Sep 30 2016

Revenue trends combined with savings from departments resulted in FY 2015-16 unexpected net income of approximately $2.42 million (unaudited) in the General Fund.

Specific revenue categories that exceeded the budget projections include:

  • “Supplemental property taxes – are realized with a change in assessed valuation of a property sold during the year.”
  • “Real Property Transfer Tax and building permits – are subject to fluctuations in economic conditions”
  • “Ambulance service charges are dependent on calls for service during the fiscal year.”

The recommended allocations of the $2.42 million are listed below:

Facilities Maintenance Fund (45%) = $1 million

Equipment Replacement Fund (35%) = $800,000

Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Fund (20%) = $450,000

  • “This proposal for transfer of General Fund net income over $100,000 is consistent with past practice. In FY 2014-15, we ended the year with net income of $2.4 million in the General Fund. The City Council took a similar action in June 2015 to distribute net income in excess of $100,000 equally amongst four funds – OPEB Fund, the Equipment Replacement Fund, the Facilities Maintenance Fund, and the Workers Compensation Fund, which amounted to $2.3 million in one-time General Fund revenues, with $575,647 in each of four funds.”     Staff report

Read the full staff report here. 

The City Council will consider the allocation of funds at their October 3, 2016 meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall. The meeting will be broadcast live on Channel 27 and from the City website.

Also, on the agenda are:

10/03/16 – Approval of a Street Use Permit for the Annual Turkey Trot Race Sponsored by PTT Thanksgiving Race, Inc.

10/03/16 – Consideration of a Conditional Use Permit for Belardi/Ostroy for a Marketing Office at 1345 Grand Avenue #101 & #102

10/03/16 – Consideration of a Funds Balance Policy Pursuant to Governmental Accounting Standards Board 54 as Recommended by the City’s Auditors

Sep 30 2016

“keep some of the stop signs that are proven to ensure the safety of the driver and remove others…”

In my 17 years of living in Piedmont, I did not realize that I had an opportunity to have my voice heard in City Council meetings. It was really cool to see everyone’s ideas being heard and seeing them being taken into consideration by the Council.

My father had spoken at a School Board meeting because he was against the plan for the Haven’s elementary schoolers when their school was under construction. He didn’t like the idea of taking the kids to Emeryville on a bus every day. Of course, the Board still decided that taking the kids to Emeryville was the best plan of action, but the fact that my dad got to express how he felt about the situation personally to the Board is remarkable.

The name of the governmental body is the Piedmont City Council and the purpose of the meeting on September 19 was to address certain issues concerning Piedmont such as the recent abundance of stop signs, and protecting our community from mosquitoes with Zika virus. The City Council meets at least once every two weeks.

The 9/19/16 City Council meeting started off by addressing the issue with the stop signs. Two gentleman talked about and were strongly against the stop signs. They complained about how the stop signs were too excessive and the decision to put the stop signs in was made over summer break when lots of people are away on vacation. They demanded studies to be done on whether or not it is statistically safer to have stop signs or not and seemed to be extremely offended that the City would dare put more stop signs in place.

At first, I was appalled at how many people were complaining about the new stop signs, but then again I could also see where they are coming from because I have noticed that the stop signs around the Wildwood area of Piedmont are a little excessive and in some cases unnecessary. That doesn’t mean I am against the new stop signs but I am against some of them because I don’t believe every new stop sign is beneficial to our safety, but rather tedious to the driver. The best plan of action would be to keep some of the stop signs that are proven to ensure the safety of the driver and remove others that just make the stop signs excessive.

Another concern in Piedmont are the mosquitoes and possible spread of the Zika virus. A presentation was created by Robert Dickinson to ensure the safety of the community from mosquitoes. The recent scare of the Zika virus spreading into the United states sparked this presentation which informed us of many methods of avoiding and lowering the number of mosquitoes in our community. You could start by wearing long sleeved clothes and their are also mosquito eating fish that are available to people who are interested in raising them.

Since Piedmont wants to renovate Coaches Field and Linda Beach the council agreed to appropriate twenty-five thousand dollars to coaches field and and thirty-five thousand dollars to Linda Beach.

I did not speak and neither did any of the other students, and I think it was because we felt ill-informed on the subjects spoken about. Prior to the meeting, I did not have any idea about what was going to be discussed and since I did not know how to obtain the information that would be covered at the City Council I did not contribute. If I had known we would be discussing the new stop signs, I would have mentioned how some are beneficial but most make driving around Piedmont very tedious.

