The Great Green Rope:
As our neighbor, the world class city, inches closer to its elections for City Council and Board of Education members, we are reminded once again here in Sierra Madre of not only how insignificant and secondary we are in the Pasadena Unified School District’s Big Picture, but how easily that all happened.
It makes me wonder why, and to what ends, do independent cities such as Sierra Madre actually choose to join into larger structures, in this case the City of Pasadena and its Unified School District, and why they stay. I wonder what benefits cities swallowed up by aged, corrupt, and decaying structures such as the PUSD actually receive, and how they can possibly hope to retain their own unique identity and vision.
I believe that the power of larger societal structures in this world (such as the United Nations), and our country (we’re still part of an independent country called the United States, right?), coupled with their desire for universal control through supposed reforms, results in interference at the state, and local level. It occurs to such an extent that the micro-management becomes systemic, subtle, subliminal and riddled with Orwellian doublespeak.
Anyone who questions the darker motives that drive such movements as the Green Accords, or whatever they are called this week (click here), are seen by the complicit as a sort of heretic driven by selfishness. A passive aggressive form of political correctness on their part, as it were.
I personally think Sierra Madre would be better served by taking over its schools and becoming an independent coalition of Charter Schools. But does this somehow make me insensitive to the needs of other students elsewhere in the PUSD? Is there really something that I owe them as well?
In any event, at the next Board of Education meeting they will introduce the new term Professional Standards to replace the term Code of Ethics (click here). I think it is appropriate that the neutral term Professional Standards is replacing the term Code of Ethics since many of the Board lack the latter anyway.
And, um, it does look like someone is about to be fired.
From a Closing, So Begins a New Chapter:
The Board of Education elections are now in absentee vote territory as of last week, and for local elections like this one, that absentee vote is very important. The two District 7 candidates are Luis “the ICEman” Ayala, and Scott Phelps. I have made my support of Scott Phelps no secret, but I have never really discussed why. Let me start by quoting a recap from a statement made at the ACT sponsored candidates debate at PCC last month:
Scott Phelps: “... truth-telling has always been more important to me, as we cannot have trust without it, and my faith teaches me that we cannot be kind to the liar, the deceiver or the tyrant. For they think you are fooled and continue in their ways. And the process of building real community, which is the real promise of Pasadena and its schools, does not involve staying in the state of pseudo-community, where everyone is pleasant and all is fine with the world even though the concerns and needs of most of our families and students are not represented and their achievement is not where we want it to be, etc. Noted psychologists such as Scott Peck and others say it comes about through a process of moving from pseudo-community to conflict, to chaos, through despair, to a higher unity.” (click here)
Outside Looking In: An Educational Plan for the Rest of Us:
When Mary and I met Scott Phelps were standing outside of a staff appreciation banquet in Pasadena with a handful of friends holding a silent protest of the district (click here). We were introduced by German Barrero, who also tried to introduce me to Renatta Cooper. We presented parents and staff a flyer titled Outside Looking In (click here) and kept it respectful. Ms. Cooper seemed rushed and did not have the time to be bothered with our silly little Sierra Madre story about segregation and bullying. People who worked with our children, who knew our friends- rushed by us and pretended to not know us. Not so with Phelps, who actually invited us inside the event. We politely declined.
We had a peaceful protest and we exercised our First Amendment Rights. Apparently the people who teach our children do not understand the Constitution, free speech, and peaceful protest. They called the police on us, but fortunately cooler heads prevailed.
Scott Phelps and Ramon Miramontes both took the time to come out to Sierra Madre and listen to our concerns about the stormtrooper parents who walked into the school whenever and however they choose, and disrupted our child’s security, safety, and education. Like many people, these two Board members did not automatically buy in to what we were saying happened, but they were both very clear on one thing, “Every child belongs means Every child.”
We met with Mr. Phelps one Saturday after he had seen all of the letters and documents that alleged what our son had done. He had his children with him, and brought them to our home. After reading all of the vitriol, hatred, and allegations made about our son, he was perfectly comfortable to trust my child to interact with his. In the aftermath of October 2010, that has happened one other time with children about the same age, and that other parent was John Crawford.
Some people are willing to take a chance on the disenfranchised and misunderstood. It certainly spoke volumes with us.
I don’t know why he took an interest in my family. I can only speculate. I believe that first, and foremost, it is because he believes in the value of all human beings. I also believe he recognized in us something he also learned the hard way: if you open your mouth to speak you will learn a great deal about the difference between passive idealism, assertive idealism, and how quickly it can backfire.
