Saturday, July 31, 2010

City of Bell Not Transparent Either


How the city politicians of Bell conned the low income taxpayers to unwittingly pay for their huge salaries


The outrageous story of the hapless city of Bell, California is now widely known across the nation. A group of city politicians led by City Manager Rizzo allegedly colluded to pay themselves obscene salaries in a poor city of under 40,000 residents.

The disgraced city manager has resigned, losing his $790,000 salary. But not to worry -- he'll get by okay.

It turns out that his pension likely will as much as $710,000. When you factor in the employee deductions from a $790,000 salary, odds are that the pension roughly equates to the take home pay the city manager was previously receiving.

Assuming this new retiree now leaves the state (I can all but guarantee his stealthy departure from his Huntington Beach abode), he'll head to a lower state income tax state.

Indeed, Rizzo has been planning for this contingency -- he owns a horse ranch in Washington state -- which has no state income tax. Hence this reprobate will net significantly more in retirement than he made doing next to nothing for his previous paycheck.

The economy of Rizzo's new adopted state will be stimulated at California's expense. And, BTW, since Bell's pension is with CalPERS, the cost of his grossly underfunded pension will be shared by almost ALL the cities in California.

If formal quid pro quo collusion can be proved, he might end up in the hoosegow, along with the other alleged city co-conspirators. But that's very hard to prove, so I'd say the odds are that all the Bell officials avoid being convicted of a crime.

One puzzling aspect was how could such a poor city afford to come up with the cash for the officials' bloated salaries and pensions. Seems the answer is now at hand.

It wasn't just the usual slashing of city services -- it also included amazingly high (and completely unnoticed) property taxes. Here's the salient excerpt from a blog item on the PublicCEO website:


The citizens of Bell were first upset because their city's administrators were making some of the largest salaries in the nation. Now, it's being shown exactly what the price of those salaries was.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the working-class town is paying the highest property taxes of all but one of Los Angeles County's 88 cities (the other being the city of Industry with just 21 residential parcels affected)
.

From the Times:
All county property owners pay 1% general property tax, along with special or direct assessments levied by their municipalities. The countywide average of all tax rates is 1.16, or $11.60 for every $1,000 of assessed value.

Bell's rate is 1.55% -- nearly half again as much as those in such affluent enclaves as Beverly Hills and Palos Verdes Estates and Manhattan Beach, and significantly higher than just about everywhere else in Los Angeles County, according to records provided by the county Auditor-Controller's Office at The Times request.

That means that the owner of a home in Bell with an assessed value of $400,000 would pay about $6,200 in annual property taxes.The owner of the same home in Malibu, whose rate is 1.10%, would pay just $4,400.

So now taxpayers are finding out that they are being - for lack of a better term - screwed.
It's amazing how, as a society, we just assume taxes are correct and rarely question the percentages. . . . Now, taxpayers are awake. It's another reminder of how local government officials need to act with the greatest of transparency.
R.R.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Open Government Potholes

The City of Encinitas is again denying residents access to public documents. One document cost $70,000. I’ve been trying to get the document since January.

I want a prosperous future for our hometown. That’s why I research the details of how our city is managed. For the last several years I’ve been pursuing information on the long-term maintenance plan of the city’s streets. Only after pressing, City staff admitted that they didn’t have a current comprehensive assessment of street conditions or an optimized plan to keep the streets from deteriorating.

After the admission, the City hired a contractor to do a streets report. The contract was approved February 2009. The contract required the report be complete by August 2009, in time to be used to develop the City’s road maintenance budget. City staff also admitted that they believed our city was underfunding street maintenance by millions of dollars a year. With streets, an ounce of prevention unequivocally averts a pound of cure. Pay now or pay a lot more later.


The most cost efficient stage for road maintenance is before rapid deterioration begins. (Road condition is on the Y-axis.)
The report is a year overdue and the City Council (minus Barth) blindly approved this year's streets maintenance budget. City records indicate that the consultants were paid for a final report months ago. Council candidate Tony Kranz called the consultants and they say the report has been materially complete for many months (prior to budget approval).

