Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good News On Funding for Pasadena Unified School District? Plus the Dirty Lowdown on Prop 16

Sometimes you'll come across some very good news, and find yourself just not believing it. Maybe it's because there is so much bad press these days when it comes to government and the funding of our public schools that something this logical and sensible doesn't quite register. Your brain just refuses to process what could actually be a wonderful solution to a terrible problem.

Then there is always that other instinctual defense mechanism, the one that doesn't allow you to admit that Sacramento might actually have gotten something right when it comes to school funding. And that they did it in spite of the setbacks it could cause to the ability of their darlings the state and local redevelopment agencies to get their occasionally questionable work done? Momma, who turned out the lights? This from the always excellent Pasadena Sub Rosa news site:

A new law amending the state's existing redevelopment law may make the Pasadena Unified School District's $7.1 million Measure CC Parcel Tax unnecessary after ballots have already been mailed to voters. Under the California Assembly Trailer Bill ABX4-26 enacted last week, redevelopment agencies are now required to divert their funds set aside for affordable housing to local schools.

Reportedly the new state budget legislation adopted by the Legislature and signed by the Governor last week provides for what is being called a "dramatic" take of $2.05 billion of redevelopment funds statewide for public schools ($1.7 billion retroactively for the 2009-10 fiscal year - this year - and $350 million for 2010-11.)

Existing Redevelopment law requires cities to set aside 20% of their tax increment funds for affordable housing. Tax increment Funds are the added property taxes generated from new redevelopment projects. Pasadena has $29.7 million in annual tax increment funds and 20% of that would be $5.94 million. According to the City of Pasadena's website, it has $10,234,320 in its redevelopment affordable housing fund as of 2009-10.

The Pasadena City Council has yet to act on this astonishing new law, with the consequences being that the Pasadena Unified School District has yet to receive any of those desperately needed monies. You can only wonder why they would want to delay. Personally I think they need to get their priorities in order.

(And just so you know, some cities have already begun procedures that will lead to the freeing up of this badly needed funding for public schools. A City of Belmont staff report on the matter can be accessed here.

Once the process gets underway this really will be a double blessing. One because it will pump some badly needed funds into our area public schools. But it also removes a good chunk of available shenanigan money that has been put to such poor purpose in the past. That this redevelopment dough can now be put a far more important and necessary use just seems almost too good to be true. You'd think people would be talking about it more.

And now some unkind words about Proposition 16:

You just have got to love the big utility companies. Their near-monopoly in many parts of this state has made them wealthy beyond the dreams of most corporate empires. And when it comes to protecting their economic suzerains and interests, there isn't a whole lot that they won't do. Including attempting to turn the state constitution and the initiative process on its head.

According to the Sierra Club there is a truly awful proposition on the ballot this June called Proposition 16. Apparently the work of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), it is an attempt by the goliath energy producer to strangle any possible competition that might arise before it really gets started. And we're talking about such things as municipal and privately owned utility companies, including those who would use such renewable resources as wind and solar power to produce electricity. Here is what the Sierra Club has to say about it:

PG&E wants you to vote for a constitutional amendment that would make it tougher for you to buy cleaner electricity from someone else. The company is the sole sponsor of Proposition 16, a measure on the June ballot that would require two-thirds voter approval before cities, counties, and local power agencies could choose an alternative energy provider. This measure would also prevent existing local utilities, such as City of Alameda, Sacramento, and Silicon Valley Power in Santa Clara, from adding new customers, even within their districts, without first going to the ballot. Although PG&E refers to the measure as "The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act," the measure provides no right to vote on PG&E expansion efforts or on its rates, among the highest in the country.

Nice to see that PG&E has taken a big interest in protecting our right to vote, though honestly I was not aware that there were any looming dangers to this basic American freedom right now. Selfless patriotism just seems so unlike them. And apparently PG&E's kind attentions are not just limited to writing their self-interest into the state constitution.

