Mateo County libraries

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Learn to make native California holiday wreaths at Redwood City Library

This holiday season, you can clear your library fines while helping those in need.

Now through Dec. 31, patrons who donate nonperishable food items at participating libraries in San Mateo County will have their outstanding Library fines/fees waived. This is valid only for library fines, not lost or damaged items.

All food collected will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. The food must be in store-sealed cans, boxes, or plastic containers within its expiration date. No glass containers, perishable food or opened containers will be accepted.

For more information, click here.

Participating libraries:

REDWOOD CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY
Redwood City Downtown, Fair Oaks, Schaberg, Redwood Shores

BURLINGAME PUBLIC LIBRARY
Burlingame, Easton

COLLEGE LIBRARIES
Canada College, College of San Mateo, Skyline College

DALY CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY
Bayshore, John Daly, Serramonte, Westlake

SAN BRUNO

SAN MATEO COUNTY LIBRARY
Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, Pacifica Sanchez, Pacifica Sharp Park, Portola Valley, San Carlos

SAN MATEO PUBLIC LIBRARY
San Mateo City Downtown Main, Hillsdale, Marina

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO LIBRARY
Main Library, Grand Avenue

 

Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

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Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival

This Sunday, Dec. 2, join Chabad Mid Pen for the Ninth Annual Chanukah Festival at Courthouse Square.

Come out and watch as a giant glow in the dark Menorah will be lit. Guests can enjoy entertainment, music, latkes and donuts, and an amazing time for the whole family, including Ben Kramarz live and a Chanukah Gelt Drop.

The event includes children’s activities at 4 p.m. and the Menora lighting at 4:30 p.m.

For more information click here.

Volunteers needed for one-day homeless count in San Mateo County

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Volunteers needed for one-day homeless count in San Mateo County

Volunteers are being sought to conduct the biennial One Day Homeless County in San Mateo County.

In collaboration with community partners, the San Mateo County Human Services Agency will conduct the count on Thursday Jan. 31, 2019, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.  The census and survey aim to gather data on the number, characteristics, and service needs of people experiencing homelessness in San Mateo County. They are a crucial component to planning and developing services in the county.

After the most recent count in 2017, the county determined there were 1,253 homeless people the night of Jan. 25 of that year, including 637  unsheltered, living on the streets, in cars, in RVs or tents and encampments, and 616 sheltered, living in emergency shelters or transitional housing.

That overall homeless count in 2017 was a 16-percent decrease compared with the one-day count in 2015, with the biggest decreases made in the numbers of people living on the streets and in encampments.

To volunteer in the next count, sign up here. Volunteers must attend a 2-hour volunteer training.

Photo: San Mateo County Human Services Agency

Max’s Cafe of Redwood set to close Dec. 15

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Max's Cafe of Redwood set to close Dec. 15

Max’s Cafe of Redwood City is set to close on Dec. 15.

The restaurant’s manager told Climate Online that the rent “almost doubled” for its current space at Sequoia Station.

This past summer, the Max’s Cafe at Stanford Shopping Center in Palto Alto also closed after three decades in operation — in part due to rising rents and the influx of new competing restaurants, according to Palo Alto Online. That location, at 711 Stanford Shopping Court, is now home to a Pacific Catch.

Max’s Restaurant is a family-owned eatery that offers deli sandwiches, salads and entree specialties, fresh-baked breads and desserts as well as catering. It continues to operate locations in Burlingame, San Francisco and Auburn. See the company’s website for more information.

Photo: Google Maps

Redwood City downtown preps for festive Hometown Holidays

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Redwood City downtown preps for festive Hometown Holidays

Redwood City’s downtown is about to get holiday-festive in a major way. There will even be snow.

As happens each year on the first Saturday of December, the Redwood City Downtown Business Group this Saturday, Dec. 1, is throwing a significant holiday party in various downtown locations that includes a parade, Snow Lot, meetups with Santa Claus, entertainment and a tree lighting.

