It is nice to get a little company on the issues once in a while. While the other news media in Sierra Madre spends most of their time regurgitating cloying feel good press releases that signify very little, we have somehow become the prime source in town for news of a harder nature. Which is fine, we're glad to fill that role. Someone has to have a little honor around here. But you always have to give credit where credit is due. Even if the other guy is about a month late.
Yesterday the Sierra Madre Patch posted an article that acknowledged the unfortunate fact that should Measure A get enough votes, this community would be forced to accept a kind of 2nd class citizenship on the PUSD Board of Education. Out of the 7 proposed so-called sub-districts within the PUSD Archipelago, Sierra Madre would be amongst the minority not allowed representation until 2015. The other "sub-districts" receiving their unfair share of representation far earlier, in 2013.
The reason for this is actually funny, in a mordant "world going to hell in a handbasket" sort of way. Here is how the Patch somewhat inadvertently reveals it all (click here):
But, the current rules set by the PUSD Charter, Section 703 on elections state that school board members must live in the appropriate geographical sub-district. Currently there are no school board members living in Sierra Madre's proposed district, leaving the city without a vote for two years.
"We have three vacant districts, including ours, and we have a couple districts with two members in them," Doyle said. "I know that people are concerned that under this framework that Sierra Madre will not be able to vote until 2015. We don't have a school board member living in this new district, therefore there is no election coming up. This is not an ideal result, but we would have the chance in two years to finally elect a school board member."
So there you have it. The purpose of kicking Sierra Madre to the back of the regional sub-districting school bus is to protect the careers of some of the good old boys currently on the Pasadena Board of Education. Some of whom have been involved in various official PUSD capacities since the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Like Bart.
In other words, in the effort to protect the PUSD establishment from too radical a change, Sierra Madre is expected to vote itself a two year representational disadvantage. Ironically sparing the less than spectacular careers of the very same people responsible for the Measure TT debacle this community is enduring right now. We apparently are about to be sacrificed for the convenience of individuals of very little lasting importance.
And it all does beg this one rather large question. Why didn't they just hold back all the regional sub-districting elections until 2015? Whatever is this big rush all about? Why did they privilege some sub-districts and punish others?
The Patch then reported this exchange between Chris Koerber and Bart Doyle:
"Why did our task force representatives sit silently at the March 13 task force meeting and allow Sierra Madre to be thrown under the bus without a representative for the next three years? That's totally unacceptable, sir," Koerber said.
Doyle responded, "We couldn't get there. We have no civic school member in this district."
"So we don't have a board member and we have a school that they're not building and they're telling us they don't have money for it?" Koerber asked.
"We will continue to be represented by at-large members. There is simply no other way to do it," Doyle replied.
Those "at-large members" being the same good old boy PUSD hangers-on responsible for the current difficulties over Measure TT. Which, to Councilman Koerber's point, is really no representation at all.
And then John Harabedian decided that the moment had arrived for him to make one of his rare contributions of the evening.
Councilmember John Harabedian thanked Doyle for his presentation, saying, "I think in the long term, this will be very good for Sierra Madre and its schools. Having direct representation is much better than having at-large representation."
As bad as our at-large representation has been, I can hardly see how that will be improved by having no representation at all. Particularly during the critical 2013 - 2015 period when the decisions will be finalized on how exactly to spend $350,000,000 in Measure TT money. I doubt being without a representative is going to help us much in that regard.
Then there is also the matter of whether John Harabedian should have recused himself during this portion of the City Council meeting. The organization that is most likely to sue the Pasadena Unified School District should "regional sub-districting" not happen is called the "Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law." The rationale for going after an already financially ruined school district being the California Voting Rights Act, which ironically appears to be at least partially helping to return the Pasadena Unified School District to its segregated roots.
Two of the leading lights in the Lawyer's Committee are John F. Walker and Amos Hartston, both of whom are senior figures at the law firm Latham and Watkins. Which is also where John Harabedian toils.
So on whose behalf was John Harabedian speaking the other night? Latham and Watkins, or the people of Sierra Madre? While it is fine to represent the positions of people of influence in the place where you earn your paycheck, it isn't too smart of an idea to do so as an elected official speaking on behalf of people whose interests might be substantially different. After all, it isn't Latham and Watkins who would be paying dearly for the costs of such a lawsuit.
And if there was even the remote appearance of a conflict of interest, shouldn't John have sat this one out?
Maybe the "Mosca with brains" meme thing is a little overstated. Maybe Harabedian is just Mosca.