PG&E frequently states that switching to its competition is risky. Yet PG&E customers risk getting their lights turned off more than those of other utilities. PG&E is cutting service to a staggering number of customers who are missing payments - far more than other utilities.

You can only wonder where their kindness ends. But since they have invested $30 million in helping to pass a proposition that will protect us from cheaper and cleaner energy, you can understand their economic constraints right now. Better to turn off Granny's lights than risk the terror of fair and open competition.

Critics of Proposition 16, including the Sierra Club, consumer advocates like TURN, elected leaders, public power agencies, and newspaper editorial boards see the ballot measure as even more dangerous than PG&E's other anti-competitive efforts. The Sacramento Bee characterized Proposition 16 as a case of "a powerful special interest seizing the initiative process for its own narrow benefit." In a January editorial the paper said, "If Prop 16 passes, it enshrines unfair protections against competition for PG&E, one of the richest, most powerful corporations in the state, into the California Constitution."

Hopefully this one will go down to defeat. Though you always have to take into account the astonishing ability of the voters to cast ballots against their own economic self-interest. You know, like people who might actually believe that Proposition 16 is about protecting your right to vote.

But for me, I'm thinking I will cast a big 'No' vote on this one.

52 comments:

  1. "always excellent Pasadena Sub Rosa"... are you kidding?

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  2. I've always thought that the quality of a blog can be measured more by the people who don't like it than those that do.

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  3. Wayne Lusvardi is an official "thorny rose" in the best Doo-Dah tradition. Except he goes beyond thorny sometimes. Has some pretty good background sources, though, especially about water. He used to be in the business on the staff side.

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  4. There are laws in this country against monopolization of an industry/business sector, and they should apply here, unless utility companies are exempt from adhering to that law (by the way PG&E behaves, it certainly seems to think so). Also, if CC is now unnecessary, even if it does pass, and I do hope that's a big if, perhaps it could then be invalidated in court. That money won't go to "the children" as we are misled to believe - just another thinly-veiled scheme to plunder the public's pockets for personal profit...

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  5. Couple of articles of interest on things CC in the Pasadena Star Newt lately. One says that the backers of CC are now paying people to do work for the campaign, including phone calls. Which can be taken as an indication that they are running scared. Another article talks about the folks who have contributed cash to the CC campaign, some of them being big special interests that do work for the PUSD. A comingling of interests I guess you could say.

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  6. boy do you have it wrong. The reason CC is paying people is because they have exceeded their fundraising goals, and now can pay some of the many volunteers who have given hours of their time.

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  7. There is the question of whether the PUSD people should be generously paying people to campaign for them when the issue is their being broke and needing to ask the public for money. Again.

    But hey, believe whatever you want. I held my nose and voted for it. I hate it when big stupid bureaucracies hold children ransom like that, though.

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  8. first off, they're aren't "paying generously"... secondly, the amt. they've raised is in the scheme of things, not that large compared to the the shortfall, so it makes better economic sense to make sure the parcel tax passes.

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  9. I don't think campaign money can go towards any other kind of PUSD funding source. Just like money from the Bond measures for the upgrade and maintenance of the campuses are legally completely separate from monies used for teacher salaries and school teaching supplies. The school districts in this state are hamstrung by funding sources in response to public distrust of the districts and the actions of some of the local administrators and the Teacher's Union. The system screams for reform, but there's so much inertia and special-interest protection in a bureaucracy, as we all know.

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  10. John Buchanan must inform ALL the residents of Sierra Madre that the passage of Measure CC is not necessary. He must do this at the next City Council meeting. Susan Henderson and Bill Colburn must do the same thing. I am sure none of the above will do it.

    If CC passes, PUSD will use the Measure CC money for salaries etc. and W A S T E the diverted funds.

    It is still imortanat to tell everyone to VOTE NO on CC and tell them the funds have been made available.

    Will Sierra Madre need to repay the money that is being taken from the redeelopment agency?

