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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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School board should heed advice from council members

Uploaded: Mar 17, 2016
City Council members offered school trustees some excellent advice at their meeting this week—be careful about putting a bond measure on the November ballot.
Several statewide measures concerning money are headed for the ballot, including a $9 billion school construction bond issue as well as one to extend the “temporary” tax increases that Governor Brown sold to voters in 2012 (he has not been in favor of the extension). There also will be a proposition to require statewide votes on capital projects of more than $2 billion as well as likely a proposition dealing with shifting money from the absurd bullet train project to water storage.
Bottom line: it is very likely to be a crowded ballot with propositions plus the presidential election, the election of a California senator as well as the Pleasanton council. The presidential election likely will drive a large turnout, which may or may not, be good for a local school bond.
A polling firm hired by the district is currently testing public opinion about a potential bond. It would be premature to make any decision before seeing those results, but ducking November’s crowded ballot may be a sensible choice. Many districts have been successful with either special elections or tying into primary elections with lower turnout.
Some doctrinaire thought says a large Democratic turnout is good for bond measures—particularly in Alameda County. Pleasanton’s registration is substantially more balanced than the Bayside cities so that approach may not be the best.
Wow—we may be seeing the first Miracle March since 1991. I remember that year well. I was sitting in Gov. Pete Wilson’s roundtable briefing for editorial writers when he pointed out just how miserable the rainfall and snowfall had been to date.
This year, despite warnings of the strongest El Nino is years, February was amazingly dry and pleasant (great golf or hiking weather). That followed good rain and snow levels in December and January. February sent all of the “year-to-date” totals way below normal and into danger zones for another year of drought and even tougher usage restrictions.
Fortunately, March rain and snowfall seems to be erasing that and fortunately is doing it with minimal flooding and other problems. There has been plenty of rainfall in Sonoma County, but is has been spread out just enough that the Russian River has not hit flood stage—the same is true for the rest of the state.
We had eight inches of rain this month through Monday at my house. Meanwhile, the key reservoirs (Shasta and Oroville) were both over the normal storage for this date. The Tri-Valley’s Delta-conveyed water comes from Oroville that is now at 103 percent of normal for March 15.
That’s a huge change from the end of February when Oroville was at about 30 percent of normal storage. Equally importantly, the storms added significantly to the snow pack—the slowly melting water source that fills the reservoirs in the spring and summer.
While El Nino has been great news for California, it has been dismal for Heart for Africa, an organization I support and have served in Swaziland (a tiny kingdom surrounded by South Africa). The El Nino brings rain and snow to California, but has the opposite effect in the Southern Hemisphere.
I received an email yesterday from Ian Maxwell, the president of Heart for Africa, who lives in Swaziland on Project Canaan with his wife, Janine. They are the co-founders and currently run the children’s home with more than 100 orphans as well as a major farming operation. The rainfall has been so light that neither dam on the 2,500-acre property has filled so they have suspended farming operations and are laying off more than 40 workers so they can ensure there is enough water in the bore holes (wells) to serve the children’s home as well as the diary and egg operations.
It’s the right decision, but a very difficult one. For more information about Heart for Africa, please see www.heartforafrica.org.

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