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May 30, 2010

According to this Crazy poll, Measure C is gonna lose

There is one day left to participate in this Crazy in Suburbia poll on the Mt Diablo Unifed School District bond measure; so far 63 percent of the 138 polled said they would vote no, 32 percent said yes. Six percent are still undecided.

I am the first to say that this poll is not scientific. However, the results of the poll I conducted on the recent Measure A parcel tax election for the Acalanes Unified School District turned out to be pretty on target, predicting within 1 percentage point the final winning result--68.5 percent--of that May 4 election.

Measure C purports "to support quality education and safety for local students, and reduce impacts of State budget cuts by improving science, career and technical education facilities; upgrading classroom instructional technology; repairing leaky roofs; improving safety; maximizing energy efficiency including adding solar panels and modern air conditioning; and repairing, replacing, equipping or modernizing other school facilities."

As we near voting day, June 8, the
Contra Costa Times published this no on C guest column, and one that doesn't come from the usual suspects: the folks who generally oppose any kind of new taxes.

This column, published last Wednesday, comes from activists in the MDUSD. They are:
A.J. Fardella,of Pittsburg, who was a member of the district's Measure C Bond Oversight Committee; Carla Ludwig, of Walnut Creek, and Karen Barta, of Martinez, who are former members of CUES (Community United for Excellent Schools).

As you can read, they question whether the $348 million facilities bond is affordable and responsible. They also question whether this is the only option available to offset the devastating cuts to education. And they are concerned about what they call the behind-closed-doors approach the district used to formulate the bond measure, "without community input, including that of the current Measure C Bond Oversight Committee."

"We completely agree that a local funding source is required, but we don't agree Measure C is the right vehicle or that it is affordable or responsible."

They point out that Measure C is an extension of the 2002 Measure C bond, has a term of 42 years, and will generate $348 million in revenue. But it will cost $1.87 billion.

"The bond measure was approved by the board in March, but it wasn't until April when a reporter asked for the cost analysis that MDUSD disclosed the overall cost to taxpayers."

The district says that the money raised will provide a wide range of school improvements.

But with regard to the solar program, the district has "not provided a comprehensive plan showing revenues and expenses over time," these writers say. As for the after-school facilities, the district has not listed any improvements except for playground equipment at a handful of elementary schools, the writers contend.

Their solution: "This district can and should do the hard work necessary to pass a parcel tax; a funding source that can actually save programs at this crucial point in time."


37 comments:

Dave said...

When does it stop? Instead of being a cheerleader for more money how about investigating where the money is going now?

We keep giving money and administration salaries keep going up, why is the money not getting to the kids now?

Janitors making six figure salaries, unions keeping staff who should be fired for not performing, people sitting on their butts behind desks collecting checks and never working with kids.
Last I heard 40-50% of school costs are administrative, and not student related how wrong is that!

Anonymous said...

Dave again you and the Tea Party need to get past your talking points and look at the facts. Measure C would help improve facilities and infrastructure. It would bring new technology to classrooms to help our kids get an education that will actually enable them to compete in the current economy. Measure C would not pay for salaries for the employees.

It is completely fair to question how the District is managing it's operating budget. But it is penny wise and pound foolish to deny sensible infrastructure improvements because you
are trying to make a generic point about taxes. Unless Dave you and the Tea Party intend to employ all of our
kids.

Vote Yes on C!

Theresa Harrington said...

Pete Pedersen created a comprehensive analysis of solar costs and savings over time in April, but he never publicly presented it to the board. It is included in my CCT story, along with more details about how the money would be spent. Here's the story link: http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_15191849?nclick_check=1

An overview of costs by site and project type is at http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2010/05/24/mt-diablo-measure-c-facilities-overview/.

Gary Eberhart said...

DAVE,

Custodians earning 6 figure incomes? Schools with 40%- 50% administrative costs? Who do you serve by lying? We do not have a single custodian that earns a 6 figure income and our administrative costs are closer to 5%, which is less than the statewide average and much less than the average for private industry.

There is so much misinformation that continues to surround the bond election. Unfortunately, the hyperbola that Dave posted is similar to what I have seen on several blog sites and it is all false. I guess that is the strategy; confuse the voters and hope that they vote no.

The future of our students depends on our ability to pass this bond. Once again, we are facing the need to make significant reductions due to the State's inability to adequately fund education.

Rather than believe what you read from blog commenters and place the future of our students in their hands, I encourage voters to find out the truth. Do some homework. Don't our students deserve at least that much?

As I have said many times, I am available by e-mail at gary@mdusd.net or you can call me at 925-304-1546. If I don't answer when you call, please leave me a message with a return phone number and a best time to call and I will return you call. I am also available to meet with groups from 1 - 100 people or more.

Thanks
Gary

pablo2825 said...

For the past few years I've volunteered a lot of hours at my elementary school in Lafayette. Many of these hours were spent over the summer and after school where I got to observe the janitors in action and all I can say is they work SO hard and they care SO much about how the school looks. I doubt very much they make six figures but they absolutely deserve our respect.

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Thanks everyone for commenting.