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  11. Very interesting stuff this morning, Crawford.

    Thanks for the scoop on Prop. 16.

    We need to hear the truth about these scams.

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  12. PUSD cannot use CC money for salaries. Its called categorical funding

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  13. Just so I understand what you're talking about, 8:52. You're all in favor of homeowners paying a parcel tax, but less so when the money comes from city redevelopment funds? Did I miss something here?

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  14. 9:58
    This is from the yes on CC web page:
    retain qualified teachers
    maintain manageable class size

    Sorry but retaining teachers and maintaining a manageable class size IS using money for tteacher's salaries.

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  15. Teachers and students are the victims
    here. They're being held hostage by
    PUSD's bureaucrats. This is blackmail.
    If anyone should lose their jobs, it's
    them.

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  16. The victims are the tax payers. We pay for a good public education for the children and we get nothing. No returns or refunds allowed.

    If the State of California gave its entire budget to public education, the education system would still want more money.

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  17. Shenanigan development money used to support education is a wonderful idea. What happened up in Sacramento??? Somebody heard that we've been in a rough economy? Forecasts for future development aren't quite as rosy as they were?

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  18. Spending CRA money to help educate kids
    sounds like a good idea. Who knows, if
    we take enough of their money maybe they
    will sell us back our city hall.

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  19. I learned several things during the Measure V election, the most valuable being how to do internet research in order to follow the money. It is very clear that Prop 16 is backed by a special interest group (PG&E). Voters should ignore the mailers and over the air ads and find out who backs all the propositions. PG&E are making fools of the voters. If you fall for their lies and vote YES, you are guarenteed higher utility rates in the future.

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  20. I've seen some of the tv ads for Prop 16 and they are about as cynical as ads get. They smoke and mirror their grab for a greater monopoly as defending civil liberty.
    Can only imagine the Ministry of Truth that campaign came out of.
    The big question is will the voting public take 2 minutes to understand the charade, or not.
    Sierra Madre just showed that most people
    1) Can't be bothered to vote and
    2) can't be bothered to discern the liars from the truth speakers.

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  21. Great News, but bad news for the development agencies that owe cities. I heard a recent planning candidate running for councilman state at a debate before the last November election in El Monte, state that their redevlopment agency owes the city 160,000.00. He wanted it back. of course honest men sometimes do not get elected. The union, trying to protect their excessively contracts and raises rose up and got in their own candidates.

    El Monte had to apply for hardship required by the state to pay their share of the seized back funds by the state by more bond indebtedness to A private firm comprised of Goldman Sachs.

    It is a drop in the bucket to he redevelopment agencies, but it is a nice sting, to their affordable housing not really affordable housing endevors. Very good of Arnold to sign it into law. Finally

    Thank you for the insight into Prop 16, I am afraid everybody is so mad at their cities, they might not know the perspective presented here and shoot themselves in the proverbable foot.

    Someone better Call Bill Boogard, and tell him he needs to read the Tattler.

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  22. For a bizarre 60-second recording of PG&E's CEO -- who paid himself 8% more than Goldman Sachs' CEO last year -- boasting to Wall Street investors that Proposition 16 is meant "to diminish" voting rights by erecting a 2/3's majority wall around his monopoly franchise, check out
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_t4-X5yKBM

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  23. Who is in charge of the campaign for Prop 16? Anybody know which PR firm is involved?

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  24. I'm having trouble getting the youtube clip Mr. Geesman referenced. Anyboy got the actual title?
    Thanks very much for your work Mr. Geesman.

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  25. The title that worked for me is:

    "Taxpayers Right To Vote" - to Diminish voters' rights"

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  26. Click on John Geesman's profile link, that leads to his blog link which lays out a lot of Prop 16 issues. The roster at the bottom of the page of corporations and groups opposing this (including BIA) is impressive.

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  27. 12:25, got the youtube clip. Thanks.
    Wow.
    What do you think he means "We'll mend any broken fences after that?"
    Sickening.

