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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Hayward NAACP officials threaten blog posters

Uploaded: Nov 20, 2014
The lame-duck Pleasanton school board took action on two key actions and heard disturbing comments from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP).
Two representatives from the Hayward NAACP office showed up to speak out in support of Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi and to threaten that blog posts on the Pleasanton Weekly website could be considered "hate crimes."
It was the second meeting the Hayward office representatives had spoken during the public comment section. It prompts the question about what criteria the organization had used to declare it fully supported the superintendent and why it was seeking to be involved in Pleasanton in the first place.
The comments were important?particularly the attempt to intimidate free speech in a public forum that is provided on the blogs by the Pleasanton Weekly. (Personally, I would prefer that people posting used their real names so they are responsible for their comments?but I strongly resent the attempt to throttle speech by threatening a type of crime that is by definition an over-reach by politicians and other public agencies. That's a subject for other blogs.
Despite its excellent test scores, the district has management challenges. The leadership was roundly criticized for the new calendar that was formally adopted for the next two years after agreements were reached with the teacher's union. School will start Aug. 11, 2015 with teachers reporting on Aug.7 so the first semester will be completed before the Christmas break.
I think the district leadership did well with outreach on this change, but it had some parents fuming.
What's been much more troubling is the way the management left former Walnut Creek Principal Jon Vranesh twisting in the wind after the board removed him from his principal post last December. He was on leave for almost all of the 2013-14 school year before being reassigned to Village High School as a teacher. He was immediately placed on paid administrative leave?as he has said publicly at school board meetings.
This week, in closed session, the board voted 3-2 (Valerie Arkin and Jamie Hintkze opposed) to place an un-named employee on unpaid leave and prepare a notice of dismissal. Vranesh said earlier this fall that district leaders told him that they were preparing to fire him. It is not a risky bet to believe the action concerned Vranesh given the political situation.
With the school board due to change in December when Mark Miller takes the seat he won over Jeff Bowser (tough year for Jeff, losing both his bid for county superintendent and then his re-election effort). Whether Miller would see the issue as the majority did is mere speculation, but it was clearly easier to deal with termination now than it likely will be once Miller is seated in December.
Speaking of elections, I was struck by the report that the superintendent attended the election night gathering for trustees Bowser and Joan Laursen who was re-elected. It was held at the Pleasanton Democratic Headquarters. Given that the superintendent works for the school board, it was unseemly, at best, to attend a party for the incumbents unless she also made an appearance at other parties. The better choice was to simply stay home and let the election process play out.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by So Vranish? , a resident of Danville,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 10:44 am

Mr. Vranish got fired? This is simply dissapointing. I think the board should prepare for an army of angry parents...

Posted by WhyIdontUseMyRealName, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

First of all, the idea someone is not responsible for their comments if they don't use their real name is just not true. If you commit crimes on the internet (harassment, threats and the like) you are responsible if you use your own name or not. It's reasonably easy to track down who has made a comment through IP addresses and emails. It's done all the time by law enforcement. If someone is trying to track down who said something they didn't like, well that's another story and for that we have Anti SLAPP legislation.

I agree that the NAACP was trying to intimidate folks from posting here on these articles, which is both despicable and outrageous. It was equally outrageous that they tried to publicly shame a young reporter just because she asked a question calling her "a bad little apple" in a public forum. I believe at the very least they owe her an apology.

