Category Archives: Public Policy

RUSD-STEM-Measure O And A Growing Backlash From Neighborhood Groups and Parents

Attention Please Sign 

We all know there is a lot at stake in how our school bonds are spent.

There is a breakdown in trust between taxpayers and school boards across the
State.  This is evident in the almost complete rejection of all school bond issues in our last election.

As taxpayers it’s our responsibility to become more aware of the behind-the-scenes practices that result in decades of disinvestment in certain neighborhood schools.

We can change that now for all. It starts by asking your questions in all our public comment forums.

As voters, we will once again be asked to approve bond measures or policies. If you’ve never considered the importance of this topic, this is the best time to start.

Read and share this with your neighbors, post everywhere and most importantly, start talking about what our dreams for everyone’s child’s educational opportunities look like.

The more vocal and public we have this conversation, the sooner our school board will understand what we are holding them accountable for. If not, they won’t keep their seat.

Luckily, we have neighbors in the UNA and all across the city who are following along  and asking public questions pointing out the systemic disenfranchisement of certain neighborhoods.

 

If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us. Your zip code shouldn’t determine your lifespan or equal opportunities to quality educational facilities and curriculum .

They say if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. That’s what’s finally happening as parents across the city unite in solidarity for educational equity.

Here are some recent updates and comments to help catch us up. Circulate freely.

Reported on August 27, 2021 From the Press Enterprise

It may take a village, but sometimes it takes a backlash. This is what it looks like when we’re winning.

This from Rich Davis, our eyes, ears and the interpreter who gives context for school board actions and alerts us to the costs and impacts.

Hi All. Hope this email finds everyone doing well.

At the last school board meeting, an updated lease agreement with RUSD and UCR was presented to the board for their approval.  The lease agreement can be found on the district’s website under board agenda, consent #10.

VOTING YES:Trustees- Hunt (stated he also has concerns with the lease but voted YES), Lee, Allavie and Farooq.   VOTING NO: KINNEAR

In short,

1.  Because the high school will be built on UCR property, UCR is the sole owner of the building with a lease agreement for 50 yrs with the option of two 10 year extensions, if agreed upon.

At a community meeting, a district manager stated that in 50 years the STEM building will be obsolete and will probably be demolished. Many of our schools in the district are over 50 yrs old-Highgrove is over 130 years old. Fremont over 100 years old,  Ramona nearly 65 years old, Poly and North High School are over 50 years old, schools that are fully operational todayWhen the lease ends, the building belongs to UCR.

2.  RUSD is solely responsible for all expenses, including:

  • design and construction.
  • purchasing of land rights owned by the city of Riverside
  • relocating all cell towers on the property.
  • paying for the fiber cables for UCR baseball field
  • environmental impact study ($300,000).
  • costs of resolving all issues found in the environmental impact study.
  • daily maintenance and upkeep.

3.  RUSD has racked up more than $1M dollars of billable hrs from UCR thus far.  This amount will continue to grow as UCR bills RUSD for any time spent by UCR employees working on this project.

4.  UCR assumes no liability in any future lawsuits.

5.  UCR to have access to the building with no charge for classrooms and labs.

6.  40 slots are guaranteed for UCR professors at this high school (total of 80 students including students at the STEM Academy).  These students are not required to live in the district, thus parents will not pay property tax, along with the other 300 students the district is allowing in who reside outside the district paying no property tax.

The Measure O property tax we voted for was to help remodel and renovate our needy schools, which is now going towards building UCR a new building at no cost to UCR,  RUSD allocates $32M of Measure O  funds and continues to rack up millions of dollars of additional fees.  RUSD will spend millions of dollars for yearly routine operational costs when the district’s student enrollment continues to decrease, costing RUSD millions of dollars in lost revenue each year.

Measure O Sign

It is truly disappointing that Trustees Allavie, Farooq and Lee with their strong ties to UCR continue to push this project to promote their own personal and political interests with our money.

