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Alameda, minus the military

Submitted by on 1, March 18, 2008 – 7:24 amNo Comment

In a series on military enlistment in the Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times this week, Alameda figured … not very prominently at all. The city was home to just 27 new recruits in 2006, according to data gathered by the paper, placing it in the middle of the pack among Bay Area cities. Back in 1990, about 9,000 Alamedans were in the armed forces, census figures show. Nearly a decade after the base closed, that number (which includes the Coast Guard) was in the hundreds, fewer in 2006 than the number of high school seniors.

Okay, so maybe the culture here on the Island hasn’t changed to the point that we’re out chaining ourselves to the doors of the town’s Marine Corps recruiting center, like our neighbors in Berkeley (who not surprisingly had fewer recruits than we did). But in a town with a high school that has a fighter jet planted on the front lawn, an outsider might expect more recruits than say, Livermore or Pleasanton (which had more). On a per capita basis, our community is in the bottom third for recruiting in the Bay Area.

While our local sporting goods store still has a rack of rifles on the wall, I think some folks actually booed when the poor folks on the National Rifle Association float rolled by during last year’s Fourth of July parade. This past January, more than a handful of lawns and bumpers sported campaign signs and stickers for Iraq War-hater Barack Obama. This isn’t a scientific poll, but I don’t remember seeing too many for war defender John McCain.

This is a place that has been through several iterations – vacation spot for the wealthy, amusement park, military town. That’s one of the many things that makes Alameda more interesting than most of the rest of the Bay Area. But now we’re between faces, as it were, both in our cultural outlook and in the physical and civic landscape we are claiming. We have both the opportunity and the challenge of assuming a new identity. So what’s it going to be?

Taking out the trash: No, the city’s not so broke we’re down to one trash day for the whole island. Parcel tax proponents are kicking off their campaign today by papering Alameda with lawn signs and giant trash can decal-thingies. I’m not sure why I’m telling you this, because from the looks of things, you probably got your stuff out way before I dragged my butt out of bed to post this. But there will be pictures. Of teachers in trash cans (because they don’t put up with enough of our crap). On Alamedans.com.

And on a related note: If you’ve been wondering what will become of that $53,000 KNBR radio, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, Dontrelle Willis and others raised for our high school sports should the parcel tax pass and/or Sacramento rains down pennies from … wherever, school board vice president Mike McMahon has posted the answer on his website. High school athletic directors Kevin Gorham and Brad Thomas have generously offered to donate the money toward restoring middle school sports for a year.

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