Letters to the Editor

OUSD Measure Z Recap
    The Orinda Union School District’s parcel tax measure (Z), on a special March 7 ballot, passed the 2/3 majority hurdle easily with 5,018 yes-votes (77%) where only 1,545 dissented.
    Orindans support public education, especially public education in Orinda, but do they support deceptive practices to enhance that support?
    This special election, the only issue on the ballot, cost the school district $217,000. This is over $200,000 more than it would have cost if the ballot had been placed on the November general election ballot.
    The 5,018 yes-votes, while being a winning margin, represent 33% of Orinda’s registered voters. This is because the special election only elicited a 44% turnout, which is exceptionally low for Orinda, especially considering every voter received a mail-in ballot.
    What if the election had been held in November when the turnout was 72%? Would the measure have gained the required 7,200 votes for a 2/3 majority? Probably. But the district was not willing to “risk it.” Great lesson for the kids – play the odds even if it costs a little more.
    The basis for the “ask” was the district only receives $8,500 per student in state funding. Looking at the district’s audited financial statements, it turns out it really receives $10,000 from the state, $400 from the federal government, $3,800 in local taxes and $2,000 in donations. That’s $16,200 per student, almost twice the amount publicized.
    For more details on what I consider to be a deceptive ad for a good cause, visit www.saferorinda.info/measure-z-accounting.
    – Steve Cohn

Seeking Public Open Forum
    I became a resident of Orinda in 1952. I am a medical doctor, have a full-time practice in internal medicine in Walnut Creek and I am the founding president of www.PeopleUnited.net.
    We have all lived through the challenges of the past three years and most of us have become aware of what is happening to our Constitutional Republic. Our health, economy, civil rights and Republic are now in danger of collapsing.
    We have lost our constitutional privilege of running our great country, as it is now largely controlled by oligarchs, lobbyists and corporations. Many patriotic Americans are beginning to realize the importance of forming a grassroots movement to take back our government. “We the People” are awakening to the dangers that are jeopardizing our personal sovereignty and freedom.
    People United is requesting a Town Hall meeting for Orinda residents and an open forum to discuss the state of affairs of our country.
    – Len Saputo

There is no “blight” in Orinda
    I was dismayed to read that one of our own councilmembers, Latika Malkani, said “There’s a blight in Orinda,” May article, The Orinda News, “State Approves Orinda’s 6th Cycle Housing Element.”
    I disagree.
    Blight is usually characterized by deteriorating and abandoned homes and buildings, as well as vacant lots with trash, high weeds and abandoned and vandalized cars. We don’t have that in Orinda. Yes, we have old buildings, and like many cities, we have some vacancies. Phairs would be a pre-school if pro-developer forces hadn’t blocked it in 2013. But there isn’t “blight.” Quite the contrary.
    We have many thriving businesses serving our community, as is appropriate for the small town that is Orinda. Most of these businesses are of the proverbial “mom and pop” variety and have literally served our community for decades. They struggled through the pandemic, but remained and remain open.
    Our casual restaurants offer a variety of different cuisines and have a loyal following with good food. We have service businesses where we can get our clothes cleaned, prescriptions filled, do banking and shop. Parking is free.
    Our desires which cannot be fulfilled within Orinda are easily filled in neighboring communities just a few minutes away, where we pay for parking.
    The City plans call for the demolition of the existing buildings and destruction of the local businesses. A better plan would be a facade improvement program, such as Danville has adopted. Grants are available from the National Main Street Center.
    – Nick Waranoff