|Mayor McCheese longing for Stella|
On June 1, 2013, I went down to Pasadena City College to see the PUSD Board of Education special meeting for the interview of a new board member. I also intended to watch my son work on a Robotics competition that was sponsored by the Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF).
We were not sure our son would be allowed to participate because we would not sign the photo release. A photo release that gave the PUSD and PEF carte blanche to use the kids’ images until infinity. A waiver that put no responsibility for injury or misadventure, even if it was due to staff negligence. Fortunately Bill Creim of the PEF and Board member Scott Phelps intervened and Mary may have helped to change an archaic practice that needed a 21st Century update.
Maybe they should update their executive board, too (click here).
It was hard to be in two places at once, so I added a third for good measure and drove back and forth to Blair to taxi my daughter for her SAT Subject Exams, and then ran over to Rick’s Burgers for a blessed Spuderito. Ooops, it’s called Bobby’s now. I am sure the health police would not approve, but it certainly sits better than candy (click here).
All I know is that I looked everywhere and never spotted Terry the Ant Man. I wanted to, you know, pop in and say, “Hi.” I had some questions for him. I’d like to know if the old school grain ant farm is better than the new school gel formation (click here). I’d also like to know what color bikini to buy for my sea monkeys.
Public Addressing, or, A Salad with no Bacon
While wandering around I bumped into Ruben Hueso who helped me find the building I was going to and who I found to be much more focused and specific about things he’d like to see happen in the PUSD than he later did during the actual interview. In fact, I kinda felt that way during his campaign, too. He also seemed to be much more focused and comfortable working a bigger room with a larger audience.
In any event, at the beginning of public comment I made the following statement:
My name is Tony Brandenburg, and I, too, wish to support a candidate for School Board, I wish to support all 37 candidates, including myself, who filled out an application for this position. Just like the young woman who just left having found out that she would not be interviewed this morning, but who did not receive notification as I had, we put this day aside to be interviewed. 37 applicants, 37 interviews. It’s what we signed on for, and it’s the right thing to do.
On May 13th, an email was sent to the Board of Education by the Pasadena Latino Coalition. What follows is portion of that letter.
“The Pasadena Latino Coalition (PLC) has long been concerned with the lack of Latino representation in appointed and elected positions in Pasadena, on the School Board and in local government.......
During redistricting talks last year, the PLC came together to comment during the District Task Force meetings, calling for more accountable districts for Latinos…...
We are currently aware of three qualified applicants: names who would address the concerns expressed above. These candidates all ran for a PUSD seat and have expressed a commitment to serve on this body. We hope these applicants garner the serious consideration of the Board........”
May 22, in an essay published online in the Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley News Journal, Board president Renatta Cooper wrote the following statement: “Currently, there is no Latino presence on the board of education and it is my hope that the current vacancy will be filled by a member of the Latino community.”
Let me repeat the last line.
….it is my hope that the current vacancy will be filled by a member of the Latino community.
Look, I understand. I feel the same way about the need for Latino representation as the PLC and as Ms. Cooper, but I speak only for myself, and I am not presiding over a school board as the president, or trying to influence the board as a collective serving as a political group.
Coincidentally, three board members chose exactly the same on four candidates.
I believe that Renatta Cooper, should recuse herself from these proceedings in the interest of fairness to all of the candidates. Additionally, in the interest of solidarity with the community, it would a noble gesture of the three board members to simply step down and open their seats up for elections, and let the voters support the Latino community. An election, it’s the right thing to do.
Upon my exiting the next speaker was Roberta Martinez (click here). She explained that the letter that the Board had received, and that was the one that I read, was actually an earlier or unsupported version, and that the current position letter did not include a statement regarding the three candidates. She explained the current position was not polarizing and did not support any of the candidates over another as it included all Latino applicants, not just the three former candidates.
I later had a discussion with a friend which was concluded with this novel idea: it was an inappropriate statement to make to the board altogether. What would be less polarizing would to make no such statement at all.
Hey, isn’t that What’s his Face?
