CUSD’S “Push Poll” for a Parcel Tax


Posted by on Thu, November 19, 2009

CUSD ran a ‘Push Poll’ last week. It was run by the same folks who ran the last one - EMC.
After the poll, CUSD’s Board Members Jolanda Schreurs and Dwight Wilson eventually and reluctantly owned up to it.

In that poll, the School Board ranked a little below that of a used car salesperson on the ‘trust’ level. Apparently they didn’t like those results, so the ‘Push Poll".

Does anyone else remember that School Board member John Moseley said last year that he would not bring another Parcel Tax to the ballot?

For those not familiar with the term “Push Poll", here is my example:

Now that you know that the CUSD Board squandered half of the Fifty Million Dollar Construction Budget, Gave the Superintendent an obscene pay increase in secret, contrary to state law, and followed it up again allowing him to write - again in secret - a ‘consulting contract’ for himself, which he was not qualified for, to squandered another Quarter Million Dollars -
Would you vote for a Parcel Tax?

One of the most interesting questions was: "Do you read the Half Moon Bay Review?" A ‘publication’ that runs stories apparently unedited from the PR pieces turned out by CUSD.

The Parcel Tax is targeted for the June 2010 election. Does any of this sound familiar? Six doomed Parcel Taxes!

They are not weighing whether to commit suicide again; but whether to ask for: $125/year, $175/ year or $250/year!

They are calling 400 registered voters in the district, which makes it roughly a 2.5% sample. 

I had a professor in AI who defined “Intelligence” as the property of learning how not to repeat the same mistake twice.
And from another discipline, a definition of “Insanity” as repeating the same mistake over and over and over again and expecting a different result!

Ken Johnson

P.S. Last time they put the size of the Parcel Tax in terms of giving up a specialty coffee item. I am way past that!
I am just trying to make it through “The Great Depression II”.
The first of the sales in the “Latest Unclassified ads” above: excess computer spare components and systems above to keep PG&E on.

Comment 1
Thu, November 19, 2009 6:51am
Barry Parr
All my comments

I was also called on that poll, and I think it’s important understand that CUSD’s not running it. It’s an independent organization with its own funding and board. Although there’s a lot of overlap with the current board’s political base.

I believe that the primary purpose of the poll is to figure out how to sell the parcel tax to the voters, considering how much difficulty they’ve had in past. They’re testing sales pitches, so it is going to feel like a push poll.

Having said that, I was surprised that one of the pitches they were testing was that the district completed the middle school “on time and on budget”.

Comment 2
Thu, November 19, 2009 8:39am
Ken Johnson
All my comments

“District completed the middle school “on time and on budget”.”

HaHaHa - OH, too funny, Barry!

“on time”? Depends on which decade and which schedule they are speaking of?

“on budget”? They ran out of money before finishing up!

Maybe I haven’t driven past Cunha recently enough!

Can’t seem to find this on CUSD’s web site any longer -
The School District apparently lost it!

Fortunately, for them, I archived their site; as well as what was presented to the City!

So much for run by an “independent group” - that was ‘their’ claim last time!

Ken Johnson

Comment 3
Thu, November 19, 2009 8:49am
Ken Johnson
All my comments

If you are having problem seeing photo:


Comment 4
Thu, November 19, 2009 9:09am
David Chang
All my comments

I was also a poll participant. It was pretty obvious after the first few questions that they were trying to frame ballot wording. That notwithstanding, as a research device it was far too long and I found my attention drifting from the tediously long questions and shifting answer selections. If I were evaluating the data, I’d be very wary of drawing any hard conclusions because the survey instrument was so flawed.

Comment 5
Thu, November 19, 2009 1:18pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

I agree the questionnaire was pretty weak. I’ve done enough questionnaire design to feel the thing floundering as we talked. If I remember correctly, a lot of the responses were forced in unproductive ways.

As I have said, a successful parcel tax is probably not going to happen until we get some new leadership on the CUSD governing board.

4 out 5 members of the current CUSD board are still living in the bygone Wavecrest area where they think its ok to to play pro-development politics like pushing AB 1991 rather than doing the job they were elected to do, which is to improve the local schools.

There you have it: Ken Johnson is opposed to a parcel tax. (That’s news?) Doesn’t matter what sacrifices CUSD has made. Doesn’t matter how the money raised will be spent. Doesn’t matter how it’ll benefit the students. Ken Johnson is opposed to it. He doesn’t need to see the plan; it’s not how he’d do it. I hope the rest of you will be more objective. (Just like they teach you in school.) Read first, then decide.

Comment 8
Tue, November 24, 2009 7:52am
Barry Parr
All my comments

I think Ken is saying that the current CUSD board does not have the confidence of the two-thirds of the public, which they will need to pass the tax. That’s a reasonable inference to draw from the history of past parcel tax votes.

