Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sneaky Funding Mechanism to Urbanize Marin

11 Things You Need to Know About the Dangers of the New Redevelopment Agencies for Marin.

Redevelopment and the California Jobs and Education Development Initiative (JEDI) Act

return-of-the-empire cover

  1. BRINGING BACK REDEVELOPMENT:
    Governor Jerry Brown and the California legislature abolished redevelopment agencies in 2011. The agencies were infamous for abusing eminent domain, engaging in corruption and steering vital public funds away from schools and fire departments. The JEDI Act seeks to revive redevelopment agencies.
     
  2. EXPANDS AGENCIES’ POWERS:
    If passed, the JEDI Act would be one of the most significant expansions of government power in decades. Not only would it resurrect redevelopment agencies, it would grant them more power than they previously had.
     
  3. ONE OF THE WORST FOR ABUSE:
    Redevelopment made California one of the worst states in the nation for eminent domain abuse. It enabled the government to replace existing property owners with wealthier ones.
     
  4. EXPANDING BLIGHT:
    The JEDI Act would create an even more expansive definition of “blight” to condemn private property and give it to politically-connected developers and corporations. For instance, an area would show signs of blight if unemployment rates in the area exceed the national average. Under this definition, the entire state shows signs of “blight.”
     
  5. UNELECTED AND UNACCOUNTABLE:
    Redevelopment agencies are unelected and unaccountable governmental bodies that have very few restrictions on their power.
     
  6. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF ACRES:
    By 2011, there were 425 redevelopment agencies in California administering 750 project areas, 34 of which were over 6,000 acres. In one example, the entire city of Westminster, south of Los Angeles, was declared a redevelopment zone.
     
  7. REDEVELOPMENT HURT LOW INCOME AREAS:
    Those displaced by redevelopment were often low-income minorities or the elderly, whose property was bulldozed to make way for big box retailers, professional sports teams and auto retailers.
     
  8. JOBS? WHAT JOBS?:
    Redevelopment did nothing to increase the overall number of jobs in California. In 2011, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office actually found that “there is no reliable evidence that [redevelopment] attracts business to the state or increases overall regional economic development.”
     
  9. DEBT —LOADS OF IT:
    A redevelopment agency can only receive property tax revenue from its redevelopment area if it goes into debt. By 2011, the long-term debt of the agencies stood at $29.8 billion and their share of total statewide property taxes grew to 12 percent.
     
  10. BLIGHTED FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE:
    The JEDI Act allows redevelopment plans to last forty years into the future and removes a time limit on when redevelopment agencies have to repay their debt.
     
  11. REDEVELOPMENT OFTEN DIDN’T REDEVELOP:
    Redevelopment agencies spent just 13 percent of their funds on project improvements and construction costs, while most of their funds went to debt repayments or paying municipal bills in towns where elected city officials often doubled as redevelopment agency personnel.

Light Rail and Solar farms fails to deliver "Paradise" in Hawaii

Washington Post: Use of Public Transit Isn’t Surging


Panos Prevedouros, PHD, professor of Engineering at the University of Hawaii

BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD

Three professors from Columbia, Cornell and Rutgers take the deceitful data of the American Public Transit Association to task and while at it, they also reveal the expensive nothingness that public transit is in the U.S., excluding a few mega-cities.


APTA

Transit users took 10.65 billion trips in 2013, topping the previous record of 10.59 billion trips in 2008.
There is a fundamental change in American travel behavior: a nation moving away from driving and toward more efficient and sustainable public transit.

3 Professors

APTA’s numbers are deceptive, and this interpretation is wrong. Transit is a small and stagnant part of the transportation system.
Transit receives about 20% of U.S. surface transportation funding but accounts for 2% to 3 % of all U.S. passenger trips. In fact, use of mass transportation has remained remarkably steady, and low, since about 1970. There is nothing exceptional about 2013 numbers; they represent a depressing norm.
New York alone accounts for a third of all transit travel. Transit use outside New York declined in absolute terms last year. No one should pretend [that congestion and pollution] problems are spontaneously solving themselves because Americans have decided en masse to ride transit instead of driving.
Building transit systems is not the same as having people ride them, and people riding transit more is not the same as people driving less (plenty of transit riders are people who used to walk). Additionally, transit is not the only viable alternative to using a car. The environment is helped when drivers switch to buses but also when drivers switch to bikes.

What is Honolulu Rail Really About?

