Oct 20 2018
 I am a PHS senior writing in support of Megan Pillsbury candidacy for the Piedmont School Board. I have known Mrs. Pillsbury since I had her as my first grade teacher at Wildwood Elementary School and have kept in touch with her over the years. As a teacher, she fully understood the needs of the students and met that need with both care for individual students and the class as a whole. Because of her experience as an elementary school teacher and commitment to professional development and continued training, she has extensive knowledge of how to best support student learning. Mrs. Pillsbury is the only candidate with actual experience as a teacher, which gives her valuable insight into what happens in the classroom and how decisions made by the Board might affect students, families and teachers.
The most important role of a school board member is to facilitate communication between students, parents, teachers, and the administration, so they can work cohesively to create the best possible learning environment. Mrs. Pillsbury is an excellent communicator, especially because she doesn’t just talk–she listens. This has not changed from my days in elementary school.
Listening to all the stakeholders in the community and understanding the different perspectives will be crucial to getting everyone to work together. As a Piedmont School Board member, I know Mrs. Pillsbury will always look out for students, families and teachers.
Ella Lee, Piedmont High School Student
Oct 17 2018

Who are the Politicians in Piedmont?

BB seeks to prevent the “recycling” of politicians which leads to the question – who are these politicians in Piedmont? Measure BB defines politicians as termed-out councilmembers running for office again 4 years after stepping down. By that definition there are only two at the moment in Piedmont – myself and John Chiang, both termed-out from Council in 2014. Over the past 50 years in Piedmont, only one termed-out councilman has run again after 4 years and he lost. So BB is a red herring – termed-out councilmembers rarely if ever run again in Piedmont.

A look at candidates over the past 20 years in Piedmont (see table) shows that incumbency and campaign contributions are likely the biggest impediment to first-time candidates. Two trends are evident – candidates with established volunteer records win and first-time candidates with no or nominal volunteer experience have to raise from $12,000 – $20,000 to run and in some cases, that was not enough to win. First-time candidates face the greatest hurdles from sitting councilmembers, not termed-out councilmembers. Limiting that incumbency and campaign spending would be the best way to encourage first-time candidates but BB does neither.

Election

Candidate

Campaign Contributions

Election

Candidate

Campaign Contributions

Election

Candidate

Campaign Contributions

2000

Matzger

4589

2006

Allen

2349

2012

Fujioka

22,336

Labadie

4838

Chiang

10,333

McBain

10,773

Friedman

9000

Rood

18,553

Keating

2959

Bostrom

ND

2002

Friedman

12335

2008

Fujioka

19,334

2014

King

11,741

Wieler

9461

Gilbert

28,275

Rood

4872

Bruck

1701

Barbieri

13,957

Wieler

950

Rapson

4134

2010

Wieler

7065

2016

McBain

8651

Chiang

8415

Cavenaugh

16,115

2004

Barbieri

ND

Keating

3154

Levine

6256

Watters

8608

Bostrom

ND

If there are politicians in Piedmont, they are not returning to run again so BB is unnecessary. In fact, one could say that wanting to serve again is the sign of a volunteer – most politicians move on. Another sign of politicians is that they show their true colors once elected – why weaken voter choice by limiting who can run against such candidates?

BB is not needed and in fact will strengthen incumbency, making it harder for first-time candidates. BB does not “modernize” Piedmont’s charter – only one other city in California was found to have this 8-year rule.

Vote in favor of Piedmont volunteers and vote NO on BB.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member

Oct 16 2018

Julie Caskey and I met at a Girls Leadership parent-daughter workshop in Piedmont.  I have also worked alongside Julie as a volunteer and an advocate when she was the President of the Advanced Learners Program Support (ALPS) parent group, promoting diversity and differentiated learning.

I felt compelled to announce my endorsement of Julie when I found out only two of the existing five board members have children in Piedmont schools now, those being in high school.  As a 25-year government executive and business owner, it makes sense to me that our community would want balanced viewpoints on our school board.  What it lacks right now is a current parent of the elementary and middle schools.  Our social environment and digital landscape have changed greatly in the past decade, so it is only wise that we have someone who understands the needs of young children today.

