LettersStick to the facts
OK, Pleasanton Weekly. It is time to stop crying over our "dysfunctional democracy." Do you remember that last school tax? Like always, we were promised "accountability" for the expenditures. Has anyone seen any publication of this information?
How about the pandering to the senior citizens in our fair town. "You won't have to pay it," they said, "just vote for it so someone else will have to pay."
Finally, the tax is per parcel. The definition is "any parcel that receives a separate tax bill for ad valorem property taxes." Do you own a single unit rental? That is a another parcel subject to the tax. Do you own an apartment complex? That is a single parcel and would have been billed only $98. What about the maybe 50 apartments in this complex with 50 families that will not have to pay the tax? Of course these families will vote for the measure since they will not have to pay it.
I guess that the expensive consultants figured that there would be enough seniors and renters that had nothing to lose to pass this parcel tax. That "barely visible minority" saw through all this boondoggle to stop it. Dysfunctional my butt.
On page 3, the Weekly is asking for paid subscriptions and on the Opinion page, it resorts to name calling and belittling 35% of the active voters in Pleasanton (and its readers). Just stick to the facts: 35% of the voting population in Pleasanton did not like the choices that were given and voted it down.
Talk about disappointment. Are we intentionally trying to go backwards in education after so much hard work to get it to where it was only two years ago?
My oldest son attended Pleasanton Unified School District from first through 12th grade, graduating in 2005. This was before class-size reduction and specialists were added at each school site. The class size was large and as a result my son didn't learn to read until second grade, nor was it noticed that he was having a hearing problem.
My youngest son is a third-grader at Fairlands. We were fortunate enough to benefit from the smaller class size at the beginning. He learned to read in kindergarten. The class size was small enough for the teachers to recognize any learning or behavioral issues. He has benefited greatly from the extra support provided by specialists.
Why do we want to go back to the larger class size and lose some important resources needed to help our kids, our future, succeed? By voting down Measure E that is exactly what we have done.
Measure E should have passed easily if the facts were understood. PUSD is constrained by unions and the state. If more people understood this they most likely would have seen why Measure E was so important to our schools.
I don't know what will happen with our once outstanding schools until the state's economy picks up. We missed our opportunity to help keep our schools at the high academic level we have today. What a shame for our kids.
High density housing
I am writing regarding your story in the May 13 paper, "Hundreds object to more housing near Bernal park." As one of the residents protesting the selection of Site 7 (for high density housing) I would like to commend your accurate, unbiased reporting and presentation of the facts and issues which fairly represented all parties involved. I felt that your article alerted the public to the myriad of challenges and issues faced by the residents of Site 7 and all of the other residents living within or near the other potential sites under consideration by the Town Planning and Housing Committees.
There is no easy solution to the dilemma we all face as Pleasanton homeowners who are being asked to shoulder the responsibility of adding more high density housing units to our community. My hope is that the City Council, Housing and Planning committees take the points made by the Site 7 residents into serious consideration when making the final site selections and rezoning decisions. I count my blessings every day that we live in a free society and that we as citizens can exercise our right to free speech at the recent public town hall meetings. Accurate reporting in the news is a rarity these days. Thank you again for your objective reporting and staying on top of this important issue which affects so many Pleasanton residents.
Wesley Lem and Sangita Patel
Go ahead and give
I'd like to voice my disappointment in the editorial comments in the May 6 Opinion section, "A majority vote loses out in Pleasanton." It appears that the editors are taking the approach that the Democrats in Congress are currently taking toward the growing group of Americans who do not believe raising taxes is the best way to solve our government's financial problems. To vilify a group of people who vote for what they believe in is very disappointing. All Americans have the right to vote as they want and should not have to be ridiculed.
Protecting the minority from the will of the majority is one of the basic tenets of our government. Chances are that those who complain now will be happy to have these protections in the future when they are part of the minority.
As I did after the last parcel tax failed, I would like to invite all of those who voted for this tax to go ahead and contribute the same amount to the schools. If you truly believe in supporting your schools, please write those checks.
Finally, I'd like to suggest that the school district and the community continue to give serious thought about where our education dollars go. It's time to start realizing that we cannot live beyond our means. It's time to start separating the "nice to have" items from the "must have" items and to make the difficult decisions required to ensure our children get a quality education in our new financial reality.
Weekly gets an 'F'
The Weekly's editorial on the parcel tax, "A majority vote loses out in Pleasanton," was an insult to the community. Saying that the opponents of the tax were right-wing and Tea Party advocates was unfounded and childish; opponents came from all political spectrums. It is clear that the editor of the Weekly was emotionally invested in the tax; since his wife works for the School District, his family income is affected. He demonstrated no professional objectivity.
