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Editorial

Original post made on Jun 5, 2009

When reporters asked Senator Dianne Feinstein to comment on complaints about major cuts to state services and education following the May 19 vote against the state propositions, she said, Californians want the very best but often don't want to pay the costs. She recalled as mayor of San Francisco asking voters if they wanted more police, and the answer would come back, loudly, "Yes." Do you want more firefighters? The answer would come back loudly, "Yes." Do you want to pay for them? And instantly, Feinstein said, it was always a booming, "No."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 5, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (23)

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:47 am

Since Steve Brozosky, Kay Ayala, Kathleen Ruegsegger can't get elected to local office, they have to jump on a divisive issue and make our children pay as a result. I wish these tax-revolt Republicans would take to their act to Bakersfield or Texas so they can be around likeminded people. That way, they can live in their conservative wonderland and pay for everything with magical conservative pixie dust, since they hate taxes so much. Once they're gone we can get back to the business of funding our schools and move away from Republican selfishness.


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Posted by C'mon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:52 am

If all Republicans do move to Texas, who's going to fund your welfare checks and free school lunches?

Remember, don't bite the hand that feeds you! :)


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 5, 2009 at 9:26 am

It is easy to figure out why Measure G lost. Whoever the outside consulting firm who ran the campaign for Yes on Measure G ran a disaster campaign. Turnoffs include:

-Casey didn't act in a leadership position by taking a 5% paycut and giving away that ridiculous car allowance ($1000 a month-ridiculous). When everyone in the private sector no longer has bonuses, is taking forced furloughs, that is the least he could do.

-No survey was ever done to survey how citizens would respond to the wording and amount of the parcel tax and how it was structured.

-Instead of relying on known child advocates and education advocates in the city, Measure G campaign sought endorsements of the county supervisor, assembly members, and three members of the city council that have never had anything to do with improving the state of education in the city (H, C-K, T).

-Ballot arguments for Yes signed by, other than Kris Weaver, what looked like the reunion for the "Sharrell Michelotti for City Council" supporters. Real estate people who live in Ruby Hill, developers, and Chamber of Commerce members signing ballot arguments? This is not going to appeal to the average Pleasanton resident.

-Glossy mailers that looked like Measure QQ mailers.

-Expensive multipage Pleasanton Weekly ads.

The list could go and on....


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 5, 2009 at 11:27 am

I think everyone is missing the point that our spending and taxing is already out of control and nobody who already pays taxes is going to vote for more taxes when they are already out of control and the jobs are leaving the state. We have done an excellent job or forcing most of our major industry out of the state in order to compete globally and with them leaving went that tax base. Then we decide to tax the individuals working and guess what they leave the state. We have no money and must reduce taxes in order to get investment in the state by industry and keep people from moving out.


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Posted by Sure
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 5, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Joe, I'm just curious, how did you vote on props 1A through 1F? Do you pay additional taxes to help fund government programs or do you just pay the minimum you're required to pay?


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Paul,

I disagree that everyone is missing the point. I think Sue is on the right track. Do you really think San Ramon's Measure C is going to drive any businesses out of California, or anyone out of San Ramon for that matter? These are local taxes.


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Posted by fred
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 5, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I'd like to thank all the Republicans and Tea Bag Heads for ruining our schools. I'm hopeful that as Pleasanton's demographics continue change, the conservatives in this town will get scared and move off to some backwards town in the Central Valley where they can live out their GOP fantasies. They can elect Joe the Plumber as their king.


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Posted by Heather
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Personally, I believe having the facilitator (e.g., Denise Watkins) and members of the Excellence Committee (e.g., Rudy Johnson) sign the ballot arguments in favor of the parcel tax was a major blunder. It just looked like another attempt for the Excellence Study parcel tax.

And Ken Mercer Mr. Development mayor? Come on.

And downtown business owners that don't even live here and wouldn't need to pay the tax?

Who was the outside consulting firm that ran the Measure G campaign?


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 5, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Russell, this is far bigger than San Ramon and their measure G. It has to do with what Dianne Feinstein is saying that is basically the voters, legislators, governor et al vote to approve everything and anything and there is no money to pay for it. It is like your wife working as hard as she can to support the family and say she makes 50K per year and you as her spouse keeps spending willy nilly for whatever you want and exceed her ability to earn. You borrow and borrow and at the end of the day cannot make more money and like we are forced to start taking an objective look at what we can and cannot afford.


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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jun 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Sue hit the nail on the head.

It seems that Superintendent Casey, the board, city politicians, and those behind the SPS campaign are still missing the point of why Measure G was defeated. Do they really find it "difficult . . . in the aftermath of the defeat to determine just what they did wrong"?

