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Alameda’s Measure E Grabs National Spotlight

Jenny Turcinovic is putting Alameda — and the nasty Measure E-battle – on the map.

The New York Times did a June 11 story on what transpired when Turcinovic put up a “No on Measure E” sign up at her shop, the International Aria Market & Bakery, at Webster Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Now, the New York Times writer (a freelancer judging from his email address) starts off the story by saying that Turcinovic has had the shop open for years, while the Bosnian immigrant has really had the food shop in business for closer to a year or two.

Thus, Turcinovic may not have had any previous experience with such contentious Island issues (and attitudes) when she put up the sign, supplied by her landlord Steve Case.

Still, it’s sad to read that some pro-Measure E folks apparently got very nasty about Turcinovic’s take on the parcel tax.

The shop owner doesn’t feel that she has the money to pay for Measure E, while parents vocally let her know their view on the parcel tax: Alameda schools and students deserve more support — financially and otherwise.

And with tough times today for many families and businesses, it’s really a shame that Alameda leaders and residents alike couldn’t come up with a parcel tax that wasn’t so controversial. Of course, once it involves a tax, it’s generally an automatic controversy.

The nasty debate has made it very clear that we most need on the Island is a parcel tax that makes more sense to more members of the community, is less divisive and offers clear costs and benefits for taxpayers and students alike.

Maybe the New York Times freelancer, Gerry Shig, will come back and shed light on this angle of the Measure E battle before the looming June 22 deadline for voting.

If you want to comment on the NYT piece, go to the writer’s blogsite.

Janet Levaux

  • Dave J

    A few points:

    -By definition, anything greater than 365 days is considered greater than a single year, so it seems almost petty to infer this being a misstatement of facts.

    -That you allude that a freelance writer is somehow inferior, seems little better. Especially since he in fact was previously a reporter for the NY Times, as could be found on the Bay Citizen web site:

    [From: http://www.baycitizen.org/about/editorial-team

    Gerry Shih – Staff Reporter
    Gerry_Shih@baycitizen.org

    Gerry Shih is the Bay Citizen’s new reporter for education and social issues.
    He was previously a reporter at the New York Times, where he wrote for the
    business section before moving to San Francisco to help launch the paper’s Bay
    Area pages in late 2009. He has a B.A. in economics from Stanford University.

    -If a business owner wants to voice her opinion, they have every right to do so.

    -If a business patron does not want to support a business for any reason, they have every write to withdraw that support, be it in the form of withheld community support, business patronage, or even peaceful protest.

    -Harassing anyone in America because of their race, religion, or national origin, is something that nobody has the right to do; it is a crime paramount above all others and any citizen who commits such crime doesn’t truly understand what it means in American. That these people are procreating is even more worrisome.

    It amazes me how presumably-educated peoples behavior can turn so self-righteously ugly and aggressive when it comes to defending a perceived threat to the welfare of their children. I would love to chalk this up to paternal instinct, but attacking someone because they don’t want to pay for your children’s eduction is going too far.

    While I will likely vote for the tax, only for the children’s sake, I do not agree with it. It flies in the face of taxation without representation. It seems almost doubly-unfair since I wager most land owners in Alameda are far past their child-bearing years. If we are going to have a social tax in order to share the large cost of social services such as public education, then why is this cost not equally shared by all Alameda citizens ? It seems a portion of local sales tax would be the most direct route to that means. Funding public education with sales tax would also spread the cost more evenly among those willing and able to consume goods and services. Baring that, a parcel tax proportional to the property appraisement, and not a fixed amount, spreads the cost more evenly based on “ability to pay”. Taxing each parcel a fixed amount and different than multi-dwelling hoomes is not fair, plain and simple; if we are going to initiate an unfair tax, then it should be “unfair” for all.

    To take one example, my mother of 60 years lost her job of 25 years last year. In her divorce 30 years ago she received a run-down 5-unit apartment that had a meager income due to rental by Navy personnel. The 3 studio units in the converted victorian have sat vacant since the base closure due to inability to rent, without funds to perform necessary repairs. Her two children moved from this dwelling in 1996. She will be charged $1664 per year for 8 years due to Measure E ($13,312 in total) Does it seem fair for her to burden this amount while a of a family of 5 in a $4mil home on Gibbons drive pay just $659/year? The question is obviously rhetorical.

    Some forms of social taxes are necessary for a healthy community, such as public education and public safety. However, why should just a portion of the benefiting society incur the cost ? No, the Measure E fixed parcel tax is outright unfair.

    I will admit I am also somewhat bias against these people who berate others for not supporting the parcel tax for schools. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but resorting to fallacious ad-hominim attacks on anyone because of those opinions is a downright despicable act.

  • jlevaux

    Dave J: Thank you for all your helpful comments. I do feel that the New York Times piece implied that the Aria market had been around Alameda for “years” — which is not the case, as far as I know, though one reader wrote in to say that the owner had a market earlier in a nearby location.

  • Michelle

    Jenny Turcinovic’s son is an intelligent, helpful and charming young man. Many’s the time he has run around Aria market looking for yeast or baking soda or some other product that usually has German writing on the packaging.

    He is able to converse intelligently on the store’s merchandise (different countries’ feta cheese, for instance) and is a wonderful salesman for his mother’s delicious Bosnian phyllo, pumpkin, cheese and meat pies and the yummy Bosnian bread they sell.

    In fact, her son is so cool that once when I was in the store, a teacher of his was there to check out the store and had driven from a few cities away just to visit him. That is what kind of impression he makes on people who meet him. Not many 15 year olds do that.

    I wouldn’t trade a hundred strident, nasty supporters of Measure E for one of him or Lydia, who is as charming and helpful as her son, and obviously a fantastic mother. The abusive supporters should ask Lydia to help raise their kids.

  • Sheri

    The Aria MArket has been here for years , it moved about 2 years ago from it’s former location where Needle in a Haystack is now.

    Today is deadline, the most important part of the is civic exercise is to use your rights and vote your opinion, In end everyone must vote their own choice.
    I, for one, mailed mine back the day I got it. What I know is property values will be dimished if there are no viable schools in the neighborhood. I, personally, would be willing to pay my 1/5 split among the 5 units on the property where I live. I’d like to believe I would be willing to support education in this manner whether I had children or not. Who’s going to take care of me when I am 104. Hopefully someone who went to and finished their education at a good quality local school.

  • jlevaux

    Thanks for your comments Sheri.
    I didn’t know that Aria had been located at another spot on the Island.
    And thanks for sharing your Measure E views.