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Campaigns torpedo League forum

Submitted by on 1, February 1, 2011 – 12:02 am5 Comments

Proponents and opponents of the Measure A school parcel tax have bowed out of the League of Women Voters of Alameda’s planned February 3 forum on the tax.

“We have tried to broker a new agenda that would meet the concerns on both sides while still falling within our forum guidelines. This has not been possible,” the League said in a statement issued Monday night that said both campaign had withdrawn plans to participate. “The forum is canceled.”

The Committee Against Measure A threatened on January 24 to picket the forum because they didn’t think they were getting equal time to offer their say on the measure. They were upset that the forum’s organizers chose to include a 30-minute presentation from the school district about the tax and its impact on the district, which they saw as an additional opportunity to advocate for the tax.

“The current forum structure amounts to 40 minutes of scheduled time for proponents of the unfair tax structure, and just 10 minutes of time for advocates of a fair, progressive tax structure,” opponents of the measure said in a press release. They said they were giving the League three days to change the forum’s structure.

Proponents announced their decision to bow out on Friday, saying they respect the League’s efforts but didn’t feel the event would proceed as envisioned.

“These antics have turned what was supposed to be a neutral forum for the sharing of information into an opportunity for grandstanding. Given the opposition campaign’s unwillingness to participate and its clear interest in creating something that is more spectacle than informational forum, we see no reason to move forward,” the tax’s proponents wrote in a letter to the League that was also sent to reporters and bloggers on Friday.

The League has created a handout with information on the measure and on what proponents and opponents have said about it, which will be distributed to local libraries, high schools, the adult school and churches. Complete information will be available on the League’s website.

Meanwhile, the Committee Against Measure A is offering a presentation on Measure A at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Main Library, 1550 Oak Street. They have invited Alameda SOS to attend, CAMA’s David Howard said Tuesday.

5 Comments »

  • Leland Traiman says:

    The Draconian plan of school closures the Alameda Unified School District says it will have to implement if Measure A fails is a fraud. This plan, known as Plan B, was not written by educators or even the AUSD’s accountants but crafted by political consultants whose only interest was to give the District a political tool to scare people into voting for Measure A.

    The Campaign Against Measure A has obtained copies of invoices from political consultants, Erwin & Muir, to the AUSD. The AUSD hired these political consultants to create Plan B. The invoice copies were obtained from the AUSD using the California Public Records Act. Political consultants Erwin & Muir have been on the AUSD payroll since June of 2009. The AUSD paid these political consultants $300 per hour costing the District over $100,000 in total. This makes Plan B a very expensive political fabrication.

    Plan B is the primary reason Alamedans cite as their reason for supporting Measure A. It is important for Measure A supporters to understand their support is based on the tactical fantasy of political consultants and not a well reasoned decision arrived at by AUSD’s accountants and educators.

    Appearing at a debate would leave Alameda SOS, those in favor of Measure A, in the embarrassing position of trying to explain this fact, face to face, with angry voters. I can understand their desire to avoid that and refuse to debate or face the public.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    If the Committee Against Measure A actually believed in the value of public information and an open,fair, and civil discussion of the facts, it would have not withdrawn first from the League’s forum and threatened to disrupt the library and the event with picketing and leaflets.

    Instead of being willing to share a civil forum with the school district and the proponents of Measure A, CAMA has chosen to disrupt the democratic process and the community’s ability to learn the truth.

    The AUSD was invited to the Measure A forum because neither the opponents nor the proponents of Measure E knew the answers to the audience’s technical questions about the AUSD’s budget during the League of Women Voters’ forum on Measure E. (Ask CAMA’s reps on Thursday to explain the AUSD’s budget in detail and you will se what I mean.)

    Based on CAMA’s track record one might consider distrusting the validity of CAMA’s information and its biased “facts” purely on the basis of its consistently manipulative and bullying tactics in the public sphere…

    • Adam Gillitt says:

      Mister Spangler attempts to rewrite history, if not reality, in his comment above:

      If the Committee Against Measure A actually believed in the value of public information and an open,fair, and civil discussion of the facts, it would have not withdrawn first from the League’s forum

      CAMA decided against participating exactly because the format of the agenda at the LoWV was not “an open,fair, and civil discussion of the facts,” Jon.

  • David Howard says:

    Alameda SOS has refused to answer a subsequent challenge (below) – and repeated attempts to confirm – to a fair and equal debate. Clearly, they are afraid they can’t defend Measure A on its merits, and require AUSD and taxpayer funds to back them up.

    Ergo, CAMA is holding its own information meeting at the Library, Thursday, Feb 3rd, 7pm.

    Measure A Information Meeting
    Alameda Free Library
    1550 Oak Street
    Alameda, CA 94501

    Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
    7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    Cost: FREE

    Fair Tax Proponents Challenge Alameda SOS to Public Debate on Parcel Tax
    Debate would replace unbalanced League of Women Voters forum

    01.28.2011– Alameda, Calif. – Proponents of a fair and progressive school parcel tax here challenged another local group, Alameda SOS, to a public debate on the merits of Alameda Unified School District’s (AUSD) “Measure A” parcel tax proposal, on the ballot March 8th.

    Leland Traiman of the Committee Against Measure A in Alameda said, “There are a lot of misconceptions about Measure A and a public debate by the two opposing campaigns would allow voters to weigh the arguments for themselves.”

    This debate challenge comes after proponents of a fair tax structure, and Alameda SOS, have withdrawn from the League of Women Voters Measure A forum which would have first included a 30-minute presentation by the Alameda Unified School District’s Chief Financial Officer, Robert Shemwell. The Committee Against Measure A in Alameda withdrew from the forum because it believed that a representative from AUSD – the agency that brought forth Measure A and put it on the ballot – could not possibly present “facts” about the proposed tax in an impartial manner.

    Mr. Traiman continued, “It is AUSD which has put the tax before the voters and it is, indeed, the facts which are a matter of dispute. When AUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital spoke at the Rotary Club recently, she was not supposed to advocate for Measure A but simply give a report on the state of Alameda’s schools. Nonetheless, advocate for Measure A is exactly what she did. It would not reasonable or logical to expect Mr. Shemwell be objective when his boss, the Superintendent, was not.”

    The proposed format will be the standard debate format:

    Two speakers on each side, given one minute apiece to introduce themselves.
    Each side will make a 10 minute presentation.
    Questions from the audience will be answered by both sides with each side given two minutes. The goal will be to answer every question from the public.

    The moderator will be responsible for keeping order, insuring that the debate is civil and courteous. This will apply to both the speakers and the audience. The moderator will have the right to rule any question out of order if it repeats a previous question or is a personal question of the speakers.

    The Committee Against Measure A in Alameda has invited Jeff Cambra, co-president of the Alameda League of Women Voters to chair the debate. Mr. Traiman said, “Although the League, itself, proposed an unfair structure for their forum, we believe Mr. Cambra can take off his League hat and be a fair moderator and do a good job.”

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