Counterintuitive, or just dumb?
The Sacramento City Unified School District is getting ready to fire hundreds of teachers, cut sports programs and end school-bus transportation. Still, it continues to add top managers.
Despite the fiscal crisis, SCUSD Superintendent Jonathan Raymond wants to go ahead with plans to hire a new assistant superintendent of education information technology as well as an assistant superintendent of capital asset management. Each will make somewhere between $105,000 and $132,000.
District officials point out that these technically aren’t new positions—but were created by eliminating a position here, moving some money around there.
Still, Bites wonders about the need for plum positions like the new information-technology job, which sounds a lot like czar of test-score tracking.
“As I’m sure you are aware, maintaining accurate student data—that aligns with statewide and federal standards—is critical to both improving student learning and accurate reporting to the state,” district spokesman Gabe Ross explained.
“Critical” is perhaps not the word Bites would use.
Counterintuitive? Maybe that’s the right word for adding bureaucrats to the school-district payroll when teachers are getting pink-slipped.
But how about adding politicians to the state Legislature? Steven Greenhut, editor of the Libertarian-ish political news site Cal Watchdog, promoted this counterintuitive approach in an opinion piece in The Orange County Register earlier this month.
Greenhut noted that California has by far the worst representation rate in the country, with one state Assembly member for every 483,000 citizens. By comparison, Iowa has one state rep for every 30,000 folks; in New Hampshire, the ratio is 1-to-3,300. But even the next worst represented state, Texas, has a 150-member state Assembly—each with districts of about 150,000 people.
Greenhut then picks up on the work of activist Michael Warnken, who for years has been waging a quixotic campaign to increase the size of the Assembly to about 800 members—while slashing their salaries by about 90 percent.
Bites has given Warnken some ink before, and he makes a strong case. The current system is clearly a rip-off for Californians. Smaller districts would mean election campaigns could be scaled down to a more human (and more affordable) level. And it would dilute the power of special-interest money—by spreading the bribes over a larger, more politically diverse body.
As for what we’d do with all those additional lawmakers, Bites figures Warnken’s reply from a few years back is still a good one: “I hear Arco Arena is going to be available soon.”
To no one’s surprise, the City Folsom has earned itself a big fat lawsuit from affordable-housing advocates this month. The Sacramento Housing Alliance has sued to stop the city from ditching a set of progressive rules requiring developers to build affordable housing along with their market-rate projects.
The Folsom City Council decided they didn’t like the “inclusionary housing” rules because developers found they were cutting into profits. And since developer profits are what finance election campaigns around here, the rules had to go. It also turns out those folks who live in the McMansions don’t really like a lot of poor people in their neighborhoods. Who knew?
Instead, the new developer-approved policy will call on builders to voluntarily create affordable units. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last the few years, it’s that the housing industry, if left alone, tends to do the right thing, you know, voluntarily.