Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 16, 2014

Less 75 words

Filed under: Alameda, Election, School — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

I finally got around to watching most of the School Board meeting and sure enough, in the exchange between Trish Spencer and the Bond person when the topic of the 75-word summary came up the Bond person indicated that he was directly involved with ten campaigns for the June election and of those ten only one did not pass and in fact they were “crushed.”

From the details he described that one had to be the Coronado one I referenced on Friday, which as a reminder read like this:

Protect Quality Education in Coronado Local Measure.
To provide modern classroom technology and facilities students need for college/career success, continue advanced programs in math, science and the arts, acquire, construct and repair classrooms/facilities/sites/equipment, permit smaller classes, and protect Coronado’s quality of education, shall Coronado Unified School District issue up to $29,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, with maturities under 5 years, all bonds repaid by September 30, 2024, less than $13,200,000 outstanding at any time, independent citizen oversight, and all money staying local?

According to the Bond guy that School Board also had two Board Members who insisted on including the language of how long and how much etc and so forth and whatever they added ended up back firing on the school district and the bond measure went down in flames.  Even hearing about how adding that information might lead to a bond measure’s defeat Trish Spencer then went on to state that she would not vote for a bond measure unless it had the language of the duration of time in the 75-word summary.  Essentially, she wants to poison the well from the very beginning.

Her rationale is that she believes that voters are not informed enough to understand that bonds take multiple years to pay off.   That somehow they would actually believe that a multi-million dollar bond could be paid off in one year by the whole City of Alameda at an average of $300 a property.   Yeah.  I mean I don’t know what’s worse, that Trish Spencer actually believes these incredible logic leaps that she makes or that she thinks so little of the intelligence of average Alamedans.

She, naturally, wraps this desire for that specific language in the 75-word statement in the cape of “transparency.”   But honestly given the intricacies of bond sales etc and so forth there is no way that the full nuance of how that works could be summed up in 75-words let alone using a portion of that and then throw in everything else.



  1. Maybe if they put something like a note at the end of the 75 word summary telling voters where they can find additional details that would do it. Transparency is the issue. The fact is, many of the voters simply cannot afford this bond issue. It’s good for the schools but bad for them personally. Madison Avenue knows that this is the obstacle they face when trying to sell us things we want but can’t afford. They use smoke and mirrors to distract us. They dangle that carrot until it’s all we can see. There’s something shameful to me about AUSD using these techniques on voters. It feels sleezy. As for voters, it’s not that they are stupid, it’s that they rarely take the time to read and understand what they vote for. Most people are not like you, Lauren–genuinely interested in the details. The debate over the wordiing acknowledges this and AUSD seeks to exploit voter weaknesses by putting the smoking gun where they won’t look.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 16, 2014 @ 7:01 am

  2. Here is the full text of the ballot initiative for Coronado Unified which would have been located in the voter booklet that every registered voter receives prior to election day to review. The 75-word summary is immediately followed by Counsel’s impartial analysis. And that is then immediately followed by the Tax Rate Statement which lays out the details of the bond itself.

    This is the same ballot language that is found everywhere and the structure is exactly the same.

    Every other school district that floated a bond in June, with the exception of Coronado, did not contain any details of length of time etc and so forth. Besides what is important to one person (length of bond repayment) may not be important to another person who may be interested in outstanding debt at a given time etc and so forth. Or maybe some folks want to know exactly what the bond will be paying for. Everyone’s pet issues cannot be added into the 75-word summary. If folks are particularly interested in something, then they can read the text, not expect it to be crammed into the 75-word summary.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 16, 2014 @ 7:42 am

  3. I doubt very much if the AUSD is exploiting the citizens of Alameda. They have a genuine concern about the crumbling school facilities in the city and they need the bond measure to pass inorder to repair them. Our infrastructure, hospital, school facilities, etc. are crumbling and are in dire need of improvements — but Trish Spencer and her followers have voted down just about every local tax and now bond measure to repair them.

    I would like to hear Trish Spencer and her followers for once, to spell out their plan to fix the schools if the bond measure doesn’t pass. It’s one thing to just say no — but what is her plan?

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 16, 2014 @ 7:51 am

  4. Denise says,”its not that they are stupid, its that they rarely take the time to read and understand what they vote for”. Well then the best that can be said is that they are ignorant. You can’t put something over on them if they care enough to read the ballots. Denise, nothing shameful about an election, whats shameful is to not know what you are voting for or against.

