Friday, August 27, 2010

Has the Times gone too far?

So you have probably been reading on the MDUSD.net blog as well as Claycord about the Times reporting of Board and school district issues. I read Gary Eberhart's Q & A on his blog and for that, we get this article: Mt. Diablo Trustee asked public to pay for his solar training

You know, I really feel the Times has gone too far on this one. Whether you agree or disagree with the payment for solar classes, it must take a real skill to turn Gary's Q & A into an article this negative.

Some of you may disagree with me here, but why can't the Times do something positive? Is press only about finding the negative angle? I don't personally see anything wrong with having a representative of our district trained on solar practice while we embark on a multi-million dollar solar project. And who is this person Mr. Krupnick quotes from Santa Clara, and why is that person qualified to know our district or to comment at all?

I just had to get this out there...

I'm sure you all will have a lot to say, including that I may be naive in my interpretation of what "press" is "supposed" to be about, but I think being a board member is hard enough . . . there may be things we disagree on, but I think the Times has taken this one a little too far. Slow news week perhaps?

125 comments:

  1. Why didn't they send Pete Pedersen who has been hired by the district to manage the Measure C money ? He is the logical choice. Gary only has two years left and the solar will extend beyond that. Lets see if I have this straight. Gary Eberhart never completed the "Masters in Governance" program from California School Board Association in 15 years on the Board according to Board President Paul Strange, even though Dick Allen and Linda Mayo have. Then suddenly he takes this construction management course on solar -- Board members don't manage construction projects. And he violates Board policy in getting reimbursement ? Isn't that the same thing Eberhart complained about former Supt. McHenry and the Grand Jury investigated ? Then he gets a job with a construction company that does School District construction and he becomes the VP of Solar. Did I miss something ?Another espisode of "As the World Turns" in MDUSD. I am sincerely happy though for Gary and his family that he did get a job in this tough economy.
    Doctor J

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  2. Dr. J. Here you go again!! Maybe Pedersen didn't want to take the class, a class at UC Berkeley sounds very time consuming. Eberhart also explained why he didn't complete the "Masters in Governance." Can you please show us all where he has violated board policy by being reimbursed? I agree with MDUSD parents, the times is on a witch hunt and either you are either a reporter, perhaps Harrington or Krupnick or a district admin. Your same old argument is very old.

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  3. Without even trying to think too much about the issue at hand, I'm really enjoying this little fight with the Times. For too long, reporters have had the complete upper hand, without any recourse whatsoever from those they were "interviewing." But those ink barrels are really running dry these days due to lack of funding and eyeballs and the "byte" reins supreme. I confess I've liked seeing a Times reporter get "byte" in the butt by their own unprofessional, petty dictatorship tactics. Laughing too at how Gary even scooped them...by the time it hit the Times, it was old news online.

    God forbid the Times...or the mainstream media period...should go back to neutral, in-depth, solid, and investigative reporting rather than "gotcha", faux controversy, sensationalism driven journalism.

    Contra Costa Times: If you think you're trying to challenge the MDUSD Board to do better in terms of transparency and disclosure, good on ya. I heartily support that goal and god knows it's needed.

    But please...heed your own call and go back managing your own affairs with integrity and intelligence as well. We need actual, informative reporting please on real issues. This kind of deployment of your increasingly scarce resources isn't benefiting many people either.

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  4. So let me try to understand. Back in January, before the Board had any public discussion about the district's undertaking a solar energy project, before the Board began considering a possible bond measure, and before a poll was taken to gauge public interest in a bond measure or a solar energy project, a Board member had the district pay his tuition for a UC Berkeley class on managing a solar energy project--a class that later helped qualify him for a job with a solar energy company.

    If Gary had told the Board in a public meeting last January that he thought the district should investigate switching to solar energy and that it would be beneficial for a Board member to have a full understanding of the subject, it's possible that the Board would have agreed to his taking the class at district expense. And the public would have known about--and perhaps some knowledgeable parents and community members would have participated in--the solar energy feasibility study the district leaders undertook.

    Gary and Paul were pleased with the Times when it reported their concerns about seemingly unusual expenditures or activities of the former district leadership. Now that the Times is reporting unusual expenditures or activities of the district under their leadership, they are crying foul. (Did Gary take the class to become a more knowledgeable Board member or to help in his job search? Perhaps the new job was an unexpected consequence.)

    The public has a right to know how the district is spending tax dollars, especially during a budget crisis. Individuals can agree or disagree about specific expenditures, Gary's class tuition being one of them. The Times wouldn't be reporting on it or the several interactions between district leaders and the Chevron subsidiary vying for the multi-million dollar solar energy project if the Board had been as transparent in its actions as Gary, during his re-election campaign, promised it would be.

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  5. I thought the effort to explore solar had begun 18-20 months ago (when McHenry was Superintendent)?

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  6. I do believe we have been told the history on more than one occasion . Does doc j and this other anon think solar was brought up in a meeting, voted on and approved all in one night? Or was it a long thought plan? Yes I believe it was during mchenrys tenure and certainly after the defeat of measure d the board was thinking toward a facility bond...

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  7. I'd like to know where I can take a four month class for a 1000.00 and then become a VP of a company. That would be real helpful about now! The class obviously did not have much weight in Mr. Eberhart's ability to get a VP position in a company. I completely support the professional development and am pleased that Eberhart was willing to take the class to help the district.

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  8. Anon 9:01
    The district was pursuing a second parcel tax measure up through January. In fact, in mid-December the district held a community meeting at Willow Creek to garner support for an anticipated parcel tax measure in June. The switch to a bond measure and interest in solar coincided with the with the employment start date of Dr. Lawrence in early February.
    At one of the early community meetings Lawrence was asked a question about ideas he was bringing to the district. He responded by saying he brought this one (solar) and didn't we think that was a good start.
    I don't doubt that solar was considered prior to that time frame. Was it a well thought out plan developed over 18-20 months? I don't know. We still haven't seen a comprehensive analysis of projected revenues and expenses except for the presentation made to the board by Pete Pederson in June that included $200,000,000 in math calculation errors and no information regarding expenses. I would think we would see better information if this was a long-term, well thought out plan.

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  9. Anon 8:02 and 9:01
    The solar project concept did not come about until well after the parcel tax loss 15 months ago, four months after McHenry left the district. This project is Gary's and Paul's baby, and they get praise or criticism (or both) for it depending on how you view their explanations about how the process was carried out this past year.

    In my earlier post I was not saying that the Board should have devoted one public meeting to discussing the idea of switching to solar power, just that they should have shared the idea with the public earlier than they did. Had Gary reported that he, Paul, and Dr. Lawrence were investigating the feasibility solar power for the district and he wanted to take a class to become more knowledgeable, it's likely the Board would have approved. (Although I believe in earlier budget cuts the Board had taken action prohibiting any employee from attending a conference or training using General Fund money.)

    As I and others have said repeatedly, Gary promised "greater communication and community engagement" under his leadership. Much of the process being used for the solar energy project, which we hope will live up to Gary's and Paul's promises for it, has been done behind closed doors. Let's hope the new Measure C Committee opens them up.

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  10. Can I just say how funny it is that someone suggested Pete Pedersen because Gary is leaving in 2 years! Pete's retirement was accepted by the board at the last meeting. Ha Ha Ha. I can't stop laughing how dumb people are.

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  11. Linda,

    You are just a naysayer. An uniformed naysayer at that. You just throw things out that you have no knowledge of.

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  12. 7:39, can I just say how funny it is you don't know they approved a continued contract with pedersen so he'll continue in retirement on contract to manage measure c?

    HA HA HA

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  13. The district lawyer in charge of transportation ? http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2010/08/27/lack-of-coordination-exacerbated-mdusd-special-education-busing-problems/comment-page-1/#comment-811
    Are you kidding me ? They just approved $800,000 in outside lawyer fees because the lawyer is too busy. This bussing fiasco is like the Roadrunner cartoon: everyone pointing the finger at another. Who is in charge ? The Supt and Assistant Supt’s don’t even know. How embarrassing. Who is Captain of this ship ?

