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CCTV to air school board election forums

Last week, political reporter Lisa Vorderbrueggen moderated several candidate forums taped for broadcast on CCTV.

Here is a list of the school board forums and air dates and times, provided by Vorderbrueggen:

“Antioch Unified School District — Channel 24: 8 p.m. on Oct. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28, Nov. 2 and 4.

Brentwood Union School District — Channel 24: 7 p.m. on Oct. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 26, 28, Nov. 2 and 4.

Lafayette School District — Channel 26: 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28, Nov. 2 and 4.

Martinez Unified School District — Channel 28 in Martinez, Pleasant Hill and Clayton: 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 30, Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov. 4 and 10 p.m. on Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and Nov. 5.

Mt. Diablo Unified School District — Channel 27: 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 4, 7 p.m. on Oct. 7, 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 14, 7 p.m. on Oct. 21, 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 28, 7 p.m. on Oct. 30 and 7 p.m. on Nov. 4. Channel 28 in Walnut Creek: 1 p.m. on Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4. Channel 28 in Concord: 3 p.m. on Sept. 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 26, 27, 28, Nov. 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Orinda School District — Channel 26: 9 p.m. on Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1 and 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4.

Pittsburg Unified School District — Channel 24: 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28, Nov. 2 and 4.

San Ramon Valley Unified School District — Channel 27: 9 p.m. on Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 7, 9 p.m. on Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21, 9 p.m. on Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 30 and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4.

West Contra Costa Unified School District — Channel 28: 8 p.m. on Oct. 3, 1 p.m. on Oct. 5, 10 p.m. on Oct. 9, 9 p.m. on Oct. 13, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Oct. 14, 12 p.m. on Oct. 16, 10 a.m. on Oct. 22, 1 p.m. on Oct. 26, 9 p.m. on Oct. 29, 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 2, 10 p.m. on Nov. 3, 1 p.m. on Nov. 5, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Station notes
— Contra Costa Television (CCTV) airs countywide on Comcast Channel 27. It also airs on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 and Astound Channel 32 in Concord and parts of Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.

— Channel 26 airs on Comcast in Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Alamo and Danville.

— Channel 24 airs on Comcast in East Contra Costa County.

— Residents in the following communities can watch their local forums on Comcast Channel 28: Richmond, Walnut Creek, Concord and a combined Martinez, Pleasant Hill and Clayton.”

Also, the forums will be archived at www.contracostatimes.com in the near future.

CCTV forums for the Moraga, Liberty and Oakley school district were canceled because most of the candidates were unable to attend. Forums for some smaller districts were not conducted, due to limited air time available.

Do these forums help you decide whom to support?

Posted on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Under: Education, Election | No Comments »

Candidate filing period for Nov. 6 election opens July 16

The filing period for local candidates planning to run for open seats in the Nov. 6 election opens July 16 and closes Aug. 10, unless an incumbent fails to file for re-election. In that case, the deadline is automatically extended to Aug. 15, according to political reporter Lisa Vorderbrueggen, who has compiled a long list of open seats in local agencies.

Here’s an excerpt of her list, which includes school board openings in Contra Costa and Alameda counties:

Contra Costa:

Acalanes Union High School District (two seats)
Antioch Unified School District (three seats)
Brentwood Union School District (two seats)
Byron Union School District (two seats)
Canyon Elementary School District (two seats)
Contra Costa County Board of Education (two seats)
Contra Costa Community College District (two seats, wards 2 and 5)
Chabot-Las Positas Community College District (one seat, Ward 7)
John Swett Unified School District (two seats)
Knightsen School District (three seats)
Lafayette School District (two seats)
Liberty Union High School District (two seats)
Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (two seats)
Martinez Unified School District (three seats)
Moraga School District (two seats)
Mt. Diablo Unified School District (two seats)
Oakley Union Elementary School District (two seats)
Orinda Union School District (two seats)
Pittsburg Unified School District (three seats)
San Ramon Valley Unified School district (two seats)
Walnut Creek School District (two seats)
West Contra Costa Unified School District (two seats)

Alameda County:

Alameda Unified School District (three seats)
Castro Valley Unified School District (three seats)
Dublin Unified School District (three seats)
Fremont Unified School District (three seats)
Hayward Unified School District (three seats)
Livermore Unified School District (two seats)
Mount House Elementary (one seat)
New Haven Unified School District (three seats)
Newark Unified School District (three seats)
Pleasanton Unified School District (three seats)
San Leandro Unified School district (three seats)
San Lorenzo Unified School District (four seats)
Sunol Glen Unified School district (1 seat)

In the Mt. Diablo district, incumbents Gary Eberhart and Sherry Whitmarsh have not yet publicly announced whether they intend to seek re-election. The teachers’ union has endorsed challengers Brian Lawrence and Attila Gabor. District residents Ernie DeTrinidad and Debra Mason have also told me they intend to run.

What are you looking for in a candidate?

AUG. 22 UPDATE: I have received a phone call from Mt. Diablo teachers’ union President Guy Moore informing me that MDEA has endorsed retired College Park HS Principal Barbara Oaks, now that Attila Gabor has pulled out of the race due to health concerns.

Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Under: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district | 63 Comments »

A closer look at East Bay school tax measures

By Theresa Harrington

In the Tuesday election, 46 of 63 school bond measures statewide passed, compared to only two of 18 parcel taxes. That’s a 73 percent passage rate for bonds and an 11 percent pass rate for parcel taxes. Bonds needed 55 percent voter approval to pass, but parcel taxes needed 66.6 percent.

The East Bay’s percentages were higher.

Eight out of nine bond measures passed (with the ninth too close to call) and two of five parcel taxes passed — the only two parcel taxes to pass in the entire state. This resulted in an 88 percent passage rate for bonds and a 40 percent passage rate for the parcel taxes.

Here’s a rundown of the East Bay results (not including some late-arriving mail or provisional ballots):

ALAMEDA COUNTY SCHOOL BOND MEASURES PASSED:

G — Ohlone Community College district (Fremont): $349 million
Yes: 62.2 percent or 27,815 votes/No: 34.9 percent or 16,583 votes

I — Berkeley school district: $210 million
Yes: 76.7 percent or 21,752 votes/No: 23.3 percent or 6,621 votes

J — Emery school district: $95 million
Yes: 73.2 percent or 1,430 votes/No: 26.8 percent or 523 votes

M — San Leandro school district: $50.1 million
Yes: 62.7 percent or 7,929 votes/No: 37.7 percent or 4,713 votes

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOND MEASURES PASSED

K — Martinez school district: $45 million
Yes: 64.9 percent or 4,200 votes/No: 45.6 percent or 197 votes

L — Pittsburg school district: $100 million
Yes: 69.3 percent or 4,929 votes/No: 30.7 percent or 2,187 votes

TOO CLOSE TO CALL (MAY WIN)
N — Knightsen Elementary district: $5 million
Election night:
Yes: 54.4 percent or 235 votes/No: 45.6 percent or 197 votes
NOVEMBER 12 UPDATE:
Yes: 55.24 percent or 253 votes/No: 44.76 percent or 205 votes
(Final election certification expected by Nov. 30)

ALAMEDA COUNTY PARCEL TAXES PASSED:

H – Berkeley school district: continue 6.31¢/sf residential buildings ($63.10/1,000 sf), 9.46¢/sf commercial buildings, $20 unimproved parcels for 10 years
Yes: 80.2 percent or 22,239 votes/No: 19.8 percent or 5,743 votes

K — Fremont school district: $53 per parcel for 5 years
Yes: 69.4 percent or 25,093 votes/No: 30.6 percent or 11,040 votes

ALAMEDA COUNTY PARCEL TAX FAILED:

L — Oakland school district: $195 per parcel for ten years
Yes: 65.1 percent or 48,535 votes/No: 34.9 percent or 26,009 votes
(Could pass if late ballots push percentage up to 66.6)

CONTRA COSTA PARCEL TAXES THAT FAILED:

J — John Swett school district: $96 per parcel except industrial/commercial parcels, which would be 1.5 cents/sf; four years
Yes: 56 percent or 1,756/No: 44 percent or 1,380 votes

M — West Contra Costa: 7.2 cents/sf of building area ($72/1,000 sf), or $7.20 per vacant parcel, for five years
Yes: 60.1 percent or 22,343 votes/No: 39.9 percent or 14,848 votes

Jack O’Connell, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, said a majority of bond measures passed because voters have a great passion for improving their local school districts, even in tough economic times.

“Californians voted to invest in their schools and their children’s futures,” he said in a written statement.

He said that 11 more parcel taxes would have passed if the threshold for approval were changed to 55 percent, instead of two-thirds.

The total amount approved for school construction and modernization was $3.6 billion, according to the California state Department of Education.

O’Connell authored Proposition 39, a measure approved by voters in 2000 that lowered the local school bond-approval threshold to 55 percent, down from two-thirds. Without the lower threshold, only 14 of the school bond measures would have passed statewide.

O’Connell advocates lowering the passage rate for parcel taxes to 55 percent. Dozens of school bond measures have been approved between the 55 percent and 66.6 percent margin since the approval of Proposition 39. These bonds give districts the ability to seek matching funds from the state for the construction of facilities improvements.

“Local communities should have more control over funding for essential school services,” O’Connell said. “That’s why I urge lawmakers to approve a constitutional amendment that would let voters consider lowering the parcel tax approval threshold level from 66.6 percent to 55 percent.”

Brannin Dorsey, president of the Fremon district teachers’ union, said their tax passed because the community joined together to support schools and there was no organized opposition. Also, the campaign only asked for $53 per parcel for 5 years, which is less than others in the East Bay.

In addition, the district has already increased class sizes and teachers have taken a 3.2 percent salary cut with six furlough days, showing they are being frugal.

“The money isn’t a magic bullet,” Dorsey said. “We’re hoping that with the federal jobs bill and the money from the parcel tax, that these things are going to help us through this horrific economy without gutting our education system.”

In the John Swett district, Rodeo refinery ConocoPhillips opposed the parcel tax, which would have cost the company about $700,000 a year, according to a story by reporter Shelly Meron, who covers West Contra Costa County schools. The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association also opposed both the John Swett and West Contra Costa school district’s parcel taxes.

“I was surprised so many (tax measures) passed,” said Kris Hunt, executive director of the taxpayers association. “When it comes to bonds, I still maintain people don’t understand how bonds are funded. People really don’t get where bonds are coming from and how much they cost and a lot of times they never even see it because it shows up in their impound accounts. So a lot of those kinds of things are invisible to the public.”

Whereas parcel taxes clearly state how much property owners will pay, bond measures merely ask voters to approve the bond amount, without saying on the ballot how much it will cost them.

Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, said the school bond passage rate has dropped from about 90 percent approval, during good ecomomic times.

“The fact that so many parcel taxes were tuned down and only 70 percent of bonds were approved shows that people are in a grim mood and unless they see some improvement in the economy, you’re not going to see any improvement in the future,” he said. “When people are doing well as individuals, they tend to be very generous when they vote. When they’re frightened, which they are now, they tend to vote No. The fact that more of them didn’t pass is an indication that people are frightened about their future.”

Nationwide, there were $16.5 billion worth of bonds up for a vote in 461 issues, according to Amy Resnick of The Bond Buyer. Voters approved 71.9 percent for a total of $11.8 billon worth of debt in 278 issues, she said.

The bond measures were proposed to pay for roads, development, electric power and other facilities improvements, as well as education, she said.

There were 259 education bond issues on ballots, totaling $11.6 billion worth of bonds. Voters approved 75.3 percent or $8.3 billion in 149 issues, Resnick said.

Most states only require a majority of votes, instead of a “super majority” of 55 percent, which California requires, she added.

The nationwide bond approval rate of 71.9 percent was the lowest since 2003 for a general election, when it was 60.8 percent, she said.

“I would think it has to do with the economy,” Resnick said. “It’s not so low that it’s a repudiation.”

She does not track parcel taxes.

A statewide list of school tax measures on the Tuesday ballot is on the California Coalition for Adequate School Housing’s Website at http://www.cashnet.org/resource-material/november2010bondsparceltaxes.pdf.