The Downtown Redwood City Hometown Holidays event begins at 10 a.m. with the opening of a Snow Lot, Santa photos, musical entertainment, carnival and vendors. The parade starts at 4:30 p.m., followed by the tree lighting at Courthouse Square at about 5:45 p.m.

And, as we’ve reported recently, the Caltrain Holiday trail will roll into Sequoia Station at 6:10 p.m.

New this year, is a Children’s Play area, featuring inflatable jump houses by Kidzz Star Jumpers, located from Jefferson to Main Street on Broadway.

And don’t forget to stop in the San Mateo County History Museum, which will host related activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. including “Tree Treasures,” which includes children’s craft activities such as making old-fashion Christmas tree ornaments. At the museum at 1 p.m.,  the San Francisco State University Handbell Choir will perform holiday tunes in historic Courtroom A. Additionally, children can meet and appear in free photos with Santa Claus.

FREE FAMILY CELEBRATION HIGHLIGHTS
– Crafts Fair & Children’s Carnival from 10am to 8pm
– Parade at 4:30pm
– Tree Lighting 5:45pm
– Caltrain Holiday Train Arrives 6:10pm
– Live Holiday Music 6:00-8:00pm

ACTIVITIES OF NOTE:
– Free admission to the San Mateo County History Museum
– An incredible, kid-pleasing snow play area
– Live entertainment featuring the SOJ Big Band
– Kids’ Play Area
– Santa Claus Photos in the History Museum
– Carnival Rides
– Food and Craft Vendors
– Annual City Hall Tree Lighting on the corner of Hamilton and
Broadway
– Caltrain’s Holiday Train toy collection train arrives at Redwood City’s Sequoia Station train platform at approximately 6:10pm. Glowing with thousands of lights and holiday decorations, the Holiday Train makes 20-minute station stops, where Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty, and the gang get off the train to greet children and spread holiday cheer. Bring the family to join in the fun, along with a new, unwrapped toy to donate to the Holiday Train Toy Drive.

Fore more information, go here: https://www.hometownholidays.org

Photo from last year’s Hometown Holidays event from Hometownholidays.org.

 

Trustees vote to close four Redwood City schools

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Trustees vote to close four Redwood City schools

By Bill Shilstone

Moving to “right-size” the Redwood City School District in the face of declining enrollment, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday night to close four schools next year to help close a $4 million budget deficit for 2019-20.

The action came after a final outpouring of emotion, some of it from trustees, at a four-hour meeting at Sequoia High School attended by about 600 members of the school community.

Supt. John Baker said he and his administrative team on Monday will begin the transition for the 1,900 students who will have to change schools.

Choking back tears, Trustee Dennis McBride called on the families of 1,100 students who have fled to charter schools to return to the district. Each child brings about $10,000 to the district under the state funding formula.

The final plan calls for the closing of four campuses: Fair Oaks (current enrollment 221), Hawes (301), Orion (270) and Adelante (464). Orion’s parent participation program will move to the John Gill campus and Adelante’s Spanish Immersion program will move to Selby Lane. Selby Lane’s Spanish Immersion program will merge with Adelante’s; the other 460 Selby Lane students will move. At John Gill, 200 students will have a choice of enrolling in the Orion program or moving to another school.

Displaced students from Fair Oaks, Hawes, John Gill and Selby Lane will be given priority to choose and attend any school. Baker said groups of teachers or students who want to move as a group will be accommodated, in consultation with the district teachers’ union.

“We’re going to come to the schools and ask each parent where they want to go,” Baker said. The district also will provide counseling and emotional support to students and teachers who are moving and will work with community partners to provide transportation to the affected students.

The district faces a $10 million budget shortfall in the next three years because of steeply declining enrollment caused by families moving away or choosing charter or private schools. Current district enrollment is 7,600, about half the combined capacity of the 16 schools.

The board’s actions are designed to deal with the cost inefficiency of near-empty campuses and to cut just over $4 million for the 2018-19 school year by the closings — Adelante ($909,000), Fair Oaks ($568,000), Hawes ($561,000) and Orion ($723,000); staff reductions of $700,000; and obtaining outside funding for summer school $673,757. By Dec. 15, the district must present the pared-down budget for certification by the San Mateo County Office of Education, which monitors school district solvency.