I had the gracious opportunity to interview City Council candidate, Jen Cavenaugh, who was very helpful and informed on the issues concerning Piedmont, especially concerning Beach Field and the great uses for it. When I asked Ms. Cavenaugh how she will get her concerns addressed, she said, “I will continue to come back to the City Council and get everyone’s opinions on what they have to say.” Ms. Cavenaugh is running for City Council and I personally think she would be an excellent addition to the Council, as she is very intelligent and informed on the issues concerning Piedmont.

Donald Rendall, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 30 2016

PUSD is #1 in Northern California and #3 in the state –

   The Piedmont School Board met on September 14th, 2016 to discuss the district’s success with the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress test, approve the 2015-2016 unaudited budget actuals, and discuss possible budget changes for the coming school year. The School Board is in charge of employing the District Superintendent (R. Booker), adopting and changing curriculum and budget, and overseeing school facilities.

    The meeting started with a statement by one of the student representatives, Max Miller. He is the new Vice President of Millennium and he alternates with the Vice President of Piedmont High School in order to inform the School Board of what is going on at the high schools. He reported that there were new teachers at Millennium, including PHS teachers Katie Terhar and Kim Taylor. There are two student body Presidents at Millennium this year, Cerina Smit and Sarah Baldwin. The high school has adopted a new advisory period in the place of tutorial, in which students, split by grade, bond with their classmates and discuss academics with each other and their advisor. The schools-wide musical this year is “Legally Blonde.” Miller reported that club day will be on September 23rd and that the Fall Fest 5k will be the next day.

    During the public questions segment, I asked if the School Board has been considering or would consider a cap on hours of homework per night or per week. At Monte Vista High School, a similar high school in Danville, teachers are not allowed to give students more than 30 minutes of homework a night or no more than two hours per week (excepting AP and Honors courses) to cut down on student stress. The Board replied with a suggestion that I bring the issue up at the next Psych Council meeting or at the new PHS Challenge Success club, which was specifically designed to take student input on reducing stress. They also explained that a similar cut on homework might be implemented at the Piedmont Middle School, which is generally used as a pilot for changes that are requested at the high school.

    PHS Senior Cole Bloomfield brought up the issue of students losing too much summer because they are “too focused on summer homework.” Andrea Swenson, President, thanked him for his input. Addie Perkins, PHS senior, asked about keeping the gates at Wildwood open later so that she would not have to walk around them to get home after school. Swenson thanked her for her input.

   After the public section, Superintendent R. Booker made announcements about the following events and meetings. There will be LCAP advisory board meetings once a month from 3:45-5:15 p.m. in the PHS Student Center. There will be Budget Advisory Committee meetings once a month in the District Office Board Room from 3:30-5:00 p.m. There will be Site Facilities Tours at Piedmont High School throughout September and October, the next one is October 3rd. The next Speaker Series event will also be October 3rd.

   Tech and Instructions Director S. Griffin presented a PowerPoint outlining the district results for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress test (CAASPP). The test replaced the STAR test and is designed for the new Common Core curriculum. There were two parts to the test: adaptive multiple choice and performance tasks. Each student placed on one of the four levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met. In the state of California, 49% of students passed– meaning they met or exceeded the standard– the English portion (made up of reading, writing, listening, and research skills) and 37% passed the math portion (made up of concepts, data analysis, and communicating reasoning.) The PUSD had 87% of students pass for both sections. Based on these results, PUSD is #1 in Northern California and #3 in the state. PUSD also did 3% better than it did in 2015. The reason for this increase is because the 2015 LCAP goals to focus on Common Core, teacher qualification, and English Learners support were met through professional development. The LCAP goals for 2016 will be informed by the results of the CAASPP.

   Though PUSD did very well overall, there was still a large discrepancy between the average score and the lower scores of African American students, English language learners, and Special Education students. Board Member R. Raushenbush asked if there were processes in place to help the kids that scored low on the CAASPP, and the answer was yes, that teachers have access to a student’s individual scores and are aware of the kids that need more help in one or both areas so that they can assist in giving that child’s education more due attention.

   PUSD also scored low on the subsections of listening and communicating reasoning. R. Raushenbush also asked why listening was hard for kids, and S. Griffin’s response was that it was the first year ever that a standardized test evaluated listening skills so the kids have had less practice with those kinds of questions. She also asked what a sample question looked like so that the teachers could better prepare their students.

   President A. Swenson opened the question to the public as there were a few PHS seniors that had taken the test in the room. Elijah Levy volunteered and said that the audio questions were short samples that you could pause and rewind if necessary. He also suggested that the district should reschedule classes around the CAASPP because juniors had to miss school to complete it. It was “hard to prioritize” scores that didn’t affect GPA or grades over missing class that did. PHS senior Sam Nguyen also weighed in on the topic, stating that in the future the district should emphasize that CAASPP scores are important because they affect how colleges see our school.

