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Blog: Please Support Measure A

Please vote "Yes" on Measure A for more School Board accountability

We are PUSD parents and we urge you to vote “Yes” on Measure A on Tuesday, June 5.  If passed by voters in Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre,  Measure A will change the way we elect School Board members. Currently, candidates run for office on a district-wide “at large” basis.  Under Measure A, School Board members would be elected from seven geographic districts. 

 

If passed, Measure A will:

  • Save the district more than $200,000 every election year – funds that will go into classrooms.
  • Give voters a stronger voice by bringing the School Board closer to neighborhoods.
  • Make the School Board more responsive and accountable to the community because each School Board member will have few constituents.
  • Make it easier for individuals to run for the School Board because they can run from a smaller geographic area rather than the entire Pasadena/Altadena/Sierra Madre district, which requires much more effort, time and money to reach all those voters.  This should attract a larger pool of candidates.
  • Make it easier for School Board members to act collaboratively, because they won’t be running against each other, but running from separate districts.
  • Comply with the requirements of the California Voting Rights Act of 2003. If the current “at large” system is challenged in court, the school district could face millions of dollars in costs and then be forced to change the process anyway. Measure A gives voters – rather than judges -- an opportunity to bring about this needed change.

 

Measure A has been endorsed by a large and diverse group of civic leaders, including Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, former Sierra Madre Mayor Bart Doyle, Dr. Sandra Thomas (Altadena Town Council chair), Bill Podley (past chair, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce), Roberta Martinez (Pasadena Latino Coalition), Yvonne Brown (NAACP), Stella Murga (Pasadena Youth Center), Bob Harrison (former president,  PUSD board),  Antranik Zartarian (Armenian Community Coalition), George Brumder (Pasadena Educational Foundation), Joan Fauvre,  Ken Chawkins, Pasadena City Council member Steve Madison,  Diana Peterson-Moore, Pixie Boyden, Dr. Victor Gonzalez, Richard Moon, Chris Chahinian, Bernardean Broadous, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and United Teachers of Pasadena.

 

A diverse volunteer task force, comprised of residents of Altadena, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre, spent the past ten months meeting, discussing, planning and reaching out to the community for input. They held dozens of community meetings and did a remarkable job of getting input from many people who represent all segments of our communities. They considered all of the various demographic facts and figures and have created seven equal districts.  The task force made a point of not drawing the geographic district boundaries to protect existing School Board members.  Despite this, the School Board voted to approve the task force’s consensus recommendation.

 

Measure A will be a positive change for our community and our students. We urge you to vote "Yes."

 

Thank you.

