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California PTA position on Proposition 38 and 30

Original post made by parent on Nov 3, 2012

from California State PTA: capta.org

An important note about PTA's position on Proposition 38 and Proposition 30.

There is no question that the State of California needs additional revenues. Propositions 38 and 30 have different approaches and priorities, but both address this critical need for new revenues.

California State PTA's position of strong support for Proposition 38 is based on the fact that Proposition 38 guarantees substantial, new funding for every school for 12 years, which would raise our state's average per-student funding from the basement.

PTA's support position on Proposition 38 should not be construed by anyone as opposition to Proposition 30.

California State PTA has a neutral position on Proposition 30. Our position was adopted by our 120-member State Board of Managers, and is based on organizational authorities from our past convention resolutions and positions statements.

We know that many individuals and PTA members plan to vote "yes" for both initiatives on November 6, and if that is their preference, we encourage them to do so.

We also strongly support our teachers and educators in all of our communities, and we hope these dedicated public servants will similarly encourage people to vote for both initiatives if that is their individual preference. We must send a strong message that Californians are ready to pay more to support our schools.

For more information, please visit our website at www.capta.org, or the campaign website at www.prop38forlocalschools.org.

Sincerely,
Carol Kocivar
President

Comments (49)

Posted by Confused, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm

PropCarol,
I have become more concerned about this issue as I have become more informed in recent weeks. I understand why the PTA chose to support Prop 38 many months ago when Prop 30 was thought to have achance of passing. Prop 38 dollars focus on K-12 funding (but no dollars on community colleges or higher education).
It is avery different story now that Prop 38 has zero chance of passing while Prop 30 is hanging by its nails. Since many voters will vote for either 30 or 38, but not both, the PTA's continued support for 38 (and neutrality on 30) will has the effect of risking defeat of 30 which would have a severe impact on Palo Alto schools and (even more importantly) all of the children statewide.
We parents count on the PTA to be a thoughtful voice on our behalf.
How can the PTA continue to take a position that seems so naive and reckless?


Posted by Confused, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Sorry about some typos above. I meant to say " many months ago when Prop 38 was thought to have a chance". I nead two yous da spelczecher moor awtun.


Posted by Paly Dad, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm

@confused I just listened to an interesting conversation between Carol Kocivar, president of the California State PTA and a supporter of Prop. 38 and Darrell Steinberg, California State Senate president pro tempore and an opponent of Prop. 38 on Michael Krasny's KQED forum, Tue, Oct 16, 2012 Web Link

This is the first time I heard it disclosed that the California PTA co-wrote Prop 38 along with Molly Munger. Sadly CAPTA still thinks they have a chance of winning and are willing to join arms with the Munger machine who is working to defeat Prop 30 and inflict severe cuts to public education in California. (Related story on Munger financing against Prop 30) Web Link

Senator Steinberg says that even if Prop 38 were to prevail over Prop 30 it would still trigger immediate cuts to public education to the tune of $6 billion, including $750 million to our cash strapped community colleges and state universities. He does not think it serves our children well to hack at higher education in support of K-12.
For weeks the polls have been predicting defeat for Prop 38 and still the Mungers run negative ads against Prop 30 and the CAPTA remains silent. Our local PTA Council has taken the same position as CAPTA and is ONLY posting a recommendation in favor of 38 on the PTAC website. Can anyone explain this?


Posted by I can, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Hi Paly Dad I can explain. Mandy Lowell Munger is part of our community's school leadership. She is a former school board member who is on the campaign committees and a donor to the school board candidates Melissa Caswell and Camille Townsend. She and her husband spent 35 million dollars against prop 30[portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Mandy Lowell Munger has a lot of influence among PTAC leaders and school board members. many of whom are neighbors to the Mungers as well.


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Allow me to explain instead: the issue of our schools is not purely concerning 2 measures, but three. Charles Munger (moderate Republican) gave a donation to a PAC with the stance of Pro-32 and Anti-30. After donating, he has no control over how his $35 are spent by the PAC. Molly Munger gave money, directly, to fund her own measure prop-38. She played one negative-on-30 ad in a series of pro-30 ads concerning education: that is to say that she emphasized the point that prop-30 doesn't actually guarantee funding to schools for an extended period of time. This, of course, is true but considered negative because it's not a sugar-coated-semi-falsehood saying "30 is good but we're better" but actually "30 is okay I guess but really we're better because we actually guarantee money going to education." It was pulled after Molly Munger realized that either 30 or 38 was necessary and even though (in her opinion) 38 was better 30 was acceptable should 38 fail.
Prop-32 is the special-interest funding one: prohibits involuntary payroll deductions (you have to opt-in for a year), prohibits donations from contractees to their contractors for both public unions and corporations, and direct contributions from corporations and unions to candidates (I think). Since the unions are giving all their money towards fighting this prop instead of funding prop-30 (which is to their benefit because the money has no limits on where it goes: translation more benefits) Brown has it out for Munger for not only donating to a PAC against his prop but for diverting his funding. Hence the bias in the media.
And there are downsides to both 38 and 30, you have to do your own research on that one....