PHS Senior Charlotte Puscasiu noted that there might have been a drop in scores for LC kids, or kids that needed extra help due to learning disabilities, due to the fact that the LC kids, herself included, feel like they’re all “thrown in the same basket.” She stated that if help were more individualized, they would probably score better. The public session was closed and the CAASPP discussion was closed with A. Smith stating that the CAASPP is but a measure of student’s ability and not the be-all-end-all of it.

    I agree that the reason why students aren’t doing as well on listening is because we haven’t had the practice, but I want to give my opinion on why they aren’t doing as well on communicating reasoning, too. I think teachers are more testing students on whether or not they can memorize and solve equations and aren’t focusing on teaching the “why” part. I’m a senior and I’ve seen that in PHS math classes, the tests rarely ask for the reason why an equation works or why the answer is the answer. I only really started practicing this skill in AP Calculus because the AP test specifically asks for reasoning. I know that most students don’t go on to Calculus because it’s an advanced class, so if the School Board wants to see students doing better in that category, there has to be a push to teach and not only the what, but the why in math.

   Board Member S. Chin-Bendib brought up the next issue, which was approving the 2015-2016 budget’s unaudited actuals. The budget was called the General Fund, which is supported by local property taxes, state and federal funds as well as donations from the Piedmont Education Foundation. What was new this year was that the district had to shoulder 3% of pensions for teachers because of a new state law that requires that they report this pension money as expenditures but the state money never goes into the account, which affects reserves. Board Member D. Ireland said that this was but a “drop in the bucket” compared to the two million more the district will have to spend on pensions in 2020.

   S. Chin-Bendib went on to say that the state revenues increased by 136K due to lottery receipts and the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Total expenditures were 39 million. The Adult Ed program generated $120,000. The cafeteria fund had an ending balance of $200,000. Deferred Maintenance had an ending balance of $110,000.

   The Building Fund was completely spent, and R. Raushenbush asked if they should consider adding more to the budget. R. Booker was for it, saying that the facilities were so old that in one of the buildings there was a boiler from the 60’s.

   S. Chin-Bendib recommended approving the actuals and authorizing budget transfers. A. Swenson approved both the unaudited report and the 2016-2017 interim budget, but not before there was more discussion on the pensions. R. Booker said that the Board “can’t look to the state” for help with generating the $2 million, and that the Board has to bring in new revenues. He also noted that there wasn’t anybody else lobbying for change. Swenson concurred, saying that she and the Vice President, S. Pearson, “got nowhere” with the state representatives and that they would both try to “increase dialogue.”

   Booker reported that every teacher holds credentials. He spent 28 hours on evaluation and made sure each was certified. So concluded the September 14th PUSD School Board meeting.

   I asked Joaquin Langarica why he attended the School Board meeting. He said that he was there with his son, a Boy Scout, because Boy Scouts must attend a government meeting “to pass a requirement for the citizenship badge.” Scouts are “supposed to see how government works” if they want to be considered citizens. Good on ‘em.

Amelia Henry, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

 

Sep 30 2016

Some citizens said the Council acted too fast while an equal number said the new signs make Piedmont safer.  –

On Monday September 19, 2016, I drove up to 120 Vista Avenue to attend one of the two City Council meetings held each month. Starting promptly at 7:30 p.m., everyone in the room stood up, placed a hand over their heart, echoed the Pledge of Allegiance, and then returned to their chairs.

The City Council members wasted no time to get into the meeting, which would cover the following: an approval of a license plate reader replacement, public statements on the sixteen new stop signs, a ceremony for Matthew Anderson’s efforts on reducing waste and emissions in Piedmont, as well as a presentation on mosquitoes, updating of City Municipal Codes, an approval for an internship program, as well as an approval to upgrade the Recreation Center along with a few other notable buildings.

After a unanimous decision approving a license plate reader replacement for the police and the replacement of the Dracena Park tot lot surface, the Council moved the meeting to the public forum. The most active part of the City Council meeting, in my opinion, the item was dominated by citizens speaking about the installation of sixteen new stop signs along major streets like Magnolia and Hampton.

It was a very engaging experience to me, because I can see the effect of the new signs when I walk to school everyday. Also, the fact that each citizen had their own take on the signs gave me new perspective on the whole situation. Some of the citizens that were called up by the council expressed that the stop signs were a great investment, due to their inexpensive cost and clear visibility. Many of the supporters expressed that they jogged or biked frequently in the city and the new signs made it safer to get through in busy intersections.

