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Measure A passes by wide margin

Original post made on May 4, 2010

Measure A, the proposed $589-per-parcel annual school tax, passed in a special election Tuesday night with 79.36 percent of voters supporting the measure.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 8:07 PM

Comments (48)

Posted by Fiscal responsibility, a resident of Stanford
on May 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend.... Democrats rock....

Posted by Bob, a resident of Barron Park
on May 4, 2010 at 8:52 pm

It would be nice if someone (school board, mayor, Superintendent?) said, "thank you, voters."

Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm

As a parent with kids in the school system, I say, "Thank you, voters".

Posted by Jennie, a resident of Walter Hays School
on May 4, 2010 at 9:21 pm

well, as a parent of elementary kids I'll say THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Posted by Tail end of the baby boomers, a resident of Community Center
on May 4, 2010 at 9:43 pm

...from another parent of an elementary school kid...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! This is an amazing place that we live in.

Posted by Gunn Community Member, a resident of Gunn High School
on May 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Thank you, voters.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Terman Middle School
on May 4, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! We have to pay more tax. Even though I'm from Terman.

Posted by they never learn, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I agree with you Sharon, and I am a school parent too. I've had kids in the school district for many years, and I never cease to wonder at the gullibility of local parents. In good times just as in bad times, the school district ALWAYS pleads impending doom of one kind or another and finds excuses to extort more money from Palo Alto voters, and it always works. They never learn.

Posted by Ohlone, a resident of Ohlone School
on May 4, 2010 at 10:22 pm

"thank you voters"

Posted by grateful, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Sharon, checked the cost of a comparable private school lately? With un- or mis-credentialed teachers.?

Posted by frank, a resident of Ventura
on May 4, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Thank you voters, my children are more than half way through our schools but I do not mind the higher taxes. We are paying for (and getting) excellence.

Posted by another thank you, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm

thank you voters, and thank you to the group "support palo alto schools 2010"

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Thank you voters!!!

589 per parcel - PAUSD
Castilleja = 32K
Menlo = 32K
Crescent Park Preschool = 16K for 10 months
Bing Preschool = 8.5K for 2 1/2 hours a day, 3 days a week

PAUSD = a bargain!!!

Posted by Fiscal responsibility, a resident of Stanford
on May 4, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Sharon and They Never Learn,

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your voices of reason!!! This tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend attitude in Palo Alto, CA and Washington DC needs to stop.


Please stop making up cheap shots/lies about the private school teachers. They are some of the very best. I should know - I spent years in private schools and the education was incredible. Much, much better than my public school teachers.

Posted by Fiscal responsibility, a resident of Stanford
on May 4, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Palo Alto Mom,

It is a "bargain" for you since folks with no kids help foot your bill with higher taxes. The parents of the private school kids don't have any taxpayer pockets to pick.... It would be nice if just one of you would thank us for footing your kid's education bills.

Posted by Thankful, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Thank you PA voters from a PA teacher!!!!! All the support is much appreciated! To, They Never Learn, you should try checking out other local districts and be thankful for what we have in our district. We have to ask for money from PA voters since it is getting cut at the state level.

Posted by Evan, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Ha, I think you're forgetting in the $589 equation that you already pay wayyyy more to live in Palo Alto, largely for the schools. But, as a graduate, they are damn good schools — I have no idea why you'd send your kids to a private school if they could attend PAUSD schools.

My friend (a teacher in Menlo Park) was about to get laid off if this didn't pass, so thank you voters!

I have to ask, though, why did this need a special election? Why waste millions to vote in May when there's a general election a month away?

Posted by Dear Measure A Volunteers, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Nicely done! Hooray for your efforts. Many thanks on behalf of the kids.

Posted by Fiscal Responsibility, a resident of Stanford
on May 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm


Why? Because govt officials don't know how to do ANYTHING efficiently. They just need to raise the taxes to pay for all their stupid decisions. Money may not grow on trees, but it can be found in taxpayer pockets....

Posted by JM, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Good job everyone!

Among all the taxes I pay, this is among the smallest ones, but it is the best, because it would be spent here on our kids, and indirectly on our community.

