Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is that steak from a cow or a steer? Why it matters..

PSA: Trader Joes grass-fed steaks are cow, not steer (but at steer prices (!). Bought one the other night bc we were out of town at friends who only shop there, and discovered this when I put a rather pricey steak onto the outdoor grill where it became obvious it was cow; on the plate ditto.

1) Cow requires a different cooking method. You know how a good steak will sear up tight on the outside with a nice glazed surface and tender on the inside? Where you can gauge the doneness buy pressing on it? Cow doesn’t do this; it remains soft on the outside, never tightens up on the outside, and you cannot press it to determine doneness, it takes forever for the inside to be not-raw. The meat remains completely flexible and never sears up on the outside.

2) Cow tastes very different from steak.

There’s nothing wrong with eating/cooking cow, it just seems to me that as consumers we should a) know we are buying cow so we can use the right cooking method and dish prep for the meat and b) pay cow, i.e., lower and appropriate, prices (not steer/higher prices). TJ’s isn’t the only one doing this; it’s an industry thing to conceal this. It began with those cheaper steak house restaurants in the 1970s; cheap steaks = cow; no one knew except ranchers, and most Americans thought those steak restaurants were awesome. Worse: there is just about no one in the beef industry who will tell you whether they are selling cow or steer (including the Berkeley Bowl) except local ranch butcheries and the mis-named online purveyor Crowd Cow who only sells steer.

This includes Whole Foods. About 10 years ago, I paid bank for a steak at Whole Foods Market, tossed it on the grill for a fancy dinner at home, and the piece of meat was really really not having it, and when i finally got the meat to the table, the taste was not even close to what worked…this ruined the dinner. The “steak” should have been cooked up in a stew and has no business on a grill. Also, I suspect meats on sale have a higher probability of being cow as when i’ve purchased anything on sale, years ago, it was cow. I stopped buying meat from Whole Foods a decade ago because of this and because the people behind their meat counters are not butchers (they can’t prep any meat or chicken correctly to save their own lives).

So FYI y’all. Bummer about TJs joining this–but then I never buy meat there, so I cannot say whether this is a recent development or not. I just know that the are selling cow in their not-cheap grass-fed steaks.

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Opinion: Re-elect ‘People’s Mayor’ Spencer in Alameda

Contrary to what’s asserted in a recent anonymous East Bay Times editorial, Alamedans know that:

  • Councilwoman Marilyn Ashcraft voted for the current six-year public safety contract (ending December 2021) along with Councilmen Frank Matarrese and Jim Oddie. That vote passed 3-2, with Councilman Tony Daysog and I opposing.
  • Ashcraft voted for hiring sworn (versus nonsworn) firefighters to do inspections, along with Vice Mayor Malia Vella and Oddie, another 3-2 vote, with Matarrese and I opposing. If the three positions were instead filled with nonsworn firefighters, city staff estimated a $300,000 annual savings. Therefore, the positions could be paid for without dipping into the General Fund and would not have to pay higher pension costs. Other cities use nonsworn firefighters for such inspections.
  • Ashcraft voted for the approximately $945,000 settlement agreement with former City Manager Jill Keimach, which also passed 3-2, with Ashcraft, Matarrese and Oddie supporting and Vella and I opposing.
  • Ashcraft voted for the Modernization Utility Tax (Measure K1 of November 2016), which the Alameda council approved 4-1, with myself opposing. Alameda’s employees’ wages are based on a unique formula referred to as the Balanced Revenue Index (BRI), composed of five revenue sources — including the utility users tax. The utility tax had been a component that was decreasing over time but shifted to a growth component with the passage of this tax, thereby increasing salaries and pension liabilities.
  • Ashcraft voted for the proposed 0.5 percent sales tax with no expiration date (the city’s Measure F this Nov. 6), raising Alameda’s sales tax to 9.75 percent, higher than Oakland and San Francisco, along with all the other council members except myself, a 4-1 vote. It is noteworthy that Alameda council candidates Chen, Daysog, Knox White and Matz also oppose Measure F, agreeing with me.