On the other hand, there was an equal number of people who thought the City acted too hastily without consulting and providing more time with members of the public. Many were frustrated that the decision was decided during the summer when many people are out on vacation and could not voice their opinion, while some felt the City concluded this action much quicker than other decisions.  In addition, members of the public expressed concern that a study would be needed to prove that the signs have a significant enough effect.

Not all members of the public who were present came with complaints, however. One citizen, Reid Settlemier, was skeptical on the signs environmental toll. He explained that when cars stop and accelerate they produce extra emissions — especially on the steeper roads. He thought that if the city were to implement speed limits instead of stop signs then the city could provide a safer environment without dramatically displacing traffic.

Personally, I felt that a mix from both sides of the issue would be the most beneficial. Frequently walking up Magnolia Avenue, even after the stop sign installations, the street still has its fair share of fast drivers. Though it is easier  for pedestrians where the stop sign intersections are, it is still very hard due to the road incline and curves. There are even some vehicles, notably construction and trailers, that blow right through the signs.

Following the public forum, two men from the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District (ACMAD) gave an in depth PowerPoint presentation on mosquitoes. In wake of the Zika virus and the annoyance of mosquitoes in general, the presentation covered two different types of mosquitoes found in Piedmont, their life cycles, their habitats and food sources, their role in diseases, and how to contain them. ACMAD was very informative and explained that one of the most effective ways to limit the growth of mosquitoes is scrubbing garden pots and finding sources of stagnant water like pools, where the mosquitoes lay their many eggs. They emphasized that controlling mosquitos is a very laborious process, because they need to go door to door and get permission from citizens to search backyards for signs of mosquito eggs.

After the ACMAD presentation, the City Council received an update on proposed Municipal Code changes. The Council discussed they need time for public review before implementation of any changes proposed. The proposed update of zoning provisions calls for an emphasis on preserving Piedmont residential character, which was stated as the most important aspect of Piedmont.

The Council opened the meeting to public participation and a citizen talked about how the Shell Gas Station on Grand and Wildwood could be changed.  She suggested a cafe or homes would be a better transition than the gas station as is currently there.

City Council members nodded their heads in approval and the woman went on to say if there is to be a new building, it should be non-political unlike the Piedmont Post. Agreeing, the Council also discussed that there would be a guarantee of a safe environmental cleanup if there was a new commercial building, favoring the residents due to the lack of businesses in Piedmont.

The meeting concluded with approvals for Civic Spark Internship Program, public opportunity to discuss new facilities for Linda Beach and Coaches Field. Plans to renovate the Recreation Center was affirmed to be the most in need due to its importance to families and children.

Following the meeting I went up to Paul Benoit, the City Administrator and asked what his role was in the meeting and what steps he would take to get issues addressed. He stated that as he works for the City he is required to attend every meeting, and he works with the City Council and staff to address issues brought up from local residents. Benoit promoted that the Forum was a great way for residents to express opinions and encouraged local residents to take advantage of the meetings so he could help address their issues. I thanked Mr. Benoit for his time, shook his hand, and proceeded out the doors to the cool night sky exhausted, but thankful towards the people who contributed towards my city.

Carter Perkins, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 29 2016

“Someone willing to give of their time and drill down “-

Our interim mayor’s endorsements in yesterday’s paper cited two skill sets that he thinks are needed on City Council – law and finance.  With all due respect to members of the bar, there were three lawyers on City Council when the flawed Piedmont Hills Underground Utilities District contract was approved.

Financial acumen?  The 2011 Municipal Tax Review Committee calculated that a 50% increase in the Sewer Tax was needed.  Rejected by the voters, 4 years later the Sewer Fund is the most solid city account and the work is ahead of schedule – the tax could probably withstand a 50% cut.

Volunteers do their best but are at the mercy of staff reports. What is needed for Council is commitment and initiative  – someone willing to give of their time and drill down into city matters to make sure we get the best services for our community without wasteful spending.

Anyone who has worked with Jen Cavenaugh knows how committed she is when she takes on a job.  Having spear-headed the Facilities Maintenance subcommittee on this year’s Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee, she is the perfect person to put on Council now to oversee this new spending program. Her initiative with the Piedmont Recreation Department showed that she wants to make our community better. I wholeheartedly encourage you to vote for Jennifer Cavenaugh.

Garrett Keating, member of Jennifer Cavenaugh’s campaign committee and a former Council member.

Editors’ Note:  PCA does not support or oppose candidates for public office.
Sep 29 2016

download http://harititan.com/family.JPG

Pictured are Hari Titan with his wife Roopal and his daughter.

hari_back_image

Statement:

I’m a member of the Havens Dads Club and recent board member of the Piedmont Makers group. I’ve also been a member of the Piedmont Neighbors and Newcomers group since we first moved to Piedmont.

