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I Apologize for using the 'H' Word

Original post made by John Adams, Amador Valley High School, on May 1, 2009

I didn't mean to offend FCD or other like-minded individuals.

What I should have used was the appropriate term "Character Assassination," a commonly used political tool of last resort. It's particularly disturbing when used in a letter from an organization which claims to represent 2000 supporters in a community which claims to have character.

Sorry, but for me, the personal attacks far outweighed the undocumented "facts" sprinkled through, almost as an afterthought.

Comments (25)

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Posted by Get out of the wagon
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 1, 2009 at 3:20 pm

John Adams...

No apology necessary. We all got the same piece of...um, "mail", that you did. You characterized it pretty well before.


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Posted by Mandy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 1, 2009 at 5:40 pm

I just read the half page ad paid for by the Save Pleasanton Schools political campaign.
How sad that the PTA leaders who are running this campaign must now resort to attempts at character assassination. Their ad isn't about addressing facts – it's an attempt to vilify a parent who expressed his doubts about the need for a parcel tax .
Steve Brozosky's letter, published in an earlier edition of the PW Weekly was "thought provoking." That's the phrase used by Betsey Belleville (page 11) who describes herself as a Measure G supporter.
But being someone who provokes thought obviously makes Steve Brozosky a dangerous person to the SPS people. They must not want people to think.
I agree with those who say the reason many people opposed to the parcel tax choose to stay anonymous is because they know that either they or their children will be targeted. This ad proves how right those people are.
I guess people will say that's politics - it's a dirty business. I just expected better from our community.


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Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Walnut Hills
on May 1, 2009 at 7:43 pm

I read this thread BEFORE I read the letter from Save Pleasanton Schools in the PW, so I was expecting to read something outrageous. It wasn't a character attack at all. It did point out that Brozosky, in his public letter, was criticized decisions that he, himself had voted for while on the school board. That is not a character attack. That's called a rebuttal.

Now a character attack would be something like the "G is for Greed" posting where said poster wrote " Yes on G people you are GREEDY". There is a difference!


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Posted by What???
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 1, 2009 at 10:27 pm

What is the H word? Is it anything like the N word or the F word. I don't know higger or huck


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 1, 2009 at 11:44 pm

I think the H word that "For Civil Discourse" was objecting to was the title of one of the other threads on this forum that called the proG community letter "hate mail".

None of the statements made about Mr. Brozowsky in the letter seemed like personal attacks to me. They were statements about Mr. Brozowsky's voting record when he served on the school board. If those statements are inaccurate, I'd like to know.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 1, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Yes, such questioning can be construed as attacking the messenger. It shouldn't matter how he voted. It doesn't change the fact that management raises were given out and then the State told districts not to give out raises.


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Posted by Diana
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on May 2, 2009 at 7:51 am

I was concerned about the raises when they were given because they had to use district reserves to rush them through. I watched the meeting and Steve was the only trustee to question it. He was assured that it was necessary to keep up with our neighbors and (after some money shuffling) they would be able to pay the raises from other funds.

Steve is now admitting the error of letting the administration manipulate the board.


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Posted by Don't be distracted
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 2, 2009 at 9:38 am

Brozosy's letter is missing critical pieces of information and is meant to distract people from the bigger picture.

Let's assume for a moment that all he suggests is done. IT IS A DROP IN THE BUCKET! It is not the cause of the shortfall and it won't fix the shortfall because the state is taking back money already paid.

We are in this shape NOT because of a cell phone bill or mileage subsidies or even because of raises for hard working teachers, it is because the state has cut money already promised and spent.

It a distraction and puts the blame where it doesn't belong. All of us could sit down with the budget and cut a few hundred thousand dollars, may even a million and some would want one thing cut and some would argue for another. . . these conversations go on in budget meetings in districts throughout the state.

These are state cuts in the millions of dollars! MILLIONS and there will be more! This is a STATE issue.

The question for me is where are my priorities? I don't have children in school but did. My household could apply for the senior exemption but we won't. I will vote for the parcel tax because I think the KIDS are worth it and they should not get a lesser shot at their education because of the shortsidedness of the adults in the community.

