Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 22, 2013

Talk that talk

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am


You know last week the School Board met to talk about the process on how they were going to start to talk about AUSD’s facilities needs and all that jazz?  Well, they finally popped up the meeting video and it was, um, frustrating to say the least.

Essentially there will be a series of meeting that will allow a group of stakeholders, however that is defined, to rattle off a list of pretty much anything and everything they want to happen at the Historic Alameda High School, regardless of reality or anything based in reality.   So if someone said, “I want to see the building razed to the ground and a gleaming 15 story tall glass and steel residential tower” that gets added to the list.   I dare someone to send that email to facilitator Jeff Cambra (jeffcambra at earthlink dot net)

It will be a conveniently fact free exercise, the only thing that matters is that everyone gets heard in the process.

The irony of this whole thing is that during the meeting, School Board member Trish Spencer proceeded to rattle off a whole list of information she needed and wanted thrown up on the District’s website as though Jeff Cambra had somehow been hired as the School Board’s personal research assistant including information about how the Field Act works, general square footage, history of the High School, how much bonds have been taken out previously, blah blah blah.    And then a representative from the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society stood up to say that the underlying issue was cost and that without more information then the stakeholders couldn’t speak from a place of knowledge.

Which is pretty much what School Boardmember Mike McMahon said at the meeting when the School Board first discussed this issue and then got hammered because his first pass at making the point turned out pretty inelegantly.   As long as the information — which will have to come from District staff because Jeff Cambra made it pretty clear that he’s there just to facilitate and not to do any research — is not “trusted” by the eventual decision makers then the information is useless.

The fact is at the end of the day, without knowing how much stuff will cost and not requiring people to make suggestions based on cost the burden will be on the School Board to make the hard decisions knowing that everyone wants what they want, but knowing that the resources are limited to make most of those options happen.



  1. What this indicates to me is that they already know exactly what they are going to do with the facilities. They are putting on a show of allowing the public to express what they would like, but not giving the public an opportunity to frame their suggestions within the parameters of the existing limitations. This increases the likelihood that no one else will present a feasible case for a different plan. Then they can say “So, sorry. We heard you out and you all had some really wonderful ideas, but they just won’t work. I guess the only thing left to do it this (fill in whatever they’ve already decided to do with the facilities).” If I’m cynical, it’s because I’ve been around awhile and paying attention. AUSD is free to prove me wrong at any time.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 22, 2013 @ 10:23 am

  2. Link to what the 2003 bond issue was supposed to do in this regard: . I remember then principal Sherratt telling us at a PTA meeting that the plans called for 11 classrooms out of the retrofitted building. They spent the money before they got to it and now they just want to get rid of the building. With all Oakland’s problems, they still found a way to retrofit the same era Oakland Technical High School.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — March 22, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

  3. People should not have kept working in that unsafe building. Beyond the unpopular but necessary move of employees out to a safe workplace, there is zero evidence that “now they just want to get rid of the building.” Given where we are now, how about proposing a viable solution or two for how to fix and save and use the building?

    Comment by Loyal Opposition — March 23, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  4. It is my understanding that the April 11th education meeting will create the parameters of the existing limitations that will allow individuals to present suggestions at the April 15th meeting options meeting. The public is free to prove me wrong at any time.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — March 24, 2013 @ 10:36 am

  5. “…create the parameters of the existing limitations…” Down with all existing limitations! Create unlimited parameters! Free the wrong!

    Or, if in this instance the parameter count is difficult to limit in the constructors of immutable objects, try limiting the parameter count (or alternatively make the ordering obvious) in the constructor of an immutable object with several fields?

    One approach: Build a factory. If you need immensely complex objects, allow the factory to build a component from a string-descriptor or input stream. Another approach: build a (mutable) parameter-structure that defaults to reasonable values, and pass that into the constructor.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 24, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

  6. It would be a shame to tear down that building, it is one of the nicer buildings architectually in Alameda. Tear down the hospital it is butt ugly.

    Comment by joelsf — March 24, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

  7. Wow, Mike. Four whole days! That should be plenty of time for someone to knock together a viable alternative. You just proved my point.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — March 25, 2013 @ 9:53 am

  8. 3. Viable plan–there were preliminary estimates for the bond issue for retrofit for use as a school building 4. it is hard to see why the community would even be asked about the future of the building if the district intended to keep using it.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — March 25, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

  9. In regards to #2 by Kevis Brownson, my response. In 2003 when I was Principal of AHS, my understanding was that then Supt Dr Nishino believed that there had been a spoken agreement between the previous Supt and then Mayor Appezato. AUSD was letting the City use HAHS as the Interim Library. When they vacated, the spoken agreement was that the City would retrofit and return it to 11 classrooms including Science labs. I don’t believe it had anything to do with Measure C.
    Margie Sheratt

    Comment by Margie Sherratt — March 25, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

  10. 4,5, 7-9: It does appear that the school district is mismanaging this process by not hiring a facilitator with some architectural or planning background as well as by offering only four days between the two April sessions.

    As to Margie Sherrratt’s post, I would not be surprised if Ralph Appezzato had, indeed, made an offer like that to Superintendent Nishino, but Ralph is no longer available to speak on the record about this… 🙂

    In any case, the City of Alameda can no longer afford to make or keep such a generous offer after redevelopment funding has disappeared and our municipal red ink has cut more deeply.

    While no one should be asked to work or study in dangerous buildings I DO hope Alameda can find a way to retrofit, renovate, and reuse the historic AHS buildings that are now fenced off…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 25, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  11. You can ask Board President Niel Tam and Superintendent Vital all about the AHS and AUSD facilities–or anything else you want–at the League of Women Voters of Alameda’s free community forum Thursday night (7-9 PM @ Cardinal Point, 2431 Mariner Square Drive).

    For more info on the forum, please visit:

    1. The LWV of Alameda Events Page:

    2. Alameda Patch Events for March 28 (with flyer):

    3. Directions and a map for Cardinal Point are here:

    4. A short notice about the forum appeared in Friday’s 3/22 Alameda Journal in the “City Briefs” section:

    5. Here’s the link to the Alameda Sun’s online story:

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 25, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

  12. In 2003 Measure C originally did have a project that identify renovation of classrooms in Historic Alameda High School. However, the cost of construction skyrocketed in the runup to 2008 Olympics created by a huge demand for construction steel. As a result, the school board reallocated funds to pay for existing school projects in 2008 since there was not enough left for HAHS classroom renovation (also the projected cost of $6 million had increased).

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — March 26, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

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