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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Measure W Imperative

In just over a month, an election is going to be held that may be the most important election since 1932. I write those words with hesitation, because dare I say that every election I have ever been a part of, and that goes back only to 1992, they have said something like that.

And yet, for me that biggest lesson of my life occurred in 2000 because it was a realization that one cannot take things for granted. A scant few votes in a single state and some, if not voting irregularities, then anomalies determined the course of history of this nation. Not to mention a 5-4 Supreme Court decision.

Okay now let's stop and dispense with the melodrama here. The fact of the matter is that there are a number of important elections coming up in just over a month from now. For me, the most important of the ones below the Presidential contest is Measure W. I have devoted much time and space to this measure.

I think it is one of the most important issues facing Davis right now for a lot of reasons.

Last week I criticized the Measure W effort and was rebuked (and that's clearly too strong a word) by Measure W Campaign Coordinator Kingsley Melton.

My statement that drew his criticism:
"The concern that has been emerging has been that this campaign has been low-key."
Mr. Melton responded on the blog:
"Sorry DPD, I have to take issue with this statement. Perhaps you have not been contacted by Measure W, and with good reason, you are identified as a supporter. We are running a targeted operation that is on track to contact every likely absentee voter prior their receiving a ballot.

As I sit here numerous volunteers are making the phonecalls and contacts essential to the Measure's passage. We may not be a big budget operation, but we are a lean and mean machine. To learn more about volunteer opportunities and campaign activities, please visit our website,"
I hope my friend Kingsley Melton does not take this the wrong way, but I have to disagree with him. I am glad they are on track to contact every likely absentee voter, and I hope they are very effective, but I have seen some very effective grassroots campaigns of this sort. The most effective was a special election in 1998 for Lois Capps. I understand this is not going to be a million dollar campaign, but it still needs to be a high profile one. The efforts by the Davis Schools Foundation ring a bell as to how to organize on this kind of level.

The Capps campaign was able to mobilize over 50 percent in 1998 across the Christmas and New Year's holidays by bombarding the voters not only with calls--we're talking six, seven, eight calls across not a city but across a congressional district with hundreds of thousands of voters. We are talking huge amounts of volunteers, direct mail, vote-by-mail applications, etc. I am glad they are going to contact every voter, but they need to contact every voter about seven times for it to be effective. And I hope they do.

I do not want to be a downer, but I do not have a sense for that kind of coordinated effort at this point. And I only point this out because in my opinion, we cannot afford to lose this.

If I am looking for a spokesman, how about the elderstatesman of Davis--Dr. Herb Bauer.

Reading his words literally gives one chills.

He writes:
"Open your eyes for a moment and read Measure W for the coming election. Measure W protects children and their education alone, nothing else. Read the details to convince yourself. In a world full of flames, with war on earth and ill will to men, only well-educated children may hope to create a better world."
If anyone in this entire community has been there and done that, it is Dr. Bauer.

Last week the Davis City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting Measure W.

In part the resolution reads:
"DJUSD spend less on each child’s education than either the national or the state average, and the District has stretched every dollar to minimize overhead; and.... Measure W is needed to continue services such as reduced class size, enhanced reading and math programs, training for teachers, school-based technology support, school counselors, nurses and more; and... funds from Measure W will make a direct difference in increasing classroom resources for the children of Davis; and... Davis is a community that is defined by its commitment to our schools and our children, with Davis schools enhancing the quality of life for all residents..."
And as we reported last week, Former School Board Member John Munn and current President of the Yolo County Taxpayers Association sent a letter to the Davis Enterprise on behalf of the group in support of Measure W.
"The Yolo County Taxpayers Association board of directors has voted to support Measure W, the proposed parcel tax to maintain school programs in Davis. Although the association is not pleased by spending decisions that have contributed to the school district's current financial situation, the need for Measure W is real; and opposition at this point would not be in the best interest of the community, where taxpayers have a clear interest in the education of Davis students.

This support, however, comes with a caveat. We expect that the school district and board members now understand how decisions about present spending can lead to future deficits. Therefore, the association will not support future tax measures to pay for deficits created by subsequent board decisions.

But this is for another day's debate. Today, we must work together to keep the good things we have, which requires passing Measure W."
There are so many reasons to continue to support Measure W--quality education is not a luxury in this world, it is a necessity. $120 is real money to people. But it pales in comparison with the costs of substandard education. There is simply too much at stake now to allow our schools to go by the wayside. Education is the ticket to a better life and maintaining a strong education is an imperative.

At the end of the day, we need to remember that this is about our children and their future. They only get one shot at this.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting