Home » Island News

Tensions mount in Measure E battle

Submitted by on 1, June 14, 2010 – 4:50 am15 Comments

Jenny Turcinovic becomes visibly upset when she describes the day a few weeks back that a couple walked into her Webster Street business and began cursing out her 15-year-old son for the No on E sign the family had placed, at their landlord’s request, in their shop window.

Her son was nearly in tears, she said, when he called her from the family’s Aria Supermarket & Bakery to describe the confrontation, one of several the family experienced in the short time the sign was up.

“I told the landlord, ‘I’m going to take it off. I can’t take it anymore,’ ” Turcinovic said, adding that she would find other, less public, ways to support the No on E campaign. “Showing the finger to a 15-year-old boy – it’s ridiculous.”

The episode was the latest outrage in a political contest that has been bitter and deeply personal, even by Alameda standards. In addition to the encounters at Turcinovic’s shop, some supporters of the tax have threatened to boycott shops whose owners oppose it.

(The Island spoke with the owners of a shop and a restaurant on Webster whose businesses bore No on E signs. They said they had not had the same confrontations that Aria had experienced. One restaurant owner said she complied with a request from supporters of the tax to take her No on E sign down.)

Yes on E campaign spokesman John Knox White, who said the campaign doesn’t endorse the attacks and who has publicly spoken out against a boycott, said opponents of the plan have engaged in personal attacks against supporters.

He pointed to a YouTube video paid for by the Committee Against Measure E which claims the tax is being pushed by wealthy East End and Gold Coast residents seeking to protect their own interests and has been taken by some to imply that supporters are racist, and to a Google map created by an opponent of the tax that pinpoints supporters’ home addresses.

“It speaks to the paucity of the arguments that they have,” Knox White said.

Former school board trustee David Forbes was active on three previous school parcel tax campaigns, and he ran the Measure C school bond campaign in 2004. None of those campaigns got as nasty as the race for Measure E has, he said.

“There were certainly people who felt strongly. But there were not the ad hominem attacks,” Forbes, who was featured in the opponents’ video, said. “That’s the difference with this campaign.”

Doug Biggs said he and several other Measure E supporters who were featured in the video are actually West End residents. Biggs runs the Alameda Point Collaborative, which provides housing and services for formerly homeless families.

“Alameda’s always been good at bringing it into the gutter,” Biggs said. Still, he said, he has been able to debate other hot button issues – like SunCal’s Alameda Point ballot measure – without things getting personal.

David Howard, who created the video and map, denied calling anyone a racist, as some who were featured in the video have charged. But he was quick to list the percentage of white students in the three schools called out in the video. He accused the school district of “exploit(ing) the race and class divide in Alameda” by threatening to close schools.

“The map shows that it’s largely the same patronage network of parents and activist community members in wealthy Alameda neighborhoods who organize and push for these parcel taxes time and time again,” Howard said in a statement released to The Island. “It looks to me that these parents are simply trying to protect a privilege that they enjoy – small, elementary schools that produce high test scores – at the expense of everyone else in the community.”

Supporters of the tax have said the schools need the money to replace millions of dollars in lost state funding. And they said that if Measure E fails, schools all over the Island could close.

But Biggs, who acknowledged the tax won’t solve all the issues the school district is facing, said that calling people out makes it harder for the community to come back together once the electoral battle over Measure E is decided.

“By taking it in this direction, it takes out the opportunity of coming to compromise,” he said. “It takes out the opportunity to have a thoughtful discussion on the issue.”


  • Mike S says:

    All the more reason to vote NO!

  • Jason Woods says:

    I’m going to vote No on E. People are being bullied into voting for something does not show any accountable and they are screaming “save our property values” Well Pleasanton rejected their parcel tax for schools because they did prove accountable. I attended alameda school during atfer Prop 13 and my class sizes were large but guess what it was my responsible to get an education and it’s my parents responsibility to make sure I went to school.

