Oct 7 2020

No Consumer Ever Got a “Prop. 13 Discount”

Since Prop. 13 was passed in 1978, the taxable value of California business property has increased no more than 2% per year regardless of its market value, unless there is a change in ownership.  Owners of such properties have used various legal mechanisms to avoid a change in ownership.  These owners, whether operating a business or renting property to others, pay far less property tax than competing businesses that acquired property more recently.

Prices and rents, however, are set by markets.  Consumers and renters don’t get a “Prop. 13 discount” that reflects the property owner’s low property tax; the property owner just pockets those savings while the rest of us pay not only the market price, but also more in all kinds of taxes to make up for the lost business property tax revenue.

Prop. 15, on the November ballot, will fix this situation by allowing the taxable value of business properties worth more than $3 million to gradually rise to market value.  Opponents claim that Prop. 15 will cause prices and rents to rise as property owners try to pass along the increased property tax.  That’s extremely unlikely—if those property owners could charge more, they already would be.

Please vote in favor of Prop. 15 to require all businesses to pay their fair share and fund our schools.

Richard W. Raushenbush, Former School Board Member

Sep 29 2020

I enthusiastically support Cory Smegal for another term on the school board.

I was on the board when she was elected and we’ve served together these last four years. Cory came onto the board with relevant experience and strong skills and, in the last four years, she has only deepened and expanded her expertise.

Cory is impressively smart, quick, creative, and compassionate. To the core, Cory is a servant leader, always, always putting our students and their well-being first and thoughtfully balancing the needs of our myriad stakeholders against what will best serve our students and their families. Cory asks questions…a lot of them (a very good thing!), does her homework and does it well, and is an out-of-the-box thinker who pushes and prods to find the best solution within the confines of the rules and regulations that govern public education. What I especially appreciate, too, is that Cory wants everyone to understand the “why” of an action or decision, taking the time to provide background during board discussions so that everyone understands the context in which decisions/actions are made.

It’s been a difficult year in light of shifting our learning environment because of COVID, and it is a testament to Cory that she has chosen to continue to serve for another four years and to continue to use her talents for our educational community. It will be my honor to continue to work with her.

Please join me in voting for Cory for school board. I know absolutely that Piedmont will be very well served.

Respectfully,

Amal Smith, Member of the School Board

Sep 28 2020

I am writing in support of Veronica Anderson Thigpen for election to the Piedmont School Board.

Veronica will bring a dynamic new perspective to the board. Her professional, volunteer and life experiences make her an excellent candidate. Veronica moved to Piedmont from Chicago where she earned degrees in Economics and Journalism from Northwestern University. Veronica has authored award winning writings on educational policy, and currently advises school systems and educational nonprofits on building equitable and effective organizations.

Upon arrival in Piedmont, Veronica eagerly joined our enthusiastic volunteer community and has made several important contributions. We are fortunate to have a candidate with such broad understanding of educational policy, and a willingness to share her talents and knowledge. Veronica is also a trained facilitator whose calm, thoughtful demeanor and sense of humor make her an effective collaborator. Veronica is articulate and is a skilled listener. Her positive attitude and willingness to address difficult issues are critical strengths in these challenging time.

My association with the school district began in 1980 when I was hired to teach art at Piedmont Middle School. For many years both the school district and the city have expressed a desire to increase diversity within their staffs. In Veronica we have a competent, eminently qualified leader who is also a woman of color. Veronica will make a wonderful addition to our dedicated Board of Education.

Please join me in voting for Veronica Anderson Thigpen for School Board.

Cathy Michelotti Glazier, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Sep 28 2020

Read detailed information and watch a short video for School Board Candidate Hari Titan by clicking below.

> Hari Titan for School Board 2020 | Community Digital Town Hall

Hari Titan Piedmont School Board Candidate

Sep 17 2020

The first time I met Veronica she was working at Piedmont’s annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration, calmly ensuring that Congresswoman Barbara Lee had a designated space to park and a committed escort to show her into the Veterans’ Hall for her speech. Veronica and her family had just moved to Piedmont from Chicago less than three months before, and here she was, diving headlong into a leadership role directing the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee’s (PADC) signature event. Moving boxes still waited to be unpacked in the Thigpen’s new home yet she was mediating, problem-solving and coordinating this huge organizational undertaking, functioning as if she’d been living in Piedmont for decades.

Pragmatic leadership and decision-making, I would come to understand, are Veronica’s strengths, along with a grand sense of humor and warm, genuine nature.

Over the next two years I got to learn who Veronica Thigpen is as she immersed herself in the work of PADC becoming its co-president the following year and overseeing the organization’s diversity grants, City Council consultations, engagements with the police and recreation departments and continuing PADC’s founding focus, insuring diversity and inclusion in Piedmont schools.

I have worked closely with Veronica as a member of PADC. Veronica’s expertise in organizing, her background in education, journalism and consulting, make her well suited for any leadership role.