Posted by holding back, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 4, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Not sure if I'm happy or not about this. I'm all about supporting teachers and the school district. I grew up in Palo Alto and went to the schools. But my question...why should we pay more taxes when some teachers get paid full time when they only go teach part time? I know this for a fact, I know someone taking advantage of the schools money. Sorry but maybe some people need pick slips. I've been laid off several times and I'm still living not working the system. I've cut back on my spending, maybe others should as well.

Posted by holding back, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 4, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I slips

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2010 at 8:16 am

I personally feel embarrassed to belong to a PTA which has heartlessly hounded people over the past month to vote.

Posted by another parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2010 at 9:53 am

I too am embarrassed about the passing of Measure A.
I have two kids currently in the PAUSD system. I have volunteered extensively for the past 12 years. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am with our schools. It is no wonder that so many people hires tutors for their kids.

Posted by Private Parent, a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2010 at 11:10 am


People choose private schools even when they could go to PAUSD because PAUSD's education method (especially at the higher levels) is essentially, "Drown the kids in homework and hope their parents help them swim." That works pretty well because of PAUSD demographics (rich, college-educated parents who actually remember their math), but it is a pretty lame way of educating kids, especially economically disadvantaged kids.

Back when my children were been in PAUSD middle schools, they got very, very little feedback, particularly in their writing assignments. Edit and re-edit? Only after some basic peer review. Never once did they get what I consider good feedback on writing assignments. The only reason they got better feedback in math is because in math you either get the right answer or you don't.

PAUSD's overreliance on powerpoint and group projects instead of solid reading and writing assignments was very disappointing. The schools were teaching them to present instead of to think. I'll never forget the one powerpoint presentation my son did where the only feedback he got was regarding his choice of fonts. Absurd.

Private schools, especially at the high-school level, have teachers who only need to keep track of a dozen students per day rather than 100+ students a day, plus guidance counselors with caseloads far smaller. You get a counselor who actually has time to really get to know your kid. The personal experience is just vastly better because the student body is much smaller.

[And, FWIW, even though my family hasn't consumed PAUSD resources for years now, I did vote in favor of the tax. Good schools are very imporant, even for people who don't directly use them.]

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2010 at 11:12 am

Here's a 60's slogan that may apply: "Love it or leave it".

If you own a home, your relative wealth and equity is partially due to the school district's reputation. The schools attract families from all over the region to live in PA...which maintains the high value of your homes.

You may not have children now - but you did at some time (I'm assuming) and your children/family benefited from others paying into the district that may have not had children at the time --- it all balances out.

Don't like how the school district works? Attend school board meetings and get involved. Or run for the BoE. Don't have time, find a friend or advocate that shares your POV.

As far as I'm concerned - those who are unhappy are always going to be unhappy unless they get off their collected rear-ends and take action.

It is far too easy to criticize from sidelines people...

Posted by Parent Too, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

I agree that we were hounded too much by the PTAs and it was very, very frustrating.

I would like to thank all the people who voted for Measure A despite having children affected by it. Palo Altans really do care about education and that's why people move here.

Posted by Fiscal Responsibility, a resident of Stanford
on May 5, 2010 at 11:47 am

Crescent Park Dad,

There is another saying - stop spending so much money. This country is being buried under the spend and tax mentality.

Also, don't assume that we all must have had children or that we had children in the public school system. Many, many people, including myself, have never sent children through the public school system in Palo Alto (or anywhere else). But I have heard to the waste that does go on in the pulic school system. So, it does not all balance out.

As for getting involved, I already get involved in many volunteer activities. Now I need to get on the school board so as to make sure that taxpayer money is not wasted??? That is ridiculous.

Posted by anonymous2, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 5, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Hmmm.... and my favorite saying is "the best of the worst"!

Posted by they'll never learn, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2010 at 10:29 pm

To Evan who asked:

"I have to ask, though, why did this need a special election? Why waste millions to vote in May when there's a general election a month away?"

