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Measure A Based on Fraudulent Plan B

Dear Editor,

The Draconian plan of school closures the Alameda Unified School District says it will have to implement if Measure A fails is a fraud. This plan, known as Plan B, was not written by educators or even the school district’s accountants but crafted by political consultants whose only interest was to give the district a political tool to scare people into voting for Measure A.

The Committee Against Measure A has obtained copies of invoices from political consultants, Erwin & Muir, to the school district. Alameda Unified School District hired these political consultants to create Plan B. The invoice copies were obtained from the district using the California Public Records Act. Erwin & Muir have been on the district payroll since June 2009. The district paid these political consultants $300 per hour, for a total of more than $100,000. This makes Plan B a very expensive political fabrication.

Plan B is the primary reason Alamedans cite for supporting Measure A. It is important for supporters to understand their support is based on the tactical fantasy of political consultants, not on a well reasoned decision arrived at by school district’s accountants and educators.

Unfortunately, the fraud may not end there. At the Alameda Rotary Club Jan. 4 meeting, Alameda schools Superintendent Kristen Vital admitted Measure A was crafted with secret data which the public is not allowed to see. Of course, Vital says the data was not secret but “proprietary.” Regardless of how one refers to it, citizens are not allowed to see the data.

Alamedans for Fair Taxation assembled a database of Alameda’s 22,000 properties using publicly available documents. Our calculations of what the correct tax rate should be varied widely from the district’s final calculations. But Alamedans For Fair Taxation, like all citizens, has been barred from comparing data bases to discover the discrepancies because of district’s secrecy.

Last year’s Measure E was to raise $14 million or, the district threatened, 11 schools would close. Measure E failed and no schools closed.

This year’s Measure A is supposed to raise $12 million or, under Plan B, five schools will close. The math does not add up because none of the calculations involved classroom capacity, enrollment or finances.

The only calculations used in creating Plan B were political calculations.

This campaign started with Alameda SOS saying schools will close if Measure A loses. I have no doubt everyone involved in the campaign truly believed that. Now we know that the very basis of the “Yes” position is based on a politically manufactured reason.

This campaign started with the Committee Against Measure A pointing out that big businesses would pay significantly less per square foot than small businesses and homeowners. According to the school district, the average homeowner would have a 65 percent tax increase and big businesses would have a 16 percent tax reduction.

Those numbers have not been challenged. We said that would be unfair.

However, as unfair as Measure A is, a much bigger issue has arisen: honesty in government.

Given these extremely disturbing revelations, the fact that Plan B is a political fabrication and Measure A was crafted using secret data, Measure A’s defeat becomes so much more imperative.

Help defeat Measure A. It is based on fraud, secrecy and, as we have always known, it is grossly unfair. Vote No on A.

– Leland Traiman, Secretary, Committee Against Measure A in Alameda

5 comments to Measure A Based on Fraudulent Plan B

  • Barb

    AUSD has no problem paying $100k for political consultants, $300k per year for special elections, $180k to recruit out of town students who will not have to pay any taxes to Alameda parcel or otherwise, $100k (est. plus benefits) for a General Counsel (full- time staff lawyer), $85K for a Webmaster (Board members’ family), and who knows what else?
    Why vote for any parcel taxes until AUSD reduces the number of underfilled schools it claims to need? These half-filled schools allow AUSD to justify a bunch of administrators to “oversee” a bureaucracy filled with high salaries, pension benefits at age 50, medical and dental coverage for all.
    The main difference between AUSD and Piedmont, is that in Piedmont the focus is on education. In AUSD the focus is on maintaining the status quo in terms of bureaucracy and personnel.

  • I was ready to support the Alameda Schools’, until I began interviewing Superintendent Vital, twice, over an hour each session, and Trustee Mike McMahon. I immediately got the whiff of disingenuity from both. I’ve been B.S.-ed by the bestbof them, and so my BS detector is very sensitive. So I interviewed Trustee Trish Spencer, who was fully candid with me and who acknlowledfed that the school district management needs improvement, and that the schools and teachers need radical reform — perhaps even being transformed into a “Charter District.”

    During my research, I also discovered that there is a massive wave of reform sweeping American education nationwide, involving greater transparency, teacher training reform, curriculum improvement, greater teacher accountability, merit pay, (“The only teachers who hate merit pay are those who know they wouldn’t receive any.”), and school choice for parents.

    I’ll be writing more about these needed reforms soon, but suffice it to say, I would support the schools if they became serious about reform.

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  • Further analysis of Measure A makes me even more certain that it wasn’t written by community discussion groups. Many of us have. Simply stopped attending those show pieces for democracy — especially after such meetings in the ’90s over Base Reuse and recruitment of new businesses/retention of existing ones saw no follow through by City leaders and boarded storefronts on Park and on Webster.

    Some of the elements of Measure A simply don’t pass the test of authenticity, such as the Cap and the Senior Exemption, which were suggested by those citizens..? I’ll be writing more about this soon.

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