Local papers have quoted School Board Trustee Mike McMahon as saying the decision to spend $5.9 million on an office building is “a no-brainer.”
As my Uncle Cusper once pointed out, there are two types of “no-brainer” decisions.
Firstly, those decisions which are so obvious that thoughtful consideration need not be given.
And secondly, those decisions which are NOT so obvious yet thoughtful consideration is NOT given.
Uncle Cusper liked to sneak a cigarette before falling off to sleep at night; one night his mattress mysteriously caught fire; he ran out of his trailer taking only the union suit on his back with him; later he said his decision to evacuate the flaming trailer was a “no-brainer.”
The problem was that the decision to smoke in bed was also a “no brainer” but in a different sense.
Fortunately, Cusper’s replacement trailer was not $5.9 million.
The truth is, if you aren't thinking, all your decisions can qualify as "no-brainers."
Presently, the School Board has been led so far down the primrose path that it now appears fiscally irresponsible to reverse course.
Ironically, if the School Board does not continue to pursue its folly, it might look foolish even to the uninformed, misinformed and apathetic.
Our Trustees have approved upwards of $1 million in educational money to be spent cocooning what is presently deemed a useless building.
The Historic Alameda High School (HAHS) will now be left to molder, awaiting some economic miracle to resuscitate it.
Our Trustees have signed a six-year lease to the tune of $3.3 million for an office building to house roughly 85 non-students and non-educators.
Was this decision a “no-brainer” also?
George Shultz recently pointed out, “More than 30 percent of funds appropriated for schools never make it within sight of the classroom, according to the California state Department of Finance, but instead are siphoned off by bureaucrats, administrators and ancillary personnel . . . in the district offices.”
Is the new office on Marina Village Parkway “within sight of the classroom” or are we, seemingly an intelligent community of 74,000, no better than the rest of the irresponsible profligate districts who misappropriate education dollars?
AUSD Chief Business Officer Robert Shemwell argues that we should buy the office now because it will cost more to buy it later.
Does anyone sniff a circular argument here?
Essentially Shemwell presents the public with what rhetoricians call a false dichotomy: “We can pay $5.9 million now or pay $6.3 million later.”
Is this a permutation of the Pennzoil commercial?
This sounds like the kind of “Hurry; call now; our operators are standing by” hustle we hear on later night TV, only we aren’t buying the $19.99 Bass-O-Matic or the Turnip Twaddler; we are buying administrative opulence in an era of country-wide and state-wide austerity.
Remember Proposition 30 will not give more money to education; if you read the fine print it said, “These additional revenues would be available to fund programs in the state budget (pensions). Spending reductions of about $6 billion in 2012–13, mainly to education programs, would not take effect.
Proposition 30 staved-off “spending reductions . . . mainly to education programs . . . “
In truth there exist an infinite number of options e.g. “Don’t pay $5.9 million now and don’t pay $6.3 million later.”
The question should be, “How do we get out of the ‘no-brainer’ lease we signed and how do we stop throwing good money after bad?”
Now that the community is hearing rumors that HAHS could have been seismically retrofitted for approximately $3 million, the AUSD reasoning is beginning to hopscotch.
Originally AUSD claimed it was vacating HAHS because it was seismically unsafe, now Shemwell claims, “Even when we complete the seismic retrofitting to save the building, it will probably never be habitable for district employees without great expense.”
Great expense? Could that be anything less than $5.9 million?
Just when we bit on the seismic ruse, the gentleman who chants “sign now, buy now” has condemned HAHS on additional unstated grounds.
HAHS will “Never be habitable?”
The building has been habitable, continuously, since 1927.
Did it suddenly become haunted? What is the going price for license exorcists or board certified ghost busters?
Before spending $30,000 a month on rent, or $5.9 million on a new office building or even $6.3 million on the same new office building, we should ask some “no-brainer” questions like . . .
How many students will utilize the new edifice?
Will the new building restore K-3 class sizes to a 20:1 ratio?
Will the new acquisition restore vocational education opportunities for Alameda students who are not college bound?
Does Harbor Bay Realty get a $30,000 annual commission on the Marina Village rental property?
Has anyone from Harbor Bay Realty recommended a raise for the superintendent at a School Board Meeting?
Which Realty company will pocket the commission on the sale of the Marine Village chateau?
Why does Patricia “Trish” Herrera Spencer, the person with the highest, most rigorous education, and a female, and a Latina, and a California Attorney, seem to enjoy the least credibility on the School Board?
Why are decisions, like signing the Marina Village lease and approving a four-year contract for the highest echelon, done beyond the purview of video recording equipment?
Can these queries be added to the growing list of “no-brainer” questions?
Jeffrey R Smith