Author Archives: Sonny Alvarado

Hayward Housing Crisis

On Tuesday, February 6th, Hayward City Council held a special meeting focused on the Hayward Housing crisis. Many renters are facing unlawful evictions and unexplainable rent increases as new management companies are capitalizing on the need for housing as a result of the tech industries new demand. Gentrification is happening now inside of our city; is it too late to respond accordingly?

At the meeting, rent control stabilized rent increases and development of affordable housing was discussed. There will be follow up discussion meeting being held on February, 26th at the Matt Jimenez Center at 28200 Ruus Rd. from 6-8PM. City Manager Kelly McAdoo and City Assistant Manager Kelly Hurtado shared a presentation on what is currently being done and what are some options are for the future.

“Section 8 of the Hayward Rent Stabilization Ordinance should be removed,” Hurtado stated. Referring to legislation that allows owners to “decontrol” units by paying a fee, allowing the property rent to be raised higher than 5% in one year.

Public comments dominated the meeting with at least 30 individuals opening their hearts and sharing frustrations.  One developer asked, “How can I build a 5-unit property for affordable housing when the city of Hayward charges $60,000 per unit before the cost of permits?”
There is a need for multiple solutions for all affected parties. Currently, the average rent in Hayward is affordable to those with an average income of nearly $80,000 when its citizens average about $45,000.

Residents like Maria Segura of the Aloha apartments on Jackson St, stated that she, “is now being charged utilities when she was gone for months and construction was constant.”
The company that owns Mrs. Segura’s apartment, has allegedly practiced unlawful evictions at another apartment, Solis Garden on Harder Rd. They are currently awaiting litigation with 3 remaining tenants.

City Council members Al Mendall and Francisco Zermeno were disgusted at the company that owns Aloha and Solis Garden Apartments. Zermeno asked several questions and shared ideas before putting a hand over his mouth as he said, “this is Shit!” Al Mendall blatantly states, “What the owners of the Aloha and Tiki (now Known as Solis) Gardens are doing is wrong!”

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Valerie Liu

Are you an artist? Most of us are and may not even know or at least acknowledge it. Art is not only drawing or painting, but it has a wide array of creative activities such as music, poetry, literature, dance, graphic design and more. Some may even debate that being a bartender or mixologist, and even making a sandwich can be considered art. I’m not here to argue that, however, I do make some mean sandwiches that would teach your taste buds some creativity.

Oxford dictionary defines art as, “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.” But, what does it mean to be an established or published artist? How do we take our art to the next level? What does it take? Is it practice, patience and putting yourself out there?

I had the privilege of speaking with artist Valerie Liu, a former Chabot student whose artwork has been featured in previous issues of the Spectator. She also, created the logo for the Bullet Cast, a Spectator-featured podcast that highlights the world of professional wrestling.

“Honestly, it was intimidating initially, to have my artwork as the face of a wrestling podcast (since I know nothing about wrestling) but, since doing the artwork and listening to the podcast a couple of times, I am glad I did it! I love the guys from The Bullet Cast, and I really like doing art for them!” said Valerie.

“I’ve been an artist since childhood; art was something that I just had a knack for since I was a kid. It wasn’t until high school that I realized that I wanted to pursue art seriously,” declared Valerie.

Her Instagram account is filled with expressive and impressive drawings. A few of my personal favorites include portraits of President John F Kennedy and Eleven from the Netflix original series, “Stranger Things.”

“I love sharing my artwork, I am seriously so thankful to The Spectator for giving me the opportunity to have my art in the paper, it is really rewarding to see my art on campus,” Valerie humbly stated. Along with her love for art, Valerie also enrolled in classes at Chabot to strengthen her ability, “My favorite piece I have drawn is a self-portrait in graphite for Art 1A, it really pushed me to do more realistic art, and It was fun to see how well I could render my own face.”

It is never too late to start practicing. With such persistence, Valerie expressed, “I post art daily on my Instagram, but I’ve also been trying my hand at comics. Mostly, I am just working on expanding my audience and working on expanding my skill as well.” She is also, working diligently on her portfolio with hopes to transfer to Art School.