The reason why I don't use my own name on these blogs stems from the whole Vranesh mess. Anyone who dare say anything that didn't sit well with with the group of complainants (and their bosses) became a target. One woman was told repeatedly by a teacher and the school admin she was too divisive to be the PTA President (even though after years of volunteering for the PTA she was well qualified) simply because she stated that her experience with JV was positive. She said NOTHING against any of the complaining teachers. Another person was banned from being a substitute teacher at WG because her HUSBAND spoke at board meeting, again saying nothing negative about the complaining staff. It's my understanding that ban was later overturned but by then, the damage was done. Other people when they simply spoke out against the handling of the situation were targeted by threatening text messages and phone calls from one of the husbands of the complaining staff. At a recent board meeting during the public comments a visibly upset teacher on the verge of tears public chastised both Arkin and Hintzle for having the audacity to endorse newcomers to the school board race. It was shocking that she felt that Arkin and Hintzle should not exercise their constitutionally protected right to free speech. (important to note Arkin or Hintzle never endorsed anyone during a school board meeting) She seemed to be sending a message of "if you aren't with us you're against us" I could go on and on. The message is clear: If you have a different opinion than what is considered to be the status quo you'll be harassed until you are quiet. When people went to the Superintendent to tell them they were being threatened by a staff member's husband she told them to go to the police. Why doesn't she take her own advice? I will also point out that the entire office staff has left WG with 2 out of the three being there for over 10 years. One has been very vocal in her objection to lies about her being included in the JV reports, the others remained silent but yet they felt so uncomfortable they left their long term jobs to take positions at other sites? To be fair, I will point out that the 3rd person seems to have left for other personal reasons.

Personally I have emailed (with my real name) with my concerns more than a half a dozen times and the only response comes from Arkin and Hintzle who were powerless to do anything because of the power of three - Bowser/Laursen/Grant.

Now we have the NAACP trotted in, not once, but twice. I will note the first time they showed up was just after JV filed his lawsuit and right before the election. Now the second time is just before Bowser will be gone forever and with him he will take the power away from the group of three. The timing is suspect. It's is politics and game playing.

I remember very clearly in the early spring the registrar from Foothills HS spoke in the public comment section of the board meeting Web Link about Foothills having much larger class sizes than Amador (who knew?) The first thing to come out of the Superintendent's mouth was "I don't know why this is being brought up here" It was obvious the Superintendent didn't want school business being brought up at a school board meeting. Now she is apparently fine with the NAACP threatening to investigate blog comments not once but twice. They are trying to create the perception that anyone that disagrees with the superintendent's job performance is doing so because of her race or religion, and that is simply NOT TRUE.

It's just all so ridiculous - and the saddest thing of all, is all this nonsense takes time, energy, money and resources away from the children who are supposed to be the first priority of this school district.

Another thing that bothers me is when test scores are used as a sign that the superintendent is doing her job. From what I can see the test scores have been pretty stagnant for years with no real improvement or decline. To me the test scores are more of a testament to the families in the community and their dedication to ensuring their children do well.

Please district clean up the messes you've made. And stop dragging them out. You made horrible mistakes. Please do what we tell our kids to do when they make mistakes. Make amends. Then perhaps we can all move on and regain some trust and put the focus back squarely where it should be, on the children's education.

Posted by Sal, a resident of Downtown,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Thank you NAACP! Finally a group with the guts to point out the blatant racism that is found in so many comments on this blog over the last 6 years so (since Obama got elected of course). 99% is right wing bigotry of the highest order. Of course Pleasanton Weekly has done literally nothing to rein in bigots because of so-called ?free speech? but hypocritically censors far less controversial comments that go against there agenda. My guess is that that they don?t want to censor comments that help stoke the Jon Varesh/incompetent school board narrative, so the bigots run free. This whole Jon Varesh saga was a thinly veiled attempt to get more right-wing ideologues on the school board. It is that simple. Did the Cult of Varesh, in their blind loyalty to Saint Varesh, ever once consider that he might be responsible for his actions. Nope, the deity and martyr Varesh is beyond reproach according to these right-wing evangelists. Don?t be fooled, right-wingers had it in for Ahmadi from the beginning because she wasn?t some whitebred, Sarah Palin clone. Is Pleasanton really not catching on to this?

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The 9TH. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled January 17, 2014 that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment Protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, Plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.

I believe that anyone posting comment anonymously is a Troll. There is no other way to slice it.

Posting anonymously is lacking individuality, unique character or distinction. Thus, not prepared to be responsible.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Sal says: "...ever once consider that he might be responsible for his actions."

Yes! And we "right wingers" determined that the evidence that JV did something illegal/inappropriate was underwhelming at best! The accusations would NEVER stand up in a court of law.