Peter Dreier and Terry Meng

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Richard June 02, 2012 at 11:14 PM
@mary brandenburg, Ed Honowitz is not "the current board rep for Sierra Madre"; there is NO current board rep for Sierra Madre. Ed Honowitz is simply the board member assigned, by the board, to specifically oversee Sierra Madre Elementary. That's an internal mechanism of the board, of which voters have absolutely no control over, at all. State Law says that every board member is ultimately responsible for and representative of every school in the district, despite some board choosing to assign specific members specific liaison duties. This remains the same whether the board is elected at-large or via sub-districts.
Tony Brandenburg June 03, 2012 at 01:40 AM
herr dreier, we have not mixed you up with hair dreier. no worries. richard, mr. ed is our rep whether we voted for him or not. he will remain so, either way. measure a just makes it stick a little longer, like sticky gum on a pair of sneakers.
pusddad June 03, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I am still on the fence. I have trouble making sense of 2 arguments advanced by the proponents of districting. Perhaps they can be answered for me. Richard: you suggest all 7 members of the board will be accountable to my concerns, even though I only can vote for 1. Are you assuring me that members from another district are just as likely to return my call or emails as the at large members are now? How do you know? I know you quote language that school board members have a duty to all kids, not just those in their district, but is that not the same for all elected reps? A congressman from Alabama still has a duty to do what is right for the US as a whole, including me. In city politics, Jacque Robinson has a duty to me a resdident of pasadena, but will refer my inquiries to my man Masuda. What distinguishes this from those? Dr. Dreier: you argued today in the Sun that current board members are in competition with each other for seats. How so? Is Selinske or Honowitz's seat threatened by Ramon or Scott? I don't get your point. Please elaborate. How does the current system create competition amongst incumbents for each others' seats?
In the Know June 03, 2012 at 06:50 PM
This is all about the control of Measure TT money. The suburban sub-districts are being pushed to a 2015 vote because they are harder for the PUSD old guard establishment to control. Look at how Sierra Madre residents reacted to the news that the PUSD would not be able to deliver on the promises made when Measure TT was on the ballot. Did you see that level of outrage elsewhere? Of course not. The likes of Dreier, Honowitz and Selinske want us out of the equation while all of that money is being parceled out to their more cooperative friends. That is why some sub-districts get to pick their reps in 2013, while we don't get to do so until 2015. For their purposes Sierra Madre is just far too independent. Vote 'No' on Measure A. It is a big fat lie.
Peter Dreier June 03, 2012 at 07:21 PM
"In the Know" has no idea what he or she (hiding behind a pseudonym) is talking about. I am not on the School Board, and I have know idea which contractors or architects are getting any of the Measure TT funds. I dare "In The Know" to back up his/her accusation with evidence that Ed Honowitz or Tom Selinske have "parceled out" TT funds to their "cooperative friends." This is just paranoid conspiracy theory. It has nothing to do with Measure A.
In the Know June 03, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Then why is Sierra Madre being refused its rights to a sub-district seat on the Board of Education until 2015, Peter? Why do a majority of other sub-districts get their representatives in 2013, while we have to wait until 2 years later for ours? You have a better theory? We're being screwed by these people. Why do you refuse to recognize this as a legitimate issue?
Dan Weiner June 03, 2012 at 09:54 PM
When Peter Dreier says that Measure A has nothing to do with Measure TT bond money, you need to take that to mean Measure A has a lot to do with Measure TT bond money.
pusddad June 03, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Mr. Dreier Peter: what do you mean by making it easier to act collaboratively because they are not running against each other? Are they running against each other in the current system? For the second time, please explain.
Ned June 04, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I am voting no on Measure A. it discriminates against Sierra Madre.
Roberta Martínez June 04, 2012 at 12:39 PM
It would be great to have you use your real name long as you are using mine. If you've never heard me speak in favor of Latinos or other students, you've not been watching many meetings and you certainly didn't attend a majority of the Sub-districting meetings which is what this stream is supposed to be focused on. By the way, I've never been any variation on grand marshal for the parade. The Latino Heritage parade & jamaica has always invited local elected officials and role models. We have highlighted local elected officials including: Ramon Miramontes, Esteban Lizardo, Consuelo Rey Castro, Victor Gordo. Our Grand Marshals have included: Lalo Guerrero, Dolores Huerta, Raul Rodriguez, Val Zavala, Tony Plana, and Hector Tobar.
Richard June 04, 2012 at 04:56 PM