Over those three years, I have also come to value Veronica as a real friend. We speak often, especially now at the confluence of a pandemic, a sudden social upheaval and the real tangible impact of climate change. Veronica and I also share the challenges and joys of raising young Black girls, helping them sprint toward and take it upon themselves to become fully engaged as social activist in our evolving Piedmont community. And, I can always rely on Veronica’s sense of humor to provide levity no matter the weight of the moment.

All of these things about Veronica make her the right choice, at this time, for the Piedmont School Board. She will bring a unique perspective that has long been missing from the school board, pushing toward a new Local Control and Accountability Plan crafted to carry out the board’s newly declared commitment to equity and social justice. I stand behind Veronica Thigpen for School Board.

Richard Turner, Piedmont Resident

Sep 16 2020

Voters will select three from five candidates for the Piedmont Unified School District Board.

 All School Board candidates were asked to respond to the following questions in 60 words or less by September 15.

1. Which listed issue is your highest priority and why? –  Funding,  Teachers,  Facilities,  Transparency, Administration,  Achievement,  Equality,  Community Involvement,  Safety

2. What has the School Board done well during recent years?  

3. As a School Board member, what changes would you advocate? 

Candidate responses are listed in the order received.  There has been no editing of the responses.

Cory Smegal – School Board Candidate

1. My top priority is our students – both their learning and mental health.  This fall, distance learning has improved. There is a consistent schedule, clear assessments and accountability.  We must not lose sight of the fact that distance learning is very hard on students’ mental health. We need to create opportunities for our students to make safe in person connections. 

2. Recently, I’ve led our Board advocacy efforts.  Beyond this current pandemic, the biggest problem for California schools has been and will continue to be serious underfunding.  Piedmont has become active in raising awareness of this issue, meeting with state representatives, working with the Alameda County Coalition and hosting a week of events to get the state to fund education now.    

3. During my term, I’ve advocated for clear communication and improved public outreach.  It is critical that all stakeholders understand what is going on and how decisions are being made.  There is definitely more work to be done to enhance communication and promote participation in the process.  Cory Smegal 

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Hilary Cooper – School Board Candidate

1. Students and their safety is my highest priority.  When we think about returning to the classroom, we must prioritize safety and let science drive our decisions.  Some schools have already applied for a K-6 waiver and that will afford us the opportunity to learn from each other and implement best practices.

2. Our school board has a proven record of supporting innovation.  They voted to adopt a one-to-one connected learning program, providing Chromebooks for each student.  They have supported innovation through groups like Piedmont Makers and the Wellness Center.  Most importantly, they supported the STEAM building through Bond Measure H1.  Our district’s forward thinking mindset enables us to address challenges.

3. Our district needs to build on what we’ve learned during distance learning to advance our curriculum and instruction. Our teachers have learned to use technology more effectively during this time, and that should continue. While we work hard to get kids and teachers safely back in the classroom, we shouldn’t settle for “returning to normal,” but reach for better together.    Hilary Cooper

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Jason Kelley – School Board Candidate

1. Community involvement is my priority because it leads to excellence in all the other listed areas. Our community is filled with parents and residents who have expertise in each of these areas, and a school board that welcomes input from community stakeholders ensures the best possible outcomes.

2. The School Board and Piedmont’s amazing educators have done a good job during this most difficult time in pivoting school from in-person learning to distance learning. Changing conditions have required flexibility and hard work. There is always room for improvement, but Piedmont’s students have been provided with a more robust at-home program than many others in California.

3. I advocate greater transparency. Parents and other Piedmont residents should be able to understand how and why the School Board is making the decisions it does, especially as it grapples with how and when to re-open schools. The community needs to see that it is being protected, and parents should know how their children’s educational needs are being met.  Jason Kelley

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Veronica Anderson Thigpen – School Board Candidate

1. I have three priorities:
–  Maintaining excellence in education throughout the pandemic and beyond.
–  Elevating equity as a core value in every classroom, in every school, across the district to ensure that students are served across the spectrum of learning needs.                                                                          – Creating more spaces and structures for students voices so they feel welcomed, heard, understood, empowered and engaged.

2. A centerpiece of achievement is the new high school STEM facility, expected to open this school year. The project is a much-needed revamp of the aging PHS campus. It took years of site development planning plus a successful public financing campaign. Currently, phase two of the project is underway and will result in a new performing arts and theater facility.

3. I would seek opportunities to include community and youth perspectives in decision- making. Recently, I experienced the efficacy of this approach when I engaged with community advocates from the PADC and the Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign (PREC) along with teachers, youth and district administrators to craft racial and educational equity policies that now have widespread buy-in.  Veronica Anderson Thigpen

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No responses were received from School Board Candidate Hari Titan.

Sep 16 2020

Reopening of Witter Field September 16, 2020 –

Consistent with public health orders issued by Alameda County that are intended to slow the spread of Covid-19, the Piedmont Unified School District has reopened Witter Field for community use.