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  28. The BIA opposes it because the BIA doesn't have a piece - guess PG & E didn't negotiate right.
    Funny, funny to have the BIA & Sierra Club together. Oh wait, that's right - they're pals and have been holding hands since SB375.....pretty soon the BIA will be the GBIA, and you know what the G stands for.

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  29. God bless tape recorders. And careless CEOs.

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  30. Now spread the word about Prop 16.

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  31. No on CC
    No on Prop.16

    Don't know how "naive" Sierra Madre will vote on these scams, but spread the word around the rest of the area.

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  32. Tattler, please keep us informed about what the Pasadena CC does with this great opportunity. And wouldn't it be wildly refreshing to hear some of the PUSD administrators say, "Never mind, we're doing OK now."

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  33. I suspect this redevelopment money was being kept QT so that it didn't play a role in the CC vote. Once the vote is over there will be all kinds of Pasadena wide sides taking credit.

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  34. I'll go you one better 4:59.
    How about if the school administrators say Thank you for all of the constant support you've given us so generously year after year after year.
    That'll be a day, huh?

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  35. A great exchange took place at the Sierra Madre City Council when the PUSD came asking for Measure TT. Honest Don Watts grilled the guy in his soft spoken way, and the administrator darted & dodged. Don was trying to get the administrator to fess up to expansion plans. The administrator turned it around ("Why, do you want expansion?") and turns out, surprise, the campus is expanding after all.
    Sure will miss Don. Very accurate guy.
    Though I'm glad for him that he doesn't have to go through all council stress.

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  36. The middle school will be demomlished this summer. The new school will house 500 kids. 75 from Sierra Madre and 425 BUSSED in. The kids that are causing trouble in Kersting Court on Fridays are not ones who live in Sierra Madre. The are kids from Sierra Madre School who do not live here. SM School gets out early on Friday and the parents leave them loose in our city to cause trouble until they are picked up.

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  37. Lets at least get the facts correct. The notion that AB4x 26 makes the parcel tax unnecessary is totally false. This is because neither Pasadena nor any other school district in the state will see even one penny of additional revenue as a result of this measure. Instead, the money redirected to schools will be offset—penny for penny—by a reduction in state funding. The whole point of AB4x 26 was to create a state General Fund savings by reducing state funding for schools, not to increase school funding.

    In any event, this legislation is being challenged in the courts and may be invalidated.

    The notion that AB4x 26 will pump some badly needed funds into our area public schools is completely false, it is simply not the case. Stop misleading voters and focus on the facts.

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  38. Agree with you totally about the excellence of Wayne Lusvardi's Pasadena Sub Rosa site. The fact that none of this latest information has ever been mentioned in the Pasadena Star News speaks volumes about that useless rag.

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  39. Ed, the lack of any real news media in the area leads to a lot of guess work on peoples' part. This matter of taking redevelopment money and sharing it with the school system looks, at least on the surface, to be a redirection of funds from low income housing to schools. A humane use of CRA cash in my opinion.

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  40. Virginia Olive HogeApril 22, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    What is missing from this story, is the best troll-outing in Pasadena for a long time, the true-life story of how the excellent local, long-time Topix blogger N2shotokai, outed Wayne Lusvardi as "CableNewsGuy" on Topix. CableNewsGuy was a long-time anti-PUSD blogger, almost as much as True Freedom used to be and thats saying something... and even more so as an anti-parcel tax blogger, joining the multitudes.

    That was a great story, really! and right up the Tattler's alley, of the power of the individual to expose corruption. Yes!!

    This and the fact that Lusvardi censors comments on his blog, and will not print comments in disagreement with his posts, is enough, for me, to say that Wayne Lusvardi's latest assessment of tax funds, needs to be looked at a whole lot more closely.

    How about a quick phone call or email to Scott Phelps, he will give the Tattler the low-down.

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  41. The no vakid news media observation is spot on. The Star News is little more than a marketing rag for their favored patrons and constituencies.