Early in the day, an older guy was pacing a bit outside, maybe talking to a candidate or two, or maybe talking to ordinary folks hanging around outside. He came in, and sat down to watch an interview. He sat close to the door, in the back row.
That’s generally where the bad kids sit, or where you go when you are late to mass, or where you go when you want to make a hasty retreat (click here).
Text received. Mary holds up her phone. Look who just slithered in.
“Hey isn’t that Brumder?”
I put on my unassuming, everyday guy expression, and then I slowly leaned forward to steal a stealth peek at the guy.
“Nah, that’s what’s his face. You know, the Mayor of Pasadena. Here’s Looking at you kid. Bogart? What’s his name again? Oh, yeah, Bogaard. I was close I wonder what he’s doing here?”
“Probably protecting his interest. Quick, take his picture!”
The junior paparazzi began taking turns snapping his picture. Within a few minutes we got the confirmation shot of him - the one that said, I know you’re taking my picture.
We were staring at an out of focus, blurry photo of Mayor McCheese looking right at the camera phone lense. Oh, crap. He’s onto us. We took another stealth peek-a-boo, and discovered he had scooted out the door. Oh well (click here).
Maybe he was scouting for someone to send over to El Centro, perhaps looking for a leader that can raise more money than that last guy - you know, the slacker who only earned $3 million (click here).
Did I mention I’m an Attorney?
Everyone’s favorite lawyer, Luis Luis Carlos the Iceman Ayala, I showed up and fired from the lip, only stating that he was an attorney five times in the first twelve minutes. I believe Luis is the winner of the coveted Howler of the Week for his strong defense on behalf of all men who carry books.
Luis, who for some reason either did not receive, or failed to bother reading the interview questions before preparing his delivery on Saturday, and spoke from spontaneous combustion. He once again spoke up on behalf of the 10 pound books.
You may recall that Luis’s campaign for Board member the first time - the time where he was told by the voters that we weren’t interested in him serving on the board - included a suggestion that we forget about computers and stay with books instead. This statement was made less than a week after the superintendent and board discussed moving toward increased technology.
I mean, a totally understandable gaff, after all, his kids go to private schools because he couldn’t tell the PUSD where his kids should go to school.
I remember this kind of stupid stuff, especially when the BOE give people like Ayala an interview, and people like me don’t get invited to the party. I am the idiot that fought the school district to keep my kid in a public school when the elite tried to keep him out.
Sometimes I wonder if I should give all of this up and retire from fighting windmills.
Anyway, Luis Carlos lamented the book's downfall, once again, with this objective should he become a board member - he wanted to create an environment where carrying a book isn’t viewed as being effeminate. When he said it, I looked at the board members, and each of them were stone-faced and silent. That’s when I knew they were absolutely correct about me.
I could never be a board member.
I started howling with laughter. I grabbed three of my favorite books out of my backpack (aka my machismo-man purse) and started bench pressing and doing crunches for the Sierra Madre paparazzi (aka, Mary Brandenburg and her iPhone). She was impressed by this wicked display of manliness in the face of effeminate book display, and pulled a dollar out of her, uh, pants, and told me to run to the store and grab her a soda.
Thanks to Luis, I felt comfortable not only doing the shopping, I even cooked dinner that night.
Who knew, all of these faux-traditional roles of gender-inequity could be smashed if we would just let men carry books in public, and get over our stereotyping books as a chick habit (click here).
Thank you, Luis Luis Carlos the Iceman Ayala, thank you. If a friend is ever looking for an immigration attorney, even if they are men who carry books or women who wear the pants, I know we can count on you.
Having listened to Luis Luis so many times, I can say this. Portugal must have some great schools.
Hey Now, Let’s Turn that Frown Upside Down
I work with a woman who cries. She cries a lot. She can’t help it, she is a soul with lots of soft spots in her heart. I see it is an endearing quality. Sometimes people I know cry when they are frustrated. Some even cry when they are sad, or in pain. I always cry when I get my paycheck and see how much I sacrifice to the taxman. In fact, I am tearing up right now.