Phelps has been very forthcoming when discussing his faith, which he has patiently attempted to explain to me. When I noticed what I thought was B’nai written on a stone in his yard, I wrongly assumed that he was Jewish. He explained that it actually read Baha'i, and briefly explained his faith and the tenants he finds most important. Pardon my paraphrase, but it was a language that cut right to the chase: liars need to be called out and taken to the mat. He may not be one to sling mud and fight dirty, but he’s certainly not one to shy away from speaking his mind.
As I began to research his faith, I started to get a clearer picture of why he was misinterpreted so frequently. My initial curiosity turned to one of contempt, not toward his faith, but toward the outright lies that had been propagated by Peter Dreier and members of the press over the years. Scott is not an apologist, and certainly has the ability to stand proud. He may not agree with my assessment, and that’s cool. I don’t always agree with his point of view (the entrance criteria for Marshall, for example).
It takes a great deal of courage to say things that are uncomfortable and unpopular, and the repercussions of some of his actions are still felt to this day, generally recalled in quips by people like Peter Dreier who take great pride in calling him a racist and an anti-semite.
What jumps out most, to me anyway, is not just that I think Dreier is a self-righteous blowhard, it’s that his hypocrisy hangs off his lips like soup hangs off of a beard. Back in 2009 (click here) Phelps had the backing of not only Dreier, but also the blessing of Mike “Football Field “ Babcock, but a whole bunch of The Sierra Madre Tattler All Stars - including Ken “Measure A” Chawkins, Ellen “Mrs. Ed” Pais, Fred ”Let Me Neuter You So That You’ll be a Presentable Politician” Register, and Joe “London-Fly” Mosca.
So what happened that lost the support of so many people from the, uh, party in power? Well, part of it, I believe, goes back to being Phelps being a Baha’i, which implicitly disallows party affiliation. An independent by faith, so to speak. By design he cannot align himself to their structures if he believes it impedes with knowledge and truth. In other words, he is unable to turn a blind eye to something he disagrees with.
Along the way the Machine figured out they couldn’t control Phelps and, with almost laughable predictability, so began the heightened Dreier name calling. The 2011 Election fallout (click here), and certainly the Measure A fiasco (which stole the 2013 vote outright from Sierra Madre), plus Phelps’s penchant for speaking out no matter how inconvenient (click here), ultimately unraveled what was left of the support that was there just a couple of years prior.
With Friends Like These:
So that I make myself clear on this, I have spent a number of hours talking to Phelps, to his family, and to his friends and associates. To call him a racist or an anti-semite, which Dreier has done, is typical power broker shifting. It’s easier for him to malign another with such terms than to actually attempt to rationally explain the about face. I get it, I know that game, too.
Petey is just belching out the pathetic drivel one expects from him - the same smoke he generates when he is flexing his muscles about putting others into low income housing apartments like he did at the Boston Redevelopment Agency a decade or two back. Out here he moved himself into a comfy house in suburban Pasadena. The real chumps are the urban idealists who buy into his nonsense; apartments are good enough for the proles, but not for our Boston expatriate Dear Mr. Dreier.
I got news for ya, Petey Dreier, since you obviously don’t know what an anti-semite is (click here) then maybe you should plunk your silly ass onto the back of that white Stallion you think you’re riding, head east to Massachusetts, and clean that crap up you left over there before you start tossing that word around here. As far as I can tell, professor, your accusations are unfounded (click here).
Ultimately, some people are allowed to practice the tenets of their faith without reprisal, while others are not. Heaven help the believer who marches to the beat of a drum you can’t hear, one that says to speak the truth, no matter how unpopular it may be. That is a beat the hypocrite cannot hear. When the ACT machine found their candidate was not a politically inept shill and someone who merely took orders, they pulled their support.
There’s always another lump for the gravy.
Now, Luis Iceman Ayala is backed by a few luminaries of the New World Order (click here), something that ought to shine a light on his trustworthiness. Like my mom always says, “You are judged by the company you keep.” I agree, and believe me, Luis I’m a Lawyer, I am judging away.
