Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 27, 2014

Loosen up

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, School — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Have I mentioned that the School Board has gotten slightly better because a lot of the School Board members have been much more assertive and have pushing back against some of the antics of other School Board members?

It really is quite refreshing.

But I have to give a special shout out to School Board member Barbara Kahn who was on fire on Tuesday night in many many good ways.   The first time came during a discussion about Wood Middle School’s restructuring program.   The teacher’s union rep had spoken during public comment about the need to negotiate some of the plans that were in the restructuring plan such as the bell schedule, etc.  Barbara Kahn asked whether there could be loosening of the rigidity in the union contract which dictates that some of the key parts of the Wood plan would need to be negotiated prior to implementation.   The sense that I got from Barbara Kahn was that everyone involved: District, union, teachers, etc. should be putting their all into making the plan work for Wood Middle School and make the program successful.

The response from the teacher’s union rep was that her responsibility is to enforce what is in the contracts and essentially not deviate from what is written.  That means that anything that is governed would need to be negotiated, which sounded like Barbara Kahn’s call for a “loosening” of that rigidity was not going to be taken under consideration.  But I am so glad that Barbara Kahn did speak up and point out how it is the responsibility of everyone involved to make the program successful for the sake of the students.

Another high five moment was during the discussion about the land exchange deal between the City, the School District, and the Housing Authority.  True to form, whenever anyone comes to express opposition to something, anything, Board member Trish Spencer is suddenly against the proposal as well.  Plus, well, she’s against everything in general.  Anyway this deal is a good deal for all parties because of the loan to fix the pools, the better placed parcel on Alameda Point — plus larger! — and a pot of money for actual affordable housing creation to go to an agency that actually creates affordable housing.

Trish Spencer then brings up the issue of “equity” (which of course is not the same as “equality”) and then claims that somehow this deal is not equitable because the Housing Authority is getting access to $4.6 million of affordable housing funds and the School District is only getting $1.something million.  And then she complains that the school district is giving up a valuable East End site for an — ostensibly — less valuable parcel on the West End and claims that somehow that isn’t equitable either.

Thank goodness for Barbara Kahn who pointed out that having affordable housing on the East End is actually equitable since the majority of affordable housing developments end up on the West side of the Island.   Word.

As an aside, I know that some people freak out when they hear the words “affordable housing development” in their neighborhood and then attempt to mask their prejudices and stereotypes of affordable housing by saying things like “oh it should be senior housing!” Here’s the thing though, even though we all have our anecdotal tales of how someone somewhere may be abusing the affordable housing program by having a “nice” car or maybe only one person in the household working, I think, in general, based on my own experience in my own neighborhood I think the City’s affordable housing program, particularly the home ownership program is very successful.   The whole point of these houses are to have people who could not afford the inflated market rate homes be able to own a home.   That’s why it’s income capped and has restrictions on rental and reselling.  It’s to help folks improve their live by making an investment.   Personally I know of lots of great families who had the good fortune of what amount to winning the lottery by being (1) income eligible and (2) being first time homebuyers and the majority send their kids to public school, are great members of the community, work hard, etc and so forth, basically no different than people who own market rate homes.  So the idea that affordable housing is something to push away instead of welcome to your neighborhood is something that I simply don’t understand.



  1. “Thank goodness for Barbara Kahn who pointed out that having affordable housing on the East End is actually equitable since the majority of affordable housing developments end up on the West side of the Island. Word.”
    And amen! Used to live on the East End and the NIMBY mentality was over-the-top nuts. I hate to say it but a lot of it is fear that low-income people will have their kids go to their precious Edison and pull down test scores (and thus, property values?). And some of it, sadly, is just plain racism. If you really can’t handle diversity, move to the Lamorida area, peeps.

    Comment by Kristen — February 27, 2014 @ 9:24 am

  2. I agree 100% with everything in today’s post.

    Way to go BK! That’s really telling that union rep off. I expect the U rep will heed your admonition and jump on board to loosen up the contract…after all it’s all for the kids.

    Then there’s that pesky Trish Spencer. Can’t they just impeach her. Trying to equate equity with equality. How did she ever get on the Bored anyway.

    And finely, the straightening out of so misguided souls concerning equal equity in equality of homes. Everybody deserves to live in the best home government can afford. If some want to go beyond what’s required then make them pay for it themselves.

    Great post!

    Comment by Jack R — February 27, 2014 @ 9:29 am

  3. oops…that’s Lamorinda, not Lamorida. (Lafayette/Moraga/Orinda).

    Comment by Kristen — February 27, 2014 @ 9:32 am

  4. Lamorida = Louisiana/Alabama/Mississippi/Florida?

    Comment by david burton — February 27, 2014 @ 10:07 am

  5. Thank goodness for Barbara Kahn who pointed out that having affordable housing on the East End is actually equitable since the majority of affordable housing developments end up on the West side of the Island. Word.


    This suggests that BK doesn’t think affordable housing developments are as desirable as you say they are. Ending it with “word” suggests that you might not either.

    Comment by dave — February 27, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  6. I find it interesting that the district knew that some items needed to be negotiated with AEA, but had not discussed them with AEA prior to presenting their proposal. Most likely this could have been resolved. I have great respect for the union leader who stood her ground, as her job is to maintain the integrity of the contract.

    Comment by Cturnover — March 1, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

  7. LD thinks it’s refreshing that the Board squabble’s amongst themselves and gives special accolades to BK for suggesting the Union rep violate her sworn vow to uphold the legal negotiated contract. That’s a really great role model position that I’m sure garners widespread support amongst those who disregard the rule of law.

    Comment by Jack R — March 1, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

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