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  14. ANON 7:40

    Cont...
    Do you know that San Ramon Valley Unified studied the idea of solar for almost two years before going forward? They held community meetings to inform the public and to seek input, they provided the community with a complete financial analysis showing projected revenues and expenses per year over the life of the project, and they provided FAQs for those questions that would help the community better understand the project. If MDUSD has studied solar for 18-20 months then why shouldn't we expect the same level of transparency?

    Remember this solar project is costing this community a lot of money. More money than it will produce. Every dollar that is taken out of this community for the bond measure interest is one less dollar available for our children's education in the future. Since this solar project has become the cornerstone for easing the financial strain on the general fund I believe there should be a comprehensive financial analysis. Why haven't we seen one?

    If the questions and concerns I have make me a naysayer in your eyes, then so be it.

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  15. Can we please recall Gary now that he is allegedly (will that keep you from suing me
    Gary), using district and more importantly TAXPAYER funds to further his own professional development?

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  16. Linda,

    It is embarrassing that you use San Ramon as an example. San Ramon not only signed up for a system that will only provide 1/20 of the benefits to the general fund that MDUSD's will, San Ramon misrepresented the size of the system. MDUSD's system is going to be about 12 MegaWatt. San Ramon's is 1/4 that size, but they listed the system as over 6 MegaWatt. They are using the max theoretical output, not the actual output. In other words, MDUSD's will actually output 12 MegaWatts in one year. San Ramon's will output 6 MegaWatts, only if the sun stays in summer position all year. They need the earth to stop orbiting the sun to meet their number.

    You should really stop touting San Ramon's system and their approach. They did not provide the information you are so attached to until they signed a contract. When MDUSD signs a contract, you will see the same level of information as San Ramon.

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  17. Anon 9:07
    Where do we find the Request for Proposal on the solar so we can see the specs you talk about ?

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  18. Anon 9:07
    Embarrassing for who? For our board members who post anonymously? You are absolutely wrong about when the financial analysis was provided to the SRVUSD community.

    In addition, the MDUSD board should be embarrassed by the fact that they continue to tout how bad a deal solar is for SRVUSD because their revenue stream will be so much less than ours. All I can say is at least their plan makes economic sense from the standpoint that it will costs less than the revenue it will produce.

    Instead our community will be paying more than $300,000,000 for solar with a return over the life of the project of somewhere between $100,000,000 and $200,000,000. Yes, for that I am embarrassed.

    And if you want to talk about mistakes why don't you take a look at the $200,000,000 worth of calculation errors (not bad assumptions but errors) in solar presentation made to the board on June 22.

    I am not a naysayer, I am not embarrassed, and I will not be bullied as you so like to do.

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  19. Anon 9:15
    Here is the rfp site for the solar project.
    http://169.199.90.240/rfp.html

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  20. Linda,

    Could you provide me with the analysis that you have done that supports the following two statements that you have made:

    1. That the solar project that we are moving forward with will cost the community more that it will return to the schools.

    2. That the community is going to be paying $300,000,000 for the solar project.


    I think a meaningful dialog about the solar project is imperative, but to even move towards that we need to be able to agree on the facts of project. I am not trying to be flippant by asking this question, I would really like to understand your position.

    And for the record, when I post, I post as me or not at all.

    Thanks
    Gary

    PS: I did paraphrase your statements and I hope I captured them correctly.

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  21. Yes, the Times is going too far and looking to find and stir up problems instead of reporting the facts.

    All this energy being put into trying to 'catch' people is the cancer of our age. While real scandals and inefficiencies need to be exposed, we also need to dedicate more energy into finding solutions.

    That doesn't mean scathing blog comments - it means doing something at your school or contributing in a positive way - offering ideas, time or energy to help move our district forward.

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  22. Linda- Have you started that parcel tax committee yet?

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  23. Gary,
    I should not have added an "s" to board member. I did not think it was you.

    What I mean by "costing the community more than the revenue generated" is that when you take the $60mil to $70mil price tag and add interest for the long-term bond debt, Isom's numbers translate into an approximate overall cost of $300,000,000. I have used the low end because I know you have said in the past that you may find ways to bring that debt number down.

    Per the June 22 board meeting (and on other occasions) Paul has taken pride in the “great deal” MDUSD has made, especially relative to SRVUSD. In fact, per that meeting he believes there is no debt service on this project. I find it personally offensive that because the community is paying, the board feels compelled to act as if there is no debt service cost.

    I want the most for our students. It will take me a long time to get over the fact that we will be paying up to $1.5 billion in interest that will never see the classroom. You now have an obligation to spend this bond money wisely and in my opinion you should be able to show a return on investment for solar. Unfortunately, I don't think you can do that with this project and this kind of debt.

    I realize we have what we have. But we should not be lulled into forgetting that this solar project is simply an opportunity to infuse cash into the general fund at a premium cost. Gary, it would be like the PFC/PTA asking for $30.00/family and then only being able to use $10.00 to help our students. Our students really need that $10.00 so is that okay? I don’t think anyone would be happy about that.

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  24. Linda,

    I'm sorry that I don't have more time right at the moment, but I wanted to make sure that you understand how the solar is being paid for. $59 million of the project is is being paid for using CREB bonds and the term on the bonds is 16 years. These are very low interest rate bonds that were awarded to the district based on applications that we submitted. As I have said numerous times, the $1.5 billion amount that you are using is a bogus number and until we sell the bonds and pay them off, we will not be able to estimate the costs. There is no one on the planet that can accurately determine the cost to tax payers for the bonds, but the best guess is someplace in the neighborhood of about 2.5 to 2.7 to 1. In other words, for every dollar borrowed, the cost will be around $2.50 to $2.70. That is a long way from $1.5 billion. I am guessing that you will say that the $1.5 billion number came from Isom, therefore it came from the district. That is true, but it was taken out of context, which given the latest article written by the CC Times should not strike you as odd.

    I am due at a meeting already actually, but I do think it is important to address all of your points. I think much more discussion needs to take place on this subject and on others.

    Thanks
    Gary

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  25. Gary,
    Are you paying off the CREB bonds with the revenue generated by the project? What is the debt service on these low interest bonds?

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  26. Linda,

    I am not interested in debating you and I am not wasting my time with you. I suppose that in your mind it is just not possible that anyone other than me thinks you are full of crap and that you are just trying to cause trouble.

    I have not posted anonymously and I will let Gary deal with your questions.

    I think everyone can see that you don't have all of the answers - you state how much it will cost as if you are an authority, but you don't know the answer to how we pay off the CREBS and you probably did not even know we had CREBS.

    Can you just admit that you don't have the answers and stop making statements as if you do?

    If you have legitimate questions, ask them, but stop characterizing everything in the worst possible light.

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  27. Paul,

    I am not sure how to respond to this comment. I am a parent and volunteer in this district. I took a stand and disagreed with you and now you are not only calling my house to scream at me you are doing it in a public forum.
    No wonder so few people post with their real name.

    Paul, I did know there were CREBS. I did just ask legitimate questions and have asked many over the years.
    I do not personally attack you. I do not get caught up in discussions about golf, or restaurants, or meetings at the superintendent's house. I want professional leadership in this district which includes transparency, communication, strategic planning, and fiscal responsibility. If you look at my comments that has always been my focus.

    I have no interest in debating you and am saddened by the fact that you have allowed yourself to respond in this way. To me it shows a real lack of leadership.

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  28. Linda,

    The fact is that you accused me of attacking you when I did not, so I just came out and said I was not the only one who felt that way about you. How am I supposed to respond when you claim that I already attacked you when I did not?

    I have been upset at you. You appeared to be a supporter of what was good and reasonable in our district and then, after having worked with us for years, abandoned all of that and became an enemy of the kids of our district.