During the proceedings at the 9th Circuit Court in HonoluluTraffic.com v. Federal Transit Administration, the City's lawyer asserted that the purpose of the rail is to "reduce reliance on the private automobile," "promote smart growth land use policies," and "provide an equitable alternative for low-income populations and transit-dependent communities."
The quick summary of these purposes is that Honolulu rail is about land development, and land and transportation controls for “sustainability.”  Yes but what does this really mean?  It means that the core outcome of the promotion of rail is the promotion of poverty:

(1) "Reduce reliance on the private automobile" –people will continue to be dependent on cars but they will have to also pay for a much larger transit system.
(2)  "Promote smart growth land use policies" –all of these policies will lead to high rents and far more expensive land parcels. While lenders and developers will prosper (often with tax credits and breaks), the people will suffer from higher prices and taxes.
(3)  "Provide an equitable alternative…” –social science research indicates that the provision of private transportation is the quickest tool out of unemployment because a person can reach many more places to find a job compared to public transportation. Transit goes to fewer places; lower mobility means more unemployment and underemployment.
(4)  Entirely absent is the purpose of reducing traffic congestion. Rail won’t reduce congestion. Traffic congestion in 2020 with rail will be far worse than it is now: Worse congestion, lower mobility, worse quality of life, and worse off economy.

Also entirely absent is the public’s ability to pay for the rail vis-a-vis mounting local liabilities for infrastructure and social programs. San Juan, PR is leading the way (currently in economic collapse) and Honolulu is following in the same path.

HECO Solar?

Poncho Solar, Haleakala Solar, Kumu Kit Solar and now HECO Solar?
HECO proposed for example a large PV deployment on pristine land next to the power plant at Kahe point.
I have a slogan for HECO’s solar farm proposals: “We get the savings, you get the bills.
The PUC must not approve any of these proposals.
Instead the PUC should direct the power monopoly to expedite private property rooftop PV deployment.

Also see The Public and Private Versions of Solar Power and Hawaii Energy Policy Has Driven up Electric Bills as HECO Maintains Profits.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Night Music-Living in America James Brown and Funk mix

Senator Rand Paul speaks on Domestic Surveillance at Berkeley



Senator Rand Paul speaks on domestic surveillance at Berkeley and receives a standing ovation.

On Government "Charity"


Bruce Anderson letter to the Marin IJ: "Much Ado about Nothing"

Letter to the Editor from Bruce Anderson on March 23, 2014

Much ado about nothing!

Bruce Anderson

They say they yelled because they were not heard. But their yelling didn't allow them to hear the truth.

The county housing element was just a planning exercise and did not lock in massive affordable housing development in Marinwood or Lucas Valley. We know that now because the county Community Development Agency just announced the process for the next housing element — an inventory of available building sites.

The new housing element will have to account for 185 potential housing units in the same 16 locations across the county. No, this is not an additional 185 units.It is a replacement for the 773 units in the previous element.

Poof. The just-accepted housing element goes away. [Editor's Note: This is not entirely accurate, the housing overlay district zoning was made 30 units per acre on 7 properties. The new housing element adds MORE affordable housing units.  If approved, we may have an additional 185 units. What this means is the property all over Marinwood-Lucas Valley has become a potential building site for affordable housing with the help of Bruce Anderson, Cyane Dandridge and the rest of the old Marinwood CSD Directors and of course all were led by Supervisor Susan Adams. ]

One has to wonder — why all the fuss about something that lasted all of six months?
[Editor's Note: It may effect us for decades saddling us with non profit housing that pays little taxes.  If all units are built, then 1 and 4 housing units in Marinwood-Lucas Valley will be low income housing. It is crazy. We objected yet Susan Adams and the rest of the Board of Supervisors approved of this Housing Element.  It will fundamentally change our community from a quiet suburb to community dominated by non profit housing that pays virtually no taxes.  How will we pay for our schools?  Where will these new people work and shop?  Will they all take public transit or will our traffic increase?  What about crime? No other community in Marin,  perhaps the entire Bay Area has been given such a proportionally high amount of affordable housing.  How can ANYONE justify so much low income housing in our community?]

Some may say they were trying to save Marinwood with what they thought was reliable information. Remember those pleas of up to 500 new units in Marinwood and Lucas Valley (70 percent of Marin's affordable housing to be located in Marinwood and Lucas Valley)?    [We sourced the housing element and plan bay area documents for our information. Although Bruce Anderson formerly served for over a decade, he produces no facts or documents supporting his position.]