Very simple: having a special election for it increased the odds of passing the measure. Had it been included in a general election, it would have been more noticed by voters who were more likely to oppose it. Holding a special election for it made it more likely that people voting would be supporters of the measure. It all has to do with voter turnout.

Posted by Carlos, a resident of College Terrace
on May 5, 2010 at 10:40 pm

The fact that virtually all real estate values in town consistently move higher is largely due to the excellent reputation of Palo Alto schools. Ask any Realtor. Whether or not you now have, or ever have had, students in Palo Alto schools is nearly irrelevant.

Consistent investment in Palo Alto educational excellence, via a parcel tax which will now be $589 per year, is what makes this happen. Every Palo Altan is receiving a tremendous return on investment, no question about it.

Those with children in school score a meaningful bonus.

A rising tide raises all boats.

Posted by mjm, a resident of Gunn High School
on May 5, 2010 at 10:48 pm

The school district approved a 2.5% pay increase last May and had to increase the parcel tax to cover the raises. WHY has no one noticed this? I am SO MAD that NO ONE has mentioned this before. The current school board should be recalled. Authorizing a raise in this recession is SO WRONG...

ANY FUTURE contract negotiation should include the cost of benefits with salary. DO people know that the district covers 100% of health benefits (it is a cost) for the employee and their ENTIRE family???

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on May 6, 2010 at 1:38 am

"It would be nice if just one of you would thank us for footing your kid's education bills."

No way! I would instead add an extra tax onto the bills you pay for a private school.

The public school tax base has been eviscerated from where it was when public education excellence was more established. The whole STAR testing and charter school agenda was just part of a plan to dumb down public schools to little more than holding facilities ala privatized prisons....and let the wealthy just use vouchers for private schools.


And now you whine about "your pockets" for public education. I suppose if you could hire a private security firm to guard your house and chauffer your kids around you'd complain about your taxes going to the police force?

Enough, time to turn the tide and listen to the howling (General Sherman and Georgia come to mind).

Just getting started. More to come hopefully.

New book out about President Obama, it's a hilarious absurdity, but may provide cover or some rallying for a military coup.

Posted by Fiscal Responsibility, a resident of Stanford
on May 6, 2010 at 8:02 am


Great post!! New Jersey is having the same problem with their teachers. The Gov froze the raises for this year and is demanding that they pay some of their health care costs so as to save teacher jobs (right now NJ teachers also get 100% paid by the taxpayers + a very generous pension). How did the NJ teachers react? By organzing their students to cut school one day and protest and also by spending $millions on TV ads on TV chock full of factual inaccuracies.

A Noun Ea Mus,

If you don't like it here, why don't you move to some nice Socialist country? And see a therapist about you paranoi?

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on May 6, 2010 at 12:07 pm

No reason to move, plenty of work to still do here.

A therapist for paranoia?

Check out this link

Web Link

there is a link to the complete text. Nexmas is not the Republican fringe, more traditional (although the difference is getting small)

Just a snippet.

In a column published yesterday, Newsmax's John L. Perry wrote that there is a "gaining" possibility that the military will stage a coup to "resolve the 'Obama problem.'"

Newsmax has apparently removed the column from its site. Links are now redirected to the homepage, and Perry's author page has no mention of his latest work. You can read the full text here.

The coup -- which would be "civilized" and "bloodless," according to Perry -- would consist of a "patriotic general" sitting down with the President and working out a new system in which "skilled, military-trained, nation-builders" would "do the serious business of governing and defending the nation" while Obama would still be allowed to make speeches.

Obama, he said, is inviting such a "family intervention".

Then we have Joe Lieberman cashing in on the recent SUV parked in NYC in order to allow summary revocation of citizenship. Hey maybe they could just revoke Obama's citizenship.