And, Theresa for sharing information about your resources.

Anonymous said...

Gary,

What about the freed up General Fund money going to salaries? Are any of your attorney friends ready for another upgrade?

Anonymous said...

Gary, please tell us where the public plans and outline for the solar is? I'm seriously curious. How much does it cost? How will it be built and where? How will it be secured (and how much will that cost?) ? How much does it save us, and how does it save us (just getting off the grid? Selling back power, what?) Who will be bidding on these solar jobs? Or are contractors already selected? Will an RFP be issued? What committee will decide who and what quotes to accept on the solar? What committee decides on what Pete Pederson came up with is actually necessary and warranted ? AND , how do you involve the community and STAKE HOLDERS of the district if this "supposed list" is already developed? Principals gave input? Did they ask their schools? I happen to know mine didn't, plus it was all so rushed, how in the world will you assure that the generations of people that will be paying this thing off have a VOTE in how it will be spent? Gary, I know you mean well, but this bond was a mistake, there is not enough info, and I've heard these questions asked over and over again at the blogs and thru the papers and STILL you have not answered. Please answer.

Anonymous said...

Gary,
Why not post the information online, why do we have to have a private conversation? I have been researching this and I find inconsistencies from the yes on C camp. Pete Pederson is quoting numbers, Steven Lawrence is quoting numbers, Paul Strange is quoting numbers, and you are quoting numbers and none of them are the same.

Provide the community with an analysis of the projected revenue and expenses and share them with your board/administration so everyone is on the same page.

Work with your site administrators so that they know they are NOT getting what they asked for so that they will stop contradicting the district.

If this bond measure loses as this post predicts it is not because the opposition confused the public, it is because the opposition exposed the district's lack of transparency.

The idea that this community should approve a bond because you say so is wrong. You are asking us to make an investment in our children's education by handing over to this district $1.8 billion dollars and then you are surprised (and I believe angered) when we expect to understand what our kids will be getting. There are so few dollars for education right now and so much concern regarding the quality of our children's education that we deserve those answers.

And our children deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:49
You must have posted as I typed. Clearly there are many of us with the same questions.

Anonymous said...

Gary and Paul ALWAYS try to get you to have a private conversation, if you try to do this over email and refuse to reveal who you are then they say they won't talk with you (I've tried many times).

I suspect this is so that they can make your child "pay" (if you know what I mean) for disagreeing with them. They both basically refuse to listen to ANY disagreement from their point of view. Measure C is obviously no different.

Anonymous said...

I will NOT vote for Measure C. Get your finances in order, exhaust every avenue to save money, THEN we'll talk.

MDUSD Taxpayer said...

Hi Gary,

Whether I agree on Measure C or not, Dave from 10:53am is a lazy person who cannot substantiate his allegations.

To me, he is no better than an outright liar. Using phrases like "last I heard, blah, blah, blah" is a standard propaganda technique that does not deserve respect from intelligent people.

Anonymous said...

I repeat, I will NOT vote for Measure C. Get your finances in order, exhaust every avenue to save money, lower the waste, THEN we'll talk.

MDUSDparent said...

Anon 3:51

Whoa, you are as bad as what Dave said. That is one heck of an accusation in your second paragraph. I have never had this happen when I have disagreed and I have spoken to Gary, Sherry, Paul, Linda and Dick! Stop with the spreading of mean lies.

David said...

Gary so good to see your blog is the Mt. Diablo school district. You have no credibility, only collecting money from tax-payers. Frankly I think the tea party sucks. I am an average citizen and you have no facts to back up a 5% administration costs it is what I said, if you can prove the costs please post them.

Anonymous said...

3:03 why don't you become part of the solution and contribute something other that complaints and parroting the negative talking points. If you want to help the school district as you claim, become part of the citizen oversight committee that is required under law to keep the district accountable for how the money is spent.

And 3:03 your extensive research should show that the district did an excellent job managing the 2002 Measure money which made significant improvements to the district. It literally patched roofs, installed air conditioning and
made other basic repairs without which thousands of kids' learning would be severely limited. But you won't cite this evidence because it doesn't fit your Tea Party argument against taxes.

You say our children deserve better, but you offer nothing but crticisms, complaints and vitriol. Our children get nothing from that. Measure C would deliver tangible improvements - so I am voting yes...

Anonymous said...

Reading these comments from the teabaggers would be fun if it wasn't so serious. Our kids deserve better from these people. I'll vote Yes on C .

Anonymous said...

"Teabaggers"..., I love the name-calling from the far left. Desperation reigns, it's embarrassing. Another reason to vote NO on Measure C.

Anonymous said...

So now the campaign has decided "tea bagger" and "tea party" are the new talking points. They have popped up all week. Once again you underestimate this community. We are not going to fall for name calling.

Parents and community members are asking for information and details. That is a simple request yet it garners so much anger and no results, why?

I have no problem supporting a bond measure or a parcel tax. However, so far I have a problem supporting THIS bond measure.

