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Saturday, May 18, 2013

City and School District Impose Gag Order on Task Force

Black List Revealed 

Members of the newly formed City Schools Master Plan Task Force, a group set up under the auspices of a paid School District consultant, received notice of an astounding "ground rule" at their first meeting on April 29th: a gag order forbidding contact with the media, including blogs and other local electronic media.

In February the Tattler brought you the story of the School District's decision to pay $170,000 to consultants, MIG and MKThink, to facilitate a Task Force that would determine the fate in a post-Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL) world of six public properties that currently provide community services. Only three of those sites, Anna Yates Elementary School , the former Ralph Hawley Middle School, and the San Pablo Avenue dump site that is the future home of the ECCL (aka the former High School) are actually under the control of the School District. The other three sites, the 43rd Street Recreation Center, the Senior Center, and the Emeryville Child Development Center, are operated by the City. The future of only two sites is really in doubt, that of the Anna Yates Elementary site, and the Recreation Center.

$7700 Per Meeting
Not a Big Fan
of  Transparency:

He also had a black list and
a "plumbers unit" meant to
plug media leaks.
The Task Force was eventually created by both the City and the School District at a recent City Schools Committee meeting.  While the Task Force members and the public will be invited to six Task Force meetings, the consultants will conduct more than twice as many private closed door meetings as well.  Emeryville residents needn't fret that the consultants will be over-worked.  If they conduct the originally-planned 22 meetings, then that works out to just over $7,700 per meeting, generously provided by Emeryville taxpayers.  For that price, one might expect that these will be the most well-publicized city-wide meetings in Emeryville history. Not so.

The first of the Task Force's six public meetings was held on April 29th, although one will search in vain for any mention of it on any School District website.  This lack of notice constitutes a violation of Sacramento's Brown Act, which sets the actual "ground rules" for public meetings, Emery proclamations notwithstanding.
The Tattler has obtained the Task Force meeting minutes which speak for themselves (page 1 Section III):
"One Task Force member asked for clarification on the ground rule asking members not to speak with the media, wondering whether this applied to blogs and other local electronic media. Yes, it is intended to cover all media; having Task Force members refrain from speaking to the media ensures that no group member is pushing a specific agenda by exerting media pressure on other members, and helps to build a culture of trust within the group."
The Tattler confirmed that these minutes accurately reflected the discussion at the meeting through a non-member that was present.

As a public service for Task Force members, the Tattler provides the following Black List of those that Task Force Members should be sure not to speak with:

City and School District's Black List:

(partial list)
The Task Force, which meets to decide the fate of properties in the Triangle neighborhood, meets across town at Ralph Hawley on May 20th at 6:30 p.m.


  1. i'm honored to see my name on this list. maybe this explains why i didn't receive any replies from anakarita allen or jag lathan to my inquiries about two missing bass guitars that were donated to anna yates 1 1/2 years ago. instead my inquiry was directed to mark bonnett, chief business officer of the school district, who surely has more important duties to perform.

    i have also spent the past three years trying to obtain refunds for over 65 taxpayers for measure a which was approved by voters in 2003. neither the city nor the school district sent out any notices to seniors advising that after age 65 they were exempt from paying this school parcel tax. the city and senior center only posted this notice in 2010 and the school district finally sent notices the same year to taxpayers at my insistence.

    the city of hayward announces this exemption each year in the oakland tribune for their parcel tax, measure g.

    1. I recently received my notice from the city stating if I was over 65 that I could file for an exemption for this tax. I’m wondering if I should send them my exemption papers 20 years early just in case the olds timers gets me by then and I forget. Anyways, what is up with that exemption anyways? One of the most influential voting forces in this city is exempt, but also were the ones to vote this garbage in? The rest of us have to pay for this crap. This city is so full of government scammers and scumbags that are so dishonest it is unreal. Wow, look at all this money from this tax that is earmarked for Seniors. Isn’t anyone ashamed just a little? How about everyone who will benefit from this waste of money, be the ones who pay for it. And leave me out!

    2. I thought that I was alone on this. But the above comment is consistent with how I feel, too. Down with ECCL.

    3. Are you over or under 65? I would bet if it comes out of your own pocket, most are against this pig.

  2. yes,i do urge anonymous to file for your exemption early, even if it is 20 years. neither the city, nor the school district, has any legal obligation to tell you otherwise. it's a case of "let the buyer beware." seniors who unknowingly paid this tax in 2004 when it went into effect, also paid through 2010, the first year that notices were sent out. and isn't that the point? seniors tend to forget things as we age.

    fortunately, i still have my wits about me. and now i must instruct my heirs that they must notify the school district if i should become disabled since this application for waiver must be filed every year the senior lives in and owns the home on which they pay property taxes.

    i was hoping to "shame" the school district into giving refunds for overpayments made by seniors but they seem to have no conscience. maybe with more public outcry, something can be done.
    for some seniors this refund is the difference between buying groceries or turning on the heat in the wintertime.

  3. Blush, My first "Black List" as well (as far as I know)! Thanks for uncovering this, Tattler. without any mainstream press coverage, it is up to our rag-tag, gang of bloggers to uncover these things for residents and get the conversation started. Thanks!

  4. to clarify: measure a is a school parcel tax that was approved in june, 2003 and went into effect in july 1, 2003, expired in 2009 at the rate of $.10 per sq. foot of improved property. it was extended to 2019 at the rate of $.15 per sq. ft. the revenue was earmarked to:

    maintain small class sizes in math, science and reading
    maintain school libraries with full time librarians (two at the time of the election)
    purchase upgraded technology and textbooks
    ensure access to counselors to students at all levels
    improve tutoring and mentoring programs
    implement the wellness program.

    it is not to be confused with measure j, a bond measure to finance the emeryville center of community life, and has no exemption for seniors. we must pay for life or until we take a ride to the emeryville crematorium.