I don't think this is likely...even if done with constitutional cover it would be a one-shot deal and "our" military would have powers akin to the PLA in China after the Cultural Revolution.

but this new book with it's abusrd "revelations" is adding gasoline to the fire. ]

The President is supposedly a usurper. Now being taxed is akin to having your pockets picked. Even a local school bond passing is portrayed as akin to being held up at the local 7-11.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Did anyone see what just happened to the Dow? Dropped 500 points in a matter of minutes

the Dow literally went off the chart on Google FinanceWeb Link

Posted by David, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2010 at 1:08 pm

OK, 79% yes. How many ballots were cast? The unwritten story is about this new technique of a mail-in ballot distributed weeks in advance. The "yeses" and "nos" probably returned their promptly. A large number of voters held on to theirs and let the opportunity to express their choice die.

And we also have the unusual campaign feature of urging seniors to vote yes, even though they can opt out. New variation on "no taxation without representation." Now it's "representation with no taxation."

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2010 at 1:13 pm


There is now speculation that the 1000 point collapse could have been a hack-----or maybe entering a B rather than an M on P&G trades.

'Machines took over' BBC Web Link

"This is an electronic market where bids can be canceled at the flick of a button, and everyone canceled at the same time," said Joe Saluzzi, of Themis Trading in New Jersey.

"We should be down big today, but not 1,000 points. This is an equity market structure issue, there's no major problem going on."

Computer trading is thought to have cranked up the losses, as programmes designed to sell stocks at a specified level came into action when the market started falling.

"I think the machines just took over," said Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital Group.

"There's not a lot of human interaction. We've known that automated trading can run away from you, and I think that's what we saw happen today."

Which is why there is speculation of a hack-- maybe a dry run

It was shades of 1987

Posted by they'll never learn, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Sharon your last two posts do NOT belong on this thread. It is very rude to intrude on a thread off-topic as you did. Would you please start your own thread for your comments on the Dow?

You sure are annoying.

Posted by get a life, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Sharon needs to get a life offline...

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2010 at 9:17 pm

It is all about economics

If the Greek economy folds, which seems inevitable, then Spain, Portugal, Ireland etc will follow-- the whole Eurozone will go into recession.
This will have profound effects on our local economy

1/ Eurozone Tech products will be much cheaper against the dollar
2/ Local companies will lose their sales to the Eurozone dramatically

We cannot spend beyond what we earn-- without dire consequences--
It is all very well to get emotional about local schools and libraries -- if you watched the markets today you see the uncertainty with money going to gold

Denial of economic reality and the impact on our local economy is naive and foolish

PA is living way beyond its means and California is now one of the least favorite business environments.

Denial is comforting in the short term but---

Posted by Fiscal Responsibility, a resident of Stanford
on May 6, 2010 at 10:15 pm


I agree with you - we are spending beyond our means in Palo Alto, in California and in the US. Yet, I see numerous posts with folks patting themselves on the back for voting for more taxes, which would allow more spending. It's unbelievable. People in Palo Alto clearly hide their heads in some fantasy world.

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on May 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I hope this dreadful outcome means that the "Yes" on Measure A signs will now all be taken down. I don't like the painful reminder of how we are constantly bled dry in this city.

Sharon, I appreciate your comments.

Posted by Lee Thé, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Voters should always vote NO on any measure placed in a special election--unless there's an emergency, such as a devastating earthquake, that requires not waiting for the next regular election.

Doing it this way meant that Measure A's backers were hoping for a low turnout so that the zealots would get their way. This is fundamentally undemocratic.

And voters should always vote NO on any measure that taxes the richest Palo Alto billionaire homeowner exactly the same number of dollars as the poorest out of work homeowner hanging on by his teeth. The opt-out for the elderly lessens the unfairness slightly, but doesn't change the fact that this is a regressive tax. Amazing that a Democratic town would enact such a thing.

These two facts made Measure A immoral, and peoples' votes for it selfish, not principled.

Both arguments would have gone away if Measure A had been put in a regular election, and if the tax was proportional to home value, as determined by Santa Clara County already.

All of this is true regardless of whether Palo Alto's schools truly need this money.

"The means reveal the ends." --Emma Goldman

Posted by What a Shame, a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm


"And voters should always vote NO on any measure that taxes the richest Palo Alto billionaire homeowner exactly the same number of dollars as the poorest out of work homeowner hanging on by his teeth." We already have that--it's called property taxes.

"The opt-out for the elderly lessens the unfairness slightly" Er, no, it makes it immoral.