Withholding the document allows staff time to massage the findings and delay the release until an opportune time arises.


It would not be the first time a materially finished report was kept secret from the public for months or even years. There is good evidence that the City-wide Traffic Study, the Cardiff Specific Plan, the Retiree Health Care Cost Study, the Scripps EIR, and the Hall Park EIR were materially complete long before they were released. In the case of the Traffic Study, the consultant and Council discussions would later reveal that the reason for the denial of access to the documents was for personal political gain-the reelection of Council Member Dan Dalager.
A healthy democracy feeds off timely access to relevant facts to facilitate unbiased analysis. Accountability requires open access to public records that show how decisions are being made.
So how does the Council majority subvert the system? They stamp the documents they don’t want released ”draft". Then they turn around and say it is against policy to release drafts. They say possible errors must be edited before release. Why not stamp it draft, release it, then let the public help review the document? This would be a much more open process and the result would be a better final product.

The public understands the difference between a draft and final report. Council’s fear that the public will freak-out if an error is found in a draft is overblown. Isn’t it better to find errors in a draft rather than the final version?

A few residents were able to find serious errors throughout the final City-wide Traffic Report in one weekend, and many more subtle problems later. Because it was too late for the problems to be fixed, and the problems so serious, the Traffic Commission could not recommend accepting the report. The City blew $143,000 on the project.

The City is ignoring the State Constitution, which guarantees access to public records. Attorneys from Calaware, an open government advocacy organization, informed the City that the pavement report must be released, even if it was a draft. The City refuses to address Calaware’s key points. Mayor Dalager has not responded to email asking for reconciliation of the matter. Only Council Member Barth has demonstrated interest in publicly discussing the issue.

Should the City keep everything it deems a draft secret?

Should the City be allowed to keep consultants’ original (bound and delivered) work secret?

Should the City address questions regarding the legality of its open government practices?

If the City doesn’t explain, should the public ask a judge to look into the matter?

We want to know if the public thinks the issue matters or has suggestions for resolving the matter. Please send us feedback.

Kevin Cummins
Vice President
Encinitas Taxpayers Association

Links to Pavement Management Report Issue:
City warned it is violating the law and principles of open government
City will not address key legal issues
Report is done
How this issue could have been collaboratively averted one year ago

Summer Fun on the 101 Music Festival



from young Leucadia resident Michael Schmitt

Summer Fun on the 101: A Festival of Surf Music is all about surf music, past, present and future. These will be small, intimate shows taking place in the open air outside of some local businesses located in Encinitas, C.A.—one of America’s great surf towns. We’re talking sun, fun and music. Catch some music and then go catch some rays on the beach. Dig the businesses providing the music—each is a fine purveyor of surf cultural artifacts in its own right. Check out the other fine independent retailers in town. There will not be food vendors, and we hope that this encourages you to support one of the many fine restaurants and eateries along the Highway 101. Suggested donation for attendance is $10 and a part of the proceeds will go to fund the Paul Ecke Central: School as a Garden program.

The money I am raising through Kickstarter will go towards paying the many talented artists involved in these three shows:

The Jump-Off:
Friday, August 20th 2010
6:30 P.M.
A special set by Mattson 2 at Lou’s Records
The Main-Event:
Saturday, August 21st 2010
10AM-Noon
Beach clean up at Beacons Beach
The Show:
Music at Surfy Surfy’s and the Corner Frame Shop
(Noon-Sundown)


Featuring:

The Duo-Tones
Mattson 2
Laramie Dean
Seth Petterson
The Red Fox Tails
Lost Boy ?
Glen and the Boys

And more!!!

The Wind-Down:
Friday, August 27th 2010
@Ducky Waddle’s Emporium
Jon Swift
Seth Petterson

***Even the tiniest pledge is helpful to us and it will get you some siiiick prizes designed and produced in a PEAS-ful way: Progressively, Ethically, Alternatively and Sustainably by my most radical friends at the PR for Progress Cooperative!

click here to support

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Poetry Ruckus Tonight!

