Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ethics, and Thanks

10 Nov 2014 8:15am Update:  I've added the links to the FPPC filing, as well as cross references to my prior blog posts.  At this time, Measure N is at 57.31%.

First, a massive THANK YOU to everyone who turned out and voted.  It looks like Measure N has passed, with 56.22% of the votes cast.  Likewise, it looks like we have elected three excellent trstuees to the LASD Board, returning Tammy Logan and installing first time trustees Sangeeth Peruri and Vladimir Ivanovic as new Board members.  To all three candidates, I offer my thanks for being willing to take on the task of representing our community.

I also offer my heartfelt thanks to all members of the LASD Board with whom I have served, including Mark Goines, Bill Cooper, and Margot Harrigan, as well as Tammy Logan, Steve Taglio, and Pablo Luther.  All seven of us have held strong opinions, and we often disagreed, but we managed to do so civilly, and the District is much better off for the service of all of these fine folks.

Back in October, I wrote a couple of blog posts that were critical of Martha McClatchie and John Swan, and the pro-BCS PAC that was deceptively named "LASD Parents for Great Schools".  I caught a lot of static from BCS parents when I posted this.  The most benign suggested that I was better off to merely voice support for those I liked, but not to criticize people or groups with whom I did not agree.  When I wrote those posts, I had to weigh the advice of my grandmother (If you can't say something nice...) with the need for people to understand what was going on.

Obviously I decided that transparency was more important than {fill in the blank}.  I mean that sincerely.  In one of the many emails I exchanged on this topic, I told a prominent BCS parent that I value transparency in governance above any bond campaign and above any individual candidate.  If people knew that "LASD Parents for Great Schools" was a front for BCS campaign money, but they were still willing to elect John or Martha, so be it.  But I didn't want them being elected because people were mislead by the name of the PAC, or by the campaign statements that hide the BCS connection of the candidate or their support of charter schools as a matter of policy.

Today I got a bit of vindication in the form of a late campaign filing.  A community member forwarded to me the FPPC docs for the California Charter School Association.  The last minute filing disclosed that the CCSA gave $22,000 to the "LASD Parents" PAC, and another $6,000 directly to John Swan's campaign.  Holy cow!  Really??  That's more money than any one of the three winning candidates spent.  And remember, this money is in addition to the funds Martha and John raised on their own.  In total, Martha, John, the BCS PAC, and the CCSA spent around $100,000 trying to buy a seat on the LASD Board of Trustees.

I don't expect that those folks who criticize me are suddenly going to recant and send me flowers.  However, this should serve as a cautionary tale to the rest of the community.  Leopards don't change their spots.

This election came perilously close to swinging the wrong way.  Early returns had John Swan on the Board instead of Vladimir, and likewise the early results for Measure N were grim.  We came really close to being deceived.  The message I hope people take away from this is that they need to stay involved so they can be informed.  We all have a responsibility to understand the issues on our own, not to just take the deceptive headlines of a shadowy campaign group that has neither a public face.  Look beyond the generic campaign-speak and understand where the candidates have been investing their time, so you have a deep understanding of how they will act when they're representing your interests.  If nothing else, don't drop off the map over the next two years- because I'm guessing we haven't seen the last time of sleazy big-money politics in our small California community.