Speakers from Fair Oaks, Hawes and Selby Lane asked the board to delay the decision and find an alternative to closing schools. They argued that the burden of the closings falls most heavily on schools with high percentages of low-income students.

Baker presented new school-by-school ethnic balance and socio-economic figures that he said show a reasonable mix in a district with about 80 percent non-white students. They will be posted on the district website.

Hawes parents called for the board to close Clifford instead, arguing that its families have the resources to deal with moving to a new school whereas Hawes families do not. At Clifford, 36 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced-price meals; at Hawes, the percentage is 65. “A lot of us are single Latino mothers struggling to make ends meet,” said one Selby Lane parent.

Several parents said the district will lose more money than it saves because students will leave the district rather than accept the change.

“This is hard for me,” Baker said. “I grew up here in my career.” He has worked in the district for 30 years, first as a kindergarten teacher at Garfield. “I wish that it were an option not to close schools, but we can’t run in the red. We must right-size our district. If we don’t, the county and state will do it for us.”

Board President Maria Diaz-Slocum, who grew up in Redwood City and has been a district parent, said, “My mother was a single parent, so I understand that we are impacting family lives and adding stress, and I apologize. We have to keep going.”

She said criticism that the district is mismanaging its money is unwarranted. “If students aren’t here, we won’t have money,” she said.

Trustee Alisa MacAvoy noted that California is 41st among states in per-pupil funding and urged parents to write to their legislators and sign the Full land Fair Funding for California Schools petition. “I’ve talked to a lot of colleagues around the state who are in the same boat,” she said.

She said she looks forward to the transition. “Everybody loves their school. Every student loves the teacher. It will be the same at new schools, and we will help.”

Trustee Janet Lawson thanked the Taft parent who offered a welcome to Fair Oaks students, and Redwood City Teachers Association President Kevin Sugar told the affected families “We’re with you,” and that teachers would work to “help ease the pain.”

Hilary Paulson, who is retiring from the board and was attending her final meeting, said the district would not sell any of its sites and that “We have had expert advice on how to do this.”

“It’s sad for Hilary that we don’t get to celebrate all her contributions,” Diaz-Slocum said.

SCHOOL-BY-SCHOOL BREAKDOWN OF REORGANIZATION PLAN

Here is how the Redwood City School District reorganization will affect each of the district’s 16 schools, beginning next school year.

Fair Oaks: School closes and students move to nearby Taft or have priority in transfer to any other school in the district.

Taft: Absorbs students from Fair Oaks. The district will go ahead with the scheduled two-year Measure T modernization on the Taft campus, at the same time working with the community to develop an “innovative, academically rigorous program serving a culturally and socioeconomically diverse population.”

Orion: The parent-participation program, one of the Schools of Choice magnets that draw students from throughout the district, moves to John Gill, sharing the site with the Mandarin Immersion program. The Allerton Street campus closes. Orion families who choose not to move with the parent-participation program have the option to attend their neighborhood school.

John Gill: Ceases to become a neighborhood school. Current students have first priority to stay as part of the Orion parent-participation program or to move to another school.

Adelante: Campus on Granger Way closes, and its Spanish Immersion program, another of the district magnets, moves to Selby Lane in Atherton to join 250 Spanish Immersion program students there. Adelante families who choose not to move have the option to attend their neighborhood school.

Selby Lane: 460 students not in the immersion program have priority in moving to other schools. The preschool and transitional kindergarten programs at Selby Lane become Spanish Immersion.

Hawes: School closes and students move to nearby Roosevelt, Henry Ford or Orion (John Gill) or have priority to other schools.

Roosevelt, Garfield, Hoover, Kennedy, Clifford, Roy Cloud, McKinley Institute of Technology, North Star Academy and Henry Ford: Not affected except to absorb displaced students from Fair Oaks, Hawes, John Gill and Selby Lane, who will have priority to choose and attend any school in the district.