WHAT IS THAT BLUE STUFF IN THE SKY???

City tears down it's #1 tourist attraction

Photo taken from the North County Times website

So far the summer of 2010 has been bleak. Plagued by relentless overcast skies and cold drizzle day after day there hasn't been much going on down at the beach. We've had a total of 5 days of nice weather this summer. People gave up on coming down to the coast and started heading towards the desert instead.
That was until the great white shark attack guerrilla art installation appeared at the Cardiff surfer statue.
The massive paper mache shark got widespread mainstream news attention and people drove down from all over to check it out. While they were here they visited local restaurants and shops. The shark attack on the "Cardiff Kook" was just the boost the local 101 businesses needed.

anon reader feedback

i love your blog, but this non- anonymous isn't working. i liked it better when people were free to speak- without fear of scrutiny. The blog sort of lost its cache. Please bring back the way it was..

Also i saw your blog on the school district bond. What about the Pacific View planning commission Aug. 5 at 6;00 p.m.? You o.k. with the houses being put there?

Read the PC Agenda here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Local TeeVee News Coverage of Cardiff Kook Shark Attack Art

Shark vs Cardiff Kook (KFMB/8) from Palm Boards on Vimeo.

Shark vs Cardiff Kook (Fox/5) from Palm Boards on Vimeo.

Shark vs Cardiff Kook (CW/6) from Palm Boards on Vimeo.

Thanks to Palm Boards for putting these online.
*note-The Fox news info babes are pretty hot but Ch 8's Rekha is still my favorite.

60 Years of Fiesta De Las Flores

  St. John's Summer Fiesta De Las Flores featuring ROCKOLA

St. John's Catholic Church in Encinitas announces the 60th anniversary of Fiesta De Las Flores. Fiesta De Las Flores is the summer community celebration at St. John's parish featuring local food and local entertainment.  This year to celebrate the 60th anniversary, the Fiesta will have a new twist featuring St. John's Electric Crib and the local favorite band, ROCKOLA. ...

Fiesta De Las Flores will take place at Saint John Church at 1003 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas.

DATES/TIMES
Friday, August 13, 2010 – 5-10pm
Saturday, August 14th – 4-10pm
Sunday, August 15th – 10-7pm

ENTERTAINMENT LINE-UP
FRIDAY August 13, 2010 (featuring a youth / teen/ and young adult music lineup)
5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Cutback Curve - youth rock band (press image attached)
Simple Green- youth Reggae band
North Vulcan  - rock/alternative 
Jocelyn Ferrara & The Too Tall Drinks – Lady Gaga cover band

SATURDAY, August 14, 2010 
4:00 p.m.- 10 p.m.
Blue Creek Band – bluegrass & acoustic blues 
Happy Tappers – choreographed tap dancers
The Echelons – rock-n-roll
Rockola – the one and only !! 

SUNDAY, August 15, 2010 
10:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m.
Old Guys Rule – acoustic classic rock
Dan Kasperic – original inspirational acoustic 
Mariachi la voz de Mexico – mariachi band
Folklorica dance group 
Happy Tappers – choreographed tap dancers
Earl Flores & The Holy Toledo Band 

ST. JOHN ELECTRIC CRIB
2 Big Screens
Dance Dance Revolution
Madden
Skee Ball
Air Hockey
Kick it Pro Soccer
Quarter Back Toss
Virtual Golf
Basket Ball Super Shot
Whack A Mole
  • Entrance Fee – FREE EVENT
  • Wristbands – Wrist bands ($12) cover bouncies and arcade..."All you can play and bounce"... 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hoodlink is Back

After a recuperative hibernation Hoodlink is back, and their July 2010 issue has been posted.


To subscribe to hoodlink send an email to: Gail Lane

Real Charity Event for the Dogs

All the money goes to Rancho Coastal Humane Society. The studio (Well Within) donated the space so they don't have to pay rent. Rachel Leshaw is teaching for free and there is no paid advertising.

click to enlarge





Email encinitasyoga@gmail.com to pre-register.

In other news, Cardiff kook is a attacked by great white shark.