I love the Piedmont community and enjoy connecting with fellow parents and showing my out of town friends the beauty of living in the Bay Area.

Both my parents were educators. My father was a high school math and science teacher and my mother was an elementary school teacher. However my parents insisted I did my own homework and made sure it was done. If I got questions wrong I had to understand why it was wrong. I think my parent’s focus on education led me to go for higher education myself. I was the first person in my extended family to get a PhD in any subject.

I earned a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo in Canada in 1993. While finishing my degree, I volunteered to join a search committee for selecting the Vice President of Academics at the University of Waterloo. Being a public university, that process had to be very rigorous and transparent. I learned the importance of a paper trail to accompany decision making. I see the same level of rigor in hiring for Fin-Tech and other Internet startups over the past 20 years of my career. These include a thorough job description with job requirements that materially impact on the job performance.

In 1993 I taught college level Computer Science courses at a small liberal arts school and experienced first hand the difficulties of teaching students with a wide variety of skills, interests and levels of commitment. I found most students unprepared to learn programming and were in the class because it will lead to a career. This is likely an artifact of teaching at a smaller college and should not be the case for good schools.

I spent most of my career working in California as a “Big Data Scientist”. This field is vital to financial firms and high tech companies. Huge volumes of customer data like from credit card and banking transactions or to online activies are analyzed to help firms predict risks and opportunities at an enterprise level. I also have a U.S. patent on using and explaining the behavior of advanced computer programs that are used to identify highly suspicious fraudulent activity on credit cards.

My wife, Roopal, and I moved to Piedmont in November 2008. We moved here because we loved the beauty of Piedmont, the feeling of a safe community, a very high performance school district and the comparative value we got for the home price we paid for at the time. My son briefly went to Piedmont High School and we have a daughter who is now in 5th grade at Havens Elementary.

I am still amazed at the performance of PUSD students on scholastic tests. This remained generally true during the 2008-2011 recession and is still true post-transition to common core (CAASPP) testing. I built an online app to view CAASSP test results(link is external) for all school districts in any county in CA. I believe student performance has a lot to do with being raised by high performing parents, good teaching methods in school and dedicated caregivers and tutors who provide abundant extra curricular support and learning opportunities.

In late 2013 I was at a Haven’s Club meeting where a presenter talked about renovating the Alan Harvey theater that would require no incremental taxation. I found this to be mathematically suspect and decided to investigate prior PUSD bond offerings. It felt like I was in uncharted waters. Most of the school board thought process was outsourced to bond consultants who had a hard time correctly explaining the details of what they were doing. Taxpayers were paying fees to these consultants for work that was not being done by salaried district staff. Like math, finance works in favor of whomever is crunching the numbers. If the district is not doing the math to maximize the benefit for the students and taxpayers, outside consultants were not going to do that for us unless the board knew exactly what to ask for. This is a general problem with any kind of outsourcing.

I was also questioning why performing arts was being emphasized over other fields of study that lead to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs. At first I was told most STEM jobs were off-shored and therefore not important to emphasize. This was troubling to me because I knew that scientific thinking and good critical thinking skills pay off in finance, healthcare and legal jobs that on the surface appear to have nothing to do with STEM. Later the Piedmont Makers group championed adding Arts to the list as a counter balance, leading to STEAM with an emphasis on shared facilities and shared maker spaces.

I also found that renovations were getting more expensive as building codes were being revised with increased regulation. I helped compare the Alan Harvey theater renovation (+ expansion) plan to nearby new theater construction, which the district did not do. I found that you could get greater design flexibility and functionality from new construction at almost the same cost as a renovation. This may be counter-intuitive at first until you look at the actual costs paid by nearby school districts.

Many of you might have seen one of my periodic surveys. I do this to take a pulse on what other parents are thinking and see if my ideas resonate. This helps me fight for things the public actually agrees with. The School Board should engage in more public opinion surveys to get ideas (with open questions) and gauge priorities before holding formal elections.

You’ll find a lot more details on my ideas on the “Campaign of Ideas” tab.

Click the “Contact Hari” link on my website to send me your thoughts. Website link is below. 

HariTitan.com

Editors Note:  PCA does not support or oppose individual candidates for public office. 
Sep 29 2016

Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee member and community volunteer is challenging incumbents for a seat on the Piedmont City Council. 

Jen Cavenaugh’s statement:

I am running for Piedmont City Council in November because I love our city,  I have a passion for community service,  and I believe my background in finance and management will be an asset to the council.