No determination has been made on what will happen to the closed-school properties.

The district office will close and move to a vacated school sometime in 2020,  bringing in a potential revenue of $1.6 million a year. Other projects for the near future are a review of the K-8 vs. K-5/6-8 configuration and a study of the role of North Star Academy, the district’s accelerated-learning choice.

The proposals are designed in part to take advantage of the most popular choice programs, including Roosevelt’s project-based learning, by giving them room to expand and possibly attracting more students.

All the proposals, Supt. John Baker said, “should promote racially and socioeconomically balanced schools and not further segregate our students.” The district has a marked east side-west side imbalance, and most of the district’s enrollment decline is happening on the east side.

REDWOOD CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT DEMOGRAPHICS

SCHOOL              CAPACITY*        ENROLLMENT *     NON-WHITE PERCENTAGE**

Kennedy (6-8)     1,680               706                             82

Hoover (K-8)        1,470               681                             98

Selby Lane (K-8)   1,290               740                            95

Clifford (K-8)         1,110               558                            55

Roosevelt (K-8)     1,110               581                            80

Taft (K-5)                1,080               331                            98

Garfield (K-8)         1,020               570                            98

Roy Cloud (K-8)         990               718                            37

Fair Oaks (K-5)           960               221                            97

Henry Ford (K-5)        780               377                           70

McKinley IT (6-8)        720               408                           96

John Gill (K-5)              660               288                           90

North Star (3-8)           630               536                           51

Hawes (K-5)                  570               301                           98

Adelante (K-5)              550               464                           76

Orion (K-5)                    270                211                          53

Total                          14,890            7,691                          80

*Redwood City School District figures from early fall 2018

**State Dept. of Education figures for 2017-18

Updated ethnic and socioeconomic makeup figures are soon to be posted on the district website.

Photos courtesy of the Redwood City School District

 

The Notorious P.I.G.: ‘Piggy Smalls’ up for adoption

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The Notorious P.I.G: 'Piggy Smalls' up for adoption

Piggy Smalls may have come from the streets — but she’s “extremely friendly and will make a wonderful pet,” according to the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA).

Piggy Smalls is the name given to an adult female pig who was found by police wandering at the intersection of Alberni Street and Laurel Avenue in East Palo Alto on Nov. 8. No one has come to claim her, so now she is up for adoption.

While it is uncommon to see pigs at the PHS/SPCA, Piggy Smalls happens to be the third pig admitted this year to its shelter, surprising officials.

“We are committed to finding her a loving home where she will be kept as a pet, not a source of food, just like the other two pigs we received earlier this year,” PHS/SPCA Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox said in a statement.

Piggy Smalls’ age is unknown. She weighs about 45 pounds, and “it is possible she will continue to grow, so potential adopters should have ample space for her,” officials said.

“Pigs can live on average12 to 18 years. Their diet consists of pig pellets, fresh vegetables and alfalfa hay, although Piggy Smalls is very fond of apples,” Tarbox said.

Those interested in meeting Piggy Smalls can call PHS/SPCA at 650-340-7022.

Her adoption fee is $100.

Photos courtesy of the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA).

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Winners and losers in the Nov. 6 election

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The San Mateo County Elections Office said the Tuesday night results included all ballots cast at vote centers. The results also included vote by mail ballots the Elections Office had received in the mail by Monday, and vote by mail ballots turned into Vote Centers and Drop Boxes by Sunday. The results, however, do not include mailed ballots received by the Election's Office after Monday, or ballots dropped off at Vote Centers or Drop Boxes after Sunday. The results also don't include conditional voter registration or provisional ballots. The Elections Office will release another update on results today at 5 p.m.

Finally.

It took exactly three weeks for the San Mateo County Elections Office to count all the votes and provide a definitive answer to the eternal political question: Who were the winners and who were the losers?

Of course, here at Political Climate World Headquarters, we dig a little deeper, so this is our own assessment of who were the big political winners and losers from a mid-term election with an historic turnout.

