WCCUSD Construction Whistleblower Docs

Dennis Clay, project an­a­lyst in the dis­trict for 11 years, blew the whis­tle on al­leged im­pro­pri­eties in the West Contra Costa Unified School District con­struc­tion pro­gram in April of this year. I posted the con­tents of his sub­mit­ted DVD and re­lated files on­line here:


It’s al­most July and still no clear de­f­i­n­i­tion of the foren­sic au­dit to be con­ducted from the school board, but at least it hasn’t been swept un­der the rug — not com­pletely at least.

WCCUSD BOE Election: Main Institutional Endorsements

There are 10 can­di­dates run­ning for 3 seats on the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education. 2 in­cum­bents are run­ning; Charles Ramsey is not run­ning for re-elec­tion.

One as­pect of the cam­paign process is get­ting en­dorse­ments from var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions and the main lo­cal pa­per. Just like I did in 2012, here is the cur­rent score­card:

El Cerrito Democratic Club (0)
Central Labor Council (2)XX
County Democratic Party (3)XXX
Local One (4)XXXX
Contra Costa Times (3)XXX
SFER Action Network — West Contra Costa (2)XX
CCSA Advocates (2)XX

The Candidates

  1. CHESTER R. STEVENS (Hercules)
  2. MISTER PHILLIPS (Richmond)
  6. VALERIE CUEVAS (Richmond)
  7. ELAINE MERRIWEATHER (Richmond, Incumbent)
  8. RAQUEL DONOSO (Richmond)
  10. MADELINE KRONENBERG (El Cerrito, Incumbent)

The Endorsers

  1. The Democratic Party is pretty much The Party in West County. The El Cerrito Democratic Club has been an ac­tive party club in the dis­trict for a long time. (New ones for Hercules and West County have started.) Endorsements re­quire a 60% thresh­old, which may ex­plain the lack of any en­dorse­ment this time.
  2. The Central Labor Council is the county ver­sion of the AFL-CIO. They are con­nected through the con­struc­tion pro­gram for the school and the unions for em­ploy­ees. They are a big “door hanger” pres­ence, too.
  3. The county Democratic Party has an elected Central Committee. As I was say­ing, the Democratic Party is The Party around here.
  4. The United Teachers of Richmond (UTR is the district’s teach­ers’ union.
  5. Public Employees Union, Local One is the union for most of the non-teacher em­ploy­ees in WCCUSD.
  6. The Contra Costa Times is the lo­cal pa­per that pays the most at­ten­tion to WCCUSD.
  7. SFER Action Network — West Contra Costa is a lo­cal sum­mer-only stu­dent project of the Students for Educational Reform, a group some con­sider an “as­tro­turf” group.
  8. CCSA Advocates is the ad­vo­cacy arm of the California Charter Schools Association. It’s a state-wide or­ga­ni­za­tion, but some peo­ple are mak­ing them an is­sue at the lo­cal level this elec­tion.

Update: 10/​16/​2014

Public Comment Clips for WCCUSD BOE Meetings

Every West Contra Costa USD Board of Education meet­ing in­cludes a seg­ment for gen­eral pub­lic com­ment on non-agenda items. In the meet­ings I have at­tended, this can be an in­ter­est­ing di­rect in­sight into what peo­ple are think­ing about. There are two prob­lems with this:

  1. The min­utes only show the names of speak­ers, not what they said.
  2. The speak­ers are called in or­der, not by what they are speak­ing about, so it can be hard to fol­low a sin­gle topic when lis­ten­ing.

As a so­lu­tion to (1), I’ve started a project to clip out these pub­lic com­ment seg­ments from WCCUSD board meet­ing archives and post to my YouTube chan­nel. I’ve started work­ing my way back and will con­tinue to add to a playlist I’ve set up that con­tains all of these clips.

One Way to Create Video Clips from a Streaming Source

Regular WCCUSD school board meet­ings are tele­vised and archived on­line on the City of Richmond Web site. These archived videos are playable through an em­bed­ded Windows me­dia player. However, you might be in­ter­ested in just one part of the meet­ing. To share it with oth­ers, you’d like to grab this part and post it to YouTube. How do you do it? There may be other ways, but here’s how I do it. Even though this is about pro­cess­ing a video file in an em­bed­ded Windows me­dia player us­ing a spe­cific pro­gram, it should be adapt­able to many other sit­u­a­tions. (more…)

The Elections Calendar Page

One of the sta­tic pages I’ve added to the blog is an elec­tions cal­en­dar for stan­dard elec­tion dates in California. As a spread­sheet it can dy­nam­i­cally up­date it­self to show how many days to a dead­line.

Here’s a con­crete use for it. I know my school dis­trict (West Contra Costa USD) is think­ing of putting a par­cel tax on the bal­lot for June. By look­ing at the cut-off date and com­par­ing it with the cal­en­dar for the dis­trict board meet­ings (in this case here), I can see that the school board has these reg­u­lar meet­ings in which to vote for putting a par­cel tax on the bal­lot for June 5:

February 15
March 7

March 7 is very close to the March 9 dead­line, so a de­ci­sion would likely oc­cur on Feb. 15 or a spe­cial meet­ing.