Alameda, Calif. - February 13th, 2011 - Under threat of lawsuit from Erwin & Muir, political consultants to the "Yes on A" campaign in Alameda, and from the Alameda Unified School District, Alameda Journal editor Connie Rux pulled the following reader-submitted editorial from the February 11th edition of the paper.
The Draconian plan of school closures the Alameda Unified School District says it will have to implement if Measure A fails is a fraud. This plan, known as Plan B, was not written by educators or even the school district's accountants but crafted by political consultants whose only interest was to give the district a political tool to scare people into voting for Measure A.
The Committee Against Measure A has obtained copies of invoices from political consultants, Erwin & Muir, to the school district. Alameda Unified School District hired these political consultants to create Plan B. The invoice copies were obtained from the district using the California Public Records Act. Erwin & Muir have been on the district payroll since June 2009. The district paid these political consultants $300 per hour, for a total of more than $100,000. This makes Plan B a very expensive political fabrication.
Plan B is the primary reason Alamedans cite for supporting Measure A. It is important for supporters to understand their support is based on the tactical fantasy of political consultants, not on a well reasoned decision arrived at by school district's accountants and educators.
Unfortunately, the fraud may not end there. At the Alameda Rotary Club Jan. 4 meeting, Alameda schools Superintendent Kristen Vital admitted Measure A was crafted with secret data which the public is not allowed to see. Of course, Vital says the data was not secret but "proprietary." Regardless of how one refers to it, citizens are not allowed to see the data.
Alamedans for Fair Taxation assembled a database of Alameda's 22,000 properties using publicly available documents. Our calculations of what the correct tax rate should be varied widely from the district's final calculations. But Alamedans For Fair Taxation, like all citizens, has been barred from comparing data bases to discover the discrepancies because of district's secrecy.
Last year's Measure E was to raise $14 million or, the district threatened, 11 schools would close. Measure E failed and no schools closed.
This year's Measure A is supposed to raise $12 million or, under Plan B, five schools will close. The math does not add up because none of the calculations involved classroom capacity, enrollment or finances.
The only calculations used in creating Plan B were political calculations.
This campaign started with Alameda SOS saying schools will close if Measure A loses. I have no doubt everyone involved in the campaign truly believed that. Now we know that the very basis of the "Yes" position is based on a politically manufactured reason.
This campaign started with the Committee Against Measure A pointing out that big businesses would pay significantly less per square foot than small businesses and homeowners. According to the school district, the average homeowner would have a 65 percent tax increase and big businesses would have a 16 percent tax reduction.
Those numbers have not been challenged. We said that would be unfair.
However, as unfair as Measure A is, a much bigger issue has arisen: honesty in government.
Given these extremely disturbing revelations, the fact that Plan B is a political fabrication and Measure A was crafted using secret data, Measure A's defeat becomes so much more imperative.
Help defeat Measure A. It is based on fraud, secrecy and, as we have always known, it is grossly unfair. Vote No on A.
Leland Traiman, Secretary, Committee Against Measure A in Alameda
About the Committee Against Measure A in Alameda
The Committee Against Measure A in Alameda is a group advocating for a fair and progressive parcel tax for Alameda schools, combined with honest restructuring in line with the calls for school restructuring from President Obama and California Governor Jerry Brown.