Rumors versus facts on Measure A panel

Over the past year, it has been my privilege to chair the AUSD Measure A Oversight Committee. In the near future, our Committee will issue the annual oversight report for Measure A.

Our objective is to report to the public whether the funds from Measure A have been expended toward the funding priorities set forth by Measure A (such as teacher-student ratios of 25-to-1; neighborhood elementary schools; attracting and retaining excellent teachers; and many more). The interim reports indicate that AUSD is on track to expend the Measure A funds as provided for in the measure.

The entire committee is very engaged. We are all active community members, and many of us have children attending schools in the district. There are two distinctions that are important to point out relative to our roles as committee members. First, our role is not to perform a detailed audit of school district finances. This is done annually by a professional audit firm. Second, our role is also not to direct how funds from this measure should be allocated -- just that they are in accordance with the funding priorities provided for in the measure.

Sadly, in the current political climate, a few have made statements suggesting that the committee will be a "rubber stamp" for the administration. I take strong exception to such characterization. I am a certified public accountant and spent 10 years of my career as an auditor. I won't "rubber-stamp" anything. I am happy to say that every single committee member has been engaged and has brought great questions and insight to our committee meetings. The district staff have been well prepared and transparent, and the meetings have run very smoothly. This is a good thing.

Finally, I have to chuckle just a bit. Given the rhetoric these few people have tried to spread about the Measure A Oversight Committee, I can count on one finger the members of the public who have attended our meetings. One. Single. Person. That was in October 2011, our very first meeting, which was more organizational than a substantive discussion related to actual expenditures. So I wonder how these people who have made these statements developed their opinions, since they have never been to a meeting? That spells a credibility problem to me.

On that note, I absolutely encourage those who are interested to attend our meetings. They are public meetings, and we welcome public comments.

Courtney Shepler

Robles-Wong clear choice for schools

Having had the privilege of serving with Mike Robles-Wong on two citizens' committees for school issues, I have come to know him as a sharp and thoughtful communicator.

Mike has decades of experience as a negotiator and is a "people person" in the best sense of the term. He has a tremendous ability to build consensus between parties who may not always be interested in compromise -- until they sit down at the table with him, that is. School issues are contentious these days, and Mike's experience with consensus-building is very much needed.

Combine these traits with his intimate knowledge of the extremely complex school funding mechanism, and that adds up to a winner. I enthusiastically support his candidacy for AUSD school board and urge readers to do so also.

Dave Hart

City parking policies still bad for business

It happened again! Another person dropping by to see a patient at Alameda Wellness Center for 30 minutes was given a parking ticket for parking in back of the Ross store at South Shore Shopping Center where there was NO ONE else parked and few people parked anywhere around that store.

She was on her way to the Office Max in that center when she was ticketed. I was asked to go by Office Max and Walgreens to pick up some items for a patient but I chose to go elsewhere because of the South Shore parking policies. My husband and I often eat lunch and sometimes dinner at restaurants when we are visiting our daughter at Alameda Wellness Center but we choose not to patronize the restaurants at South Shore because of your parking policies.

I would urge Alameda small business owners and residents to take their business elsewhere until these policies are changed. There are many small businesses in Alameda that really appreciate your patronage in these difficult economic times. South Shore Shopping Center does not!

Celia Bell

Nathrop, CO (temporarily living in Alameda)

Group takes up too much of funds raised

While I applaud Ariana Mortazavi's efforts to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I wish that she actually did her research first.

Since she fundraised through Team in Training, only about a third of the $3,600 she raised will actually go toward leukemia research. Another third will go toward the Team in Training organization itself, and the rest will supposedly go toward educational and public resources. Though Team in Training sounds like a nice organization, individuals can make a bigger impact on organizations like LLS if they fundraise and donate directly.

Anne-Marie Mitchell