Do you think the threshold should be lowered to 55 percent for parcel taxes?

Posted on Friday, November 12th, 2010
Under: Education, Election, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »

Surprised by Mt. Diablo school board results?

By Theresa Harrington

With the election of three women to the Mt. Diablo school board, no one can call the district “an old boys’ network.”

Here are the final results in the race between seven candidates for three open seats (not including results from some late-arriving mail ballots or provisional ballots):

Cheryl L. Hansen: 18.78 percent or 20,068 votes
Linda K. Mayo: 18.33 percent or 19,581 votes
Lynne B. Dennler: 17.01 percent or 18,172 votes
Brian T. Lawrence: 15.43 percent or 16,484 votes
Jeffrey L. Adams: 14.72 percent or 15,725 votes
Roy A. Larkin: 10.66 percent or 11,391 votes
Jan Trezise: 4.77 percent or 5,091 votes

Newly elected trustees Cheryl Hansen and Lynne Dennler will join re-elected incumbent Linda Mayo and trustee Sherry Whitmarsh on the board, along with Trustee Gary Eberhart — who will be the only man on the five-member panel starting in December.

The three women beat three men and another woman in a race that has surprised many, because Hansen and Dennler weren’t well-known by voters and didn’t provide ballot statements.

“I was really surprised,” said Allen, the day after the election. “I think things have changed this year. I always thought voters went by the candidate statement, interviews they saw on television and the newspaper articles. I felt Linda would win because of her name recognition and the things she’s done in the school district. And I’m glad she’s on there, because she’ll provide some stability and we’ll need that.”

Eberhart has served on the board 15 years, but Whitmarsh is a relative newcomer with just two years as a trustee. Like Allen, Eberhart was surprised that two candidates who didn’t provide ballot statements defeated two who did: Brian Lawrence and Jeff Adams. Mayo was the only other candidate to provide a ballot statement.

“Why does someone get elected and someone else doesn’t?” Eberhart said Wednesday. “Who knows? If you had asked me a week ago, ‘Could someone get elected without a ballot statement?,’ I would say, ‘No,’ because I would think voters would want to read something about them. I guess the ballot designation was more important than the ballot statement in this situation.”

Hansen was designated as an “educator” on the ballot and Dennler was listed as a “retired teacher.” Hansen garnered an endorsement from the district’s Local One Clerical, Secretarial and Technical Unit and Dennler was endorsed by the Lamorinda Democratic Club.

But Lawrence (designated as a “technology executive”) and Jeff Adams (designated as an “attorney”) appeared to have stronger community recognition and better organized campaigns. Yet, Lawrence and Adams came in fourth and fifth in the seven-candidate race.

Retired CFO Roy Larkin and retired real estate appraiser Jan Trezise — who both ran very low-key campaigns — placed fifth and sixth, respectively.

“People respect teachers,” Eberhart said. “To have a teacher sit on a school board, a lot of people look at that and say, ‘That’s valuable knowledge to have a grasp of, as you’re trying to deliberate about the policies of a school district and how those policies are going to meet the needs of kids.’ Then, you look at other candidates that have been around for a long time, that have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars trying to get elected.”

Hansen is an instructional coordinator for the Contra Costa County Office of Education and former Mt. Diablo school district principal. She is the sister of Ron Hansen, a retired Local One Maintenance and Operations rep.

She had a few signs posted around the district and participated in three candidate forums, but didn’t send out any campaign mailers (as far as I know). Here’s what she said about her victory in an e-mail Wednesday night:

“I’m sorry I couldn’t get back to you sooner, but today was actually a full day of work for me. I just returned from training a group of middle school teachers in one of our county’s districts.

I am honored that the MDUSD community gave me their vote of confidence, and I look forward to representing the best interests of our students, parents, community members, and employees. These are very challenging times in our district, and I am pleased to offer my educational experience to help rejuvenate a sense of MDUSD pride and purpose.”

