|An old white guy|
One of the problems with social engineering is that no matter what the sociologists might say, you are still dealing with people. A category of species noted for both its wild unpredictability and genetic ability to avoid easy classification. And the assumptions that might have made sense during the heavy thinking process leading up to a big world saving decision almost always fail. History is littered with dead theories based on someone's erroneous predictions about human behavior.
A classic example of the failure of social engineering would have to be the recent experiment within the Pasadena Unified School System to revert to a form of racial gerrymandering known to the annoying people who bought into this scheme as "sub-districting." The idea being that if you divided the school district into 7 racially homogenous districts, those living within these balkanized ethnic homelands would quite automatically vote for persons of their own ethnic persuasion. This in order to insure that, to use Navigio's hothouse terminology, "underserved ethnicities" would elect Board of Education representatives that best reflect them. The too easy assumption being that it was only the now discredited "at large" system of electing Board of Ed reps that was preventing this from happening.
But a funny thing happened on the way to reality. When the PUSD Board of Education election was held a week or so back, the exact same people who were there as "at-large" representatives were now being elected as "sub-district" representatives. And, in the one race without an incumbent, should Ruben Hueso be defeated by Tyron Hampton Jr. in the District 3 runoff, we would be looking at a new Board of Education without a single Latino representative. A prospect that would have seemed quite impossible just a few short weeks ago.
As an example of what the expectations were, here is an excerpt from an L.A. Times article titled "Latino voters gain more clout in Pasadena school board races" (click here). It first appeared on February 17.
For more than a decade, the majority of students attending Pasadena public schools have come from lower-income Latino families in northwest Pasadena. But when it came to choosing who runs the schools, those most reliant on public education were heavily outnumbered at the polls.
Now, new voter districts debuting in the March 5 school board elections — including a northwest Pasadena district where 56% of residents are Latino — have made the working-class Latino vote an emerging force at the ballot box.
Nowhere is the change more pronounced than in school board District 3, which stretches from the 210 Freeway to Woodbury Road along the eastern edge of the Arroyo Seco, to Lake Avenue on the north and narrowing to Fair Oaks Avenue at its southern terminus.
District 3 is home to more public school students than any other school board district. It also has the highest percentage of Latinos of any district, said Ken Chawkins, who last year headed a volunteer task force that drew new district boundaries according to income, educational attainment and ethnicity.
So here is the irony. We're big on irony here on The Tattler. Ken Chawkins, the gentleman who ran the "redistricting task force" charged with turning these PUSD "at-large" Board of Ed seats into ethnically coded "sub-district" ones is, to use a popular term, an "old white guy." And a lot of old white guys were on the commission that decided sub-districting was the only way to go. Bart Doyle being one of them as well. Throw in Ed Honowitz, Bill Bogaard, Tom Selinske, Peter Dreier and Michael Antonovich and you'd think you had just wandered into one of the world's truly awful country clubs.
All of which begs the following question. Was it the unfortunate assumption of a bunch of "old white guys" from this so-called redistricting task force that Latinos would only vote for other Latinos? Rather than those candidates with the most experience and proven ability? Were they of the belief that Latinos would not be able to see anything more than the ethnic identity of the candidates, and would thereby vote accordingly? If so, last week's election proved them to be horribly wrong.
During the Board of Education election race many of the people who contribute to this blog were big fans of Guillermo Arce. Myself included. And we had hoped that he would be elected as the new District 3 representative to the Board of Education. Guillermo is a truth teller, someone who will say it as he sees it, no matter what the political consequences. Pretty much our kind of guy here at The Tattler.
Guillermo has endorsed Hampton in the upcoming District 3 run off. Here is how he put it in an e-mail a few days ago:
Inasmuch as there is only one Latino candidate running for District 3 I am a firm believer that voting for a Latino for the sake of having a Latino on the Board makes no sense either. If someone believes that Latinos are going to be supporting a mediocre teacher per the L.A. Times, then some is trying to sell the Latino community short. Specially as bad as Hueso is.
I for one will not be supporting the only Latino candidate running in District 3. I am not supporting Hueso since he is endorsed and supported by the same people responsible for the fleecing of the PUSD, provided absolutely nothing to address the issues facing in our special education programs since we are still in program improvement, lost the support of the UTP and denied knowing anything about it. Additionally, the bulk of his money came, from the most part, from outside sources and folks with shady reputations. This is not what the PUSD needs at this time.
I have expressed by support for Mr. Hampton since I believe that he will be independent. In contrast, Hueso, if he wins, has a lot of bills to pay and favors to grant if he expects to be reelected 4 years from now.
Community activist Sole Teramae spoke before the PUSD Board of Education on Tuesday evening, and she too spoke on the issue of redistricting and its failure to produce the kinds of results that were promised. Here is what Sole had to say:
Good afternoon President Renatta and School Board Members,
I am forwarding an email regarding the LA elections per cost per candidate and I am wondering how much more this next election will cost in a strapped for cash district. How much this past election cost the district? I also hearing that seat in District 1 that Kim Kenne won will create an empty seat for a school board member to be appointed by the board so that school board member can hold it for another 2 years. That does not make any sense!!!
So we are losing our most cherish Latino School board member Ramon Miramontes because he was also in District 1 and he decided not to run against Kim Kenne who only had her post for 2 years!!!!!
Does that make any sense??
And now, there is a possibility that in the next run off, an African American will win seat District 3 leaving no Latinos on the board.
Or if Ruben Hueso wins there will be only one Latino school board member while the majority of the district's families are Latinos and the whole point of this election was to have more Latinos school board members representing the majority of the students.
As I recall you approve this Measure A, what was the purpose if we are not going to have more Latinos on the school board??? Perhaps others taxpayers feel the same way I do.
There is only one possible answer that I can come up with here. The old white guys screwed up.
One more thing
I thought Sandi Saraganian gave a strong speech in defense of our right to vote at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting. Like many of us here in Sierra Madre, Sandi was outraged that our vote was stolen from us in order to enable the redistricting of the PUSD. A redistricting so poorly conceived and executed that it couldn't even achieve the goal of electing those it was designed to help. Here is what she said:
I am opposed to the appointment process of filling the vacancy for at-large Seat 4. This board should have known and prepared for the probability of this vacancy by calling for a special election months ago. Now you must fix this. The very purpose of an at-large representative is to represent the concerns and desires of all the people in the district.
The entire city of Sierra Madre, and portions of Southeast Pasadena, Northeast Pasadena, and Northeast Altadena have been disenfranchised by sub-geographic districting and the lack of any vote until 2015. And now, this board suggests taking away our vote again? Sierra Madre residents have had enough of the cronyism, parochialism, and flat out lack of respect for our points of view.
You can choose today to vote for a special election to fill this vacancy. Or, you can choose to conduct an odious, closed minded, incestuous application process with a predetermined outcome. I can tell you that the voters who signed our petition from all corners of the district in the PUSD over the last few days do not agree with you, and we do not like what you are contemplating.
Please save the time, trouble, and taxpayer dollars to go through the appointment process, because I can promise you - we will submit a petition to conduct a special election to fill the vacancy.