Posted by No, allow me, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

@"C" -- Your logic is a bit hard to follow, but I think translates to: "Charles Munger and Mandy Lowell gave $35 million to an anti-Prop 30 PAC (you say $35, which I suppose it may seem to them, but it's $35 million to the rest of us). They have no control over how the PAC will spend their $35 million (!) and so therefore is not responsible for how it is spent."

That is absurd on its face. If Munger and Lowell didn't want to oppose Prop 30, they wouldn't have given $35 million to a PAC opposing it. If I were speaking directly to one or the other of them, I might say "Charlotte Amanda Lowell or Charles Munger, Jr., it's time to step up and take public responsibility for what you are doing to the public schools in California. Hiding behind the PAC that you are funding is not even a fig leaf." But, "C", it's unlikely I'll have that opportunity, I suppose.

Your comments on Prop 32 are an example of why newspaper editorials are describing it as deceptive, but I will just point out that it's only connection to the first paragraph in your comment is that it is an attempt to create a cloud of uncertainty around something that's actually clear as day.

I do appreciate the description of Munger as a "moderate Republican," thank you for the chuckle.


Posted by Confused, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2012 at 7:52 pm

@C
My post focused on what the PTA could still do to help education in CA by supporting 30 since it is clear that 38 is going down in flames. Your arguments seem to be focused instead on defending the Lowell/Munger family being the primary funders of the No on 30 campaign. Their action seems much more deliberate than the miss guided position of the PTA.
For those who care about the education of all kids, which is most of my friends in this community, there is a negative political impact of the PTA position. Many voters will vote for 30 or 38 rather than both. Consequently, advocating for Yes on 38 is the same consequence as pushing for (or funding) No on 30. It is hard to imagine that the Lowell/Munger donors are not aware of what the pundits have been explaining for months. Our school board should have been more savvy too.


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I mentioned the limited control not to remove Charles from all responsibility of how his money was spent, but to suggest that perhaps he is more pro-32 than anti-30 because that's the impression I get regarding the press around him. Also, Munger is no tea-partier by any standards and his stance on the redistricting initiative that up threatening extreme republicans (and more liberal democrats, in some areas) much to the chagrin of the.party suggests to me that he is more moderate.I also haven't heard him complaining about Obamacare and whatnot. As for 32 although I do think it tends to favor the republican party that it is a step in the right direction overall. Also I have seen no yes-on-32 mailers while I have received several union-funded mailers with statements that, when I did basic research on the measure.were proven false.


Posted by voter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I have heard that voting for both 30 and 38 is the best move. That way there is more of a chance we will get funding. Why keep focusing on who is behind them? Why not just vote for the funding?

Is there another agenda for those who are criticizing the backers? Maybe they don't like that the backers are not in the same political party they are.


Posted by Teacher, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I teach in another district that will suffer cuts if Prop 30 fails. I didn't appreciate until reading this thread that the Mungers are from Palo Alto. They are dealing a double blow to teachers in this election cycle by spending millions to defeat Prop 30 and to pass Prop 32. If Prop 32 passes the middle class including teachers and the CTA will no longer have a voice in the elections. Prop 32 was placed on the ballot by the uber conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County. This is the same group that was the driving force behind the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that led to the explosion of the Super Pacs that billionaires like the Mungers and Koch brothers are now funding. Palo Alto has always supported our schools. Please support our teachers and vote Yes on 30 and No on 32.


Posted by No, allow me, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I agree with Confused that the PTA position of yes on 38 and neutral on 30 is effectively a position against 30, since 38 has been doomed for months now. The same is true of our school board's decision to support both propositions (at Mandy Lowell Munger's urging, as reported earlier in the Weekly). Everyone who decides to vote for 38 and against 30 is really voting against any new funding for schools, given that 38 will not pass. This was surely not lost on Lowell-Munger at the time.

Getting our local political leaders to come out solidly in favor of 30 and only 30 will be tough, given our peculiar situation of having the Munger-Lowells in Palo Alto (and not just in Palo Alto, but on the campaign committees and donor lists of incumbent candidates Melissa Caswell and Camille Townsend).


Posted by Confused, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm

@C
I have now read much of the press coverage about the multi million dollar Munger/Lowell funding of both Anti 30 and Pro 32. As far as I can tell the main reason that there has been more coverage about their Pro 32 backing is because their primary funding partners on 32 are the Koch brothers, the godfathers of the Tea Party movement and various other far right wing initiatives.
It seems very disingenuous to imply that they would put tens of millions into a PAC without knowing right where it is going. It is not like they are contributing to the Girl Scouts. If people are going to buy our elections, they at least they should have the integrity to stand behind their positions and not claim that "the PAC made me do it".I cannot decide whether this is less straight than when Mandy advocated for 38 and subtlely opposed 30 before our school board without disclosing that they were the primary financial opponents to 30. @C, which of these acts do you think is the least honest?


