Measure C, the Warm Pool, and Wedge-Issue Politics
By JoAnn Cook, Elizabeth Gutfeldt, Odette Larde, Anne Marx, Summer Raven and Mertis Shekeloff
Berkeley Daily Planet, May 27, 2010
In the June 8 election, Berkeley has the choice of deciding whether to embrace all our city’s residents – old as well as young, disabled as well as able-bodied – or whether to succumb to conservative wedge-issue tactics that seek to divide us.
Measure C will benefit all pool users in Berkeley, from the Barracudas youth team to young parents to neighborhood lap swimmers. But no one has higher stakes than the users of the Warm Pool. For us, it quite literally is our lifeline.
Several of the writers of this article are disabled, and all of us need the Warm Pool’s 92-degree deep water to allow us to get exercise and gain the mobility that we don’t have on dry land.
For Daily Planet readers who are able-bodied, it may be difficult to realize just how much a municipal pool can change someone’s life. But please understand that once in water – warm water, mind you, not just regular pool water – our battered bodies transform into new, mobile forms. It is physically, mentally and spiritually rejuvenating.
We urge you to watch the Measure C campaign’s video, which is about all the city’s four pools but includes a very nice segment on the Warm Pool. The video is 10 minutes long, and we guarantee it will surprise you. It may even move you to tears – as it did for many of us as we watched the footage of the Parent-Tot class, or the class for Special Needs children. Please see the “media” section of the Measure C campaign website, www.berkeleypools.org.
In 2011, the Warm Pool will lose its longtime home at the Old Gym at Berkeley High School, so the pool must be rebuilt at a separate location. Measure C provides a new home at West Campus, the site of the former Berkeley Adult School at Addison and Browning streets. For all of Berkeley, the rebuilt indoor Warm Pool will be a wonderful complement to the three outdoor pools at King, Willard and West Campus. And for West Berkeley neighborhoods, the Warm Pool will be a huge bonus – it will be operated year-round and will be a perfect place for parents with toddlers and young children during the cold-weather months when the West Campus outdoor pool is closed for the season.
For all these reasons, Measure C is supported by every single elected official in Berkeley – the unanimous City Council, School Board and Rent Board, plus former Mayor Shirley Dean, State Senator Loni Hancock, and a wide variety of community groups.
Unfortunately, Berkeley’s anti-tax conservatives are cynically trying to use the Warm Pool as a wedge issue against Measure C. Led by Marie Bowman, who seems to be positioning herself as a Berkeley hybrid of Sarah Palin and Howard Jarvis, they are making a series of wild and false claims that the Warm Pool is unnecessary and too expensive.
It’s a fact-free zone. For example, they claim that the Warm Pool is Olympic size. In fact, it is only one-sixth of Olympic size. They claim that the UC Berkeley campus has a Warm Pool that could be an alternative for city residents. In fact, no such pool exists.
Most absurdly, they claim that the Warm Pool’s 92-degree water is unhealthy for tots, children, the pregnant, arthritic, seniors and the obese. This claim is directly contradicted by aquatics facilities in the Bay Area and around the nation. The Berkeley Pools Task Force, which was convened by the City Council and School Board in 2008-2009, closely examined aquatics industry standards and guidelines for the Warm Pool, and finally recommended a 92-degree temperature.
The Bay Area's two largest warm pools -- the Betty Wright Swim Center in Palo Alto and the Timpany Center in San Jose -- are 93 degrees and 92 degrees, respectively, and offer a wide variety of programming, from early swim classes for all ages to programs for the elderly and disabled. The Downtown Berkeley YMCA holds all its parent-child swim lessons and its preschool swim lessons in its small, 92-degree warm wading pool (which is too small for most adults and many children, however). The American Swim Academy has four 92-degree pools in Fremont, Newark, Livermore and Dublin, which offer a wide variety of swim classes for toddlers and children.
Our opponents also claim that the Warm Pool does not need to be rebuilt because it could be retained and remodeled (“a greener alternative”) at Berkeley High School. But the School Board has decided unanimously that the Warm Pool must be removed from the High School to relieve the severe overcrowding on campus. This decision is wildly popular among Berkeley parents and students, and it is essentially irreversible. By pretending otherwise, our opponents are just trying to create animosity between Warm Pool users and school supporters. These wedge tactics do not change the fact that if Measure C is not approved, Berkeley will have no Warm Pool, period.
But our opponents will stop at nothing. As a cover for the anti-Measure C campaign, Marie Bowman even has violated our privacy by launching a pseudo-Warm Pool website, BerkeleyWarmPool.org, showing photos of many Warm Pool users without their permission. Several of us have written Marie, who is owner of the website, to demand that she remove our photos, but she has not responded.
But this is par for the course. The anti-Measure C campaign is a callous effort by conservatives who would deprive our community of the pools we need to survive and would try to drive wedges between Berkeley residents.
Berkeley deserves much better. Let’s save our pools, protect our health, preserve our quality of life, and unite our community.
Please vote “Yes” for Measure C!