"What distinguishes this from those?" The actual letter of the law. It isn't a ideological or conceptual thing about elected representation, it's an actual codified requirement specific to School Boards in the state of California (I don't have the statute number on me at the moment, unfortunately, or I'd post a link). Members of Congress are only legally responsible to their constituents, though morally considered responsible for the whole country in aggregate. Similarly, City Council representatives are only legally responsible to their constituents. School boards are different. Regardless of the system used to elect them, they are required to be responsible for the entire school district, and every school and student within it. Acting without regard to the entire district opens a board member up to legal action, including potential ouster and fine and even jail time if it's egregious.
Richard June 04, 2012 at 04:56 PM
The trick about the argument that all 7 board members listen to you now is that it's based on the idea that they listen to potential voters because potential voters can take their jobs away. However, the voting demographics of PUSD are as open to the members of the board as they are to anyone, and being a potential voter has clearly never made individual board members particularly responsive to the concerns of particular potential constituents under our current system, a fact to which I'm sure Tony and Mary Brandenburg can attest. The idea that board members will or do listen to you because you *might* not vote for them next time is based on a pleasing and pleasant fantasy, and besides starts with the assumption that sitting board members are fine and dandy with violating existing law, and only affect the appearance of not doing so because they're supremely scared of losing a half dozen or so votes and thus their jobs.
Richard June 04, 2012 at 06:39 PM
"Then why is Sierra Madre being refused its rights to a sub-district seat on the Board of Education until 2015, Peter?" I'm not Peter, and I don't agree with all of his arguments, but this one I can answer, as I was part of the discussion that determined which district was going where. The answer is that it made the most sense to assign the districts where the existing incumbents' terms were going to be up at a particular year to have their sub-district election that year (that is, the one where there are two incumbents both up for election in 2013, that area should go up in 2013; where there are two up in 2015, that area goes up in 2015., etc) That started us in a direction that, while we weren't necessarily married to it, made a certain geographical sense, and which set Central Pasadena as being an even-numbered seat, and south-central Pasadena and San Rafael as being odd. It was then decided that setting West Altadena as odd would face the least amount of opposition from the incumbents there (and, wow, we were wrong about that, as apparently *nothing* was going to stop opposition from the guy who voted "Yes" twice on this process). Since putting both halves of Altadena up at the same time seemed like a bad idea (fears of encouraging balkanization), that set Eastern Altadena as even. (continued in next reply)
Richard June 04, 2012 at 06:40 PM
(continued from last reply) The question was then of either setting Sierra Madre et al at Odd (and NorthWest Pasadena to Even), and thus creating a sort of weird SOUTH block which would wind up creating some sort of north-vs-south dynamic, or setting it to Even (and setting NorthWest Pasadena to Odd), and thus delay Sierra Madre's representative election by two years. We talked about that question for a long, long time, and most of us did our level-best to take up both sides of the question at different points, so that we weren't just being an echo-chamber. Ken stayed pretty much silent on the issue, while Bart argued very strongly for SM being an odd seat. In the end, everyone was pretty much swayed by the concept that it would be better to have a map without huge geographic blocs (that is, not pitting all the Northern/Western districts against all the Southern/Eastern ones; and we looked at historical data that argued pretty strongly that having districts distributed as-close-to-evenly-as-possible avoided exactly the sort of balkanization the Opposition here is worried about), that it would be better to have a map where the seats roughly matched up to existing incumbencies in terms of when the term was up (thus giving the locals the option of voting for the incumbent if they wanted to, rather than forcing them to not have that choice), and... (continued in the next one)
Richard June 04, 2012 at 06:41 PM
(last one, promise)...that it would be slightly, ever, ever, ever so very minutely slightly (I really can't emphasize enough how very small this difference is) better to give NorthWest Pasadena a local rep earlier rather than later. That was almost entirely due to the fact that we heard a *lot* more voices from NW Pas who desperately wanted a rep and felt that they were unrepresented on the current board than we heard from Sierra Madre. That isn't to say that the voices we heard from SM weren't listened to; they were. There were just more and more passionate voices from NW Pas, really. The vast majority of input we got from the residents of SM was "meh, why bother, won't change anything, anyway" That's seriously the whole story on why SM's seat has the number it has. I agree that your theory is much more interesting, but if it *was* all just a big conspiracy to get Measure TT money, then it was an exceptionally subtle one that could have just as easily failed completely (the final vote on the numbers was unanimous on the Task Force, and, thanks to how much discussing we actually did on it, was centimeters away from being unanimous in the exact opposite direction)
