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Two historic buildings in downtown San Jose appear to be headed to new lives with Hillbrook School —  an elite private elementary school in Los Gatos — planning to use them as the campus of its new high school, expected to open in Fall 2023.

This could prove to be a great re-use for the San Jose Armory on North Second Street and the nearby Moir Building on North First Street.

Both properties are owned by Urban Community — the development group led by Gary Dillabough and Jeff Arrillaga — and plans to revitalize them as an event space and a co-working office were dealt a serious blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been vacant for a couple of years — the 1894 Moir Building was most recently used as the law offices for Robinson & Wood — and bad things tend to happen to old, vacant buildings downtown.

The San Jose Armory, built on North Second Street in 1933, is one of two historic downtown buildings that will be part of Hillbrook School’s planned high school campus beginning in fall 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

Chuck Hammers, president of Hillbrook’s board, knows a lot about downtown San Jose as both the owner of Pizza My Heart and a longtime member of the San Jose Downtown Association board. He said Hillbrook had a strategic growth plan in place and was “ready to be lucky” with an opportunity like this.

“We looked into Campbell, we looked in Los Gatos, Santa Clara, other places in San Jose, and none of them were going to be a classroom like this,” he said at a dinner for parents and donors held Wednesday night at the Armory, following a tour of the Moir Building. “It was really two factors that brought us back to downtown. It was ‘city as a classroom.’ And San Jose was so welcoming — downtown is such a great community — and we felt welcomed from the very first moment.”

Parents and donors of Hillbrook School listen to Head of School Mark Silver in the Moir Building, one of two downtown San Jose buildings where the school plans to create a new high school, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

Hillbrook will have long-term leases on the two properties, which will undergo interior renovations while maintaining their historic character. The Armory — a Spanish Revival structure built in 1933 — will be used first, with a freshman class expected to start there in Fall 2023 while work continues on the 28,000 square-foot Moir Building. Head of School Mark Silver said Hillbrook has invited Preservation Action Council Executive Director Ben Leech to meet the school’s seventh graders at the Moir Building and talk about its history, including early years as a hotel.

Hillbrook, which was founded in 1935 as The Children’s Country School, expects to eventually have about 260 to 300 high school students. It’ll be the second high school downtown, joining Notre Dame, an all-girls Catholic school founded in 1851.

San Jose Downtown Association Executive Director Scott Knies agrees with the “city as a classroom” concept, saying the Hillbrook students will have ample opportunity for community service and to engage with their urban surroundings. “They’re going to be part of the revitalization of St. James Park,” he said.

HISTORIC NIGHT AT HISTORY PARK: A coalition of history-minded groups, collectively known as the Santa Clara County Preservation Alliance, are hosting a Preservation Awards Night for the first time May 21 at History Park in San Jose.

The outdoor event will start at 7 p.m. with live music and a restored film on the history of the Santa Clara County Fair, as guests mingle at what’s expected to be a real who’s who of preservationists in Santa Clara County. The highlight award of the night is a lifetime achievement award for Kitty Monahan for her leadership with the New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association, Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission, Peninsula Open Space Trust and the Umunhum Conservancy.

Before that, however, the various organizations will honor 17 other people and groups — too many to list here, but you can get the full list of honorees (and purchase tickets to attend) at

50 YEARS OF INDIE RADIO: KKUP-FM (91.5), the all-volunteer, listener-sponsored radio station based in Cupertino will celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 20, kicking off a special “Psychedelic Marathon” through May 22, playing music popular during its early days from artists including the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and more.

A radio station surviving for five decades is pretty amazing, but doing it without commercials is almost unheard of. Gratia Rankin, a KKUP board member since the 1990s, said many smaller “underground” stations have a college or foundation to help keep them afloat, but KKUP has existed entirely on donations from Bay Area listeners and now fans around the world through its online presence.

“During the pandemic, we learned from many listeners who called or wrote that we were saving their lives by bringing our best game during a very difficult time,” Rankin said.

So feel free to celebrate with next weekend’s Psychedelic Marathon or anytime on 91.5 FM or at And keep those donations coming.

THEATREWORKS PUTTING ON A SHOW: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is back with “A Muse Ball,” its spring fundraiser at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City on May 21, and it sounds like it’s going to be a colorful spectacle worthy of the company’s most entertaining shows.

