Streetwise | March 20, 2009 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Community Pulse - March 20, 2009


What are the benefits to residents if the parcel tax passes?

Asked around town

Karen Tincher

If the parcel tax passes, the money will go towards maintaining smaller class sizes in K-3, ninth-grade math, music and language arts programs, counselors, maintaining safe clean schools, and much more. I think the key question that Pleasanton residents need to ask themselves is what do you want your community to look like in five-10 years?

Pam Jetter with sons Nolan and Charlie

I hope it passes because it would maintain our small class sizes and it would allow us to keep the great teachers that have made Pleasanton schools so excellent throughout the years. I think it would also keep our property values up. We've lived here since 1995 and the school system was a key reason why we decided to move here.

Jeff Kersh with daughter Riley

We would have a better school district, which would ultimately result in a better community that everybody lives in and benefits from. Our children are the future of our community, which is why we need to put money into our district. If it doesn't pass, there will be a good number of teachers who will lose their jobs which will result in a decline in the quality of our children's education.

John Clatworthy

The biggest benefit is that we won't have to increase class sizes for K-3 grades. If the parcel tax doesn't pass, those classes will almost double in size. Data in the statewide tests have proven that smaller class sizes in these grades is vital to the learning patterns amongst children. Property values have also stayed high in Pleasanton because the outstanding schools are what draw people to live here.

Susane Head with daughter Sydney and son Sander

I think it's a win-win for everybody because it will maintain good quality schools and it will keep our home values up. Pleasanton is a wonderful place to live because of the community it's founded upon, which includes great schools and great families.

Compiled by Hillary Bessiere


Posted by Kiko, a resident of Val Vista
on Mar 21, 2009 at 8:35 am

All these people are for the tax, well I guess this clinches it. If PW was really interested in the "community pulse" they would solicit the entire community, not just a select few. This newspaper is losing all credibility over this tax proposal. Whether it passes or fails, this issue has divided this community to such a degree that it has neighbors at odds with each other.

Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

These Streetwise columns usually say, at the farmers market, at the sports park, downtown, etc.--specific about where. This time it says "around town." I wondered on another thread if this was because the answers were selected for one view based on the featured article and cover photo.

Posted by Carl, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:25 am

Let's see if I got the Weekly's policy right....

If a Weekly article/forumthread is about the parcel tax and contains content that is against the tax or its supporters, then the Weekly imposes a contributor restriction.

If the article (like this Streetwise) is about the parcel tax and is all 'positive', then there is no restriction.

Regarding the ' has neighbors at odds with each other.' Isn't that the nature of an election? One neighbor is voting NO, and the other is voting YES. They are at odds. The question is whether they can respect each other's position and engage in a healthy debate. The Pleasanton Weekly is not helping in either regard. Selective reporting and selective application of their 'chilling the debate' policies is dramatically lowering their journalistic credibility and community reputation.

Posted by registered user, Gina Channell-Allen, a resident of president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:38 am

Kiko, We asked “What are the benefits to residents if the parcel tax passes?” not whether the respondent favored the tax or not.

Carl, a healthy debate is an exchange of ideas. The forum threads that were closed contained name-calling, bullying, and the like - not a healthy debate. We will not condone this disrespectful behavior or allow it to continue.

But you are both correct that this issue is dividing the community. However, I personally have not lived or worked in a community where the issue of taxes didn’t put residents at odds. That’s why it’s always put to a vote. I hope this community will respond the way others have in the past and let bygones be bygones after the ballots are counted.

And I thank you both for being a part of this healthy debate.

Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:50 am

Gina, The most recent thread, shut down last night to non-registered voters, did not have name-calling or bullying or an unhealthy debate. What was the criteria for closing it then?

Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:57 am

Gina, What I don't know is whether those who might have answered they disagreed with the parcel tax or didn't see the benefits of another tax were not printed. To balance, I have no way of knowing if those answers were sought or offered either.

Posted by Begging the question, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm

It does seem as if asking "what are the benefits to residents if the parcel tax passes" is begging the question.
Perhaps a question more along the lines of "what do you see as the pros and cons of the parcel tax passing?" would have been more objective.