    My kids are still in this district and I do not appreciate that you are so opposed to helping them get what they need.

    I don't have a problem with people who have legitimate questions. I have a problem with those who try to make things seem worse than they are and you are one of those.

    If you don't want to engage with me, then don't claim I am doing something I am not.

    While you have tried to help the district, I have put in far more time and the thanks I get from you is nothing but false allegations and false statements.

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  29. I have thanked you for your service to this district many times including on your recent blog post. I simply disagreed with you on Measure C, spoke out, and angered you.

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  30. Gary and Paul, Linda and Dr. J. are two people you are never going to be able to reason with. You really should stop wasting your time trying to engage with these people. I'm sure it is extremely frustrating, but the two peas in a pod can be seen for what they are by their own posts.

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  31. "an enemy of the kids of our district."

    Are you kidding? When did this become a George Bush "you're either with us or you're against us" type of Board?

    I cannot believe my eyes.

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  32. Paul- I have been involved in the district for years and follow the blogs often, and I agree with what momof2 said about Linda and Dr. J.

    There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the board, but there is something different and personal about Linda and Dr. J's blog posts.

    Their complaints have a persistent and righteous tone that goes beyond trying to make things better. It's more like trying to make others wrong.

    The weird thing is that for all their consistent complaining, I don't believe either one is running for the school board. Though, since Dr. J is a stage name, we don't know for sure about him/her.

    Since you aren't running for the school board again, maybe you are just letting loose. I would like to ask you to elevate the level of your posts and not get personal. When you get angry, they get what they want and the message is lost.

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  33. Paul,

    I used to be a Paul Strange supporter but after you completely assinine post I must respectfully request that you issue a public apology to Linda.

    If not, I guess it is true what they say about you being a pompous Napoleon dictator. If so, good riddance in November.

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  34. This is just a g'damn mess. Why is the MDUSD always in a state of scandal?

    Do we need to call in a voodoo priestess to bite the head off a live chicken in order to get some ethical leaders in the MDUSD?

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  35. "enemy of the kids of this district"

    Paul,
    What the heck does that mean? Seriously? You sound like you need anger management.
    I too used to be a strong supporter of you and Gary. I can't believe what has happened to this board. When you did not have the power you complained and criticized April, Linda, and Dick. Now you two are in charge and making the decisions. You both wanted control. Now you have it. We expect you both to take responsibility for every decision you
    make, right or wrong. Give me a break. Grow up and own your mistakes. That's what adults do.

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  36. Linda,

    It would not be my choice to use general fund dollars to pay off the CREB debt. The PV system will allow us to avoid millions of dollars in general fund expense. As you know, it is the general fund that pays for all of the staff that educate our students and it is the general fund where we have been forced to make so many reductions over the past several years. I am in favor of using the money that we would have paid PG&E, which will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars over the useful life of the PV system, for educating our students.

    The solar PV system should be a direct benefit to our students in many ways. First, the obvious financial benefit, but there are other benefits. Our students will receive direct benefit due to their personal exposure to a large scale solar photovoltaic system; I'm sure you can imagine all of the educational opportunities that will present themselves. Sparking a students interest in a specific profession is as much about exposure to that profession as it is about education specific to that profession. Our students will leave our district with personal knowledge of what a PV system looks like, how it works, how it's monitored, and what types of careers are available in the solar PV space. That is a huge advantage for students that are entering a job market where solar will likely be experiencing double digit growth for decades to come.

    There are certainly the indisputable environmental advantages to generating 80% of our required electrical production at the point of use rather than getting all of our electricity from PG&E over transmission lines from locations far away. And there are many more advantages.

    What I would like to do is get back to the questions that I asked you in an earlier comment so that I can really understand your position.

    Could you provide me with the analysis that you have done that supports the following two statements that you have made:

    1. That the solar project that we are moving forward with will cost the community more that it will return to the schools.

    2. That the community is going to be paying $300,000,000 for the solar project.


    Thanks

    Gary

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  37. Gary,

    Paul has publicly insulted a parent. Paul owes her a public apology. Until that happens, this blog is not a good forum for discussion any more.

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  38. Anon 7:32am- Are you in kindergarten? Gary is not Paul and he didn't make the comments that Paul did. He is trying to answer Linda's question.

    Your post is so silly, it's like me saying that Dr. J's posts are so mean that no one else should use this blog either.

    Please grow up. There was nothing wrong about Gary's post and Linda has put it out there, so if she can't take the heat, then maybe she shouldn't be on the blogs.

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  39. I guess you see peoples true colors when they aren't running for office again.

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  40. You can see peoples true colors if you just hang around enough and dare to disagree. Mr strange has some serious issues and this is not the first offensive tyrade.

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  41. I don't disagree that Paul went too far, but why hold it against Gary and the MDUSDParents blog?

    I also was a Paul supporter back in the day, but he lost me with his temper and I probably wouldn't have voted for him this election anyway.

    That being said, I know what a sacrifice it is to be a board member and that dealing with the district messes takes away from family time, so I do appreciate the time and energy Paul gave to the board.

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  42. Since the proposed solar project will be built on "solar PV systems as part of parking canopies/shade structures", on 51 district sites, what will be the increased costs of security ? The MDUSD security has already been cut to the bone, even so there were times during the summer when it was not covered. Should that be factored into the cost analysis ?
    I wonder if the bidder's have to disclose who their subcontractors are or will be ? Wouldn't it be amazing if Gary worked for a subcontractor on the district job ?
    Doctor J

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  43. Please keep in mind that Linda is not just a volunteer and parent. Linda chose to become the poster child for the opposition to Measure C. She sat down for interviews with the CCTimes. She touted her service on the Measure D Committee and used that as a basis for becoming the spokesperson for the opposition to Measure C. Linda is no innocent here and she continues to lament the fact that despite her efforts, Measure C passed.

    Her questions and positions continue to be the same she espoused as that voice of opposition.

    This is not about my "true colors." I have never hidden the fact that I am willing to call matters the way I see them. I have always believed that my willingness to do so made me a "bad" politician in that I am unwilling to just tell people what they want to hear. I have never been willing to do what many politicians do and try to make everyone feel good. I don't believe that is the role of a responsible elected official.

    To be very clear, my comment about being an enemy of kids is due to her opposition to Measure C, not that she, in a general sense, has been in disagreement with me.

    This also has nothing to do with my leaving the board. I felt this way before and have not been shy about saying how I felt about Linda. The only reason it is here on the blog is that Linda accused me of posting it anonymously, so I responded that I am not the only one who feels this way.

    For the record, on many occasions, I came to the defense of Linda (so many times I can't even count), to later hear that they were right and Linda could not be counted on (due to her opposition to Measure C).

    Although there are those who have criticized me on here, the fact is that I am always willing to discuss my views with anyone. No one has to wonder what my intentions are or what my goal is on any issue. Feel free to contact me and you will find out that fact.

    I'll close again pointing out that Linda has made herself a public figure through her press interviews, etc. and that makes her very different than a typical parent in our community.

    Say what you will, I'm done with this discussion.

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  44. Paul- I will say one more thing. I have personally witness you losing your cool on more than one occasion. I was a big supporter of your campaign, so I thought you might hear me when I mentioned that fact to you way back when. I don't think you did.

    There is a difference between not telling people what they want to hear and going through life losing your cool. That does make one a bad politician and would have been the main reason why I wouldn't have voted for you again.

    When I was campaigning for you the last time you ran, I was embarrassed by the stories of people who I respected who told me that you were rude to them. After the second time I heard it, I backed off on your campaign.

    You are smart, but you really can be arrogant. Please don't dismiss this as someone who means you ill will. That is not me at all.

    Linda may be a public figure now that she has spoken out against Measure C and the district, but that doesn't give you the right to be disrespectful to her on the blogs. It just brings you down to her level.

    In fact, I seriously hope that your take away from your time on the board is that speaking your mind does not make you a better person, but knowing how to speak your mind without offending people is the better way to go.