Remember those flyers with massive buildings built? Remember the failed recall of Supervisor Adams and complaints that she was not listening to the concerns about the housing element?

Remember those of us trying to tell you that indeed it was just a planning exercise? Probably not, the others were a lot louder. 

Here is something else to remember — that lawsuit by Marin Community Alliance. What is its purpose now that we know the housing element was just a planning exercise? How embarrassing would it be now if the Marinwood Community Services District had given either money or support to that effort? [ We have Bruce Anderson, on tape as Marinwood CSD Director and "vice president of Marinwood Association admitting giving the Marinwood Plaza Vision a sizable "donation"  We now learn the total amount was $5000.  Can he explain this public gift?  Where did the money come from?]

Many residents of Marinwood and Lucas Valley were upset by the "controversial issue" of the housing element. Now that we know there was no "controversial issue" in the first place, my hope is that we all take a breath and try to hear all sides of a discussion not just those the yell the loudest. 


Bruce Anderson, Marinwood

[The current CSD Directors have a big job ahead of them, cleaning up the $1.2 million dollar deficit left in 2013 and 2014 while Bruce Anderson was CSD president.]

Dry Cleaning Fluid Toxic Waste is found at 2000 times above safe levels. It has been acknowledged since 2007 yet no political representative has spoken out for it's clean up.  The above are the known risks.


We hope Bruce Anderson, has an explanation why the Toxic Waste spill  from Prosperity Cleaners at Marinwood Plaza was allowed to spread since its discovery in 2007 while he served as CSD President.

Just find ONE COMMUNITY in the Bay Area that has been burdened such a high number and
71% percent of all affordable housing in their county's housing element.  Just one.

For more information about the dangers of locating housing next to the freeway HERE

Thursday, March 27, 2014

VIDEO: Oakland Mayor says a concentration of high density projects lead to crime



Editor's Note: This meeting of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) on March 7, 2013 discusses the criteria for selecting a Priority Development Areas (PDA) like the Marinwood Priority Development Area.

0:00:00  Top Executives refuse the pledge of allegience.  Ezra Rapport , ABAG Executive Director in cap (salary $322,581) and Ken Moy, chief Counsel (salary $279,418).  Each of these executives are among the highest paid public servants in the State of California. They are part of a regional government that is radically changing our communities and local property rights. It would be nice if they can show the respect for flag and the freedoms it represents.


0:12:10-Among the most important reasons for selecting an area for development is the "lack of community opposition" If there is a history of organized opposition to development, it will be less likely to be named a PDA In other words if we don't object we are targets for development. We were selected for a Priority Development Area in 2007 .  Did any local politician tell us?  Wasn't Susan Adams serving on ABAG at the time?
Ezra Rapport and Ken Moy


1:19:30 Ezra Rapport, ABAG Director explains that living next to the freeway will be healthier in the future because we use cleaner fuels. Old health data is based on dirtier fuels.

1:42:00 Oakland Mayor Jean Quan explains that concentration of high density affordable housing in a single neighborhood leads to "ghetto"ization and high crime. She believes low income housing should be spread throughout the jurisdiction.


ABAG's motto is "Sharing Resources" 
Have you ever had a friend who wants to "share" by always taking from you?
ABAG is taking our communities by forcing unwanted development and
"giving" a portion of our tax dollars back in exchange.

Here is what we pay our ABAG employees

Super Slo-Mo Shark!

Eminent Domain Abuse coming to Marin?

Will California Revive Redevelopment Agencies?

Eminent Domain Abuse Could Come Back to California, Along With Mountains of Debt




IJ's in-depth report on "JEDI" Act

11 Things You Need to Know

Learn more about the report


Sacramento, Calif.—Will an old law that threatened private property and encouraged fiscal irresponsibility be returning to California? A new statewide initiative seeks to resurrect a California law that enabled unelected governmental agencies to use eminent domain to take homes and businesses and transfer them to private developers.

The California Jobs and Education Development Initiative, or JEDI, Act would reestablish California’s Community Redevelopment Law (CRL) and give municipalities the power to revive the 425 redevelopment agencies the CRL created. In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature repealed the law and abolished the powerful redevelopment agencies, which were infamous for corruption, exploitation and for exacerbating California’s fiscal problems.