Posted by Good journalism worth the effort, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm

The Pillars Of Good Journalism: Thoroughness, Accuracy, Fairness And Transparency

"To the extent that we make thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and transparency the pillars of journalism, we can get a long way toward the worthy goal of helping our audiences/collaborators.

Maybe it's time to say a fond farewell to an old canon of journalism: objectivity.

But it will never be time to kiss off the values and principles that undergird the idea."

So writes Dan Gillmor, former columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's daily newspaper, and recent author of "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People". Gillmor is now working on a project to encourage and enable more citizen-based media, through his new venture Grassroots Media Inc.

In a recent article on his new blog, entitled "The End of Objectivity (Version 0.91)", Gillmor identifies what he believes are the four pillars of good journalism in this new age of online, participatory news creation, namely:

1. Thoroughness

2. Accuracy

3. Fairness

4. Transparency

In his view, objectivity, which for so long has been the mantra of good journalism, is no longer relevant, insofar as it was only ever really a construct of the near monopolistic newspaper and television industry - anxious never to express single points of view too obviously at the risk of alienating any section of their audience or attracting libel suits.

"The lines separating [the pillars] are not always clear. They are open to wide interpretation, and are therefore loaded with nuance in themselves. But I think they are a useful way to approach quality journalism. They are, moreover, easier to achieve in an online setting."

Gillmor well understands that news articles produced through online, participatory journalism (think blogs) is inherently open to immediate feedback, criticism and ongoing development. In other words, the potential for mass scrutiny and mass intervention by the readership in any one story requires that an online journalist be 'thorough' in their research, 'accurate' with their facts, 'fair' with their treatment of the subject and 'transparent' (honest and open) about their own position.

Here are some extracts of his views on the 'Four Pillars':

1. Thoroughness

- Today, thoroughness means more than asking questions of the people in our Rolodexes (circular or virtual).

- It means, whenever possible, asking our readers for their input.

2. Accuracy

- Get your facts straight.

- Say what you don't know, not just what you do. (If the reader/listener/viewer does know what you don't, you've just invited him/her to fill you in.)

3. Fairness

- Fairness means, among other things, listening to different viewpoints, and incorporating them into the journalism.

- Fairness is also about letting people respond when they believe you are wrong. This is much easier online than in a print publication, much less a broadcast.

- The first rule of having a conversation is to listen -- and I know I learn more from people who think I'm wrong than from those who agree with me.

4. Transparency

- Journalists need to disclose certain things, such as financial conflicts of interest. But to what extent? Should journalists of all kinds be expected to make their lives open books? How open?

- Personal biases, even unconscious ones, affect the journalism as well. I need to be aware of the things I take for granted, and to periodically challenge some of them, as I do my work.

- Another way to be transparent is in the way we present a story. We should link to source material as much as possible, bolstering what we tell people with close-to-the-ground facts and data. (Maybe this is part of accuracy or thoroughness, but it seems to fit here, too.)

As Gillmor concludes, "Not easy, but worth the effort."

Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 24, 2009 at 5:15 am

If I'd been asked "what are the benefits to residents if the parcel tax passes," I'd have answered "None other than allowing The Boosters to continue to push non-educational campus enhancements down the neighborhoods throats."

Wanna bet that wouldn't have been published?

Posted by Janet, a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 25, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Let's not forget the people who are opposed to this don't even show themselves on camera (there have been several news stories about this topic and each person who's opposed has either walked away from being interviewed or doesn't show their face on camera).

Posted by Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2009 at 12:33 am

Janet, These people have been criticized vocally at Board meetings for speaking up; people who themselves sat quietly and patiently while others spoke their views. Why keep setting yourself up for the abuse? All they really need to do is show up and vote no.

Posted by Agree w/Disagree w/B, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2009 at 8:06 am

Disagree w/B is so right! It's not just at board meetings that those who oppose the parcel tax are verbally abused - it happens anywhere a discussion about the parcel tax takes place.
Many of those who oppose the parcel tax do so because there's no provision in the parcel tax language for a salary freeze. There's concern that while funds from the parcel tax will be used to keep the programs/personnel the community has indicated are strongly needed (reading/math programs, CSR, counselors etc.) using the parcel tax revenue for these items will then free up funds which can be used for salary increases.