Posted by different view, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm

No on 30
Yes on 32
No on 38

Until we get some education reforms/union reforms for our hard earned dollars, I won't vote to hand over amymore of my money. All the money is going toward raises/pensions/lifetime medical anyway, which falls into the category of "the money stays in the classroom".

Now back to the debate about which measure is the bigger money-pit.


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm

@Confused:
I don't know exactly how PAC's work given that I've never given money to them or studied their structure, but the impression I got is that they have well-known viewpoints and receive donations from people who agree with those viewpoints -- but that the money isn't necessarily guaranteed for spending on that view. So, in other words, Charles Munger would have no control over how the ratio of anti-30-pro-32 funds would be spent, although certainly he agreed with both viewpoints. As for Mandy's failure to disclose, despite the fact I hold that her views are quite likely different from her husband's (someone mentioned she's a registered Republican -- she's definitely not Republican and I think she's registered as an independent) I do agree that she should have mentioned that her husband gave money against prop 30. Still, given that on the redistricting measure they both made individual contributions instead of a joint "Charles Munger and Mandy Lowell" contribution, and that on these cases her name doens't appear for joint or individual donations, that they make their own contributions independently.
As for the Koch brothers being the largest donors, they're not. "Americans for Responsible Leadership" (the PAC) gave $11 million to the Small Business Action Committee which, in turn, gave $11 million to the measure. This possibly undermines my thinking of how PAC's work, if it were officially under contract that they'd give exactly $11 million as opposed to a "common courtesy" in the political world similar to how if a legislator receives a gigantic donation from Hollywood they to take a very pro-copyright standpoint. Regardless, it is the PAC "American Future Fund" which gave $4,080,000 to the measure, not nearly the largest donor. AFF received money from "Center to Protect Patient Rights grantees" (PAC) which has reported ties to the Koch brothers. The Sacramento Bee Blog summarized the connections as "Another independent committee supporting Proposition 32, California Future Fund, received $4 million from Iowa PAC with reported ties to the Koch brothers." Again, "reported" ties -- though I don't doubt that the Conservative Koch brothers might (and probably) have ties to the PAC, they're certainly one or two PAC's removed from the actual donation and by this time (I hope) they don't have any control over the direct cashflow. And it hasn't even been solidified that the PAC has ties to the Koch brothers! As there is currently a lawsuit trying to force identity of the donors to the Arizona PAC to be public, the information on the Koch-brother ties (?) might become available but until it does I'd like to be questionable. And even if the PAC does have ties I'll be proud of how I scrutinize the media.


Posted by Confused, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2012 at 11:24 pm

@different view
Although we do not agree on the propositions, Diogenes would have admired you.


Posted by soccerdad, a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 4, 2012 at 12:10 am

soccerdad is a registered user.

@ "C" I'm glad you agree that Mandy Lowell Munger should have disclosed to the school board that her husband was donating millions against prop 30. If only there was some way of knowing whether she thought so too...oh well, I guess we'll never be able to find out.

You also seem to have quite a bit of insider gossip and info about their marriage, so perhaps you can tell us why, if she does not share his desire to destroy public education in California by defeating prop 30, she did not take out her own checkbook and write her own $35 million dollar check in support of prop 30 to counterbalance his contribution in which according to you she did not share?

In terms of superpac control, you would evidently know better than the rest of us what the Mungers and Kochs are up to. It's nice to have some insider information about what these billionaires have planned for the rest of us.


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 4, 2012 at 12:32 am

@soccerdad
I don't have particular insight into their marriage, but I followed the campaign of prop 20/27 (and, of course, I'm following prop 40 right now) quite avidly so I know how they were both individual donors. I also know that it's possible to do a joint donation just by watching political ads, which always have the "major funding provided by" slide at the end. I also assume that Munger's quotes in the media about his and his sister Molly's viewpoints differ but at the same time they get along fine can apply to his marital relationship too -- of course, this is all speculation, but so are the claims that they're in cahoots together. Also, I, for the most part, have approved of Mandy's work and public advocating in the past so perhaps I just give credit to her character and don't assume this from her. Perhaps my opinion is more unfounded but I like to challenge majority opinions with speculation.
Also, pretty much everything in the above post can be found online in comments and whatnot. I don't have any particular inside information. It was a bit annoying to try to trace the cashflow between PAC's, and I did so quickly and possibly inaccurately, but here's what I found (this is probably an incomplete list of sources given that I have read various articles I couldn't find again and I've certainly read more on the topic than just these):
Web Link Source showing that it gave money to the AFF... this one affirms support from the Koch brothers, but whether that's true or not I don't know especially since it's mentioned in passing
Web Link) Prop 32 donors
Web Link Regarding the lawsuit filed to try to get the identities of donors
Web Link ARL giving to Small Business Action Committee
Web Link Sacramento Bee blog from which I took the quote