But what was up on Saturday? Why was everyone crying? I checked the room and it appeared to be an Onion-free Zone. Maybe it was, as an observer had shared, their way of showing they really cared about the kids. I dunno. I was looking to see if someone was pinching the candidates, but no, that wasn’t it.
Heck, at the end of the day, even one of the men was crying.
Maybe it was his nap time.
All of the Candidates were Qualified!
No Ms. Pomeroy, they were not, but I do appreciate your positive point of view and outlook. As I promised, I will work on mine.
I guess we should be happy for Gretchen that the Board would love to have her work for free as a TT Oversight Committee member. I know that at the end of the time we put in as members of the Special Education Task Force we were doing cartwheels. Especially when the Special Education Department and CAC the Co-dependent Clown teamed up with some of the other clowns over at the Webster Elementary Big Top and then bastardized the plan.
Welcome to the Club, Sierra Madre
It is old news that Mikala Rahn of Pasadena Learning Works, and a Sierra Madre resident, became the at-large representative for PUSD vacant board seat #4. She and I are neighbors, but we hadn’t met prior to Saturday.
The Pasadena Star News announced the appointment right away: Mikala Rahn, the founder of Learning Works charter school, will join the Pasadena Unified School District board after she was appointed Saturday to fill the remaining two years of a vacant seat.
Rahn, a Sierra Madre resident, won the board seat on a 4-2 vote by the six other members of the board, and is set to be sworn in at the next meeting on June 11. She will take Seat 4, an at-large position representing the entire district.
"It's an honor," Rahn said. "I'm feeling very, very good that we’re all going to get along and it's going to be good."
She beat out investment banker Carmen Vargas in the final vote, following the board's interviews with nine finalists on Saturday. The finalists had been selected from a pool of 37 applicants who qualified for the position.
"I think she just stood out," said board member Scott Phelps, who nominated Rahn and cited her extensive experience working with PUSD as an indication that she could quickly become familiar with issues in the school district.
From the Pasadena Sun/LA Times Joe Piasecki wrote: Board President Renatta Cooper and Elizabeth Pomeroy, who did not vote for Rahn, had called instead for the board to consider appointing one of several Latino candidates.
“In filling this position, you have to look at what’s not present in the board. I’m very aware of the fact that we have a school district that’s 60% Latino and we don’t currently have Latino representation on the board,” Cooper said.
Board members backed the switch to elections by district in the hope of increasing Latino representation, but three Latino candidates lost bids for seats this spring.
Phelps said Rahn’s longtime work with at-risk Pasadena kids put her in a position “to hit the ground running” as a board member.
Others complemented Rahn's work helping would-be dropouts earn a diploma. “I like her spirit of finding the best in people and helping it grow,” Pomeroy said.
Both of these articles are telling.
What’s also telling is that no agency picked up the blog about the letter that was run on theebrandenburgs and Sierra Madre Tattler blogsites. I wonder why.
Let’s recap on the paper screening which led to the interview, and leave that out there for your consideration. I am also going to include Mike’s longer version from my previous blog as it solidifies his theory.
Mike Severa Takes an Educated Guess at the Paper Screening Vote Review.
Mike Severa is a math guy. He likes numbers. He, too, put in an application for the vacant Board seat, and lost that opportunity, like 27 of us did, when the rules changed. He gave a rundown in an email, which made perfect sense, on how he thinks this vote went down. To follow this, you’ll need to open the viewer in another window or print it out. (click here).
Ok, so lets look at these votes and see if we can't figure out who voted for whom.
Looking at the number of votes in each row, apparently each board member got 10 votes to distribute among all the candidates. The last row, which only has 8, is an exception. There are only two people on the board who I believe would feel compelled not to use all their votes if they didn't believe in 10 applicants: Phelps and Kenne, so I expect the last row is one of those two.
Then notice that Brandenburg, Barrero and I got votes from the board member in the last line. Phelps has not been shy about expressing support for those people so I expect the last row is him.
