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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Reversing course on Tuesday

Uploaded: Jan 15, 2015
Tuesday was a time of reconsideration.
In the morning, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors formally rescinded the 33 percent pay raise they had given themselves in December.
The San Ramon Valley's representative, Candace Anderson of Danville, was the only No vote initially. After a referendum campaign driven by the county's employee union gathered way more than the number of signatures necessary to put the matter to a public vote, the supervisors unanimously reversed their earlier action. The fair gripe from employees is that they had sacrificed significantly when country revenues had cratered during the recession and now supervisors were taking care of themselves and doing little for employee groups.
The optics were miserable.
The huge raise was structured to tie the supervisors' compensation to 70 percent of what superior court judges make and thus remove it from their political debate. That's what Alameda County supervisors have enjoyed for years. The supervisors will continue to be paid $97,500 instead of the $129,200 had the raise taken effect—way below the $148,000 for Alameda County supervisors.
The supervisors ate humble pie, while Pleasanton school trustees circled back to the beginning after unanimously voting to drop the new school calendar for next year. It had been approved twice, but Mark Miller was elected trustee after making the calendar a key part of his campaign. All five trustees voted to reverse the decision, including Chris Grant and Joan Laursen who had steadfastly supported it.
The trustees promised a better process with more outreach. The reality is that the prior "conversation" had lots of outreach and surveys—folks who are now concerned did not take part.
Changing the calendar—contrary to the nay-sayers—makes sense. We no longer harvest fields in Pleasanton and the difference between 10 and nine weeks of summer vacation is trivial. If the proposal was for true year-round school and six weeks off in the summer, that's a conversation worth having.

January looks absolutely ugly for rainfall after a wonderful December. There has been no measurable rainfall in San Francisco (where the records go back the longest) since Christmas Eve. To date, there's been nothing in January as KTVU meteorologist Steve Paulson pointed out this week.
It's the third really dry January in a row—which is awful given that it's normally the rainiest month of our season. San Francisco rainfall in January 2013 was 0.49, while it was 0.06 last year. This year, unless clouds shift much more south than anticipated, this week's storm will again go north.
We're looking at zero for January—the worst in recorded history after two miserable years. A recent update by Tom DiLiberto of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that 98 percent of the state is still in drought and 32 percent is in "exceptional drought."
Pray for a better February which some of the longer term forecasts show has the potential for significant rainfall.

Local Journalism.
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Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jan 15, 2015 at 10:08 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

So what happens to the referendum?
Is it over, done, finished or does it continue to move forward, go to a vote, to continue to block supervisors voting themselves pay increases?

Posted by Joe, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Jan 16, 2015 at 10:33 am

"The reality is that the prior "conversation" had lots of outreach and surveys?folks who are now concerned did not take part." A number of points. First, while some degree of "conversation" did take place, it became readily apparent, after the vote, that the input provided by the community was ignored and what fueled public ire was the fact that public input was never going to be considered. The administration and union had already determined what the outcome and enough members of the past board were prepared to go along with this outcome and rubber-stamp this "solution". This is why there has been the ongoing level of public outrage about the decision, why Mark Miller ran for school board with the promise to revisit this issue, and why Bowser was shown the door. The "conversation" was disingenuous and the arrogance on display by the administration, the union, and certain members of the board was appalling. Second, the administration/union/board approach to this issue was flawed (on a number of levels) due to the BASIC fact that there are competing issues within the solution and the a/u/b took a not only a one-size fits all approach but the "solution" was the one they wanted, not necessarily the one that was best for the kids. The high school need is clear -finish exams before the holiday break. Elementary needs are different. Educational best practices and benefits of the new calendar weren't communicated well to the parents (and still haven't been.) Some parents, in true Pleasanton fashion, feel their vacation plans should take priority. At the crux of the disagreements are which set of needs should have priority.
Third, the community is outraged and frustrated because the very people entrusted to explore and make these decision (due to their professed commitment to education, experience, and knowledge) appear to have been more than content cut a back-room deal and make a decision based on what's best for them.
Fourth, school administration communication, both past and present, to the district employees and the community has been poor. There were many people who didn't receive the information, and much of the information sent was not terribly clear, hence the huge amount of confusion.

Finally, Tim, I will add, you have an incredibly simplistic, barely scratch-the-surface, approach/analysis to some of the issues about which you comment. If you want to provide a credible commentary, take the time to FULLY understand the issue rather than display your willingness to descend to some tabloid, snarky level of reporting -a type of reporting that does you, nor the PW, any favors.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

This is a local blog and I enjoy reading it.

I'm not offended by the quality of the writing and I think it reaches a fairly large group of interested readers.

I think that Joe's analysis is mediocre at best. can somebody peeeeze esplain to me why he's sooooo inflated?

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 19, 2015 at 2:07 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

I interviewed Supervisor Andersen for my [Web Link December 9, 2014 blog]. Even though she rejected the 33% raise voted on by the other four CC Supervisors, she accepted the 4% raise offered to Contra Costa County employees. If the other four CC Supervisors changed their minds about keeping the large raise they voted for themselves, they are still eligible for the County-wide 4%. This should bring their salary to $101,400 and not remain at last year's amount.

Posted by Me, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jan 19, 2015 at 3:52 pm

"The reality is that the prior "conversation" had lots of outreach and surveys?folks who are now concerned did not take part."

Time do we occupy the same planet?

Changing the calendar?contrary to the nay-sayers?makes sense. We no longer harvest fields in Pleasanton and the difference between 10 and nine weeks of summer vacation is trivial. If the proposal was for true year-round school and six weeks off in the summer, that's a conversation worth having.

Ah your desired outcome shaped your previous statement.

The public was frustrated that an intelligent process had not been followed as can easily be witnessed by the election outcome.

The union did not represent its members. The survey was erroneously evaluated, and finally the issue has never been about 9 Vs. 10 weeks of summer.

The extent of mis-alignment that would occur with the neighboring districts for teachers from those districts along with the complete destruction of our spring sports programs, plus a lame mid October week break have always been the issue. Perhaps if you and the board were listening carefully enough they would have heard thatwe were open to change, just not so drastic

Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jan 20, 2015 at 7:23 am

I just wish the school board could make a decision and stick with it.
Once there has been a fair discussion of the merits pro and con, and a vote has been conducted with a clear winner, why not go with the decision and move on to other business instead of re-starting the discussion again?

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