You could hear a collective sigh of relief in school district offices throughout California after voters approved Prop 30 on Tuesday. Not that happy days are here again for school funding. The Carlsbad school district has already cut costs by $6.1 million this year. Teachers, managers and other school workers pitched in with $2 million of that amount in pay cuts.
If Prop 30 had failed to pass, another $4.8 million would have been slashed from city schools, amounting to a hit of nearly $11 million in a single year.
But the best news from Tuesday’s election results is that the air is beginning to leak from the anti-tax Tea Party balloon. Maybe it’s the irony voters are beginning to see in the public’s eagerness to contribute millions to political campaigns to support candidates who pledge not to raise their taxes by a dime and who hate government so much they’ll say or do anything to win a seat in it.
According to a local newspaper columnist, allowing Carlsbad’s new high school to sit empty for at least a year is the answer to the district’s financial woes. But T.K. Arnold’s argument for delaying the opening of Sage Creek High is about as watery as the school’s fictional namesake. A closer look reveals how his politics trumps his punditry.
Calling Prop 30 “Gov. Jerry Brown’s blackmail ballot” tells you all you need to know about Arnold’s political bias. But what’s equally troubling is his reasoning. In a facts-free claim, he says the district could “save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year” in operating costs that could be used to close a gaping budget hole as high as $11 million” if Proposition 30 fails. The mixed metaphor (I’m trying to picture a “high” hole) could make you chuckle if the subject weren’t so serious.
Arnold doesn’t bother to estimate the cost of letting a $104 million high school campus remain vacant for at least a year, as well as the loss of learning opportunities to students denied access to new facilities. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Showdown at Sage Creek’
Getting fan mail from elected officials is one of my pet peeves. They want “my opinion on the issues,” they say. But what they really want is the answer to a question not included in their questionnaires: “Do you still love me?”
To add insult to injury, I’m paying the postage for their reelection campaign.
If politicians made decisions based on their deeper understanding of the issues, rather than their popularity, their newsletters would be more informative and voters could make better choices at the polls.
It’s doubtful the Civil Rights Act would have won the popular vote in the general election of 1964, the year Congress passed it into law. Our elected representatives had the courage to do what was right, at the risk of popular opinion. The Democrats lost the Solid South because of it.
Fast forward to this year’s Election Day in Carlsbad. By putting Proposition A on the ballot, the City Council found an easy way to shirk their responsibility for making tough decisions. What could be better for elected representatives than being allowed to decrease city employee benefits, but requiring a vote of the people to increase them?
It’s a politician’s dream. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Prop A is Council’s Sweet Deal’
Carlsbad school officials worry that if voters don’t agree to a tax increase on November 6, a midyear budget reduction could lead to cutting the school year by up to three weeks. But a greater threat to local schools in the long run hangs on the outcome of the Presidential election.
Mitt Romney has announced a plan to “restore the promise of American education” by promoting choice and innovation. Titled, “A Chance for Every Child,” it signals a retreat from the goal of No Child Left Behind. A chance is not a promise. Romney’s vow to use federal funds to support school choice, rather than school improvement, will produce winners and losers. That’s a far cry from the role of public education as a springboard of equal opportunity for upward mobility.
Romney also believes school reform can be done on the cheap, evidenced by his claim class size doesn’t matter. He’s fond of quoting a 2007 McKinsey report, “How the World’s best performing school systems come out on top.” The consultants claim studies show good teachers are more important than smaller classes. To that earth-shattering discovery my response can only be, “well…duh!” Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Election Day Threats to Local Schools’
You can tell from his most recent mailer that Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad, hates his job. He complains about having to work year-round in Sacramento, with little time to ask local voters what they want him to do there. Forced to accept an overblown salary while working full-time on issues that “are not priorities for the hard-working people of this state,” he can’t take a second job in the real world.
So what’s an unhappy State Assembly member to do? Survey his constituents, of course, to see if they agree he and his colleagues are overpaid, out of touch and underemployed.
Mindful of how busy we all are, Garrick boils his survey down to four simple, yes, or no questions and one “positive” or “negative” opinion. If you answer yes to the first question, lawmakers should have full-time careers and be part-time politicians, the next three are easy. Yes, you want a part-time legislature, yes, the legislature passes too many bills, and yes your representative is grossly overpaid. If you think “no” answers are acceptable, check out the answer sheet included or just Google “Congress: job ratings.” Continue reading ‘The Riehl World: A Lawmaker’s Lament’
Wouldn’t it be nice if grocery stores and gas stations would sign pledges to stop taxing us with higher prices until they cut their business expenses an equal amount? They could protect their profits by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in their operations. We customers could help them find the waste to prove they don’t have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem.
