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East Bay | Government & Elections

Alameda school district bases tax on secret parcel data
by David Howard
Wednesday Jan 5th, 2011 10:08 AM
School district basis new parcel tax on secret data not available to the public.

In a stunning revelation yesterday, Kirsten Vital, the Alameda Unified School District superintendent, admitted that Measure A, a new school parcel tax, was crafted with data the public is not allowed to see. Measure A is the parcel tax the school district has placed before the voters in a March 8th special election.

Ms. Vital, speaking at Alameda's Rotary Club luncheon, was asked a question by Ed Hirshberg, a parcel tax opponent and member of the No on A Campaign, "Committee Against Measure A in Alameda," which she brushed aside saying, "Mr. Hirshberg, you and I are working from two different sets of numbers so we will simply have to agree to disagree." When Leland Traiman, also a member of the No on A Campaign, asked a different question, Ms. Vital responded with the same pat answer, to which Mr. Traiman quickly responded, "Yes, but we (the No on A Campaign) have made our data public but the school district refuses to publish their data on the web."

It was to that comment that Ms. Vitale said something which surprised many luncheon attendees, "That is because our numbers are proprietary, we do not own them, so we cannot make them public." An incredulous Mr. Traiman responded, "You mean you wrote Measure A with secret numbers that the public cannot see?" Ms. Vital, with a surprised expression on her face, made no response. After a momentary pause the Rotary Club president jumped in and said that this was supposed to be a presentation by Ms. Vital and not a debate. Mr. Traiman apologized for his outburst and the meeting continued.

Just before the meeting was adjourned it was pointed out that Rotary Club tradition requires that both sides should be represented when discussing a controversial issue. The club president promised that at the next meeting there would be a debate on Measure A and that both sides would have a chance to make their case.