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 4, 2012 at 12:50 am

First of all, to correct my above post, "Source showing that it gave money to the AFF" should read "Source showing that Center to Protect Patient Rights grantees gave...."
And regarding "perhaps you can tell us why, if she does not share his desire to destroy public education in California by defeating prop 30, she did not take out her own checkbook and write her own $35 million dollar check in support of prop 30 to counterbalance his contribution in which according to you she did not share?"
Given that I and everyone else is speculating, everything is logically questionable. My first response to your question was to think that giving a sum of $70 million away, all donated by one household, is absurd and to wonder if this could bankrupt them. My second was to think that this would probably create marital conflict on a grander scale because actions were taken rather than just opinions held, and my third response was to think that since this would almost cancel out the value of the two donations and make it more worth it for them to have just kept their (?) $70 million dollars, what would be the point besides leaving poorer than they started? Each one acting for what they think to be the greater good? Maybe, but this is politics... so I don't know. For all I know they count their finances separately despite the fact it's technically community property so Charles would have the lion's share, or maybe they are in cahoots together. I'm like everyone else, speculating -- I just question both sides more. I don't hold the stance that she's innocent, but I don't hold that she's guilty either and in this sense I will go by the famous idea "Innocent until proven guilty." And in this regard she has not been proven guilty to my standards. I also think that the text of the measures is far more important than the donors because the money has already been donated and if the donor reveals a bias in the bill (i.e. oil company giving money to an "environmental" bill with a bunch of loopholes suited to its purpose) than the same bias would be gained by reading the bill itself: plus the donor might be, for once, rarely, relatively unrelated to the donation.


Posted by No, allow me, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm

@C, For myself, I'm not interested in parsing the inner workings of the Munger/Lowell household. I'm interested in understanding what has happened here and what to do next. As for Mandy, we don't have to wonder what she thinks about Prop 30, since she lobbied the School Board directly to support Prop 38 because (she said) Prop 30 won't really provide money for schools. That is exactly the line taken by the anti-Prop 30 attack that she and her husband are funding. Rather than inventing standards of proof (and the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard is too high since we're not sending anyone to jail here), we can follow the money and listen to what is being said.

As to what happened here, that seems unfortunately obvious. The Lowell/Mungers oppose Prop 30 because of its emphasis on taxing the well-off and the wealthy. Prop 38 never looked like a winner, but it definitely looked like a way to siphon off votes for 30, since some people will vote yes for 38 and no for 30 in the belief that 38 is better for the schools, and they don't want to vote for both. The most straightforward way to understand this is that Mandy and Charles oppose 30 for tax reasons, support 38 for the same reason, and don't care much about the consequences for public education in California. That makes sense if you are a billionaire, although it probably makes Mandy a bit uncomfortable because of her connections to the public education policymakers here in Palo Alto.

Those connections raise the interesting question of how the School Board came to be considering backing Prop 38 in the first place? That is a question that Trustee Barb Mitchell raised at the August meeting but wasn't really answered. The Board President (Camille Townsend) and the Superintendent are responsible for setting the agenda. Lowell is on Townsend's campaign committee, co-chaired her kickoff, and donated money to her campaign. That is not to say that Townsend put the item on the agenda at Lowell's bidding, but it does help to remember all of these connections (which include the same relationship between Lowell and the other incumbent candidate Melissa Caswell, to be fair).

Everyone in this situation is hopelessly conflicted, from Lowell to School Board members to the local PTA, which is now taking a position in support of 38 that is actually likely to help cause its defeat (given that 38 has no chance of success). It is probably too late to boost support for Prop 30 locally, and we can only hope that the Munger/Lowells' negative campaign hasn't driven support below 50% on Election Day. Political accountability for the School Board and PTAC will probably take longer, and will look quite different if Prop 30 pass than if it fails.


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm

But the problem is that even with the tax increase 30 would have, it would never ever be $35 million dollars worth of loss to them. So why spend $35 million? I think this mitigates the amount greed was a factor and causes ideologies to become the primary source of desire to donate. And once again I feel that though logically arguments like "they want more money" appear reasonable, I think the actual happenings are different.
Also, I don't think that it's reasonable to say that because Mandy Lowell said in front of the school board that 30 wouldn't necessarily give money to the schools because (unfortunately) that's true. I don't think you should be crucified for saying the truth.
"From an accounting perspective, the new revenues WOULD be deposited into a newly created state account called the Education Protection Account (EPA). Of the funds in the account, 89 percent WOULD be provided to schools and 11 percent to community colleges. Schools and community colleges COULD use these funds for any educational purpose. The funds WOULD be distributed the same way as existing unrestricted perstudent funding, except that no school district WOULD receive less than $200 in EPA funds per student and no community college district WOULD receive less than $100 in EPA funds per full-time student." Some words capitalized for emphasis. Also, please look at figure three on this weblink: Web Link . I doubt it's a coincidence that education is bearing the brunt of the cuts: anyone else think Brown chose to do so just so he could force his otherwise-lacking-in-quality budget through?
Continuing on, the money donated would be based from an estimate anyway -- and given the quality of governmental estimates, and how easily they can be swayed, who's to say the estimate is far less than the actual amount and education gets cut short? Also, who's to say the money doesn't go straight to paying pensions or bonuses?