Friday, July 23, 2010

SDWD to stay at drought level 2

The Encinitas City Council voted 4-1 (Stocks) to stay at drought level 2 this week.

Stocks had these points about the situation:

  • SDWD didn't use our entire SDCWA water allocation this past year.
  • SDCWA is not reducing our (SDWD) water allocation for the upcoming year.
  • SDCWA has cancelled their planned "spot import transfers of water", because they don't need the water.
  • SDCWA has in their long term plan a "buffer" amount of water for potential new development and / or annexation.
  • SDWD users have in fact conserved water usage over the past year.
  • SDWD is only calling for an 8% conservation level for the upcoming year.
  • SDWD will be adding additional users to our San Elijo JPA reclaimed (purple pipes) program in the upcoming year, such as the Park Place H.O.A. which will reduce the demand for potable (drinking) water.
He also writes,  "SDWD's own adopted ordinance says that if we need to conserve water up to 10%, then we should be in a level 1 drought condition, and if up to 20% then we need level 2. The SDWD is only calling for an 8% reduction. Level 1 is what's called for by our adopted ordinance. Level 2 allows the District to charge our customers more money for water that level 1, and that may be a factor in the staff recommendation to stay at level 2, but that doesn't make it good policy."

Kristin Gaspar spoke to this issue and based many of her comments on written SDWD policy:



In related water news:
Residential and business water use in San Diego County fell 12.8 percent during the first year of regional water shortages and mandatory water use restrictions, according to a report provided today to the San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors. The savings exceeded the 8 percent mandatory target that was in effect for July 2009 through June 2010.

The VoSD reported on SDWD board member's water use. Houlihan had the largest increase.

From VoSD, click to enlarge.

 On the other hand Houlihan only used 120,428 gallons, whereas Dalager used 133,144 gallons, and Stocks used 172,040 (Bond lives outside SDWD and Barth in a complex). Does that mean that Dalager and Stocks are bigger water wasters than Houlihan?
A few things to note that get lost in the oversimplified bumper sticker water policy tag lines are:
  • There is a difference between use and waste. 
  • Folks who have had a tight water budget already are less able to cut out water use without impacting critical uses of water.
  • You can't "grow local" if you don't consume some water. More growing means more water, no matter how you grow.
  • Most importantly, we have the capacity for another million more people
Houlihan says her increase was a result of a leak that went on for many months (a "few" bi-monthly billing cycles). Now, I'm willing to categorize her leak as a waste of water, especially if the leak was not on her property (why does she have water lines "adjacent" to her property?).
K.C.

Side note: The VoSD tells me they had no problem getting the data on council member's water use. In the past I've asked if I could get the same information. I was told no. Read here about the current denial of access to city documents.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cigarrettes and Wimax are Safe



From the inbox:

Tonight was a sad night.  Unanimously, the Council struck against the health, safety, and property values of all residents in Encinitas when they voted for the WiMAX installation at La Costa and 101 and denied the appeal.

If you aren't familiar with WiMAX, it is mainly a microwave internet connect.  Some call it wi-fi on steroids.    It will constantly transmit 24/7.   What will be transmitted?   Videos for one.  Plus, from my understanding , the data from the gas and electric smart meters on every house, apartment, condo, and business.  Water is now or will soon be also smart meter watched.

The appeal presentation was very clear on the public health risks that translated into lower selling prices.   The Council members offered their usual lame excuse that they couldn't do anything.   So, what else is new.

I came home, did a search, and found something that is a shocker.   These WiMAX installations may not fall under the FCC's own Telecommunications Act of 1996.   Additionally, the group installations may fall under CEQA, something the planning staff forgot to mention.
Below is an excerpt from the site:

"Clearwire’s network design in nearly every case dictates that it use three or four microwave antennas to interconnect each of its sites with that many more other sites, yet the applications I have seen submitted to my government clients are usually coming in one at a time. This piecemeal filing approach raises CEQA questions as Clearwire’s method of submitting individual applications masks the fact that each site is part of a much larger and unified project that cannot operate without the multiple sites communicating with each other, and back to the Clearwire Internet access node (called the POP or point of presence).

