School board needs Titan, responsibility

We'd like to endorse Hari Titan for school board.

We were surprised to learn that the district borrowed $12 million and that over the next 30 years taxpayers will pay back $62 million to the creditors (bond holders).

We don't want to go down the same road again with future school bonds. The district needs someone who can take an independent look at the financing products that are presented to the district and can provide analysis and insight into how they work over the long term. We need good long-term financial planning. We know that all three candidates have a financial background. It would be great if we could have someone use their financial acumen on the school board to personally drive the analysis and understand the consequences. We are seeing too much deferring to financial consultants, investment bankers and underwriters tied to the same industry that profits from school bonds.


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We feel Hari Titan has demonstrated the ability for independent thinking from the taxpayer viewpoint with his bond tax calculator: HariTitan.com.

Yushuang and Gao Liu

Piedmont

Re-elect Wieler to City Council

I support Jeff Wieler for re-election Feb. 4 to the Piedmont City Council.

As a former council member when Piedmont last selected a city manager, I know the importance of having an experienced and respected council member ready to provide guidance to the new city administrator who will replace Geoff Grote.

This is only one reason -- among many -- why I encourage you to vote for Jeff Wieler for City Council.

Skip Rhodes

Piedmont

Rood's experience right for council

The residents in our fair city have benefited from a long line of dedicated City Council members, including current office holders John Chiang, Margaret Fujioka, Garrett Keating, Bob McBain and Jeff Wieler.

The range of talent in past and current members has helped steer Piedmont through flush and lean economic periods while maintaining an excellent level of city services -- not an easy act to pull off. And while increased revenues from higher home sales and other sources have helped offset rising operating costs, not to mention greater expenditures for personnel, the newly formed City Council along with our new city administrator will face some tough fiscal and planning decisions ahead.

And it's in this fiscal showdown -- a showdown municipalities across the country are facing with growing pension obligations matched with increased costs of running a city, aging infrastructures, transportation systems and technology -- that I welcome the addition of Tim Rood to our City Council.

Holding dual advanced degrees in architecture and city planning from Cal, Rood has successfully managed multidisciplinary consulting teams in numerous cities, tackling just these issues: fiscal responsibility with demands for change and growth.

Integrating new demands for LEED accreditation in green neighborhood design, as well as accommodating more pedestrian and bicycle traffic and installing greater safety measures in small and large communities, including Oakland, Martinez, San Rafael and Healdsburg, Tim's experience is all about working with a range of professionals committed to making cities run well for their residents.

Coming off a two-year stint volunteering on our Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee, Tim Rood's broad experience in civic planning will be a terrific addition to our council, and I urge neighbors to vote for him.

Denise Bostrom

Piedmont

A modest proposal for electing mayors

You may wonder why, in an uncontested election for the Piedmont City Council, two candidates are waging a serious campaign.

It is because of a long-standing gentleman's agreement that, after length of service on the council, the council member receiving the most votes in the first election is the next mayor for two years even if this excludes one council member from becoming mayor before being termed out of office. In the past 20 years, Councilmembers Garrett Keating and Walter Schey were not mayors.

I believe that every member of the Piedmont City Council elected to serve two terms should have the opportunity to be mayor. I would continue the council tradition of electing a mayor and vice mayor for two-year terms except when two members of the council are in their final two years before being termed out of office and neither of them has been mayor. In this situation, I recommend that the council elect each for a one-year term. A one-year term as mayor is not unusual for smaller cities in the Bay Area. It is done that way in Emeryville and Orinda. And our Piedmont Board of Education elects its presidents for a one-year term.

This year we have an uncontested election for City Council. Campaign disclosure statements show that as of Dec. 21 candidate Teddy King had raised $14,181 and candidate Tim Rood had raised $1,648. I can understand mailing one citywide flyer to educate voters, but why should a candidate feel the need to raise and spend a lot of money in an attempt to become mayor six years hence? Not only would my proposal be a fairer method, but is it not better for the council to recognize the contributions of all its members by giving each person the opportunity to serve as mayor?

Al Peters

Mayor (2000-2002) Piedmont

Candidate better at taxpayer disclosure

We recently moved to Piedmont with two young kids. We are both very interested in the Alan Harvey Theater renovation project and wanted to know more about exactly how much it would cost us in additional taxes.

We took a look at Hari Titan's bond tax comparison tool to find out: HariTitan.com/bond-tax-comparison.htm.

This calculator is great. It tells us exactly what we would personally expect to pay for the first two options the school board is considering. For us, option one (the CAB option) is 35 percent more expensive than option two. I understand the numbers are not final, but it is enough to help decide which option is right for us -- clearly option two.

This is the kind of service and disclosure I expect from a modernized school board. The other two candidates come from the finance sector as well, and we have not heard anything about this issue from them. Please join me in supporting Hari Titan's efforts to provide a more modern website for taxpayers and parents to interact with.

Shilpa and Ashish Patel

Piedmont

King great choice for City Council

Recently, we hosted Teddy King, a candidate for Piedmont City Council, in a small neighborhood house party.

Each one of our guests were impressed by Teddy's command of the important topics facing the city of Piedmont, including public safety, the new City Administrator and the challenges facing our town with regards to public pensions.

You can tell that she is an excellent listener, she studies the issues and she has a highly trained understanding of how elected office works.

