Nov 9 2020

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters continues to compile election  results.  More Piedmont votes have been added to totals, however the Piedmont relative percentages have not varied enough to change the outcome and are not expected to change.  The most recent and detailed results can be found at –https://www.acgov.org/rovresults/241/indexA.htm

Presumed Elected:

City Council – Jennifer Cavenaugh and Conna McCarthy

School Board – Cory Smegal, Veronica Anderson-Thigpen and Hilary Cooper

~~~~~~~

Measure UU, pool bonds, continues to be approved by over 68% of the voters.

Measure TT, increase in the real property transfer tax, continues to fail by a wider margins. See below.

2 of 2 Precincts Reported (100.00% )
Needs 50% + 1 Yes vote to pass
 
Contest Votes Percentage
No 3,755 51.83 %
Yes 3,490 48.17 %
Nov 3 2020

The following are Piedmont election results as of 9:25 p.m. November 3.  Election results are not final until all votes have been recorded and certified.  The elected candidates are listed in the order of votes gained.  Election results are unlikely to change. 

Elected to the City Council:

Jen Cavenaugh

Conna McCarthy

Elected to the School Board:

Cory Smegal

Veronica Anderson-Thigpen

Hilary Cooper

Piedmont Ballot Measures:

Measure TT – Increase in real property transfer tax – Failed – by 31 votes

Measure UU – Pool Bonds – Approved – by over 2/3rds of voters

Updates can be found on https://www.acgov.org/rovresults/241/indexA.htm

Nov 1 2020

In these crazy times, we can’t host a coffee or ring doorbells, so I’m writing to let you know that I’ve endorsed Veronica Anderson Thigpen for the PUSD School Board, and I heartily recommend voting for her.

I have known Veronica since she moved here in 2018, and joined the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee. Right away, Veronica added a clear, articulate voice on important issues, like the proposal to have an armed police officer stationed at PHS/MHS.

Soon after, Veronica took responsibility for managing MLK Day, which showcased her great skills as an organizer and leader. The day went perfectly, a real achievement with so many moving pieces. She impressed other Committee members so much that in only her second year Veronica became PADC’s co-President. She has demonstrated excellent people skills, good judgment and a willingness to dig into complex issues in search of practical solutions.

Veronica’s background as an education and business journalist for 18 years has given her a broad perspective on education. She works now as an advisor to school systems and educational non-profits looking to build equitable, inclusive and effective organizations. She is knowledgeable, smart, energetic, and community-minded.

Veronica also has a daughter who is a junior at PHS, where she has helped to launch a revitalized Black Student Union. Her husband, David Thigpen, heads the undergraduate Journalism Department at UC Berkeley.

I hope that you’ll join me in supporting Veronica, and talking her up with your friends. When door-to-door campaigning is out, we need to find other ways to connect!

Maude Pervere, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 29 2020

The Mercury News Editorial –

Editorial: Reject Piedmont property tax hike for pool repairs

The Mercury News editorial is copied below:

“Piedmont residents tax themselves to ensure that they have the best schools and premier city government. The average homeowner pays $4,400 in extra taxes for schools and another $635 for city services.

But those taxes also drive up the cost of housing in the exclusive city surrounded by Oakland and further ensure that those with average means will not be able to crack the city’s residential market.

Voters in Tuesday’s election will face two tax hikes. Measure TT, which we have previously recommended voters reject, would increase the city’s tax on property sales to state record-high levels. Now we look at Measure UU, a $19.5 million bond proposal to pay for replacing three old community pools with two new ones. Voters should reject that, too.

Based on the city estimates provided to voters, Measure UU would add an average $263 annually to the tax bill for a home assessed at the city average of slightly over $1 million.

It a bit of a tricky calculation for voters because city officials in the ballot wording obfuscated the projected average tax rate as 2.6 cents per $100 of assessed value rather than an easier-to-understand $26 per $100,000.

It turns out that the city overstated that rate, especially for the latter part of the 30-year tax. The firmer number is that city taxpayers would collectively pay about $1.3 million annually to retire the bonds needed to finance the construction.

To put that number in perspective, the city spends more than that – nearly $1.7 million to be precise – just to cover the interest payments on public employee pension debt. Put another way, most of the pool bond payments could be covered by Measure TT, which is expected to add about $948,462 annually to the city’s transfer tax revenues.

Individually and collectively, the two measures raise a question of, how much is too much? Rather than throwing multiple tax measures at voters, city leaders need to prioritize and look for savings elsewhere.”

Oct 28 2020