This new STEM High School at UCR is not a comprehensive high school where students attend based on their address.  A comprehensive high school must accept any student who walks in to register.

This STEM High School is a specialized school where only students who meet certain high academic standards will be allowed in.

Instead of investing in our current high schools as a priority, the school board has made it clear in several board meetings that the STEM High School at UCR is their #1 priority.  The board sees no problem spending millions and millions of dollars to build a state of the art school in technology and innovation and infuse it with only the brightest students.

None of our high schools can compete with that. The board has turned its back on the thousands of students in the district who must sit everyday in deplorable classrooms and portables.

Case in point.    STEM High School at UCR will be less than a mile from North High School.  Why didn’t the board consider North High School as a STEM school?  Because the school board knows North High is not marketable in bringing students in from outside the district.

As we know, North High is in an industrial area on the Eastside, not surrounded by beautiful homes and landscaped yards, thus certainly not appealing when you drive around the school.  And when you walk the campus and see how deplorable the conditions are and how unappealing it looks, the board knows newcomers will go elsewhere.

We cannot change the location of North High nor should North High have to look like the depressed areas that surrounds it. The school board has the power to transform North’s campus appeal that can be stunning in its beauty.  Perhaps this is just reminiscent of a school board member back during Measure B when discussing North’s stadium referenced that poor kids don’t know how to take care of good things.

Instead of investing all of Measure O to renovate and beautify our schools of 40,000 students, this board’s #1 priority is to spend millions and millions of our dollars to cater to a select group of privileged students who many will not pay property tax.

The school board will once again be asking us to vote to increase our property tax to “supposedly” renovate and modernize our schools.  We need to remind the board that siphoning off millions of dollars to fund UCR a new building was not appreciated and will vote NO on any local school bond or state school bond measure as long as they continue to pursue this project.

It is time to elect new board members that have our 40,000 students as their 1st priority, not for a selected few.

Will keep you posted.

 

This From Yolanda Esquivel who is voicing the concerns of parents in the Eastside
Hello LULAC Members/Friends,
Hope everyone is doing well.  Below is a message from our good friend, Rich Davis, giving us the notice that the RUSD Board meeting that was to take place September 16, 2021, has been moved to October 7, 2021.  It will begin at the same time of 5:30 p.m.  We will let you know of the location later.

Eastside Alleyway

Again, we would like to sincerely thank all of you who helped organize or attended this past meeting in August 19th.  Your support for our Eastside Elementary and North High School is crucial, nothing can be accomplished without the help of each one of you.

There is still much work ahead for all of us.  Though the results from the previous meeting were hopeful, we cannot be confident our Eastside students will actually benefit or receive educational equity.  Therefore, we are going to continue this very worthwhile struggle for justice in our Communities.
The fact that so many organizations have come together to plead for the same goal of educational equity in our Eastside and North High communities demonstrate an awakening of a reality which had been ignored for generations.
We Are Just Getting Started Signit is imperative that all of us continue to plan, organize and be ready for the October 7th RUSD Board Meeting. I will continue to send you information provided to us by LULAC members Rich Davis and Mary Figueroa.
In Unity,
Yolanda Esquivel
 Past President
LULAC OF RIVERSIDE
COUNCIL 3190
From Mary Figueroa

Good Morning my Team and Task Force members:

Below please find an informative piece by none other than our community friend Rich Davis.

We need to realize how important it is that we pay attention to what is happening quietly behind the activity of the RUSD Board and how it impacts our community.

Once again, we are facing decisions made on behalf of and for the benefit of other communities, to the detriment of our children.

Please read the following, although lengthy it provides all you need to know about why you should be involved in being the voice for the Eastside.

We will talk later.

Mary

Public Comments On UCR 2021 Long Range Development Plan

We Are Just Getting Started SignThe closing date for public comments on UCR’s LRDP was Friday, Sept. 3rd, 2021.

Here are three of the public comment letters submitted.