Dennler participated in a CCTV forum and special education panel, but didn’t join in a later forum in Pleasant Hill. She didn’t post any campaign signs or send out mailers, since she worried her inability to persuade the teachers’ union to endorse her would make her candidacy less viable in the eyes of voters.

Dennler told me she was surprised by her win, but is determined to make a difference for teachers and students.

“This is all really new to me,” she said before the election. “This is really important for me and it’s an emotional thing for me. I was really an ordinary elementary school teacher who was obsessed with just doing the best job possible. Every night between 7 and 10 p.m. I would sit at the table and grade papers and make up new questions, based on what I got. I know it can be done well, and that’s why I’m distressed by what’s going on. I know it can be done well without having a script. So much of the teaching that teachers are given now is done by script. You’re supposed to stay on script and you have to sort of limit questions. And those ‘teachable moments’ — you’re not as able to jump on those.”

She’s excited that the union was recently able to convince Superintendent Steven Lawrence to pay for clerical help to fill in bubbles on “Scantron” tests for primary level students, but she questions the value of the tests, which are intended to help teachers modify their instruction based on the results. (Lawrence intends to discuss district assessments at the Parents Advisory Committee meeting next Wednesday.)

Mayo’s second-place finish surprised some people, since she had the most experience, and nabbed several endorsements. She also put up several campaign signs and sent out a mailer.

But Allen said Mayo may have been lucky to win re-election, since some people are unhappy with the district and a few incumbents in other races lost.

“She did very well to win,” Allen said. “Look at the County Board of Education. Incumbents lost big-time.”

In that race, incumbents Michele Foster, Glenn Ruley and Daniel Borsuk all lost their bids for re-election.

Mayo, who endorsed Jeff Adams in the race, said she was happy to be re-elected, but disappointed that voters didn’t seem to know about the many contributions Adams has made to the district.

“I value Jeff’s commitment to our district in supporting Measure D (the failed 2009 parcel tax) and Measure C ($348 million bond voters approved in June) and being one of the founders of UMDAF (the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation) and also working so hard on the music foundation, as well as his continued support of his children through their schools (El Dorado Middle School and Concord High),” she said. “Both he and his wife have been very active. It’s sad that the community wasn’t aware of the service that he’s provided in those areas.”

Adams, who ran and lost in 2008, said he doesn’t know if he’ll try again in two more years.

“It’s premature to even consider that at this point,” he said, adding that he would serve out his term on the UMDAF board. “I’m certainly going to fulfill my commitment to the foundation. We’ve got to keep sports going.”

Adams also said he’s pleased that Mayo was re-elected.

“Whenever something had to be done, she was there,” he said. “When I’m at the meetings, she carefully considers the issues. I’ve always appreciated her dedication to the students and the district and I have no doubt that she’ll continue to do a great job.”

Lawrence posted large signs around the district, sent out at least one mailer and was endorsed by many local Democratic Party officials. Here’s his reaction to the election results, from an e-mail he sent today:

“I’m disappointed in the results, but I am proud of the campaign we ran. Starting from scratch eight weeks ago, we were able to get over 16,000 votes on Election Day. My only regret is that I didn’t have a few more weeks to introduce myself to the voters. It looks like ballot designation played a big role in the results.

I will absolutely continue to be involved in MDUSD, starting with the PAC (Parent Advisory Committee) meeting next week. My wife and I will also continue to be very active at Monte Gardens (Elementary), which is where our eldest child is in kindergarten.

I will certainly consider running again, but that decision is a long way off.

I personally congratulated Ms. Mayo, Ms. Hansen and Ms. Dennler yesterday, and I am hopeful that we can all work together to improve the district for the benefit of students.”

Larkin may have been the first candidate in the county to retrieve all his signs. He told me his grandchildren made four signs and he posted two in Concord and two in Pleasant Hill.

Right after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Larkin went out and picked up three of the signs. The fourth was missing, he said.

“It was obviously a bit surprising to me and a little disappointing, obviously,” he said of the election results. “I would have liked to have done my part and helped turn the district around. And so it goes.”

Yet, Larkin won’t be sitting idle. He will be sworn in on the Mt. Diablo Health District board for a seat he won with no opposition.