I’ve been a dedicated community volunteer and leader in our community since my husband Dan and I moved here with our family in 2003.  As a mother of three children, I began my volunteer career at Beach School 13 years ago; today I remain involved on the parents clubs at both the middle and high schools. My volunteering evolved into working on budget and program projects for the city.  I have been able to make a positive impact in the classroom, on recreation planning, and on municipal fiscal strategy. I want to help preserve everything that makes Piedmont special, while preparing our community for the future.

I have several objectives if elected to the city council.  My primary goal is to advocate for fiscal responsibility. Managing the city’s budget is a top priority and requires balanced leadership to deliver quality results with limited resources. My professional background as a consultant and manager at Accenture and Clorox has provided valuable experience mastering the technical side of fiscal management.  At the same time, my ongoing role on the Budget Advisory Committee has given me a deep and realistic understanding of our city’s financial needs, resources and limitations.

In addition to working to ensure fiscal discipline and effective use of city funds, I will emphasize the importance of transparency in the council’s decision-making.  This means more than maximizing openness by the council;  it also means maximizing community engagement by the people of Piedmont.

A robust public process is integral to making sound municipal decisions. My connections within our community, my willingness to listen and be flexible, and my commitment to understand all sides of an issue will promote a healthy public dialogue.  That approach informed a recent project for the city — leading the comprehensive effort to gather broad-based community input on Recreation Department services — and generated nearly 1,000 responses that helped guide new department programming and service improvements.

My most fundamental objective is to keep Piedmont safe. As a community, we take pride in the responsiveness, quality, and professionalism of our Police and Fire Departments. I am committed to the safety of our residents, and would work to ensure we can continue to provide quality day-to-day service while being prepared in the event of an emergency.

I want to thank the over 90 volunteers who are helping on my campaign and the almost 500 community leaders, friends and neighbors who have endorsed my candidacy. I have the time, commitment, and energy to make this my top priority.

I hope to count on your vote on November 8.

Sincerely,

Jen Cavenaugh

To learn more about me and my campaign, get involved, and share your feedback about your priorities for our city at: 

www.Jen4Piedmont.com.

For photos and endorsers click above. 

Editors Note:  The Piedmont Civic Association does not support or oppose individual candidates for public office.
Sep 27 2016

Stop signs spawned civil unrest, plus free mosquito inspection –

The sixteen additional stop signs placed this past summer around Piedmont have spawned civil unrest throughout the city. While many are advocating for the increased safety that they bring, others are questioning the reasoning behind these additions. This subject matter dominated the Public Forum that marked the opening of the Piedmont City Council’s bi-monthly meeting on Monday, September 21st at Piedmont’s City Hall located at 120 Vista Avenue.

Enraged citizens took the stand, sharing their personal stances on the matter. Piedmonters Jon Elvekrog and Reid Settlemier spoke out against the installation of these additional stop signs, insisting that more data analysis be performed to evaluate whether they are actually necessary.

While both Elvekrog and Settlemier are in favor of increasing safety, they are also concerned about the added expense of this project and are suspicious as to whether they are the best option for the entire community. They also hoped to develop a policy in which these additions could be discussed in a way so that the entire community is involved in the process. While these two men spoke against this current project, another woman who took the stand was incredibly thankful for their installment. She found the email sent by Elvekrog to be upsetting, because it told people to come to City Hall and protest even though these additions have benefitted her life immensely, stating that she is “sick of anti-government” feelings in the community.

Personally, I believe the addition of these stop signs is crucial to the safety of Piedmont. As a teenager, I am usually in a rush and tempted to speed, especially down Hampton Road. My route to school in the morning may be slightly longer with the two new stop signs on my way, but it is far safer. The men at the meeting argued that more data analysis needs to be performed to evaluate the necessity of these stop signs; however, in my opinion, I do not think this needs to be done because even if data concludes that there have not been many accidents at a certain intersection in the past, it cannot be decided that none will occur in the future.

Following the public forum, the Council meeting commended the work of University of Wisconsin alum Matthew Anderson in his efforts to make energy more sustainable at a municipal level. Acting Mayor Jeff Wieler announced that September 19th will forever now be known as “Matthew Anderson Day.” Following Wieler’s announcements, members of the community responded to Anderson’s work as well. Garrett Keating gifted him a $2 trinket while another woman commended him for his “strong presence” in Piedmont CONNECT, an environmental organization. Anderson’s contributions in working with greenhouse gas, inventory, and making residents be more energy efficient proved beneficial to the entire community.

Following the proclamation was a presentation from the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District. This presentation included information about the life cycle of mosquitoes as well as the company’s efforts to prevent a Zika or West Nile virus from spreading in the Bay Area. In Piedmont, the presenter specifically said that areas in need of testing are swimming pools, cemeteries, gutters, creeks and catch basins. Citizens of Piedmont can contact the public agency for a free mosquito inspection.

