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Monday, October 27, 2014

Christian Patz, Donn Merriam for EUSD School Board

Patz, Merriam YES  
Affeldt, Dwin NO

Opinion/News Analysis
There's going to be an election for Emery School Board this year!
We use the exclamation point because that's not just a good thing, it's also a rare thing.  The idea that Emeryville residents could have a say in who runs their schools is a rare thing indeed.  In theory, we're supposed to vote for our School Board members but new members are usually instead appointed by the School Board itself.  They're appointed to replace mid-term out going Board members and come election time, no one in the community has the cajones to run against the appointed incumbent.  And as a result, elections are cancelled.
So it's replacement Board member after replacement Board member decided by the Board members.  It all makes for an insular Emery School District not representing the will of the people of Emeryville and hostile to dissenting voices; just what you would expect in the echo chamber that is the Emery School Board.
Donn Merriam
He upset the apple cart and now
we get to have democracy
at the Emery School District
for a change.
This year, it's going to be different.  This year, we're going to be allowed to decide for ourselves who's going to represent us on the School Board.

So how did this happy occasion come about?  It's because Emeryville resident Donn Merriam decided to throw his name into the ring, thereby upsetting the apple cart and forcing an election.  That makes Donn Merriam a hero in our book.  We only wish more had done so.

There are five School Board members total and this year three seats are up for election.  And that unfortunately means with only four candidates running for the three seats, Emeryville residents won't be able to effect change at the Emery School Board this election.  The old guard will still be in power with a three vote majority no matter who gets elected on November 4th.
But we can sure put a dent in the old guard if we elect Donn Merriam and Christian Patz.

Christian Patz
He's a proven and much needed
independent voice on the
Emery School Board.
Christian Patz at first blush looks like part of the stand by formula described above; he was appointed by the Board after Board member Josh Simon vacated his seat early.  But it seems Christian slipped through the cracks.  He has not turned out to be the Board member the appointers assumed he would be.  Mr Patz is an independent voice on the Board.  For instance he voted against the hiring of Anna Yates Elementary School Principal Rassum Mesfun last summer and in so doing countered the wishes of the Superintendent John Rubio, making Mr Patz the only dissenting vote on the Board.  It was a vote that turned out to be a testament to Mr Patz's good judgement as we watched the train wreck of the Mesfun affair play itself out, a train wreck that has damaged the already soiled reputation of the Board and now the Superintendent.
An administrator at another school district, Christian has shown himself to be a rational player with a deep knowledge of sound pedagogical policy on the Board, looking out after the interests of the children, teachers and parents, the trifecta everyone up there sanctimoniously claims to represent.

Donn Merriam is an architect by trade, working on new public school construction projects.  With the Emeryville Center of 'Community' Life now beginning construction, he seems like a valuable person to have on the Board.  In fact, Mr Merriam has already inserted himself into oversight of the construction of the ECCL project, catching several code violations, some of which would be very expensive to repair.  Although Donn doesn't have the educational bona fides of a Christian Patz, he maintains there are quantifiable educational metrics gained in in how a school is built.  We're not sure how much value that has but it seems like it must have some value.  Some may claim Mr Merriam isn't qualified given his lack of direct experience in pedagogy, but that argument would remove most Board members here now.  We need to focus on changing the Board and casting out the bad players who are subverting the aforementioned trifecta of children, teachers and parents.  We think Mr Merriam's election would be a step in changing the direction.

John Affeldt looks great gazing at his impressive resume.  But he has a long record here at Emery.  He and Miguel Dwin had a shameful role in 2012's Teachers Resolution debacle when the Board moved against 93% of all Emery teachers asking for a vote of no confidence in the former Superintendent Debbra Lindo as well as when Mr Affeldt and Mr Dwin ignored the pleas of 73 parents and citizens who asked for a forum to discuss the wisdom of closing the elementary school in a now infamous letter to Emery.  These two brazen lapses in judgement are enough to disqualify these two in our opinion, never mind the host of other screw ups over the years ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous at Emery (type 'Emery School Board' in the Tattler search bar for more info).  We shouldn't reward such anti-democratic violations of the public trust and hubristic top down management with our votes.


  1. Brian, you continue erroneously to attempt to associate me with incidents and Board responses to those events that occurred before I was on the Board. Such is the case with both the teacher's vote and the ECCL letter you refer to. Your attempts to sway your colleagues among RULE with such arguments failed. I am honored to have earned RULE's endorsement, along with that of your brother, City Council candidate Scott Donahue, his wife, Tracy Schroth, and many other progressive citizens of Emeryville, teachers and parents. I invite your readers to visit my website at to learn more about me and to vote for me on November 4th.