Are you kidding me?

The defeat of Measure G had nothing to do with political party affiliations, or because those in opposition wanted our schools to fail by refusing to "pay the cost of preserving and sustaining Pleasanton schools".

The parcel tax defeat can be directly attributed to the lack of leadership and fiscal irresponsibility of Superintendent Casey. I'm reminded of the V8 commercial; in this case, Superintendent Casey should smack his head and say "I shoulda had a reserve!"

If Superintendent Casey and the board are not astute enough to listen to the community, trim the fat, and make the hard decisions, I, for one, will vote against another parcel tax. Especially if it is introduced before Casey and the board do the work they were elected to do.




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Posted by C'mon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Billie: Casey, the board, and those SPS folks are are smart people so I'm pretty sure they did not "miss the point". They get it but they are choosing to ignore the facts. That's because the resolution requires Casey and his top level staff to take a huge pay and perks cut and the board to press the union for more concessions. They obviously don't want to do any of that so they just turn their backs on the facts. Plain and simple.

I sure hope they put up another parcel tax measure in the near future so our 4 NO votes can be cast again...and again...until they begin to face reality.

Guess who won't be getting my vote in the next board member election?


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2009 at 4:07 pm

18 million dollars raised by a parcel tax. Passive communication is why it lost. We have a new CFO who understands how communicating to our Community is so important. Maybe,under the next parcel tax request, an oversight committee will have already been in place. Alternative methods of raising taxes will be spread more evenly across the board,business and resident. Persons in leadership roles do not take risks to rock the boat when retirement is near. Nothing but good came from this election. Any taxes in the future will be local with respected Community leaders entrusted to share the whole story of their use.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 5, 2009 at 8:08 pm

First, to Joe, I don't know that I can't get elected, but I have no intention of running; never did and have said that often on these blogs. As to likeminded people, this is the good old USA, built on a multitude of freedoms, not the least of which are the right to hold a different belief, to express it in public, and to choose where to live. To the tax revolt comment, I have also said I will gladly pay a parcel tax and that my concerns were fiduciary. But if you need me to repeat all of it again . . . well, it really isn't necessary; you can read it elsewhere.

To the editorial: The community didn't say cut jobs did they? What I saw was concern about how taxpayer dollars have been handled, the too generous raises and perks those dollars bought (unsustainable), and the vagueness of the language as to what the parcel tax would truly fund. There wasn't complete anonymity of the opposition and an excellent tool was employed: verifiable facts presented for the community to consider. That had much more to do with this tax failing than who any of us are. My hope is that teachers will pressure their representatives to negotiate changes that will save fellow teachers and programs (S&C freeze or a percentage of salary for one year). The administration needs to lead by example (their concessions were also promised only if Measure G passed) and take a one year hiatus on various perks (car allowances, health benefit contributions of $10,000), a give back a percentage of salary (not days in their contracts), and no "me too" clauses for those who negotiate with the unions or for those who receive a percentage increase for satisfactory reviews--for starters.

The board can easily talk to those of us who were visible, but they needn't do more than read some of these blogs to see what went wrong. Vague ballot language and a lack of confidence in the fiscal management of the district are easy examples. I believe a better written parcel tax, for a shorter period (two or three years—it has to balance with the cost of any election) and some concession as to freezing either S&C or raises during the life of that tax could be easily passed and with the support of many who opposed this attempt. The board and superintendent have an opportunity, now that the negotiations for a new contract are beginning with APT, to rethink compensation. If we hope to remain a lighthouse district, the courage to lead will be necessary. If they have the strength to set systemic change in place, it could win the confidence of the community come their election.

In an attempt to stop the "us vs them" arguments, we should remember that as taxpayers, we ALL are the customers. This establishment can't raise the price of its product $233 a year and not expect to respond to a few questions, particularly when we can't take our money and say we'll get the product elsewhere.


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Posted by tanya Ludden
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:24 pm

The Committee to Save Pleasanton Schools, Yes on Measure G was run by volunteers, we did not hire a consultant as was stated in the editorial.


