Editorial Comments on Stories, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Jan 30, 2009 at 12:32 pm
What is it that county officials don't understand about the word Recession? Despite layoffs, corporate downsizing and looming program cuts because of a $41-billion state budget deficit, Alameda County is moving forward with a $15.5-million plan to "beautify" and improve a short stretch of Stanley Boulevard between Pleasanton and Livermore. While the roadway could use some work, now's not the time. Even if the county is flush with funds, the perception of a multi-million-dollar tree-planting effort sends the wrong message to taxpayers who are already being asked to dig a little deeper to bail out local school districts, including Pleasanton's, and the state in its budget crisis. Hearing about the county's beautification plans for Stanley, Timothy T. wrote on the Pleasanton Weekly's Town Square Forum last Thursday: "I'd like the county of Alameda to send a letter to every child in our school district apologizing for not being able to get the supplies and teachers they need because they really wanted to underground some cables on Stanley in case someone who shouldn't be driving veers off the road."
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 30, 2009, 12:00 AM
Posted by John A, a resident of the Ruby Hill neighborhood, on Jan 31, 2009 at 8:56 pm
Thank you for the insight. The traffic on Stanley Blvd is a nightmare now and therefore I am avoiding going to Livermore as much as possible because of it. I agree with the editor's quote...a letter should be sent to each child apologizing for the misappropriation of funds from education to road work.
Posted by Education, a resident of San Ramon, on Feb 3, 2009 at 11:32 am
The County of Alameda, nor any of the other 57 Counties are charged with funding schools. School funding comes from State of California, Federal Government, and local taxes approved by voters. The County simply collects local taxes and distributes them to the proper locality, including schools. Counties have no ability to redirect tax dollars collected on behalf of school districts. Counties also have no say in how schools districts fund their programs, purchase supplies or pay teachers.
A letter apologizing to each kid regarding the education crisis in this State should come from the Governor, and the State Legislature....not the County.
Posted by Scott Haggerty, a resident of another community, on Feb 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm
Response to January 30, 2009 Editorial Opinion
I was disappointed in your editorial response to the January 23 article regarding the County’s planned improvements to Stanley Boulevard, a major east-west arterial county road connecting Livermore and Pleasanton. The County has cut almost half-billion dollars (and counting) from our budget over the past six years and is responsible for delivering “safety net” services to poor, indigent and under and uninsured residents. So indeed, we are keenly aware of the impacts from the recession. There is no question that education and many other important government funded services have been and continue to be impacted by the effects of an increasingly struggling economy and a State budget crisis. And while education funding is the responsibility of the State, this office has contributed funds over which it does have discretion to cover the costs for important school services including Health Outreach staff in two elementary schools, a middle school reading enrichment program and an alternative education program for high school students. I have also supported transit initiatives targeting students.
This newspaper has covered many stories in the past related to government programs and projects including the manner in which they are funded and you should be familiar with the distinction between discretionary and non-discretionary spending requirements by now. This project competes only with other road projects for funding and is not in competition with other types of important government services. If the funds are not used for this, then they will be spent on another road project elsewhere in the County. Additionally, we now find ourselves in a very competitive bidding environment with bids coming in significantly lower than engineering estimates, stretching taxpayers’ dollars even further. Getting these projects underway also provides badly needed jobs. Delays only result in increased costs and missed opportunities and would not be prudent management of precious public funds. Leading readers to believe otherwise, in my opinion, is irresponsible reporting. The County does not conduct a project of this magnitude in my district without my knowledge and consultation. Perhaps some ink could have been saved had you called this office beforehand for background information on the project.
For those that routinely travel Stanley Boulevard, which carries more than 30,000 vehicles per day, you know that this has never been a particularly hospitable stretch of road and any improvements would easily be an enhancement to its current appearance. Removal of the utility poles, improving the bike and pedestrian paths, shoulder improvements and an improved westbound bus stop all provide important safety improvements along this road. I have noticed an increase in the number of cyclists during the morning and evening commute using this road as more folks turn to cycling for economic, health and environmental purposes. Improving the bike and pedestrian path will make it appealing to more people to use in this manner, an important incentive in reducing vehicle use. Planting shade trees along the length of this heavily traveled road reduces heat generated by the road pavement and vehicles and assists in the removal of pollution from the air both of which effectively aid in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Due to the pent up demand for transportation improvements and as long as such funding opportunities designated for this purpose exist, I will continue to pursue them to implement projects identified as local, regional and State transportation priorities. Providing complete and accurate information to readers so that they may draw educated and thoughtful conclusions could go a long way towards working in a more collaborative, constructive way to solving our problems.