It’s not enough that you have a voice that sounds like nails scratching across a blackboard, you seem to be surrounded by an army of the foul smelling. Let’s line them up, there’s Sierra Madre Upper Campus’s Mea Culpa Madames Renatta “I’m Sorry” Cooper and Elizabeth “I’m Sorry” Pomeroy, then there’s John “Hey Mon” Fuhrman, Future House Husband Mr. Ed the Talking Horse Honowitz, and the breadwinner Mrs. Ed Ellen Pais ... and as long as we’re speaking of wives - there is Mrs. PUSDdad Petey’s Terri Meng, Measure A Manipulator Ken “It’s on the Up & Up” Chawkins, good ole Blanca “Liz Blanco’s Hat Girl” Siebels and Mike “Football Field” Babcock. You’ll recall that many of these names were once on Phelps’s list of supporters.
Sometimes it is better to walk alone.
Conflict isn’t always a Bad Thing:
There will always be those who believe that conflict compromises progress, a belief that I laugh at outright. Without conflict there cannot be change, and change is a critical part of any type of adaptation, including a social one. The ostentatiously civil have spent the last four years whining about Miramontes and Phelps; that somehow they brought an argumentative confrontational juju into the board and blocked progress.
I have news for them, and everyone else. I haven’t heard the ICEman discuss what he will do to support and work with disenfranchised families like mine. Should he think that parents and other people like me are going to sit there pretending that we serve them, and not that they serve the kids, they are in for a rude awakening.
I am a warrior parent, and unlike Ayala and his children, mine have attended PUSD schools for their entire life. For my family it wasn’t a choice, but believe me, PUSD has already shown us they would much rather force my kids into non-public placement and pay for it - than to have us continue to criticize them and their golden child Sierra Madre Elementary, and it’s orphaned cousin Sierra Madre Upper Campus. Unlike Ayala, we fought to keep our children in public school.
Besides that crooning voice that would put Frank Sinatra to shame, Luis ICEman Ayala is a bit of an exaggerator, ya know, and besides the recent fibs about his decision to go private while running for public school PUSD Board Member, the Pinocchio Touch returned again. See if you catch a couple of familiar names. Here’s a bit from a Phelps’ email to a couple of local newspaper guys referring to another Ayala howler, something our boy Luis has become really good at lately:
… I suppose I could have said yes, Luis, I agree that your main supporter Mr. Honowitz, chair of the facilities committee, and another supporter of yours, Mr. Fuhrman, chair of the TT Citizens Oversight Committee, should both resign. 20-20 hindsight, my fault ... as chair of the Finance/Budget Committee, which studies budgets and reductions in order to balance the budget, I have nothing to do with TT, whereas Luis' supporters have a lot to do with it. I noticed in Luis' mailer he is hoping the voters don't know the difference, and using that position of mine to link me to the TT issues.
Through the worst financial crisis, our family has dealt with a corrupt special education system, the liars and cheaters that protect them legally, the parent bullies who use their influence to protect themselves, and we’ve have openly challenged the motives of Pasadena Education Foundation (PEF), and Invest in Pasadena Kids (IIPK) and ACT machines that try to pretend they care about kids and not just about securing more money for baseless, meaningless, saprophytic, and parasitic educational experiments.
Voices of conflict, voices of the disenfranchised, the outsiders, and voices of the outliers - these are the the ones that must be negotiated with in order to come to a reconciliation and a resolution. These are the voices that result in discussion and change. Placid committees of homogeneous single-party members, safe as milk agreeable yes-men, don’t rock the boat thinkers, and you’re harshing my mellow sycophants, bring nothing to the table but more of the same.
I’ll take the fringe thinkers and the outsiders, thanks, (click here) and either way, I will be at the meetings calling whomever is elected out on their crap. Expect it.
A Warholian Perspective to the PUSD:
It’s never too late to to plan a future snacker’s fest! For all of you aspiring tightwad Valentinos that are a day late, and bargain budget minded, boy oh boy, do I have a good time Friday night date to suggest for you, one that will definitely woo the lady of your affection off of her feet.
A candidate’s forum will be held at Marshall Fundamental School at 6:30 on Friday, February 15. You can spend your evening watching candidates proclaim their sincerest hollow promises, listen to Stella Murga pretend she isn’t part of the Chawkins Measure A Redistricting Master Plan, and dance in the halls to the sound of the Luis the ICEman’s nails on blackboard voice. With refreshments sponsored by ... big surprise here ... Robin Salzer. Be sure and send Robin a few texts. After all, you never know which ones might show up in a newspaper or on the Internet (click here). Get your fifteen minutes of fame on the fifteenth!
Well, I will certainly give the Board of Education candidates props over the City Council candidates: at least they know where on the planet they were born, and what year they were born, where they live, and whether or not they are carrying a firearm.