I haven’t seen any recognition by the CUSD board of this fact since the last parcel tax failed.

Full disclosure: I strongly support a parcel tax in theory. However, as Joel recommends, I’m withholding judgement until I see the actual measure.

Comment 9
Tue, November 24, 2009 12:45pm
All my comments

I remain ambivalent about yet another parcel tax. Unlike Barry, I oppose parcel taxes in general as regressive and discriminatory; it’s not the way we (as a state) should be funding our schools. On the other hand, the post-prop-13 constitution gives school districts no other practical mechanism to raise significant funds.

I don’t quite see how CUSD deserves credit for “making sacrifices”; they have a top-line budget that’s largely out of their control, both on the revenue and expense side, and that’s an end to it. No praise, no blame, except that they’ve managed to stay out of bankruptcy—no great distinction.

The state of the economy makes this a rather poor time to be asking homeowners for money. Maybe times will be better by next November, but I’m sure that election will be fought over the economy, which isn’t likely to create a tax-friendly atmosphere.

I do not think that the district has done a good job in the past of determining how the proceeds of a tax would be spent. What the district wants is a bigger budget, with the flexibility to spend it as they wish. That has translated into a rather vague laundry list of stuff that the board hopes will appeal to voters, or stuff (like class-size reduction) that we’re already paying for and the threat of loss is effective.

I think that’s a mistake. I’d be much more inclined to vote for a tax that was targeted at one or two things of obvious benefit that wouldn’t be done otherwise. I’d like to see a full busing program, but I concede that it wouldn’t do much to help the rest of the budget. I’d also vote for a tax devoted to closing the Hispanic-Anglo performance gap.

We’ll see, I suppose.

I understand that the glass rotunda shown in the photo (the way D hall was originally going to look) had to be changed when $1 million of the bond measure was lost when Lehman Brothers went under.  That was where the Administration, Psychologist, Counselors, etc. were going to be housed.  Now everyone is staying where they are.
Notice the new lettering above the Main Office building that went up yesterday?

Regarding the parcel tax, is it true we are one of the only districts in the County of San Mateo that has not passed a parcel tax to support the schools?  Just curious.

With over a $2 million dollar shortfall next year, it’s going to get interesting.  I’m sure my job will be on the chopping block again.

Comment 11
Wed, November 25, 2009 5:35am
All my comments

Re “new lettering”, no, what does it say?

I hadn’t heard about the lost rotunda; that’s a shame. At the risk of highjacking this thread, I’ll say that I was puzzled by the architects’ choice to go Santa Fe; I was expecting (hoping for) more of a WPA Deco look.

(And yes, the budget is only going to get worse, judging from the flood of bad news from Sacramento.)

The new lettering says:

Manuel F. Cunha Intermediate School
Main Office

(or whatever the middle initial is…..)

The budget is going to be disheartening.  They are telling us everything outside the classroom will go:  libraries, counselors, ELD classes, electives, class size reduction…..just think anything outside the classroom.

Comment 13
Wed, November 25, 2009 10:05am
Barry Parr
All my comments

I agree with Jonathan that a parcel tax is a lousy way to raise revenue. Not only is it regressive and discriminatory by its nature, but the political necessity of exempting seniors makes it arbitrary as well.

What definition of “senior” does the proposed CUSD parcel tax use?  And I can’t be the only one who has a problem with people who are exempt from a tax being allowed to vote for it.  (Even though I guess I’ll soon be eligible for such an exemption.)  If we’re going to exempt seniors, then this needs to be a landowner-vote and only the landowners who would pay the tax get to vote.

As a relevant side note, I have to say that I always vote against any special cases to Prop 13 because Prop 13 was and remains a hugely defective solution to the State Legislature’s arrogant and incompetent refusal to deal with way-too-high property taxes.  The more people who get treated specially under prop 13, the less support there is for fixing it right.

Only property-related services (police, fire, local streets, local parks, streetlights, etc) should be funded from property taxes.  Then property tax would be low enough without needing some bad law like Prop 13.  Any other functions worth funding should be funded in some other way.

Comment 15
Thu, November 26, 2009 8:47am
All my comments

I don’t recall the precise definition of “senior”, but it’s set in the constitution (via Prop 13) as part of the parcel tax clause. The district can adopt the exemption or not, but beyond that they don’t control it.

And it’s worth remember the distinction between ad valorem property taxes and flat-rate parcel taxes in California.

Comment 16
Tue, December 1, 2009 2:56pm
Carl May
All my comments

The regular reapplications for the senior exemption required in past local parcel tax measures are a hassle anyway. It’s easier for a senior to just say “no” at election time if not having to pay is important.