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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Anna Yates School Real Estate Deal: School Board President Flirts With Brown Act Violation (Again)

Elementary School to be Leased or Sold:
Board President Attempts to Illegally Shut Public Out of Deliberations

John Affeldt: The Public is Anathema to the Public's Business

Emery School Board president John Affeldt showed his penchant for secrecy again last week at the regularly scheduled School Board meeting Wednesday night when he attempted to conduct an Anna Yates Elementary School real estate deal in secret, a Brown Act violation.  President Affeldt told his colleagues on the Board that the School District's intention to lease or sell the elementary school after children are forced out next fall to relocate to the Center of 'Community' Life, should be discussed behind closed doors, an illegal act according to Board member Christian Patz.  Mr Patz, always keen on transparency, again assumed his traditional role as the public's advocate when he read aloud from the California code regarding school district real estate negotiations, catching Mr Affeldt off guard.  Board member Patz revealed the only part of school district real estate transactions to be conducted privately are the negotiations around the price and the District must reveal to the public whom they are negotiating with.
Mr Affeldt, an attorney, attempted to forge ahead with the illegal secret meeting regardless but couldn't get a second, an unprecedented display of no confidence by his normally compliant colleagues (excepting Mr Patz).
Board Member Christian Patz
This time he was successful
in stopping the Board from
a Brown Act violation.

The closed door meeting was
called a "real estate negotiation"
and OK to hold behind closed doors
by Affeldt but Mr Patz responded,
"You can't negotiate with yourself."

Emery Unified School District, especially Board member John Affeldt, has quietly worked to close the popular Anna Yates for years, insisting it would somehow devalue the K-12 model of the Center of 'Community' Life.  The modus operandi has long been secrecy and keeping the public out of the loop even as the public have made thwarted attempts to weigh in on the wisdom of closing the school over the years.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Wednesday's debacle again showed the default position of secrecy regularly promulgated by Mr Affeldt but after he told his colleagues to disregard Mr Patz's warnings and instead vote to approve the evening's agenda anyway with the secret meeting intact, the other Board members, Donn Merriam and Joy Kent Ashe weren't going for it.  New member Brittany Collins-Rogers was absent.
Last November, the Board conducted a similar secret illegal meeting at Mr Affeldt's prompting but they received bad press from the Tattler and the Contra Costa Times, the names of the guilty Board members printed for the thousands of readers to see.
Board President John Affeldt
Hasn't learned from last November
when he directed the Board to
violate the Brown Act.

26 Seconds of Total Silence
An awkward 26 seconds of silence followed Board president Affeldt's request for a second to his motion to disregard Mr Patz' warning Wednesday night.  After, Mr Affeldt admonished Board member Ashe for not paying attention, "I'm concerned about you getting to the substance that you can get at while your child is here" he said, figuring she must not have provided a second to his motion because of her tending to her child behind the lectern.  However Ms Ashe responded,  "My thoughts are there's some discomfort [with this]...we should not discuss it right now".  Mr Merriam agreed,"Let's move to pull the item" he said.
In the end, the Board directed the Superintendent of the Schools to reschedule the closed door item for another night, with Brown Act provisions; likely averting another unflattering headline in the Contra Costa Times.

Since the School District has not made any announcements as to their intentions with regard to Anna Yates School, it is assumed the plans are to either lease or sell the site to an as of now unknown party.  Were the law obeyed, the identity of the party in the real estate deal would have to be revealed.  It is presumed the Board will be forthcoming about the details at a later meeting date.

Table of Contents to the Video:
:59-8:59   Entire 8 minute debacle
Start-2:39  Patz makes the case of a pending Brown Act violation
4:22-5:00  Affeldt attempts a move to approve the illegal agenda anyway
4:30-4:56  26 seconds of awkward silence
5:00-finish  A flummoxed and confused Affeldt
Video courtesy of the Emeryville Property Owners Association


  1. I smell something awful. The stink covers our entire Community. It goes all the way back to Kasis, and his pioneering idea to invest huge money that we didn't have, into an ECCL project that we didn't need. All of our then existing schools were paid for, and functioning quite nicely. Now, it's too late, and we have to make the best of it. Big win for the Developer who will profit, big time.

  2. Thank you, John Affeldt, for continuing to string parents along at a previous PTO meeting with the hope that Anna Yates may remain it seems you are heading into some real estate negotiation regarding Anna Yates? Yet again, you say one thing and do another. And to that point, your remark to Member Ashe reveals that underneath all your progressive speak is a sexist man in power oblivious to his own biases. When there was no second to your motion, why would you feel it was appropriate to chide Ashe but didn't show the same concern or doubt to Member Merriam who "seemed" preoccupied with scrolling through his mobile phone? Based on the responses by Merriam and Ashe, it appears that they were paying more attention to the concerns raised by Patz than you. I hope you publicly apologize to Ashe and the community for singling her out the way you did.

  3. The Brown Act violation, while bad, is not the story here. The story (hello!) is the fact that the School Board is talking about leasing or even selling the elementary school. The fact that John Affeldt is trying to do it secretly is outrageous. With all due respect, you need to report on the real story here, not some process violation.

    1. Thanks for your comment. The Tattler WILL report on the lease/sale of Anna Yates Elementary School as soon as we find out the facts. In the meantime, this Brown Act violation is what we can report. It's newsworthy because of the Board's ongoing history with violating this suite of transparency laws. It is part of a pattern and a practice of this Board's culture of secrecy as it goes about doing the public's business. The people have a right to know.

  4. I just read your Tattler article. Just so you’re clear, there was no attempt by anyone to hold a meeting in secrecy. The board president believed that the agenda language was correctly stated. However, I made an error regarding the required closed session language that was needed for the meeting.

    This error was mine, not the boards.
    Lisa Taymuree

    1. It could be a coincidence that this Board President's historic and chronicled problem with secrecy in this case is not applicable. Coincidences do happen, yes, but forgive those of us who retain some healthy skeptisim.

  5. The Henry family is shocked by the disrespect Mr. Affeldt has shown towards his colleagues and public. I am sorry for voting for him and sorry for extending the benefit of the doubt, only to see such appalling behavior. I would have never thought becoming board president of the tiny EUSD would go to a person's head so strongly. I have been clearly wrong on many fronts.
    This year has been disasterous for us and I'll wait patiently for Mr. Affeldt's apology. 6 Teacher resignations and the disrespect Mr. Affeldt showed Mr. Patz for trying to give this issue the attention it deserves was again, appalling. It's time for you resign John. You've lost the confidence of your public and your colleagues.
    On the other hand I we want to thank Mr. Patz ten times over for trying to bring the real concerns. And in the face of such disrespect. You handled it much better than I would have. Thank you from the entire Henry Family.