“Redevelopment in California had nothing to do with creating jobs or improving education,” said Bill Maurer, an attorney with the Institute for Justice and the executive director of its Washington chapter. “Resurrecting it would endanger private property and undermine the state’s fiscal stability.”

Bringing back California’s redevelopment system would mean that small businesses and many perfectly fine homes could be taken from their owners. The CRL allowed redevelopment agencies with few restrictions to use an expansive definition of “blight” to condemn private property and give it to politically-connected developers and corporations. Under the JEDI Act, an area would show signs of blight if unemployment rates in the area exceed the national average. Under this definition, the entire state shows signs of blight.

“California property owners were finally able to rest easy once the Governor did away with redevelopment agencies in 2011,” said Senator Jim Nielsen, the founding board chair of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. “Reviving this system again exposes homes, small businesses and places of worship to eminent domain abuse.”

Prior to being dissolved in 2011, redevelopment agencies turned California into one of the worst states in the nation for eminent domain abuse. Tens of thousands of acres of property were declared blighted and subject to condemnation. Those displaced were often poor minorities and the elderly.

In one high-profile example of redevelopment abuse, a youth center in a predominantly Hispanic suburb of San Diego was said to be “blighted” after the city decided it wanted to build luxury condos on the center’s land. The center challenged the blight designation in state court with help from the Institute for Justice and won. But many were not so lucky—because the cost and difficulty of challenging a blight designation was so high, few could afford it.

There were other harms associated with California’s redevelopment law. Not only did the law enable governmental agencies to replace existing property owners with wealthier ones, it also encouraged them to acquire huge debts, all the while reducing the funds available for important government services like schools and police stations. The law said a redevelopment agency could only receive property tax revenue from its redevelopment area if it went into debt. By 2011, the long-term debt of the agencies stood at $29.8 billion and their share of total statewide property taxes grew to 12 percent.

If passed, JEDI would be one of the most significant expansions of government power in decades,” said Maurer. “It would divert money from schools and community colleges and give it to unelected governmental agencies and their politically connected business allies. The Governor and the state legislature were right to end this system in 2011.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Marinwood Special Meeting- concerning EIR Comments, Complaints by Anderson/Perry and the Candidate Forum



The Marinwood CSD held a special session on March 25, 2013 to certify a letter concerning EIR issues with the Marinwood Village proposal.

-Bruce Anderson, former CSD director complained that the last meeting may have violated the Brown Act for noticing requirements . Tarey Read in a shameful act of intimidation and hyperbole claimed that civil penalties and jail time may befall the CSD board .  All that happened was a detailed letter was submitted late but the letter was properly noticed to the public. Even Walter Dodds, former CSD director and attorney remarked that it was "a stretch" to claim a violation.

-Bill Hansel claimed that under no circumstances should the staff, email or signboards should be used for a candidates forum and debate.  This is despite the fact, that the CSD has hosted MANY debates including the Adams vs Mazzoni debate in the last Board of Supervisor's race.  Bill Hansel and Tarey Reed have objected to signboards to announce public meetings for years.  The re-election of Bill Hansel and Tarey Reed was won by default when the notice of the election was not seen by the public in 2011 and ran unopposed.

-Damien Perry (husband of Izabel Perry and frequent Next Door contributor) claimed that the CSD is misappropriating "staff time" by looking at the EIR effects of the Marinwood Village proposal.

-Tarey Reed and Bill Hansel objected to any statement to support the "general welfare" of the Marinwood-Lucas Valley from over development.

The meeting was well attended but only a few people spoke. In the end, the EIR letter was approved unanimously.

Be sure to Attend the EIR scoping session held this Saturday, March 29th at the Lucas Valley Community Church at Las Gallinas and Lucas Valley Road.  It is important for you to be heard.  ONLY the comments received for the EIR will be considered in the final report.  The County has voiced its opinion that the Marinwood Village project should be built at all costs. Only the community will stand against the unjust exploitation of over development. Be there.


Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left

see story:

Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left



By AL BAKERFEB. 16, 2014


Kimberly Celifarco with one of her kindergarten students, Gerson Perez, 5, at Public School 253 in Brooklyn. Credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

The Common Core has been applauded by education leaders and promoted by the Obama administration as a way to replace a hodgepodge of state standards with one set of rigorous learning goals. Though 45 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to them since 2010, resistance came quickly, mostly from right-leaning states, where some leaders and political action groups have protested what they see as a federal takeover of local classrooms.

But the newest chorus of complaints is coming from one of the most liberal states, and one of the earliest champions of the standards: New York. And that is causing supporters of the Common Core to shudder.

