Can PUSD board members be actively involved in the 'Yes on E' campaign? Schools & Kids, posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2011 at 11:52 am
Does anybody know what the rules are for board members as far as actively campaigning for measure E?
My neighbor last night showed me all the emails he/she has been getting from the Yes on Measure E folks (my neighbor gets them because of past support/endorsement for measure G). Many emails are signed "Sincerely, Joan Laursen" and on the latest email, they have a paragraph about lawn signs, and it says to contact the "lawn sign coordinator" which happens to be Valerie Arkin. That is two board members actively involved, as measure E lead and lawn sign coordinator.
So we have a board member emailing people asking them to work phone banks, giving updates on the Yes on E campaign, etc. And one of her emails gives the name of another board member to get their 'yes on e' sign.
Does anybody know the rules? Can board members be actively involved in a campaign to promote a parcel tax?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm
"I believe board members may act as individuals.....they cannot state that they are representing the opinion of the board of trustees."
But what are the rules. I did some research and of the school districts that have passed, or are trying to pass, a parcel tax, there was not a single one where the a school board member personally took the lead for the campaign - and this includes Palo Alto.
I would like to know the rules. If you know them, please share. I know with G, Laursen was the lead but at the time she was just a PTA parent, now she is a board member, and I am curious as to whether she can be the lead on the yes on E effort. There are rules for instance about distributing literature on campus.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm
I have not seen board members head the campaigns. I don't have the rules, but because the consultant wants a hash mark in the win column as much as the yes side, what board members do will be carefully guided. I don't think you'll see them step out of the boundaries. I'll see if I can find specifics.
Posted by Well, a resident of the Amador Estates neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm
Basically, Measure E adds an additional $98 tax per house in the city of Pleasanton. Senior citizens are exempt. You need to mail in your ballot in order for your vote to count.
Those voting no on E will tell you that they don't want it to go towards teacher salaries. Those voting yes on E are doing so because they want to save class size reduction at the lower elementary and 9th grade levels.
It's not comprehensive, but it's a start. I'm voting yes on E.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2011 at 10:55 pm
I asked for the funding to be tied to specific programs or positions, often one in the same as it is the nature of education. The ballot language and accompanying resolution are vague in my opinion. I think those who will vote yes believe various programs will be saved; science and math suppot is listed, for example. Board meeting videos, minutes, and materials can be found at the district web site www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us
Posted by Really?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm
Yet you personally know and respect the Parcel tax consultant- all those districts, who he has helped with this process, are incorrect according to your wishes, even the district where you are employed. Why you wish to cast doubt on our successful district has become a discussion amongst not only many employed here, but also in PAUSD.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2011 at 12:52 am
I did not say other districts are incorrect. I have said it is not what I wish to see in the community where I live and vote. Other communities are making their own choices; some have faced opposition; some have not won a parcel tax; depends on the community.
My concern last time was the lack of fiscal responsibility and the lack of specificity of ballot language. I have much higher hopes for the current governance team and their willingness to get back to fiscal health. I still don't like this ballot language.
I'd like to think people have better things to do than talk about my opinions. Is what I post more important than any other person's posted opinion?
Posted by long time parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm
Seniors do have to reapply every year. If they miss a deadline, they pay the tax. This is the district taking advantage of seniors; telling them to support the tax since they will not have to pay, and then reply on them forgetting to do something later. Most parcel taxes do not require you to reapply. How many seniors do you know that are a senior now but will not be in the future??? This is just the district taking advantage of seniors. In fact their income projects rely on seniors forgetting to file for the exemption.
"Those voting no on E will tell you that they don't want it to go towards teacher salaries"
Not quite true. This should say that voting no on E tells the district they do not want the parcel tax going towards raises. Quite a difference between raises and salaries.
And the money we are talking about here will not save classroom size reduction. If that is what you want, this is not the tax for that. The parcel tax is intentionally vague so the district can have the flexibility to spend the tax money on whatever they want. But after paying for the raises in the district, there will be little, or no, money left for instructional programs.