One is from the City of Riverside, one is from lawyers hired on behalf of the UNA, and one letter from UNA Co Chair Gurumantra Khalsa.

The City really stepped up their game compared to previous planning projects.  It’s almost a text book case study for public comments.

Thanks go out to Kevin Dawson for alerting the City of Riverside to Berkeley being awarded $84 million over 14 years for mitigation.

Here are links for your review of the comments.:

City of Riverside Comments

Delano & Delano Comments

UNA Co Chair Comments

Meet Ward 2 City Council Candidates

Ward 2 Riverside City Council Candidate Forum Pics

Now that you have your ballots, you might be wondering who’s who.

Well, here’s your chance to meet the candidates vying for our vote.

So get comfortable, sit back, relax, pour yourself a cup or glass of something strong to see you through an hour and a half.

If you do, you’ll know your vote is informed. You’ll be the judge who counts. Here’s a link to the video courtesy of the League of Women Voters.  Enjoy before it’s too late.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1t1b9kUAi_dUIXw1DQUckxX9XIMC5P7-r/view?usp=sharing

Overhead Power Lines Along Santa Ana Forum June 13

RTRP Overhead Lines Along Santa Ana
The Riverside Transmission Reliability Project will destroy the viewshed of Riverside and the surrounding communities forever. This is being promoted by our public utility department. It’s unwise and unnecessary. Find out why at a special Teach In at the next UNA meeting – June 13, 2019.

We’ll have

 Mayor Brian Berkson/Jurupa Valley
 Councilman Chris Barajas/Jurupa Valley
 Norco Representative Susan Bowen
 Devonne Pitruzzello
to explain why undergrounding is better for all communities and what you can do to make sure that happens. Tell your neighbors.  Mark the date. 3 weeks and counting.

 Save The Date  June 13, 2019

Image

   Join us every 2nd Thursday of the month, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm for
the UNA neighborhood meeting.
Watch for the signs throughout
the neighborhood the weekend before.

Map and Directions To Crest Community Church

3431 Mt Vernon Ave, Riverside, CA 92507

RUSD Measure O Citizen Oversight Committee Meets Wed May 29, 2019

What:   The Measure O Bond Oversight Committee Meeting

When:    Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at  4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

 Where:  Conference Room 3,
RUSD District Offices
2280 14th Street, Riverside,CA 92501

(corner of 14th Street and Lime, across from                    Jack in the Box, close to the 91 freeway).

 Why:   Because some members of the Oversight Committee think the proposed UCR STEM High School cannot be lawfully built using Measure O funds.
The whole Committee needs to hear the views of other concerned members of the public, and why they think the Measure O money needs to be used to improve existing schools city-wide. Thats us.
 
Come prepared to speak up and tell the Oversight Committee why you think use of Measure O money for a STEM high school on the UCR campus violates Measure O!
  Need some talking points?  Read on!
 Please let all your friends who care about education in Riverside know about this meeting and encourage them to try to attend.
Talking Points About Measure O
    Measure O does not allow the bond money to be used to build new schools.
According to the impartial analysis provided to voters by the County’s attorneys, bond money:
“may be used by the District to repair and upgrade  District schools by upgrading or replacing aging school infrastructure, classrooms and buildings, modernize school facilities with 21st century technology, improve access for students with disabilities, provide classroom and labs for career and technical education classes.”
“The Bonds may be used to improve school safety by modernizing security systems, retrofitting buildings to be earthquake proof, and upgrading emergency communications.”
“The Bonds may also be used to Districtwide technology improvements for updated instruction technology in classrooms and labs and upgraded computer systems.”  (See  Measure O | Voter’s Edge California)
     It is the Oversight Committee’s duty to make sure the Measure O money is properly spent.
Voters were told that an oversight committee would make sure that bond funds would be spent  “only on the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of school facilities, including the furnishing and equipping of school facilities, or the acquisition or lease of real property for school facilities, and for no other purposes.”  (See https://votersedge.org/en/ca/ballot/election/area/42/measures/measure/2779?election_authority_id=33)
   The purpose of Measure O was to make useful improvements to existing and aging infrastructure, to spend it on projects that would benefit all students district-wide, not to invest in new buildings for a few.
This article explains

Bill Latham

Microenvironment renovations offer schools a relatively inexpensive way to align facilities to teaching and lear…

Measure O | Voter’s Edge California

Maplight & LWVCEF, http://maplight.org & https://cavotes.org/

Guide to measures in the Riverside Unified School District on the November 8, 2016 ballot.