Much like your screed, Sal.

Do you have EVIDENCE that JV did something inappropriate other than a he/she-said argument?

I'll answer that for you genius...NO!

And was that the same NAACP that refused to acknowledge the new Senator-elect from SC and Congresswoman-elect from Utah?


Hypocrites! All of you so-called progs!

Posted by Tom Le, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Michael Austin wrote:
> I believe that anyone posting comment anonymously is a Troll.
> There is no other way to slice it.
> Posting anonymously is lacking individuality, unique character
> or distinction. Thus, not prepared to be responsible.

The ACLU, EFF, and many other organisations on both sides of the political aisle disagree with that statement.

For example, from Web Link

"Many people don't want the things they say online to be connected with their offline identities. They may be concerned about political or economic retribution, harassment, or even threats to their lives. Whistleblowers report news that companies and governments would prefer to suppress; human rights workers struggle against repressive governments; parents try to create a safe way for children to explore; victims of domestic violence attempt to rebuild their lives where abusers cannot follow." (more at the link)

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Without further ado.

Anyone posting anonymously is a substantial coward.

Posted by Anonymous , a resident of Castlewood,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Coward? Wow Michael... I have lost all respect that I had for you. I post anonymously because I do not want to be verbally attacked for my opinions. For all we know, "Michael Austin" could be a fake name. Care to give us some proof? Didn't think so... COWARD.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

You do not want to be verbally attacked for your opinions because you are a COWARD. Stand up, take responsibility for your commentary.

Posted by Anonymous , a resident of Castlewood,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Thanks Pleasantonians for the 5 likes I have gotten in under 3 minutes!!!! This makes me unreasonably happy. What do you think Mike? How many likes have you gotten? Just 1 that you have most likely given yourself. How sad that is... how sad...

Posted by Anonymous , a resident of Castlewood,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm

THIS IS TOO DARN FUNNY!!! Thank you so much for all the likes! It is a slap in the face to our friend in Pleasanton Meadows!

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.


How does a "substantial" coward differ from a common, everyday coward? <---sarcasm.

Let me give you a classical example of an innocuous event that happened recently that is analogous to your troll pablum.
A high tech executive' contribution record was used against him and he was subsequently let go from his company because he DARED give money in support of a politically incorrect proposition...that just so happen to pass by a majority of voters.

Now consider the troll, Michael. Why on earth would a "troll" be put in the same position as the executive? Why take the chance that a unpopular (note that I didn't say untrue) and lawful opinion be used against said troll and have him/her fired or ostracized by Nazi's who insist that their way is the ONLY way.

You are unhinged (and wrong) on this topic.

And really..."substantial" coward?


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Nov 20, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Oops sorry...I said basically the same thing Tom Le said.


Posted by The Dogfather, a resident of another community,
on Nov 21, 2014 at 11:56 am

The Dogfather is a registered user.

Tom Cushing here.


Were you there? If so, please give the readers your quotations of what 'threats' were issued. Otherwise, where'd you get your info?

Do you hear the slant in the terminology that the NAACP reps "showed-up"? It suggests that these particular speakers either somehow did not belong at the meeting, or that they were drug-in by the cat. Are you aware that the "Hayward" office is actually the "Hayward and South Alameda County" office, according to the phone book (yp.com)?

Do you not know that the NAACP cannot "threaten" a hate crime? What does that even mean? Crimes are prosecuted by the state. How the hell could the NAACP thereby "intimidate" blog posters, especially anonymous ones?? And how does any disagreement between private sector individuals implicate "free speech?"

It seems to me that the NAACP reps had every right to speak, as did everybody else who "attended" the meeting. They seem to have done advocacy, which is what NAACP does, and, based on the vituperative commentary that has ensued, including yours, they were generally right to feel unwelcomed, uncomfortable and suspect that more than color-blind merits were afoot.

I look forward to seeing the actual footage when the meeting posts. I won't find many facts around here.

Posted by AnotherParent, a resident of Country Fair,
on Nov 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm

AnotherParent is a registered user.