  • Frances says:

    Why no discussion of opponents stealing signs (one guy was caught red-handed and cited by police) and actually calling for a boycott of local papers? How can Howard deny calling supporters racist when he did so in a letter in the Alameda Journal? Is bad behavior by opponents reason to vote Yes? Not really, just as bad behavior by a few supporters is not a good reason to vote no. The reason to vote yes is that it is actually necessary to maintain our high quality schools, high property values, and quality of life. Without it, Alameda will no longer be the choice of families looking for a nice community with good schools and we will all suffer, not just those of us with kids in school.

    • Hi Frances,

      As far as the signs go, there have been accusations of sign-stealing on both sides in this campaign, and lawn sign theft is a pretty common occurrence in political campaigns. But cursing out shop owners and making a map pinpointing people’s home addresses – these things are unusual.

      And you are correct that opponents have, on their Facebook page, called for a boycott of local papers, which they claim have not told both sides of the story equally.

  • Jack B. says:

    Considering all of the debt that older generations have piled onto the youngsters, the least we can all do is help provide them w/ the skills to pay it off.

  • Lauren Do says:

    Thanks for the article Michele.

    I think what is critical to note that while bad behavior and bad acts have occurred by supporters of both the pro and anti side, the significant difference is that the official anti-Measure E campaign (Committee Against Measure E/Alamedans for Fair Taxation) has been the ones to commit the extremely egregious attacks by creating videos like the one mentioned above and calling for a boycott of local papers. The official pro-Measure E campaign has not condoned nor done anything similar in scale.

  • Dennis V. says:

    David Howard is stuck in a do-loop — perhaps AUSD is threatening to close schools because of declining enrollment and the property tax for residents doubled under Measure E ($659/parcel compared to Measure A&H) because there has been no development at Alameda Point to bring kids into the west end schools or spread the cost of running AUSD among more parcels? Measure E is the cost of living in Mayberry.

  • David Howard says:

    Here is a link to the Bay Citizen story that also covered the Aria market incident:


    And here is the full text of my statement sent to The Island. I understand the entire statement can’t be reproduced in the article, but I’d like readers to see the full context.

    “Some months ago, drawing on publicly available information, I created a Google map that plots the approximate – not exact – addresses of the members of the Parcel Tax Advisory Group (PTAG) as well as members of KASE (Measure H) and AEF. I updated this recently with the organizing members of APLUS as listed on their website. (I did not put up a picture of anybody’s house on the Internet – Google did.)

    The map proves false a statement made last year by AUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital that members of PTAG ‘were drawn from all parts of Alameda.’ As the map clearly shows, they were not.

    The map also shows that it’s largely the same patronage network of parents and activist community members in wealthy Alameda neighborhoods who organize and push for these parcel taxes time and time again.

    It looks to me that these parents are simply trying to protect a privilege that they enjoy – small, elementary schools that produce high test scores – at the expense of everyone else in the community, including lower income parents and students who are relegated to other schools which must go begging for money, as Washington Elementary recently did with a Comcast sponsored ‘spruce-up’ and which produce lower test scores.

    At the League of Women Voters meeting, John Knox White himself effectively admitted that he is trying to protect such a privilege when he talked about studies that show that small schools are better for kids. I guess he means his kids. Edison and Otis schools are among the smallest capacity schools in Alameda, according to AUSD, and the capacity of Franklin Schools is less than half of the largest elementary school in Alameda.

    Contrary to accusations, I have not called anyone a racist. I do note, however, that support for the tax is largely concentrated in the Edison, Otis and Franklin School attendance zones. Edison, Otis and Franklin have the largest concentration of white student enrollment of any AUSD elementary schools: Edison, 71%; Otis, 51%, Franklin 54% As I have said before, parents in these attendance zones resist school consolidation, even though the District has said it would save money.

