Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vote No On PUSD Measure A

On the ballot for this June 5 is something called Measure A. Here is how this ballot question reads:

Pasadena Unified School District Special Election - Shall the Charter of the City of Pasadena be amended to provide for the nomination and election of members of the Pasadena Unified School District by geographic sub-districts, with geographic sub-districts adopted by the School Board and redrawn after each federal census based upon a citizen Redistricting Commission recommendation?

To cut to the chase, what this does is break down the Pasadena Unified School District into seven so-called "geographic sub-districts," with one representative elected from each of these areas. The three cities contained within the PUSD (Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre), once diced up, would then each be represented on the PUSD School Board by their own exclusive representative. This somehow being superior to the current Board of Ed, which has 7 at large members that are elected district-wide, and therefore have to answer to everyone. After all, they are subject to the approval of all the voters, not just those of a particular neighborhood.

For me by far the most important reason for voting 'No' on Measure A is that Sierra Madre has, for whatever reason, been kicked to the back of the school bus representation-wise. How this came to be is a mystery to me, but the sad fact is, should Measure A pass, not all of the resulting "geographic sub-districts" would elect their representative at the same time. Most of them would be permitted to elect their own representatives in 2013.

Sierra Madre and that portion of Pasadena we will be sharing our sub-district with, however, will not be permitted to elect someone until 2015. Which means that during this critical two year period when the big decisions are being made on how to divvy up the $350 million in Measure TT Bond money we will not have our own representative. While those areas we will be competing with for those school construction and maintenance funds will have elected district representatives fighting for them.

When the decisions were being made to shove Sierra Madre behind those other sub-geo districts, we were represented on what had been termed a "citizen task force." Those representing our interests there were, at first, Joe Mosca, and then after Joe bailed out on Sierra Madre, Bart Doyle. Yet somehow we were allowed to be stuck with what will be, should Measure A pass, second class citizenship. We will have to pay our portion of that vast amount of bond money, yet we will not be represented at a critical time. In essence, we will experience taxation without representation.

Before she left office MaryAnn MacGillivray had asked that Bart Doyle come before the City Council and explain this bizarre situation, and how it is that he airbrushed the matter from his PowerPoint presentation of a couple months ago. Yet somehow Bart has never been called upon to explain any of this, or why he did not vote against it when serving on the PUSD Redistricting Task Force. The assumption being that John Buchanan must have been, for whatever reason, shielding him.

Hopefully the new City Council will convince Bart to come on down and explain exactly why were awarded second class community status by the PUSD Task Force, and he didn't raise a finger to oppose it.

If you live in Sierra Madre you'd have to have taken leave of your senses to vote for Measure A.

There are other reasons given for opposing Measure A. Here is the argument put forward by William Bibbiani, the former PUSD Board Member who wrote the rebuttal to Measure A. You may have already enjoyed reading the following in the official sample ballot sent your way recently.

Measure A supporters falsely claim that it will "bring more democracy and local control." In reality, it takes away your right to vote for all 7 school board members and gives you the right to vote for only 1 board member every four years.

Measure A drastically reduces your voting power by forcing you into a segregated political sub-district which will be drawn in large part based on someone's perception of your ethnicity.

Measure A's intended effect - to elect more minorities - will instead allow small political interest groups to control and dominate our schools.

Measure A supporters falsely claim it will give you "greater access" to the School Board. In fact, because you will be allowed to vote for only 1 school board member instead of all 7, Measure A will guarantee that 6 of the 7 board members have no incentive to give you any consideration at all.

Our current at-large election system, which is identical to the method used in La Canada, South Pasadena, San Marino and Arcadia, ensures that every Board member is answerable to every voter, whoever they are and wherever they live.

So apparently one of the driving forces behind Measure A is the politically correct notion that ethnically exclusive districts are somehow more fair than the at-large system of representation. Which kind of flies in the face of the previously politically correct notion, that kids would be better educated should they be bused all over the Pasadena Unified School District to assure racial homogeneity. Times change, as so do the styles.

