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Authors Posts by Nikki Silverstein

Nikki Silverstein

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hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: Consumer advocate 7 On Your Side, a segment of Bay Area TV station KGO, helped a Marin County woman recover several hundred dollars from Visa after the company shined her on. Susan Anderson purchased Visa gift cards for friends last Christmas and delivered them in person. Months later, she learned that the cards didn’t work when her friends tried to use them. Turns out that a thief near Modesto stole and used the card numbers, which resulted in the cards having a zero balance. Visa informed Anderson that they wouldn’t cover the loss, since she had waited more than 60 days to report the issue. She contacted 7 On Your Side and the TV station went to work on her behalf. Visa finally saw the light and decided to replace the gift cards.

Zero: Approximately 290,000 gallons of public water went down the drain, thanks to vandalism at the Wild Horse Water Tank in Novato. To give that immense amount some perspective, it equates to almost 5 million glasses of drinking water, or enough H2O to flush your low-flow toilet more than 18,000 times. The trouble began when the North Marin Water District (NMWD) received an intrusion alarm on Friday, July 7, which indicated that an intruder breached the tank. Although there was no evidence of contamination, the NMWD took the precaution of draining the tank. If you have info about suspicious activity in the vicinity of Wild Horse Valley Drive from 5-8pm on July 7, contact the Marin County Sheriff’s Office or the NMWD.

hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: Whales are making a splash this summer. Whether watching a pod breach near the Golden Gate Bridge, spotting them feeding inside the Bay or viewing them off our coastline as they migrate north, Marinites are enjoying the increased activity of these magnificent animals. Experts attribute the large number of sightings to humpback whales coming close to the shoreline to feed on anchovies and krill. You can learn about getting involved in whale watching and citizen science at a fascinating presentation by the American Cetacean Society-San Francisco Bay Area (ACS-SF Bay), a vital nonprofit that protects whales and their habitats through public education, research grants and conservation action. Join the ACS-SF Bay at the Bay Model in Sausalito on Tuesday, July 25 at 7pm. For more info, visit acs-sfbay.org.

Zero: Novato police are asking for your help to find the zeros responsible for a gasoline theft at the Novato Unified School District bus yard last Wednesday at about 11:15pm. A custodian observed two thieves siphoning gas from underground storage tanks used to fill school buses. Although they skedaddled before police could nab them, the custodian snapped photos of a white Ford Econoline box van or similar vehicle. A California license plate reading 7BQK347 was on the rear of the van; however, police believe it may have been stolen. The driver is described as a bald Hispanic male, in his 30s, with a medium build, and the passenger is described as a white female, blonde and heavy-set. Please call the Novato police at 415/897-4361 with any info.

hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: A Very Important Kitten received a police escort from the Golden Gate Bridge last Saturday afternoon. After a concerned citizen called the California Highway Patrol (CHP) around 2:50pm to report that a kitten was in the middle of the bridge, officers hustled to the scene. No kitty spotted on the first pass across the bridge, but the CHP was determined to find the little one and they turned around to take a second look.

California Highway Patrol officer Matt Smith holds the tiny, rescued Bridges. Photo courtesy of CHP.

That’s when they noticed a furry head peeking out from inside the median barrier. They blocked a lane of traffic, exited their vehicle and rescued the baby cat. Officer Matt Smith then transported the kitten, who is now named Bridges, to VCA Madera Pet Hospital in Corte Madera for a complimentary exam, bath and medications. Because the approximately eight-week-old Bridges had no ID tag or microchip, Officer Smith took him home for the weekend and then delivered him to the Marin Humane Society, where he’ll be available for adoption. Thanks Officer Smith and VCA Madera Pet Hospital for being the cat’s meow.

hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: School’s out, but learning is still in at the Marin County Free Library. Three programs encourage kids of all ages to keep reading by offering fun incentives. Kids Summer Challenge, for youths up to 12, awards Book Bucks for reading. Exchange bucks for prizes, or donate them to the Marin Foster Care Association, which will receive real dollars from the Friends of the Marin County Free Library. Teen Summer Challenge features trivia contests, movie nights and more, with a grand prize for the student racking up the most participation points. If you don’t live near a Marin County Free Library branch, the Summer Challenge to Go takes place at various child development centers, public summer schools and ranches in West Marin. Visit marinlibrary.org for more information.