Be on the lookout. You may see her work in the near future! For now, you can check out her artistry on her Instagram account @Valerie.Liu. For all artists, don’t be afraid to put your stuff out there. The only person who can deny your art is yourself.

Chabot Artist Gets Miss-credited

The Chabot review is an annual, free publication put together by students showcasing the work of the artistic community. This print-on-demand book is a great way to get yourself out there and network but what happens when you are not credited for your work? Chabot student and filmmaker Dave O’Shea had to tackle this dilemma when his artwork, on the cover of the book, was credited to someone else.

“There’s a fact-checking issue if nothing else, probably an honest mistake but still frustrating to see someone else’s name credited for my work,” declared Dave. He also stated, “I do stand by the product, I do believe in it, it’s a cool thing to give exposure to the Chabot community, but it would be better with the right credits.”

Stephen Woodhams is the faculty adviser for the students who put together the Chabot Review. Woodhams made a brief statement on the issue, “It is not uncommon for mistakes and omissions to be made during the publication process of any publication from a college journal to a national newspaper, which can be corrected in updated versions. The official version of the 2017 Chabot Review lists Dave O’Shea as the cover artist.”

In the midst of the situation, Dave made sure to remain positive and hopeful. “I hold absolutely no grudge with Stephen Woodhams or with the Chabot Review itself. He took full responsibility immediately and was very understanding of where I was coming from. He promised to revise future printings of the book, and said he’d send me a revised copy in a couple of weeks,” replied Dave. “As an artist,” Dave added, “There’s literally nothing more infuriating than someone else taking credit for your work.”

His passionate artwork on the cover was given credit to another individual, whose name is also recognized as head-editor. “The fact that the editor on the very top of the credits page took credit, this is a major concern, and as the head-editor, I would assume this James Carroll guy saw it and did nothing about it before going to print.” The new and updated version will feature Dave O’Shea as the cover artist. The Chabot Review is a print-on-demand publication that features the artwork of Chabot College’s students. Be sure to check one out.

Chabot Wins 1st Place at Film Festival

The My Hero International Film Festival brings together professional and student filmmakers to honor heroes from around the world and to discover inspiring people who are making a difference in our world. This year, Chabot College won first place for the best music video. The Chabot College-based group, Justice Arts Collective submitted their video, “From Mt. Tamalpais to Fruitvale Station.” Along with their award and recognition, the group was also invited to perform at the film festival. On November 11, after traveling from Hayward to Laguna Beach, The Justice Arts Collective or JAC was ready to amplify the inspirational vibes.
 
The JAC should seem familiar to you as they were featured in a previous publication and are made up of students and Counselor/Professors Juztino Panella and Tommy Reed. The group also has members outside of Chabot College such as community-based poet Jahan Khalighi, and musician Brandon Vance. A few students who have transferred from Chabot are Saxophonist Sean Funcheon and Poet Alan Roberson.
 
“The Justice Arts Collective exists because of a shared desire among Chabot College student, faculty and community members to create music that acts as a starting point for discussion within the community; musicians, visual artists, and digital designers are affiliates of the Justice Arts Collective,” stated Alan, “I’m most grateful for JAC widening the horizon of my cultural competence.”
 
The performance was electrifying even though there were no electric instruments used. The beating of drums and Alan’s spoken word performance was a great addition to the viewing of the music video. “With ‘From Mt. Tamalpais to Fruitvale Station,’ the intention was to have every aspect of the filming process be a way to bring the community together to hold a ritual for resilience in the face of continued state-sanctioned oppression against people of color. I think the spirit of community healing, ritual and the sense that we are stronger together all come through in the video,” Jahan professed.
 
There were a lot of inspiring films ranging from activism in Pakistan to saving the Sea Turtles on different islands. Brandon described what he felt in 3 words, “Inspired, proud, and challenged.
 
You can always check out the video, “From Mt. Tamalpais to Fruitvale Station,” on the Justice Arts Collective’s Facebook page.