However, when you consider that the way Pasadena Unified School Boardmembers are elected now has blessed us with the likes of Ed Honowitz and Tom Selinske, it all kind of detracts from Bibbiani's arguments just a little bit.

I would hate to think, however, that the reason Sierra Madre is not being allowed to elect its own representative until two years after most of the others has something to do with the issues raised by William Bibbiani.

There is another reason why this has all come down, and that is something called the California Voting Rights Act. Here is how it is explained in the "City Attorney's Impartial Analysis Of Measure A." The City Attorney in this case being Pasadena's own, Michelle Beal Bagneris.

If Measure A does not pass, the Board will continue to be elected at large for numbered seats. Continuing to have an at large form of election has been asserted to violate the California Voting Rights Act for not providing representation of the diverse interests of the voters, and could result in potential liability for damages, fees and costs if it were challenged in court.

So who would sue impoverished and rapidly declining PUSD over something as ethically nebulous as this? Costing the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars that could otherwise have been spent on school books and teacher salaries?

The organization pushing for such things is called the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (click here). It's Board Chairman is John F. Walker, who is an emeritus partner at the law firm Latham and Watkins. Amos Hartston, who also serves on the Board of this so-called Lawyer's Committee, is also from Latham and Watkins.

So who do we know from Latham and Watkins who could possibly answer some of our Measure A questions? Particularly on the issue of potentially ruinous lawsuits aimed at the PUSD should we here in Sierra Madre assert our rights to proper and timely representation and help vote this thing down?

Our new City Councilmember, John Harabedian. He is a Latham and Watkins attorney as well. Maybe he could shed some light on all of this. Or get someone down here that could. With Bart clammed up and absent, perhaps John might step into the void and bring the light.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

51 comments:

  1. I recomend a documentry called "Waiting for "Superman"" It details the problems with our school system as a whole.
    http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/action/

    Neuroblast Films

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  2. How many times have we heard that in Sierra Madre? If we don't do something we don't want to do, we'll be sued. Screw you, Latham and Watkins.

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    1. People like Bart Doyle are what's wrong with Sierra Madre, what's wrong with Pasadena Schools, what's wrong with Los Angeles County, what's wrong with California, what's wrong with the United States!
      I don't just disapprove of Bart Doyle, I disapprove of his very existence in Sierra Madre.
      Why don't you leave the country, Bart Doyle. You are a "boil on our butts".
      The very fact this bad man's name is on our ballot supporting a yes vote on Measure A is enough reason for any decent person to vote NO.
      NO ON MEASURE A! No to LATHAM AND WATKINS.

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    2. Threatening lawsuits if we don't do what they want is fear mongering at its best.

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    3. It is also big money for law firms. In this case taking badly needed money that would have gone to the education of children.

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  3. I have a question. Your new Measure A representative covers your town, but your kid attends a PUSD school in another town. Does this mean you have no say about what goes on at the school your kid attends?

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    1. tony brandenburgMay 21, 2012 at 9:28 PM

      yes, it does mean that. i have two children who attend school in a different zone. that means my children's two voting advocates will be robbed of having any say at all. this is not a good measure. if zones are needed, and i am not sure they are- there still needs to be at large representation.

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  4. 7:28, you are correct. It's otherwise known as "taxation without representation." Just like all of Sierra Madre will experience with the PUSD thru 2015 if Measure A passes.

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  5. Don't let Dart Boyle dictate what "we" need in Sierra Madre.
    It's not working out for us. Never will.
    Common sense: Vote No on Measure V.
    Thanks for writing this column, John Crawford. It's important!

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    1. Didn't you mean Measure A?

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  6. Each district should have its own standards and thus its own representative who can assure that the children in his or her district do not rise above the local community standard to anything approaching academic competence. The notion of a public school system providing quality education to all is outdated and disciminatory. The schools should mirror the local environment, not some pre-conceived idea of success.

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    1. Balkanization Now!!!