    I also believe that AUSD deliberately and consciously motivates white parents with kids in small schools with threats of ‘Or else we’ll close your schools!’ which implicitly means that kids in majority white schools would have to go to more diverse schools. I believe that AUSD’s exploitation of the race and class divide in Alameda in the name of passing parcel taxes is far more egregious than any Google map, inasmuch as AUSD is a publicly funded entity.”

    I think it’s hypocritical that the Pro-Measure E people, and Pro-Measure H people, who are walking into shops on Webster and Park Street, in some cases yelling at, or otherwise accosting merchants and store owners for not supporting the parcel tax, and who are asking for lists of merchants to boycott for not supporting the parcel tax, should complain about the map, especially since they are all so anxious to put a sign on their lawn identifying their support for the parcel taxes anyway. (One merchant told me “Yes, some stupid woman came in here….”)

    Their residence address is germane to the debate over the parcel tax, vis-a-vis statements I made in my prior e-mail about people living within certain elementary school zones trying to protect a privilege they enjoy at everyone’s expense.”

  • Frances says:

    Talk about hypocritical! First of all, the inaccurate map Howard made “proves” nothing. Not only did he leave off supporters who live on the West End, but just knowing someone’s address says nothing about their income or race. Yes, I am proud to support Measure E, but that doesn’t mean I want my address posted on some site trying to rile the opposition. Second, Howard’s own printed words in the Alameda Journal are “Parents in these wealthier neighborhoods resist elementary school consolidation — is it because consolidation would upset the de facto segregation of our schools, which preserves “their” schools for white and Asian kids and relegates “everyone else” to schools in lower-income neighborhoods?” If that is not an accusation of racism, then I don’t know what is. Does he think that phrasing it in the form of a question means that he doesn’t have to take responsibility for what he is saying?

    Do opponents of Measure E really care about disadvantaged students or are they just selfish people who simply don’t want to pay this tax? (Hey, it works! Thanks Howard for that rhetorical strategy!) How else can you explain the crazy argument that supporting *public schools* is somehow racist and that failing to pass this tax which will cause the schools to go into debt, cut programs, and increase class sizes and school sizes will somehow be good for disadvantaged students? Anyone with half a brain who gives this even a moment of thought will realize how backwards and ridiculous that argument is. Measure E is necessary to ensure that ALL Alameda students receive a high quality education, regardless of their race or income level or where in the city they live.

  • Troy Staten says:

    The latest falsehood put forth by the NO on E people is that the Alameda Association of Realtors is opposing measure E. The AAOR took no position on the ballot proposition although myself and close to 100 other real estate professionals have endorsed it.

  • sm biz says:

    Laruen Do, you have a lot of nerve saying anything about small business’s calling for a boycott on the newspapers in Alameda, I know for a fact that several letters have been submitted to the Journal never to be published. You yourself had a “buycott” list and map on your blog for almost 2 years, after the lawsuit on MH!

  • KD says:

    A few bad-apples on both sides–so what else is new?
    Most E/anti-E supporters aren’t causing violence and mayhem–what’s posted here is heresay, or at best, it is anecdotal information. Otherwise, Alameda would look like the end of the movie 2012, or at least, like a kitchen destroyed by drunken monkeys.

    But I do think Measure E should pass–I’m convinced that AUSD needs the money.
    BTW, I live on the West End, my child has attended Washington Elementary & Chipman Middle Schools, and I haven’t boycotted, screamed at, or harassed any shop owners for their anti-E signs.

  • Lauren Do says:

    Uh… “sm biz” that would be the official anti-Measure E campaign calling for a boycott of the newspapers. Not an individual small business.

    My “buycott” urged folks to support businesses which supported our schools. Is there something wrong about supporting local businesses that support issues and interests that I personally believe in?

  • David Howard says:


    My wife is black, and my son is mixed-race. When I speak of or write about the de facto segregation of our schools along lines of race and class, I am sincere. I also noticed in the Alameda Sun a couple of weeks ago a letter to the editor from a Measure E opponent who spoke of the “affluency segregation” of our schools. I took his e-mail to be sincere.