Here is why I support Julie Caskey for Piedmont School Board:

  1. I have seen first hand how passionate she is about our children’s education.  Julie has volunteered at our schools full-time for the past seven years.  Her dedication is clearly unwavering.  She is also exceedingly capable.
  2. Julie will be the ONLY school board member who has children in elementary, middle, and high school.  She is a fellow parent in three different schools in Piedmont and can represent the interests of a wide spectrum of parents.  She can help PUSD stay relevant and make sound decisions while improving accountability and transparency.
  3. Julie’s qualifications speak for themselves.  After graduating from Columbia Law School, she dedicated herself to public service for 25 years when she could have worked anywhere else.  As a defense lawyer who advocated for children and minorities, she is simultaneously compassionate and tough.  When one of the school board’s main responsibilities is personnel management for the school district, it makes sense that we have someone who brings negotiation and legal skills to the table.

Join me in voting for Julie Caskey for Piedmont School Board on November 6th.

Michele Kwok,   Havens Parent

Oct 16 2018

I am writing to ask my fellow Piedmonters to re-elect Amal Smith to the Piedmont School Board. First, Amal has demonstrated here commitment to Piedmont’s children for over 18 years. Beginning as a room parent volunteer when her children went to Beach, Amal’s commitment continued as she served in leadership positions on the Beach Parents Organization, the Piedmont Education Foundation, as member of the District Budget Advisory Committee, and as a member of the PUSD Wellness Center Advisory Board.

With over twenty eight years of experience in the field of higher education, currently as the Associate Dean of Financial Affairs at the School of Medicine at UCSF, Amal brings a wealth of financial management experience to the school board. More importantly, over the last four years as a school board member, Amal has demonstrated her strong leadership skills as she has navigated a variety of issues including our district’s financial challenges and curriculum transitions.

Amal is working to serve ALL of Piedmont’s children and takes her responsibility very seriously. She is open, honest, and smart. We need people like Amal on our school Board. Please join me in voting for her on November 6 th .

Cathy Michelotti Glazier, Piedmont Resident

Sep 25 2018

The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Safety Committee will on Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. This meeting is open to the public.  It will not be broadcast.

The agenda includes introductions and updates on:

  1.  Minutes of 5/13/18
  2.  Announcement of New Committee Members
  3.  Local Hazard Mitigation Plan
  4.  Get Ready, Piedmont Guides and Checklist
  5.  School Liaison Activities and Campus Safety Preparedness
  6.  Crime Prevention/Community Outreach
  7.  Neighborhood Meetings
  8.  City Website
  9.  Year End Crime Report
  10.  Boy Scouts and Map Your Neighborhood Project
  11.  Public Safety Cameras and consideration of a Subcommittee on the Public Safety Cameras Program
Sep 17 2018

The Wall of Honor at the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Library at Piedmont High School opened on Friday, September 14 at 4:30 p.m.

Announcement:

The Wall of Honor is an extension of the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Memorial Collection at the Piedmont High School Library and is part of Piedmont’s distinguished tradition of “Achieving the Honorable.” The Wall of Honor lists Piedmont Service Members who have bravely served our country in the US military and the Foreign Service from WWI to the present.

The Wall of Honor consists of three parts: a visual installation in the Piedmont High School Library, a permanent digital repository of the names of over 1,000 men and women from Piedmont who have served our country from WWI to the present, and an interactive website intended as a place where students as well as service members and their families can learn more about the service given to us by those from Piedmont.

The Wall of Honor website, www.phswallofhonor.org, has been thoughtfully designed by talented local web designer, Kristen Long of Oakland based Mighty Minnow with direction from professional museum display designer Agata Malkowski, to be a site that can grow over time as service members and their families contribute more names, service details and photographs. It is hoped that Piedmont High School students as well as community members will access and use the site as a resource of factual information and thoughtful contemplation.

A Wall of Honor planning committee has worked for the past two years with the Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD), the City of Piedmont, the Piedmont Historical Society, and the family of Ambassador Stevens to plan the project and raise the funds necessary to make it a reality.