And we have to start with the voters and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (incidentally, my partner on the Peninsula TV show “The Game.”)

A BIG WIN FOR VOTERS: Voters turned out in tremendous numbers, 73 percent countywide. Four years ago, in the last equivalent statewide election, turnout in San Mateo County was 46.3 percent. Eight years ago, turnout was 65.3 percent.

By any measure, it was a landslide win for the county’s all-mail balloting, an experiment for which Mullin strongly advocated. Certainly, there were other factors that drove voters to participate, but all-mail balloting had to be the leading factor.

Yes, it took three weeks for final results to be counted and for us to know who won in the closest races. But even in elections that were all-precinct, all-machine, close races took three weeks to clear up.

Nonetheless, the slow count did undermine the public confidence in the Elections Office, under the leadership of Mark Church. If all-mail balloting is here to stay, more resources have to be dedicated to a swifter count.

REDWOOD CITY WINNERS: The biggest winner in the county’s hottest City Council race was Giselle Hale, a planning commissioner, who set records in fund-raising and total votes that are unlikely to be broken. She cleared the 12,000-vote threshold, an unprecedented amount of support. Hale clearly has emerged as the leading spokesperson for a new and influential group of voters – new families, often needing two incomes to live in the city, and whose professional background is in the tech industry.

Vice Mayor Diane Howard won re-election, despite highly vocal dissatisfaction about development that never seemed to attach to her. She demonstrated that there is still a place for someone who has been a fixture in the community and whose amiability has made her many friends and, seemingly, no enemies. Howard acknowledged this election signaled a changing of the guard.

And Diana Reddy will bring a whole different approach to serving on the Council. She is accustomed to being outside the chambers, speaking for those who she felt were often overlooked or dispossessed by the power structure. Now, she’s part of the power structure, but she is likely to bring a well-defined political perspective not often seen on the Council.

Her narrow win – she squeaked by Rick Hunter by less than 500 votes – is hardly a mandate. But she undoubtedly will bring a grassroots cadre of supporters to critical council issues and her influence on some key policies is likely to outweigh her victory margin.

For all of her commitment to the cause of social justice, Reddy is an experienced and pragmatic political veteran and she undoubtedly will find ways to work with her colleagues.

Hunter came so close. In another era, his combination of community, school and public service would have made him an easy winner. Nonetheless, he was widely liked for his earnest, gentlemanly manner and he was a unifying figure, drawing votes from all factions of the city’s politics.

The Council would be well advised to make use of Hunter’s mediating skills and wide support. Perhaps he can serve as a special ambassador-at-large, working behind the scenes to resolve the differences that marked this election. And he’d be the ideal person to chair a citizens’ commission on developing the new districts the City Council will soon consider.

The Council has to be at arm’s length from this process, lest it seem entirely political, and Hunter has a reputation that could mark the process as fair and unbiased.

Hunter said he probably won’t run again. The remaining three candidates – Christina Umhofer, Jason Galisatus and Ernie Schmidt – said they might, particularly in an election of districts. Expect to see them again.

A REDWOOD CITY LOSER: The California Apartment Association spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to defeat Reddy, and they failed. I can’t recall a special interest getting this involved in a city council race, and it was an extraordinary effort that came up just short.

Reddy said in a post-election interview that it was “hard to say” what the impact was of the CAA’s onslaught of eight dramatically negative mail pieces. It might have hurt her, she said, but it also energized her own supporters to work even harder.

Such negative campaigning also is a new phenomenon in local campaigns and it is quite likely that it generated its own voter backlash.

HOW BIG? How pronounced was the big turnout in Redwood City?

Councilman John Seybert sent along some interesting data. The percentages in the Council race are badly skewed by the fact that voters could cast ballots for three of the seven candidates.

So Seybert took the total vote for Measure DD, the measure to create a cannabis business license tax, which was 28,404, and, using that as the total number of voters in the city election, calculated that Hale got 44.7 percent of the total votes cast, Howard 41.9 percent, Reddy 39.8 percent and Hunter 38.6.