Among the other issues discussed were the planning and zoning provisions of the municipal code. A resident living at 1250 Grand Avenue shared his feelings towards the changes to Zone D in the last two years. He stated that he was “optimistic that good can come out of it.” Other members of the community shared that they are content with the analysis that has gone into this planning. Vice Mayor Robert McBain expressed his joy in hearing that the public is interested in having there be something other than the Shell gas station on the small parcel of land located on Grand Avenue near ACE Hardware. Council member Teddy King expressed the Council’s efforts to make this “an open and transparent process,” while instructing the public to “be patient and wait for an outcome.”

Community member Rick Schiller expressed his disdain for the planning and zoning revisions which would change the City Property Zone B to to allow a community-serving business – like a newspaper or beverage stand – to have its headquarters in a government building. His concerns rested in his criticism of the Piedmont Post for its biased views on civic issues. Addressing the “serious conflict of interest issues,” Schiller shared his concern for public property being used by the Post, since it is not a non-political business.

The sixth item on the agenda addressed a potential agreement with the Local Government Commission for $5,000 regarding the Civic Spark Internship Program. This amount was awarded to the program in hopes of achieving climate action goals.

 The next item regarded the appropriations for CIP Projects including work at Beach Elementary School and Coach’s Field. In the words of Council Member Teddy King, this was an issue “bandied around for over a decade.” Jen Cavenaugh, candidate for City Council in the election November 8, shared her opinions on multiple matters throughout the meeting. For the proposal of CIP projects, she came to the meeting to share her belief in the necessity of “moving forward” with its plans because it would “overlap the city and the school district [in order to] maximize space.” Cavenaugh also shared that she sees new opportunities for programming in these buildings should they be remodeled. Thirty-five thousand dollars was granted to the Linda project and $25,000 was granted to the Coach’s Field project. At a future meeting, a clear approach to both projects is supposed to be presented.

The Council then discussed money for the renovation of Veterans Hall, the Recreation Center, and the Community Hall. The proposed changes for these buildings allow for their reconfiguration to allow better access. Specifically the Veterans’ Hall, which is very expansive with no divisions can only be used by one party at a time and would benefit from a renovation. Additionally, for the Recreation Center, due to its old feel, it is unable to meet modern day recreation needs, and is also inaccessible to the public. Fifty-five thousand, one hundred and twenty five dollars was given to the Coastland Engineers for Property Condition Assessments of these buildings to make them more functional to the public.

At 9:30 p.m., the two-hour meeting drew to a close. In good spirits, the Council was adjourned and members dwindled out of the doors of City Hall into the warm summer night.

Rebecca Glick, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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Sep 27 2016

 The Piedmont Board of Education will meet in Piedmont City Hall on Sept. 28, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.  Read the full agenda here.

  • VI.A. H1 Bond Priorities and Tax Rate Summary  Speaker: Randall Booker, Superintendent

 All attachments must be downloaded to your computer to be read.

Background on Measure H1   H1 Tax Rate Information Fact Sheet

VII.A. Accept The Piedmont Education Foundation Tier I and Tier II Grants Check  – Speaker: Randall Booker, Superintendent

Attachments: Background – PEF Donation

VII.B. Conduct Public Hearing and Adopt Resolution 06-2016-17, “Resolution on Sufficiency of Textbooks and Instructional Materials” Speaker: Randall Booker, Superintendent

Education Code Section 60119 requires a school district to conduct a public hearing determining whether text books and instructional materials, including lab equipment for science lab classes, were provided to all students, including English learners. The Board will be requested to adopt the resolution.

Attachments: Resolution 06-2016-17 – Sufficiency of Textbooks

 VII.C. Adopt Resolution 07-2016-17, Authorizing “Temporary Borrowing from Alameda County Treasury per Education Code 42620.

Speaker: Song Chin-Bendib, Assistant Superintendent, Business Services

The Board will be asked to approve the Resolution to allow the District to borrow from the Alameda County Treasury on an as-needed basis to meet cash flow needs throughout the year due to the State’s deferral of apportionments to K-12 schools. The funds are borrowed on a temporary basis and no loan amount crosses fiscal years. Borrowing between District funds and the County Treasurer allows the District to meet monthly financial obligations is a cost savings to the alternative of issuing a Tax Revenue Anticipation Note (TRAN).

Attachments: Resolution 07-2016-17 – Temporary Borrowing from the Alameda County Treasurer

VIII.A.1. Next Generation Science Standards

Speaker: Dr. Cheryl Wozniak and Sati Shah

Attachments: Background on NGSS

Click on the attachments and download them to your computer to be able to read them. 

