With one new member, school board looks ahead | November 9, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 9, 2012

With one new member, school board looks ahead

Voters back two incumbents, newcomer Heidi Emberling, for board seats

by Chris Kenrick

Following a hard-fought election for three spots on the Palo Alto Board of Education, newcomer Heidi Emberling, a parent educator, will join two returning incumbents, Melissa Baten Caswell and Camille Townsend, on the dais Tuesday, Dec. 4.

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Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly.com.


Posted by Palo Alto parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:37 am

If I may say, the end of the article seems like a lot of demands from a soundly defeated candidate. Sort of like Romney trying to set the agenda going forward....

Posted by paly parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

I am all for Gunn getting the TA system if they want it. But then I ask that Paly get reduced class sizes like Gunn whatever the cost. This too is an issue of equity. I hope Play parents will keep this in mind.

Posted by Ok...
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Seriously, perhaps the Daubers et al have learned something from all this and will moderate their tactics and try to work more effectively with the district and board on the issues that concern them. That would be great - even if you disagree with their views, they have a good contribution to make.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 9, 2012 at 9:13 am

I am slightly saddened by the result. No disrespect to either Melissa or Camille, but I had hoped for more change on the Board. This board has had this make-up for a long time and fresh faces were needed. True, Heidi is a new face, but her experience is mainly with elementary issues which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that she will be doing a lot of learning on the job.

Politicking aside, I think this election should have focused more on the issues rather than the methodology of the candidates race. I am not a fan of politicking, but I do think that ultimately we are suffering as a result of it. We need to get a good broad spectrum of views to support our kids and to enable full deliberations on each decision, and Ken would have provided that. I don't think I agree with all his views, but I appreciate the fact that he would have made sure the issues were raised.

Posted by Bully
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2012 at 9:21 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I think it is obvious that there was a negative campaign and apparently it's not over yet--- you still have gloating to do. This isn't a national election or a state election. It's a local race in a small town. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by kbomar
a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 9, 2012 at 11:44 am

kbomar is a registered user.

Sadly, I think students were the real losers in this election. Students overwhelmingly endorsed Ken Dauber because he was willing to champion the issues that mattered to them as well as over 10,000 parents in the district who voted for Ken. No one else on the board has been willing to do so. They were willing to mobilize forces with a very negative campaign to keep Ken off the board, and they've done it. But the voter rejection of Ken Dauber was also a rejection of an agenda to make student well-being our top priority. I hope the elected board members consider this. Hopefully one of them will step up and show some leadership on these issues.

Posted by determinant
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm

determinant is a registered user.


"Heidi is a new face, but her experience is mainly with elementary issues"
It's about time we had someone on the board focusing on elementary issues.
Heidi was the only candidate that came across as providing any empathy with elementary students and parents. The other candidates seemed to treat them as an afterthought instead of making them a focus and having any sort of plan. The calendar fiasco was a prime example of this.

Posted by Nadine Gordimer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Nadine Gordimer is a registered user.

I was very surprised to receive an extremely negative email from Mandy Lowell and Walt Hays that attacked Ken Dauber’s character. Ms. Lowell and Mr. Hays were campaigning on behalf of the two incumbents. I have heard this email was circulated to thousands of voters and PAUSD parents. The email was fraught with misrepresentations of Mr. Dauber’s positions on the issues and described him as a caustic verbal bomb thrower who would be unable to transform himself into a respectful leader. This attack on Mr. Dauber’s character was in violation of the California Code of Fair Campaign Practices:
Section 20440
(2) I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT the use of character defamation, whispering campaigns, libel, slander, or scurrilous attacks on any candidate or his or her personal or family life.
(6) I SHALL IMMEDIATELY AND PUBLICLY REPUDIATE support deriving from any individual or group that resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of my opponent, to the methods and tactics that I condemn. I shall accept responsibility to take firm action against any subordinate who violates any provision of this code or the laws governing elections.
According to my reading of the code, the candidates should have publicly repudiated this attack and yet ALL were silent. Only Barbara Klausner had the courage to speak out in a letter to the editor published in all of the local papers a few days before the election. She wrote that “Mr. Dauber has been an outspoken advocate at board meetings for certain changes, primarily revolving around academic stress and student well-being. He has been insistent and consistent with his calls for change and transparency. His tone at our meetings has always been civil and his comments have been result-oriented and data driven. In fact, the district has recently moved forward on several of the issues embraced by Mr. Dauber, and his comments have contributed to the depth and breadth of our discussion. He has not always prevailed with the results that he specifically desired, but he has continued to engage constructively and with civility in our public discourse.
If Mr. Dauber is elected to the board, he would be but one of five board members. I expect that he would be an active, result-oriented board member who is smart enough to recognize that collaboration and compromise are necessary components to effecting positive change as a board member. To the extent his calls for change truly differ from his colleagues, they would continue to be tempered by the four other voices on the board.”
Mandy Lowell was interviewed by The Daily Post yesterday in regards to the election results. She made no mention of the negative campaign she ran against Ken Dauber. She said that "[Mr. Dauber] ran a very strong pitch but the public wasn’t persuaded." I think the public was persuaded but many who supported Mr. Dauber’s positions were persuaded to vote against him based on unethical campaigning full of falsehoods and scurrilous attacks on his character.

