(Mod: Our latest op-ed column for the Pasadena Star News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Whittier Daily News. Click here for the Star News.)
In a recent Star News column on local Pasadena politics Larry Wilson came up with what for some of us in Sierra Madre was a kind of revelation. Or at least it was somebody's revelation, with Larry being happening enough to quote his informed yet unnamed source for an op-ed piece. Here is what was said in that day's portion:
Back to the Pasadena School District: "Scott Phelps will probably be challenged on the west side by Ken Chawkins, who chaired the PUSD redistricting task force. Roberta Martinez and Khatchik Chahinian, both of the task force, are said to be running in their newly defined districts."
Since that column was published two of those suspected candidates have gone on to deny they are seeking Board of Education seats. Whether this actually means they are not running, or just in a politically convenient denial phase, remains to be seen.
This set off some bells here in the Foothill Village because, as I shall reveal, it was not the first time we'd heard such a thing. The following passage, posted anonymously to my blog, the Sierra Madre Tattler, said something quite similar. The rub being it was written before the (deep breath now) Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education sub-districting ballot question, Measure A, was even voted upon by We the People. Or at least those few among us who had actually bothered to vote last June. Here is how this prescient post went:
The fact is the commission that drew up the maps and decided which sub-districts would get elected first was made up of failed Board of Education and Pasadena City Council candidates.
Their names are: Ken Chawkins, who lives in West Pasadena. He failed in his run for school board and so drew a District for himself and designated it open in 2013. Roberta Martinez, who lives in Northwest Pasadena. She failed in her run for school board and so drew a District for herself and designated it open in 2013. And Khatchik Chanhinian, who lives in North East Pasadena. He failed in his run for Pasadena City Council.
These are the true reasons why the Districts were drawn the way they were and why Sierra Madre has to wait until 2015. So that the Sub-District Commission members designated the seats they intend to run in upfront in 2013.
Mark my words. The three Commission members will all pull papers to run for school board in 5 months to run in the sub-districts they created for themselves and made sue were available in 2013.
Something that distinctly smelled like a conflict of interest, and could even be something worse should it come to pass.
What makes all of this so poignant to Sierra Madreans now is that Measure A passed, and having done so kicked us to the back of the democracy bus. While the majority of these shiny new Pasadena Board of Education "sub-districts" will be electing their first ever exclusive representation in 2013, our own district, along with a couple of others, will not get to choose representatives until the year 2015, a full two years later.
This while the aforementioned Chawkins, Martinez and Chanhinian are all rumored to be running next year for Board seats they themselves designated as open for business. Done with only their own political careers in mind.
Equally dismaying is that the two former Mayors Sierra Madre had sent to this PUSD Sub-Districting Task Force Commission to protect our interests, Joe Mosca and Bart Doyle, sat quietly by as our rights to equal Board of Education representation were blatantly ripped off. With Doyle going so far as to claim that the reason for this was because some current "at-large" representatives needed to be allowed to serve out their terms, which end in 2015. Our second class status being due to luck of the draw.
Something that we now suspect was not true.