Tag Archives: San Luis Obispo

Arnold Aims A Neutron Bomb At California’s Schools

One of the most pernicious aspects of Arnold’s budget proposal, which despite some long overdue moves toward new revenue still relies on way too many cuts, is its impact on public schools. As I explained on New Year’s Day, Arnold’s budget proposal includes this devastating proposal:

The governor has proposed to ease the pain, in part, by accounting transfers involving state transportation funds and by deferring $2.8 billion in school payments from April to July. Wells said the state, by deferring payments for three months, would place an “awful” new burden on school districts to secure short-term loans.

At the time I predicted this would have an extremely negative impact on schools. And now we’re starting to see it, beginning in San Luis Obispo County:

Three San Luis Obispo County school districts may face funding shortfalls through 2011 if Gov. Arnold Schwarzen-egger’s latest round of budget cuts pass, a move the county’s top educator said will result in “extensive” layoffs of teachers and staff.

“I would say it’s one step short of an emergency,” county Superintendent of Schools Julian Crocker said Friday, noting the affected districts are Lucia Mar, Atascadero and Shandon.

Despite a double-dose of statewide funding reductions hitting schools at the beginning of the fiscal year and again in midyear cuts, the state requires that districts maintain a pool of reserve money. How much depends on how many students are enrolled.

What Arnold is doing is raiding school districts’ savings accounts. The delayed payment means they’ll have to dip into reserves. The ongoing funding cuts mean they will have a difficult time building the reserves back up. That will require laying off teachers and compromising educational quality. And in an NCLB environment that is a recipe for catastrophe, as schools will lose funding and Arnold can accomplish privatization through the back door.

The numbers:

The governor’s proposals would further reduce school funding countywide by a minimum of $14.2 million by the end of June 2010, Crocker said – resulting in a $48.5 million loss over the two years.

The countywide reduction represents a loss of approximately $34,000 per classroom, or about 15 percent of total district revenue.

Lucia Mar will lose an estimated additional $4.3 million, Atascadero will lose an additional $2 million and Shandon is projected to lose an additional $126,000 in ongoing revenue sources.

Shandon, a small town east of Paso Robles on Highway 46, is already proposing cutting bus service – imposing a huge burden on a rural population dependent on that service. And as most of SLO County districts are expecting to run into similar problems, soon educational quality is going to be impacted countywide – and statewide, as SLO County schools’ problems are almost certainly being experienced around the state.

It’s hard not to read this as a deliberate attack on public schools by a right-wing governor whose privatization crusade seems to extend now to our schools. IOUs and schools may just be what Californians need to wake up and start getting angry about this budget mess.

SLO County residents are especially well positioned to act. Their state legislators – Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee and Senator Abel Maldonado – are among the most important Republicans for us to target in getting to a 2/3rds vote on a sensible budget deal. SLO County parents ought to pay Blakeslee and Maldonado a visit and ask them why they’re willing to jeopardize their children’s future to fulfill a promise to Grover Norquist.

Crash The Gate In San Luis Obispo & Santa Maria: Day 2

Yesterday on Daily Kos, I explained how my candidacy for Assembly District Delegate in AD-33 was a classic example of “crashing the gate.” Younger volunteers from the Obama campaign are continuing to serve in their communities across the country.

In some communities, there is more than just a tiny bit of friction between us and the old timers and their clubs. I don’t begrudge these long term volunteers their positions. But I do begrudge them their monopoly on local party positions.

If San Luis Obispo is famous for anything, it’s probably the farmer’s market. 20+ years before I moved to the area, I remember my family talking about visiting SLO to go to the Farmer’s Market. Tonight, I went there and leafleted for my campaign.


Here I am on the new Court Street handing out leaflets tonight. This is something I never would have done before I attended a community organizer training with Central Coast United For Change in early December, where I was inspired by Walter Heath and Hilda Zacarias to get more involved in my community.

On that day, we were broken up into groups, and had three hours to pick a project. My group’s project involved raising public awareness for a local non-profit called Transitional Food & Shelter that helps disabled homeless people, who fall through the large cracks in our safety net. We handed out leaflets downtown and wrote a letter to the editor. My belief in this need forced me to overcome my awkward feelings about leafleting. I found most people either kindly decline or kindly accept. Just like my first canvassing experience in Nevada, it was not weird, in fact, it was rewarding.

The happy ending is that our small, little quick action resulted in a surge in donations. I later volunteered to do pro bono legal work for that organization, and started this diary after writing a letter on behalf of one of their clients.

So, tonight, learning what I learned from a group of Obama volunteers, my lovely wife (the cameraperson here) and I hit the pavement.

If that’s too grassrootsy for you, I also bought air time on the local Air America station, KYNS 1340. I got an e-mail from a fellow volunteer today saying, “Heard your radio spot today–didn’t know I was working with a soon-to-be celebrity!!” I sure hope so!

