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Advice for Backers of Measure E

by Dennis Green

In the very moment when it seems as though chaos and darkness has overruled your world, see if you can find the light within that darkness. What can you learn from it, what can you gain from this moment? It may seem like total failure, but it’s not. It’s meant to teach you the way out of darkness.

Sounds very Zen, I know, but it’s also what we make of politics. Someone has to win, and someone has to lose. Those who win have to temper their satisfaction, and those who lose have to temper their disappointment, turn it into something else, a profitable moment.

What can you learn from this defeat? Some will urge you to learn hatred and resentment of your opponents, but that’s not what the light will teach. At its best, it can teach you a touch of humility, and beyond that, how to question your own motives and methods in a way that gives you a chance for victory one day.

Shine the light. Wasn’t Measure E the epitome of unfairness? If it had been framed any differently, could it have won your opponents’ support, or at least not earned such vigorous opposition? Did it send to the community the most positive message it could? Or was it on the face of it self-serving?

You say you’re coming back again with another school parcel tax proposal in March 2011. So ask the light to open your eyes, just for a moment, and to close your mouth. Now listen, and look deeply into the matter. What does the heart of your opponent say? Is he simply obstreperous? Penurious? Wrong-headed? Or does he care as much as you do about the children and the schools, and simply disagree on the means to get there?

Can you design a parcel tax that’s at least fair? One that is not regressive for home owners, hitting that little cottage on the West End as hard as the McMansion in the Gold Coast? One that is not split-roll for commercial property owners, nor capped to shift the burden away from the shopping malls? If so, you will cut your opposition in half. If not, it may double.

Can your go any further to cut expenses? Can the administrators take a temporary pay cut? The teachers take a pay cut or at least forego their next scheduled salary increase? That would make a huge difference to the voters, softening the perception that no one at AUSD is willing to make a sacrifice during these tough economic times.

Can the district office cut expenses? Do you really need those $300/hr. political consultants and expensive outside attorneys? If you replace Measure H, a split-roll tax, with Measure F, a flat-rate tax, will the lawsuits against Measure H just go away?

Finally, can you promote the public schools of Alameda without making false claims? Can you admit, honestly, that much improvement in proficiency scores remains to be made? Can you admit that tenure and the seniority system might be protecting teachers who are not performing well enough to remain in the system, that rewarding the best teachers with extra pay might encourage them to continue meeting the mission by doing their very best?

Every disaster in life contains within it the seeds of our rebirth. Every failure and defeat can make us better, stronger human beings. After all, those who cannot learn from failure are doomed to repeat it. And that is all too often most certainly the American Way.

If you can admit that your past opponents are not the enemies of education, and the students, and the schools, then reach out with the hand of peace and reconciliation. Partner up with us and create together a vision of better, more successful schools in Alameda, in some ways that don’t depend on more and higher taxes alone, but also the creative spirit of the best that is within us all.

Do this and I will be your friend.

6 comments to Advice for Backers of Measure E

  • Barb

    Superintendant Vital has only one way of thinking: Let’s make the residents pay to maintain the status quo. That makes it less work for her to receive her salary. There are those who believe that change provides the opportunity to grow and respond positively to the world around us. Then there are those who are so caught up in the ordeals of living their everyday lives that they can’t see past the end of their own noses. Then there are those who are simply inflexible and see change as loss. I think most parents fall into the second group, and AUSD falls into the third. While you invite them to join you in the third group, it probably is beyond their present capabilities.

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  • Hot R

    “If you can admit that your past opponents are not the enemies of education, and the students, and the schools, then reach out with the hand of peace and reconciliation”

    Very sincere – below are your comments from Laurendo’s website and a quick response from a citizen…It sure doesn’t sound like “Zen” to me Dennis or to anyone else. That’s why no one takes you seriously…

    19.Only about 3,000 Alamedans voted YES on Measure B, SunCal’s cynical attempt to get around its own partner, the City. That’s less than half as many who voted NO on Measure E, AUSD’s cynical attempt to shift the burden away from the Gold Coast and the malls. I would guess that most of those who voted for Measure B are newer arrivals, who don’ appreciate the history of development in Alameds. But you sure are a noisy bunch!

    Back from the Dead,


    Comment by Dennis Green/ZenDada — July 22, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

    20.DG/ZD: Please stop your cynical attempts to mis-represent and lie about Measure E, which many more voted FOR than just about anything or anyone else in these parts for a long time. The fact that you repeat the same b.s. about it over and over (and always omit so much about the full complexity of the Measure E debate) doesn’t make what you say true.

    You have been so toxic here and elsewhere in recent days and weeks that a debate with you seems pointless. But naming this b.s. as b.s. seems worthwhile.

    Comment by B.S. Alert — July 22, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  • Well, Hot R, I’m just right and B.S. is wrong. I can’t help that. Tell me what in my comment in #19 is “Un-Zen”? I don’t know if you’d know Zen if it bit you on the nose, of course, so this may not even be a fair contest, but that wouldn’t be the first time you and I have disagreed on uneven turf. Sorry, Kid, Go directly to Jail, do not get an excuse.


  • Hot R

    If a tree falls in the forest, does it make any sound?

    You should value your one reader instead of directing childish insults my way. So far you’ve accused me in your zenlike way, of not owning a house, directed me to crawl under it, and now the latest disengenuous “jail” reference metaphor while bragging about your intellectual prowess. What was it? An IQ of 167? I do however agree with you signing your name DADA, as that art movement does characterize your anti-society thinking process or were you going for Idi Amin Dada?

    It didn’t take much of a push for you to recant from “the hand of peace and reconciliation” you previously offered.

  • With comments like yours, Hot R, it was immediately impossible for me to hold my peace. And so, it’s ALL OUT WAR! And I know we will prevail against ignorant jerks like you. Not even a fair fight. If only you could come up with something more intellectual than your caricature of “Dada.” The fact that you don’t get DADA is just typical of your intellectual inconsistencies and what a autopsy physician might call “Brain Dead.” Not a problem here, because we’ve known that all along.

    ALL OUT WAR! Do your usual feeble best.

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