If you can't clearly state an argument in a paragraph or less, and you need to expend vast quantities of words in order to make your point, then chances are pretty good you are going to lose most of your intended audience. The reason being that most people have fairly short attention spans, especially for long winded explanations.
But there is another reason as well. That being if you can't get it all down in a few sentences, then people will just figure you're just not being honest with them. And as the words begin to stack up, so too does their disbelief. Especially when you're not really making all that much sense in the first place. The volume of language being used in no way makes up for any meagerness in basic logic or fact.
Which is where we are at today with Measure A. I know, I have discussed this before, but I have to confess that I've grown fascinated with the whole thing. The entire sales pitch for this measure is just so wrong, and so patently dishonest, that I can't believe there is anyone who supports it. Or that someone would actually go out into public and with a straight face claim that Measure A is good for Sierra Madre. When it so obviously is not.
And why isn't it good for Sierra Madre? Because if for some reason it should pass today, Sierra Madre will be put into the unfortunate position of not being able to elect its own representative to the Pasadena Unified Board of Education until 2015. This while the majority of sub-districts within the PUSD bailiwick would be allowed to elect their representatives in 2013, a full two years ahead of us. All done during a time when hundreds of millions of dollars in Measure TT bond money is being divvied up amongst all of the schools in the PUSD system. And which sub-district schools will get the most? Obviously those with elected Board of Education representatives. And which ones will not? Well, Sierra Madre for one.
Now there is another interpretation of this situation. And over on that side of the story they will attempt to convince you that there was no other choice but to do things this way. And that in order to make things fair, they had to be unfair to Sierra Madre. Or something like that.
I thought that today I would post the argument for throwing Sierra Madre under the school bus representation-wise. And why this was supposedly a good thing. The person making the case is a Richard Moon, whose arguments in favor of Measure A are posted on the Sierra Madre News.net site. See if you can make heads or tails of what he says.
Seats 1, 3, 5 and 7 will be elected in 2013, and seats 2, 4 and 6 would be elected in 2015. The will of the voters for elections in 2011 or before were to be honored. According to Richard Moon, vice-chair, in his blog discussion of Sierra Madre Patch, "The answer is that it made the most sense to assign the districts where the existing incumbents' terms were going to be up at a particular year to have their sub-district election that year (that is, the one where there are two incumbents both up for election in 2013, that area should go up in 2013; where there are two up in 2015, that area goes up in 2015, etc.) That started us in a direction that, while we weren't necessarily married to it, made a certain geographical sense, and which set Central Pasadena as being an even-numbered seat, and south-central Pasadena and San Rafael as being odd. It was then decided that setting West Altadena as odd would face the least amount of opposition from the incumbents there ... Since putting both halves of Altadena up at the same time seemed like a bad idea (fears of encouraging balkanization), that set Eastern Altadena as even.
Is this making any sense to you? Do you find Moon's arguments compelling enough to deny Sierra Madre a rep on the Board of Education for an additional two years? Here is more of Mr. Moon's case:
"The question was then of either setting Sierra Madre et al at Odd (and Northwest Pasadena to even), and thus creating a sort of weird SOUTH block which would wind up creating some sort of north-south dynamic, or setting it to Even (and setting Northwest Pasadena to Odd), and thus delay Sierra Madre's representative election by two years. We talked about that question for a long, long time, and most of us did our level-best to take up both sides of the question at different points, so we weren't just being an echo chamber. Ken (Committee Chair Ken Chawkins) stayed pretty much silent on the issue, while Bart argued very strongly for SM being an odd seat ... we heard a *lot* more voices for NW Pas who desperately wanted a rep and felt that they were unrepresented on the current board than we heard from Sierra Madre. That isn't to say that the voices we heard from SM weren't listened to, they were. There were just more and more passionate voices from NW Pas, really. The vast majority of input we got from residents of SM was, "meh, why bother, won't change anything, anyway."
So that is Richard Moon's argument. It's all our fault.
However, I still do not see how this in any way justifies kicking Sierra Madre to the back of the bus. Especially during a time when hundreds of millions of dollars in Measure TT money is being divided up between PUSD schools district-wide. Wouldn't that be the time Sierra Madre needs its own representative more than ever? And won't those sub-districts with representatives have an unfair advantage over those that do not? Like us?
And here are my questions. Rather than privileging some districts over others in this way, why not just hold all of the elections at the same time? Let's say in 2015? Why would it be so wrong to conduct these elections on a level playing field? Or, if that doesn't quite work because some current at-large representatives run out of time in 2013, why not hold the election for all 7 sub-districts then and allow the remaining at-large reps to serve out their terms alongside the rest for a couple of years?
I am not going to try and tell you how to vote today. That is your business. But with one exception, however. Please vote "No" on Measure A. It is probably the worst ballot initiative to come down the pike since, well, last April.
And you know what happened to those.