Carol Burris, an acclaimed high school principal on Long Island, calls the Common Core a “disaster.”

“We see kids,” she said, “they don’t want to go to school anymore.”

Leaders of both parties in the New York Legislature want to rethink how the state uses the Common Core.

The statewide teachers’ union withdrew its support for the standards last month until “major course corrections” took place.Photo

From left, Carmen Mattimore, Kathleen Rusiecki, Evelyn Edwards and Nicole Senk attended a teacher training session last month on the Common Core at Public School 36 in the Bronx. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

“There are days I think, ‘Oh my God, we have to slow this thing down, there are so many problems,’ ” said Catherine T. Nolan, a Queens Democrat who is chairwoman of the State Assembly Education Committee.

The objections in New York have become so loud, and have come from such a wide political spectrum, that even the governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has become a critic. Governor Cuomo has called the state’s execution of the standards “flawed” and appointed a panel to recommend changes.

Republicans are seeking to turn the broad discontent into a liability for him; Rob Astorino, the executive of Westchester County who is considering a run for governor, said of Mr. Cuomo, “He has pushed it from the beginning, and now he is trying to push it off on someone else.”

Common Core advocates like Michael J. Petrilli, executive vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy group, have been taken aback. “It’s bizarre,” he said. “New York is in some interesting company, right up with the reddest of the red states. And you worry that there will be bleed-over from New York to other states.”
Continue reading the main story

Few in New York are calling for abandoning the standards. And state officials have not backed out of a national consortium developing exams based on the standards, as their counterparts in states like Georgia and Oklahoma have. No state that adopted the standards has gone so far as to withdraw from them.

The loudest of the complaints is based on New York’s decision not to wait for those new Common Core exams, which are expected to make their debut in 2015, but to begin testing students on the new standards last year. Teachers said they had not been fully trained in the new curriculums, and had not received new textbooks and teaching materials; many still did not have them in the fall. As the tests changed, the scores plummeted: Less than a third of the state’s students passed.

In Albany, leaders of both houses of the Legislature called this month for a two-year moratorium on the use of Common Core test scores in teacher evaluations and in decisions about student promotions or admissions. The state teachers’ union has asked for a three-year pause. The state Board of Regents, which oversees education policy and is appointed by the Legislature, has already voted to delay by five years the date by which all high school graduates must pass Common Core-aligned Regents exams.
Continue reading the main story

The state education commissioner, John B. King, Jr., who reports to the Board of Regents, conceded there was an “uneven” rollout of the standards. Looking back, he said recently, “we could have prioritized parent engagement, and helping parents understand what the Common Core is, and is not.”

Yet he staunchly defended the effort, saying Massachusetts went through the same pains two decades ago after it adopted new standards, and now consistently scores as high as the top countries do on international measures.

Dr. King was booed and shouted down as he made similar arguments at public forums he held around New York in the fall. They grew so testy at one point that he called the remaining forums off before scheduling new ones.

The Obama administration encouraged states to adopt the Common Core as part of the Race to the Top grant competition, but it is not a federal mandate. Arne Duncan, the federal education secretary, declined to comment on what was happening in New York. But in November, Mr. Duncan attributed some of the unrest nationally to “white suburban moms” who discovered that “all of a sudden, their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.” (He quickly apologized.)

The Common Core grew out of a concern that the 2001 No Child Left Behind law had lowered the bar on what students should learn, since the law required improvement in test scores but left it up to states to write their own tests. It sets out a sequence of skills, or “competencies,” for students to master. Whether it is through tackling math problems or analyzing text, the Common Core encourages students to show evidence for their solutions and articulate how they think, with the overall goal of promoting more critical thinking at earlier ages. Districts and schools choose curriculums that meet those standards.

Recently, at Public School 253 in Brooklyn, Myra Wenger applied her new curriculum in a lesson on ancient Athens, asking her second graders why the city adopted Athena, not Poseidon, in naming itself. A pupil, Daniel Gornak, 8, answered, “Because Athena gave more uses than Poseidon did, and more healthy things for Athenians,” and Ms. Wenger lauded his methods in consulting his marble notebook for the facts.Photo

“They love it,” Ms. Wenger said of her lesson plans. “They’re very engaged, more than last year.”

In another room, a group of first graders sat on a mat, eagerly raising their hands to explain similarities between farming in ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.