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm
Just one adjustment: districts that ask for annual renewals are actually making sure that the homeowner is still the owner of the property--like in the case of inheritance (have to look into whether you can be holding a property and renting it out and still get the exemption). I know districts also provide refunds--haven't read whether PUSD has that language. It would be unfortunate if the district is budgeting with the hope that most seniors won't request the exemption. It's more prudent to budget as if every senior wants the exemption because the general fund is supposed to make up the difference.
Posted by long time parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm
The district already knows whenever there is an ownership change in a parcel so this has nothing to do with that. The PUSD ballot language does not allow for refunds. It states you will pay the tax if you have not filed the exemption for that year by a certain date. So if the parcel tax passes, they have to follow what the put in the language. Once the exemption list goes to the recorders office before June 30, it is final for that fiscal year and the recorder will charge the property owner and charges the district for doing so.
For the senior to get the exemption they must own the property AND live at the property.
During the board meetings discussing this, the district went to the city to see how many seniors take the senior discount for their utilities. The district then budgeted that only half of the seniors who take the utility discount will take the tax exemption.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm
I asked my neighbor to forward the last email he/she received from the 'yes on e' campaign to me. This is how the email reads at the bottom:
Committee to Support Pleasanton Schools, Yes on Measure E
The above post says that board members in 2009 were advised to "Board members were advised to remain "Reasonable and, viewpoint neutral""
It looks like Laursen, a board member is not remaining neutral, she is sending emails on behalf of the 'yes on e' campaign
If we supposedly have so much support for measure E, why is Laursen leading the campaing? Why can't one of the many supporters take over that role?
When Laursen, a board member, sends the emails sent to community members encouraging donations, seeking volunteers for phone banks, etc, she is not remaining neutral. She is promoting the parcel tax. When G was on the ballot in 2009, I don't recall any board member getting involved. They endorsed it and expressed their support but they were not personally sending emails asking people to donate or volunteer on behalf of the parcel tax.
Posted by Pati, a resident of the Danbury Park neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm
It is a fact about seniors as they must show hardship or no resources to pay and must apply every year for the exemption. It is in the language and if you talk to the preparers of the bill they are counting on seniors forgetting to apply. Disgusting!!!
It states that the exemption is for anyone 65 years of age or older or receiving Supplemental Security Income for a disability. It says exemption needs to be submitted by June 15th of each year. I don't know anything about hardship. Maybe what is meant is the SSI, but that's "or".
Posted by Ray Johnson, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 6:44 am
It sure sounds like bait and switch to me. I think they are just trying to get the seniors on the hook by saying they have to go down each year and reapply by June 15th for their annual exemption. My mom and dad will not remember that they will need to go down each year and reapply. They are in their 80's for gods sake. Just another example of trying to take advantage of seniors for the sake of teachers raises. If you were trying to do right by the seniors then they should just exclude them altogether. Now that I am aware of this I am going to spread it far and wide and my folks will share at the senior center. Pretty dirty if you ask me.
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 8:21 am
It sounds perfectly reasonable to me. If you are over 65, you don't have to pay. It sounds like a really dirty trick to make claims like "must show hardship or no resources to pay". Spreading false rumors like that is shameful. I will be happy to tell seniors to ignore what they read on these blogs, since people are clearly spreading lies in a disgusting attempt to frighten seniors. It is disgraceful.
Posted by Pablo, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 8:54 am
I think you may be mis reading Ray's comments, the only people misleading and scaring the seniors are the people who put "E" on the ballot. It is not a lie and says in the language of the contract that "seniors MAY apply for an exemption and must apply for an exemption each year by June 15th."
The point is that they must apply and remember to do it every year otherwise they must pay the tax. This is very dishonest in my opinion and if they really weren't trying to pull one over on seniors just make the language read anyone over 65 is exempt period. Why even have them apply for the exemption in the first place unless you were trying to pull one over on them. Very shameful.
Posted by confused, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 9:32 am
Maybe it's because I was out of town recently for a week and didn't see it in my mail when I got home, but has this ballot already been sent out? People have mentioned reading the measure; if the ballot or voter info hasn't been sent out, where can it be read?
Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a member of the Hart Middle School community, on Mar 7, 2011 at 11:24 am
I don't believe there should be a senior exemption. The exemption should be based on "economic hardship" (and if you are suffering from that, you probably aren't living in Pleasanton and paying property taxes, anyway).