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Posted by Pleasanton resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2009 at 12:38 am

I'd bet my bottom dollar that "Joe" and "fred" weren't even born in CA. We need an honest dialog about how to improve our town and these folks come across as poster-children for the reason why our state is in dire straights. Enough with the name calling and generalizing, it just makes you as backwards and uneducated as you claim your opponents to be.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2009 at 1:35 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger, thank you for your extraordinary post-election analysis.
Pleasanton Weekly, it simply amazes me that you seem utterly and completely flummoxed by the results. So much is wrong with your editorial. I'd like to focus on two areas that stand out for a keyboard lashing:
You stated "In the sizeable defeat of Measure G". The defeat was anything but sizable. Measure G garnered just over 62% of the vote, a bit more than 4% shy of the 2/3 super-majority needed to win. As Mrs. Ruegsegger asserts in her comments above, if various good-faith cuts were included in the language of G, (not small tokens, as was offered), I assure you that three votes in my household would have been YES on G. From my conversations with other NO voters, they likely would have voted for G as well.
You also stated "One thing's for sure: It will be a long time before this or any future school board returns to the ballot box with another parcel tax proposal." As I pointed out above, and as many others shared in various blog posting on this web site over the past 30 days, if a more balanced measure were presented to the people of Pleasanton, it could easily have passed. So please don't speak for the school board, especially when two seats on the board are up for grabs in 2010.


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Posted by turn it on its head
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2009 at 9:44 am

I think it's kind of hopeful that a group of local volunteers (SPS is not an "outside consulting firm" as this flawed editorial states) managed to get a 62.7% majority from at least two experienced opposing politicians. A super-majority of 4% more equates to, what, 700 votes shy of victory? Hardly a "sizeable defeat of Measure G".

I'll bet more than a few people woke up Wednesday morning and wished they had just made it to the polls. I'll also bet these people don't make that mistake again.


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Posted by Carl
a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Turn-it-on-its-head -

Yes, let's turn this on it's head..........

A group of local volunteers
[organized as a registered political committee FPPC #1315242, backed by every elected politician in town, elected county and state representatives, the Chamber of Commerce, the local education foundations, $60,000+ in contributions, yard signs, painted cars, the endorsement of the Pleasanton Weekly, with a professional campaign consultant as PTA's VP Communications, with direct access to the PUSD supe, unfettered access to budget and political verbage from PUSD and it's political consulting firm, and the backing of many businesses in town]
managed to get a 62.7% majority from at least two experienced opposing politicians
[with no money, no endorsements or support from any politial person or organization or business, with very difficult access to any info from PUSD]

You call that hopeful? Anyone else want to call it something else?

And with all that hope, why did SPS take down the list of supporters and businesses from their website? Hmmmm.


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Posted by Wondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm

To Carl---Am I to take it from your post regarding the VP of Communications that Angela Ramirez Holmes [ the Chamber of Commerce consultant, James Tong (developer of Oak Grove) consultant. and Measure QQ consultant ] ran the Measure G campaign?

Why did they hire her if Measure QQ failed? And is that why the list of G endorsers matched almost exactly the QQ endorsers?

Why would the school board hire her given her pretty dismal track record in local measures?


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Posted by Russell
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Mike and "turn it on its head" are on to something. Not everyone who voted against would vote against any tax. Let's get another parcel tax out there, let's change the language and the message. I think there is support for a tax. Let's do a better job this time.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Russell, There are many of us who would work for a tax. A sound budget policy has to be in place. There is a contract with APT on the table (a once in three year opportunity), Senator Simitian is trying to get SCA 6 passed that would lower the threshold for passing a parcel tax to 55% (I'm not necessarily in favor of this . . . just presenting the information), and an election in November 2010. Plenty of time and opportunity to get this right by then (if not before).


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2009 at 4:50 pm

By the way, one step toward a strong fiscal policy would be something to the effect of: one (two?) percent of any cost of living adjustments provided by the state are to be set aside in a reserve until such reserve reaches seven (ten?) percent OR one percent set aside for a reserve, half a percent for economic uncertainty, half a percent for retiree benefit liability. It would have to be clear that if a reserve is tapped during downturns in the economy, the formula kicks back in until such time as the money is replaced again. It may need to include the increase in funding from enrollment growth (or not). It allows for a reasonable raise in a good year and would essentially guarantee teaching positions/programs during a bad year. I'm just typing out loud from other policies I've seen.

It doesn't preclude negotiating out step and column in favor of another approach, or making benefits separate again (I don't actually think this will ever happen with such a high percentage of employees not needing to buy the benefits). It leaves the door open for a percentage raise in good years and maybe one-time bonuses in a great year so the "bounty" is shared without crippling future budget years. Negotiations should be held in public as well (yes, it does work). It guarantees that the public and the press can see/report on the direction of those negotiations before they are brought to an open vote of the board.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 6, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Wondering,

I don't get it. Angela Ramirez Holmes runs a campaign business. In the end, she can't make people vote one way or another. Wasn't she also hired to manage the successful campaigns of Hosterman and others? "You win some and you lose some." Your post seems almost as ridiculous as the posts here fabricating Kathleen Ruegsegger's history.


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