Don't be distracted. Keep your eye on what is important.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 2, 2009 at 9:49 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Wouldn't you have wanted the money they've been wasting all these years on the cell phones put into the reserve fund instead so that they could ride out this storm? That money adds up annually.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on May 2, 2009 at 10:07 am

The State didn't cuase this, the school board caused this. Even a blind man can hear the freight train and get off the tracks. The school board could both hear and see and all the indicators were there because the State was having budget problems even in a good economy. The school district chose to ignore the warning signs, give out raises, and eliminate their reserves. Face facts, they screwed-up. The board even has a member that runs a credit union and I'm sure that he MUST have seen it coming or his business would be faltering now.


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Posted by come on, now...
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm

"Yes, such questioning can be construed as attacking the messenger. It shouldn't matter how he voted. It doesn't change the fact that management raises were given out and then the State told districts not to give out raises."

I think if Steve Brozosky wrote a public letter to be ppublished in a newspaper that criticized those raises and used them as an explanation for why he would vote "no" on G, then it's entirely relevant and NOT a character attack to point out that he actually voted for those raises.

"Wouldn't you have wanted the money they've been wasting all these years on the cell phones put into the reserve fund instead so that they could ride out this storm? That money adds up annually."

Sure! But that's kind of a moot point now. I wish I had put more money in the bank and hadn't spent so much money on Club Sport and an I-Phone when I was fully employed, but I didn't have a crystal ball to know that the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression was going to hit the country. Neither did our school board/district. The district has since made cuts in these areas and I'm sure they would do it differently if they had a time machine. We need to focus on solutions to the problem NOW.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 2, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

You see though, the difference between your personal finances and a government entity is that you are only beholden to yourself while the district is beholden to the taxpayers at large. That's why they're required by law to maintain at least a 3% reserve. That's why the district, under different leadership, set a goal of having a 7% reserve. So it's entirely appropriate for taxpayers to question why they abandoned such a goal during the high times and for taxpayers to decide not to give more money to such an organization.


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Posted by was there
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 2, 2009 at 5:27 pm

I believe there is some misunderstanding of the management raise previously given out and the timeline.

The superintendent did a salary survey of the surrounding districts at the time our district typically gives out pay adjustments. That salary survey showed what the other district's management teams would be making AFTER THEY GOT THEIR ANTICIPATED RAISE. Our school board was given the line that to be competitive with the surrounding districts that were giving out raises, we must do the same. The Board then voted to give out the raises. At that hearing, Brozosky was concerned and spoke up. He ended up voting for it along with the rest of the Board and even if he voted against it, it still would have passed 4 to 1 PLUS the management team would have been real upset with him and made it even harder to get the information he needed to do his job. Would have been a no-win situation.

A few weeks after the raise was given out, the State, through the county school boards of education, told the districts they should not give out raises except those required by bargaining group contracts. This prevented the districts around us from giving out management raises (the ones that were already figured into the salary survey our superintendent gave to our board).

My guess is our superintendent knew of this impending order and pushed our board into giving the raises before it was publicly announced. The moral of this story is if the board is given information based on future actions by other districts, we should wait until the other districts actual take their actions before we take ours. We learned our lesson.

On another related item, when the board was working with the budget with Brozosky there, he was the only one bringing up new ideas on how to cut expenses. The rest of the board just seemed to be there like deer in the headlights. No different than when Arkin made her suggestions of potential cuts to the expenses. At that time, Brozosky did bring up the issue of the cell phone bills and the car allowances. The rest of the board had no interest in cutting expenses, other than those identified by our management team.


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Posted by Don't be distracted
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 2, 2009 at 5:28 pm

We've done it to ourselves. We only have the citizens of California to blame. After all, the California State legislative body only has control over 6-7% of the budget. The rest the voters of California voted for( in the form of initiatives, some that limit taxes and others which mandate spending) and then we have spent years balancing the budget by borrowing money, (from CHINA! Interest ONLY!)

We can point our collective finger and play the who is to blame game. . .It comes down to the state doesn't have enough money, schools can't stockpile reserves to the degree you are suggesting, and few people EVER advocate reasonable raises for teachers because they will always be consumers of tax dollars and someone will always know one teacher who doesn't deserve the raise. (I know a doctor that doesn't deserve to be paid, it happens in every profession. Everything you have learned can be traced back to someone teaching you something.)

Do our kids deserve the services? Are they worth the less than 20 bucks a month? You bet!


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Posted by Parents for the Parcel
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 2, 2009 at 5:53 pm

So Stacey, let me get this straight. The second largest employer in Pleasanton, with 18 different sites, at least 30 different site administrators, and responsibility for the safety of thousands of children should not be using cell phones payed for by the employer? This is one of anti G's major bone of contention? This is the example of wasting funds?