For those communities that bar microwave antennas for site-to-site or site-to-switch interconnection because they are unnecessary visual elements, consider whether granting microwave dishes to Clearwire (which is a cost-saving issue for them) will interfere with your future ability to bar or limit microwave antennas to wireless telephone companies.

I recommend that the planning desk look for Sprint/Nextel plans with site numbers formatting like CA-XXX-YYYY, where XXX are three letters related to the county or market where the project is to be located, and YYYY is the specific four digit site number. The site number may be followed by a single letter. If these projects come across the desk, consider whether you are dealing with a single site, or (far) more likely a project, and to proceed with due caution. At the least, consider issuing an incomplete letter and requiring Clearwire to come in and disclose all of their project sites and interconnections, and then consider whether your agency wants to evaluate the entire project under CEQA. More and more governments are now taking that cautious approach."

Here is the site:
http://cellularpcs.com/2009/08/22/clear_about_clearwire/

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Drought Worse in Leucadia than in East Encinitas

by Mike Andreen, Executive Director, New Encinitas Business Network


Last year, both the local water districts, Olivenhain Water District and the San Dieguito Water District complied with statewide requirements that took the City of Encinitas from a Level 1 up to a Level 2 Water Conservation Measure.


By employing voluntary water use restrictions, the Level 1 Drought Watch was intended to generate sufficient water conservation to meet the 8% reduction and avoid penalties from the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA).


The good news is that the residents were successful in accomplishing the statewide goal and reducing their water consumption!

Half of the City of Encinitas gets their water from the Olivenhain Water District (OMWD); the Eastern side, while the Western half of the City is served by the San Dieguito Water District.


The week before last, the OMWD Board of Directors assessed the local and state water situation and voted to go back to a Level 1Drought Watch; this means water bills for residents and businesses served by OMWD would potentially go down because the District will no longer have the authority to charge extra due to “drought emergency” water rates imposed under a Level 2 drought watch. In Encinitas, as it would be all over, this is a blessing financially in these hard times.


Unfortunately, the businesses and homeowners on the West side of the City won’t be similarly rewarded for their good behavior if the staff of the San Dieguito Water District has its way.


Because the water district staff has recommended that the district stay at Level 2 and continue charging that premium for potable (drinking and cooking) water, as well as an additional $1,800 for a water meter if one has the good fortune to attempt to build a building.


OMWD and other local water districts are returning to Level 1, so why isn’t the San Dieguito Water District?

Most likely because the SDWD Staff likes the extra income derived from the higher water prices they get to charge at Level 2.


And that’s part of the problem.


The District has a financial incentive to claim drought, even when it isn’t real. Much like the boy who cried wolf, but we all remember how that story turned out, don’t we?


Returning to Level 1 would help business and homeowners with reduced rates in this recessionary economy.

Why make things purposefully harder Encinitas?


Hopefully the Board of the San Dieguito Water District will have the spine to impose the discipline their staff lacks, and make the proper decision to return the water district to a Level 1 with voluntary curtailment of water use, no extra fee for a water meter, and reduced water prices, because that reflects the reality of the situation, and is the right thing to do.


The Leucadia Blog welcomes submissions. Send them to leucadiablog@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Council to Consider Wireless

10 News A plan by the city of Encinitas to keep people connected through a wireless network is tearing one community apart.

Michael Schwaebe uses his own radio frequency meter, but an increase in RF levels worries him if three 4-feet-by-13-inch-wide wireless antennas are placed on top of a vacant restaurant roof at the corner of Highway 101 and La Costa Avenue.

"At my home, I need to be able to know that I'm going to be able to live there safely with this tower going in. Tell me what the radiation levels are going to be in my neighborhood," said Schwaebe.






TCN Coast News Group - Local woman fights wireless industry to reduce health risks
“We won by educating the neighborhood and getting a permit to picket at the Morgan Run Golf Club during a celebrity tournament,” she said. “But we were prohibited from discussing health concerns at a public hearing because of Sec. 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which states that local authorities cannot reject a request for wireless facilities based on health concerns if the facilities met the FCC’s regulations concerning radiofrequency (RF) emissions.

