Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Oakland Teacher Parcel Tax on Ballot

By Chris Thompson
Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 8:53 AM

Here's one of those only-in-Oakland stories we get every so often. State administrator Vincent Matthews, who more or less runs the Oakland schools under the terms of the 2003 state bailout, has put a new property tax measure on the November ballot. If it passes, homeowners would pay $120 a year to raise $10 million for district teacher salaries. But everyone else connected with the schools seems to hate the idea.

Both the largely powerless school board and leaders of the Oakland teachers union have criticized the proposal for a variety of reasons. According to the Trib, the measure would fund salaries for charter school teachers, and you know the union doesn't like that. Union leaders also want business owners to pay a greater share of the tax, and school board members worry that the voters will be feeling too burned out on new property taxes to take another bite at the apple. But one of the main problems, it seems, is Matthews' unilateral decision to plop this bad boy on the ballot without consulting the board or any local stakeholders. Is he an arrogant jerk with a tin ear for what will fly in the district? Are school board members just feeling snotty because he didn't kiss their rings before proceeding? Could it be a little of both? You decide, as always. But it's pretty rich to see school board member David Kakishiba, who's been pushing the aggravating and foolish Kids First initiative all over town, quoted in the Trib denouncing "reckless fiscal behavior." Tell it to the judge, David.

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