Candidate Forum Ward 7

RRR’s April meeting will be the Ward 7 Forum!  

6 Candidates are vying for this council seat…remember, each city councilman has 1/7 vote for ALL city issues and ward issues requiring a vote.  If you are in Ward 6 it is important for you to attend; these candidates are looking for votes and VISIBILITY.  If there is a candidate you like, you can support them with yard signs, business cards that you can carry and hand out at stores, church and events.

 Ward 7 residents are our neighbors and they drive down our streets and shop at many of the same stores; your opinion could be influential for the city and your Ward (6 or 7).

 WHEN:                       Wednesday April 24, 2019

Where:                      Loma Vista Middle School

11050 Arlington Ave, Riverside, CA 9250   

It is EASY to find and EASY to park. The parking lot Is next to the entrance, very little walking!

 

Time:     6:30 pm for socialization and visiting the candidates tables

 7:00 pm Welcome

Moderator:               Former Mayor Ron Loveridge

 Thank you all for the questions you have sent in…what do you think are the top three issues you would like addressed by our candidates?

 Sharon Mateja

Chairperson RRR

 This is who’s running for Riverside City Council in June 2019

In an all-mail election, voters will choose representatives for Wards 1, 3, 5 and 7.

By RYAN HAGEN | rhagen@scng.com | The Press-Enterprise

PUBLISHED: March 15, 2019 at 5:13 pm | UPDATED: March 16, 2019 at 2:20 pm

The list of Riverside City Council candidates for the June election is final.

Four City Council seats are up for election, with the incumbent running for re-election in only one of them.

Ward 3 Councilman Mike Soubirous and Ward 5 Councilman Chris Mac Arthur announced in the past year that they wouldn’t run for re-election, while Ward 7 Councilman Steve Adams said when he was appointed in September 2017 that he had no interest in seeking re-election.

That means more than half of the City Council could have new representatives later this year.

Candidates may file to run as a write-in candidate between April 8 and May 21.

Ballots must be mailed to voters between May 6 and May 25.

The deadline to return a ballot in the all mail-in election is June 4. If no candidate in one of the races receives a majority of the vote, a run-off would pit the top two finishers against each other in November.

Here are the candidates for each ward and their employment, based on information they gave when they ran for office or in campaign materials.

Ward 1

Philip J. Falcone, former assistant in Riverside mayor’s office

Erin Edwards, nonprofit manager

Mike Gardner, Ward 1 councilman

Ward 3

Richard Rubio, government relations officer/planning commissioner

Darryl Martin (Jalani Bakari), educator/grant facilitator

Stevie S. Taken, tenant relations manager

James “Warren” Avery, III, businessman/father

Ronaldo Fierro, Riverside commissioner/restaurateur

Wayne J. Skiles, gemologist

Lori A. Pelgone, payroll manager

Ward 5

Sean H. Mill, businessman/planning commissioner/coach

Gabriela Plascencia, counselor

Jose L. Armas, business owner

RELATED LINKS

Ward 7

William D. Pearce, educator

Steven Hemenway, educator/finance director

Maartin J. Rossouw, small business owner/planning commissioner

John D. Denilofs, work-at-home dad

Rodrigo Torres Jr., small business owner

Thomas L. Jordan, IT professional

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to show that Richard Rubio and Maartin Rossouw are planning commissioners.