A senior exemption that permits a 65-year-old with a net worth of $10 million to avoid paying a 17 cent a day property tax (to take a hypothetical example) is unfair on its face.
The senior exemption is a political ploy to get the property tax increase passed, because the 65-plus crowd vote more often than any other age group.
I have no problem with exempting those in genuine distress from not paying the fantastic burden of $98 a year, but a blanket exemption just because you've survived sixty-five trips around the Sun makes no sense.
It's all a moot argument, anyway, since this parcel tax will fail same as the last one, by a few percentage points, the will of the minority thwarting the will of the majority....
Oh, the lengths Pleasantonians will go to pass this measly crumb of a parcel tax...I wish the whole thing had just been put to rest once and for all with the failure of Measure G, but here we are again, set up for another failure with Measure E.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm
"The point is that they must apply" - No Pablo, they don't have to apply, only if they actually do want the exemption. Just like you must file if you want an extension on filing your taxes - its automatic, but you must file in time. I'm not sure what the big deal is with having the seniors file for an exemption. I'm sure many seniors are willing to support the measure and some probably feel they can't afford it or do not wish to. With the language in the ballot it is their choice, they just have to act on the choice. Its that simple.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm
I usually disagree with YAT, but on this one, I agree.
Senior citizens should NOT be exempt. If they are going to vote yes on the tax, they should pay for it too. If they are exempt, it's easy for them to go vote yes and not think about it much since it won't affect them.
Maybe knowing that they have to remember to apply to be exempt each year will motivate them to vote and perhaps vote no.
I have a problem with people voting yes on a tax and then not having to pay for it. If they vote for it, they should pay.
Posted by Pietra, a resident of the Las Positas neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm
So do you have a problem with people who have not children paying already 2 school bonds and possibly a parcel tax as well? Tax tax tax, this one will never fly and even if it did can you feel the feelings of those who are forced to pay for teachers raises who do not even have jobs? I would hate to walk around town knowing what people think.
Posted by Just the facts, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Mar 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm
BACK to the original question: Board members and district staff are allowed to work on the campaign on their own time as long as they are not using any district resources to do so. Board members in other districts have worked on parcel taxes including San Ramon.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm
Pablo - are you just not understanding any of this or are you trying to make some point? Taxes are paid by people of all ages, yes including those that are over 65. And taxes pay for lots of things including schools, road, defense, parks, senior centers, medicare, etc. Please pay attention and try not to be an alarmist making it sound like a tax initiative is an attempt to steal from those over 65. I guess in your world, all taxes are stealing to pay for unnecessary things.
Posted by Violating the Law, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm
The school district is blatantly violating this law by school sites and board members sending emails to parent email lists (that are PUSD email lists) over and over again about endorsing and voting Yes on Measure E.
California Education Code Section 7054, 7054.1
(a) No school district or community college district funds,
services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of
urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate,
including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 9:07 pm
So do you have a problem with people who have not children paying already 2 school bonds and possibly a parcel tax as well? Tax tax tax, this one will never fly and even if it did can you feel the feelings of those who are forced to pay for teachers raises who do not even have jobs? I would hate to walk around town knowing what people think."
I am voting NO on measure E. All I am saying is that if seniors are exempt, it is easy for them to vote yes since they don't have to pay.
If seniors do not want to pay, they must vote and vote no.
By the way, my taxes pay for a senior center which I do not use. My taxes pay for medicare, which I do not use, do I need to go on?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm
One more thing, Pietra:
What I have a problem with is seniors who vote yes and get to be exempt. The district is counting on seniors to help them pass the tax by telling them about being exempt.
I know people (seniors) who voted yes on G because they knew they would be exempt. I have a problem with that. If they vote yes, they need to pay.
If they don't want to pay, join the rest of us and vote no. It is that simple. I have a problem with a tax to pay for raises, and will vote no for that reason. Seniors need to vote no or face the music and pay if the tax passes.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm
I do wonder tho, is it the responsibility of every citizen to support a parent's children in their schooling? Should others be respsonsible for their feeding, clothing and general well being also? I would think, if schools need funds, its their parents responsibility to come up with the funds.