Zero: Should we trash textbooks or hold them for the nonprofit Global Book Exchange in Terra Linda? Unbelievably, Dixie Elementary School in San Rafael chose the first option upon hearing that the exchange was temporarily full. Some parents took to Nextdoor, a community website, to voice their objections about the school squandering the books by placing them in a recycling receptacle. We add reckless and irreverent to that charge, especially when the local Global Book Exchange exists solely to rehome used K-12 textbooks and children’s books with teachers, families and young people here in Marin and around the world. Due to the justified backlash the school received, Dixie will now store books until the exchange is able to receive them. That’s a smart idea. 

hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: Two observant Marinites saw something and said something when they spotted a suspicious fellow with a Ferrari on East Francisco Boulevard. The first person called the San Rafael Police Department after the odd man attempted to panhandle gas money for his 2016 Ferrari 488 GTB.  The next caller reported that the guy was acting strangely and appeared to be showering the car with gasoline. Police arrived and questioned the man, who said that he owned the car and had left it in the shop for two years. Unconvinced, the officers contacted the Ferrari dealership, which confirmed that the car, valued at $245,000, had been stolen from their service department two days before. Police arrested Rocky Jimenez, 36, of Georgia, for vehicle theft and other charges.

Zero: Folks attending Tam High’s graduation received a peculiar welcome. Parking tickets. A meter maid and law enforcement were waiting to give tickets to visitors who dared to park on Almonte Boulevard, a side street near the school. Whose bright idea was that? Think about the decision-making process that led to sending cops to the annual event. Let’s ruin the once-in-a-lifetime celebration for seniors and their families by writing tickets or forcing a futile drive to find legal parking—in the rain. Yep. It was raining. We think it might have been a better use of resources to direct folks to areas where they were allowed to park, or better yet, the school and community should work together to devise a parking plan for their guests.

hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: Let’s give a toothy grin to the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) board for voting to continue adding fluoride to our water. A contingent of false science followers lobbied against it, claiming that fluoride is a toxin and reduces the IQ of children. A lone board member, Larry Bragman, supported their misguided belief by voting against fluoridation. We aim to set the record straight: Fluoride strengthens teeth. The American Dental Association states, “Drinking water with fluoride (called ‘nature’s cavity fighter’) is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities.” We commend the reasonable board members for recognizing real science and following the well-founded state order that requires the MMWD to keep fluoride flowing from our taps.

Zero: In a heartless move last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) denied Hugo Mejia an immigration hearing before a judge, despite the fact that he has been a law-abiding resident since entering the U.S. from Mexico 17 years ago. As we reported on May 24, Mejia, of San Rafael, was picked up by ICE for illegally entering the country, and is on the fast track to deportation without due process. The Marin community has provided overwhelming support of Mejia, including organizing rallies and gathering thousands of signatures on a grassroots petition to protest his incarceration and demand a court hearing. It’s absolutely disgraceful that the U.S. government is hell bent on taking this honorable man away from his wife and three children. Banish criminals instead.

hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: Marin’s first responders received a special thank you last week on National Donut Day.  Volunteers with the San Rafael Corps of the Salvation Army delivered fresh donuts to more than 40 locations throughout the county, from the Coast Guard rescue station under the Golden Gate Bridge to the Tomales Fire Station in West Marin. Honoring our men and women in uniform by giving them donuts actually has a rich history dating back to World War I, when a group of resourceful women, Salvation Army volunteers, cooked donuts in a soldier’s helmet to bring a taste of home to our forces on the front lines. We appreciate the Salvation Army for recognizing our first responders and taking care of those in need.