I am supporting Veronica Anderson Thigpen for Piedmont School Board. I first met Veronica at Piedmont’s MLK Day Celebration in 2019, which she helped organize. Since then, I’ve gotten to know her even better through her work as Co-Chair of the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee.
.
In all my interactions with Veronica, I’ve been impressed both by her passion for social justice and equity and by her thoughtfulness, practical instincts and willingness to listen.
With her deep understanding of education policy, honed through her work as a journalist and an educational adviser, she has the expertise needed to help the School Board make the best decisions for our kids.
.
As an African American woman who has been committed throughout her career to fighting for social justice and inclusion, she would also bring a fresh perspective to the PUSD board on a wide range of critical issues. And as a collaborative, can-do leader, she would help PUSD translate good principles into productive, concrete actions.
We’re living in a time of unprecedented challenges but also unprecedented opportunity – opportunity to build a society that is more just, equitable and sustainable. Veronica is someone who can help us meet that challenge by taking the amazing foundation we’ve built in Piedmont and expanding its reach to make our city a more welcoming and inclusive place.
.
If you share that aspiration for Piedmont’s future, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Veronica for School Board!  
.
Sachin Adarkar, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 25 2020

The City Council Is Not Being Open And Transparent About Measure UU. If They Were, Residents Would Have Received This Measure UU Letter.

Dear Piedmonters,

Before you vote on Measure UU, we thought there were a few things we needed to tell you. We did tell you that the City has no outstanding General Obligation Bonds, but we didn’t mention that we have LOTS of debts – $7 million in sewer loans, $13 million in Post Employment Benefits Payable, and $26 million in Pension Benefits Payable.

Oh, and if our pension portfolio returns only 6.15% instead of the estimated 7.15% (you can get 7.15% on your investments in today’s crazy market with bonds yielding close to zero, can’t you?), our Pension Benefit Liability alone increases to over $43 million.

Speaking of deficits, did we mention that our General Fund – that is, unrestricted money that the City can spend on anything – has a deficit of about $9 million?

We also glossed over the fact that the ordinance we passed estimates that the total cost of the “improvements” is $23 million, but that it allows us to issue $19.5 million in bonds. Guess who is paying for the difference?

We also haven’t mentioned it, but by reading the City Council minutes for the last six months, you can see that we know about the major deficiencies in our ability to deliver essential public services – the Police Chief, Fire Chief, and City Administrator are all on the record as saying that we do not comply with the Essential Services Act, that the fire station may sustain major damage in an earthquake, and that it may cost up to $51 million to fix these problems. That’s why we are looking at creating a Community Facilities District (aka Mello-Roos) to make it easier to issue bonds backed by another special tax on Piedmont homeowners in the near future. And because we generally ask for the maximum amount, it will probably be for the full $51 million.

Finally, we haven’t mentioned that 100% of Piedmont citizens rely on our Police and Fire Departments, while an estimated 25% of citizens use the pool.

So, if we had placed two bond measures on the November ballot – $50 million for Police and Fire, and $20 million for a new pool, we knew what would happen. Citizens would vote to maintain essential services, but they would turn down the pool.

After spending $56 million in 2006 and another $66 million in 2016 on School District Bonds (all that money is gone, and they still haven’t finished their projects), $10 million per year on Measure G, $2.6 million per year on Measure H, and $2.4 million per year on Measure T, citizens are getting a little tax weary. After all, aren’t our property tax rates some of the highest in California?

So, think carefully before you vote on measure UU. We’ll see you soon with our new $51 million bond request. You will HAVE to vote yes to maintain city services, but you can vote NO on Measure UU.

Andy Wasserman, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 25 2020
I’m writing to encourage Piedmonters to elect Hari Titan to the Piedmont School Board.

Hari is a BIG supporter of Piedmont schools.  He has extensive experience in finances and a desire for the Piedmont schools to be the best they can be. Hari found many ways for our tax dollars to go further by paying for school bonds as we go, just like a fixed-rate mortgage.  By not deferring property taxes, Piedmont taxpayers saved $26 million.

Hari also fought for the cost-effectiveness of new construction for the high school theater and STEAM building, allowing for more seats, better acoustics, handicap access, net-zero energy use, and earthquake safety.

Hari has also fought for listening to our local epidemiologists and transparent school closure and reopening criteria. Hari will make sure we get back to educational excellence safely and as soon as possible.

Please join me in voting for Dr. Titan for the school board this year.

Patty White, Former Piedmont Mayor