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  42. Ed, are you speaking on behalf of the Pasadena Board of Education? Can we cite this as an official statement you have made on their behalf?

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  43. Mr. Honowitiz's argument is self defeating. If the State will offset dollar for dollar every dollar raised in taxes locally under Measure CC then why have the tax at all? CC is just relieving the State of its tax burden and disproportionately shifting it on to Pasadena and Sierra Madre.

    If Mr. Honowitz is correct then Measure CC is either increasing the pool of monies statewide for schools and/or preserving the City of Pasadena's redevelopment funds from being shifted to the schools. The PU School District will receive no benefit from Measure CC if we use Mr. Honowitz's logic.

    Honowitz also fails to disclose that under Prop 98, K-12 school funds cannot be cut even in an economic recession. Prop 98 is written into the State Constitution. It can not be wished away or changed by a mere declaration of the Governor.

    So if K-12 state school funds cannot be cut and Measure CC tax funds will only reduce the state's contribution to PUSD, why are we doing this tax? And by Mr. Honowitz stating that Measure CC funds will only proportionately reduce state school funds, he is inferring that music and arts classes and school libraries are NOT really jeopardized (because local monies can not go toward music, art, and libraries).

    VOTE NO ON CC - IT IS ILLOGICAL, UNFAIR, AND UNNEEDED

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  44. How about the overspending by the PUSD laid out on the charts on the No on CC site - and on the card the No on CC mailed out. I could have done without the fish head, but the chart offers irrefutable proof that shenanigans are not just limited to past, and now near future, city councils.

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  45. It would be helpful to have one of the advocates for CC respond to the overspending data.

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  46. PUSD is part of a socialized state school system. As such, an increase in local taxes for PUSD will not result in any increased funding for PUSD; nor will the defeat of Measure CC result in any decrease in funding for PUSD. This is due to Prop 98 that prohibits school funding to be cut from the prior year.

    So all that Pasadena and Sierra Madre would do if they pass Measure CC is transfer $35 million dollars out of the local area for no benefit. As Mr. Honowitz stated: Measure CC is a revenue neutral tax. Measure CC is a loser tax for dumb voters. Even if you are in favor of more funding for local schools you must VOTE NO on Measure CC because there is no benefit from it. Measure CC will not preserve funds for music, arts of school libraries because every dollar raised under CC will be reduced dollar for dollar by the State. Measure CC is a win-lose game with the state winning and the local taxpayers losing. Why should we vote for it?

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  47. Virginia Olive HogeApril 23, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    Pasadena Pundit: Anyone who calls PUSD a "socialized" state school system has their head in the sand. ALL public schools are funded by the government and this is a great thing, this is how we want our tax dollars spent, in something as productive as the educations of children, ALL children. Its called an important social service. Its regulated (unlike Wall Street), it has oversight, it is and has been extremely beneficial to millions of children in our country.

    As for the overspending "data" (coming from Lusvardi's blog and True Freedom's disinformation) that has been proven wrong over and over again, in multiple writings all over the place.

    It is disinformation, nothing less! and being perpetrated by those so unethical, they will post it, they will troll with it, they will spread it in a concerted effort to harm PUSD.

    This is so wrong.

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  48. Sometimes, Virginia, I think you do your cause more harm than good.

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  49. For more information, including information refuting the misleading "overspending" argument, go to http://yesoncc.org.

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  50. The following document posts rebuttals to Mr. Lusvardi's claims.
    http://yesoncc.org/docs/Measure%20CC%20Argument%20Rebuttals.pdf

    This has been posted over and over again, but CC opponents continue to repeat and the same misleading claims. Wonder why?

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  51. Board member Ed Honowitz debates CC opponent Ross Selvige on Airtalk on March 31. http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2010/03/31/pasadena-san-diego-and-other-public-schools-use-pa/

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  52. I agree. I spend most of my money on school teaching supplies.

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