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Alameda school pesticide policy

Michele Ellson of The Island has a post up about the Alameda Unified School District‘s pesticide use policy and what Laura DiDonato, a parent who serves on the committee that created the policy, says is the district’s violation of its own rules.

Apparently, in 2001 AUSD approved a pest management policy in order to accord with California law which called for the use of pesticides only in cases of emergency, but has recently stopped following it. According to DiDonato, California law requires school districts to have a registry of parents who wish to be notified when pesticides are going to be sprayed, to post warning signs before and after spraying, and also keep records of pesticide use for public inspection. But DiDonato told The Island that only the only rule that is being followed is the one that requires general notification about the possibility of pesticide use. Ellson wrote about that notification a while back.

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Alameda votes, Measure P and more

Lauren Do over at Blogging Bayport has a comprehensive local election page where you can find out more info about the candidates/ballot issues and, too, see who has endorsed whom/what.

People keep asking me about Measure P, the item on the city ballot that would raise Alameda’s property transfer tax. I will be voting for it, mostly because the more I learn about the city budget (not to mention the state’s and the nation’s) the more it becomes clear that, in order to keep things running semi-smoothly, we need to raise more funds. Michele Ellson over at the Island is supporting P, as is Lauren Do, and, too, John Knox White.

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Prop. 8 would ban marriage for Alamedans who are gay

In addition to local races—City Council, Measure P, School Board—Alamedans, along with the rest of California, will be voting on Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative. It’s a serious civil rights issue (I don’t see how we can, in good conscience, deny people who are gay all the rights that come with marriage). I’ve posted below a clip from a very funny woman, Ellen DeGeneres. She’s not talking specifically about Prop. 8, but she says, among other things, “Maybe it’s because I’m gay that I feel that I think we should all be equal but I feel that we’re all equal.” And, “People are going to be who they are going to be and we need to love them for who they are and let them love who they want to love.”

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ACI mixing recycling and compost?

Dan Wood from A Progressive Alamedan has a post up today about seeing Alameda County Industries employees mixing trash (grey bin contents) with recycling (blue bin contents) with compost (green bin contents). I have heard other reports of this “unsorting” over the years as well. (Eye on Blogs made note of Wood’s post, too, asking if others have see the same mixing of bin contents.)

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Movement in the Measure H suits

Michele Ellson of The Island blog has a post up today about the Measure H suits. (Lauren Do makes note of them too, in her post today about Alamedans for Fair Taxation.) The upshot? The district lawyers filed a motion to invalidate the suit filed on behalf of Borikas and filed a request for an extension of time in the Beery suit. The hearing on Borikas is set for February 9.

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No fair property taxes in Alameda

This week in “Life on the Island,” the column I write for the Alameda Journal, I discuss the legacy of Proposition 13, which leaves newer property owners, of both homes and businesses, paying property taxes much higher—sometimes three or four or five times higher—than those who bought earlier. (Property tax information is public and you can look it up by parcel or address here.)

Measure H, the Alameda school tax passed in June, assesses businesses based on square footage, which is, to my mind, closer to fair than a flat per parcel tax, which taxes the owners of mansions and hovels identically, the owners of large tracts of land the same as those who own a small parcel.

A Prop. 13 supporter once described the 1978 law to me as a ‘double-edged’ sword, by which I think he meant it was bad when you first purchase a property, but gets better over time. But Prop. 13 has created a system of taxation so inequitable that it has turned out to be a very bad thing over time, not just because of its pronounced lack of fairness but, too, because it fails to raise enough money to support the infrastructure and services our state requires.

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Nea Charter school applies again

As reported by the Alameda Journal (the host publication of this blog, where you can find all the stories from the print paper), the folks organizing Nea, a K-12 charter school, have submitted a new charter school application to the Alameda Unified School District.

Back in January 2008, the first Nea application was turned down by the District for lack of detail, and then turned down by the County Board of Education in April. While many people in the education field I respect have, over the years, made clear some of the problems with charter schools—primarily that they deplete already-scarce district resources—I understand, too, why they appeal to parents, especially those with children who, for whatever reason, are not thriving in the regular school system. My understanding is that Berkeley Unified has done a good job not losing money and students to charters by having programs that attract parents and children who are looking for options, including bilingual classes, an arts magnet, and a school-based garden and cooking program. The Alameda board will hear the proposal (thanks for the link, Mike McMahon) at their October 28 meeting.

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Alameda’s Measure P

Measure P, which Alamedans will vote on in a few short weeks, would increase the city’s property transfer tax, the tax paid to the city when a property is bought or sold. Currently the tax is $5.40 per $1,000 property value. Measure P would raise it to $12 per $1,000. Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson has a pro-P opinion piece in today’s Alameda Journal.

The Mayor’s argument is pretty straight-forward: The city has already been cutting, police and fire costs are two thirds of the city’s budget, and without a cash infusion the city may have to begin trimming those areas nearest and dearest to people’s hearts…in addition to the cuts that have already been made, the maintenance that has already been deferred and the library hours that have already been cut. Those who oppose P have a pretty well-funded campaign against (with chart and graphs and everything).

Back story: Before putting P on the ballot, the city did some polling to see what was most likely to win approval from the voters, and this transfer tax increase is what was seen as most likely to pass. Really, it’s the same old story: if you want services, they must be paid for.

[Ed. note: The Journal also has this editorial about P.]