Editors, Daily Planet:
At a newspaper endorsement meeting last week regarding Measure B, I finally met the lead ballot signer against the measure and letter writer to the Planet, and now comprehend how she and associates could make arguments that so misunderstand Measure B. Let me clarify the issue.
She was led to believe, incorrectly, that Measure B was an end run around BSEP's democratic institutions—a power play by school officials to overturn BSEP. She mistakenly thought that Measure B would replace BSEP rather than just supplement it for two years, until a new BSEP comes before the voters in 2006. She was concerned that Measure B would abolish BSEP's elected Planning and Oversight (P&O) Committee and not have its own appropriate citizen oversight.
Her concern for maintaining democratic institutions are important and ones I share, but they have nothing to do with Measure B.
As we've tried to make clear, Measure B does nothing to BSEP. Every aspect of BSEP remains untouched until the current BSEP ends in June 2007. This includes the elected school site committees (I’m a member) as well as the elected P&O Committee (which I co-chair). Moreover, Measure B explicitly calls for a Planning and Oversight Committee.
Where the confusion apparently arose is from the language of Measure B. Measure B states: “The district shall assign an Oversight Committee the responsibility to monitor the expenditures of the monies generated from this Measure.” She read this to mean that the district would appoint its own overseers rather than an independent citizen’s oversight group like BSEP’s P&O committee. In fact, the Board publicly stated that they intended the BSEP P&O Committee to oversee the measure and that they would “assign” this responsibility to the P&O committee.
Why didn’t the board just say what they meant? When the final Measure B language was drafted, one board member (a stickler for proper legal procedures—a good thing) pointed out that current BSEP by-laws didn’t mention Measure B and would have to be modified to allow for this additional P&O role. It was her view that the language should not specifically mention the P&O committee until the by-laws were changed (following approval of the measure). As a result, while the board publicly stated that they intended the BSEP P&O Committee to oversee the measure, they left in the general language to meet this legalistic by-law argument.
Bottom line: (1) there is no end run around BSEP; (2) there is no disagreement about oversight of Measure B. BSEP will continue as is until it comes before the voters in 2006 for reauthorization. The elected P&O committee will be the oversight committee for Measure B.
Unfortunately, no one anticipated the possibility of confusion on this point.
Measure B is the one chance we have to reduce class sizes, staff school libraries and resuscitate our music program. Vote Yes on Measure B.
Co-Chair, BSEP Planning and Oversight (P&O) Committee
Co-Chair, Yes on B Campaign