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

Oct 15 2020

When the City took over operation of the pool in 2011, I was asked to help design how the pool would operate.  The system we came up with generated twice as much revenue as other public pools and saved the City a lot of money.  I spent over a thousand hours in that effort.  I was motivated to do so for two reasons: I wanted to be sure the City’s operation of the pool was a success and I was concerned that, if the pool got too expensive, the City might lose interest in it.  I brought those same concerns to the discussions that led to the current pool proposal.

We need to build a pool that meets the needs of the schools as well as the rest of the community.  Under the facilities sharing arrangement between the City and the schools, the schools get to use the pool just as the City gets to use the schools’ gyms and sports fields.  We are the same taxpayers who would be called on to fund a school pool.  It makes no sense to have two pool facilities, one for the schools and one for everyone else, across the street from each other.

It’s time to have one facility that works for everyone—designed so the Piedmont swim team doesn’t have to rent additional space in other communities and spend hours a week commuting to practice; designed so the high school water polo and swim teams don’t have to practice at night or commute to other pools; designed so kids can both play and have swim lessons after school, all with lap swimmers having room to swim and finally being able to swim their laps when they get home from work at night.

It’s not too expensive.  The bond measure is about financing, not cost. You can’t bid the project until you have detailed construction drawings and no one would pay to have those drawings done until they knew they had the financing and the project would proceed.

The increased cost estimate from 2016, when the conceptual design was initially approved, simply reflects that it will be built at least six years later, and, in fact, it is in line with what we understand other neighboring communities are doing.  When you are arranging for financing, you need to build in room for interest rate fluctuations and other contingencies.  Measure UU is simply authorizing bonds.

You don’t have to issue or spend all the bonds that are authorized, but you have to be sure the bond cap is high enough to more than cover the anticipated cost, because you can’t go get more bonds approved in the middle of the project.

The City Council didn’t prioritize the pool over public safety, by putting the pool on the ballot.  The fact is our infrastructure is old and needs to be addressed.  The pool is on the ballot because there already was a plan to deal with the pool, which had been analyzed, researched, and discussed for years.

The public safety issues just came up.  We don’t know enough about them and there isn’t a plan to deal with them yet.  It isn’t a question of picking one over the other.  If Piedmont is going to be the community you moved here to live in, we have to address them both.

The question is simple: does Piedmont want a pool or not?  If we do, it makes no sense to build an inadequate pool.  It’s time to have a community pool that finally meets the needs of the whole community.

Join me in voting YES on Measure UU! 
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Jon Sakol, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 14 2020

Click below to view the League of Women Voters Piedmont Forum on Pool Bonds: Measure UU.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2Sb1tqucBs

Proponent speaker: Betsy Andersen

Opponent speaker: Andy Wasserman

Oct 13 2020

I met Cory Smegal back in 2009 when we had young children and were co-presidents of our respective elementary school parent clubs. Since those early days of working together, I’ve watched as Cory has consistently taken on new and increasingly significant roles to support our students and the school district.In addition, now I’m privileged to call her my friend.

Most recently, I had the opportunity to work closely with Cory last year when I was president of PHS Parents’ Club. Cory was always a supportive and active School Board member, even before the world was turned upside down by the pandemic.

One of the things I respect most about Cory is that she always anchors her positions and efforts on what’s best for our students. And over the past four years she has also led the charge for our district to advocate for children across the state. In this way, she works for ways that Piedmont can take a leadership role in ensuring quality education for all.

The attributes that make Cory a great friend also make her a great community leader. She listens, is responsive, and works hard. She’s thoughtful, balanced and diligently researches her positions before she reaches conclusions or acts upon them.

And Cory is pragmatic, with a strong sense of fiduciary responsibility. More than anything, Cory cares deeply for our town and its children.

Please join me in re-electing Cory Smegal for School Board.

Laura Katter

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 11 2020
I have had the pleasure of knowing Cory since our children attended Wildwood Elementary. We worked together on many parent club boards (Wildwood, PMS, and PHS) and also co-chaired The Giving Campaign for two years.
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Cory is dedicated to public education and always has the best interests of our students at heart. With her extensive volunteer background, she understands our school system on every level, has a strong financial background and is familiar with district budgets, and she listens respectfully to all stakeholders points of view before making decisions. During this unprecedented time, we need someone with her experience to guide us through a safe return to the classroom.
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No one is more qualified to advocate for the continued excellence of our schools. Please join me in voting for Cory Smegal on November 3rd!
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Terri Burge
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 9 2020

When I think about Piedmont, the iconic image that comes to mind is the center of town – the 4 schools, the tennis courts, Piedmont Park and City Hall.  And, in the middle – the pool. We live in a really beautiful place and the pool is a vital part.