    Comment by John P. — June 16, 2014 @ 9:03 am

  5. At the height of the economic downturn, I attended a city council meeting during which a financial consultant was presenting his report. He said the general public would not have discretionary income until 2018. Many of us are still trying to climb out of the hole we found ourselves in and truly can not afford this bond. Denise argued last week something to the effect that those over 50 and still unemployed can not afford this bond. Young double income couples with school aged children are trying to move into Alameda but are stymied by the lack of houses to buy and renters are complaining that rents are too high. Rents will only become higher if landlords have to tack on more to pay for the bond. At the same time, everyone wants to see Alameda children excel in schools that are modern facilities so it is not that the voters are uncaring or greedy. This bond is just ill-timed.

    For AUSD board members who are reading, for now, please consider just upgrading the historic Alameda High School to Field Act Standards so the district employees can move back in, stop paying rent at Marina Village, and remove the fence. It also might help to assume the responsibility to manage the district staff – they should be serving at your pleasure, not the other way around. Barbara Kahn has it right.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — June 16, 2014 @ 11:38 am

  6. I don’t doubt very much if the AUSD is not exploiting the citizens of Alameda.

    gerund or present participle: exploiting
    make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).
    “500 companies sprang up to exploit this new technology”
    synonyms: utilize, harness, use, make use of, turn/put to good use, make the most of, capitalize on, benefit from; informal cash in on
    “we should exploit this new technology”

    Comment by Jack — June 16, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

  7. #6 So is this statement a double negative, meaning you believe AUSD is exploiting the citizens? Or is it a triple negative, meaning you do not believe AUSD is exploiting the citizens?

    Twisted thinking is all around us, making many go in circles.

    Comment by A Neighbor — June 16, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

  8. post #5 am I missing something here??. you think we should not do a bond issue to repair ours schools, but let’s fix the old Alameda High with no benefit at all to the students. The board isn’t the correct party to manage staff, that is the Superintendents job. The board directs the Superintendent.

    Comment by John P. — June 16, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

  9. #8 I am saying the bond is not likely to pass now but perhaps in the future. In the meantime, the Alameda High School is the only school, to my knowledge, that is not Field Act Standard compliant and it will not take that much money to get it compliant. Then, staff can move back in and the school system can save the money they are spending on admin space at Marina Village to use for student education.

    You said it yourself – the board directs the Superintendent. The board should start directing her about how she spends money. That is managing the staff.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — June 16, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

  10. Nancy, lets get an exact figure on what it will cost to bring the building up to Field Act Standard. I believe that is why they moved the staff out in the first place, because it was to expensive to repair. Again you are talking about spending money on staff issues and not spending it on the “schools and students”. Also the board is already directing the superintendent as to how she is spending the money, it just happens that you Trish and Barbara don’t agree with them. They are managing the staff, just not “micro” managing staff.

    Comment by John P. — June 16, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

  11. Here is a link to video of the agenda item for those of you who did not attend:

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — June 16, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

  12. Any investment in our schools will come back 3+ fold in property value. We all want a high quality of life in this town. One of the best ways to achieve that economically is to invest in our schools. If people are not willing to read beyond a 75 word statement when they truly want to know what they are voting for then shame on them. They are lazy or ignorant. For those saying no on the board, what is their solution if no bond? I think they agree facilities need upgrade. Should not be able to say no without alternative solution.

    Comment by JJ — June 16, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

  13. We need about 650 Million to bring our Schools up to speed.

    Plus We Owe another 50 Million on Past Bonds.

    That Works out to about 82,000 per Alameda Resident Student to Bring Schools up to Speed and another 7,500 per Student on Past Bonds.

    We also Have a Parcel Tax of about 12 -14 Million a year for Next 5 years for a Total of about 60 Million or 7,500 per Student.

    Do You have the Money to Bring our Schools up to Speed or What are all the Options?

    If We pass this Bandaid when will Next Bandaid Bond be presented.

    Comment by When will Next Bandaid Bond be presented — June 16, 2014 @ 11:45 pm

  14. The City of Alameda also has about 650 Million in Costs for deferred maintenance to bring City assets up to speed.. We can Toss in our Pension Liabilities and Just Round that Up to 1 Bil……. If you say it fast it’s not much…When will we get this Bond presented?

    Comment by When will Next Bandaid Bond be presented — June 17, 2014 @ 12:11 am

  15. #10 – John P – It took a bit of looking for the figure to make the HAHS Field Act compliant but, according to the costs developed by QUA,, the amount for structural upgrades to allow the fence to come down and the building to be used (without soft costs such as preparation of construction drawings which could increase the cost by as much as 30%) is between $6.84 to $9.12 million.

    As I recall, you are correct in saying the staff moved out to their current rental digs in Marina Village because the building was not safe. I was seriously taken aback during the first stakeholders meeting last year when it became apparent that the superintendent and her staff had no idea what the cost would be make the building compliant with the Field Act after moving into the rental space. In fact, the business manager was pushing for the school district to buy that building to avoid paying the rent.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — June 21, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Create a free website or blog at