    I thank you for your service and hope that you don't leave nasty blog posts as the legacy of your service on the board.

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  45. "enemy of the kids of this district"

    And that boys and girls is an example of what your social studies textbook calls 'inflamed rhetoric'. Clearly, we are devolving back to early 19th century Jacksonian politics around here.

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  46. Name calling is psychological bullying. It says more about the bully than it does about the person attacked.
    It is not tolerated in our schools and a basis for discipline of students. So why do we tolerate it from the School Board President ?
    Doctor J

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  47. Dr. J- Who is tolerating it? Have you read the posts? You just like to make an issue out of everything and it is extremely tiresome.

    You don't carry any credibility with me, because if you do work for the district, you are a coward who instead of standing up to make things better for our kids, prefer to write anonymously on blogs.

    It's obvious you have inside knowledge from your posts since you speak to things specifically. You don't like what is going on, but you continue to work for a system you have criticized over and over again.

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  48. I would ask that the other board members request that Paul apologize publically to Linda, or alternatively ask for his resignation.

    To not do so makes them as culpable as Paul in this situation.

    Board members we are watching.

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  49. Good Lord! You are putting the onus on the rest of the board for Paul to apologize? They can ask him to apologize, but if he doesn't want to, what could they do?

    You must not know too much about the board or the district. Why would it make sense to ask someone to resign whose term is going to be over in a matter of months? Do you think it makes sense to spend time and energy to appoint someone in the short term?

    It doesn't look like Paul is going to apologize based on his last response. We are now free to judge HIM based on what he wrote. I hope that some board members do speak to him, but to put it on them is just ridiculous.

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  50. Annon 11:01
    They can censure him or publicly warn him. Here is what they did in Santa Clara. http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_15895853?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com
    Doctor J

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  51. CC Times Editorial Board says Lawrence owes an apology to community and calls on the Board to establish a set of ethics policies. What a novel idea. http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_15916616?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com
    Doctor J

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  52. Long-time Board WatcherAugust 30, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Anon 10:16, many of the district employees who've criticized or even questioned Paul and Gary are now former employees. Many appreciate Linda, an active parent volunteer, for openly asking questions and understand why Dr. J, an employee, prefers to be anonymous.

    Gary deserves credit for trying, albeit not always successfully, to be respectful and forthcoming in his responses. Paul, on the other hand, has never been able to control his arrogance or, as he calls it, his "passion." Those who have been victims of his heavy-handedness are not surprised by the tenor of his recent comments on this blog.

    Any board member or district superintendent has to expect and respond to criticism. The manner in which they do so reflects their leadership style: directive or inclusive. Do the leaders expect their decisions to be followed without question? Or do they view questions and complaints as an opportunity to provide more information and get a broader buy-in for their decisions?

    The community seems to prefer the inclusive/collaborative style, especially as it was promised to them in the last Board election. MDUSD Parents set up this blog a year after the leadership change because communication from the district had lapsed even as the Board was making vital decisions impacting students. The public's interest in this information is evident by the number of comments on this blog and conversations about them in assorted community gatherings.

    Gary says he will attend any meeting a parent or community group sets up, answer any call or e-mail he receives. While that sounds great, it presumes that it is the public's responsibility to call a meeting to ask questions of the district leaders rather than the leaders' job to host community meetings to provide information.

    Let's hope that the Board members elected in November will encourage all voices to be heard so critics can feel free to identify themselves without being subject to personal attack.

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  53. Just a correction.. :) This blog was set up a year BEFORE the leadership change and was in full swing during the McHenry "issues." Just FYI.

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  54. Doctor J Not interested, the CC Times holds no credibility in my book and everyone I know in our community. Many of us are canceling our subscriptions. This lynching needs to stop and if you are a MDUSD employee, how do you have so much time during the day to blog? Please don't tell me it is your lunch hour or break, from previous posts MDUSD administration and employees should work 24/7...Or are you now unemployed?

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  55. Long Time Board Watcher (As am I)- Are you saying that those people who criticized the board got fired?

    It would be great if you could actually provide substance to that comment. Were people laid off? Yes. Were some of the people who were laid off brought on by Gary McHenry? Probably.

    Isn't it the right of a new administration to determine who it wants to work with?

    I don't know Linda and assume she is relatively new in her efforts with the district (possibly during Measure D). I know many parents who have served on district committees who had never heard of her and don't feel the way you do about her.

    She is an outspoken volunteer, but that doesn't elevate her above any other volunteer.

    If Dr. J is an employee and he can document all the things he says, but chooses to remain anonymous while he sees the district making illegal choices or bad decisions, then he is no better than the board.

    I think it is simplistic to say that there were district positions that were lost. The MDUSD is in a time of unprecedented budget cuts and as a long time board AND district watcher myself, I know that there was a lot of dead weight at the district.

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  56. I'm not so sure anyone should be so dismissive of the times or Dr. J. Though, I don't appreciate the tactics of the times, and hold no respect for Dr J's anonymity and hypocrisy, I do think the issues brought to our attention are sometimes relevant and worth looking at from a community perspective. Otherwise the board will continue to operate in a vacuum. I see Dr. J and the Times as holding a mirror to the district.

    HOWEVER, Dr J is a hypocrit if he or she is sitting there being paid by the district and continuing to slam his employer every chance he gets. If he were a real MAN or WOMAN, he'd speak out publicly and take whatever comes. That's what real whistle blowers do. They don't sit back and reap the benefits of (figuratively and literally) the big bad employer they're trying to bring down.

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  57. Long Time Board Watcher said, "Gary says he will attend any meeting a parent or community group sets up, answer any call or e-mail he receives. While that sounds great, it presumes that it is the public's responsibility to call a meeting to ask questions of the district leaders rather than the leaders' job to host community meetings to provide information."

    Are you serious? He has a full time job, has a family and serves on the board of a 32,000 student district.

    If you have a question of him, why not go to a board meeting? There is public comment at the beginning of each meeting. Ask your question there. It will be televised and be part of the record of the meeting. Do you know how few people in the district actually go to board meetings UNLESS it affects them personally--like a favorite teacher being fired?

    How reasonable is it to expect board members to be on call and anticipate their community member's needs 24/7? I think Gary's offer is generous and sincere. If you don't think it is adequate, maybe you or Linda could do a better job.

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  58. Anon 12:48pm- I agree with you. I want to know what is going on in the district, but do not feel like the Times or Dr. J has our best interest at heart.

    The Times' editorial today was a bit disingenuous. Besides their own editorial about Measure C citing the costs, there was Daniel Borenstein's article about the costs and Linda's numerous blog posts everywhere about the cost.

    They make it seem like the public just voted yes without knowing. Isn't it possible that people voted for Measure C because of how dire our situation is?

    Funny thing is that if Measure C didn't pass, the Times and Linda and Co. would be saying it was only because they had gotten the information out about the costs.

    The Times seems to be spiraling out of control. I would have preferred to see an editorial apologizing for Matt Krupnick's email to Gary. To me, that tarnished their credibility and makes anything else they write, suspect.

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  59. Anon 1:03
    The editorial is about improper ethics by the Supt in not keeping arm's length business transactions with Chevron. It is not about Measure C. Likewise the Board should maintain proper ethical lines. Its time for the Supt and ALL board members to detail each and every contact they have had with Chevron since January 1, 2009 to remove all suspicion and speculation about improper ethics. Lets clear the air. As the good book says, the truth shall make you free.
    Doctor J

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  60. Doctor J- Why don't you let the truth set you free and come clean? Who are you and if you do work for the district, how can you spend so much time on the blogs?

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  61. Anon 2:01 asks me, who are you ? Isn't there some irony in all these Anonymous people asking me to identify myself. ROFLOL. I only check the blog on occassion if I am at my computer -- it just takes a minute.
    Doctor J

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  62. Long-time Board WatcherAugust 30, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Anon 12:41, I'm not saying anyone was fired. That action requires a lengthy, complex process involving performance evaluations. As a long-time board watcher yourself, you heard it stated repeatedly over the many years of budget cutting that no position placed on the list of possible reductions was due to employee performance.