This picture fades when you foresee the pool drained and the site pad-locked. Further, it is difficult to imagine it replaced by anything else. I can’t see, and don’t want, it “developed” for alternative (commercial) purposes. That’s not Piedmont. What belongs there is a pool. This is where our kids learn to swim. This is where my parents took me to learn to swim. Why would we take that away from our community and future residents? A cost/benefit analysis falls woefully short of responding to that question. Nobody applies that logic to the other amenities.

We rightfully take pride in our city. We should be a community that does not require a “fiscal” conclusion to support inherently valuable projects. We have parks, fields and courts for our citizens and students to pursue their athletic interests. Swimmers and water polo players deserve the same. Make no mistake, the pool augments the quintessential Piedmont “selling point” – the Schools.

Should UU fail, Piedmont High School and it’s swimming and water polo teams will be without a pool. Would some families opt for private schools that have pools? Seems likely. Replacing the pool is a great opportunity. The proposed plan ties the pool and the tennis courts together and creates a modern and attractive recreational facility. This is more than a replacement – it’s an improvement.

Think about recent projects. Does anyone regret remodeling Hampton Field? Do we wish we hadn’t spent the money to replace Havens? Of course not. All things have a lifespan whether we are talking about civic amenities or personal property. Well, the pool’s life has ended and it is our responsibility to get it replaced.

Those that oppose Measure UU because they ‘don’t use the pool’ or ‘don’t like how it will be funded’ should consider the risks of shuttering the pool. How does creating a blight improve our city? Whatever the objection, in the long-run this project enhances Piedmont, which benefits us all. Because Piedmont’s a community and not just an address, we owe it to the past and future to get this done.

Please vote ‘YES’ on UU.

Chris Hart, Current President Piedmont High School Boosters, Prior President Piedmont Baseball Softball Foundation

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 8 2020

Every voter in Piedmont should have received their ballot and Alameda County Voter Information Guide in the mail.

Although many voters are marking their ballots, the Alameda County Voter Information Guide has not been delivered.  The Guide contains Piedmont candidate statements and Piedmont ballot measure arguments.  

A  Piedmont press release stated: Sample Ballot / Voter Information Pamphlet

“The Alameda County Registrar of Voters began mailing Sample Ballot / Voter Information Pamphlets to registered voters on Thursday, September 24th. You can also view your personalized Voter Information Guide on the  Registrar of Voters My Voter Profilepage. If you have not received your sample ballot by October 16th, please contact the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office at (510) 272-6933.”

Voted ballots may be returned in a U.S. Postal Box or deposited in the Alameda County BALLOT BOX located in central Piedmont at the corner of HIGHLAND WAY and HIGHLAND AVENUES next to the Wells Fargo Bank.  POSTAGE IS NOT REQUIRED ON BALLOT ENVELOPES.

Because of issues related to mailed ballots, voters are encouraged to vote their ballots early to assure timely delivery to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

For your ballot to be counted, you must sign your ballot envelope. Every voters signature is carefully checked by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

++++++ VOTER GUIDE INFORMATION ++++++

Piedmont’s Ballot Measures TT (Transfer Tax Increase)  and UU (Pool Bonds) are found on the very last page of the ballot. Links to official information on Measures UU and TT are below.

Measure TT – Transfer Tax Increase on Real Property Sales

Measure UU – Pool Construction Bonds 

Official information on candidates for City Council and School Board are linked below.  Click on the candidate name to read their statement.

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https://piedmont.ca.gov/services___departments/city_clerk/elections/november_3_2020_general_municipal_election/2020_candidate_list

If you have questions or concerns regarding voting, contact Piedmont City Clerk John Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

Oct 7 2020
I have known Veronica Thigpen for several years. We first met through the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee.  I was impressed that she stepped up to lead the MLK Day celebration and gathering as a new member of the organization and of our community. The two MLK Day events she organized and led were extremely successful.  They were standing-room only and the program not only celebrated the work and vision of Martin Luther King Jr., it grounded the ideas of racial justice and equity within our community.
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Personally, I appreciated her dedication to opening the MLK  events with a recognition that we were on land which once belonged to the indigenous people of the East Bay, the Ohlone.  To me this showed her commitment to the inclusion of the diverse people that live and work in our community.
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I am voting for Veronica for the school board because I believe that she will take the initiative, leadership and dedication that she demonstrated through those events together with her focus on equity and inclusion and use those to lead education in Piedmont in the direction it needs to go.
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Please join me in voting for Veronica Thigpen.
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Shanti Brien, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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