Tell me how the communication between these sites is supposed to take place when site administrators are rarely sitting in an office? Are you saying that cell phones for administrators are not needed? Do you not realize the value of instant communication has when we are talking about the safety of our students?

I'm curious as to what Safeway, Oracle, and Valley Care Health would say about the "management" of their cell phone use and the idea that they should cut their cell phones.

Yes on G.....the facts are very clear, this budget crisis is not about a mismanagement of PUSD (who has never failed to deliver a balanced budget), it is about the worst cuts in California's history to school funding at the state level.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 2, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Parents: Presenting a budget that says $x in and $x out is not really a balanced budget. It says: I'm spending everything you send. The district gave large raises over three years and, in the process, abandoned its own goal of having a 7% reserve, a reserve that could have negated a need for a tax in this economy . . . even for a year.

Previous administrations understood the ebb and flow of state funding and planned for it. This administration did not apparently see the need. Don't give credit where it isn't due. Piling on 14+% in raises required continued COLA increases and/or enrollment growth. They placed the bet and lost.

They can make the cuts without losing CSR . . . they need to start now and listen to others who have ideas for balancing the budget for real. Those suggestions are out there and it is possible. Plenty of federal funding is coming to make the process less painful.


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Posted by Mandy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm

At a recent school board meeting, the business director said that PUSD had determined a large portion of the cell phone costs were due to personal phone calls.
The cell phones weren't being used to communicate with other employees, but with friends and family.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 2, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"schools can't stockpile reserves to the degree you are suggesting"

When they're handing out overly high raises, of course not. The LAO, for example, has shown on their website how the State COLA is calculated and how it is too high in the good times while its too low in the bad times. So if the district was receiving a very high COLA increase in the good times and then passing almost all of that through in raises, of course they can't stockpile their reserves! That's called poor fiscal management.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 2, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

P.S. The State COLA is based upon the GDPSL price deflator index. This index has categories for non-durable goods, construction, employee compensation, etc. The State's COLA is based upon the whole of GDPSL. So it is affected by the high prices of non-durable goods like gasoline. The District's primary costs are in employee compensation (something like 85% of the budget) not in transportation. So the whole GDPSL doesn't reflect actual District costs. LAO recommends using only the employee compensation part of the index. But PUSD received a COLA increase from the State that was inflated to a higher amount because of things like the price of gas. What do YOU think they should do with that extra money?

See Web Link


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Posted by Mandy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 3, 2009 at 10:11 am


The SPS 1/2 page ad in the Pleasanton Weekly was a PAID ADVERTISEMENT, (see the very tiny print at the bottom of the ad), not a letter to the editor.
Political advertisements are propaganda disguised to appear as facts.
The link below defines propaganda. Enjoy reading the techniques of propagandists and count how many SPS is using!

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda


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Posted by stating the obvious
a resident of Birdland
on May 3, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Ummm, the definition of propaganda is "the dissemination of information aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of people". Of course it's propaganda. They are making their case for why you should vote for Measure G. By that definition, everything that Kathleen posts is propaganda as well. She's trying to convince people NOT to vote for it.

In fact, nearly every post on this site is propaganda. Calling it propaganda doesn't mean that everything said is baseless, though (although some of it clearly is).

So, are you saying that if it was a letter to the editor it would have more credibility? That's propaganda too! Whether it's written by Joan Larsen or Steve Brozosky.


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Posted by James
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm

no way i am voting yes for a parcel tax to give staff raises when teachers are being cut and other people in this community are losing their jobs to the recession. nor am i willing to pay for unlimited use of cell phones. if they need to communicate while mobile they can get a two-way radio.


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Posted by moot point
a resident of Birdland
on May 4, 2009 at 3:42 pm

The cell phone thing is a moot point now. They've cut those costs and the tax won't be financing that.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 4, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Mandy,

were you at a different meeting than I was? Luz Cazares said exactly the opposite -- cell phone use for personal calls has never been a significant problem. The bills are routinely audited to ensure that staff use them for work-related purposes.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 4, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I know these phones are used for personal business; it could be that local calls are unlimited with the plan. The question then becomes, what plan is being purchased. I can't say if there is a cost savings to be had there.

By the way, the district did say they cut cost on phones now, so where did they make the cuts (fewer people have phones perhaps?).


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