    In fact, employees who lost their jobs due to performance issues experienced a process that was more fair than those whose positions were eliminated solely for budgetary reasons. Board members could and did put many positions on the list without having to give any explanation besides cost reduction.

    So I'm saying that some people who challenged Paul or Gary later saw their jobs placed on the cut list and approved by the Board majority. That needed to happen only to a few employees before others chose either to be silent or to speak out anonymously.

    Of course some of the people laid off were "brought on" (through a lengthy selection process, instances under this leadership notwithstanding) during McHenry's tenure. He was superintendent for ten years, for goodness sake.

    It is appropriate and not uncommon for a new administration to choose its own team. Everyone expected the new superintendent, when hired and on board, to do so. Oddly, while eliminating a number of administrator positions during their first months, the new Board majority and interim superintendent left the former team in place--until about a month before the new superintendent arrived. Shortly into his tenure, Dr. Lawrence changed the team again, as was his right, to fit his goals.

    Finally, as to dead weight anywhere in the district. . . Again as a long-time board watcher you know that the Board has had to cut the budget by increasing millions of dollars every year since about 2004. Cuts started at the district level and eventually worked outward to the school sites, where the impact is now being felt so strongly. Any dead weight that ever existed was removed long ago.

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  63. Anon 12:56, I am suggesting that if Gary can find time to meet with one or two constituents in his home, theirs, or a public venue (as he says he's willing to do), he could use that time and a larger place to talk to many constituents at the same time simply by announcing it beforehand. I think it would actually be a more efficient use of his time than holding several one-on-one (or -two) meetings.

    The MDUSD Board has a past practice of holding community meetings throughout the district when important issues are being discussed and considered. Gary has been a proponent of those sessions, suggesting Board members and staff keep all Tuesday evenings open in case the need for a special or community meeting comes up.

    Bring questions and concerns to Board meetings? And expect a response or discussion? Really? The Public Comment period, whether the open one or one associated with an agenda item, is just that: an opportunity for an individual to make a statement or ask a question. It does not allow for a discussion with or even very much of a response from the Board (except those times when Gary or Paul have chastised a speaker for a particular comment or question). Gary's invitation to meet with any who request it assumes there will be a dialogue. That does not happen in a formal Board meeting format.

    All Board members have jobs, families, or other obligations on their time. They all deserve thanks and appreciation for their tireless efforts on behalf of students.

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  64. The only reason that I suggested that the community set up a meeting and invite me to attend is because it's easier for me to work my schedule around 25 community members than it is for 25 community members to adjust their schedule around me.

    My offer is sincere and it stands. If you'd like me to find a date, time and location, I will do so.

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  65. Gary,

    I'd like you to ask Paul to apologize to Linda. I suppose he is not man enough to do that though.

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  66. Long Time Board Watcher- You said, "So I'm saying that some people who challenged Paul or Gary later saw their jobs placed on the cut list and approved by the Board majority. That needed to happen only to a few employees before others chose either to be silent or to speak out anonymously."

    I am asking you provide more substance to this comment, because to me it is a very subjective matter. The people who were at the district office were generally in support of Mr. McHenry. He was their boss and likely hired most of them, as you say.

    As to the dead weight comment, I am sorry to say that there was dead weight in the district as late as last year. I worked on various committees and with various people in the district for many years and can tell you that some people were just not effective.

    I think you might not find consensus that, initially, cuts were made at the district office. It was the cry of the community that shined the light on the fact that cuts at the district were minimal compared to those that were happening at school sites.

    In any case, you say that people were cut because they spoke out, but really haven't offered anything to confirm this other than your feeling. In addition, you admit that it is within the new administration's right to do so.

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  67. Doctor J- Do you really think that you are different than anyone posting anonymously?

    And I have to admit, your saying, "I only check the blog on occassion if I am at my computer -- it just takes a minute." is pretty funny considering the shear number of your posts and the research you did on strategic planning, buttercupgate, Lawrence's house gate, etc.

    Only takes a minute? You might be part of the problem of why things are getting done at the district.

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  68. Excuse me... In my last post, I meant NOT getting things done at the district.

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  69. Anon 4:00 Everytime I post, everyone knows its me. No one knows how often you post or not -- there is no continuity of your comments. You cannot be held acocuntable for your comments -- I can. I spend much more time at my job than just my traditional hours. If you think things aren't getting done at the Dent Center, you haven't seen what is starting to overwhelm the sites and this is just the first full week of students -- stress of overwhelmed adminstrators, burdened staff, hour cutbacks, and threats of loss of benefits. The next round of cuts may break the camel's back.
    Doctor J

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  70. That is the funny part- "Everyone knows it is me". How do we know that you don't post anonymously too? There are some posts that could have easily been yours. Why should we take your word for it?

    I might post anonymously, but I usually do to make a point, not to accuse someone of something. The fact that you work for the district and are on the blog a lot is disturbing whether you work late or not.

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  71. Anon 5:33 Sorry you are disturbed. Why should we take your word ? My word is the truth. The information I post is accurate. I tell the truth.
    Doctor J

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  72. Hmmm, I think I had an aha moment.....

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  73. Long-time Board WatcherAugust 30, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    Anon 3:56, Lots of employees have lost their jobs as a result of budget cuts, during McHenry's administration and the current one. In most cases, the decision was based pretty much on whether the district could continue to do its work with the position gone.

    Typically, McHenry and the current leaders put positions on the list regardless of the individual's support for the leadership. We all admit it's been a grueling process, with some dedicated employees released because the budget cutting has had to be so severe.

    But there were, and perhaps are, some exceptions. A few positions were eliminated, or threatened to be eliminated, soon after the individual who held the job had a disagreement with Paul or Gary. My post referred to the exceptions. They were seen by other employees as a message to keep silent or to become an anonymous critic to protect job security.

    I don't have a "feeling" about this situation. I know some of the people affected, who have talked to me in confidence. I've heard too many stories like Linda's--of Paul's calling or having a meeting with those whose comments upset him and yelling at them. In the case of a few employees, he's reminded them that he has a say about which positions are placed on the cut list.

    Your statement that you see some employees not working as hard as they could (and are "dead weight") does not mean that their positions are unneeded. For example, you wouldn't expect the Board to cut a school principal position because the individual in it seems lax to you. Rather, you'd refer your complaint to the employee's supervisor.

    I visited the District Office recently and saw considerably fewer employees than on previous visits. Staff cuts at the school sites are dire, I agree, but much more noticeable to the public because schools are the community's primary point of contact with the district.

    Yes, the administration has the right to field its own team. Assignments should be based on merit and experience and not on the personal preferences of individual Board members.

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  74. Doctor J- I guess if you say so, it must be true.

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  75. Long Time Board Watcher, you said it was expected the new Supt would pick his own team -- I don't think I agree with that. My recollection is that in November when the Gang of Five got their raises, the Board in a split vote also approved contract extensions of four key players all whose contracts were set to expire on June 30, 2010: Rolen, the lawyer; Lock now an Asst Supt; Browne, an Asst Supt, and Pedersen, an Asst Supt. These contract extensions were for three years and basically locked the new Supt into these people as his team. My recollection is that Linda Mayo and Dick Allen voted no because they wanted the new Supt to have the right to choose his own team but did not reflect any adverse feelings for these people. So in that regard, I believe the Board micromanaged the new Supt and controlled who is on his team. Of course this has prevented him from bringing in his top assistant in West Sacramento, Sue Brothers. But, I imagine he will find a way to do that.
    Doctor J

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  76. Interesting, I guess Paul is not man enough to apologize. Well I just lost all respect I had for him.

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  77. 8:45. You REALLY thought Paul would apologize? Anyone who knows Paul knows that will never happen.