“They needed water,” one student, Rabiha Islam, 6, said.

“And, and, and,” she continued, searching for another answer, “they didn’t have, so they made canals.”

The school chose one of the country’s most popular Common Core curriculums, called Core Knowledge. It is based on the ideas of E. D. Hirsch Jr., whose 1987 book, “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know,” argued that mastery of a common set of facts was critical to learning.

Beyond the testing difficulties, one of the criticisms of the Common Core, in New York and elsewhere, is that it can be too demanding for young grades. Diane Ravitch, an educational historian, has said that very little of what is taught to first graders about ancient civilizations will stick with them; Mr. Hirsch and other defenders of the Common Core say children in early grades need lessons in history, civics, science and literature to build vocabularies and thrive.

In interviews with a range of teachers in New York City, most said their students were doing higher-quality work than they had ever seen, and were talking aloud more often. But it has not come without sweat. Homework is more complex and takes longer, several said, and in some cases is frustrating parents.

Teachers also said that pupils who were already struggling, particularly those who speak limited English, were facing greater challenges. Nonnative speakers are having a harder time in math because the new curriculums require greater use of word problems.

At a recent study group for teachers at P.S. 36 in the Bronx, Kathleen Rusiecki, who teaches first-grade special education, described one task in her curriculum: Draw a picture of the word nobody.

“It doesn’t even make sense,” she said.

Ms. Burris, who leads South Side High School in Rockville Centre, and was named the state’s 2013 high school principal of the year, said the Common Core required children to grapple with topics in mathematics that are in many cases taught a year earlier than before and “in a more difficult way.”

“I fear that they are creating a generation of young students who are learning to hate mathematics,” she said.

All the pushback in New York is “not optimal” for the shift to higher standards, said Chester E. Finn Jr., a former assistant education secretary and now senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. But he said he thought the Common Core would survive.

“It is a drag and it will slow things down a little bit,” he said, “but it is not a mortal wound.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Common Core: What's Hidden Behind the Language