As parents with kids at Havens Elementary School and at the Piedmont Middle School, we are excited at the prospect of another mother with school-age kids serving on City Council. We need a strong voice to represent our concerns on Council, and we are convinced that Teddy will do an outstanding job.

We urge our fellow Piedmonters to cast their vote for Teddy King for Piedmont City Council.

Vicky and Mike O'Bresly

Piedmont

Vote Titan for more fiscal transparency

I'd like to thank Hari Titan for bringing attention to the financing arrangements being proposed for the Alan Harvey Theater renovation. I especially don't want the community to spend an extra $6.8 million for deferring interest payments, which costs us more in the long haul with no significant benefit to us.

Titan has done a lot of work on figuring out how the Capital Appreciation Bonds work, and I'd really like it if his analysis and research weren't lost for future taxpayers. That's why I really like his idea of having an electronic town hall where this topic thread would be handy for the future.

Building this town hall would be a collective activity but would need a champion on the school board. I really want decisions to be made in the open with all the reasoning easily visible. I also like the idea for parents to drive the next big idea using this shared platform.

Please also consider that Hari Titan has a Ph.D. in computer science and is very well suited to make this happen and is dedicated to an open decision process that is easily accessible.

Wayne Leong

Piedmont

Counting the ways Rood is qualified

I am writing to voice my support for Tim Rood for City Council because I believe Tim has the necessary skills to address the issues our community faces and because Tim has really led by example.

I supported Tim in the last election and was disappointed he lost by a mere 26 votes. Undeterred, Tim remained active in the community and has used his time wisely to build his knowledge of our local government.

I met Tim in his 2012 campaign and was extremely impressed with his understanding of key fiscal issues as well as his ability to support his arguments factually. In addition, I support Tim for the following reasons:

  • His strong commitment to fiscal responsibility and understanding of Piedmont's finances.

  • His history of local community involvement and commitment to open, transparent government.

  • His service on the city's Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee and support from all of his colleagues.

  • His professional background as a licensed architect and certified city planner.

  • His experience leading community outreach meetings and workshops in dozens of cities.

  • His leadership in advocating for safer walking and bicycling routes in Piedmont.

  • His transparency as evidenced by his website with detailed information about city issues and his positions.

    Unlike 2012, this is an uncontested election; however, I believe there is much more at stake in 2014 than simply a council seat. The city of Piedmont needs to address core fiscal issues: entitlements, taxation and spending/accountability. Our city government also needs to make more effort toward increasing transparency. Tim will take these important steps and do so with integrity and open mindedness.

    Tim is a true grass-roots candidate who will put the long-term health of the entire Piedmont community first at a time when the city requires this, and he will lead with integrity.

    Steve Baronian

    Piedmont

    Siegel may be even worse than Quan

    Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's collaborator-in-arms, Dan Siegel, wants to occupy the highest throne at Frank Ogawa Plaza? These two far-left politicos share the same divisive and destructive philosophy of government that fomented millions of dollars in damage during the Occupy demonstrations.

    Did she not participate as a dissident while mayor? Was she held accountable for her illegal actions, or was her participation merely deemed freedom of speech, a broad-stroke term that led to massive damage of public and private property and cost us taxpayers countless millions of dollars?

    Dan Siegel may be a civil rights attorney, but as her unpaid legal adviser, taxpayers have to question the course he steered. Personal, political or city policy? Remember, Oakland has a very well staffed and handsomely paid City Attorney's Office charged with legalities of administration. His radical politics of the past are transparent, and his litigious transgressions have cost us taxpayers large sums of dollars on frivolous lawsuits. Strange bedfellows, no?

    There are few remnants of sanity remaining at City Hall today. Quan's ever-evolving policing strategies and shifting political stripes have been a disaster. However, Siegel would bring a worst-case scenario with his radical philosophies and continuing advocacy for more stringent and outside police oversight. The Oakland Police Department is woefully understaffed, has a questionable and turnstile command structure and continues to be scrutinized and derided by overzealous politicians and judges alike.

    I submit, Dan Siegel, like Quan, would not advocate for the politically middle ground populace of Oakland who want better accountability of our tax dollars, streamlined government and a return to proactive policing within our 56 square miles of borders. Neither is suitable for mayor.

    Dennis Brown

    Oakland

    Heed the recent piece on fracking

    Paul Rockwell's Jan. 3 piece about the risks of hydraulic fracturing using diverted water from the Delta is well worth noting.

    Other clearly documented dangers of fracking include contamination of groundwater with carcinogenic chemicals, methane leaks into the atmosphere which are much more potent that carbon dioxide and the potential for earthquakes that the injection of these chemicals can cause.

    Additionally, haphazard storage of toxic wastewater in poorly constructed pools at the surface leads to dangerous exposure for people living and working close by. A better, less costly plan than the Bay Delta Conservation Plan called Portfolios has been proposed. It needs further study. But it is reportedly supported by eight water districts including EBMUD; 39 various elected state, local and federal officials; and environmental and business groups. Those interested in reading more about the BDCP and Portfolios can pursue these via recent articles at the East Bay Express and/or SFGate.com.

    I urge those readers who have concerns about the BDCP to express these to their representatives in the Assembly and state Senate. Hopefully, our representatives will endorse the need to study Portfolios more thoroughly. Then they can present it to the governor as a more sensible, less costly alternative that truly does conserve the Delta.

    Richard Solomon

    Oakland