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  78. Why the experts say solar power is not cost effective: "The market
    benefits of installing the current solar PV technology, even after adjusting for its timing and
    transmission advantages, are calculated to be much smaller than the costs.".
    http://www.ucei.berkeley.edu/PDF/csemwp176.pdf

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  79. What a totally counter productive bitch fest this conversation has become. I am amazed that the board members even bother to come on an comment.

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  80. Paul,

    I haven't seen any evidence of an apology yet. Is one coming? Or are you really that much of a total asshole?

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  81. 11:02pm- It's clear from Paul's lack of response that he isn't going to apologize, and that is definitely not cool, but your insistence that he do so sort of makes you one too.

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  82. Gary,
    Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to your response to my questions about the CREBS.
    Some of the board candidates are referring to the bond financing and I would like to know the answer to the CREBS debt service question.

    I understand your reluctance to use general fund dollars to pay the debt service. I would expect no less.

    What is the debt service on these low interest CREBs?

    If you are paying for them from the solar cost savings how does that reduce the savings from solar intended to directly benefit the general fund?

    If you use the proceeds from energy savings to pay the CREBS debt service how is the structure of this project different from San Ramon?

    Will any of the Measure C bonds be used to pay off the CREBS?

    Thanks

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  83. Linda- I'm just curious as to why you ask your questions on this blogs. Does Gary not answer you when you ask him via his email or on the phone?

    It just seems to me that you have some sort of agenda. I could be wrong. There is nothing wrong with the questions in this post, it's just that your past posts seem personal and I feel that you are trying to play some game of gotcha with Gary.

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  84. Anon 11:46

    If I can't ask these questions on this blog then what is the purpose of the blog?
    Was I not respectful?
    These questions are in response to Gary's comment where he countered my argument about debt service on the solar project, they are legitimate follow-up questions.
    Are YOU not interested in the answers?
    Are we limited to only communicating privately with our board members?
    Why would you believe Gary needs to worry about a gotcha moment from these questions?
    He can always choose not to answer if that is what he prefers.

    This is not a personal matter that requires a private email and the dialogue did begin on this blog.
    However, I did ask several of these questions in a private email and have not yet received an answer.

    I absolutely have an agenda. I would like to be a well-informed voter come November and a well-informed community member and parent today. I happen to believe the answers to these questions are important.

    Doesn't your email suggest that because I have publicly disagreed with SOME of the board's decisions I should only ask questions in private.

    I am puzzled by your comment.

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  85. Linda- Please relax. I didn't say you couldn't, or weren't respectful, or any of the things you defended against. I was only asking why you post your questions on the blog instead of getting the answers directly.

    Whenever I need an answer from a board member, I will email or call them. As someone who is involved in the district, it makes more sense to be direct and get answers.

    I didn't know if you were frustrated that your questions weren't getting answered personally and had to turn to the blogs as a result.

    My email suggests nothing other than confusion at your method of getting information. I don't know what your agenda/intent is because all I have is your history of posts to go by.

    I will say that you tend to see conspiracy where, in this case, there is only curiosity.

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  86. I will say that Paul is a F@@@ing a$$hole for not publically apologizing to Linda. The remaining board members should ask him to step down.

    Of course they won't because they are his lapdogs.

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  87. The four other board members are Paul's lapdogs?

    That is a wild theory that is laughable.

    Take comfort in the fact that he isn't running and probably wouldn't have won re-election anyway.

    Why should the board waste time calling for his resignation when he is gone in a matter of months anyway.

    I agree with you that he is an a$$hole for not apologizing, and for other reasons, but you go too far calling for his resignation when he is a short timer anyway.

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  88. "I will say that you tend to see conspiracy where, in this case, there is only curiosity."

    Hmmm... my questions did not assume a conspiracy. Nor have I centered my past questions or comments around the conspiracy comments that have circulated (buttercup, golf, secret meetings, Chevron, etc...) so I do not know to what you are referring.

    "There is nothing wrong with the questions in this post, it's just that your past posts seem personal and I feel that you are trying to play some game of gotcha with Gary."

    I would say in return that you tend to see conspiracy where, in this case, there is only curiosity.

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  89. Linda- I don't know you, but to read your 9/6 1:09pm response to my post tells me a lot about your personality. Why don't you go back and read my post and your response again?

    You make it sound like I was accusing you of wrongdoing when I clearly told you what I was asking. Maybe you are really thin-skinned and can't take being questioned. I don't know.

    I do know that when you write,

    "Doesn't your email suggest that because I have publicly disagreed with SOME of the board's decisions I should only ask questions in private."

    ...it tells me that you are the one assuming a conspiracy. I suggested nothing of the sort that you should ONLY ask questions in private. I only asked you why you work through the blogs.

    For the third time, I was curious if your questions were asked and ignored by Gary or the rest of the board.

    My assessment of you based on your blog posts tells me that you are intelligent and care about your schools, but that you are righteous and can't stand to have anyone question you.

    Since I am anon, you are obviously free to discount what I say, but I am a reasonable person who is very involved in district issues. I am not on one side or the other--I just have little tolerance for people who think they are always in the right and who have to make their point aggressively.

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  90. Paul Strange,
    This is the first and most likely last time I go on this blog. You sound like a child, not a President. Thought you would have delt with people like Linda in a more business fashion. Very disappointed

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  91. Anon 9:42am- This isn't Paul Strange's blog. This is the MDUSD Parents blog. Paul has his own blog--the MDUSD blog.

    You shouldn't hold it against this blog if Paul doesn't answer, but you could post your comment on his.

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  92. Anon 8:51
    I answered the question you have asked three times the very first time you asked.

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  93. Gary,
    While I wait for your response I will take a stab at the potential answers to the following questions:

    I would like to know the answer to the CREBS debt service question.

    I understand your reluctance to use general fund dollars to pay the debt service. I would expect no less.

    What is the debt service on these low interest CREBs?


    Well if CREBs are low or no interest could we simply divide $59,000,000 by 16 years for an annual debt service at 0% interest of $3,687,500. Would that be a best case number?

    If you are paying for them from the solar cost savings how does that reduce the savings from solar intended to directly benefit the general fund?

    The Superintendent quotes $3,000,000 per year and an extra $2,000,000 per year for the first five years in rebates. If these are the numbers you use then if you choose to use the energy savings to pay back the CREBs there will be about $1,000,000 in savings/revenue to the GF for the first five years. There will then be several years of negative cash flows until energy cost escalations cause the price of energy to cost more than this solar project debt service. Maybe you wouldn't do it this way and would instead use the proceeds from the Measure C bonds.

    If you use the proceeds from energy savings to pay the CREBS debt service how is the structure of this project different from San Ramon?

    If you don't use Measure C funds and instead use CREBs won't this be similar to SRVUSD where they are using QSCBs? Aren't they paying for solar debt service out of their energy savings?

    Will any of the Measure C bonds be used to pay off the CREBS?

    I don't know - will they? Seems like they would have to be. If you use the Measure C bonds to pay for solar by paying off the bonds don't you think it would be helpful to have Isom redo his numbers. I was told typical bonds payback interest at about 2 to 2.5 times the initial amount borrowed. If MDUSD is deferring interest for 21 years how would Isom be able to adjust to that level of 2.5 times. In addition, why did he project so high in the first place?

    I look forward to your answers. I want to be clear... I would love to see this work. I just don't see it yet.

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  94. Linda- I am curious why you didn't run for school board. You are obviously intelligent and concerned about the district.

    You spend a lot of time doing research to ask your questions, but it seems like you could be adding something to the board with your knowledge.

    I have no problem with your questions, but they are very technical and financial. Most parents in the district don't ask those questions because that is what the Superintendent, Board and
    employees are supposed to be doing.

    We may be wrong for putting our trust in the board, but that's how it's supposed to work.

    You ask questions, and are pretty dogged in your determination to get answers that make sense to you.