PRESS CONFERENCE, TUESDAY, JUNE 1, Berkeley Warm Pool
Save Berkeley Pools Campaign
Tuesday June 01, 2010
What: Condemning the Big Lies against Measure C: Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates,former Mayor Shirley Dean, and other City Council and School Board members will hold a press conference denouncing the Karl Rove-style disinformation tactics of the opponents of Measure C in Berkeley's June 8 election.
Why: Using a strategy right out of the Karl Rove play book, the anti-everything crowd (NO on schools, libraries, fire protection) now is attacking our pools Measure C with wildly false claims to create doubt and confusion. Their many whoppers include these:
LIE #1: The warm pool can be repaired in its current location -- False. They know the pool is scheduled for demolition by the School District.
LIE #2: Measure C will cost $3.5 million annually for maintenance, plus an annual inflation adjustment. False. They have created this totally out of thin air.
LIE #3: Willard is already a competition-size pool. False.
LIE #4: UC Berkeley campus has a Warm Pool. False.
We relish a good debate, but dishonest, right-wing tactics cannot be allowed to stand anywhere, any time. Measure C is about our kids, our seniors, our future.
Measure C is a $22.5 million bond measure and parcel tax in Berkeley's June 8 election to rebuild and repair the city's four municipal pools.
Who: Mayor Tom Bates, former Mayor Shirley Dean, and other Council and School Board members. Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett is invited. Measure C supporters (disabled in wheelchairs, and Barracudas youth team members in goggles) will attend alongside the speakers.
When: 4:30 pm, Tuesday, June 1.
Where: Berkeley Warm Pool, 2246 Milvia Street & Durant (inside gate). The press conference will be held indoors on the deck of the Warm Pool, the decrepit and controversial facility that is scheduled for demolition next year -- and that Measure C will rebuild at a separate site.
Yes on Measure C campaign,
Berkeley community lost with defeat of Measure C
Robert Collier July 8, 2010
NOTE: Voter turnout was the lowest in Berkeley's history - about 22% - at least since 1975.
Recently, Berkeley lost part of its heritage and its quality of life. Willard Pool, one of the city's four public pools, became the victim of years of deferred maintenance and a budget crisis that is threatening to gut municipal facilities and services all around the Bay Area.
The cause of Willard's closure was the defeat of Measure C, the pools bond measure and parcel tax in the June 8 election, which received 62.2 percent of the vote, just shy of the two-thirds minimum.
While Measure C received overwhelming support throughout Berkeley's middle-income and lower-income flats, it was defeated by a heavy "no" vote in the wealthy hills neighborhoods, where residents complained that the pools were too expensive in hard economic times.
The real cost for Berkeley, however, is the loss of part of our community fabric. Willard Pool gave joy and healthy exercise to South Berkeley children and adults since 1964, but now they must fend for themselves or take a long trek across town to continue swimming. Also scheduled for permanent closure next year is the Warm Pool, which serves the elderly, disabled and young children, and which literally provides a lifeline for many people who otherwise have no opportunity for physical exercise and rehabilitation.
In Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose, the trend is the same — public pools are being padlocked because of budget cuts, leaving children and teenagers out on the streets with fewer healthy alternatives. This summer, two of Oakland's seven pools are closed; two of nine in San Jose are shut; all of San Francisco's nine pools are closed one day per week.
The problem is likely to get markedly worse in the coming year unless voters are willing to support new taxes to offset the cascading domino effect of budget cuts in Washington, Sacramento and individual city governments. Congress has abandoned legislation that was to provide $24 billion in aid to the states, prompting Sacramento officials to warn that funding cuts to cities will be deeper than expected.
In Berkeley, City Manager Phil Kamlarz has said that despite the recent renegotiation of contracts with city labor unions to avoid layoffs, the city will need to make further cuts at the end of the year once the impact of state cutbacks becomes clear.
Many cities are readying parcel taxes for the November ballot to keep services alive. For example, Oakland will vote on a parcel tax for police, and Berkeley will have a schools bond and parcel tax. If these fail, catastrophic layoffs will result.
There are red flags galore. The defeat of Alameda's schools parcel tax by a razor-thin margin, with 65.6 percent of the vote, will force the closure of one-half of that city's schools. This should have every Bay Area community scared witless.
Because of Prop. 13, all municipal bond measures (which pay for bricks-and-mortar construction expenses) and parcel taxes (which fund annual operating costs) require a minimum of two-thirds of votes cast. The only exception is school district bond measures, which require 55 percent.
The two-thirds minimum is especially hard to achieve because municipal campaigns typically are run by average residents rather than political professionals.
Residents volunteering for these all-out, grass-roots efforts must steal time from their families and day jobs. In the case of Berkeley's Measure C, for which I was a co-chairman, our group of local swimmers, parents and other pools supporters was taxed to our individual maximums — and beyond — by the monumental task of trying to gain support from two-thirds of all voters throughout the city.
As we worked late into the night after our spouses and children had gone to sleep, many of us wondered not a few times whether there wasn't a better way for a city to make its decisions.
But this is the bleak future for all of us. Attempts in Sacramento to reform Prop. 13's two-thirds rule have gone nowhere and seem likely to continue to fail. As a result, if we want to save our pools, schools, police and other basic services, we must be ready to organize, vote, and invest in the future of our communities.