How Do You Hip-hop?

There are so many interpretations of hip-hop. Before we can get into different perspectives, we should first acknowledge where this culture comes from. Yea that’s right, hip-hop is a culture not just a genre of music. Declared as a culture in front of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by KRS-One and a committee of like-minded individuals who wanted positive change in society in 2001. Before that, hip-hop originated in the Bronx from a combination of different genres; funk, disco, and soul. It quickly became a platform for society to reflect on urban culture. Many became aware of what injustices were going on in the inner city more than ever, and with hip-hop, the people became equipped to inform and advocate for change.

The exact year and date is still a battle between scholars, but it is safe to say hip-hop was born in the mid to late 70s. What is not arguable, are the elements that constitute hip-hop in its truest form; emceeing, graffiti art, Deejaying, and beatboxing. The other 4 elements include street fashion, street entrepreneurialism, street language, and street knowledge. Just like any culture, with time comes change. Many believe mainstream rap is not the same or as rooted in the culture as the first hip-hop songs like “The Message,” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5. If you are looking for culture inside “mainstream,” you are least likely to find it.

Rahman Jamaal, National Executive Director of Hip Hop Congress, declared “I don’t see enough of the elements being brought together as a full representation of the culture all at once, that is in a way bigger than the mainstream capacity to harness all that knowledge. It would completely change the mainstream. The elements can definitely come together in an educational form.” Hip Hop Congress is a nonprofit, international grass roots organization. Its mission is to evolve hip-hop culture by inspiring social action and creativity within the community creating programs within public schools. “The perspective of hip-hop has changed over the years. However, hip-hop does change things, right now it is changing education,” Rahman Jamaal added.

Every culture will have many perspectives, Aubry Williams, an avid listener and Mass Communications student at Chabot says he likes hip-hop because “of the freedom of hip-hop. There’s no specific sound to make a hip-hop record. You can do whatever you want as long as it sounds good.” The musical genre does much more than providing listeners with a good time. It can also inform and empower.

“I like that hip-hop always touches on things that happen in America, there hasn’t been one thing historically that hip-hop hasn’t touched,” asserted Robert Knox III, on-air personality at KCRH 89.9 FM. Hip-hop is a culture that we are a part of and therefore constantly changing. A few of the Spectator staff, voiced their opinions about hip-hop, its origins, innovators and top five artists, on the latest episode of “Behind the Headline” coming soon to spectatorpodcast.com.

Mt. Tamalpais to Fruitvale Station

“From Mt. Tamalpais to Fruitvale Station” is a social justice hip-hop video experience that was released September 19, at Chabot College. The song was composed by the Justice Arts Collective (JAC), a musical group focusing on advocacy, cultural awareness, and using music for spiritual healing. Inside, building 700 South event center, the banging of drums and harmonizing voices could be heard over the more than 250 students that attended. “From Mt. Tamalpais to Fruitvale Station” is song highlighting injustice in our society but mostly the recent police brutality against people of color. There was a BBQ, performance, and an open mic before as well as after the video release. Charles Reed, a student that attended said, “The open mic portion was creative and inspirational because people had to challenge themselves to go up and speak. The environment was conducive to creativity and let speakers know they will not crash and burn if they made a mistake.” There was no “booing” when someone made a mistake only words of encouragement to help them voice their opinion.

Tommy Reed, a professor, and counselor for Umoja, gave a brief speech leading up to the music video release, “We’ve been planning this for the last few months, we are so excited for you guys to be here and we hope that you vibe with us on this beautiful video.”

After the video premiered, attendees were asked to write on an index card, answering the question, “How did the video make you feel?” Students were encouraged to go up to the mic and express what they wrote on their cards.

“The video should make the viewer feel some level of discomfort, and want to talk about these issues that are in our society,” said Juztino Panella, a leading member of the Justice Arts Collective, professor, and counselor at Chabot College. The JAC is composed of numerous musicians and poets who are mostly Chabot students and two Chabot College counselors.