Individuals can access Witter Field from the Wildwood Avenue steps, Piedmont Middle School’s “PE Hill,” or the El Cerrito pedestrian gate. The Windsor Avenue gate, Wildwood Elementary School playground, baseball and softball fields, batting cages, and Witter Field House restrooms will remain closed.

Individuals must wear face coverings, maintain at least six-foot social distancing from others who are not part of the same household or living unit, and avoid all social interaction when sick with a fever, cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms.

The District previously closed Witter Field due to widespread and persistent lack of compliance with the Alameda County order at the Field, and similar issues led the City of Piedmont to close the Linda Beach Playfield, as noncompliance poses a serious public health risk.

Witter Field is an important community resource and the decision to reopen the facility was made based on supportive public input. The Field will remain open as long as users comply with the public health orders issued by Alameda County.

Questions or comments? Please contact Director of Facilities Pete Palmer at ppalmer@piedmont.k12.ca.us

Sep 15 2020

Connie Herrick – City Council Candidate

Walk for Wellness: Connie Herrick Signs Up Today,

The sun was out and the smoke was better, so I opened my front door. On the porch was a cheerful little white bag with a red bow. My Walk for Wellness goodie bag had arrived! What an unexpected, lovely surprise.

The visor is really good looking and well-made with a cheerful embroidered design. There are Mulberry’s coupons good through 10/31/20 for a Harmless Harvest yogurt cup, Crystal Geyser bottle water and my choice of an apple, banana or orange.

I feel my wellness increasing already and the walk hasn’t started yet. I remember when Brooke Zimmerman started the Wellness Center. To this day, my 29 year old son Matt remembers her for her kindness and caring manner. She will always be one of his favorite high school people. Creating a center dedicated to supporting student mental health back then was such a new and almost radical idea. How wonderful to see it survive and thrive all these years.

Our family, including Kapo our retired search and rescue dog, is looking forward to the walks starting up next week. We hope to see lots of residents out walking with their visors (and masks) on. Fingers crossed the air quality clears in time so we can all get some exercise and support the Wellness Center. If you haven’t signed up, do it today: PiedmontWalkforWellness.org

Connie Herrick, City Council Candidate

www.voteherrick.com

Sep 13 2020

We have known Cory since our kids began kindergarten at Wildwood over a dozen years ago. From the start it was obvious that she would do great things for our schools and our community.  Since then, she has done nearly every volunteer job in town: President of the Wildwood Parents Club, Chair of the Giving Campaign, softball coach, Scout leader, just to name a few.

Watching her serve as School Board vice-president, it is clear that Cory’s continued leadership is of great value to our town. She has been a consistent advocate for improved communication, for the mental health and well being of our students, and for the financial health of our public schools.

Cory has worked hard to improve communications in her role as the Board liaison.  She responded promptly and thoughtfully to hundreds of emails that were sent to the Board during this difficult time.  She answered numerous and emotional emails from us with understanding, grace, honesty and integrity. On Zoom and KCOM, we have watched Cory stand out as a critical thinker and clear communicator. She does her research, and she asks direct and transparent questions that are informed by science and best practices.

Cory has been steadfast in her efforts to help our students. She has advocated to bring students back to the classroom as soon as safely possible. She has also been working with students to create ways for them to make meaningful connections, even in a COVID-restricted world.

Cory has an MBA and her financial literacy is essential in times of increased budget challenges.  After four years of Board leadership, she also has a deep understanding of the District’s financials. Cory helped organize the Red for Ed Campaign and led efforts to lobby for increased education funding from the State so that our School District could give raises to our employees.

We are incredibly fortunate that Cory is running for a second term. Quite honestly, it’s hard to imagine the School Board without her!  Please join us in voting to re-elect Cory to the Piedmont School Board.

Pam Schwartz & Eric Wolfers

Sep 13 2020

Racial Segregation and Housing in Piedmont:

How Did We Get Here? What Can We Do About It?

A panel discussion organized by the Piedmont Racial Equity Campaign, Co-sponsored by Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee and the League of Women Voters of Piedmont.

Thursday, September 24, 2020, 7-8:30 pm on Zoom

Register here

As part of the ongoing struggle to achieve racial equity and justice, integrating and diversifying our neighborhoods are essential tasks. A recent UC Berkeley report on Racial Segregation in the SF Bay Area demonstrates that residential segregation is alive and well in the Bay Area. How did we get here? What can we do about it? Join us for a Zoom panel addressing the history of racial segregation and housing in Piedmont, and steps that our city can take to achieve a more equitable future.

Featuring:

Gloria Bruce

Executive Director, East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO). EBHO is the leading advocacy coalition promoting affordable housing in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Irene Cheng

Associate Professor, California College of the Arts, and co-editor, Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present

Carol Galante

I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor in Affordable Housing and Urban Policy, UC Berkeley, and Director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation. Former Federal Housing Commissioner at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama.

Moderated by Sarah Karlinsky, Senior Policy Advisor, SPUR (the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association)

For more information: email piedmontracialequity@gmail.com.