Riverside County Needs Assessment 2018-2019

Your input is needed. You are invited to participate in Riverside County’s 2018-2019 Needs Assessment.

The study is being conducted by Riverside County Community Action Partnership, and the UCR School of Public Policy’s  Blum Initiative on global and regional poverty.

The survey is anonymous and the more feedback they get from the resident level, the better they can target resources.

Please forward to your networks, share with your colleagues and groups. Might as well tell them what we can from our perspective. It’s a pretty long survey, 10-11 pages, but the more feedback the better.

That’s the theory. Here are the links:

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XSCX58D

Spanish: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XSTDRKS

Thanks for playing the “Is It Healthy?” game on a community level.

A Message From New City Manager Al Zelinka

Al Zelinka, Riverside City Manager
Al Zelinka, Riverside City Manager

  Dear City Team Colleagues,

Good afternoon. I am writing to convey gratitude to you, as well as to convey some information.

First, thank you. Thank you for the service you provide every day to the Riverside community and to your colleagues across the City organization. Thank you, too, for your patience and support of your City management team as we have endeavored this past month to transition, adjust and get settled while striving to problem solve, add value, and serve. The City Manager’s Office is close to having its “sea legs” and will hit our stride together with you by August. I am grateful to you for who you are and what you do each day.

Second, I want to share an update on the reorganization of the City Manager’s Office, make you aware of opportunities that are becoming available within our organization, remind you of the 5-by-5 dimensions of my role as your City Manager, and to remind you of the Acting City Manager schedule for July.

Reorganization

As you know, the City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, June 19th, to reinstate the classification and salary range for the position of Deputy City Manager. As I previously reported to you, I have asked Carlie Myers and Moises Lopez to fill these two posts. (Please congratulate both of them when you see them.) They report directly to Assistant City Managers Lea Deesing and Rafael Guzman, respectively, to ensure we provide a high level of customer service to the Mayor and City Council, the public and one another. Further, Valerie Castro, Sarah Varela, Kristina Clabaugh, and Donna Finch are incredibly talented and gifted colleagues who provide the City Management Team with the wherewithal to perform at our very best. They are passionate about public service, consummate professionals, and wonderful people. I am very proud of this whole team and know they are dedicated to working with you to do the most public good.

On a practical level, with this new organization of the City Manager’s Office, the following changes to department leadership and agenda report review are now effective.

Department

CMO/ACM

Legistar Agenda Report Reviewer

Community & Economic Development

Rafael Guzman

Donna Finch

Finance

Lea Deesing

Donna Finch

Fire

Lea Deesing

Donna Finch

General Services

Rafael Guzman

Donna Finch

Human Resources

Rafael Guzman

Donna Finch

Innovation & Technology

Lea Deesing

Donna Finch

Library

Lea Deesing

Donna Finch

Museum

Lea Deesing

Donna Finch

Parks, Recreation & Community Services

Rafael Guzman

Donna Finch

Police

Lea Deesing

Donna Finch

Public Utilities

Al Zelinka

Carlie Myers

Public Works

Rafael Guzman

Donna Finch

CMO – Office of Homeless Solutions

Rafael Guzman

Moises Lopez

CMO – Office of Organizational Performance & Auditing

Al Zelinka

Carlie Myers

CMO – Office of Communications

Al Zelinka

Carlie Myers

Also, with the elevation of Lea Deesing to the role of Assistant City Manager, Chris Tilden is filling the role of Interim Chief Innovation Officer, and George Khalil is the Interim Deputy CIO. David Welch is our Interim Director of Community & Economic Development, filling the shoes vacated by Rafael Guzman when he became Assistant City Manager. Chris Christopoulos is Interim Deputy Director of Community & Economic Development. Please congratulate Chris, George, David and Chris when you see them. Many thanks to everyone for stepping in and showing leadership in their respective roles. 