OTHER COUNCIL WINNERS: It was a big win for the slate of incumbents in Belmont – Charles Stone, Warren Lieberman and Julia Mates – who easily brushed aside the lone challenger representing the old and out-of-power guard of that once-contentious city.

In South San Francisco, the big loser was one-term incumbent Pradeep Gupta, who lost to newcomer Flor Nicolas. The big winner there, however, was Karyl Matsumoto, who singlehandedly recruited Nicolas to take on Gupta. Matsumoto, who has been deciding not to seek re-election for at least a decade, remains a formidable power in the North County.

In Daly City, incumbent Ray Buenaventura pushed through his own slate, including Pamela DiGiovanni and Rod Daus-Magbual.

WINNING IN DISTRICTS: The results in Menlo Park, where district elections were held for the first time, undoubtedly sent a ripple of apprehension through every other city that is going to have to move away from citywide elections for this simple reason: Incumbents Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki both lost.

Based on that small sample, it appears money has substantially less impact in a district-level election. In Menlo Park, the districts were small enough that a candidate can knock on virtually every door. Not every city is going to have districts that small. Still, it’s a signal to other incumbents in other cities.

MAYBE THE BIGGEST WINNER: There may be no bigger winner in this election than Rosanne Foust, the president and CEO of the San Mateo County Economic Association, who singlehandedly raised more than half the $1.1 million that was spent to pass Measure W, the half-cent sales tax increase that will fund badly needed transit and transportation projects in the county.

Since she took over Samceda, Foust has worked tirelessly to remake the group into a regional player and this election proved that she is making great strides. This matters not just for Samceda, but because San Mateo County frequently is overlooked in the play of regional politics. She is doing more than anyone to assert that the county must be given its due.

The win for Measure W came despite several prominent political “leaders” who stayed off the measure, largely because of behind-the-scenes interplay by other regional organizations.

A WIN FOR MOVING FORWARD: Measure W slipped across the two-thirds finish line in the final slug of votes processed by the Elections staff. It’s an example of an endorsement for the progress that has marked the county in the past decades and, by and large, in the Nov. 6 election.

Measure W was a do-or-die moment for transit officials, who need to reinvent the county’s transit and transportation programs to meet the needs of a county choking on traffic. Of course, now they have to deliver and that presents an interesting challenge. Transit projects take years to produce, but the expectation is for some relatively immediate relief.

That’s just one example. Growth is taking place in Redwood City, San Carlos, Belmont and South City and voters essentially endorsed changes that are remaking those communities. In Brisbane, a remarkable 55 percent approved a massive bayside project that will triple the size of that city.

And in Redwood City, a sales tax increase passed easily, suggesting that there is widespread confidence in the direction of the city.

Change is here to stay. And while most of the noise comes from those unhappy with the changes, it is clear the great majority of voters in this election are comfortable with the way the Peninsula is evolving.

HERE’S ANOTHER SIGN: Voters also passed all but one of the fiscal measures on the ballot in San Mateo County. There were five hotel tax increases, five cannabis business license taxes, four other city fiscal measures and five school fiscal measures – a total of 19 in all. The only loss was the Millbrae bond measure to rebuild the community center destroyed by fire. It needed two-thirds, and fell well short.

PENINSULA WOMEN WIN BIG: The national trend of electing record numbers of women was replicated in the county. There were 54 school board and city council seats on the ballot and 35 of them were won by women, 65 percent. On school boards, often a launching pad for higher office, there were 23 seats on the ballot and women won 15 of them, 70 percent.

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

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

Hale, Howard and Reddy win Redwood City Council race

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Political Climate with Mark Simon: Controversial districting process will change status quo

Three weeks after the Nov. 6 election, the Redwood City council race is at last decided.

On social media today, candidate Rick Hunter publicly congratulated Giselle Hale, Diane Howard and Diana Reddy for winning the three open seats in the all-mail ballot election that saw both significant voter turnout and a lengthy ballot-processing period (as explained in more depth by Climate columnist Mark Simon here.)

