The County Committee as I thought (at the last minute) going into this, indeed thwarted our initiative for structural reform of the West Contra Costa Unified School District…for now. Here are the news links:
- County rejects bid to have WCCUSD board members elected by district rather than at-large
- West County board elections-reform backers aren’t giving up
Basically, we were dealing with situation where the County Committee on Reorganization thinks that a proposal should be judged, not on its own merits, but by its possible impact on a separate measure on the November ballot, the parcel tax. Since I support the parcel tax, this is more of a philosophical problem for me, but still a troublesome one.
Dr. Harter, the superintendent, surprised us by going off the message, “bad for parcel tax,” into a full-bore attack on the concept itself. He had not filed a report for “WCCUSD” beforehand as requested. (The District has actually never taken a formal position on trustee areas as such.) Instead he only submitted his stroboscopic powerpoints at the meeting, so that there would be no meaningful opportunity to rebut the attacks. I’m still waiting for a copy of these presentations. Both Torlakson and Hancock sent messages professing agnosticism on the issue, but stressing a desire to keep trustee areas off the November ballot to help the parcel tax.
In terms of the comment part, there was of course our supporters. The opponents were divided into “trustee areas bad” and “keep it off the ballot for the parcel tax” people. Andres Soto supported the idea for the City of Richmond and WCCUSD, but didn’t like the map — he said it was gerrymandered without specifying what he meant by that. (The adoption of a map is actually a separate stage. We have to propose a map to start off.)
Here are my notes of what the County Committee members said on a motion to deny our petition:
Must consider many different possibilities for improving things in WCCUSD including trustee areas
Held out possibility of future meetings to discuss these
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it
Impressed that WCCUSD is fine based on Harter presentation
*Yes — would actually deny on its merits
Accepted petitioners claims
Rejected ballot confusion argument
*No — would accept November ballot or as direct implementation of trustee areas by County Committee
Remembered Hercules secessionist alienation
Agreed that would be detrimental to parcel tax on ballot
Concerned about balkanization
Why take a chance on parcel tax failing?
Postpone discussion till next year
Instead of being on the ballot as a measure in November, candidates who support trustee areas, such as myself, will make it an issue in the Board election campaign. We will also continue to work with the County Committee to give trustee areas a fairer hearing.