Posted by soccerdad, a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm

"C" -- the source you provided says precisely the opposite of what you are citing it for. It says that the revenues will go to fund schools, community colleges, and higher education. I have no idea what point you are trying to make with all the "COULD" and "WOULD". Putting something in ALL CAPS is not the same as analysis. The figure you cite, Figure 3, shows that more than 98% of the funds derived from the tax on the wealthiest Californians under Prop 30 would be spent on K-16 education, with 500 million going to UC/CSU and over 5 billion to K-12 and community college.

As figure 3 shows, over 5 billion will have to be cut from K-14 education and 250 million cut from the UC system and 250 million from the CSUs. They don't even take out the trash or clean faculty offices at UCB anymore and its far worse at CSUs. Community college students already cannot get sufficient courses to complete transfer patterns. If Prop 30 fails, it is the end of public higher education in California. There is no need for great K-12 if there is nowhere for the graduates to go because the community college system has been decimated by these cuts.

I don't know why you think this is not about greed. Greed and ideology are not as easily distinguished categories as you seem to think. There are plenty of self-interested reasons that billionaires would resist progressive taxation schemes, even when this particular scheme might not cost Charlie and Mandy a fortune -- it is an entering wedge for a more progressive tax scheme on the 1%. This is Charlie Munger and Mandy Lowell's response to the Warren Buffet "raise my taxes" campaign -- talk about biting the hand that fed you.





Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Who gives a flying frack as to the hows & whys of Mandy & Charley when it comes to manipulating state politics to suit their agenda? The damage has been done & the literal ignorance which may result from their elitist entitlement is something that we may all have to live with.


Posted by Confused, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Thanks to "C" for clarifying Molly's argument. Unfortunately, "soccerdad" appears to me to be more correct in his analysis of how 30 would iimpact education funding.
Also, to clarify, at the August school board meeting on the propositions I do not believe that Barb Mitchell questioned how the item came to be agendized. My memory is that she simply opposed the board supporting either proposition. As her rationale, I think that she claimed that the board lacked influence and adequate information. I wish she had just spoken about how the propositions were contrary to her libertarian outlook. It would be nice if people would state their real positions and defend them like "different view" did in the post above.
I do agree with "C" that Mandy and Charlie Jr appear to be more motivetd by ideology than by self gain. However, I have often seen an extraordinary correlation within a tribe between idealogy and self interest. Unfortunately, someone like Warren Buffett, who believes in the common good over self interest, is the outlier rather than the norm.
The real issue of the moment is what can be done before Tuesday to let the parent community know that the PTA got it wrong in the end on Props 30/38, despite their good intentions. For some reasoon they appear unwilling to recognize the current reality and correct their error. They are now playing right into the hands of the Munger/Lowell No on 30 campaign. At this point, the only impact of the Yes on 38 campaign would be that a fair portion of the electorate will vote for 30 or 38, but not both. Therefore, Yes on 38 could doom 30. Come on PTA, help us out here!


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 4, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Because a common term in bills is "will" but "would" is in here because of "If that amount is negative, the Controller shall suspend or reduce subsequent quarterly transfers, if any, to the Education Protection Account until the total reduction equals the negative amount herein described. For purposes of any calculation made pursuant to clause (i) of subparagraph (C), the amount of a quarterly transfer shall not be modified to reflect any suspension or reduction made pursuant to this subparagraph." That is to say that if the amount of money given (based on estimates) and the amount of money estimated (again, estimate) is high enough and low enough respectively, the schools can receive no funding from the bill. Of course, it's stated in the bill already that top-earners incomes very hard to predict so I question the value of these estimates: I think they mean too much in the bill. No funding is guaranteed -- if he flat out said 25% I would be for the budget, but with the iffy estimates I'm not. Also, given that Brown chose to make cuts to education as opposed to anything that might be worth cutting "more" in order to get support for his bill disgusts me a bit and makes me quite distrustful (possibly overly distrustful) of his character. Honestly I think we, that being citizens, just need to force the legislature to sign off that a certain portion (percent or flat number as a minimum) of funding is dedicated towards education and untouchable, possibly with a clause making it impossible to go towards pensions or salaries or bonuses, otherwise we are going to be stuck in messes like this all the time. He also doesn't include a clause regarding pensions or bonuses and whatnot -- not to say that college professors deserve less money, but the administrators, in my opinion, certainly do. Not only have UC administrations increased heavily over the years, top officials were given pay raises as student tuition spiked....
I do think 30 is necessary (unfortunately)


Posted by No, allow me, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm

@C, I sometimes have the feeling that you are a lawyer, but perhaps one whose skills have become a bit rusty with lack of use. In this case, you are quoting from the legislative analyst's report rather than a bill, hence the use of "would" rather than "will". See Web Link. The rest of your analysis is a bit silly, frankly -- the section of the proposition you quote is triggered if the amount of the additional revenue produced by the increase in rates is actually negative, which it won't be.

