Superintendent John Casey wisely took consideration of a possible parcel tax off the school board's table last week, saying that this year's budget shortfall for Pleasanton will not be as bad as feared and that economic concerns make this a poor time to ask voters for more money. We agree, which is also why we're perplexed by a $500-million bond measure that the East Bay Regional Park board agreed to float in November. With rising gasoline prices, turbulence in the housing market, uncertainty in the general economy and job market and a feisty presidential campaign now under way that is focused on all of these issues, it seems an odd time to seek voter approval more parkland. Perhaps the park district board, which voted 7-0 for in favor of placing the bond measure on the ballot in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, eyed the results of bond and parcel tax measures that went before voters last June 3 and thought it was worth a roll of the dice to try for a win on Nov. 4, when record voter turnouts are projected. After all, Bay Area school districts fared reasonably well in the 16 school measures, including 10 parcel taxes, all of which required two-thirds support just as the park bond measure and Pleasanton school parcel tax would need. But that was nearly two months ago. Gas prices, economic worries and housing problems have gotten worse, much worse since then. Casey believes it's too dicey to expect voter approval this year; the park board believes it has a good chance of winning because voters will recognize that with better parks, they won't have to drive to distant locations. But with the bond measure's two most expensive projects aimed at finishing the East Shore State Park in the Richmond area and creating a new regional park at the old Concord Naval Weapons Station, the Regional Park District's appeal to the Tri-Valley will be a stretch at best.
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posted Friday, July 4, 2008, 12:00 AM