The public may visit the Wall of Honor online at any time (www.phswallofhonor.org) or in person at the Piedmont High School Library during school hours after first signing in at the school office.

~~~~~

The following is the statement made at the opening of the Wall of Honor on Friday, September 14, 2018 . 

Thank you for being here today as we officially open the Wall of Honor!

A special welcome to the Stevens Family. We are honored to have you here and it is with special consideration that we remember Ambassador Christopher Stevens on the sixth anniversary of his passing.

I, and my fellow committee members are so proud of this project for a number of reasons. First of all because the Wall of Honor fulfills a need in the school community for a place to recognize and learn more about the service provided to our country by Piedmonters from WWI to the present in the military and diplomatic service.

Inspired by Ambassador Stevens, and continuing his legacy, we hope the young people of Piedmont will use the Wall of Honor as a resource for reflection and inquiry. By doing so they will be able to share in the lessons, whether easy or hard, that military or diplomatic service can teach. Hopefully this sort of inquiry will also give our community a chance to reflect on what public service means to them and how best to incorporate it into their lives.

We believe that students, and our country will be the better for it.

Secondly, and just as important, I am proud of the collaboration and cooperation that has marked this project’s creation. Keeping in mind the school’s motto: “Achieve the Honorable”, while planning the Wall of Honor, we sought input and advice from the Stevens family, school administrators, teachers, students, the Piedmont Historical Society, the City of Piedmont, veterans and current service members. I believe the Wall of Honor that you see today truly reflects this thoughtful approach.

Along the way, we were extremely fortunate to have met Agata Malkowski, without whom this project would never have come to life. Agata is a talented and successful museum experience designer, who happens to have a soft spot in her heart for the US Marine Corps. Agata had the professional know how to take this project from an idea to reality. Thank you, Agata.

And of course, we are also extremely grateful that we had the opportunity to work with web design firm Mighty Minnow, based locally in Oakland and headed by the extraordinary Kristen Long. The Piedmont Education Foundation introduced us to Mighty Minnow, and we feel very fortunate that Mighty Minnow has applied their creativity and professional ability to the Wall of Honor website.

The Wall of Honor consists of three parts:

  1. A permanent digital database which can be added to over time, of the names and service details of Piedmonters from WWI to the present who have served our country in uniform and the diplomatic service.
  2. A physical place of inquiry and reflection that can be visited by students, teachers and the community.
  3. A digital repository which can grow over time, to collect the stories, memories and information about the time in service performed by Piedmonters.

In closing, I would like to share my personal aspiration for the Wall of Honor here at PHS.

The World and National news we hear today of entrenched partisan politics, global environmental concerns, mass immigration worldwide, and never ending wars can make the world seem like an unapproachable mess and it is easy to see how a student might feel that his or her individual actions would not make a difference.

Yet, as extraordinary as we feel this time is, it is certainly not unique in history. Piedmont students have faced extraordinary times since WWI and have taken the education they received here out into the broader world to help make it a better place.

Piedmont students have been fortunate since the founding of the school to be in an environment where they learn and put to use the building blocks necessary for lifelong education. Critical thinking, the capacity to care and practical know-how are tools that Piedmont students are equipped with upon graduation.

Just as Ambassador Stevens will forever be remembered for his leadership in taking these tools and using them to build better understanding and cooperation between cultures on the world stage, my hope is that the Wall of Honor will be place where Piedmont students can find a source of knowledge, strength and inspiration to go out and lead the way to make our world a safer and more caring place.

Katie Korotzer  for the Wall of Honor Committee 

Click photos for enlargement. 

Photo Credit: Lindsay Barstow.

Pictured are Erin Pope, Assistant Principal at PHS, Kathleen Winters Wall of Honor Committee Member, Dana Lung, Judge Tom Stevens and Daughters Elena and Olivia Stevens, Mary Commanday, mother of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Adam Littlefield PHS Principal, Katie Korotzer Wall of Honor Committee Member, Amal Smith PUSD School Board Member, Randall Booker PUSD Superintendent, Terisa Whitted Wall of Honor Committee Member and Agata Malkowski Wall of Honor Designer.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Barstow.

Pictured are Agata Malkowski, Wall of Honor Designer demonstrating the Wall of Honor Website to Mary Commanday, mother of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Sep 11 2018

FREE EVENT!

  Piedmont League of Women Voters 

              Presents: David Thigpen

David Thigpen

Implications of Modern Journalism

 Sunday, September 23, 3:00 – 5:00 pm

  Piedmont Community Church

  400 Highland Avenue

  Piedmont, CA

The League of Women Voters of Piedmont presents an afternoon of conversation with esteemed guest speaker, David Thigpen, Lecturer at U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

An academic, journalist, culture critic and public policy thinker, David Thigpen is a former Time Magazine staff correspondent who reported for the magazine from New York and Chicago. He has extensive experience covering the music business, Wall Street and the Chicago political scene. David’s work has also been published in the New York Times, Rolling Stone and the Chicago Tribune Literary Review.  David served on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2011 Mayoral Transition team. He holds an A.B. from Brown University and an M.S. from Columbia University.

David Thigpen is also a public policy analyst affiliated with the Institute for the Future, a research organization in Palo Alto, California where he conducts research on the future of American cities.

This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, please visit LWVPiedmont.org and click the David Thigpen Speaker link.

