Editor’s note: It is the Triplicate’s election season policy to limit election-related missives to letters of 400 words or less. This Coastal Voices is an exception to allow fairness in response to regular Triplicate columnist Bob Berkowitz’s “Did You Know” column on the same topic printed last week (“Was Measure A fix in all the time?” May 3).
Since February, political consultant Bob Berkowitz has been writing an opinion column in the Triplicate. Although I rarely agree with Bob, I respect his right to express his view. However, Bob’s column last Saturday crossed the bounds of propriety. His irresponsible accusation that a recent vote by the County Board of Education was “fixed” is not supported by a shred of evidence.
The only basis for his claim is that he was unaware that the Board of Education had scheduled consideration of a resolution to oppose ballot Measure A. He missed the meeting, so he blames somebody else.
The truth is that the Board acted appropriately and followed all legal requirements regarding public notification. This fact has been verified by Triplicate staff. The resolution was requested by Keep It California through the formal agenda process. The agenda for the meeting was posted online in advance of the meeting as required by law. Any member of the public could have attended and made public comments at this meeting. As a former School Board member Bob should know that the Board of Education followed all the rules.
Yet Bob and the Jefferson supporters are complaining about not being invited to the meeting. There is no requirement to provide personal notices to any particular individual or group. Nor is it the responsibility of Keep It California to educate them about how the process works.
It is not surprising that they did not look at the School Board agenda. The Jefferson committee has offered no plan for funding education in the new state and they have never attended a School Board meeting. They had months to request a meeting with the School Board, but they did not.
The Board of Education made the right decision. At the meeting, County Schools Superintendant Don Olson reported that the schools would lose $32 million in funding if we break away from California. This is over 90 percent of the total budget. Considering there is no credible plan to replace this funding, the Board of Education took the correct action.
For Bob to suggest that the Board was not well informed is unfounded. The State of Jefferson proponents have had a visible campaign in force since last year. There have been multiple meetings and news stories when this idea was discussed.
In his column in February, Berkowitz first mentioned his support for the State of Jefferson. If he made up his mind to support Jefferson in February, then it is reasonable to believe that the Board of Education was informed enough to make a decision in April.
There has been enough information available for a reasonable person to conclude that Jefferson is not a viable proposition. There has been no plan and no financial analysis presented by Jefferson proponents, yet we are being asked to invest our future in this risky venture. Facing a massive potential loss of funding for our local schools, this was a responsible decision by the Board of Education.
The perfect irony is that last Saturday, on the same day that Bob professed that he doesn’t “have a horse in this race,” his local Republican committee ran an ad recommending support for Jefferson. Two months ago, I requested permission to attend a meeting of the local Republican committee to discuss Keep It California and our reasons for opposing Measure A. As a non-partisan committee, we have been reaching out to all Republican, Democratic and independent voters who oppose breaking away from California. Though many Republicans I’ve talked to agree with Keep It California, the Republican committee refused to meet with me — so much for hearing both sides of the story.
I am proud of the members of our Board of Education for having the courage to stand up and unanimously take a position to oppose formation of the state of Jefferson. County Superintendant Don Olson should be commended for acting with responsibility by highlighting the impact of this devastating loss of school funding. This is what real leadership looks like.
Kevin Hendrick is director of the Keep It California-No on Measure A campaign.