Then turning to myself, Kenne is one of only two board members who understands my own passion for public education. As a result, I expect the 3rd row is her.
Then things get a bit tricky. Brumder got 2 votes and I have to believe at least one (and perhaps both) is Pomeroy or Selinske. And given the fact that rows 4 and 5 voted very similarly, I expect those two are Pomeroy and Selinske. Not entirely sure which order. Pomeroy is more involved in PEF of the two, so she gets the nod for 4 at this point.
But what about the first two rows? I think it’s noteworthy that row 1 voted for Shay but not for Bell. Remember that Bell ran against Cooper in a recent election. In addition, the first row has more Latinos than any other row and given Cooper's recent piece expressing a strong desire to have a Latino on the board, I expect row 1 is probably her.
Although I don’t know much about Hampton, this 'analysis' only leaves row 2 for him. The fact that that row did not vote for Hueso, is perhaps corroborating (Hampton's opponent in the election). In fact, looking at the losing opponents in the last election (Hueso, Ayala and Murga) all got votes from the same people (rows 1, 4 and 5). Of course, Ayala ran against Phelps, so those rows should be, not surprisingly, Cooper, Selinske and Pomeroy.
Maybe one last connection is that row 4 voted for Vance, but row 5 did not. Vance was on the COC and thus Selinske must know her quite well as he chair(ed?) the Finance subcommittee. That would make 4 Selinske and 5 Pomeroy. I guess in theory if Vance was combative in her role there, that could switch those rows, but I don’t know that relationship at all so I'll assume it was one of collaboration.
All this said, there are a few curious votes that result if this analysis were correct. One is Cooper voting for Brumder. Another is Pomeroy voting for Murga (her opponent in the last election). Yet another would be Selinske not voting for Brumder (though, as mentioned, Pomeroy is more involved with PEF than Selinske). I guess those are possible, but seem surprising. But the alternatives seem even odder, so this would be my 'guess'. Admittedly, I could be very wrong (though I am pretty sure about a few rows).
Whoever thought that a lack of transparency could lead to so much fun. :)
My bet is the rows are:
Voters 1, 4, & 5 are probably .... Cooper, Selinske, & Pomeroy. If you swapped the 4 and 5 out, it wouldn’t matter much. From my perspective it says the same thing. Cooper, Selinske, Pomeroy.
I’d bet my soul on it. I mean, if I actually had one.
The Latino on PUSD Board Issue
One of the issues I’ve already discussed is the nagging question, What about the representation on the board of a Latino Board member? This is the million dollar question, of course.
The PUSD is 61% Latino. I am curious to find out if that is a constant across voters in the PUSD tri-cities. We’d need to consider that, right? That would need to be compared against adults in the tri-cities, as well.
The burning question is, of course, why didn’t the board place a Latino? Well, I don’t know. Maybe because Dr. Rahn interviewed very well. Maybe because she laid all of the fears about conflict of interest to waste. Maybe because the PLC pulled a foolish move, or maybe because it was obvious that the paper screening was adjusted to include Murga, Ayala, and Hueso into the interview process. Maybe all of the shout outs Ms. Murga got looked staged. I don’t know.
I want you to go back to Mike’s evaluation, then compare 1, 4, and 5. If member #1 is Renatta, and I believe it is, then that was the most vocal pro-Latino on the board in the press for the last few weeks. Did that person lean toward Latinos? Well yes, and no. That person voted for Brumder, and Shay, as well as Serafin Espinoza who had readily criticized PUSD. That left out Barrero, Arce, and ... that other guy. The one she didn’t know was Latino.
So, this was really about which candidates Member #1 favored politically and personally, not who would support Latino students. In fact, I think that there was a Brown Act violation, and that someone was trying to sway the appointment using race as the primary focus, and may have done so to promote a political agenda of a power base that is quickly fading and falling apart.
Oh, just my opinion, ok?
So, here’s my solution to this question. If the President of the Board, Renatta Cooper, or any other Board member wishes to step down and open their seat up for an election- by all means, do so. Just keep in mind that in the last election the candidates were not able to convince the voters. Redistricting didn’t change the phenomena. But by all means, if at first you don’t succeed ...