~~~~~~~~~~~

 – Titan:  7 years of valuable aid to schools –  

Our home values are linked to Piedmont’s  historical reputation for excellent schools.   That reputation is starting to falter as evidenced by the unexpected loss of 81 students from our school district this year.  Once lost, it will take years to recover our reputation.

Titan is the School Board candidate who will add thoughtful management and responsible oversight to the School Board.  Since 2013 he’s contributed over 500 hours of time which produced well-conceived recommendations that saved our schools and taxpayers MILLIONS of dollars.

Our current school board is disproportionately influenced by the unions and our country-club society.  Board decisions are too often unanimous with little public deliberation and are often dismissive of thoughtful public input.  Titan will return  transparent governance to the school board.

My decision to vote for Titan is based on the content of his character and intellect.  His experience as a businessman, mathematician, scientist, and STEM college professor brings valuable diversity and professional acumen to the board.

Membership on the school board should not be a popularity contest.  Titan is the responsible candidate we need.

Dai Meagher, retired CPA, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Oct 19 2020

The Impact of Racial Segregation on Piedmont Schools and Where We Take It From Here –

Announcement:

Join Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign (PREC) for a Zoom discussion on how race and segregation have impacted Piedmont schools and explore the ways we can rebalance educational equity in our community and beyond.

Date: Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 7-8:15 pm 

RSVP: Register here (Free)

Presented by Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign (PREC)
Co-sponsored by Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee (PADC) and Piedmont Education Foundation (PEF) Education Speaker Series

Panelists:

  • Stefan Lallinger: Director of the Bridges Collaborative, a group of experts in education, policy, and housing focused on integrated schools and neighborhoods. Previously, he was Special Assistant to the Chancellor of the NY Department of Education, a principal, teacher, and doctoral graduate from Harvard University.

  • Dorothy Lazard manages the Oakland History Room of the Oakland Public Library. She has hosted popular history programs, curated exhibits, and written articles with a focus on making Oakland’s history accessible to a broader audience.

  • Rebecca Sibilia: Former Executive Director of EdBuild, a national organization focused on rethinking state funding for public schools. EdBuild has generated national headlines and was cited in numerous presidential candidates’ platforms.

Moderated by Carolyn Jones, senior reporter at EdSource. Former San Francisco Chronicle and Oakland Tribune reporter and has written on education and the history of Piedmont and Oakland.

For more information: piedmontracialequity@gmail.com

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of PREC.  PCA and PREC are separate organizations.
Oct 17 2020

In this country and in this city, in particular, there is a significant discrepancy between the amount of money spent on private vs. public improvements. The current situation—crumbling public infrastructure—is the result of years of the community’s inability to fully commit to supporting our public facilities. I personally see Measure UU to rebuild the Piedmont Community Pool first and foremost as a simple question: whether we as a community value a pool or not?

City public improvements such as pools, parks, courts, tracks, and trails are the last remaining vestiges of what can be considered the commons—outdoor places that play a central role in both creating community and providing for the simple, nearby enjoyment of the outdoors. In an urban context, we would do well to not let our lives be limited to the experience of individual spaces, such as our cars or our homes. If we let our lives be connected only virtually by digital technologies we lose out in the richness of experience that our world has to offer. During this time of COVID, we have seen first-hand the division and mistrust, indeed the disintegration of the commons that virtual communities have fostered. A public pool in Piedmont will greatly enhance our City’s commons.

Public financing for a public improvement is appropriate. Does that mean that the City needs to have bids before agreeing on the Measure UU? Of course not. Do you go out and get bids for a bathroom remodel before you decide as a household that you need a new bathroom? No. You assess the problem, agree on the need for the improvement, limit the budget, and then hire the appropriate designers, contractors and other experts to bring your ideas to reality.

Cost, the desire to control costs, the existence of cost overruns, can always be brought up on any capital improvement project. It can always be used to shoot down an initiative, but this approach will not get us closer to a community pool. If the community can first agree on the need for a new pool to replace the now defunct facility, then Measure UU authorizes up to $19.5 million which will be overseen by a committee and issued based on the final design. Setting a bond limit now and having each household pay for the bond issue is appropriate. To be fair, I’m biased, and it is up to each of us to decide what to do with our money, particularly when it comes to benefiting the greater community. Yet, I would submit that to construct a beautiful, new, public pool facility in Piedmont in return for a bond issue that costs less than the price of a Starbucks Venti coffee per day, per household is an affordable and not unreasonable price for Piedmont residents to bear.

The cost of public work is fundamentally different and higher than the cost of private work. The restrictions (for example pay rates), qualifications (for example must have done similar public scale projects for at least 5 years), requirements (for example must be bonded to a certain level) placed on the contractors have made this type of project buildable by only a small handful of well-qualified, large, and yes expensive construction firms. They can and will deliver – but there is and, indeed there should be, a cost to that. The City’s stringent requirements (ensure the project is close to zero net energy, make no dust, no noise during school hours, protect our kids when they walk by the project) result in costs that are nearly all avoidable on a private project.

However, the project will have a cost estimator who will work in conjunction with the City, the pool committee, the design team and the contractor to carefully review priorities, and expenses. Every attempt should be made to value engineer the project given the ‘fixed’ budget as defined by the bond measure. One can haggle the details of cost, and certainly the City should hire (an additional expense!) a project manager who is vigilant about controlling costs, but now is not the time to haggle these details when the pool design has not even been finalized.

