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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pixar Reins In Emeryville Schools Funding

Pixar Cuts School Funding

Pixar has severely curtailed its corporate support for Emeryville schools over the last two years according to officials at the Emery Education Fund.  The Fund, a local non-profit tasked with shepherding donations to the schools, said  Pixar had for several years held pre-release screenings of its new movies as a fundraiser for the Emery Unified School District. Pixar, now a subsidiary of Disney Inc., discontinued these screenings two years ago, yet it now pre-screens films as charitable benefits for other school districts and non-profits outside of Emeryville.

Brave New World?
Nothing for Emeryville's schools
again this year.
Phillip Powell, Emery Ed Fund's Interim Executive Director told the Tattler the pre-screenings have historically been a large part of the Emery Ed Fund, netting over $100,000 for Emeryville schools in 2010, the last time Pixar cooperated.  "Normally Pixar pre-releases happen in May" Mr Powell said after he acknowledged it appears Emery has been skipped again.  For its part, this year Pixar has offered a charity pre-screening of its new film, Brave for the educational non-profit corporation College Track.  Emery's School Superintendent, Debbra Lindo, sits on the Board of Directors of College Track.

In addition to ending its charitable giving to Emeryville Schools, Pixar is seeking a reduction in how much it owes in property taxes---a large portion of which normally flows into our classrooms.  Reducing the company's tax liability is a goal being sought on various fronts by the company's corporate leaders in Burbank and their brigade of tax attorneys.  City council members have noted that Pixar managed to sharply trim its business taxes that also accrue to Emeryville. Disney/Pixar reported $1.46 billion in profits in the first quarter of this year. Granted, Pixar is now just one division a conglomerate. Disney, which paid about $7 billion for Pixar, was billed a total of $8000 in business taxes on its Emeryville campus and all Pixar operations.  A low tax take for City Hall is courtesy of a cap on business taxes, established thanks to the effective lobbying efforts of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce. The cap is a massive annual gift to Emeryville's largest companies from City Hall making any profits above the cap tax free.  Its a scheme that enables Pixar to pay Emeryville at a far lower rate than other businesses here, essentially forcing small businesses to subsidize Disney's tax cut

Sadly, Disney/Pixar isn't alone in dialing back its commitment to the community that welcomed them with open arms. Another large firm, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis set up an annual $5000 scholarship to help cover college tuition for science majors graduating from Emery High School.  Novartis donated $100,000 for the scholarship fund in 2006.

Emery was shut out of last year's Pixar film pre-screening, Cars 2.  The Park Avenue corporation instead offered the film as a philanthropic fund raising device elsewhere.

The Walt Disney Corporation bought Pixar in 2006 in an all stock transaction worth $7.4 billion and is said to be worth in excess of $75 billion.


  1. FtP has a new meaning around Emeryville. F*ck Pixar!!

  2. Why is it a new meaning? If you follow the history of this corporation, how much money it has taken in redevelopment funds, all the other perks it has obtained, and measure this against what it has given to emeryville, you will see that it has been very little in relation to many other organizations. Think of how much semifreddi donated and how it took care of local needs, in terms of percentages of income versus donations-semifreddi's were way ahead. Where are they now, kicked out of town as the disney corporation engulfed their workspace.
    Chevron's argument to not pay richmond has just been rebuffed by the courts, maybe it is time to challenge walt d/pixar. There is a group that boycotts all disney products--that's something to think about.

  3. GET REAL Brian. This response is not personal; you do a great job. But, your perspective is mis guided.

    Pixar is a Profit Oriented business. They chose this site to Develop, while Kaiser dumped on it. Ask yourself, Why?

    Pixar has added greatly to our Community. Their Property in on the tax rolls, and they are behaving themselves. Steve Jobs is no longer here to advocate and defend.

    Pixar is not obligated to give extra money to the Schools. Our schools are lucky to have benefited from what they have already received. Charitable donations are NOT an ongoing obligation.
    By knocking their past generosity, you hinder what may come later.

    The City problem is with the way they spend public money. Salaries are much too high. The City Manager, for example, is an Administrator, not an Executive. I think he is way over compensated, and so is his buddy, the City Attorney. Our City Council just gives away the Store. These guys should be making sure that the "Potholes" are fixed.

    I like Pixar, and I respectfully disagree with you on this one.

    1. The two largest corporations in Emeryville are Pixar and Novartis. The city negotiated with Novartis and hammered out a deal that the residents benefited by use of public/private land use and monetary concessions.

      On the other hand with Pixar, well, the city pretty much gave away the store: two entire streets given away for free (creating a horrible super block and destroying a critical bike path), a planned affordable family friendly housing project given over so Pixar could expand, retrograde nonexistent public/private land use and 2 million dollars to sweeten the pot spells a totally compliant City Hall. To this adding the tax give-a-ways makes for a deal that loses the people of Emeryville money.

      You have to ask why...why would the city negotiate hard with Novartis and just give away the store with Pixar? It's pretty obvious that the city council has Hollywood stars in their eyes. How much give-a-way is THAT worth? I say...not much. Just imagine how much Emeryville could be taking in with this much prime real estate were it not giving it away to Pixar? We're on the losing end of this deal.