“In short, federal law trumps local law.”

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hall Park Night Lights



If you are sad that the Hall Park will ruin your fabulous sunset view does that make you an evil NIMBY?
The Cardiffian blog has a detailed rundown of Hall Park stuff, click here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spill Baby Spill


Back in June of 2008 I composed this blog post about the dangers of offshore oil drilling. This was before the height of the Sarah Palin mantra "Drill baby drill" during the presidential campaign.
Of course I was called an idiot liberal and was assured that offshore oil drilling was not only safe but patriotic.
As we watch the disaster in the Gulf unfold week after week the burning question is:

WHAT IF IT HAPPENED OFF THE COAST OF ENCINITAS???


Neptune 500 ?

Carlbad Force

From reader x:
Seems a woman driving that grey thing this morning attracted the attention of the Carlsbad Police (the white vehicle in the picture is an unmarked cop car). It looked like there was some broken glass so I'm not sure how they got her to stop. Her Fifi dog was in the back of the vehicle wondering what happened to mom (you can see the dog's white head sticking up out of the back kinda in line with the traffic light pole). No sheriffs no where. Encinitas fire truck and ambulance responded.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

City Council Race Gets Hot


Kristin Gaspar is ready to spice up the City Council.

She said she wants to “bring people together,” adding: “I think we’ve all watched for too long as battle lines have divided our city government.”

She brings a fresh and simple approach to government. Kristin is sure to bring up the Council's television ratings. She has already shown the same interests as Barth and being a conservative she is sure to be a staunch Barth ally on just about everything other than the Hall property community park.

Friday, July 09, 2010

More Cobbles

Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach with Cobblestones Mixed with Sand

The photo is of little Tom Cozen's and his family hanging out at the beach. He seems to be having a good time despite the presence of cobblestones, but that was before we had taxpayer funded lobbyists inciting fear of cobbles.

The Leucadia blog has a whole series of posts documenting the historic, and prehistoric presence of cobbles on Encinitas beaches; cobbles are a natural component of the Encinitas coastline. We also have a classic and overlapping series on sand.

Leucadia Mainstreet 101 Revitalization

The historic 1926 building on the coast highway in Leucadia, one block north of Leucadia Blvd, has recently undergone a major remodel. Known to many as "The Grotto" as the longtime location of the the Longboard Grotto surf shop, the building has been restored and is now home to the Santos Fine Art Gallery and the new Surfy Surfy Surf Shop.
Tonight Surfy Surfy celebrates it's 2 month anniversary with live music in-store by the groovy local jazz trio The Red Fox Tails.
Date: Friday, July 9, 2010
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: Surfy Surfy Surf Shop
974 North Coast Hwy 101
Leucadia, CA 92024
www.surfysurfy.net
*note-Surfy Surfy Surf Shop is owned by Leucadia blogger JP St Pierre

Sunday, July 04, 2010

NO TOLERANCE

NO OFFICIAL CITY DISPLAY!
NO FUN!
ENCINITAS CITY COUNCIL HATES AMERICA AND YOUR CHILDREN.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Leucadia Fireworks

JP says the 4th of July Neptune parade is on.

Local fireworks?

I can only confirm that the La Costa Four Seasons show over the Batiquitos Lagoon is on for 9pm. This show is visible from much of northern Leucadia, and is especially cool from some of our higher vantage points.

KC

Friday, July 02, 2010

EUSD to ask for More Money

Last week’s Encinitas Union School District board meeting was very illustrative of a trend that is happening in education. Encinitas schools are awesome, they have scores amongst the highest in the state, and this is due almost entirely because of the teachers and principals we are lucky to have.


But the board is almost entirely, with the exception of Mo Muir, completely seduced by sparkly tools, green initiatives and buzzwords like "21st Century classrooms." While they lay off teachers, and most of the staff have gone without raises, the board has concocted a plan to place a $44 million dollar bond on the November ballot that they say they will use for technology, green initiatives and some facilities needs.

