Big Victory For Education on Tuesday Night

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Measure E and Proposition 30 Both Pass – It was a scary night for local supporters of education because, while the Presidential Election which was predictably close wrapped up early, the first returns did not look promising locally, either for Measure E or Proposition 30.

For much of the night Measure E looked to be in trouble.  The first returns just after 8 pm showed the measure with *just* 65.1 percent of the vote – a healthy vote total but not enough to meet the two-thirds threshold.

In each of the recent elections, the first result from the absentees had held up.  However, this was different.  It was a larger electorate and while Measure A and Measure C were special mail-only elections, this was a ballot box electorate, sharing a ballot with the Presidential Election on down.

How different?  Measure C was roughly 17,200 votes cast.  In this election nearly 24,000 people voted.

By the end of the night with all precincts reporting, 16,457 or 68.9 percent voted yes.  Measure E had made the threshold by 1600 votes.  In fact, the vote total mirrored the 69% that supporters had pointed to a week ago.  It was a long night, but in the end, Measure E would prevail.

The school board saw Susan Lovenburg reelected, finishing first overall, slightly ahead of Nancy Peterson who will be seated on the board in the place of Richard Harris, who left to run the successful parcel tax campaign.

Alan Fernandes ran strongly, but fell short in the end.

As the Vanguard predicted, Jose Granda and Claire Sherman finished fourth and fifth, but both ran respectably in the five-person field.

The most important statewide result for local schools was Proposition 30.  As of publication, with 93 percent of precincts reporting, it appears that Proposition 30 has won by a healthy 54-46 percent margin that mirrors the last Field Poll.

The measure was comfortably ahead by over 700,000 votes.  Governor Jerry Brown, who staked the entire budget on this tax plan which will prevent about $6 billion in state cuts, declared victory just before midnight.

“We had a lot of obstacles,” the governor said. “We overcame them.”

He added: “I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?’ Here we are. … We have a vote of the people, I think the only state in the country that says, ‘Let’s raise our taxes, for our kids for our schools, and for our California dream.’ “

The competing tax measure, Proposition 38, went down heavily by a 72-27 percent margin.  Part of the problem is that competing against the Brown margin, it did not have the mechanism to immediately plug the education budget and had it received more votes than Prop 30, it would have superseded Prop 30.

The result was bad blood between Governor Brown and Prop 38 backer Molly Munger, that led to Ms. Munger briefly attacking the governor’s tax measure before being convinced to pull the attacks.

The biggest fiasco was the $11 million pumped in by Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona non-profit corporation that made an anonymous $11 million donation to a California campaign committee in order to pass Prop 32, which went down heavily, and to defeat Proposition 30.

The case went to the California Supreme Court which demanded the group identify themselves.

In a press release on Monday, the Fair Political Practices Commission reported, “It identified the true source of the contribution as Americans for Job Security, through a second intermediary, The Center to Protect Patient Rights.”

The FPPC continued: “Under California law, the failure to disclose this initially was campaign money laundering. At $11 million, this is the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history.”

“The persistence and hard work of the FPPC has won a significant and lasting victory for transparency in the political process,” said Ann Ravel, Chair of the FPPC. “We will continue in this matter and all others to ensure that the people of California know who is funding political activity in this State.”

California’s Political Reform Act requires disclosure to the people of California of the true source of campaign donations. This information is required in most cases before the election, when it matters. The Act requires those who serve as intermediaries, or middlemen, for contributions to disclose their true source to the recipient of the contribution.

“This case also demonstrates the need for reform to make sure true donors are disclosed and can’t hide behind innocuous committee names,” said Ms. Ravel. “The people of California deserve better.”

The irony now is that the money was simply wasted, as Proposition 32 went down handily, and in the end Proposition 30 passed by three-quarters of a million votes.

What This All Means

We will have more commentary and analysis on all of this later this week.  But for now.  Measure E’s passage means that the district has essentially renewed Measure A that was passed in 2011.  It continues the $204 parcel tax for four additional years, or until the state funding is sufficient that the district no longer needs the supplemental funds.

Measure E thus funds about $3.2 million in an ongoing structural deficit that has dogged the district for several years during the economic downturn.

Proposition 30’s passage, which many believed as recently as two weeks ago was doomed, means that the state will not enact trigger cuts.  Davis Joint Unified was facing an immediate $3.7 million in cuts should Prop 30 not pass.

Because of the timing of when the taxes would have kicked in, even though Measure E provided a $242 contingency should Prop 30 not pass, the funding would not have been collected until July 1.  As a result, the district was going to be forced to cut money by January.

The district was in the process of making contingency plans including union concessions.  While CSEA and the Administrators had agreed to ten furlough days, the DTA leadership was holding out.  That is now a moot point with the passage of Measure E.

Nevertheless, it will be very interesting to see what shakes out with an internal battle brewing with DTA leadership.

Finally, there is the question of the lawsuit.  The Vanguard does not believe this will be any sort of real issue for the district.  The Vanguard believes the language is clear, the intent of the ballot measure is quite clear, and that no court is going to overturn the will of nearly 69% of the voters.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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