CA School Board Association takes a "no position" on League of Cities eminent domain Initiative

In a major blow to the League of Cities, after nearly two hours of presentations and delegate discussion, the vast majority of the School Board Delegates voted not to take a position on the League of Cities narrow eminent domain Initiative that the League is sponsoring.

This meeting was held at the San Diego Marriott as part of their three day CSBA 2006 Annual Education Conference that will focus on “school governance teams and their policy roles.”

I am certain that some of their Directors and League of Cities President Jim Madaffer, who is also a member of the San Diego city council were not pleased with the final outcome.

The 2 p.m. Delegate Session began with my providing a ten minute presentation in favor of the Howard Jarvis co-sponsored initiative which is identified as CPOFPA. In addition to explaining the features of our initiative I also devoted part of my time to point out the flaws of the League sponsored Initiative and posed questions for Mr. Jim Madaffer that were not addressed or answered when he participated in a League Forum held in Santa Ana on Nov 8th. Those questions related to providing full transparency in that he mentioned our source of Initiative funds yet will not divulge where they are getting upwards of $20 million to oppose our full property protection Initiative. Unlike theirs, we offer a broad plan that includes all houses of worship, family farms, rental property, apartment buildings and over 400,000 recently acquired homes, none of which are protected in their Initiative.I did point out that our initiative maintains government’s ability to use eminent domain for public projects such as schools, roads and parks.
Anticipating negative comment by my opposition I told them that one of our co-sponsors, who assisted in drafting our measure, is the CA Farm Bureau. They surely would be concerned if we did anything to limit access to our water supply.

SD Council Member and League President Madaffer followed my presentation and opened by reporting that they had just turned in their initiative signatures today. He claimed that their version is “both simple and straight forward.” He went on the attack with scare tactics about our initiative calling it a “bait and switch,” adding “we have a hidden agenda.”
At no time did Jim respond to my questions about why ACA-8 protected houses of worship yet their initiative does not nor did he offer to explain where they are getting upwards of $20 million to promote their initiative.

After his speech he was stopped by a supporter who asked if she could give him a hug. I stepped over and said I will not give you a hug but did give him a RUG, our latest book entitled “Redevelopment the Unknown Government” and we proceeded to shake hands.

OK. It’s now 2:30 and the fireworks begin. The 250 or so Delegates representing 24 regions of CA who were in that huge hall represent over 1,000 School Districts around the state. I did see and speak to one from my District. Trustee Marlene Draper, CUSD, who is involved in the ugly Recall, said she listened to my presentation to make sure I did not misspeak. And I didn’t. The South Orange County Community College District did lose out on partial funding in one redevelopment project in that they are not backfilled like K-12 in Prop 98.

Some Delegate comments, which were part of their 90 minute of Q & A, are worth repeating:

One Delegate stated that they should not vote on either initiative. He added that “redevelopment agencies are not part of the solution” and that “property should not be taken except for a valid public use.”Another said “I don’t think the school districts should take a position on these initiatives.”

Others were upset that “our legislature failed to deal with this issue” which was part of my presentation. Another added “Shame on the Legislature for putting us in this position.”

“While we represent school districts we are also homeowners.”

Others questioned “what’s the best initiative for School Districts with declining enrollment?”

“The Jarvis Initiative will hurt school districts.” Yet another remarked that this is not a school district fight.”

One remark that we have heard before was from Dr. Ralph Pacheco of the Whittier Union HSD who said “one dog doesn’t hunt and the other has fleas.”

Several questioned a future asset management transaction relating to the sale of a school property after it no longer is used with the Jarvis requirement of finding and “offering the property back to the original owner.”

After consulting with their Parliamentarian on procedures due to the multiple Motions, Substitute Motions and Amendments five votes were taken including one to call the Question. Prior to their final vote one Delegate asked the question that we all need to heed. He questioned why the leadership was promoting endorsement of the League of Cities Initiative to which CSBA Assistant Executive Director Rick Pratt responded. Let me be careful here and paraphrase.

“The primary reason was to give voters an alternative. To defeat one it’s advantageous to have another that will help us,” or words to that effect. In other words they wanted to help the League oppose our Initiative simply as a blocking measure.

Well, at 3:51p.m. this ordeal ended and, as many headed for the restrooms, I approached the Conference Directors to thank them for giving us this equal speaking opportunity. One un-named Director told me that I was able to accomplish blocking the League from getting this major endorsement. What this confirms is that when given all the facts and figures, and with an audience who pays attention to both your words and the documents rather than any special interest, the final outcome will be positive.

Larry Gilbert, Spokesperson CPOFPA
Orange County Co-Director, CURE

About Larry Gilbert