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to Mt. Diablo's 2008-09 budget, it is 170 pages but you can see for yourself. There are certificated salaries and I don't know what the classified salaries are but they were $43 million. Also to Gary above you are in construction any biased opinions for work with the district?

http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/Fiscal/Documents/Budget/0809adoptedbudget.pdf

Anonymous said...

I guess you can't link on this blog, this first part of the address is there people can find it if they want

Anonymous said...

I want to know what the cost is per home owner? I can't find the answer.

Anonymous said...

It's telling that you aren't interested in the cost to our children if it doesn't pass.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:46

I asked this same question and your current tax rate on your property tax bill for MDUSD will stay the same, no increase in the amount. I can't remember what it is per $100,000 of home value.

Anonymous said...

11:46 and 12:48

The maximum tax rate of $60/$100,000 of assessed value will stay the same but taxpayer have not paid the maximum. They have paid between $41 and $49 per $100,000 of assessed value. So while the rate will not increase your tax bill most certainly will.
Unfortunately the wording "your tax rate will not increase over what was approved in 2002" is a bit deceptive.
Go back and ask the question again knowing this information.

MDUSDparent said...

I am 12:48 and am fine with it increasing, I believe in education and safe, up to date facilities for all children.

I agree the cost to our children and future generations of children if Measure C does not pass will be devastating.

Yes on Measure C, 4 voters are yes in this household.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:14

What does this mean:
"I agree the cost to our children and future generations of children if Measure C does not pass will be devastating."

What are you getting with this bond measure? Nobody knows because we have not yet been told. We don't have revenue or expense numbers for solar. We have project lists that don't match school lists, we have something called "instructional technology" and "science clusters" that nobody has defined. We have exterior doors, security systems, and solar on school lists where that work has already been completed. What are the priorities this board has for restoring programs? I haven't seen it, have you? They made that list for Measure D, why not this time? If they are putting solar on 51 sites are they putting it on school sites that will be closing in 2011-12? Can anyone even know that answer right now?

I am all for a responsible bond measure and I am all for a parcel tax. What will be devastating for our kids is to waste the precious resources in this community without careful planning and full disclosure before we vote. In addition, when the average voter doesn't see this bond helping our schools and will refuse to support a parcel tax, that too will be devastating.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the same people who have total trust in their elected representatives to spend trillions to wage a war, feel they must micro-manage millions for education?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:39,

Actually this bond is 1.87 Billion (with a B). Second if past behaivour is the best predictor of future behaivour, this board will spend the money freed up by this bond on administrator salaries.

So I'm voting NO on C.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and the average home in our area would cost over 7 million if you extended the borrowing time over 42 years. Look at the top row of your home mortgage disclosure document. Then come back and tell me your 1.87 billion figure is relevant to this discussion. The only thing relevant to our discussion is the devastation to our children's education that will occur if Mount Diablo can't raise the funds to succeed.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:23

Devastation?? What is devastating are the cuts to programs. A bond measure can not replace programs it can only buy "things". Buildings and equipment to be exact.

Why is it that we first heard of this "devastating" need for these improvements when the district decided to pursue this bond measure? I attend or listen to almost every board meeting and I have not heard an outcry for new windows, doors, floors, etc...

I have NOT seen a presentation to the board that outlines an innovative new program that will support high-tech education in fields like biotech and engineering and the "devastation" that will be caused if the district does not receive funding for the undefined instructional technology.

These items sound great but they have no planning to support them. These items are on the list because it makes the bond more attractive to voters. This bond is about solar. That's fine but provide us with the information. This district does not seem to understand that they are asking this community to be their financial partner but see no reason to provide us financial details. Why?

Anonymous said...

I love having my posts deleted...

Anonymous said...

I think many people view this new bond issue as simply another attempt to revive the bond that was strongly defeated several months ago. And I will bet this bond will also be strongly defeated. Perhaps MDUSD will take that as a hint that people are no longer going to cough up money like some sort of knee jerk reflex. MDUSD must live within their means like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

You folks should see how much dead wood there in at UC campuses and at their headquarters at 1111 Franklin Street in Oakland. Talk about overpaid and even paid for doing nothing. Don't get me wrong, but there are some good, hard working people but alot of non-performers.

As a former employee and have first-hand knowledge. UC is charted by the State to issue its own bonds and not subject to the people's vote. Your jaw would hit the floor if you knew home much debt obligation UC generates by itself.

UC's standard for the cost/benefit for solar projects was $1 million per megawatt. How does Measure C pencil on that?

Anonymous said...

It's time for belt tightening..., we're all doing it. The MDUSD District Office should do it as well. Live within your means. Measure C looks like it's going to lose, at least that's what my neighbors say.

A.J. Fardella said...

Gary your statement that the future of our kids depends on the passage of this bond is the exact opposite of the truth. The future of our kids depends on this ill-conceived Bonds failure.

It is a type of extortion, "your kids will be ruined unless you vote for this" when the truth is our kids will be ruined by it's passage.

I cannot tell you how deeply disappointed I am in the Board and in you for overseeing the hurried preparation of this boondoggle, then trying to leverage the success of our 2002 Measure C Bond work to pass this disaster.

Your integrity is gone.
Good luck on re-election.