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    2. Relativism at its very best. High educational standards for some only serve to hurt the feelings of others.

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  7. I guess the name will have to change to PDSD: Pasadena Dis-unified School District.

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    1. PDSD. Sounds like a mental disorder.

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    2. Or a learning disability diagnosis. The redistricting task force wasn't able to handle the task.

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  8. The voters in PSUDs other proposed areas...what do they think? This is foreordained if other areas think it is better for them. Is Sierra Madre out in the cold on this?

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    1. I imagine it will be about how they are sold it, 7:59. If the spin is fast enough, maybe they'll buy it.

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  9. Taxation without representation.

    The district wants our money but will not give us a voice.

    Too bad more people did not support the group in the early 1990's when they tried to get Sierra Madre out of the district.

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    1. Too bad the court didn't support it.

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    2. That group was ahead of its time, according to the judge. They were seen as de-segregating just like the redistricting does.

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    3. Problem was, 8:39 that the butt boil Doyle was involved in that group, from what I recall....anything that guy is involved in is no good for anyone, but him and his developer crowd.

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  10. The death spiral of California is made up of thousands of events. This is one of them.

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    1. No wonder people are leaving this state in droves. Especially young families with children.

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  11. How is a school districting matter part of the CHARTER of the CiITY of Pasadena? Aren't public schools entities unto themselves? How does this take place in other cities?

    Maybe there should be only three districsts, one with a high school in each, and the feeder middle and primary schools as well. You could have 3 reps in each district, coming up with an uneven number for the vote block breakthrough. Each district could have their three reps rotate in the cycle so that two reps roll over and there is always someone there with previous experience.

    Moderator: can you link a map of these sub district areas? The analysis made against the arguments against are signed by ethnic group associations.

    Also, in the voter pamphlet Measure A comes at the back as it is a local measure. People are not going to be paying attention.

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    1. As a frequent attendee of the PUSD Districting Task Force meetings, I can tell you that there were very few people at any of the meetings. The meetings that had attendees were from special interest groups, such as LULAC and the Armenian Coalition. They were jockying for districts that favored their ethnicity.

      The final map can be viewed on the PUSD website under Districting Task Force. All of the minutes from the meetings are there, too. You can see in the minutes how Joe Mosca came out of the gate in one of the first meetings by stating that it really wouldn't be necessary to show the public the final maps before the PUSD vote. Really, take a look at the minutes for yourself - unbelievable! The end result being, that the last minute numbering of the districts to decide which sub-districts voted in 2013 instead of 2015, was never presented within the districts that it would affect - Sierra Madre, Northeast Altadena, Northeast Pasadena, and Southeast Pasadena. Again, this is all documented on the PUSD website.

      Bottom line is, you don't get a say if you don't show up. I'm pretty sure I was the only Sierra Madre person who ever showed up at these meetings. Unless and until the citizens of Sierra Madre form citizen oversight committees to keep their eyes on what the PUSD is doing (or not doing) with our children's education and our taxpayer funded bond money, nothing will change.

      It's time...get up, stand up!

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    2. Go to OrganizeSierreSchools@gmail.com and volunteer. They'd love the help.

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  12. Take a snapshot in time, you are right on 9:52. Our politicians are so busy stuffing their pockets with political favors, they cannot see they are contributing to the decline and failure of California.
    The latest disclosure we are many billions in debt is
    only the beginning of decline. Wait until our debt payments starts to exceed tax revenues, and then you will see traffic jambs of people heading to points East, migrating out.
    We have politicians who can only see raising taxes as a means to grapple with this, and refuse to see the systemic reasons for this decline.

    Unfortunately, the state is locked into group corruption, and it has a name.... The Democratic Party.

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    1. Same could be said for Sierra Madre!

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    2. Doesn't Jerry Brown remind you of John Buchanan?
      "Pass my tax increases or terrible things are going to happen"

      Brown is setting us up for a bailout by the feds.
      We'll vote 60% Democratic, in return, we need a bailout!
      Gonna happen.