Books By Al Zelinka

 

Opportunities

Because of these changes, and because of movement that already has occurred in various jobs, we have opened, or soon will open candidate searches for the following positions: Chief Innovation Officer, Community & Economic Development Director, Library Director, Public Utilities General Manager and Principal Management Analyst. Please encourage those you know – both within and outside of City Hall – to apply.

5 by 5

I have been sharing publicly 5 attributes of Riverside that I appreciate most and that provide me with the confidence needed to serve alongside you on this journey to accomplish important things for the benefit of the public:

·         Leadership: Our elected leaders care about this community and strive to represent the diverse viewpoints of Riverside in their decision-making and interaction with each of us. Likewise, City departments care about this community and deliver services, solve problems and open doors to Riverside’s promise every day.

·         Community: Riverside as a diverse community is complete with hard working residents who are largely proud of living here and who want to do better for themselves and their families. It is a place with innumerable points of pride in the built and natural environments. It is also a place with heritage that people cherish and question, and build upon for the future.

·         Partnership: Riverside is a community with unlimited potential and networks of social strength that can accomplish anything – think about the Cheech and CARB. While people in Riverside may not always agree, they – by and large – stay at the table with one another with an eye to realizing the good for Riverside.

·         Mindset. It is inspiring to be part of a City where so many residents and businesses do things together and for one another. This community admits mistakes, learns from them, and becomes better as a result; likewise, this community celebrates is successes and its assets. The Riverside community, while not perfect, has a collective mindset that is largely outward facing and wanting to do good.

·         Elevating the Conversation. The questions of “what can be?” and “what if?” are at the root of Riverside. Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote that includes “Great minds talk about ideas….” well represents what is most natural to this community. While there will always be aspects of criticism and negativity, Riverside is entrepreneurial and can-do by nature.

In addition to the 5 attributes of Riverside, I have also been sharing publicly 5 areas of focus our whole City Team and the community need to advance to ensure a promising future for Riverside – these areas are not “wants”, they are “needs” and we need to draw from the above attributes to advance them together:

·         Riverside and the Region. We need to: 1) Advocate for the Inland Empire’s Equitable Share of Scarce Public Resources and Do Our Part to Uplift the Capacity of the Region’s Non-Profit Ecosystem to Secure Its Share of Philanthropic Resources; and, 2) Do Our Part to Grow Riverside’s Local Economy and Work in Partnership to Facilitate Opportunities for Improved Quality of Life for All.

·         The Riverside Brand. We need to: 1) Tell the Riverside Story Better than Ever to Heighten Riverside’s Brand throughout the World; and, 2) Communicate and Engage More Effectively than Ever with Riverside Residents and Businesses.

·         Resilient Riverside. We need to: 1) Elevate the Entire Community’s Preparedness for Natural and Human Caused Conditions and Events; and, 2) Ensure the Financial Health of the City and Stretch Measure Z Dollars for Maximum Public Benefit Locally.

·         Self-Reliant Riverside. We need to: 1) Align and Leverage the City’s Utilities to Maximize Local Resource Recovery and Renewable Energy Production; and, 2) Realize a Second Connection to the Electrical Grid and Prepare for Our Electric-Based, Information-Driven Future.

·         Riverside Serves. We need to: 1) Demonstrate Continual Improvement to the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Providing Public Services; and, 2) Improve the Volunteerism Infrastructure in Riverside to Benefit All of Riverside.

Building upon the above 5 attributes and 5 areas of focus, I am confident our City Team will continue to excel in providing a responsive, engaged and innovative local government to the residents and business community of Riverside.

In closing, I am looking forward to our journey together and what our team will do to advance public good in the years ahead. I am proud of the services you and our 2,500 colleagues deliver every day – you make a difference.  And, I am here for you – if you have an idea, a question, a suggestion or a comment, please let me know – we are each other’s greatest resources.

Thank you,

Al

Al Zelinka, FAICP, CMSM

City of Riverside

Office of the City Manager

Direct: (951) 826-5771

RiversideCA.gov