We are all concerned about global warming, acting locally to reach goals of carbon neutrality for Piedmont. Pools have negative environmental impacts, as do many activities we enjoy. However, to begin to mitigate these impacts, we have to begin to collaborate more as a community and less as individuals competing for limited resources. If we can get to a place where we can agree on the benefits of a pool, then let’s work together to drive down the costs both environmental and fiscal to a point where they balance the benefits to us all as a community.

A single public pool has less of environmental impact than hundreds of private pools when compared to the relative community benefit. A new pool also can be designed with appropriate sustainable technology to heat, filter and re-cycle the water to adequately meet the needs of users. Solar thermal panels could be used to heat or pre-heat the pool water. Perhaps hybrid photovoltaic/thermal systems installed on the bottom of the pool could be employed that capture solar radiation for pool heat or facility power. Another consideration is the use a shallow water storage tank that can retain solar heat and be used to warm the main pool in the early mornings. The ancillary facilities can be net-zero buildings with photovoltaic solar panels, as well as passive heating and cooling. Again, if we can come together as a community around common goals for a sustainable pool, solutions can be developed.

To the extent that the pool will benefit both Piedmont residents and our neighbors in Oakland and surrounding communities, I think that we are fortunate to be able to share our resources for the benefit of the greater good. Without a doubt, Piedmont residents benefit from such community resources as Lake Merritt, the Oakland Museum, the Rose Garden, and currently the public pools in Lafayette, Alameda and Berkeley albeit a long drive from home. We will not improve our community or the world by walling ourselves off from others.

Our current decrepit and undersized pool does not properly meet the needs of the Piedmont community and our schools. Furthermore, the pool does not meet health and safety standards, in particular current ADA or Universal Design requirements. The outdated facility simply can’t accommodate the community demand from individuals, families and teams. A new pool will provide for this currently unmet demand with a proper Piedmont aquatics facility.

Please join me in support of Measure UU. We can come together as a community and replace this deteriorated aquatics facility with a new pool for future generations to enjoy.

John Ware, Piedmont Resident, Architect, Engineer

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 15 2020

On October 2, 2020, the Piedmont Unified School District announced the selection of Bradley Smet as the new Director of Athletics for Piedmont High School and Millennium High School.

Mr. Smet’s selection was based on his coaching experience and experience in Athletic Administration. Mr. Smet has served as a head coach in baseball at Atascadero High School as well as an assistant coach in baseball and football at Atascadero High School and Templeton High School.

Mr. Smet played two sports while attending Atascadero High School, leading the Greyhounds as the starting quarterback on the football team and starting pitcher on the baseball team. He played football at Hartnell College and Sterling College where he served as quarterback on both teams.

He also has experience as an educator at the school site and in the classroom. Prior to his role as the Interim Athletic Director and Assistant Athletic Director in the Templeton Unified School District, Mr. Smet was a special education teacher in the Atascadero Unified School District.

While at Sterling College. Mr. Smet received his Bachelor of Arts in History. He earned his Masters of Coaching and Athletic Administration from the University of Concordia of Irvine.

PHS Principal Adam Littlefield coordinated the recruitment and selection process. Administrators, teaching and support staff, coaching staff, members of the PHS Athletic Boosters, and student representatives participated in the interviews.

PHS Principal Adam Littlefield commented, “The Piedmont High School and Millennium High School communities are fortunate to have a new Director of Athletics with Mr. Smet’s passion and enthusiasm for athletics. His interest in motivating, engaging, and developing student athletes in and out of the competition environment is welcomed. I am excited to have Bradley as a member of our administrative team.”

Mr. Smet adds, “I am very excited to be joining the athletic program at Piedmont and Millennium High School, and am impressed by the long tradition of success that the student-athletes have had in and out of the competitive environment. Not only have the athletes excelled in their sports but also in the classroom. I will enjoy working not only with the students but also with the stakeholders involved in athletics to continue this impressive tradition. This year Piedmont High School is celebrating their 100th year anniversary, and I look forward to helping continue the strong traditions that were built over the past century.”

The District’s Director of Athletics is responsible for: recruiting, hiring, supervising, and evaluating coaches; developing and overseeing the Athletic Department budget; monitoring student eligibility; serving as the school representative of the West Alameda County Conference; partnering with the PHS Athletic Boosters; coordinating team schedules, transportation, equipment, and supplies for 49 teams; and ensuring a safe and supportive program for over 500 student athletes.

The Director of Athletics, which is a part-time administrative position funded by the District, requires a coaching certification. The position was broadly advertised and there were 17 applicants. Mr. Smet will start in this position with an annual salary of $56,663.

Piedmont Unified School District – Press Release – Oct. 15, 2020