3 letters: Schools better start taking cyberbullying seriously; Thanks for Dispatch support on garden sale; Legislative fire tax fiasco gets worse


School officials better start taking issues like cyberbullying seriously

Dear Editor,

I could not disagree more with school administrators and lawmakers who believe that they have no responsibility for events that occur off campus as in the case of Audrie Pott. 

When the incident migrates to the campus and it affects the academic, social and cultural community of one or more individuals then the school does have a responsibility. I don’t see how that can be missed. 

To state and act otherwise is ignorance, and ignorance has no place in any school.  I hold the administrators, especially in those first eight days, culpable when so much could have been done not to punish but to protect. And I hope any legislative body, including the Morgan Hill School Board and the state moves ever so quickly to prevent this from happening to other young victim. My heart goes out to the Pott family.

Mark Grzan, Morgan Hill


Really appreciates support of the Dispatch in getting the word out about events

Dear Editor,

Thanks so very much – especially to reporter Carly Gelsinger – for your detailed segment about the Gilroy Demonstration Garden spring seedling sale on April 6th! 

We had an amazing turnout from our community,   and many local “Gilroyans” walked away with beatiful, locally cultivated veggies and flowers.  We have a new Garden Manager, Brenden Zimmer; and a very hard working core of volunteers. Partner all that love with support from our local Dispatch to create visibility around these events and we are a combined success! 

Translation, WE SOLD OUT!   Much needed funds return to the garden and we are indeed demonstrating the Gilroy Foundation’s new mantra, “Give where you live”! Building on this momentum, we invite everyone to our upcoming Earth Day Celebration, Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to noon. We’re hosting a variety of demonstrations for all ages: How to Prepare your Spring Bed for Planting, All things Compost, Slow and “Raw” Food Demonstrations, Herbal and Aromatherapy Consults, and Children’s Workshops … come see our chickens!

Bring your drum and a simple healthy snack to share as we will begin and end the day with our Drum Circle. This event is free, and we are located in the heart of downtown, at 7360 Eigleberry St. behind the Arts Alliance and between Sixth and Seventh streets. To learn more about us please visit on Facebook @ Gilroy Demonstration Garden, or email our manager at [email protected]  Also, stay tuned … there’s a new and improved Gilroy Farmers Market coming soon. Again, many, many thanks for your support!

Dale Thielges, local Gilroyan and Board President


Fire tax 2.0 worse yet – our ‘representatives’ are out of control on insurance tax

Dear Editor,

Better late than never, California lawmakers seem to be waking up to the reality that the illegal “Fire Prevention Fee” they enacted nearly two years ago is a complete fiasco. Even so, they are refusing to repeal it. Instead they are scheming up ways to replace the tax with yet another tax that’s even bigger than the first.

Where else but Sacramento would someone think the answer to a bad tax is to replace it with one even worse?

Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, who represents many rural taxpayers on California’s North Coast, is leading the charge to reinvent and expand the fire fee. His proposal (AB 468) would replace the fire fee with a 4.8 percent “surcharge” on all insured homeowners and businesses in California, regardless of location.

A similar concept was proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 but was rejected by the Legislature.

These payments, averaging $48 per policy and totaling an estimated $480 million per year, would find their way to a “Disaster Management, Preparedness, and Assistance Fund.” The fund would benefit bureaucracies, like Cal Fire, that are involved in the state’s disaster preparedness efforts.

If you want to discourage an activity, you tax it. Chesbro’s proposal would make it more costly for Californians to maintain insurance coverage on their property, punishing them for being responsible. Our laws should encourage good behavior, not discourage it.

Call it what you will, this new “surcharge” is really just the fire fee all over again – this time on steroids. It aims to repackage, rebrand and expand a tax that to date has been a colossal failure. Although the new tax will lessen annual payments for current fire fee payers, it will dramatically expand the number of overtaxed Californians who are forced to pay even higher taxes.

The original fire tax was supposed to bring in $84 million from more than 825,000 rural California taxpayers. Due in part to billing errors and bad addresses, the state has spent millions and only collected about $75 million.

This new tax would cost California property owners six times more money than the original. About 10 million people would be impacted – twelve times as many as right now.

The Legislature passed the original fire fee by a simple majority vote rather than the required two-thirds vote for new taxes. That’s why the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association  has filed a class action lawsuit against the State of California.

As currently drafted, Chesbro’s legislation would also only require a simple majority vote, rather than the two-thirds vote clearly required by Proposition 26. It’s hard to imagine the Legislature would replace an illegal tax with an illegal tax, but …

It remains to be seen what Gov. Jerry Brown will do if it passes the Legislature. Some also speculate the governor will propose sweeping changes to the fire fee when he unveils his May budget.

Despite significant media coverage, to date the governor has mostly tried to brush off growing concerns about the fire fee and Cal Fire. In January, the agency was forced to admit the existence of a secret $3.66 million slush fund.  

George Runner, taxpayer advocate,  and elected member of the State Board of Equalization