Alameda’s current General Fund five-year forecast projects a budget deficit by fiscal year 2019-20, increasing to a $4.7 million dollar deficit by fiscal year 2021-22. As Kevin Kennedy, our city’s treasurer, and Kevin Kearney, our city auditor, recently stated, “City staff say there is a $300 million backlog of work that needs to be done to keep our storm drains from polluting the bay; keep our water, parks and buildings safe; and maintain our streets and sidewalks.

“… Also, retiree medical benefits for city employees are underfunded by more than $100 million and continue to grow at a rate faster than the city’s revenues come in. And pension plans for city employees are underfunded by more than $200 million, resulting in pension payments consuming millions of dollars more of the city’s revenue every year for the next decade and beyond. … This is not sound fiscal management.

“The structural problems in the budget must be addressed. Not facing these issues head-on just kicks the can down the road, and asking for citizens to pay more for basic services or pass tax measures is merely a Band-Aid, not a substantial long-term fix. … You should expect better and demand that elected leaders operate in a fiduciary capacity to protect our interests and do all they can to fulfill their responsibility as fiduciaries.”

I agree with our treasurer and auditor that Alameda’s current fiscal direction, “is not sound fiscal management” and “the structural problems in the budget must be addressed,” and my votes reflect that. As shown above, I am regularly outvoted by the majority of City Council on financial issues. However, Ashcraft is regularly, if not always, in the council majority on financial decisions. Thus the anonymous editorial’s claim that a vote for Ashcraft is one for “meaningful change” is not supported by the facts (e.g. her past votes).

The anonymous editorial also criticizes me for not doing more as mayor and then argues against a strong-mayor system. The demand that I do more under our current system would violate our city charter. Thankfully, Alamedans will analyze the facts rather than relying upon baseless rhetoric.

As your mayor, I promise to continue to always vote for Alamedans’ best long-term interests, including fiscal ones. I am a dedicated, compassionate, hands-on leader who appreciates your input. Together we are leading Alameda to new opportunities. I am asking for your vote and continued support as your mayor. Let’s do it again! Contact our campaign at Trish@MayorTrish.com, 510-863-4496 or #ThePeoplesMayorTrish.

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer is running for re-election Nov. 6.


Dangerous substandard designs for our roadways?

GUEST BLOG ARTICLE from EUGENIE THOMSON

Streets throughout California are being rebuilt to accommodate the increasing number of bicycles on the road. Due to narrow rights-of-way and the implementation of separate bicycle paths within preexisting roadway cross-sections, this process involves completely redesigning roadways.

I applaud the efforts to make the roads safer for all users but alarmingly, less-than-minimum safety design standards are being applied. This practice is counter to the needs and desires of the public and it is happening here in Alameda.

The City of Alameda has been approving design concepts for these roadway reconstruction projects that violate minimum design criteria and with experimental designs (i.e. Shoreline Bikeway), followed swiftly by approval of grant applications for their final engineering and construction. The Clement Avenue and Central Avenue Complete Street Plans are moving in the same direction.

Problematically, the City has no qualified civil engineers in responsible charge of these projects. All of the City’s four lead civil engineers have left. Clearly numerous safety and traffic delay problems are going unresolved.

Would you hire a divorce attorney who is not licensed? Would you hire an obstetrician who is not licensed? Of course not. Nor should Alameda hire planners to perform civil engineering functions who are not licensed or qualified in that field. But that is exactly what is happening.

I am very concerned that the City is moving forward with reconstruction of its streets with numerous safety problems and causing nightmarish congestion by what staff calls a road diet. (i.e. reduction of lanes).

The same cycle path on Shoreline Drive was recently approved by Public Works staff and consultants to be built on the estuary side of Clement Avenue between Grand and Broadway. The city and consultant’s staff, all planners, stated there were no major flaws. This was concerning, in and of itself. But little did they know that their design was particularly dangerous. Neither the drivers nor the bicyclists would have had adequate stopping sight distances to stop safely (i.e. blind corners) and there were numerous violations of even the most minimum safety design criteria.