Recommend this article 
Superficially, it sounds good. It creates universal standards that supposedly educate all children for college. But along with the universal standards come a myriad of problems, which the administrators of Common Core are disingenuously denying. The American Principles Project released an analysis last year of Common Core, exposing the duplicitous language. Common Core describes itself as “internationally benchmarked,” “robust,” “aligned with college and work expectations,” “rigorous,” and “evidence-based.” None of this is true.
Common Core proponents claim that it is not a federal mandate, instead using language like “state-led” and “voluntary.” The Common Core website asserts, “The federal government was NOT involved in the development of the standards.” It states that Common Core is not a national curriculum, but “a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed.”
Diane Ravitch, a former assistant U.S. secretary of education who was appointed to office by both Clinton and George H.W. Bush, recently changed her mind about Common Core. Ravitch now refutes claims by Obama and Common Core that the standards were created by the states and voluntarily adopted by them. She writes in The Washington Post, “They were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core. Their creation was neither grassroots nor did it emanate from the states.” Instead, Common Core is being driven by policymakers in D.C.
Common Core is set up in such a way that it can hardly be called voluntary. The Obama administration's grant program offers “Race to the Top” federal educational grants – which come from stimulus funds - to states if their school systems adopt preferred Obama policies like Common Core. States that adopt Common Core receive higher “scoring” from the Obama administration in their grant applications. As a result of this coercion, only Nebraska, Alaska, Texas, Virginia and Minnesota have not adopted Common Core. Minnesota adopted the language arts standards but kept its own math standards.
There is no evidence that the curriculum works, and it will destroy innovation amongst the states. Ravitch writes, “We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time...Would the Federal Drug Administration approve the use of a drug with no trials, no concern for possible harm or unintended consequences?” Jane Robbins, a senior fellow for the American Principles Project, writes, “Common Core has never been piloted. How can anyone say it is good for kids when it’s not in place anywhere?” In fact, the results are coming in and they are the opposite. A principal in the Midwest told Ravitch that “his school piloted the Common Core assessments and the failure rate rocketed upwards, especially among the students with the highest needs.”
Stephanie Bell, a member of the Alabama State Board of Education, has beenspeaking up against the standards. She said the standards were founded on a flawed idea — that every child across America will “be on the same page at the same time.” She explains, “Every child is created, and I thank the Lord for this, we’re all created different,” she said. Sadly, schools superintendents and administrators are only being given one-sided information from the promoters of Common Core.
The curriculum replaces the classics with government propaganda. According to the American Principles Project, “They de-emphasize the study of classic literature in favor of reading so-called 'informational texts,' such as government documents, court opinions, and technical manuals.” Over half the reading materials in grades 6-12 are to consist of informational texts rather than classical literature. Historical texts like the Gettysburg Address are to be presented to students without context or explanation.
The math standards are equally dismal. Mathematics Professor R. James Milgram of Stanford University, the only
mathematician on the Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the math standards, because they
would put many students two years behind those of many high-achieving countries. For example, Algebra 1 would be taught in 9th grade, not 8th grade for many students, making calculus inaccessible to them in high school. The quality of the standards is low and not internationally benchmarked. Common Coredenies this on its website as a “myth,” but Professor Milgram's opposition contradicts this.
The Common Core website uses Orwellian language to deny that the curriculum tells teachers what to teach. The site claims that is a myth: “These standards will establish what students need to learn, but they will not dictate how
teachers should teach.” This is like saying, teachers will be required to teach sex education and evolution, but they can choose whether to teach it using assignments, movies, class discussion or reading.
The bloated program is underfunded. Local school administrators have already started complaining that the grants aren't enough to cover the requirements behind them. “We were spending a disproportionate amount of time following all the requirements,” said Mike Johnson, the superintendent of Bexley schools in Ohio, which turned down the last half of a $100,000, four-year grant this school year. “It was costing us far more than that to implement all of the mandates.”
Educators have expressed similar concerns for years about the costs of No Child Left Behind, a similar federal educational program which became law in 2002. In response, the Obama administration began offering waivers for states that could not afford to comply, moving them into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act instead. 44 states have requested waivers or been approved for one. It will be repeating an expensive history lesson to force another underfunded educational program on the states.
Common Core amasses large amounts of personal information about students. Michelle Malkin cites research by Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute, who discovered a report by the Department of Education revealing that Common Core's data mining includes “using cameras to judge facial expressions, an electronic seat that judges posture, a pressure-sensitive computer mouse and a biometric wrap on kids’ wrists.”
Schoolteacher Chasidy Miroff notes the corrupt part about Common Core, “The creators of the Common Core standards have now taken jobs with testing companies which stand to make millions of dollars developing tests based on the standards they created.”
The only good news is Common Core will not have as much of an effect on the top, over-performing schools, which far exceed Common Core's standards. If those children are already performing well in math, they will be supposedly allowed to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade instead of 9th grade. But this begs the question, if a state or local school district is making great advances lately in English and math, why change a good thing?
States and localities should be allowed to innovate and figure out what works best for their students. When Florida adopted the most favorable climate for charter schools in the country, allowing for innovation from school to school, student test scores increased dramatically. Education policy expert Matthew Ladner, who studied the effects of the legislation in Florida for the Goldwater Institute,concluded, “In 1999, when these reforms were enacted, nearly half of Florida fourth-graders scored 'below basic' on the NAEP reading test, meaning that they could not read at a basic level. But by 2007, less than a decade after the education reforms took e?ect, 70 percent of Florida’s fourth-graders scored basic or above. Florida’s Hispanic students now have the second-highest statewide reading scores in the nation, and African-Americans score fourth-highest, when compared with their peers.”
Six states have dropped out or are considering dropping out of Common Core. Nebraska has dropped out, and is conducting a study to compare its own educational standards to Common Core's. The Kansas House Committee is currently considering a bill to withdraw. Last week, the Oklahoma House passed House Bill 1989, which would prohibit the sharing of minors' school records without parental consent. Michelle Malkin notes that you can download a Common Core opt-out form to submit to your school district, courtesy of the group Truth in American Education.
Federal education mandates – whether disguised or not – don't work because everyone is unique. When proponents resort to Orwellian language to hide the truth about them, you know they must be bad for America.

A Frustrated Parent helps his kid with Math Homework


Forget Waldo, Where's Katie?