    There is nothing wrong with that, but I don't think, Thank God for Linda when I read your posts. I think, if she has all this knowledge and energy, why doesn't she put herself out there and run for the board and make it all better for the rest of us?

    Maybe you know that it might not be so easy or enjoyable. Besides, you might have your own "Linda" to contend with.

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  95. Anon 8:35
    You are funny. You have no problem with the questions I ask and you try to come across very nice but in each email you make a derogatory or condescending remark. Why?

    You stated the following:

    "Most parents in the district don't ask those questions because that is what the Superintendent, Board and
    employees are supposed to be doing.

    We may be wrong for putting our trust in the board, but that's how it's supposed to work."


    When I see excellence in this district and when I hear board members asking these kinds of questions at board meetings, I won't feel I have to.

    Please don't assume my questions are mine alone or that one must run for the board in order to ask these questions.

    I hope you believe that the parents and community have a right to know the answers to these questions. After all, we are the financial partner in this project. And more importantly, the decisions made by the Board and Superintendent directly affect our children.

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  96. Linda- I am nice, and I don't see how my comment was derogatory or condescending.

    Whenever I read a post from you, I always feel like you are so defensive and ready to pick a fight. I don't assume that the questions are yours alone, although you seem to be front and center on the subject, and no where did I say that you needed to run for the board to ask questions.

    My comment was made to show that people don't always ask specific financial questions--not because they don't want to know, but because we have put our faith in the way things are supposed to work.

    Considering the way things have gone with the district for the past five years, perhaps that is ill advised.

    You say until you see excellence in the district you will continue to ask questions. That's fine.

    Have you ever considered that maybe we won't see excellence at the district? I know a lot of fabulous people who wouldn't touch a board job with a ten foot pole.

    Maybe you are the excellence we are all waiting for.

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  97. Linda,

    Sorry for the delay. I was unaware that there were questions for me as I don't spend a ton of time reviewing blog comments when the discussions wonder so far away from helpful topics. In any case, I will answer your question, but I'd first like to remind you that I have asked you twice, now three times the same two questions which are:

    Could you provide me with the analysis that you have done that supports the following two statements that you have made:

    1. That the solar project that we are moving forward with will cost the community more that it will return to the schools.

    2. That the community is going to be paying $300,000,000 for the solar project.

    And now to try to answer your questions:

    As I understand the questions; first, what will the debt service be on the 16 year CREB's? Until they are sold, no one knows what the debt service will be.

    Second question, will Measure C bonds be used to pay off CREB's? I assume that some Measure C money will be used to pay off CREB's.

    I look forward to your answers. I think it is only fair that you answer the two questions that I have been asking. I am truly trying to understand your position.

    Thanks

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  98. Gary
    On Aug 29 at 1:12 I answered your question. I answered it the very first time you asked it.
    Here it is again directly taken from my previous comment:

    "What I mean by "costing the community more than the revenue generated" is that when you take the $60mil to $70mil price tag and add interest for the long-term bond debt, Isom's numbers translate into an approximate overall cost of $300,000,000. I have used the low end because I know you have said in the past that you may find ways to bring that debt number down."

    Is there something about my answer you do not understand? Please let me know if I can help explain it better than that. I am sure your dispute with my assertion centers around Isom's analysis. I only have Isom's number because yes that is what the district provided the CCTimes. I don't understand Isom's role as a hired consultant if he can not provide a financial analysis of the bond structure. He does this for a living and is considered an expert. How could the numbers be taken out of context when the entire spreadsheet was provided?

    If you are using $59m in CREBS with a 16 year term, I assume your debt service will be at least $3,687,500 annually. That is 0% interest and only the payback of principal.

    It is difficult not to view this as smoke and mirrors because you are telling us you are using low interest bonds with a shorter term than Measure C and clearly you are. However it appears you are using high interest long-term bonds to pay off the low interest bonds. Is there a benefit to using the CREBs beyond public opinion? I don't know if there is some special way to finance them that I am not aware of... very possibly so. I truly would like to understand the structure and the benefits of using the CREBs and how it will be better than using Measure C funds.
    I hope you do not consider this a "unhelpful" topic.

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  99. Hello Linda,

    As I have said countless times, the numbers that the CC Times is using are bogus. I have said that to the Times and I have said that on the blogs. The Times knows that the numbers are wrong, but their stories of failure and misery don't work when you use numbers that are accurate.

    Just to recap why the numbers are bogus:

    1. The repayment number that you are using doesn't take into account the fact that the aggregate taxable property valuation will increase over the life of the bonds which will provide a larger base with which to repay the debt.

    2. The repayment number doesn't take into account the fact that there will be additional properties developed over the life of the bonds which will provide a larger base with which to repay the debt.

    3. The repayment number that you are using doesn't take into account the fact that the bond sale dates that are being used are not accurate and the longer we wait to sell the bonds the lower the repayment costs will be. There is no reason we would sell all of the bonds immediately because there is no way that we could perform all of the work that we are going to perform all at once. The work will have to be staged over the next 7 or more years and the bonds sales will be staged to meet the the needs of construction in the district.

    4. There is no one on the planet that can predict the interest rates at the time of future bond sales, so attempting to place an accurate repayment figure is more or less futile.

    Given all of the above mentioned variables, our BEST GUESS is that the repayment of the bonds will be in the neighborhood of 2.3 to 2.7 times the face value of the bonds. You are using a figure that is 5 times the face value of the bonds which is absolutely inaccurate.

    Before you say that it was our consultant that provided the number to the Times and you are only using the number that we have provided, as I understand it, Isom provided the Times almost exactly what I have shared here with you and the blog readers, but the Times chose to continue to use a number that supported their bogus claim that the bond repayment was going to be $1.87 Billion. Regardless of who provided what number and when, the facts are clear, the bond repayment will be between 2.3 and 2.7 times the face value of the bonds and claiming otherwise is a gross misstatement. Anyone that claims that the bond repayment number is higher should clearly show how they are calculating the number they are using.

    In terms of using the CREB's, it is not smoke and mirrors. We were awarded the CREB's which are a 16 year bond with zero interest or very low interest if we have to subsidize the CREB's with a small coupon to get them sold. What this means to the District is that for the 16 years that it takes to pay off the cost of solar, we will be able to make those payments with zero interest instead of having to pay a higher rate which is associated with the GO bond. I will admit that the financing does get more complex, but the outcome will be a clear savings for tax payers of our district. Once the bonds have been sold, we will be able to come up with the exact repayment schedule and we will be able to show the net advantage that tax payers are receiving because of the CREB's. I have already requested that our staff develop those documents so that we can provide them to the community.

    You also made a comment calling the Measure C bonds high interest long term bonds. While the Measure C bonds are certainly a higher rate than the zero interest CREB's, they are by no means a "High interest rate". I know that you know that, but I wanted to make sure that we are not creating more questions than we are answering due to our dialog.

    Just to be clear, I didn't think that your comments were "unhelpful", but when I last left this string of posts, there was mostly bickering and comments from trolls. I will try to remember to check the box so I will be e-mailed of future comments.

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  100. Gary,

    I feel very sorry for you. Having to work with such an asshole like Paul Strange while trying to do this important work.

    The fact that Paul refuses to apologize to Linda speaks volumes about his character.

    What is shameful though is that none of the current board members are willing to call Paul out on his actions. I suspect they are afraid of him.

    I for one will be making a public comment about this during the next board meeting It will probably be obscenity laced so I hope children are not present. I also will not be stopping at the three minute time limit. I will continue until Paul publicly apologizes even if I have to continue under the threat of being arrested.

    APOLOGIZE NOW PAUL!

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  101. 7:43, yah, if only you were going to do that .I don't believe you. No one who says they'll speak up never does.

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  102. 7:43am- What is an apology worth from someone who doesn't want to give it?

    I don't understand your apoplexy about Paul, but to me, the way he conducts himself tells me what I need to know about him.

    Why would you want a fake apology (if it is fake), or one that is enforced by coworkers to feel better about this situation?

