Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Connection between Third Graders and Future Prison Inmates

It is shocking to think that a child who can't read by the third grade is a prime candidate for becoming a prison inmate. But looking at the reading levels of elementary school students might very well become a reliable way to predict the number of potential criminals in the future.

The idea of using reading proficiency to predict criminality was shared by East Palo Alto's Police Chief Ron Davis on the most recent episode of the Talking with Henrietta show, titled "The Fight Against Crime: Is It Working?"

On the show, Davis quoted statistics provided to him by David Lewis, one of the founders of Free at Last, an East Palo Alto nonprofit agency that works with parolees. The statistics showed that, compared to other third grade students in San Mateo County schools, only 10 to 25 percent of East Palo Alto third graders are reading at or above the 50th percentile mark.

Unfortunately, current research shows that those who cannot read are more at risk -- than their counterparts who can read -- for winding up in prison.

If this sad correlation between the inability to read by an early age and future imprisonment is true, then the educational priority for the East Palo Alto school district and school districts throughout the country is clear: make sure all students can read by the third grade.

Certainly, this would be a cost-effective and surefire way to reduce the prison population in the future.

To see Chief Ron Davis make the connection between reading levels and incarceration in a video excerpt from the show, click on the video below. Go here to get more information about the entire one hour discussion on "The Fight Against Crime: Is It Working?" You can post your views on the subject below.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Funding for Domestic Violence Shelters - A Necessity

In the State of California, October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is encouraging that California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger chose this month to restore funding to domestic violence shelters throughout the state.

Due to the state's budget shortfalls and the cutbacks in state funding several shelters have all ready closed. Now with statewide funding to domestic violence shelters restored, it is possible that these shelters might reopen.

Just a few years ago, the California Research Bureau reported that there were 197,000 domestic violence calls received by law enforcement agencies throughout the state. The bureau's report stated that more than 51,000 people were arrested and domestic violence incidents resulted in 197 homicides.

Given the fact that a downturn in the economy can lead to increased family stress and an increase in domestic violence, it is not surprising that law enforcement officials are currently reporting an increase in domestic violence calls not only in California but also in the nation as a whole. So, this is certainly not a time to short change social services within the state, especially in an area as critical as domestic violence, where it can be an issue of life or death. Many political observers can give a multitude of reasons why Schwarzenegger can be criticized, but the fact that the governor restored money to domestic violence shelters is one act for which he should be applauded.

You can read more about the restoral of state funding to shelters by going here

Click here and scroll to the third picture description to get information about a recent Talking with Henrietta show called Protecting Women Against Violent Crime that discussed domestic violence locally.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A New Vision for East Palo Alto: A Lovely Little City by the Bay

In the State of the City Address that he delivered on May 4, East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica presented a vision of East Palo Alto that could rival, on a much smaller scale, the image of San Francisco. He shared his belief that East Palo Alto could one day have a new reputation and a new image as the little City by the Bay. He asked his listeners to think of East Palo Alto as a City by the Bay with a strong spirit, next to a beautiful creek, the San Francisquito Creek.

Certainly for many that description brings to mind a lovely little city with parks, a protected and preserved Cooley Landing with walking trails, shops, recreation areas, a lively waterfront and scenic bay views. It's a futuristic vision for East Palo Alto and it would be a real reversal of the image that many have of East Palo Alto as a problematic place with inner city problems.

The vision Mayor Abrica put forth is certainly one toward which the city could strive. Being known as the little City by the Bay would certainly be a lovely appealing image and a positive description for East Palo Alto. It's certainly a vision worth thinking about. So, do you think Abrica's vision of East Palo Alto, as a lovely little City by the Bay, could ever become a reality? Is it a vision that the city could and should strive to achieve? Would it be a reality that you would want to pass on to the next generation?

See Mayor Abrica's State of the City Address here. What do you think?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who is being treated unfairly?

An ongoing battle over rent increases has raged for months between the City of East Palo Alto and Page Mill Properties. The battle has been fought in court with the city losing two of the court cases brought against it by the company. This entire issue has pitted the rights of the tenants against the right of the landlord to raise rents.

An East Palo Alto tenant group and local activists protested the rent increases with marches from East Palo Alto to Page Mill Poperties' administrative offices in Palo Alto.

In an interview with East Palo Alto Today, Page Mill Properties' General Counsel Jim Shore said that Page Mill Properties would now like to work positively with the City of East Palo Alto. You can read his remarks in the East Palo Alto Today article which discusses the latest court ruling in the ongoing legal battle.

Since the interview, Page Mill Properties has filed another lawsuit against the city charging that the East Palo Alto Rent Stabilization Board wrongly denied 44 claims from Page Mill Properties for exemption from rent control.

Now an article has appeared on the website alleging that Page Mill Properties has been treated unfairly. We'd like to know if you would agree. You can read all of the articles that have appeared in East Palo Alto Today and on the EPA Today website about Page Mill Properties and the rent issue.

Given all that you know about the current dispute between Page Mill Properties and its tenants and the company's legal battles with the City of East Palo Alto, whom do you think is being treated unfairly? Is it the City of East Palo Alto? Is it Page Mill Properties' tenants? Or, is it Page Mill Properties? We would like to have your comments on this issue. You can post your comments below.

Updated 4/20/09 at 6:21 p.m.