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Paying the price to have good schools in Alameda

Today’s print column, “Paying the price to have good schools,” is up online. If you’ve somehow missed that today is election day, and Measure H, the parcel tax to support our town’s schools in on the ballot, go read it now. You can find all Alameda Journal articles online here.

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Past “Life on the Island” columns
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

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It’s election day, Alameda

Morning! Today is election day. You can find your polling place here. And you can read the Alameda Journal’s editorial in support of Measure H here. And here’s more of the latest on Measure H. Go vote yes for a modest tax for our town’s schools. Remember, it needs two thirds of the vote to pass, so every vote counts.

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Count down to the Measure H vote in Alameda

There’s about a dozen Measure H-related letters to the editor in today’s Alameda Journal, many of them very impassioned and most written in support of the parcel tax. Below is an excerpt from a letter by Heather Hildreth. I like it because it focuses on the question of, “How good can our schools be?” Rather than, as some who oppose Measure H have, “What’s the minimum they can get by with?”

Have you ever heard anyone say of their town, that it was “too safe, the streets were too clean and the schools were too good”? I haven’t, so I just shake my head when I read editorials and letters stating that Alameda schools should get by with less then they have now…Until we can say of Alameda that it is better than excellent we still have to work to make it better. We cannot afford to lose ground.

And here’s the Alameda Journal‘s editorial in support of Measure H, “Alameda Measure H needs every vote to make a difference,” which, in case you’ve somehow missed all the basic facts, lays them out very clearly.

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In Alameda: From the mouths of Elks

So the very enterprising Michele Ellson over at The Island (yay, for Alameda blogs) has it from the Elks that they know they’ll not be responsible for square-footage-based taxation through the Measure H parcel tax.

So now, with six days until next Tuesday’s vote, perhaps we can turn our attention toward the big picture: that quality schools matter to a community, that good schools mean higher property values as well as more customers for local business. NOT TO MENTION, that good schools go a long way toward helping young people develop into thoughtful, productive, and participatory citizens. Who get jobs. Who pay taxes. Who become civic leaders. And engineers. And inspiring humanitarians.

But that’s all been said before. You can find your polling place, by the way, here.

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Alameda nonprofits are exempt from Measure H

There’s been a bit of blog buzz about nonprofits being hit hard by Measure H (not to mention an assertion by an Elks trustee that the club will need to pay $5,800 annually for the tax). But, the actual fact is that charities and churches are exempt from Measure H.

As Andy Currid, who is heading up the Measure H effort, wrote in a recent email: “Please note that Measure H will not tax the Elks or similar not-for-profit institutions in Alameda. This is because the parcels of land owned by those institutions (many of whom are churches) have Use Codes that are not commercial or industrial. Measure H also exempts any property that is already exempt from property tax under state law.”

If you want to dig more into the legalities, here’s a link to the county tax code. And here’s the actual Measure H text, which reads, in part, “Real property otherwise exempted from taxation under the constitution and laws of the State of California shall also be exempted from any liability for the special tax imposed by this measure.” And here’s a link to the state board of equalization detailing non profits (as well as other churches and charitable entities) property tax exemption.

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Alameda “Save our Music” concert this Friday

This Friday, May 2, at 7 p.m. in Kofman Auditorium (in Alameda High) there will be a benefit concert to try to keep music in grades one, two and three in our district’s schools. The concert is brought to you by Bay Farm parent Lorri Garrett and a host of other hardworking volunteers in the Save our Music crew. You can buy tickets to the hip-happening event online here and also learn more about the class acts, including on- and off-island talent as well as many of our district’s bright-eyed third graders. If you can’t make the show, there’s also an online auction, with items including tickets to the San Francisco Opera, a $100 gift certificate to Scott’s Shoes and a drum head signed by Metallica.

Measure H
As always, Continue Reading

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Rally for Alameda schools Thursday afternoon

[Ed. note: speakers at the rally include State Assembly Member Sandre Swanson and former 16th district State Assembly Member Wilma Chan.]

This coming Thursday at 3:30 p.m. there will be a rally on the steps of the Alameda Unified School District offices to keep the momentum going in support of public education. My understanding is that speeches/remarks will begin at 4 p.m. and speakers include the always-inspiring Brooke Briggance as well as reps from teacher and staff unions. District offices are at 2200 Central Avenue.

Come on out and be energized to, among other things, pass Measure H, the supplemental/emergency parcel tax that, as I hope you’ve heard already, will be on the June 3rd ballot.

Also, for your edification/amusement here’s a link to an Onion story about the cutting of the entire past tense from schools across the country.

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Note to Alameda City Council: stand up for our schools

I for one think it’s time our city leaders—Mayor Johnson, Vice Mayor Tam, and council members Matarrese, deHaan, and Gilmore—step forward and come out loud and clear in support of a parcel tax. It’s not enough, I don’t think, to support it quietly. Our city council needs to take the lead in explaining to people—to all Alamedans, not just those with kids in the system—why we need to pull together in support of our schools. It’s a quality of life issue. It’s a property value issue. And it’s a moral issue.

I know we would prefer, of course, that Governor Schwarzenegger had not proposed cutting so much from schools. And I know we would prefer, too, that (even before these cuts) California did not fund education so poorly (we rank near last in the country in per student spending). We know, too, that the parcel tax is not a complete solution, that it won’t solve all our problems with funding and make them go away for good. But passing Measure H is something we can do now to help to make sure our Alameda students have a chance at that American dream that so many of our relatives, however many generations back it may be, came here looking for. So step up, city council, lead the way.

[Ed. (that's me, Eve) note: Hat tip to Vice Mayor Lena Tam who already signed on to the official ballot argument in support of Measure H. (Along with senior/activist Nick Cabral, Harbor Bay Realty's Dennis Pagones, Retired Encinal Principal Bill Sonneman, and School Board Pres. Bill Schaff.)]

[Another Ed. note: A happy wave to council member Frank Matarrese who says he fully supports the parcel tax and looks forward to it being on the agenda for discussion at the council's first April meeting.]

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And below, for your enjoyment, are pictures of some of the people who showed up Saturday morning at Longfellow to put together signs and begin distributing them in support of public schools in Alameda. (Pictured right is Cynthia Marsh, a first grade teacher at Edison.) For even more pictures, go to Modern Muse.

march 15 kase rallycynthiamarsh