And if that’s too “old media” for you, I also have a very Web 1.0 website helping people sign up for the caucus at http://electstorm.com. I was distraught to see that pre-registration is closed. I don’t remember that on the organizing conference call. I hope people who show up a bit late don’t get the Ken Blackwell Ohio 2004 treatment from our local Democrats!

I’m also planning on sending out some e-mails! I’m so 2002!

I’m a lawyer. It must mean I’m adopted. My mom is a teacher. My dad was a teacher. My wife is a teacher. My mother-in-law is even a teacher! Growing up with a widowed teacher for a mom in California’s High Desert taught me to appreciate the sacrifices teachers make. Some of my wife’s friends from school have been kind enough to support me, I believe, for that reason.

I will always stick up for teachers-that’s my mama you’re talkin’ about!

If any of you are in the Central Coast/San Luis Obispo/Santa Maria area and can come out to our party caucus, please do, regardless of whom you vote for. We made a big leap in the federal elections last year, but California is in desperate straits, and we need the energy people brought to last year’s election to carry over to bring California back.

Hope to see you Sunday!

San Luis Obispo Convergence on Presidents Day Weekend

The idea is to converge in San Luis Obispo on Presidents Day weekend.  You can read additional details in this previous Diary; California Dreaming Convergence – Presidents Day  – San Luis Obispo

This may become the first get together of Northern AND Southern California Kossacks and progressive bloggers.

Navajo (of SF Kossacks and co-organizer) and I are trying to get a head count. This way we can get some group discounts going for room rates and function rooms.

In any case I will be there on Friday Feb 15 and stay until Feb 18.


If you plan to attend write me at shockwaveatinorbitdotcom




Robbing Peter to Build for Paul: Rural/Urban Divide over Bond Money

As noted here a few days back, the California Transportation Commission voted earlier this week to  allocate billions more from the recent highway bond to urban projects, including the widening of the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass.

Unfortunately, to do this, the CTC robbed the rural Peter to pay for the urban Paul’s freeway widening, and the folks in Mendocino, San Luis Obispo, and Fontana are *pissed*. Mendocino, which lost funding for the Willits bypass on Highway 101, had this to say, from the Ukiah Daily Record:

“This is clearly a blatant display of power politics disguised as a competitive process. There’s not any other way of saying it,” Dow said, adding that the nine governor-appointed commissioners, not one of whom lives north of the Golden Gate Bridge, acted as if their function was “to bring home the bacon to whatever community they came from,” rather than address the entire state’s needs.

As elfling pointed out last week here at Calitics:

I lived in Los Angeles for most of my life. The traffic in Willits easily compares to the worst of LA. At some times of day the town is in total gridlock. It’s a safety issue, since there are no alternate routes, and logging trucks and semis compete with people driving to Safeway or ambulances trying to get to the hospital.

If you are driving between San Francisco and Eureka, I suggest allocating 30 minutes to travel the 5 miles through Greater Willits.

Steve Lopez, at the LA Times’ Bottleneck Blog, also describes how Fontana feels the shaft:

Said S.B. supervisor Josie Gonzales: “I think it’s definitely a sign of big government versus small government. As the Inland Empire is becoming a force, we are competing one on one with Los Angeles for the same funds. We are a metropolis in the making, and we are trying not to experience the same problems as Los Angeles.”

Who else lost out? Lopez again tallies the casualties:

San Luis Obispo County watched in vain as $58 million to widen a bridge on Highway 101 across the Santa Maria River evaporated.

This bridge is OLD, and narrow, and a bottleneck between Santa Maria, one of the state’s fastest growing cities, and San Luis Obispo’s South County, cities like Nipomo and Arroyo Grande.

A recommendation that Imperial County get $29 million to build a freeway bypass in Brawley was rejected.

Imperial County, one of the state’s poorest, as well as its most heavily Latino, could have used this as a way to spur economic development and to better connect the El Centro-Calexico-Mexicali region north to the Coachella Valley.

Now I’m not saying that the urban areas couldn’t use the money, or that freeways are the best method of rural transportation (although as elfling notes, the Willits bottleneck IS a huge safety problem as well as an inconvenience). But it does seem unfortunate that urban areas won out over deserving rural projects.

I don’t believe the answer is for us to get involved in a fundamentally neoliberal argument of trying to determine who wins and who loses. We need to find ways to rebuild our infrastructure that don’t force urban and rural areas to fight it out.

Further, this suggests to me that the state and the metro areas need to work more closely on crafting solutions for moving people that don’t rely on freeways. You can only widen the 405 or the 101 so much, before you have a freeway too wide to be functional (and nevermind the inevitable homeowner revolts such a project would cause).

It doesn’t have to look like a dream map of SoCal mass transit – although that’d be nice – but to avoid these unfortunate fights, either we “grow the pie” or we find other ways to move people.

Of course, in the end, it comes back to things out of the control of cities and metro areas. The state needs to sort out its financial priorities, and with a federal government wasting nearly $500 billion on stupid wars, money that could otherwise have been used to build both the Willits Bypass and the subway to the sea, along with a whole bunch of other progressive land use projects.