Zero: John is an avid runner on the trails in the Marin Headlands, where paid dog walkers and their charges are a common sight. Sometimes as many as 20 dogs at a time rush him, bark and eventually take chase as he continues his run. The maximum number of dogs allowed with a licensed commercial dog walker is six, with at least three leashed. Unfortunately, some walkers exceed the limit and add insult to injury by packing up with other commercial walkers. With that many pooches to watch, it’s inevitable that poop is left to litter the trail. Certainly the walkers are in the dog house, but we also blame the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which fails to enforce its own rules. Ruff.

hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: A whopping 28 percent of Marin’s homeless are young men and women aged 18 to 25. Though they have many needs, the top three services that they request help with are housing, jobs and dental work. The nonprofit group Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity has assisted with housing and employment for the past 13 years, but there are no dentists on their staff. A team of local dentists came to the rescue last month by launching the Bay Area’s first free, ongoing dental clinic for this underserved population. Housed at SMA Dental in Corte Madera, the clinic has already delivered $40,000 in services at no charge. Big smiles for the generous dentists, Drs. Claudiu Marin, Laleh Sotoodeh, Richard Schmotter and Alex Schmotter, and oral surgeon Alex Kashef, MD, DDS.

Zero: Oy. Enough already with NIMBY Marinites and the Marin County Board of Supervisors that kowtows to them. Last week, the board upheld a decision by the county administrator and denied the appeals of seven vendors who wanted to open medical cannabis dispensaries. We guess they forgot about Proposition 215, passed in 1996, which gives Californians the right to obtain and use pot for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician. How do our ill residents do that without a nearby dispensary? Apparently, that medicinal need is secondary to the wishes of Marin homeowners who don’t want dispensaries in their town. The supervisors said they’ll consider alternatives. We certainly hope that consideration takes into account the needs of the sick folks in our community.

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: It’s scary to think that last month more than 500 motorists in San Rafael were caught using hand-held cell phones while driving. Thankfully, the fine officers at the San Rafael Police Department (SRPD) were out on the roads keeping us safe from these distracted drivers. During a month-long, high-visibility crackdown, the SRPD issued 502 citations to motorists who violated California’s distracted driving law, which states that it’s illegal to hold a cell phone to text, call or use an app while operating a motor vehicle. The offenders face fines starting at $162 and soaring higher for second violations. “Distracted driving kills too many people for us to ignore the facts and pretend it’s OK—it is never acceptable to text and drive,” says SRPD Lieutenant Roy Leon. Well done.

Zero: Hugo Mejia, of San Rafael, was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and now must brave deportation without a court hearing [see ‘Local Outrage,’ May 17, for more info]. An undocumented Mexican immigrant, Meija, 37, has lived in America for 17 years and is married with three children who were born here. He is gainfully employed and has no arrest record. Years ago, he was caught entering the U.S. and removed, but he later reentered. Under the draconian reinstatement of removal statute, Meija is on track to exile without due process. Too bad about his productive life in our country. Trump claims that his strengthened enforcement policy against illegal immigrants merely targets criminals. Try telling that to this law-abiding Marin county family that has been torn apart. Absolutely shameful, Trump.

hero and zero

By Nikki Silverstein

Hero: Lana shopped at the Safeway in Strawberry Village and paid for her groceries with money tucked in her small purse. Hours later, she realized that her clutch was missing. She hurried back to Safeway and frantically retraced her steps. Nada. Cash, credit cards and personal identification had vanished. Though the store took her contact info, days passed with no news and she accepted that it was gone for good. Then, a package arrived at her Sausalito houseboat, via U.S. mail, with no sender’s name and only a P.O. Box for the return address. Inside she found her tiny tote, totally intact, with not a dime missing. Lana would like us to hail her humble, honest hero. Glad to oblige: Many thanks and much appreciation.

Zero: We hold particular contempt for a man who preyed upon immigrants in the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael. The suspect, Tifano Ariel Rodas Maldonado, 38, of San Rafael, posed as a landlord and posted ads at laundromats under a fictitious name. Victims who responded were offered housing in exchange for sex acts. In early May, a San Rafael Police Department (SRPD) undercover officer spoke on the phone with Maldonado, who said he wanted $2,000 a month and sex in exchange for the apartment. When arrested for felony, fraud and prostitution, he admitted that he didn’t have access to real estate and had posted the ad numerous times. The SRPD emphasizes that anyone, regardless of immigration status, should report crimes without fear of deportation. Contact them at 415/485-3000.

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