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    3. The Feds aren't coming to bailout California.

      Two reasons:
      1. The GOP has a vast majority in the House, won't pass a bailout bill. (thank the tea party.)

      2. Rest of the country hates CA anyway.

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    4. California is the Greece of the United States. There is nothing the Republicans would love more than for it to fail. The political advantages of being able to point to the biggest and bluest state in the nation as an example of the failure of Democratic rule would be immense. They can't wait.

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    5. First Detroit, then California.

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    6. I don't have a problem with the Detroit bailout. Saved me from having to buy a Hyundai.

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  13. I worry that people are so unhappy with the PUSD and all the money shenanigans that they'll vote for any kind of change, out of desperation.

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    1. I think the reaction from most people will be to simply say no, no matter what is being asked for. The bait and switch on Measure TT has reduced the level of trust people have in the PUSD to zero. The delayed participation in the new Board of Ed arrangement isn't going to make that any better.

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  14. Harabedian will have to recuse himself from discussion or endorsement by the city council of Measure A. His employer is a mover on the Measure.

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    1. So which came first? Harabedian's desire to run for city office, or the encouragement from his firm to do so?

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    2. Why ask why?

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  15. I suggested it here before and I think it merits saying it again:

    How about a PUSD Board composed primarily of parents whose children are A and B students, with educational professionals and parents of C and below students as non-voting advisory members. The A and B parents seem to know what motivates children to learn, and can consider the views and experiences of the non-voting members in establishing educational policies.

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    1. Way too logical and effective a solution 12:55. Gotta dumb it down.

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    2. A group of parents are working to get the Board of Education to pay attention to the needs of Sierra Madre Schools. They are urging Sierra Madrians to attend the Board of Education Meeting on May 22 at 5:30 at the Pasadena Board of Education Schools. Their facebook is "Organize Sierra Madre Schools" and their email address is OrganizeSierraMadreSchools@gmail.com. Please help them get the word out that we will not let the PUSD ignore the needs of our community.

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    3. A big part of the problem with our public schools is parent apathy and irresponsibility. They don't hold their children accountable to actually attend school, treat their fellow students with respect, they sass their teachers, they don't do their homework. Many parents have completely failed at advocating for their children to receive remedial assistance by literally sitting on the front steps of the Ed Center until they get the help their children need. I call that passive child abuse. It's no surprise that so many PUSD students drop out and turn in to thugs.

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    4. Sierra Madre is being screwed. You'd think our representative would have protected us. What a joke that turned out to be.

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  16. Former Californian Chuck Devore wrote an opinion column:
    "How California's budget blunders led to my divorce from the Golden State"

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/15/how-california-budget-blunders-led-to-my-divorce-from-golden-state/

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  17. Interesting that the PUSD Board meetings are the same night as Sierra Madre City Council meetings...

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  18. Henderson proclaims interest in education, along with her fake claims about her own education.
    We'll see what she promotes regarding the measure.
    If she has any care for education, at all, she'll get together with Organize Sierra Madre Schools and give them a needed publicity boost.

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    1. That'll depend on what's in it for her, 5:40.

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    2. Susan will never say anything that might offend what she regards as the establishment. She is the all too willing servant of power.

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  19. Waiting for Superman is a story about privilege and highly motivated children and their parents. It is not about being average, maturing, changing, growing up, learning to understand people and making friends. And education is many things. It is more than 12 years of school and it depends on everyone to help children. It must be a community effort.

    I have a wonderful friend. She hated school and hated to read. But, she got her HS diploma with a C grade. She entered college and began to mature and took a class in anthropology. This motivated her to read and she began to explore many areas of the world. She took off of school for a year and traveled. Today she is a Public Health Nurse with a Ph.D. One of the most interesting people and scholarly people I know.

    I respect you Neuroblast, but one film does not represent anywhere near the population of the USA. There is not one answer for how we should be educated.
    Teaching and learning is a lifelong adventure. We all have much to learn from each other.

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