I‘d like to make a different sort of recommendation for Latino leadership. Carol Liu just gave a job to Ed Honowitz, why wasn’t that job given to a Latino? Maybe the PLC should tell Carol Liu who she should appoint.
Andre Coleman Asks Mary What She Thinks
Hi Andre, In answer to your questions: Were you shocked the board majority chose a Sierra Madre resident? Did you expect a Latino?
Regarding the choice of a Sierra Madre resident ... yes, I was a bit surprised. After the interviews on Saturday, it was clear who the most qualified candidate was. Ms. Rahn has shown through example that the focus of quality leadership and programs lay in reaching all children in need. For a family who's had to fight to keep a child in school, we value the insight Ms. Rahn brings to the board.
Regarding representation of the Latino community ... I was surprised that all 37 applicants weren't interviewed, as all had signed on to do, and as had been posted in the application process. There were other quality Latino candidates that were screened out by a new process that still remains vague.
I also didn't expect the Pasadena Latino Coalition to recommend three applicants out of all that applied. Ultimately, filling the vacant seat was not supposed to be based on race, but on merit and ability to serve on the governing board.
Besides the lack of Latino representation on the Board of Ed, despite the redistricting, there's a lack of Latinos in key leadership positions at the school sites and in the upper administration, including the Special Ed administration where a large percentage of Latino students are being denied basic protections under the law.
I won't be surprised to see outside entities step in to make sure the needs of Latino students and their families are met. It's been a long time coming.
So, uh, Who is the Divisive One
Elizabeth Pomeroy, who abstained in the first vote, and voted against Rahn in the second, still found a positive in the appointment. For all of those who have decried the division on the board, this is a positive sign towards progress. Of course, none of them are talking about that right now. They must still be licking their wounds. They only talk about cohesiveness and teamwork when they are bashing Scott Phelps, I guess.
Renatta Cooper, who on the last few opportunities to offer the simplest of greetings to Mary (click here) and I, had simply stared at us stonefaced or looked away. Interestingly, both Elizabeth Pomeroy and Tom Selinske came over to speak with us, and even teased me a bit about my competitive nature when I scoffed that Serafin Espinoza, an interviewee, stated he was the number one critic and supporter of the PUSD. So did Ruben Hueso earlier.
I respect them all for that.
In fact, in Tom Selinske’s case, I owe him much more. Scott Phelps pointed out to me that Tom was one of the founders of the PCC Flea Market (click here) which was founded by Tom and his brother Tim Selinske. I have utilized this service for more than thirty years and had no idea. In the days of no internet, no Amazon, no car, and the RTD bus, Poobah Records and the PCC Flea Market were the most valuable local sources for record collectors in the entire San Gabriel Valley.
It was also the best pre-internet method to peekaboo the stars. Stars like junk shopping as much as we do. Other notable shoppers Mary and I have spied over the years? Well, let’s see ... my pal, photographer Edward Colver (click here) who collected Stickley (click here), as well as Lux Interior and Ivy (click here) who were record, film, and 3D photography enthusiasts, Tab Hunter (click here), and Diane Keaton (click here).
Anyway. Back to my point. The one person who didn’t look stoked on Saturday when I was leaving was Renatta Cooper when she announced to the the board, “You have chosen Mikala Rahn.” I should point out Cooper did not say, We have made a choice , nor did she say The Board has made its choice. She said you.
That statement certainly helps qualify Dr. Rahn’s quote to the paper, I’d think. The one about getting along.
However, more than anything, the pattern of divisiveness - which I am going to go out on a limb here and say was caused not by Ramon Miramontes and Scott Phelps, but by ACT, and Peter Dreier, and IiPK, and Ed “Hunh, What?” Honowitz - seems to be resting in the last vestige of the toppled kingdom. Those who would be kings? Do you recall? (click here) Yes. I think we’re past the hokum and malarky now, and it is coming into focus fast and furious.
She who would be queen.