Aug 31 2018
Community members and students gathered to “build a more inclusive Piedmont through deliberative dialogue”.

Last Sunday, I attended Session I of Let’s Talk, presented by the Piedmont Unified School District, the City of Piedmont, and the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee (PADC).  On this specific weekend of August 25th and 26th, there were four Let’s Talk Sessions, and, to my knowledge, Let’s Talk! occurs on four separate weekends a year.

The main goal of the program is to “build a more inclusive Piedmont through deliberative dialogue”. To do this Sara Wicht, the leader from the Southern Poverty Law Center, informed us of the goals for our session: reflecting on how our own identities influence us; engaging in conversations exploring diversity; and learning the tools for quality conversations.

The central issue that Lets Talk! covers is diversity and how Piedmont, a city that currently lacks diversity, can grow to be more inclusive and, hopefully, more diverse.

In order to understand and then embrace diversity, we first went over the main types: economic and racial.

We also learned the four main domains- identity, diversity, justice, and action, and how all of these domains must fit together. Going along with the theme of identity, we engaged in an activity where everyone wrote down eight different traits about themselves (simple things like gender, religion, and race) and then crossed out the traits one-by-one in the order of least significant to most important until each person was left with one. We then discussed how it was only easy to cross out non-threatened categories that you shared with the majority, how nobody’s identity could be defined with a single relatively generic trait, and how this most important trait may shift depending on the company you share.

I thought it was interesting how nearly all of the traits were things that you were born into and could not self-identify with. It led me to question my group: what actually does shape who you are and what is actually most important to you?

I enjoyed the format of the seminar of small table groups (a mixture of strangers and fellow students) to engage in specific conversations with.

Then, after exchanging views, opinions, and experiences with your table, Sara opened it up to the whole room to share main concepts and takeaways from each group.

At my table, Dave McMartry’s story stood out to me. Dave shared with me that he recently moved to Piedmont and he does not intend to stay because of its lack of diversity. He fears that it will not be a suitable environment to raise his multi-racial children. By coming to Let’s Talk!, Dave hoped to become a better parent, develop a better understanding of what living in Piedmont is like for people of color, and see for himself if this community was taking the appropriate steps to becoming more inclusive.

While most of my table, including Dave, was very understanding and accepting of whatever I said, there was one person that seemed to target me when he spoke. I did not say anything disrespectful or offensive towards him (or anyone for that matter) and I am fairly certain that the source of his targeting was me being white. When he spoke he would say things like “you people do not understand” and point and stare directly at me.

This made me quiet down and keep to myself more, not wanting to upset him (even though I do not know what he was upset about in the first place). I felt very supported by my table group other than this man. After he left, I opened back up, sharing experiences, posing questions, and contributing ideas and opinions.

In the big group though, with everyone, at times the conversation could be slightly hostile, given people with opposing views.  One particularly controversial debate regarded the scenario of asking an Asian child to tutor the rest of the class. This played on the stereotype that Asian kids are “smarter” and “better at math”.  With it, we discussed implicit bias and stereotypes, acknowledging how negative their effects can be.

While most of the other students and I were on the side that if the Asian child was actually the smartest kid and was willing to help the rest of the class, then there is no reason for him not to be a tutor.  Much of the Piedmont Appreciating Diversity Committee disagreed.  They specified that the teacher should go to the next smartest and most willing kid to do it, avoiding the damaging stereotype towards Asians.

I shared how I thought that, in a way, this would be a step too far, going so far around the issue that it exaggerates it. While much of the community did agree with me, one woman from PADC was extremely opposed.

Ultimately, these slight conflicts taught me that politics is not always black and white.

People will always have contrasting views and this makes it impossible to determine a right answer in most cases.  On top of that, there are varying definitions and degrees of being right, just like the issues of equality and equity.  Different people value them differently, making consensus extremely difficult. Yet, that is exactly the thing “Let’s Talk!” was trying to do: bring the community together to assess our discrepancies and come to a successful common ground regarding diversity and for the most part, I’d say they were successful!

By Mariela Cole, Piedmont High School Senior

Jun 10 2018

Piedmont’s “new waste disposal contract” with Republic Services relies heavily on the company’s ability to properly recycle garden cuttings, kitchen waste, paper, plastics, glass, etc.  Questions have arisen as to whether Piedmont’s waste is actually being recycled or is merely headed to a landfill site?

Republic Services apparently was sending recycling to China. Recently China has decided to stop accepting it and our “recycling” will end up in landfill. At premium prices!

https://www.npr.org/2017/12/09/568797388/recycling-chaos-in-u-s-as-china-bans-foreign-waste

“Western states, which have relied the most on Chinese recycling plants, have been hit especially hard. In some areas — like Eugene, Oregon, and parts of Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii — local officials and garbage haulers will no longer accept certain items for recycling, in some cases refusing most plastics, glass and certain types of paper. Instead, they say, customers should throw these items in the trash.”

The Piedmont Civic Association made an inquiry to Piedmont’s provider, Republic Services in Richmond, asking about the destination of Piedmont’s recyclable waste.  There has been no response.  Our email, which was copied to the City Council, is below:

~~~~~~~

PCA

PIEDMONT CIVIC ASSOCIATION

June 1. 2018

——Media Inquiry—–

Republic Services

3260 Blume Drive, Suite 100

Richmond, CA 94806

piedmont@repsrv.com

Manager: Richmond, California, Republic Services

RE: Actual disposition of Piedmont, CA recyclable waste

Recently, the Piedmont Civic Association was informed, as validated by the New York Times on May 29, 2018, that much of Republic’s collected recyclable waste is going to landfills rather than going to reuse.

We are asking what is the disposition of Piedmont recyclables including glass, paper, plastic, etc.

The residents of Piedmont have exceeded their goals set for recycling waste materials and keeping reusable materials out of the landfills.

Please promptly reply to our inquiry so we may include your response in the forthcoming article on our well established website:

www.piedmontcivic.org

Thank you,

PCA Editors

editors@piedmontcivic.org

 

Jun 5 2018

Superintendent Booker Responds to concerns about construction costs of the new high school STEAM BUILDING. The following are excerpts from Superintendent Booker’s letter.  The full letter is linked at the end of this article.

“June 3, 2018

“On May 31, Piedmont resident William Blackwell published a letter describing plans for construction of a new high school STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) building and theater building as “A Costly Mistake.” The District shares his interest in maximizing value and avoiding waste, and has exhaustively reviewed his and many other concepts for modernizing antiquated facilities and adding much-needed science, technology and engineering labs. Mr. Blackwell’s concept is based on inaccurate information and is simply not feasible under rules and restrictions as determined by the Office of Public School Construction and the Division of the State Architect. Additionally, over the past two years, District staff and Board members have met with Mr. Blackwell on multiple occasions to hear his concerns and provide him with accurate information.”

Program Milestones

“The District is on schedule for accomplishing the most pressing goals of the Measure H1 facilities program. This year, the District finalized plans for the new STEAM and theater buildings. The District will submit these plans for State review this summer, and State approval is expected in the Spring of 2019. The District expects to begin construction of the STEAM building in the Summer of 2019, and complete and occupy the building in August 2020. The District expects to begin construction of the new theater in the Summer of 2020, and complete and occupy the building in 2021.

Also this year, the District:

• Completed plans to make a range of safety and security improvements at PMS this summer, including installation of new doors, hardware, and electronic locks.

• Completed plans to add ventilation and climate control equipment at the elementary schools and the PHS 30s building this summer, to prevent classroom overheating and improve the learning environment.

• Finalized plans for the improvement of underground drainage and replacement of the turf and track at Witter Field. The District expects to begin construction of these improvements in the Spring of 2019, and complete this work in the Fall of 2019.

• Completed plans to replace antiquated light fixtures at Witter Field with new LED fixtures this summer. The new fixtures will improve overall field lighting and player safety and promote energy efficiency in accordance with District and community goals.”

More information about the Measure H1 facilities program can be seen at measureh1.org As always, I welcome questions and comments at any time at rbooker@piedmont.k12.ca.us 

Randall Booker, Superintendent Piedmont Unified School District

READ THE FULL RESPONSE BY THE SUPERINTENDENT BY CLICKING BELOW:

Letter re-H1 Bond 6-3-18