The problem we face is that this silliness is actually the very same silliness that is animating the disinformation campaign being funded by Mandy Lowell and Charles Munger, which makes it not so silly after all. The Munger/Lowells have cynically misled the state PTA and enlisted our local School Board in the Yes on 38 campaign, so we now face (as Confused points out) a meltdown in state funding for both our local schools and our schools, community colleges and universities statewide. I wish I shared Confused's hope that our local Palo Alto Council of PTAs could step in, but I'm afraid that they are too conflicted to admit their error now. Confused, do you have any reason to think differently about either the School Board or PTAC?


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I'm honored to think that you consider the possibility that I have any kind of degree, but that's not the case. I'm actually just a high school student who cares what goes on in the political world: I've always been quite interested in it, although I have no desire to make a career out of its hectic innerworkings. I look at instead as an example of what not to do.
It's not the revenue produced, it's (though not just) "The amount of the updated estimate calculated in clause (i) for the fiscal year ending two years prior shall be subtracted from the amount of this final determination." I do agree that my capitalization of would/will was a bit petty and poorly argued... I interpreted this to double the reliance on estimates (which are often badly done to the extremes, but in this case even if it were well done it would be subject to heavy scrutiny because of the nature of high-income-fluctuations).
As for 30/38, I would say yes on both because we need 30 to pass but we also need the sentiment of 38 to get through to Sacramento and scare them. Petty war tactic at best, but even so....


Posted by No, allow me, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 5, 2012 at 6:42 am

@C, thank you for clarifying that you are actually a high school student. I was misled by your level of information concerning the history of the Munger/Lowells' donations to various political causes, the fact that you followed the Munger/Lowells' involvement in the redistricting propositions 20 and 27 in 2010 "avidly", your speculations about the inner workings of Mandy Lowell and Charles Munger's marriage, your knowledge of the interconnections of right-wing PACs, your evident concern about Mandy Lowell being "crucified" for "telling the truth" about Prop 30 to the school board, etc. And I apologize for trying to hold you to adult standards of reasoning and evidence in our discussion.

Now that we have that cleared up, we can return to the issue at hand. Confused is right that Trustee Mitchell didn't raise the question of how the propositions came to the School Board agenda in the first place. Mitchell opposed both probably based on her Libertarian objection to taxes for non-local purposes. The connection between Mandy Lowell and School Board President Camille Townsend seems like an area worth looking at, otherwise it's hard to see why the School Board felt the need to weigh in just as Prop 38 was faltering in the polls.

The negative effect on 30 of 38 is quite clear, as this article from the LA Times points out: "Poll data show that fewer of Munger's supporters are also willing to vote for Brown's measure, falling 10 points to 75%. In a close election, that kind of drop can be decisive, said David Kanevsky of American Viewpoint, a Republican firm that worked on the poll. 'The legacy of Proposition 38 will be what happens to Proposition 30,' he said. 'If Proposition 30 loses by a very close margin, you could make a case that Proposition 38 helped kill it.' (from Web Link).

As Confused as been pointing out, our state and local PTA's and School Board's "Yes on 38" may well cost PAUSD $5 million a year and schools statewide billions, due to political ineptitude and personal connections.


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 5, 2012 at 7:24 am

Basic google research can do wonders, and it's almost fun to look into a topic (right-wing PAC knowledge? Not until I looked at the LAtimes). Perhaps I'm too enthusiastic. As for Mandy Lowell being crucified, it just irked me that everyone was assuming she'd acted when though there was evidence for that idea, it was nowhere near concerned. I don't like when people crucify figures (that is, unless I have a bias against the person myself, I'm almost vindictive in that way). Then again, I also might just be asserting my semi-anti-union beliefs, I don't really know. Regardless, I'm currently enjoying the virtual conversation we're having.
I agree that the 30/38 vote-war falls into the category in which citizens tend to only vote for one or neither so it's more likely that both will fail due to splitting of votes.... Perhaps it would have been better to have one measure, but as someone else put it, "that ship has sailed." I tend to believe 30 will pass and that, in this situation, the view on 38 will not be 'oh, it caused it to be so close!' because closest only counts in horseshoes, but instead that Sacramento might take a hint that if they continue choosing to cut education funding so they can hold that threat over our heads, we might overrule them. But then again, as I said earlier, closest only counts in horseshoes so who knows. As for endorsing 30/38, I think we should endorse both and that we can do this because most other areas endorsed 30 so it's not like they need our vote to make a larger difference between the number of districts who support 30 to those who support 38. I like the sentiment of 38 but think 30 is necessary.... Of course, I'm probably overstating the odds that 30 passes because surveys lately have seemed a bit faulty, and if support for 30 really is that weak we should have endorsed 30 only, I suppose -- but again, that ship has sailed....


Posted by soccerdad, a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 5, 2012 at 7:34 am

What a coincidence. I am also a high school student. The sentiment of 38 is that the money should go only to K-12 and not to community college or UCs or CSUs. As a high school student myself I am concerned about the state of higher education in CA. While I was only in middle school while we were both avidly following Mandy and Charley in their redistricting escapades (what fun we had in those halcyon days of avid following were, as we perused the WSJ while on the soccer field at Jordan! Ah, those days were great were they not?!) now I am in high school and hope to go to a UC in the next 2 years. If 250 million dollars are cut from the UC budget, I am not sure there will be an excellent public college left in CA. The UCs, even Berkelely, are already devastated. So why is 38 better in your view as a soon-to-be-college applicant? Why is 38 needed to send a message to Sacramento and what message do you think it is sending that they need to hear?