Michael, I'll admit to being a coward. If I was just responsible for myself, I would not be. However, I have a school age child who could be discriminated against by the teachers who have used underhanded tactics to control the Walnut Grove School community. Look to WhyIdontUseMyRealName's post to see what I mean. To those that would say this is ridiculous, I ask: Where is the line for these people? I don't know and would not want to find out at the expense of my child.

Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 21, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Herman Glates is a registered user.

Tim has some nerve. He said, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Doesn?t he know, you?re not supposed to SAY THAT nowadays??!!! You are supposed to say People of Color. The word ?of? makes all the difference.

Face it Tim. You are vituperative!!

Don?t worry though. I think there are at least 13 or maybe 14 words left that are ok to use. But be careful. You don?t want to accidentally commit a hate crime by using the wrong words. Consult your PC handbook regularly. It?s the law.

Austin thinks Trolls who don?t use their real names are cowards. He?s probably right. But I can?t help it. I think I was born this way. Austin?s words make me sad. But what can I do? I guess I?ll just have to try to carry on.

Whenever I hear the name Austin, I always think of my childhood hero, Steve Austin. Remember him?? Maybe this will help.

Bum, bom, bum bum... Steve Austin. A man barely alive. We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faaaaster.

Posted by Jtjh, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Nov 22, 2014 at 1:49 am

Jtjh is a registered user.

For Sal:

Your post implies that racism and right-wing bigotry are almost always one and the same. They are not. Neither racism, nor bigotry respects political boundaries - unfortunately, both exist on either side of the political divide. The election of President Obama did not increase the racism on the right-wing: it was always there. Neither did it eliminate at a stroke all racism on the left: that, too, has endured.

Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland,
on Nov 22, 2014 at 8:34 am

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

Typical of extreme leftists and guilt ridden liberals to support only speech that supports their narrow, minority viewpoint. The NAACP a has devolved into a group of thugs that only get attention through intimidation tactics, using a willing press to play the overused race card.
Sal, your drive by comments speak to the cowardice of people of your ilk. Just like the NAACP, you hide and lob grenades into a crowd that doesn't support your leftist views.
You can't hijack blogs here and I'm sure that frustrates you to know end (short of violence). You are not now and nevere will be the arbiter of speech, here or elsewhere. You are a shrill, obnoxious squeaky little voice in the urban jungle you occupy. Your attempts to paint our community with a broad brush only exposes your own bigotry. You and your thug buddies are pathetic and impotent.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Nov 22, 2014 at 9:02 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.


Let's assume that Tim wasn't clear in how he articulated the "threat" from the NAACP. I read him to mean that the NAACP came to town (I still have no idea why they chose this particular meeting) and made a not-so-veiled accusation of hate-crimes, purportedly against some anonymous posters in a local online newspaper.

Was the crime being having the temerity to speak out against a protected organization? Last I heard, our system depends on the accuser bringing the evidence of a crime forward, so where is it?

The NAACP can speak wherever they wish. But they don't have a right to accuse anyone of any crime for which they don't have the evidence. That's not justice, that's just racial politics and its sickening and tiresome.

They deserve all the ridicule they get as a result of these simpleton accusations.

And again, to my earlier point regarding the Senator and congresswoman-elect, I guess they (the NAACP) only favor those elected "persons of color" that are in the democrat party?


And yes, some of us knew you were "The Dogfather". :)

Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 22, 2014 at 9:25 am

BobB is a registered user.

I've read all this and I still don't understand why the NAACP was at a school board meeting advocating for the school superintendent. Did they think that she was the victim of racism? Was the superintendent doing something that the NAACP thought furthered their goals, and were praising her for that? I don't get this at all.

Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland,
on Nov 22, 2014 at 1:29 pm

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

Maybe the C in NAACP stands for canine and these fools are just marking their territory. Oh no, since I made this post, will I be labelled as dog hater?
Would I be accused of barking up the wrong tree? Would this cause Sal to constantly circle the town looking for another place to squat?
Enough of these fools, I'm taking my dogs for a walk...

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