"Both arguments would have gone away if Measure A had been put in a regular election, and if the tax was proportional to home value" Prop 13 guarantees that property taxes are rarely proportional to home value.

Posted by Albert Henning, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 10, 2010 at 10:22 am

To 'Fiscal Responsibility':

If you believe so strongly in the primacy of private elementary schools, and can afford to attend them, or to have your children attend them, then I do not understand why you live in Palo Alto. If your kids go to private schools anyway, why pay the Palo Alto housing premium, when you could get a better home for less money and lower taxes by living in the foothills in, say, Redwood City? [Possible answer: you've lived in Palo Alto so long, your property taxes are low anyway.]

PAUSD spends about half per pupil as compared to socio-economically similar communities in Kansas City, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, and Boston. While I agree there are always areas where budgets can be cut or regulated more strictly (including healthcare, and salary increases in the present economy), I don't see profligate spending as the norm for PAUSD.

In this election, I'm not happy with the 2% per year increase. But we've lived in our home for over 14 years now, and our property taxes are IMO quite low, and I don't see how another $200 or so per year is going to break the bank for most people. And we get a chance to vote again in six years, which seems reasonable to me.

But if it's problematic for you, then cash out and move. Nobody's forcing you to stay. 79% is a pretty convincing measure of the sense of the community on this issue.

Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 10, 2010 at 10:05 pm

To Lee The (sorry, I don't know how to make that little accent on your name.)

Why a tax that is the same for a billionaire and an unemployed homeowner? A fixed sum tax is a parcel tax. That means it is an equal sum from each parcel. Palo Alto can keep all that money, but spend it only for the purpose for which it was raised.

A proportional tax is called a property tax. When it is collected the county and the state get to take a share of it. On the other hand, it can go into the coffer and be available for whatever needs money next. It is just an increase in property tax, often used when the cost of living has moved too much or the city has taken on a new responsibility. The school district cannot levy a property tax and be assured of getting the proceeds.

Posted by Lee Thé, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 16, 2010 at 1:13 am

I note that neither "what a shame" nor "jb" addressed my point that special elections should only be held to deal with emergencies like a catastrophic regional earthquake. I don't care what the issue is--it's a form of vote manipulation.

I can't speak to "what a shame" thinking the elderly opt-out is immoral because he didn't say why he thought it was.

"what a shame" correctly notes that property taxes aren't proportional to home value. I was unclear on this point. What I meant to say was that an additional school tax would be fair if it were proportional to the county's assessed value for each home. That assessed value, governed by Prop. 13, is allowed to go up by a small percentage every year. It was that value I believe the school tax would need to be pegged to to make it responsive to the widely varying household incomes found in Palo Alto.

jb said the school district can't levy a "proportional property tax." I don't know whether this is true or not, but it sounds plausible.

I do know that given the extremely wide household income in Palo Alto, Measure A--however you parse it--amounts to a highly regressive tax, which is fundamentally unfair, legal or not.

The wages of Palo Alto school district employees were recently published in a local newspaper, and I hope everyone reading this comment thread looks at that--it's eye-popping, with hundreds of employees (including quite a few teachers) earning considerably more than the median income for Palo Alto taxpayers--even without taking into account healthcare and pension packages, or the fact that in the case of teachers at least it's for 9 months' work.

So Measure A enables a big chunk of PAUSD employees to make more than a big chunk of their employers--us. This in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Of course this is all after the fact--Measure A passed by the kind of majority guaranteed by doing it with a special election. And I'm sure that those who voted for it can, for the most part, easily afford it.

I wonder to what extent this reflects the gentrification of Palo Alto over the decades--and the gentry's quiet disdain for homeowners who couldn't buy their own home here now.

BTW all those funny characters such as the one in my name, or the tilde in some Spanish names, can be included by turning on NUMLOCK, then holding down the ALT key, then typing a three-number sequence on the numeric keypad, then releasing the ALT key. The "é" uses ALT-130, for example. And the "ñ" uses ALT-164.

The Mac does "é" using OPTION-E-E.

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