As a high school student the message I want to send is, please fund colleges and universities too!


Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2012 at 8:03 am

The PTA has also worked overtime to shut down meaningful debate for the upcoming school board election. PTA members limited candidate forums, limited recording of candidate forums, limited first ammendment rights of forum attendees by refusing to allow campaign buttons to be worn into forum events. The PTA bought and sold by the right wing Palo Alto elite is working actively to reinforce the privatization of our schools. Students with access to elite tutor centers, college counselors, enriching volunteer experiences pull ahead while those dependent on school produced services are left to fend for ourselves. Wake up and smell the coffee Palo Alto - this is not something that is happening in Wisconsin. We have our own Right Wing elite working against the interests of parents, teachers and students. If prop 30 does not pass, it is not the elite colleges that are going to be impacted, it is Foothill, DeAnza and the State campuses. Free and public education will be dealt the final death blow. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 5, 2012 at 10:03 am

I don't believe I've said 38 is on the whole better, but that it has elements I believe are a good idea (untouchable money, for example. And maybe even local allocation of funds). Again, because of Brown's actions to make it this way, 30 is now necessary. I'm fully aware that the UC's are in trouble, not only were they heavily cut over the last few years but they lost something like $23 of their endowments in the downturn of '07 '08 (which is one of the major reasons for the tuition spike which caused a huge increase in dropout rates for a quarter before some scholarships tried to pick up the slack). The message I'd like to send is, put bluntly, "Stop screwing with our schools and holding them over our heads as leverage so you can pass your budget. If you're going to cut things, cut some of everything rather than making education bear 250x the cuts of the DOJ" (I think they're the ones with the $1 million cut as opposed to the $250 million one). Not to say that the DOJ needs to be cut, but something other than education should be bearing at least a significant fraction of cuts. The governor is aware that we care about our UC's -- which is why he's holding it over our head. Or at least this is how I see it. I don't think he has student interests at heart especially after the SEIU/Student employees affair in which he sided with the SEIU (unsurprisingly).


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 5, 2012 at 10:05 am

Actually that's probably not true. I probably have made a statement along those lines, and for that I apologize. I think that though 38 has the better message 30 is just plain necessary even though it's certainly not my first pick. They both need improvement.... in my mind, because they accomplish different things, they can't be too easily compared. I meant to give the impression of the message v action not one being better than the other on the whole.


Posted by JLC, a resident of University South
on Nov 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm

The silver lining: Failure to pass 30 and 38 would create a very interesting natural experiment for public education policy researchers -- likely resulting in many long-term improvements to the public education model.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Prop 30 money goes to the general fund, and there is no protection that the state won't reallocate other money that is budgeted for schools.

The news media has not bought up the fact that the revenue assumptions of the current budget are off by a couple of billion dollars - for example the state was expecting a bunch of money from the taxing the profits that Facebook employees would have selling their stock at $38+ per share. With Facebook stock in the low 20's/high teens, there is alot less profit to tax.

Where will the state cut to make up for those several billions of dollars? Will they shift other education money not from Prop 30 to make up for this miscalculation? and why hasn't the news media been pressing Governor Brown or the legislature to state their position prior to the vote?


Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Per the Weekly's previous story on campaign funding Molly Lowell Munger contributed $500 to Camille Townsend's campaign and Board incumbent Barbara Mitchell - who did not support Proposition 30 - contributed to Melissa Caswell and Heidi Emberling. Per the Weekly - Ken Dauber's campaign is largely self funded. Follow the money. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] In the next election cycle, the Board will decide the fate of the largest public asset owned by the District and the City- the Cubberly campus. Mandy Lowell Munger chairs the Cubberly committee. I am not comfortable with individuals who hold extreme right wing views and favor privatization exerting a high degree of influence in this Board election. The Palo Alto community is overwehlmingly Democratic. If you are a registered Democrat who supports free and public education I urge you to look carefully at who is funding the candidates for School Board. Follow the money.


Posted by Barron Parker, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Citizen, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

The Palo Alto PTA Council has coverage of both 30 and 38 on the website, Web Link under ADVOCACY. It is important for people to educate themselves about everything they are asked to vote for, and then make the best choice they can make. The coverage on the PTAC website is an attempt at a balanced, fair explanation of both, and made it clear that it is fine to vote in favor of both.