On top of putting a spotlight on Artistic Director Tim Bond, the night will include live entertainment, a local art market and wrap up with a dance party. And, of course, you’ve got to honor a couple of Muses, and in this case its TheatreWorks Executive Director Phil Santora and TheatreWorks trustee Julie Kaufman, who will kick off the evening with a special entrance and welcome. Tickets are available for $150 a piece at

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Mississippi Republicans who oppose abortion also oppose expanding post-partum care: report

One of the cruel ironies of the so-called “pro-life” movement is the fact that the same Republicans who want to outlaw abortion also oppose universal health care and even the modest reforms of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. That fact is painfully obvious in the deep red state that helped pave the way for the likely demise of Roe v. Wade: Mississippi, which according to ProPublica, has an abysmal track record when it comes to caring for women after they have given birth.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the case that is likely to resort in Roe v. Wade being overturned, deals with a draconian anti-abortion law in Mississippi. Pro-choice opponents of the law are slamming it as an unconstitutional violation of Roe v. Wade, but a leaked majority draft opinion in the case finds Justice Samuel Alito arguing that Roe was wrongly undecided and needs to be overturned.

If Roe, a 1973 ruling, is overturned, deep red Mississippi will no doubt end up with a total statewide abortion ban. But as reporter Sarah Smith emphasizes in an article published by ProPublica on May 16, forcing pregnant women in Mississippi to give birth whether they like it or not doesn’t mean they can count on adequate health coverage — especially if they have the misfortune of being poor.

“When it comes to reproductive care,” Smith explains, “Mississippi has a dual distinction. The state spawned the law that likely will lead to the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade. It is also unique among Deep South states for doing the least to provide health care coverage to low-income people who have given birth. Mississippians on Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, lose coverage a mere 60 days after childbirth.”

Smith adds, “That’s often well before the onset of post-partum depression or life-threatening, birth-related infections: A 2020 study found that people racked up 81% of their postpartum expenses between 60 days and a year after delivery. And Mississippi’s own Maternal Mortality Review Committee found that 37% of pregnancy-related deaths between 2013 and 2016 occurred more than six weeks post-partum.”

Democrats have their share of disagreements about how best to expand access to health care. During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, now-President Joe Biden had some heated debates with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts over their Medicare-for-all proposals. But whether the U.S. achieves universal health care through a government-operated single payer program or an aggressive expansion of Obamacare, Democrats are generally in agreement that all Americans should be insured — a view that Republicans don’t share. Far-right Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin still wants to overturn the Affordable Care Act and abolish Obamacare.

But Mississippi, Smith points out, is uniquely bad among states when it comes to caring for women who have given birth.

“Every other state in the Deep South has extended or is in the process of extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months post-partum,” Smith observes. “Wyoming and South Dakota are the only other states where trigger laws will outlaw nearly all abortions if Roe falls and where lawmakers haven’t expanded Medicaid or extended post-partum coverage.”

Smith adds that in Mississippi, efforts to “extend” Medicaid “coverage past 60 days have repeatedly failed.”

Cassandra Welchlin, executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, told ProPublica, “It’s hypocrisy to say that we are pro-life on one end, that we want to protect the baby, but yet, you don’t want to pass this kind of legislation that will protect that mom who has to bear the responsibility of that child.”

Welchin warned that failing to extend Medicaid coverage to women in Mississippi after they have given birth could kill them.

“We know in the state of Mississippi, women die at higher rates — and of course, it’s higher for Black women,” Welchin told ProPublica. “And so, when women don’t have that coverage, what happens is they die.”

Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, finds it “unconscionable” that Mississippi Republicans want to outlaw abortion without expanding health coverage in their state.

“These bans on abortion are going to be layered on top of an already-unconscionable maternal and infant health crisis that most particularly impacts those who are struggling to make ends meet,” Miller told ProPublica. “It particularly impacts Black women and other communities of color.... A state like Mississippi that is so clearly wanting to ban abortions — the fact that they refuse to extend basic health care benefits that will help during pregnancy and post-partum just clearly indicates that they are not interested in the health and wellbeing of women and families and children, that they are purely on an ideological crusade.”

As Miller sees it, conversations about abortion rights and conversations about material health coverage need to go hand in hand.

Miller told ProPublica, “You can’t have a conversation about legality or soon-to-be illegality of abortion in these states and not have a conversation simultaneously about the existing crisis around maternal and infant health. These things are all interconnected, and that’s why it is so deeply disturbing that the states trying to ban abortion are the same states that are refusing to expand Medicaid under the ACA, that are failing to take advantage of the ability to extend postpartum (coverage) by 12 months, that don’t invest in child care, that don’t invest in education — these are all part of the same conversation.”

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