Sep 27 2016

“Council discussion of zoning was difficult to understand” –

On the evening of September 19 at 7:30, after the Pledge of Allegiance and a brief introduction, the Council approved meeting minutes, approved a contract with Miracle Playsystems Inc. to replace the protective surfacing at Dracena Park, and approved a replacement license plate reader unit for the Police Department.

Next, the Council opened the floor for public comments and opinion. The hot topic of the night was stop signs; specifically the 16 newly added stop signs across town. Some were in favor and spoke for the “pros” of stop signs because they reinforce safety as a priority. However, there were others who were bittersweet on the new traffic signs. “Is 16 too many?” One community member asked, “I think a study is necessary.”

One community member enlightened the crowd on the effect stop signs have on the environment. Brake dust and emission is emitted with every break and go. Therefore, the more stop signs means the more brake-and-gos which ultimately mean more pollution. The man suggested a traffic engineer come and inspect.

I personally believe the stop signs are a great addition to the community. I live on Mountain Avenue and have found the new stop signs located at Hampton and Seaview avenues to be highly effective and impactful.

Next was a ceremony to honor departing planning staff member Matt Anderson for the work he has done with Piedmont on environmental studies to enhance environmental awareness and conservation. Anderson has encouraged Piedmont to install more solar panels, make street lights more efficient, and reduce greenhouse gases.

Then there was a personally unexpected presentation on mosquitoes by the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District. The audience was taught the biology of mosquitoes, mosquito management in Piedmont, and effect of disease carrying mosquitoes. Prior to this meeting, I had no previous knowledge on what helps regulate the number of mosquitoes in Piedmont.

The Council then went into discussing zoning provisions. In addition, they talked about an agreement with the local government commission for the Civic Spark Internship Program; costing a total of $5,000. It was at this point in the meeting where I wish I had done some homework. I can honestly say I do not know anything about “Zoning” or the “Civic Spark Internship Program” and the Council members were throwing around numbers and unfamiliar words making it very difficult to understand the issue and conclusion. The council also spoke about working with Coastland Engineers for property assessments of City Hall, the Veterans Hall, the Recreation Center, and the Community Hall.

I think the major properties in Piedmont such as the venues listed above should be a priority for the city because they are so popular and so widely used.

 Next on the agenda were announcements, old business and proposals for future agenda items. There were several speakers, however, the focus of this cluster seemed to revolve around the Shell Gas Station located in the center of town. With hopes of new development and maintaining Piedmont’s residential character, alternatives such as a cafe were discussed. Yet, the Council reminded the public that no plan has been proposed and right now this idea is simply nothing more than an idea.

Then the council transitioned into the topic of Beach and Coaches Field. Two men came and proposed a plan that costing $35,000 for Beach and $25,000 for Coaches Field. The goal is to improve the venue and use it for more events and functions. Jen Cavanaugh, a woman running for City Council, spoke out and said “I think this is a great opportunity to partner with the school.” Similarly, Council Member Teddy King said “I think it is time to move this project forward.”

Although I was pleased to see the city trying to improve local fields and playgrounds, I was amazed by the large sum of money that was being spent in less than 10 minutes!

Unfortunately there were times when the meeting was a bit hard to hear. If possible, I would love to see more effective microphones or speakers so that the public can clearly hear everything that is being said.

The meeting wrapped up with a cheerful “this is a big weekend for Piedmont.” Festivities such as the movie in the park, the Fall Fest 5k, and the Harvest festival will all take place in the center of town.

Afterwards, I had the privilege of speaking with Acting Mayor Jeff Wieler. I began by telling him my opinion on the new stop signs. He graciously thanked me for attending the meeting and for relaying my reaction to the stop signs. Then I asked him “What’s your favorite part about being Mayor?” He responded, “I get to set the agenda and have paper instead of iPads.” We then talked about how he got involved in politics, specifically the City Council. He said that before he ran for a seat on City Council, he was part of many committees and saw the council as a place to apply what he knew. He admitted “things are running pretty well here in Piedmont,” but one particular concern Acting Mayor Wieler would like to see addressed is the Piedmont swimming pool. He believes the pool is undersized for its use and that we need to have a pool that “better serves the people of Piedmont.”

   Overall, it was a great experience to get a closer look into Piedmont government. I encourage the public to sit in or participate; even if it is just one time! City Council is a great medium to see how government is run in Piedmont and speak for or against certain issues in the community.

Every 1st and 3rd Monday of each month, the Piedmont City Council congregates in the Chamber of City Hall.

Hanna Marcus, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.