    John Affeldt

    1. John, you need to go back and re-read the story. I said you (and Mr Dwin) had a shameful role in the Teachers Resolution debacle and the petition wherein you ignored the pleas of parents. The problem here is that in both cases you as a Board member ignored stakeholders (teachers and parents). Your assertion that these two "events" took place before you were appointed is a corruption: the letter was presented to the Board in June 2102 as was the Teachers resolution. You were appointed starting in July 2012. But the problems with regard to these two "events" weren't in June. The problems built up over time as it became apparent that the Board was going to ignore the teachers and the parents legitimate calls for help. Your (and your colleagues) did ignore the stakeholders. Guess who says that? Mark Davis acting president of the Emery Teachers Association when he told the Tattler as much a year after the presentation "event" of the Teachers Resolution to the Board. You were on the Board that whole year, John. The same goes for the 73 parents and citizens who signed the letter. We've STILL not gotten a response from the Board for that.

      So you're going to run for election to the Board...and you may win. But you can't run away from your record. The Tattler is here, vexing any such attempt.

    2. Oh, and I don't control my brother. He is his own agent as is the other person you mentioned. As far as RULE is concerned; well, I disagree with them about this. Again, while I'm a RULE member, I'm only one vote there.

  2. I was a signatory on that letter and I don't associate the problems we experienced back then with John Affeldt. The whole Lindo/Simon era was unfortunate (BTW that is not a knock on Josh personally, but I will always associate that disaster of a supe with him...sorry Josh) but John came in right in the middle and handled his entrance diplomatically. I think that was a wiser choice than trying to immediately turn things topsy turvy as a newcomer. Look how far that got John Fricke. So he handled that situation as best he could in my opinion. Yes I think he could show his teeth a bit more sometimes and there were times Marie and I have been frustrated and wished he was more outspoken and a bit less diplomatic...but maybe that's why I'm not running. I don't pretend to know much about the 'Brown Act' and 'Robert's Rules of Order', but I digress.
    Marie and I both endorse John Affeldt for School Board. We need experts and educators on the Board. Parent's should be represented too but a Board of angry parents would a huge disaster. John is both an expert AND a parent so he fulfills 2 checkboxes on our list. Now if could snarl a bit more we would be totally happy.
    We also endorse Christian Patz.

    1. Clearly John Affeldt was not responsible for what the signatories of the letter were complaining about at first; the letter was issued before he was appointed to the Board. The problem was that John Affeldt joined with his colleagues and IGNORED the letter signers. The people of Emeryville were promised a forum to discuss the wisdom of closing Anna Yates Elementary School during the design phase of ECCL. Measure J, which brought us ECCL, said nothing about closing Anna Yates. So John (and Miguel) used his authority to disallow such a forum. He should have done his part to get the District to honor their promise to us, instead he stopped all parents that wanted to be taken seriously about closing AYES because HE supports closing it. If this, and ignoring the Teachers Resolution, is acceptable and you think he's good for the District (children, teachers parents) then you should support him.

      Regarding John Fricke. He campaigned on bike issues (among others). He said he was going to improve bike facilities if elected. Every candidate for City Council says this but John Frick actually delivered. Against the wishes of all his colleagues on the Council, and by sheer force of will over many years, he delivered to us the Adeline Street bike facilitates. Every other Council member wanted what the business community wanted; keep Adeline four lanes for maximum car traffic. That's what I call an effective Council member.

  3. Well actually Brian when we approached him and talked to him he did engage us and was open to freely discuss all of the issues you state and never once ignored us, stopped us, or refused to take us seriously. Quite the contrary. There was never any confusion over his position. Maybe you should just try to talk to him sometime. I know that's not your style. You seem much more comfortable throwing crap on a wall, watching what sticks and pointing fingers, You're not much of a get involved-action-kind-of-guy as witnessed in your refusal to participate and bring anything of substance ever to a parent teacher meeting. Or help out in putting together school functions, or just being involved in the Anna Yates community beyond being a consummate complainer. That's really not much help to anyone. So if you think you are doing the Anna Yates community a big a favor here I really have to question your overall judgement. Your blog may be a service but your opinions you lord over every and any opinion here are not. Now I would seriously like to tell you what you can do with your rude accusation of me not supporting Anna Yates and the Anna Yates teachers because I support Mr. Affeldt, but this is a public blog and I would rather have that discussion with you face to face.

    1. I'm not saying you're not supporting the teachers or the school, I'm saying John Affeldt has promulgated policies that have eroded the teachers and the parents here. You are free to disagree. There's no need to make it personal. Of the two people going back and forth here now, only one is engaging in a personal accost, and that's not me.
      I have my own reasons for not getting involved in the AYES PTO and my opinions have been made public here. It involves censorship of dissenting ideas on the part of the PTO and the fact they have disallowed work done to help the teachers (ironic considering what the "T" in PTO stands for). In fact they made it official policy that there would be no criticism allowed of the Superintendent or the administration from any PTO parent.
      Regarding John Affeldt talking with you, I'm sure he has been cordial and talkative...but him talking one-on-one with parents is not contrary to my allegation against him you'll note if you re-read the story.

  4. From the standpoint of a confused Emeryville voter, this was a very useful exchange to read, and it came at just the right time. Thanks to all for responses that were more informative than irate.