By Theresa Harrington
If you’re a registered voter who lives on the Ygnacio Valley side of Walnut Creek, you’ve probably received three mailers from the “Yes on Measure C” campaign urging you to support local schools.
But Walnut Creek resident Don Huggins noticed something rather unusual about these mailers: the name of the school district that would benefit from the measure is missing.
One, called “Where it Counts,” shows Ygnacio Valley and Northgate high schools on a map of Walnut Creek on one side, with Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan and three other prominent city residents endorsing the measure on the other side.
Another mailer, entitled “Cutting Edge Tools for Local Students,” features a Foothill Middle School science teacher and former councilman Charlie Abrams (who is identified only as a professional engineer) lending their support to the measure.
The third, called “Rainy Days and Mondays,” says that leaky roofs, broken windows and old wiring “top the list of repairs needed at our neighborhood elementary, middle and high schools.”
The return address is “Yes on C” or www.protectourlocalschoos.org. The mailers are paid for by United for Excellent Schools.
Huggins wondered why the campaign left off any mention of the Mt. Diablo school district (except for endorsements from the Mt. Diablo Education Association and United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation).
So, he wrote the following letter to the City Council and sent a copy to me:
“Honorable Mayor and City Council Members, City of Walnut Creek
(Please distribute to all Council members.)
I recently received a flyer supporting Measure C that makes no mention of the Mt Diablo Unified School District — obviously an intentional omission that is deceptive and shameful.
The reason I’m addressing this to you is that the flyer appears to be all about Walnut Creek and its schools; contains photos and quotes from Gwen Regalia and Kish Rajan; has the endorsement of the WC City Council as well as its individual members; identifies certain schools in a sketch labelled WALNUT CREEK; and concludes with ‘Make Your Vote Count for Walnut Creek Schools.’
It would appear that the preparers (and supporters?) of this flyer decided to deceive voters into thinking that they were voting for only Walnut Creek schools and not for the entire MDUS District, which includes many other schools. Is this because of the relatively poor academic reputation of the MDUSD? It’s unexcusable.
What say you? (I’d appreciate your response.)
Since Rajan is a member of the campaign committee, I forwarded my copy of the letter to him and asked if he helped prepare the mailers. I also asked for a response to Huggins’ assertions that the omission of the Mt. Diablo school district’s name was deceptive. Here’s Rajan’s response to me:
“Theresa – I am glad you got the Cutting Edge mailer. We are pleased to have so many leaders from Walnut Creek in education, city government, business, community orgs, parents, etc. that understand how critically important it is pass Measure C so we can better prepare our kids to compete in today’s economy. We wanted Walnut Creek voters to be informed of the breadth of Measure C’s support among their neighbors and community leaders.
When I asked if the council intended to respond directly to Huggins, Rajan responded: “Sure. I dont speak for the Council. But if Mr. Huggins were to contact me – I would refer answer him with the statement I gave you.”
I forwarded Rajan’s response to Huggins and asked for his reaction. Here’s what Huggins wrote in an e-mail to me:
First, thanks for forwarding to me Mr Rajan’s response.
What do I think? I choke, then chuckle in an effort to keep calm.
It’s crystal clear. Kish just repeats what the mailers say and, like so many politicians, totally avoids the specific/hard questions that can’t be ‘spun’ sufficiently to defend the questionable actions. By avoiding the questions, he’s telling us that if you believe in the goal (which apparently he does), any means to get there is totally acceptable. To me, his response turns a minor issue into a larger one. You can forward my reply to him if you wish.
Theresa, these are the same city officials that got so stirred up crying ‘foul’ over the opposition to the Neiman Marcus project. Remember?
I’m fed up with national, state and local politics.
Up to you. You could ask him ‘What about the specific questions on process?’ Or I could. But is it worth it?
I forwarded Huggins’ reaction to Rajan and haven’t heard back.
Do you think the Walnut Creek mailers should have mentioned that Measure C would benefit the Mt. Diablo school district?
What about solar projects or air conditioning, which also weren’t mentioned, although they are expected to account for more than half of the $202.2 million in facilities improvements? Nearly $69 million is earmarked for solar projects and $41.6 million is for air conditioning, totaling $110.5 million.
Items highlighted in the mailers included new facilities (which would cost $28.6 million), technology (which is slated for $20 million), roofs ($9.8 million) and windows ($1.6 million).