Now I want to first clarify that I have no problem with schools repairing what needs to be repaired. If a school needs a roof, for god’s sake, fix it! But the laundry list of things this board has requested spends over 30% of the $44 million dollars on computers, wifi, whiteboards (these are not white erase boards, these are actually smart boards which run $3K each) and they want to spend $7 million dollars on putting solar panels on 7 of the 9 schools and spend another 11 million on building a “community garden” and a “learning center” on the Quail Gardens property.

During the Q&A I asked the board whose input they sought when deciding that this large plot that is owned essentially by the community should be turned into a community garden and a shiny new learning center. It was crickets. Then Skiljan piped up and said “We are in the education business, we are elected to decide what to do with this property.” The board president was even more condescending, he essentially told me to shut up and sit down when I asked if any of the districts PTAs were consulted on what they thought the best use would be. He said I could send a written request to Superintendent Baird for specifics but that this was not the venue for the board to address such issues.

Board member Muir asked why they were planning on buying a whole new program to track attendance at a huge cost when they were still paying off the one they purchased just two years ago and she was shouted down by the other board members because “what” was in the budget was not up for discussion, only whether they were going to pass it or not. She was armed with a letter from the county board of education basically warning that this new technology is in it’s early phases and has not been tested in a school district before so it would be unwise for Encinitas to be the guinea pig, but the board didn’t want to hear any pf it. They want what they want , and this board wants shiny and new stuff.

I have been following the tactics this board is using to try and get this bond passed for a couple months now and it is essentially, let’s call meetings in the dead of summer when no parents are paying attention, and gloss people over with 119 pages of paperwork that they can flip through to figure out what we want to spend the money on.

They want the taxpaying residents to pay $5 million dollars for new computers for everyone and in every classroom, and another $5 million in a “technology endowment” which is fancy talk for, we know the technology will be obsolete in two years so we want money to buy new stuff when we’re bored with the shiny new toys we buy.

LB note: So, we're going to take a 30 year loan to set up an endowment? Does that make financial sense?

They are still paying off technology they bought 5 years ago and financed on a five year payment plan but yet now they want all new stuff. All while never asking teachers, parents or any of the advisory committees what they believe our schools might need.

I wonder if any teachers find it at all grating that while they have to send kids home to beg for money for the simplest of school-related stuff, say field trips, the school is planning on spending millions on devices like “smart boards” all while many have dealt with wage freezes for how long?

As a geek myself, I love new technology, but a technology should be evaluated not based only on whether it is useful or not, but on where it is *more useful* than other things that could be accomplished with the same amount of money. Unfortunately, this boards decisions are driven by what is cool and fashionable. This is what I find most egregious. Writing with pen or pencil on paper involves a different kind of thinking from writing on laptops and interactive boards. You are forced to wrestle with the words when you can’t delete and move them as you wish.

While EUSD Board cuts programs for gifted and talented students, physical education, arts and reading, transportation and all kinds of useful programs they want teachers to use Power points and teachers manipulating quadratic graphs across a smartboard screen using their finger/cursor, to help students learn…but in reality, according to teachers themselves, such items distract students from learning/remembering how to solve mathematical problems for themselves.”

The quail gardens plan is also completely half-baked. Each school in our district already has a garden on the grounds which teachers use already. To use five acres of land on the Quail gardens property to create a “community garden” is completely redundant.

I highly recommend residents have a look at the facilities plan the board created to explain how they plan to dole out the 44 million they want the bond for. Residents are going to be hit with all kinds of buzzwords like “21st Century classrooms” “Green initiatives” and “Energy conservation” with direct mail pieces in their mailboxes as well as the cheerleaders on the board pleading that its “for the children” but its as if they wrote this plan on the back of an Applebee’s placemat without any community input what-so-ever.

Even the last 2 million in “technology upgrades” which they passed in MAY, they never sought any insight or input from the districts “Technology committee” because the Superintendent said, “they are just parents.”


Sunana Batra