Richard June 04, 2012 at 06:49 PM
"richard, mr. ed is our rep whether we voted for him or not. he will remain so, either way. measure a just makes it stick a little longer, like sticky gum on a pair of sneakers." How do you figure that, Tony? The school that individual board members are assigned to as liaisons is an internal decision that the votes don't have any effect on, whichever system we wind up with. There's no way of ensuring that, if he wins re-election, he would still be SM Elementary's liaison, nor any way of ensuring that whomever gets assigned the school would be any better, either. Plus, consider that in 2009, Ed Honowitz ran unopposed, as did Elizabeth Pomeroy. Under Measure A, they're in the same sub-district, so unless one of them decides to retire, they're not running unopposed anymore. And, even unopposed, Elizabeth got almost 500 more votes than Ed did back in 2009. Even if you get someone from SM to run against Honowitz in the regular at-large set-up, and got every eligible voter in SM to vote against Honowitz, you wouldn't guaranty a win against him, because when he ran unopposed in 2009 he got more votes than there are eligible voters in SM. Which is not to say I think you *shouldn't* go for that option, whatever happens with Measure A. I've got absolutely no dog in that hunt, and feel that democracy works best when there are a strong selection of choices and passionate people involved. But then, I also think Measure A would *help* that passion more than hinder it.
Richard June 04, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Just a thought: If the *only* reason one is voting against Measure A is because Peter Dreier is supporting it, then at some point, don't you have to ask if that reaction is precisely what Peter Dreier *wants*?
pusddad June 04, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Are you stating now that a board member from one district wil be duty bound to respond to an inquiry or request from a constituent from another district in more than merely referring it to the member representing that district?
Richard June 04, 2012 at 07:27 PM
"Are you stating now that a board member from one district wil be duty bound to respond to an inquiry or request from a constituent from another district in more than merely referring it to the member representing that district?" Exactly as much as they are under the current system. Which is to say, the good ones will, the lazy ones won't. That really doesn't change depending on how we elect them.
pusddad June 04, 2012 at 07:57 PM
If the new system passes, I will take into consideration what you are stating now if the board adopts a policy that members will only respond to the inquiries of their individual constituents.
pusddad June 04, 2012 at 08:00 PM
"respective" constituents. thanks. Unlike Dreier, you responded.
Tony Brandenburg June 04, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Thanks for the articulate answers, Richard. I am not as chaffed as others regarding the lack of a single sm voice in this matter, but more concerned that the at large has been eliminated. Had it been 4 or 5 districts matched by 2-3 at large, I would have looked at this differently. The loss of any voice at all until 2015 cannot be even remotely in the favor of sm. We have a school that is a pile of rubble, and most of us have good reason to question, "why?"
Peter Dreier June 04, 2012 at 08:32 PM
How much clearer can I be? I want people to vote YES on Measure A tomorrow.
Mary Brandenburg June 04, 2012 at 08:43 PM
@Dreier- pusddad was asking for clarification. There's no question how you're voting.
Richard June 04, 2012 at 08:46 PM
"Had it been 4 or 5 districts matched by 2-3 at large, I would have looked at this differently." ... but that *is* what it is, Tony. I'm guessing you meant that the other way around? Maybe we should've done this two years from now.
Wm. Jefferson June 05, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Voting no, Richard. No way I can get behind something that penalizes Sierra Madre for two years.
pusddad June 05, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Dr. Dreier: please answer my question. How are board members currently less likely to act collaboratively because they are in competition with each other for the seats they already hold?
Richard June 05, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Totally understand that, Mr. Jefferson, though I would again make the argument that voting no simply penalizes Sierra Madre for an indefinite number of years.
Karmann Ghia June 05, 2012 at 07:32 AM
Never misses the opportunity to promote her parade.....That' a girl!
SteveB June 05, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Richard, thanks for your expressing your point of view in a calm, reasoned manner. Not finding a similar voice arguing the other side says a lot, to me.

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