He said he also plans to keep up with what’s going on in the Mt. Diablo district and speak up, or write letters to board members or the newspaper, if he feels it’s necessary.

“I guess I’ll see what happens over the next couple of years,” he said. “Right now, yeah, I’d be more than happy to run a second time.”

Trezise couldn’t be reached for comment after the election. She said during a CCTV forum that she would drop out of the race because she was pleased with the caliber of her opponents, but she later reversed that decision and ran a low-key campaign.

Eberhart said he’s committed to helping the new board members get up and running, because they have a lot of work ahead of them.

“I’m eager to get things done,” he said. “This board is going to be facing a lot of challenges…negotiatons….the budget issues. We’ve got a school closure committee that’s likely going to be coming forward with a recommendation. We’ve got some tough issues and at the end of the day, a lot of them have to do with the fiscal health of the district. So, if there are folks that don’t like the direction we’re going, we’re going to have to figure out how we move in a direction that accomplishes what the community wants, while balancing the budget.”

“It’s going to be tough for a new board member,” he said. “I think the learning curve is going to be straight up and they’re going to have to get a really good understanding. And it’s going to be incumbent on us that have been around to make sure they get all the information they need so they can make some decisions. It will be fun.”

Were you surprised by the results? How well do you think the new board members will work together?

Posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2010
Under: Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | 5 Comments »

More about Mt. Diablo district board race

By Theresa Harrington

Due to limited space in the Contra Costa Times, I will provide additional information about the Mt. Diablo school board candidates in my blog in individual posts.

The candidates are incumbent Linda Mayo, attorney Jeff Adams, retired teacher Lynne Dennler, educator and former district administrator Cheryl Hansen, technology executive Brian Lawrence, retired CFO Roy Larkin and retired real estate appraiser Jan Trezise.

The posts will be based on a special education candidates’ forum I attended Oct. 4, the Pleasant Hill candidates’ forum on Oct. 20, ballot statements, phone interviews, e-mails and candidates’ promotional materials.

In addition, I will post links to other sites with candidate information.

A candidate forum videotaped at CCTV studios will be broadcast on Walnut Creek Comcast Channel 28, Rossmoor Channel 26, Astound Channel 29 and AT&T Channel 99 at 7:30 p.m. tonight and at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Monday.
It is also posted here:

To see the candidate forum held Oct. 20 at Pleasant Hill City Hall, visit http://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/

Here is information the candidates provided to the district’s special education Community Advisory Committee blog: http://mtdiablosped.blogspot.com/2010/10/get-to-know-your-mdusd-board-candidates.html

“Smart Voter” information is here: http://www.smartvoter.org/2010/11/02/ca/cc/race/3331/

Who are you supporting and why?

Posted on Friday, October 29th, 2010
Under: Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »

Vandals strike Pittsburg school board candidate signs

By Theresa Harrington

Pittsburg teachers union members who posted campaign signs last week for school board candidates were unpleasantly surprised Saturday night when about 20 of them were sliced up, apparently with a boxcutter.

The signs were in support of candidates George Miller, Duane Smith, Vince Ferrante and William Wong. Teachers and two candidates filed police reports, but they’re unsure whether officers are investigating the incidents, said Steve Longley, co-chair of the Pittsburg Education Association political action committee (PAC).

“The signs came out of the PAC,” Longley said. “Teachers donate a dollar from their paycheck if they choose to, so this is all money out of teachers’ pockets.”

Longley said no other signs were targeted.

“We feel that somone out there is interfering wih the democratic process,” he said. “No one else’s sign was touched. It was just our candidates.”

The three candidates not endorsed by teachers are Pergy McGee Jr., Joseph Arenivar and Robert Bellici.

Longley said teachers plan to put up more signs before the election, but they may leave up a few of the vandalized signs as a symbol of the apparent animosity involved.

“We don’t intend to be intimidated,” he said. “We have about three activities a week planned. We’ll continue to go door to door and phone bank and put signs up till Nov. 2.”

Anyone with information about the vandalism can call the Pittsburg police or county sheriff’s department at 646-6441.

Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Under: Education, Election, Pittsburg, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »

All but seven Contra Costa superintendents endorse Aceves

By Theresa Harrington

Thirteen of 20 Contra Costa County school superintendents have endorsed Larry Aceves in the race for state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

This is a bit surprising, since his opponent is state Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, a Contra Costa County legislator and Mt. Diablo school district teacher on leave.

“Education leaders agree—it is time that we had an experienced superintendent running our schools,” said Larry Aceves in a news release. “I’m honored that so many local leaders are supporting my campaign.”

Here are the county superintendents backing Aceves:
John Stockton, Acalanes Union High School District
Merrill Grant, Brentwood Union School District
Ken Jacopetti, Byron Union School District
Mike McLaughlin, John Swett Unified School District
Fred Brill, Lafayette School District
Jerry Glenn, Liberty Union High School District
Rami Muth, Martinez Unified School District
Bruce Burns, Moraga School District
Rick Rogers, Oakley Elementary Union School District
Joe Jaconette, Orinda Union School District
Steve Enoch, San Ramon Unified School District
Patty Wool, Walnut Creek School District
Joe Ovick, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools

Superintendents not listed are:
Donald Gill, Antioch
David Doty, Canyon
Theresa Estrada, Knightsen
Steven Lawrence, Mt. Diablo
Linda Rondeaux, Pittsburg
Bruce Harter, West Contra Costa
Helen Benjamin, Contra Costa Community College District

Aceves began his education career in 1974 as a kindergarten teacher at Bayside Elementary School in San Diego. He later went on to serve as a principal at Imperial Beach Elementary School in San Diego and as a superintendent Alum Rock and Franklin-McKinley school districts in San Jose.

Torlakson has received endorsements from several organizations including the California Democratic Party, California Federation of Teachers, California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California Faculty Association, California Association of Bilingual Educators PAC and the California Community College Independents.

He began his political career on the Antioch City Council, then was elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, and the California State Senate and State Assembly.

Posted on Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Under: Education, Election | 11 Comments »

No teachers’ union endorsements in MDUSD trustee race

By Theresa Harrington

In an unexpected move, the Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers’ union has decided not to endorse any candidate in the November election, which includes seven candidates vying for three open seats.

The candidates are: incumbent Linda Mayo, attorney Jeffrey Adams, retired CFO Roy Larkin, retired teacher Lynne Dennler, county education trainer Cheryl Hansen, technology executive Brian Lawrence and retired real estate appraiser Jan Treizise (who has announced she will not actively campaign for the seat).

Incumbents Dick Allen and Paul Strange have decided not to seek re-election.

Teachers’ union representatives interviewed the candiates last month. Following delilberations, union President Michael Langley sent me the following statement:

“After reviewing the written questionnaires of all seven school board candidates, and conducting interviews on Monday night, 30 August, the interview panel recommended that the Executive Board not bring to the Representative Assembly an endorsement of any candidate.
Each candidate had some positive attributes. There was a consensus on the panel that no single candidate had a track record in this unusual fiscal environment that indicated a firm commitment to addressing the needs of our membership in guiding the district to a path of improved educational opportunities for our students.
We hope to continue to work with all school board members in returning the educational opportunities so well deserved by this community. We will renew our focus on statewide issues that will facilitate a return to the highest quality educational experience.”

This marks a huge shift from the 2008 board election, when the union heavily backed trustee Gary Eberhart and newcomer Sherry Whitmarsh, who ran as a slate against then-board President April Treece and Adams (who were running independent of each other). Eberhart and Whitmarsh won.

Two years ago, Mayo was viewed as part of the board majority with Treece and Allen. The union wanted to overturn that majority in part to oust then-Superintendent Gary McHenry and to usher in new leadership, expecting to end contentious contract negotiations.

But, as the state budget worsened, the new board did not approve the teachers’ union contract, as educators hoped they would. Now, the district is pushing for furlough days and reduced benefits at the negotiating table to balance its budget.

Mark York, executive director of the association, said the union expects to sunshine its contract proposal Sept. 14.

How do you think the union’s decision not to endorse any candidates will affect the election?

Posted on Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Under: Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | 12 Comments »