It’s looking ever-more-likely that a suit will be filed against Measure H, the school parcel tax that passed in June in a community effort to preserve for Alameda children the level of service they’re currently getting from our district schools.
The word is that this group—please return my phone calls, Alamedans for Fair Taxation!—has raised $100,000 for legal fees, hiring David Brillant, of Randick O’Dea & Tooliatos to represent them. What boggles, is that aside from the owners of Pillow Park Plaza and Pauline’s Antiques, no one has stepped up to acknowledge their financial and philosophical commitment to this lawsuit. Where are the letters to the editor? The public statements of opposition to Measure H? I’m all for stepping up and fighting for what you believe, for making a case, taking a stand. But I say publicize your names, explain your thinking, be quoted in the paper, put your name on the project, put signs in your windows, “No to Measure H!” All of you.
Hello. So the buzz out there, both in reality and in blogland, is that this group, Alamedans for Fair Taxation, has raised some money to challenge Measure H, the school parcel tax that passed with over two thirds of the vote (parcel taxes in California don’t just require a simple majority, they require two of every three peoples’ support). I left messages before I went on vacation over Alamedan’s for Fair Taxation’s main office number, and I left another today. I’m looking forward to finding out who is in this group, how much they’ve raised, and by what legal standard they hope to challenge Measure H. Stay tuned.
Today I was forwarded an email sent around by a group calling themselves “Alamedans for Fair Taxation.” Apparently, they’re working to fight Measure H, the school parcel tax passed in June, which will tax residential parcels $120 a year and commercial properties on a square footage basis. According to the email, they are looking for an attorney to take their case:
We have a strong belief that we have a case against AUSD, in regards to Measure H in the context of not being “uniformly” as defined in California Government Code Section 50079 – B or “Out of Town Owner” representation. At this point we are looking for, and interviewing attorneys.
It sounds like the group is also concerned about a legislative move at the state level to change the threshold a parcel tax needs to pass from the near-impossible two-thirds to the sure-to-pass-possibly-a-higher-tax level of 55 percent.
We will be looking into the bill pending in the Legislature to amend the constitution to reduce the required vote on the school parcel taxes to 55%, this would greatly increase their chances for future parcel taxes.
The group has South Shore address and a dedicated phone number, at which I just left a message. I will hopefully hear from a representative of the group soon and will be able to report more about them. Who is behind this effort? How are they funded? How do they think schools should be funded? Do they think property taxes should be based on the current market value of a property or on the sale price, however long ago it was? These are all things I’m wondering now.
I was chitty-chatting with a neighbor yesterday (Hi, ECVL!) and he was surprised to learn that, yes indeed, our home-town Measure H—the parcel tax for Alameda schools—had passed. ECVL had heard the news that came out right after the election on June 3rd, when it looked like H was going to fail by a slim margin, but he had not followed the changing story, as more provisional and absentee ballots were counted. And he did not know that the tax had slid to a win, with 66.9 percent of the vote. The final tally was 11,445 ‘yes’ votes and 5,663 ‘no’ votes, way over half, but just over the two-thirds required by Proposition 13 for local parcel taxes.
To repeat, the vote count now puts Measure H, the school parcel tax, well into passing territory—by 105 votes. Superblogger Lauren Do has a roundup of the latest news coverage over at Blogging Bayport. And I am looking forward to walking over to the school yard and smiling and high-fiving with some of the the parents who worked so hard to pass this tax. Because four million dollars a year for four years will, no matter what the naysayers say (and say it they do), make a big difference for the students of our district as well as for our town as a whole.
As of a few moments ago, for the first time, Alameda’s Measure H, the school parcel tax, officially has more than the two-thirds of the vote. Go check it out! There are now 11,397 ‘yes’ votes—for 66.87 percent. I am waiting for word about how many—if any—more provisional ballots there are left to count. But, right now, it looks like Measure H has passed by 105 votes!
WAIT: This just in at 4:20 p.m. from Alameda County Registrar of Voters Spokesman Guy Ashley:
Results for the June 3 primary election in Alameda County were updated this afternoon and are on the website of the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. Dave Macdonald, Alameda County Registrar of Voters, says a small number of ballots from Alameda County still need to be counted. In regards to Measure H, the Alameda schools parcel tax, Macdonald said: “We don’t believe many, if any, of the remaining ballots are from the City of Alameda.” Macdonald emphasized that the results are still unofficial, and will remain so until he certifies the election results. He said that will likely occur on or about June 27.
So it sounds like there’ll be no release of votes today for Measure H, Alameda’s school parcel tax. This just in from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters‘ Spokesperson Guy Ashley:
There will be no update today of results for the June 3 election. Folks spent the day processing provisional ballots. Some work remains remaking damaged ballots as well… We most likely will update our results again on Wednesday.
So the vote stands at very, very close—the ‘yes’ votes have 66.66 percent. Stay tuned.
The weekly column, “Life on the Island,” that I write for the Alameda Journal is now up online. This week it’s, “Never underestimate the power of one.”
Past “Life on the Island” columns
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths
Well, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters has released another round of votes…which brings the Measure H tally to 11,001 ‘yes’ votes—for 66.66 percent. Measure H is getting ever-closer to passing! Tomorrow, according to spokesman Guy Ashley, county employees will be working on verifying and tallying the provisional votes…expect results to trickle in throughout the week.
Hello! So, it sounds like there will be more Measure H votes counted by this afternoon…but only the remaining absentee ballots (I’ve heard that there are between a few dozen and a hundred of these for the whole county.) “I always say it’ll be three or four in the afternoon,” said Alameda County Registrar of Voters Spokesman Guy Ashley. “But then it’s four or five…so some time around then.”
We’ll have to keep waiting, says Ashley, for county workers to verify and tally the remaining provisional ballots (there are an estimated 6,500 of these county-wide). “With every provisional ballot, we have to check a number of things,” says Ashley. “If someone shows up at the polling the place and there’s some reason to say, ‘Hmm, I shouldn’t give you a regular ballot, you’re at the wrong polling place, you’re not on a roster,’ we give them a provisional ballot. And that let’s us go back and research whether they’re able to vote.” As provisional ballots are verified throughout the week, says Ashley, they will be posted on Alameda’s new favorite web site: the Measure H page at the Alameda County Registrar’s office.