Additionally, the language of this controversial Measure was agreed to by our representative Bart Doyle, which quite naturally makes me a little suspicious. "El Monte Doyle," as he has become known here due to his involuntary starring role in a law suit involving that city and the collapse of a partially government funded billion dollar so-called "transit village" project, hasn't thrown anything but spitballs here for years.
So how many news organizations and articles have covered this issue? I've scoured the Internet, and discovered the answer to both questions is just one. And that one was published in the Pasadena Sun, the local outpost of The Tribune news empire, which includes the Los Angeles Times. Entitled "Former school board member says new voting districts would be 'a step backwards'" (click here), it raises what I see as being a few thorny issues.
First it must be said that all of the usual suspects are for it. Including Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, some of the characters on our current City Council including John Buchanan and Josh Moran, and, of course, Bart himself. According to this article in the Pasadena Sun, the only person to speak out against Measure A is a gentleman named Bill Bibbiani, a now retired former Pasadena Board of Education member. Here is how The Sun describes his reasons for opposing this Measure.
But former school board member Bill Bibbiani says it would pit four districts where public school enrollment is low against three majority-minority zones where the vast majority of students live.
"This is a step backward that will increase racial polarization and squabbling, with each member looking out for his or her own district," said Bibbiani, lone author of the ballot arguments against Measure A.
Bibbiani served on the school board from 2003 to 2007 after spending 31 years as an administrator at Pasadena schools, where part of his job involved drawing school attendance boundaries.
Elections by district, Bibbiani said, are "a false opportunity (for residents) to dominate one board member for four years while the other six ignore you. Right now, any organized group can have an influence on every seat."
Although a plan for Pasadena school board elections by district failed at the ballot box in 2000, officials revived the idea after several boards in Central California were hit with California Voting Rights Act lawsuits claiming their at-large systems diluted the power of minority voters.
According to this article, which carefully tiptoes through the obvious minefields here, it does appear that these districts have been constructed around the racial and ethnic identities of those living in them. Which I have always been led to believe is a bad thing. I mean, the PUSD is a fully integrated school system complete with busing and other ways of encouraging everyone to learn to live and prosper as one, so why divide our Board of Education up into racially undiverse districts? I hear no Kumbaya in that.
The map creates two Northwest Pasadena districts where Latinos outnumber other groups, and a west Altadena district that is strongly African American -- areas responsible for the majority of school district enrollment. Four mostly white districts cover east Altadena, west Pasadena, and link Sierra Madre with Pasadena's southwest side.
There is also that other matter for concern. The elections for these "by district" seats will not all occur on the same year. The first election will occur in 2013 and cover the Pasadena/west Altadena district. The second will happen in 2014 for the districts that cover central Pasadena and west Pasadena.
And our district? We will not be allowed to elect our representative until 2015. Which means that while the majority of Pasadena Board of Education districts will have their own representation, our District will still be covered by an at-large representative. That being Tom Selinske, the same fellow who ran such an extremely unsavory re-election campaign recently.
Obviously this will put Sierra Madre's schools at a distinct disadvantage for a couple of years. While other Districts will have their own representatives, we will still have "at-large" representation. You can only wonder at why our officials here in town, both elected and appointed, have supported an unfortunate condition that privileges others over us.
How do we find out more about Measure A, you ask?
On Wednesday, May 9, Southern California Public Radio (KPCC) and the Pasadena Sun will be holding a public forum on two items of local interest in the June 5th primary election. These being a discussion of Measure A by a panel of experts, and a debate between the 5 candidates running for the newly created 41st Assembly District seat. It all goes down at the elegantly designated Crawford Family Forum, which is located at 474 S. Raymond Avenue in Pasadena.
The Measure A panel of experts will include: Ken Chawkins, the guy who ran the Pasadena Unified School District Districting Task Force where Joe Mosca and Bart Doyle supposedly represented us, Stella Murga, described by The Sun as the "executive director of the Pasadena Youth Center and a Measure A supporter," and Bill Bibbiani. Bill, as we said earlier, being the sole authority of note out there opposing Measure A.
You will be able to supply written questions (only) for the folks speaking at this event. I believe you will also need to RSVP as well. To do both please visit www.kpcc.org/forum. You can also call the Pasadena Sun @ 818 495-4016.
I know I will be there. I hope you will be as well.