Posted by We shall overcome, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 4:33 am
Violating the law,
Thanks for the heads-up. This is serious. We need the PEVC to double-down on their efforts. This is going to mean that Stacey and Steve must step forward and contribute even more than they have. Stacey? Steve? Our only hope is that you crank things up a notch and provide us all with your continued intellectual leadership. You've sacrificed yourselves till it hurts, but more is called for. Please help!!!
“Section 2. This Board hereby proposes to establish the levy of a core academic instruction parcel tax to be used to:
Emphasize core academic instruction that improves math, science and reading skills;
Attract and retain highly-qualified teachers;
Support specialized science and reading instruction;
Keep school libraries open and maintain library services and materials;
Minimize class size increases
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL ANY OF THE PROCEEDS OF THE CORE ACADEMIC INSTRUCTION PARCEL TAX BE USED FOR ADMINISTRATORS’ SALARIES OF BENEFITS AND NO PARCEL TAX REVENUES WILL BE USED TO INCREASE SALARIES OR BENEFITS FOR EMPLOYEES
Specific wording for Section 5 regarding seniors and others requesting exemption – and I have to say, I am very disappointed in the school board in requiring annual reapplication for this. Knowing 3 of the members personally, I do not believe this is a “bait and switch”, that some are suggesting. I believe it is more a failure to recognize that many of the people who qualify will “forget” to reapply. The Board has been very focused on trying to put the correct language in the ballot to insure that the monies from the ballot would go to the services that needed them, and where the community wanted them. Case in point, the language in all capital letters above about the monies going to programs and new teachers, not for “step and column” .
“Section 5 ….Additionally, any persons who are EITHER (a) 65 years of age or older OR (b) receiving SSI for a disability, REGARDLESS OF AGE, and the OWNER of a Parcel USED SOLELY FOR OWNER-OCCUPIED, SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES, may obtain an exemption from the core academic instruction parcel tax, by submitting annually an application of such owners OR PERSONS, prior to June 15 of each year, to the DISTRICT”
I emphasized the words that relate to certain questions on this board.
1) Persons who can apply for exemption are those 65 or older (don’t need to prove need) AND those persons who are under 65 and receive SSI
2) To be exempt you need to be owner-occupied residence. So if you are over 65, own a parcel, but are renting it out, you cannot apply for exemption for that parcel.
3) I also noted that someone else can apply for exemption for the persons who fulfill the above requirements. So the individual above whose parents are in their 80’s could file for them every year. (It still doesn’t change the stupidity of the annual application).
The accountability measures include:
1) A separate account for monies from the parcel tax
2) An annual written report made to the Board showing:
a. Amount of funds collected and expended from the proceeds of the tax
b. Status of any projects or programs required or authorized to receive funds from the tax
3) Creation of an independent citizen oversight committee (appointed by the Board) to ensure that said funds were spent for the purposes approved by voters
My suggestion is anyone who is really worried about the allocation of the tax monies apply to be on that committee.
As for the emails from Joan; I would check the email address they came from. I have been contacted by several people from the “Yes on E” group, and while they are all good friends of Joan’s, Joan has never contact me herself and none of the contact notices I have received have her name on it (though I will go back through my emails and look). I was explicitly told that the reason they needed others to help was that the Board members could not take sides on this measure. Has anyone bothered to check if Valerie Arkin is also in charge of getting the signs for the "No on E"? Because if she is also coordinating that, she is acting impartial and neutral on the matter.
The PUSD website information which comes directly from the parcel tax document, is also covered in the minutes of the board meetings, and may not be LEGALLY considered as advertisement, but information about what is going on at the district. As I recall, some of the individuals on this forum where complaining last year and the year before about the LACK of communication from the Board.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm
"As for the emails from Joan; I would check the email address they came from. I have been contacted by several people from the “Yes on E” group, and while they are all good friends of Joan’s, Joan has never contact me herself and none of the contact notices I have received have her name on it (though I will go back through my emails and look). "
Check your emails again. They are signed by:
Committee to Support Pleasanton Schools, Yes on Measure E
As for Arkin coordinating the no signs, I don't think so. Her name is mentioned in the YES on E email, as the lawn sign coordinator, call her to get your yes on e sign. The email has the
Committee to Support Pleasanton Schools, Yes on Measure E