Further their design with only one lane (11 feet wide) in each direction required a complete shutdown of Clement Avenue for the regular wide deliveries to the marinas. Their design also added an extra signal phase just for bicycles which would have required a reduction in signal time for autos at Park Street- severely increasing delay for all Alamedans leaving the island in the morning through the Park Street/ Clement Avenue intersection. There was no mention whatsoever anywhere of this excessive increase in delay. Were they hoping Alamedans would not pay attention?

Residents and business owners went to the Transportation Commission on March 25th to fight for what was right. It is heartening the Transportation Commission turned down the City staff and consultant’s plan but with only a slim majority. Wouldn’t you agree Alamedans should not have to go to City Hall and tell staff and consultants that their work has major flaws and the plan is biased and unsafe?

Traffic safety issues are going unaddressed. Let me explain from personal experience. About 15 years ago, my Mom then in her early eighties, was hit by a bicyclist in a similar configuration as along Shoreline. She stepped out of the passenger side of the car into the path of bicyclist traveling quickly. Bicycles easily travel east along the new Shoreline path at 20 mph or much more with the usual tail wind. This too is in the same space where young children excitedly exit the cars to go to the beach.

Building a “commuter cycle” track on Shoreline was inappropriate and unsafe for a recreational trail along a beach. It is a commuter bicycle concept to save time not meant for recreation. A recreational trail should have been built like the one at Crissy Field or like those in Holland along beaches.

I beseech Alamedans to speak up to Council before these poorly designed roadway plans for Shoreline, Central and Clement Avenues cause serious injury. As I think you will agree, these roadway changes affect virtually every Alamedan. We applaud the efforts to make our roads safer. However, far greater care must be taken in keeping us safe. Roads must be designed by qualified civil engineers as required by State Law.


And now for the bottom line

Mr. Sullwold’s final installment on his analysis of Mr. Russo’s proposal to extend the fire and police contracts 5 years. This must have been an enomous amount of time, to figure this all out; huge shout out to Mr. Sullwold! Thank you!

Alameda Merry-Go-Round

So it’s time to get to the bottom line.

In the Merry-Go-Round’s examination of the proposed new public safety union contracts Council is being asked to approve on April 29, we’ve looked separately at the economic terms of the MOUs between the City and the unions and at the features of the new “OPEB trust” incorporated in the contracts.  Today, we’ll put the two together.

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Trish!!!

She did it. She’s our next mayor. As one fellow summed it up on facebook: “I can move back to Alameda now.”


Why this election matters

Seriously. Vote Trish. Vote Frank. Our very quality of life here in Alameda depends upon it.

READ THE WHOLE STORY BECAUSE Mr. Sullwold details about 100 reasons why you’ll care very shortly how you’ve voted …

Alameda Merry-Go-Round

So you don’t think the election this Tuesday for Mayor and Council will matter much to the daily lives of Alamedans?

Think again.

In fact, within less than a year, Council will be making decisions about waterfront development, Alameda Point, retiree health benefits, and the budget.  Each of these decisions will have immediate and long-term impacts; together, they will set the course for the City for the foreseeable future.  And once that course is set, it will be hard to reverse.

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The best Council PAC money can buy

On Tuesday, vote against Pay-to-Play Politics.

Alameda Merry-Go-Round

If either incumbent Councilman Stewart Chen, D.C. or Bonta aide-de-camp Jim Oddie, or both, manages to get elected to Council next week, there are five men to whom they owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

Their names are Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

Recognize them?  They’re the five Justices of the United States Supreme Court, all of them appointed by Republican presidents, who signed the majority opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the case in which the Court held it was unconstitutional to limit spending by political action committees on behalf of candidates.

Our friends on the left have denounced Citizens United as giving moneyed interests the ability to “buy elections” for conservative candidates.  But two can play that game.  And in Alameda they have – for the benefit of Dr. Chen and Mr. Oddie.  And a down-and-dirty game it has become.

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