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Soccer Mom's statement above,"The right wing Palo Alto political elite is heavily funding three of the four candidates for office." rings so true. I am glad that all of this is coming out before the election. This is all I need to know to justify voting only for one candidate,the one not supported by the, "Right Wing elite working against the interests of parents, teachers and students."(thanks again soccer mom because you hit the nail on the head in this thread!) Following the money leads me to Ken who seems to be the only candidate who has not been funded by the likes of Mandy Lowell Munger. What kind of pay back will the school board members owe the Munger/Lowell's of this right wing political elite? I certainly don't want Mandy calling the shots in this district from behind the scenes. I have witnessed some of the ugly campaigning going on in the board election and I am now beginning to wonder if Munger/Lowell money may have been involved in any of these shenanigans. Transparency is what has been so needed in the district. Perhaps the good that can come of this whole Munger/Lowell fiasco is a change at district level in the direction of complete transparency.


Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Citizen - isn't the mission of the PTA to serve as an advocacy group for Parents and Teachers? With the Democratic party coming out in favor of 30 and against 38 it is not a radical notion to support the proposition that will best serve families and educators. The reason that the State PTA and the Palo Alto PTA has not taken a pro-family position on this issue is that it is held captive by special interests - specifically the Munger family. Through significant donations and personal connections the PTA and the School Board have been silenced on this issue. The media has also not exposed this connection until the LA Times broke the story.


Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Concerned citizen - your name says it all. We should all be VERY concerned. Did you know that Mandy Lowell Munger is chair of the Cubberley Committee? Cubberley is the largest public asset our City and School Board own. The fate of Cubberley will shape the face of public education in Palo Alto for the next generation. Does the strongly Democratic citizenry of Palo Alto really feel comfortable having the fate of Cubberley in the hands of the Mungers and the School Board members they are bankrolling? YIKES! The nastiness of the Board campaign is a side show distraction. We have been asked to look over here while the right wing elite defund our schools, privatize services and limit our access to public resources. Get involved!


Posted by Common Sense, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Dear Soccer Mom--
I don't think there is such a thing as a "right wing Palo Alto political elite". You are correct when you said that the "Palo Alto community is overwhelmingly Democratic". That said, however, local school board and city council elections have no business discussing one's political registration. Take a look at results and the actions of our local candidates instead of attacking dedicated local citizens.


Posted by j99, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

NO on 30, NO on 38. No more taxes, there is just too much spending. Federal plus California taxpayers pay 21 Billion dollars each year to provide services for illegal aliens- free medical, education, social services (including CA food stamps), and jail costs. Save California, deport all illegal aliens.


Posted by jerry99, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm

The PTA always wants to steal more money from taxpayers to increase school budgets. And this year 40% of Palo Alto budgets, like other cities, is spent on ourageous public employee pension costs. Decrease pensions to 25-35% of highest 5 years with no bump for unused vacation/sick leave with retirement at 65 and 25% employee and retiree contribution to medical costs will be a good start and provide an enormous amount of money for schools.


Posted by yes on 32, no on 30, 38, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm


We really need reforms before more money is allocated to schools or govt.


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I haven't looked at the complete list but I don't think Heidi Emberling has received funds from Mandy Lowell. She's certainly not one of her top donors -- Web Link . Has it ever occurred to you that Lowell might just have given to her two-ex-colleagues (I think they were... I don't know exactly when their term limits began and I'm too tired to look it up right now) because she thinks they're most qualified for the job? Evidently not, but perhaps you're correct. But she's also not the only $500 donor -- it's not like you can claim she's trying to entirely swing the election because there was another $1000 donation by another couple. I also don't think that local politics have quite arisen to the same stance on underhanded political deals that our national politics have.... I don't think one donation on that scale will buy votes.
Also to note: One other reason the Democratic party came out against 38 is that it prevents funds from going straight to union pensions and benefits and whatnot. Clearly not a popular clause in the bill.... 30 has no such restrictions that I've seen. Of course, this might not be significant: I wasn't part of the political deal.


Posted by Barron Parker, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Not sure why my post was deleted but Ken Dauber is not largely self funded as reported above. Ken has raised significant amounts of money from grassroots support in the community, from fellow Googlers as well as from engineers, mental health professionals, and other citizens, many of whom have never been involved in politics before. Not sure why that was deleted.


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

C: Thanks for pointing out that Heidi has not received any funds from Mandy Lowell/Mungers. I was mistaken in my previous comment and I apologize to Heidi for that mistake. Obviously Mandy could afford to give much larger chunks of cash to Townsend and Caswell than $500 but I am sure that she probably didn't want to appear as if she would be owed any favors after the election. For crying out loud, Mandy and her husband are bazillionaires and could afford to buy just about anything including an election. I am happy that Heidi and Ken do not owe Mandy any allegiance on any issue. I would imagine that Mandy being part of the old guard just wants to maintain the status quo.


Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 17, 2013 at 9:15 am

Now that we are realizing the retroactive ex post facto nature of Prop 30 and the fact that it is really just a devil's pact between public unions and politicians (unions get pensions they've no moral right to, politicians get votes in the here & now while deferring the states woes to a few years down the road), I wonder if Palo Altans who are fiscally impacted are questioning their blind allegiance to the Democratic party?

Web Link=[]


Posted by Perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2013 at 5:38 am

I have learned that thinking ahead to real consequences never interferes with the right to vote.


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