I think that Mr Dauber ran a great campaign. I thank him for running and raising the community awareness about the social emotional health of our students. I hope he continues to advocate for our students and that those of you who were inspired by his campaign will remain active in this most important community conversation.

Posted by determinant
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm

determinant is a registered user.

The email was the editorial endorsements from the Daily Post and has been covered in this thread: Web Link
Sending out copies of endorsements is not a violation of the California Code of Fair Campaign Practices. You can't pick and choose which endorsements are allowed.

Posted by soccerdad
a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm

soccerdad is a registered user.

Yes but it's a violation if you know what's in it is false. And you did.

Posted by soccerdad
a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

soccerdad is a registered user.

Can a candidate just distribute knowing falsehoods if they are published first by someone else? Can you just send out the National Enquirer? How about "the Palo Alto Free Press"? Nope. That's why there was a need for a surrogate. Luckily we had just the right person for the job-- someone with a lot of experience in negative campaigning and willing to pay whatever the price might be in social censure, which will probably be nothing anyway.

Posted by Nadine Gordimer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Nadine Gordimer is a registered user.

I agree with Soccerdad. While the California Code of Fair Practices does not apply to newspapers it does apply to Candidates and their campaigns. All of the candidates were aware of the negative whispering campaign directed against Mr. Dauber that was parroted by the Post and ALL were silent. I would be curious to know what sources the Post relied on when they misrepresented Mr Dauber's positions. They don't represent Mr Dauber's public statements to the board or his written statements that are publicly available on his website.

Posted by determinant
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

determinant is a registered user.

Sounds like we're at the "bargaining" phase.

Posted by Spectator at Large
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Spectator at Large is a registered user.

Determinant: [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Mr. Dauber has done his level best to run a fair campaign focused on the issues. He has not attacked the character of his opposition like you seem so prone to do. He has been gracious in defeat and you should be gracious in victory. It's over so move on and get busy figuring out how our kids are going to benefit by your presence in our district. I am sure that Ken and his people will be doing the same.

Posted by Soccerdad
a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Soccerdad is a registered user.

By bargaining do you mean reading the regulations and figuring out which rules were broken and by whom? I am confused about what you mean by bargaining. I think a large segment of the community wants to know what the rules are and whether the play was all fair. It's just too bad that there is no competitor paper to the Post that could do investigative reporting on the questions Nadine poses. Boy that would be neat.

Posted by determinant
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm

determinant is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Fred is a registered user.

Too bad these partisans cannot accept their loss gracefully. They claim others smeared their candidate - and then it turns out they circulated a newspaper editorial. Then they claim the editorial was a smear. I did not see the "widely circulated" email but I did see the editorial, which seemed perfectly appropriate to me.

But I hope and believe this is a small minority of Mr. Dauber's supporters. Mr. Dauber received feedback from the community through the course of the campaign, including some negative feedback on his past actions. I expect he will take the lessons to heart and be more effective going forward - I hope so. I think his heart is in the right place and he has a contribution to make.

Posted by soccerdad
a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm

soccerdad is a registered user.

Fred, as you well know there were dozens if not hundreds of emails circulating in Palo Alto as it became more evident that Ken was gaining support. As the author of the below email notes, he is sending it because "there is a real threat he could be elected."

This is the epitome of a whispering campaign. You know that this happened -- you were probably involved in it. Let's cut the crap. Some of the campaigns did not play by the rules. They used a coordinated whispering campaign, led by Mandy Lowell and Walt Hays, who were on the campaign committees for Caswell and Townsend, as surrogates to propagate this garbage in order to stave off the "threat that he could be elected," aka "democracy." You won because you did not play by the rules.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online due to quoting unverifiable third-party email.]

So please stop denying that these emails existed, Literally thousands of voters received them. So the question is, was this a coordinated whispering campaign waged by Camille Townsend and if not why didn't Townsend dissociate herself as required by FEPC rules from Lowell and Hays (and others like [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] who participated in writing scurrilous and untrue letters to the editor attacking Dauber's reputation and accusing him of wanting to falsely make all decisions in the district or repeating the lie that Kevin Skelly would leave the district if Dauber was elected -- a false fear tactic debunked by the News in its editorial endorsing Dauber).

There are many unanswered questions about the tactics used in this election against Dauber, how they were coordinated, who paid for them, and whether the candidates whose committees used these tactics violated their pledges to the FEPC by failing to denounce them.

Posted by soccerdad
a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm

soccerdad is a registered user.

Further, why didn't Townsend and Caswell simply make the same public statement that Barbara Klausner made in response to Hays, Lowell, and Collins that Ken would be a fine board member, though one with whom they had some policy disagreements. Even John McCain refused to call Obama a Muslim. Why didn't they even say that they wanted a positive campaign, that they did not want any negative campaigning on their behalf and that they appreciated Ken's civil tone and the issue-focused campaign he was running? When asked to do so during the campaign they declined. They knew that this was going on by people close to their campaigns and on their committees. Why didn't they make any statement asking for a clean campaign?

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