The School Board members were not barred from fighting back, as the editorial states. It was clearly the opposite. The district was changing the rules with senior exemptions midway through the election, not truthfully answering questions, sending out district-paid fliers, campaigning on school property, cutting off those who disagreed with them, and generally running the campaign from the dais.
The May 8 editorial also implies that residents should stay home and not involve themselves in their government. There were no speakers with loud, demanding voices. Some were upset after being cut-off after speaking for three minutes, while the district's bylaws allow for five minutes. The district was visibly upset that the public would come to a School Board meeting to give input or ask questions. They felt that five speakers at a board meeting are too many and discussed limiting the public to one minute and to get a "hook" to stop the public from speaking at our public meetings.
Our democracy depends on an engaged citizenry, and media that is the watchdog for the people. The Pleasanton Weekly and the School District both earned an "F" grade.
Insulted by editorial
I'm a proud parent of a teacher. Our second grandchild is now attending Pleasanton schools, as did our three children. The Weekly's editorial May 6, "A majority vote loses out in Pleasanton," on the defeat of Measure E was disturbing and offensive. It was demeaning to those who actively opposed the measure, and to every citizen who voted against it. It's so easy to label those with whom you disagree, by implying wrongly that the "right wing" and the "Tea Party" led the fight against the measure. Obviously, the Weekly strongly favors the other end of the political spectrum. Name calling and labeling has always been part of that strategy.
The Weekly complains about California's "direct democracy" and the need for a two-thirds vote to pass tax increases. Don't forget that our nation is a Democratic Republic, not a true democracy. I'm pretty sure the Weekly wouldn't really like a government where a simple majority always prevailed. Then, there truly would be no voice for the minority.
How disgusting that the Weekly proclaimed it was thankful that those who voted No do not control the rest of the city's operations. So many honest, hard working Pleasanton citizens were insulted simply because they disagree on an issue.
Many of us have, or continue paying our dues, served in office, ran for office, volunteer, sit/sat on boards, commissions, committees and won the Community Development Award.
Now, the Weekly is asking us to pay to support them. It takes a lot of nerve to insult someone and then ask them to pay for the privilege of being insulted.
We should all commend the Classified School Employee' Association (CSEA) union for agreeing to save cost via furlough days in their recently negotiated contract with the Pleasanton Unified School District. Because of the cost savings achieved by this concession, lay-offs were avoided for this (non-teacher) group of employees.
Thank you, CSEA, for exhibiting such extraordinary leadership in your community and compassion for your fellow workers during these challenging economic times.
PUSD gambled funds away
Based on a questionable strategy to win an election with five additional Yes votes than Measure G, Pleasanton Unified School District gambled away $335,000 for a special election and consultants.
In June 2009, Measure G obtained 10,995 Yes votes, but it didn't pass. For Measure E, the PUSD administration worked with a consultant to pass a parcel tax with a strategy to persuade 11,000 voters to vote Yes. That's only five more Yes votes than Measure G got.
Take a look at the plan as outlined in the Nov. 9, 2010, board on the District's website. How was a strategy to obtain five additional Yes votes than Measure G received a "winning strategy"? Were the consultant's strategy, deliverables and survey data vetted by district staff prior to them being shown to the board? Or in signing off on the 11,000 voter plan, did PUSD administrators show the June 9, 2009, letter the Registrar of Voters sent to the previous superintendent with the Measure G final election results to the consultants?
With what was spent on the election and consultants, PUSD could have funded five full-time teachers instead. Did anyone in the PUSD staff bring up that the 11,000 voter strategy was only five more votes than Measure G? Or did PUSD take the word of the consultants, as they have in the past, as if they were divinely inspired and their word on any given issue is The Word revealed?
Thanks, school community
A total of 13,430 voters said Yes to Measure E. Although the results were not what we had hoped for, I want the school employees to know that I appreciate everything each and every one of them did on their own time to help with the campaign and to get the message out. Remember, over 60% of the community does not have children in school, yet many of them who voted, also marked Yes for Measure E.
Again, the majority of the voters said Yes. Our parents continue to support us through donations and by volunteering in our schools and classrooms every day, because they believe in our teachers, our employees and our students.
Everyone is touched by education, but not everyone is necessarily aware of what it takes to educate children in today's world, especially with the limited budget we have. We have to continue to advocate for all kids, push for reform at the state level, inform the community, and support each other and our employees.
The work that our district does is an investment in the future of our country and the world. I know the days following the election may be tough for our school community but I ask everyone to keep your chin up and know that I truly appreciate everything you do for the district and for students.
Thank you to everyone who chose education as their profession. I am honored to work with such dedicated and hard working employees.
Parvin Ahmadi, Superintendent, Pleasanton Unified School District