Sound familiar? That’s the thinking behind a local political activist group that’s asking state office holders and candidates to sign its Promise to California Taxpayers pledge. Signers must promise to vote against all tax increases, amendments to Proposition 13 and increased taxpayer contributions to public employee pension plans.
I was disappointed to learn that Carlsbad City Council member and candidate for the 76th District seat in the California Assembly, Farrah Douglas, was one of the first five signers.
Follow the jump for the rest. Continue reading ‘The Riehl World: Say It Ain’t So, Farrah’
On Saturday I had an attack of déjà vu in downtown San Diego that made we wonder if Occupy Wall Street could ever come to our sleepy little Village By The Sea. Let me explain.
My wife and I had to wade through an Occupy San Diego encampment in front of the Civic Theatre, where we were headed to see the revival of the 60’s rock musical, HAIR. Karen was more excited about seeing the show than I was. Although we both have vivid memories of those psychedelic days, hers are more pleasant than mine.
She found her inner flower child in the late 60’s, leaving a stuck-in-the-50’s husband who preferred the kind of obedient wife we see today only in the popular retro TV series Mad Men. I was a high school English teacher affecting a Bono look, no not that Bono, the Sonny one who harmonized with Cher. Sporting fashionably long hair and a slightly droopy mustache, I wore paisley ties, a macramé belt and waffle-stomper boots. But my polyester sport coats gave me away. The only risk I took in the 60’s was standing too close to an open flame in that attire. I was a hippie wannabe. Continue reading ‘The Riehl World: Unoccupied Carlsbadistan?’
Martin Garrick, the Republican assemblyman representing North County, was arrested Wednesday evening at 9:36 PM in Sacramento, after reportedly driving 45 MPH in a 25 MPH zone and running a stop sign, according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle.
He ran a stop sign at O Street and did not slow when the officers tried to stop him, driving into the Capitol parking garage, Kennedy said. . . The officers caught up with Garrick, who was now parked, Kennedy said. He showed signs of being intoxicated and agreed to take a field sobriety test and then a chemical test, Kennedy said. He was cited and released, Kennedy said.
In a statement released on his behalf he said that this was a “stark wake-up call” and he reportedly has promised never to drink and drive again.
Geez, Mr. Garrick, what is this high school? Are you going to write that on the blackboard 500 times? Nice to know we’re represented by people with such good judgement, isn’t it?
[Link: San Francisco Chronicle]
Add this to the long list of things we didn’t know about Carlsbad City Councilperson Ann Kulchin: for the past 20 plus years Kulchin has served on the board of The San Diego Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies. Interesting no? The board, which controls a budget created by a $1 tax that is added to every San Diego County vehicle registration ($2.5 million a year), was created 1986 specifically to install and operate roadside call boxes.
Now that most everyone on the road has a cellphone the boxes don’t get much use anymore. This has left SD SAFE with quite a lot of money to spend on things that aren’t exactly roadside call boxes. And according to a story by SD City Beat writer Dave Maass, Ann Kulchin gets a pretty free hand in deciding where that money goes and there are some who don’t exactly agree with how the money is being spent.
Follow the link for a few concrete examples of how the good ol’ boy/girl network functions in San Diego County.
[Link: SD City Beat]
On a national level, the 2010 elections will go down in history as a populist revolt against big government. But in three North County cities, the year will be remembered as the one in which voters really, truly paid attention.
To their credit, voters in Carlsbad, Oceanside and Encinitas studied the issues, weighed the pros and cons of each side, and made informed decisions, unswayed by who had the most, and prettiest, campaign signs and mailers.
Call it the election of sense and sensibility.
In the Carlsbad mayor’s race, victor Matt Hall was seriously outgunned by fellow Councilman Keith Blackburn in both signs and mailers, thanks in large part of the police and fire unions, which spent thousands of dollars to protect their inflated pensions. The Friday before the election alone, I received no fewer than five Blackburn mailers, including one, sent by the Carlsbad Police Officers’ Association, that hit a new low in sleaziness. Under the headline, “Matt Hall neglected our families’ safety,” the cops blasted Hall for “talking to reporters” after the Kelly School shootings, while praising Blackburn for “humbling” donning his police uniform and helping out behind the scenes.
Continue reading ‘TK Arnold: Sense And Sensibility’