As of Monday night’s release of results, Hale remained the top-vote getter with 12,708 votes, followed by Howard with 11,892. The race for the third and final seat remained undetermined until yesterday, when Hunter conceded he would not be able to catch up to Reddy in the vote count. As of Monday, Reddy had 11,300 votes over Hunter’s 10,970.

“While the results are not final, after the release of numbers yesterday afternoon, it is clear that I cannot gain enough votes from the few remaining ballots not yet counted (out of the total 30,000 ballots cast) to make up the 330 votes separating me from third place,” Hunter stated in a social media post.

Hunter said he’s proud of his campaign and is committed to achieving its goals that include balanced city decision-making and affordable housing. He also lauded an “extraordinarily high” turnout for the Nov. 6 election.

“As of yesterday, about 75-percent of the 41,000 registered voters in Redwood City cast ballots,” he said, adding the nearly 70,000 votes cast (voters can choose up to three candidates) far eclipsed the about 31,000 votes cast in the most recent City Council election in 2015.

To read Hunter’s full statement, go here.

Nearly 200 families and their supporters protest superintendent’s proposals

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Nearly 200 families, supporters protest Redwood City School District proposals

By Bill Shilstone

Protesting the proposed closing of schools, nearly 200 parents, children and their supporters waited for an hour outside Redwood City School District headquarters Tuesday morning to urge Supt. John Baker to find another way.

Chanting “Si se puede” (“Yes, we can”), the Latino civil rights rallying cry, and with Hawes parent Juan Servin banging on a big circus drum, the protesters walked from the downtown library to the Bradford Street headquarters about eight blocks away.

They made their points with a variety of signs, mostly in Spanish:

“Do not uproot our school.”

“Please don’t separate our students and families.”

“Keep Fair Oaks open.”

“Save Hawes.”

“Caminata por la Equidad, Justicia y Respeto.” (“Walk for Equity, Justice and Respect.”)

“Our message is that the (reorganization) plans put the heaviest burden on the Latino community,” said Laura Garcia, a walk organizer from Selby Lane, where more than 400 students would be displaced under the proposals.

The protesters demanded that Baker, who was in a meeting, come out and address them. While children filed in and out of the building for bathroom breaks, Adelante parent and Selby Lane teacher Ivanna Zelaya-Clark used an electronic loud speaker to call Baker to “come out and talk to us. It’s your job. The community is more important than anything.” The crowd picked up a chant, “We want Baker.”

At 10:45, Baker emerged and addressed the crowd in Spanish.

“Let us work with you to get over this hump,” he said.

He urged the protesters to attend Wednesday’s board meeting at which trustees are to act on his proposals to begin a reorganization designed to close a $10 million budget shortfall created mainly by declining enrollment.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Sequoia High School’s Carrington Hall.

The plan as it stands is to close the Fair Oaks, Hawes, Orion and Adelante campuses, with the Orion parent-participation and Adelante Spanish Immersion programs moving intact to John Gill and Selby Lane, respectively. Fair Oaks  students are to go to Taft, and Hawes students to Roosevelt, Henry Ford or John Gill. About 1,900 students would have to change schools.

Some speakers suggested alternatives, such as closing Roosevelt instead of Hawes, and moving the Spanish Immersion program to the Kennedy Middle School campus, which would keep Selby Lane intact.

Members of the Adelante and Orion communities, though their programs are saved, attended the walk to support the schools most affected.

“I understand that the district has to make cuts, but we should ALL make cuts,” said Adelante parent Kate Loftus. “Distribute the pain so all are contributing. What’s the message in leaving white schools untouched?”

Baker listened to statements by Selby Lane eighth-grader Carlos Medina, Norma Gomez of Selby Lane and four others, and asked for their written notes to add to his large collection of community feedback.

His farewell words: “Mañana — a las siete.” “Tomorrow – at seven.”

Photo of Supt. Baker addressing the crowd by Bill Shilstone

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