Joan Cortez, a member of the JAC and student at Chabot, declared “The JAC has taught me to think about helping and advocating for people beyond myself and beyond my community. It also inspired me to write more and be in solidarity with other Chabot students and community members.”

The event was scheduled to end around 9 p.m. but the space that was created, welcomed all to say whatever they felt in a unity circle that enclosed the entire interior of the building until about 10:45 p.m.

Did you miss the video premiere? You can still check it out. The Justice Arts Collective invites all to visit their website www.justicecartscollective.org.

Sanctuary Cities Raided

Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., immigrants in these Sanctuary cities have become targets for ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. From September 26 through September 30, “Operation Safe City” was an attack on cities with “sanctuary” policies. ICE claims sanctuary cities allow violent criminals to prosper under the legitimate safety. Sanctuary is a term used by city officials, police, and institutions with civil records that will not help or provide any information toward the persecution of any undocumented individuals. It has been adopted by many campuses, cities, counties, and states who stand in solidarity with those affected by Trump’s deportation crackdown and more recently, the phasing out of DACA. Chabot College is eagerly awaiting the approval by the Chabot College/Las Positas College District Board of Trustees for Chabot to stand as a sanctuary campus.

Tom Homan, the acting director of ICE, accused the cities of protecting criminal aliens from appropriate prosecution claiming, “ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.” One hundred and sixty seven people were arrested in and around Los Angeles, 21 in the Santa Clara County, 6 in San Francisco with a total of 498 arrests nationwide. Federal authorities said the ICE operation this week focused on those with criminal convictions, gang members, and immigration fugitives. They added, people protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, were not targeted.

However, “Trust within immigrant communities shall not erode,” Malena Mayorga says “Trump’s Administration is working hard but so are the communities by educating themselves in legal defense and awareness.” Malena works for Mujeres Unidas y Activas a grass roots organization that promotes personal transformation and building community power for social and economic justice.

She states, “There are three main components for individuals to defend themselves. First, we must educate ourselves, encounters with ICE can be tricky, and if we don’t know our rights, ICE will have the upper hand. Second, there are legal services available, and ready to help against detention and deportation by providing representation and consultation. Third, at any sight of an ICE enforcement, please call the Rapid Response network hotline at (510) 241-4011. They will dispatch trained volunteer legal observers to document the encounter, track ICE’s strategies and connect to legal services immediately.”

There are support organizations such as Alameda County Immigration Legal Education Partnership (ACILEP) and Alameda County United in Defense Immigration Rights (ACUDIR). ACILEP specializes in connecting folks with “Know Your Rights” workshops and training for legal observers. ACUDIR takes action against the Sheriff’s cooperation with ICE and packs courts to support immigration cases. For any immigration defense questions email [email protected].

Throughout the nation, many city-officials conclude the ICE raids are a result of the cities noncooperation with the Trump administration’s executive plans. This series of raids occurred just as California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign SB54, which would prevent police from arresting people for immigration violations without a warrant, among other prohibitions. Our community will continue to stand in solidarity against this type of oppression, Trump’s administration’s actions will test us.

Eden Night Live!

Beginning in July and continuing through October, Eden Night Live has brought families together through music, sports and local vendors in the Ashland area, near the Hayward and San Leandro border.  

After a successful series of events last year, Eden Night Live is making an impactful return with an emphasis on community. RJ “KoolRaul” Navalta, has been putting together these events with the help of volunteers, Deputy Sheriff’s Activities League and the Castro Valley Chamber of Commerce.

While attending the September 8 event, I first noticed a radiant vibe that I could not describe at first, but soon it came to me as welcoming. Children were seen with smiles from ear to ear, running around and playing basketball, or soccer and even rock climbing.

Families gathered around the stage waiting for the Backyard Party Kings to perform an assortment of soulful tracks and oldies covers with a twist of hip-hop. Opening acts included; DJ Tasi from KCRH 89.9 FM and Lyricist, Ray Mon who rhymed and beat boxed at the same time. While jamming out to the performance, I ate some delicious cookies and spoke to an author who was signing her books.