    So, yes, among the opponents of Measure E, there are those that are sincere when talking about the segregation of our schools. (Speaking of Mayberry – Brown v. Board of Education supposedly desegregated America’s schools in 1954.)

    I’ve posted to this forum before, and repeat it here, that I stand ready to elaborate on my thoughts on this issue in any safe, sane public forum free from hysterics.

    Dennis V. – there won’t be as much property tax revenue for the schools from Alameda Point as you think. Most of the new property taxes will be “tax increment” revenue that will go to affordable housing, and developer subsidies by way of paying back bonds issued to fund the development. In Measure B, SunCal insisted on redirecting 100% of available tax increment revenue to developer subsidies. (Also see: http://www.youtube.com/user/ActionAlameda#p/u/2/ZAwfRXA3Ie0)

    If schools were consolidated to save funds (the smallest elementary school in Alameda is less than half the size of the largest) and if all AUSD employees would agree to a temporary 10% pay cut – full salaries re-instated when State funding returns – the District could save perhaps as much as $10 million. This would allow them a much smaller parcel tax – one that more people could afford – and a tax structure that doesn’t create opposition among the business community.

  • Michelle says:

    Many Measure E proponents just cannot accept the fact that some of us living in Alameda can’t afford the tax. It interferes with their cozy world view, that is, homeowners are just hoarding money, Scroogelike, not wanting to cough it up it to the poor unfortunate Tiny Tims who, supposedly, populate Alameda schools. When you look at all the other school tax measures recently passed in California you see that they were all around a hundred dollars or less per year. $90.00 would still be hard to bear, but not impossible.

    A $350 increase seems like small change to a wealthy east ender, but to many of us on the West end it is a huge amount. The flat tax is, like Social Security before it, designed to make rich people vote for it. It is unfair that I have to pay the same tax for a tiny 420 sq ft cottage as someone who owns a huge Gold Coast home. Also, many renters seem unaware of all the taxes that we homeowners actually pay. From vector control, to transit, to trails, to sewage, to (Alameda hospital to the tune of $298.00 per year) Ask to see one of your friends tax bills to get an idea of the many services we fund.

    It amazes me that people think it’s horrible for students to have to pay higher fees for universities and yet don’t think it’s monstrous to expect us to pay higher taxes. Someone has to pay, and it may as well be the people who most benefit from the services. But tax proponents have placed a higher moral value on current “students” and lower values on those of us who have scrimped and saved to own our own homes even if we did not get a good education.

    Anyway, most of us do not “own” our homes, but pay the bank to “live” in them, while at the same time shouldering all the responsibility for them. It’s like adopting a child versus being a foster parent. Homeowners are responsible for all repairs and maintenance and insurance, as well as taxes. Prop 13 was a Godsend. I have said before, my take home pay is $24,000. If not for prop 13 my property tax would be $9,000, 3 times what I currently pay. I could not pay the taxes and my mortgage and bills on $15,000 a year. If it was not for Prop 13, only the rich would be able to afford homes.

    The other day I was buying bread at a fabulous new Italian deli that has recently opened in our neighborhood and I noticed a “Vote Yes On Measure E” sign in their window. I calmly explained why I had already voted no. The owner told me that she wouldn’t want her taxes to go up if she owned a home in Alameda, but that the high school kids are her customers, so she has to support the measure. I told her I totally understood her reasoning.

    I can tell my neighbor, a renter, has voted yes on the measure, because she keeps bringing me “extra” food she has happened to “over buy” due to “shopping while hungry.” Not all Measure E supporters are the “Devil.”

    Many people here in Alameda are behaving like children. They want their own way. Many on these forums will start out sounding rational, claiming they are balanced, then suddenly start smearing their opponents saying that their opponents are “worse”. I got news for all y’all. You all are equally mean, mean, vicious and mean! Grow up!

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.