Katie Rice, Supervisor District Two was a "no show" at the Community Meeting in Ross on March 22, 2014 .
Supervisor, Katie Rice, Fails to Appear
Over 300 Ross Valley Residents Attend Community Meeting on High Density Housing in Marin

Marin County, CA. – On March 22, 2014, 300 to 400 people concerned about high-density housing in Marin attended an open community meeting at the Marin Art & Garden Center’s Livermore Room in Ross. The over-capacity crowd spilled out into the patio to listen to a presentation by Bob Silvestri, a former low-income housing developer and a critic of ABAG and Plan Bay Area. Conspicuous by her absence was District 2 Supervisor, Katie Rice, Ross Valley’s representative on the Board of Supervisors, who three (3) days before the meeting, informed her constituents that after much thought, she decided that “it was best for the community” if she “did not attend.”  Rice’s last minute announcement of her cancellation forced event organizers, Ross Valley volunteer residents, to scramble to inform attendees that the show would go on, but that the first hour and a half reserved solely for Rice, instead, was now two hours exclusively for Silvestri’s presentation and a public comment and Q & A session.

Peter Barry, M.D., former Town of Ross Mayor moderated the event. Dr. Barry observed that the 180 unit Win-Cup development in Corte Madera was the catalyst that sparked residents’ outrage regarding high-density housing in Marin and the interest in Mr. Silvestri’s presentation.
Bob Silvestri, author of "The Best Laid Plans"
spoke to an enthusiastic audience of 300 plus residents.
 For the first hour, Mr. Silvestri explained in layman’s terms the intricacies of Federal and State housing laws, ABAG, and Plan Bay Area, followed by an hour of questions and answers.  Mr. Silvestri was frequently interrupted by prolonged, loud applause, e.g., when he stated that Plan Bay Area is a one size fits all plan that does not fit Marin, that Marin’s metropolitan designation should be changed to suburban, that ABAG is a voluntary organization from which any city, town or county may withdraw at any time, and that an alternative to ABAG would be a new council of governments that included Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties, which share common interests such as agriculture, open space, parklands, and suburbs. 

During the question and answer period, Marin resident, Clayton Smith, noted with anger that Ms. Rice’s failure to appear signaled that District 2 and all of unincorporated Marin “have no representative.” His comment was greeted with demands for Ms. Rice’s recall.

The Art and Garden Center of Ross was packed with an overflow crowd.
See Bob Silvestris's Blog Post on

The Rumble In Ross

 in THE PATCH


Monday, March 24, 2014

Unnumbered Sparks

Congestion Pricing is being proposed for the San Francisco Bay Area



Congestion Pricing is advocated by Sausalito based Train Lobbyist, David Schoenbraun.  He is a regular at community meetings, usually identifying himself as a "concerned citizen".  There is a bill before the California legislature to place GPS tracking devices in every car and charging $10 per mile in addition to congestion pricing.  They want to force economic choices for inefficient public transportation.  It is not about the environment after all....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It appears that the Los Angeles density backlash is starting to really… blow up.

Not So Fast… Hollywood Projects Placed On Hold

West | Thursday, February 27, 2014 | .

Proposed Land Use Designation Map from the Hollywood Community Plan (LA City Planning Department)
Proposed Land Use Designation Map from the Hollywood Community Plan (LA City Planning Department)

It appears that the Los Angeles density backlash is starting to really… blow up. Particularly in Hollywood, where several towers and multi-use developments have been set to get rolling.
On February 18, the LA Planning Department issued the Hollywood Community Plan Update Injunction Clearance, prohibiting the city’s department of Building and Safety from issuing “any permit for the construction, erection, addition to or alteration of any building or structure…unless the Department of City Planning first issues a HCPU (Hollywood Community Plan Update)

Injunction Clearance.” While many projects won’t be impacted, any project seeking entitlements or permits under the HCPU could be. The order derives from a February 11 LA County Superior Court injunction stemming from several neighborhood groups’ lawsuit challenging the HCPU’s Environmental Impact Review (EIR). The HCPU was passed back in 2012, bringing with it much more density around transit, among other things. According to LandUseLa, the order will require  most projects in the area to undergo extra review (while not halting them completely), but it will essentially put 28 projects on indefinite hold. Kevin Keller, Director of Planning for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, says that estimate could be higher than reality. “We haven’t verified that list. The planning department is still looking at these projects on a case by case basis.” He added: “The city is taking actions to ensure that projects can still move forward in Hollywood.”

Keller added that to speed things up City Council passed a motion to “initiate proceedings” to vacate the 2012 adoption of the HCPU while environmental analysis is performed. Either way the council has instructed planning to come up with ways to alter the HCPU’s EIR and resolve the situation. It goes without saying that this could take several months (at least).
Rios Clementi Hale's Columbia Square, one of several new Hollywood developments.
Rios Clementi Hale’s Columbia Square, one of several major Hollywood developments in the works.