Eden Night Live partners with local businesses and provides a platform for their services by allowing pop-up tents and canopies for vendors to sell their goods.

How did this all begin? During my visit, I was fortunate to ask the man who put it together, RJ himself. He declared, “We want our community to have a space to enjoy each other.” Both locations, last year’s and this year’s, were merely vacant lots with huge spaces dedicated to nothing. “We plan to turn those lots into comfortable, safe, and welcoming environments for everyone. We hope that they return to these areas long after Eden Night Live finishes its series of events.”

Enjoy live music and your neighbors’ company at Eden Night Live’s last events on October 13th & 27th at 16640 E. 14th St. San Leandro.

California’s First Firehouse Clinic

California is known for its health care innovations and now Hayward is home to the first Firehouse Clinic in the state. Don’t worry about your local firefighters being overworked. The building is the only one working two jobs as it houses both; a fully functioning fire station and a health clinic.

In general, Firefighters and ambulance are first responders in life and death situations. More often, people require medical attention that is not categorized as extremely vital but call for emergency services. The attached health clinic is aiming to prevent such confusion, and with its availability, regular care is accessible to the public, increasing overall health and decreasing the emergency calls that can happen due to minor complaints.

Without health insurance, people may need more than patience to become a patient with an average wait time of up to 72 hours. In the city of Hayward, St. Rose Hospital was the only option. With Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center Inc. staffing the clinic the majority of the fire station, patients do not have to wait as long. “Patients that need to be seen today will be seen today,” David Vliet, Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center CEO stated, “If they want to be seen tomorrow, that’s fine, but they will not have to go past 72 hours.”

The clinic is designed to cut down on patient time by using more electronic devices like tablets and having medical supplies ready ahead of time. Although it is attached to the fire station, it is not cutting any corners. The clinic features an on-site lab to run blood tests. Before this development there was no public health clinic available to adults, Tiburcio Vasquez also runs the pediatric Silva Clinic on Tennyson Road.

The project is funded by Alameda County and by its third year it will be self-sustaining in terms of funding. Its hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m for the clinic.

The End of DACA?

On Tuesday, September 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) during a press briefing at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. DACA is an American immigration policy initiated by the Obama administration in June 2012. DACA allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. 800,000 people rely on DACA to provide legal documentation to support their families, and nearly 25% live in California. Half the DACA recipients were only 6 years old when they enrolled in the program.

During the press briefing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced, “The executive branch through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.” The decision resulted from a threatening letter signed by the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, and nine other states urging the Trump administration to challenge DACA in court this fall, claiming the program was created unconstitutionally. The attorneys general of Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia signed the letter back in June. Unwilling to battle the legitimacy in Court, the Trump Administration decided the best decision would be to end DACA. Without offering any insight or sign of focus on the subject, President Trump tweets “ Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” at 5 a.m., a few hours before Attorney General Sessions made the announcement.

President Trump may have given up, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has. More and more people are fighting for DACA and immigration law improvement. Protesters took to the streets in Los Angeles, Chicago, NYC and Washington D.C. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo will “use available resources to battle in a lawsuit.”

This issue will hit us hard at home as Chabot is a safe haven for students whose immigration status is illegal. I spoke with English and Puente Professor Ms. Kirtsin Land about what DACA recipients can do. She said “DACA recipients should take good care of themselves and their loved ones in these difficult times. I encourage non-DACA students to stand up in solidarity with all undocumented people by getting informed and contacting local representatives, too. Chabot has an excellent web resource that can provide the next steps for DACA recipients who may wish to renew their applications before the October 5 deadline. There will also be other support services posted on that website.”

Students expressed their concern and gathered in solidarity in the grand courtyard here at Chabot College the same day as the announcement. Alexander Reid said, “this has to be a smoke screen for other things Trump is doing. It’s disgusting how he can affect the lives of people who have done nothing wrong.” The Trump administration’s choice to phase out DACA is going to be a constant battle with many believing that his cause is unjust.