Vote for Measure A, support arts in school

I have worked in the Piedmont High School Music Department for 14 years. Every day I interact with students who benefit from our comprehensive arts program. Children who are exposed to the arts gain focus, discipline and an appreciation for the beauty of the world.

My two children attended Piedmont schools. My son, David, an experienced violinist, recently graduated from Swarthmore College; and my daughter, Lisa, graduated from Pomona College with a bachelor of arts in music followed by a law degree from the University of San Francisco Law School. The arts education they received in the Piedmont schools had a direct impact on their acceptance at all three colleges, and their love and appreciation for music is a gift they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Once ranked first in the nation for its financial investment in public education, California has fallen to 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending. As a result, many school districts have severely curtailed funding for the arts. Piedmonters' 27 years of support for the school support tax has allowed the Piedmont Unified School District to maintain funding for music, visual and performing arts programs at a level that sets us apart from many, many other districts.

I call upon all Piedmont voters to continue Piedmont's rich history of support for a comprehensive arts education for all Piedmont students. Vote "yes" on Measure A on March 5.

Jan D'Annunzio

Piedmont


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Measure A lacks real senior exemption

The supporters of Measure A are mischaracterizing one of the points made by the opponents of this proposal.

The proponent ballot rebuttal to the Measure A opponent argument states: "The opponents simply have their facts wrong. Low-income seniors are exempt from Measure A." The argument against Measure A makes this point: "Piedmont does not have a senior exemption, and this must be included. The proposed SSI (Supplemental Security Income) exemption for low-income seniors is meaningless in Piedmont."

There is a substantial difference between a senior exemption and a low-income senior exemption. In our region alone there are at least 35 school districts with age 65-only qualification for 100 percent senior exemption; the age-65-only qualification is common, and most school districts use this straightforward qualification. Piedmont is third in the top 10 list of California school districts by Academic Performance Index (API), and only Piedmont does not offer an age-65 senior exemption if a school tax is present. The details for these two points are contained at http://tiny.cc/36xyqw.

Other local school districts define "very low income" using federal classifications and on a very different basis from what the proponents feel is right for Piedmont. Here are some examples:

  • Berkeley: household income below $37,400.

  • Moraga: household income below $32,350 to $49,850, depending on household size.

  • Oakland: household income below $31,250 to $58,950, depending on household size.

  • Orinda: household income below $46,150 to $60,950, depending on household size.

    Regarding Piedmont's SSI qualification as a senior exemption, regardless of even the extremely low income levels of SSI, a person is not eligible if resources exceed $2,000 (exclusive of residence and car). The high cost of living in Piedmont virtually ensures any senior with a home will not qualify for SSI. The reality is that there is no meaningful senior exemption with Measure A.

    To reiterate the closing statement of the opponents to Measure A: vote no on Measure A. Instead, let us vote for a tax in November that is equitable, has genuine citizen oversight and has a meaningful senior exemption.

    Jim McCrea

    Piedmont

    Hoping Kalb is heard

    Councilmember Dan Kalb speaks for Oakland. Let's hope that for once, the rest of the City Council and the mayor listen.

    Stephan Phang

    Oakland

    Dog cleanup doesn't require plastic bags

    This is in response to the letter writer complaining about no longer getting free plastic bags to pick up dog poop and the request for special dispensation to receive free plastic bags: Get over it, time to move on.

    Why in the world should anyone put 100 percent biodegradable dog poop in a 100 percent polluting plastic bag guaranteed to last for centuries? It's ridiculous, and that's why Alameda County joined many other places in essentially banning free plastic bags that we later pay for in landfills (where they never decompose) and in pollution abatement required from their manufacture from petrochemicals. It's hard to think of something that makes less sense environmentally or economically.

    There are pooper-scooper rakes (even automated ones) that don't require bending and enclose the poop so you can bring it home for disposal. There are 100 percent biodegradable bags you can use if you really want something plasticlike. When I was a kid walking my dog (in the '50s and '60s) we used small paper bags and a piece of cardboard, which worked just fine.

    Just say farewell and good riddance to plastic bags; there are vastly better alternatives. And as someone who lives in lower Rockridge, where there are lots of dogs being walked, I deeply appreciate those who clean up responsibly after their dogs, rather than leave it on my grass for children or adults to step on and spread all over the sidewalk we all use.

    Theresa Nelson

    Oakland