    You have already shown yourself to be someone with a personal agenda about this situation, and I don't think that standing up and making a profanity laced comment about this is going to change anything.

    Why don't you just put it behind you and let it rest already?

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  103. Anon 7:43,

    There are often students in our audience, sometimes in the Board room and sometimes at home listening on the radio or on the web. We will not tolerate "profanity laced" speech in our Board room. Our students and our audience has a right to expect that our Board meetings will be conducted professionally. As I have done before, I would suggest that you contact Mr. Strange personally if you have a grievance. He is available by phone and by e-mail, and all of his contact information is available on the district web site and on our blog site. Coming to the Board room to escalate this issue will not serve you well and you will be required to leave if you follow through with your threat.

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  104. Anon 7:43 Just limited yourself to words spoken by the last two Presidents and Vice-Presdents of the US: Bush, Obama, Cheney and Biden and you should be ok. :) Of course you could always "quote" the alleged profanity spoken by Paul in his rumored telephone calls, and then ask for his apology for saying it. :) But best to set a better example for the children.

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  105. Gary,

    I will be making public comment to address this issue and it will include profanity.

    Paul was way out of bounds claiming that Linda was "an enemy of the kids of MDUSD", but apparently based on your statement you agree.

    I suspect anyone who doesn't agree with Paul and yourself is considered an "enemy of the kids of MDUSD". In my opinion this is shameful and you and Paul should be embarrased.

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  106. I made no statement indicating that I agreed with Mr. Strange's statement. I simply stated the fact that no one will be allowed to make a profanity laced speech of any length. We have a responsibility to conduct a meeting that is professional and we will take the steps necessary to ensure that we live up to that responsibility. If you have a personal beef with Mr. Strange, I suggest you take that up with Mr. Strange. Using profanity and acting in an unprofessional manner at a meeting of the Board of Education, or at any meeting of an elected body is unprofessional and sets a bad example for the children that we are all trying to serve.

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  107. Gary,

    I have no "personal" beef with Mr. Strange. I consider him a total and complete asshole for his treatment of Linda.

    I find it ironic that you are going to prevent me from making a public comment regarding this issue (how exactly are you going to keep me from doing that by the way?) and yet you refuse to admonish Paul for his hurtful and degrading comment on a public blog to one of YOUR CONSTITUENTS.

    It seems a bit unseemly don't you think?

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  108. mom2kids-in-the-districtSeptember 13, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    To Anon 9:10 - the way I read Gary's reply was that profanity laced comments are not welcome or permitted during public comment at the board meeting (I think this is a standard expectation at many/all public agency, government and council meetings). If you are able to express yourself without profanity, it sounds like you will be welcome to make your comments.

    I know there are always children and young people attending the meetings so please consider the audience? Additionally, you're point may come across better if expressed in a business-like manner (without profanity).

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  109. I did not say that you can't make a public statement. I encourage our community to come and express themselves at Board meetings. My comments were specific to your threat to make a "profanity laced speech". Profanity in the Board room is unnecessary, unprofessional and will not be tolerated. In the 15 years that I have served on the Board we have not had an experience with someone addressing the Board using profanity.

    I'd be happy to speak to the issue of how I address constituents. I have a long history of addressing the concerns of constituents. I believe that Linda might even discuss how I have discussed issues with her. That's enough for me. I am comfortable with that level of service. I have no need to discuss how other Board Members discuss issues with constituents. That is between them and their constituents. I have no control over other Board Members and they have no control over me.

    Come to the Board meeting if you'd like. Express yourself if you choose, but keep it professional. There is no need to use profanity, none.

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  110. Gary, can you define profanity ?

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  111. The definition of profanity, in this case, is the use of language that causes an abrupt cessation of your time at the microphone.

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  112. I have had conversations with Gary, Sherry, and Linda and all of them have been respectful. However, there is no board member that I have spoken to more than Paul. And no board member who has shared more ideas or has pursued more common causes. Unfortunately, this last issue has clearly left a divide in ideology that is insurmountable.

    I assure you I am not an enemy of the kids and I would like to think that Paul does not really believe that either.

    While I realize the call for an apology is less about me and more about Paul I still would ask that we just let it go and move on.

    There really are so many other things to focus on.

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  113. Linda, that is noble but not the right thing to do. Paul, as School Board President, should not call you or anyone else names -- calling you an "enemy to the children" is just as much a profantiy as the f bomb or a bomb. He does owe you an apology, and a public one at that since the vulgarity was spoken publicly. It is not just an insult to you, but to every woman and to every voter of MDUSD.
    Doctor J

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  114. Gary, you should have used a dictionary to define profanity if you own one. Should be fun to watch President Paul cutting off his own critic -- maybe he will have armed guards threaten the guy like they did with the union official a few months ago ! Frankly, I didn't know public comment could be curtailed.

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  115. There were no armed guards and no one was threatened. It was I who cut off the "union guy" because he was shouting from the back of the room during a meeting. No one was threatened. I simply adjourned the meeting until order could be regained and we restarted the meeting once the shouting was over.

    Just keep insulting me. The more you do the more you destroy your own credibility. I wouldn't stay up late watching the meeting hoping for anarchy. The meeting will be controlled and orderly, like they always are. We have work to accomplish this evening on behalf of the students and we will not be deterred from doing that work.

    Thanks for the comments Linda.

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  116. Gary, wrong meeting. I am talking about the union representative who got up and told how he had been approached by an armed guard before the meeting and threatened with ejection if he didn't control his members.

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  117. To the Anon Poster who wants to dress Paul down at a board meeting-

    You seem like an unbalanced person to me, so you have already lost credibility. What a freaking ego!

    You say you care about the kids, but you plan on making a profanity laced tirade against Paul when there might be not only children, but adults who don't care to hear your spew either.

    Why don't you get a life or talk to a therapist about your issues?

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  118. Armed guards? There were two police officers who were called as a result of about 100 employees with picket signs marching inside the district offices and yelling. I'm not sure who called the police, it wasn't me or Mr. Strange, but it was an appropriate response. It is not unusual for employees to demonstrate in front of the district office, but to move a demonstration inside where other employees are trying to work is unacceptable. The Union leadership was never threatened. As I understand it, they were informed that if the meeting deteriorated to a point where it was not controlled, the meeting would be shut down and the audience would be cleared. Again, a very appropriate response. When we meet, it is to conduct the business of the district on behalf of our students. We do not threaten people, but we do want people to understand the rules of conduct that are required to have an orderly assembly. People come to our meetings to listen and to participate and it is unfair to them to reduce the meetings to unorganized anarchy. We will not allow that to occur ever. As soon as it heads in that direction, we adjourn. No threats.

    The Union representative that you are speaking of is Rollie Katz. He is a very well respected member of organized labor in Contra Costa County, by our Board and by other Boards. He comes from a very well respected family with a strong history of representing employees and of community activism. I can assure you that both Paul and I have a lot of respect for Mr. Katz and there would never be a reason for us to threaten him or hire armed guards. That is ridiculous.

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  119. Anon 7:31,

    If what you say is true, that is a very serious allegation.

    That would be the union being bullied by the board (which doesn't surpirse me much actually).

    Please provide real details so that an investigation can be launched. This might end in the recall of the entire board.

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  120. 9:09am- Give it a few hours, and Doctor J will come and give us all the facts about this.

    Or are you Dr. J going anon?

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  121. Gary, isn't the video available showing exactly what Rollie Katz said ? Maybe you could post just a clip on your blog and stop the speculation ?

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  122. Anon 12:40
    I remember Mr. Katz being upset and passionate, as he usually is. I don't recall the particulars. It seems that it was the meeting near the end of school.
    Doctor J

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  123. Dr. J@ 1:26pm- You don't remember much, but it didn't stop you from posting.

    I guess you are the authority on everything. Maybe you are Mike 1 or Mike 2? Definitely someone in MDEA.

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