Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tony Brandenburg: Anarchy At The PUSD (Part 2)

(Mod: Before we get to the second half of Tony's column on the recent happenings at the PUSD, I thought it would be good to share the following OC Weekly piece about the new album from his band, The Adolescents. Tony's outspoken views on the Kelly Thomas case come through loud and clear on this release.) 

Homeless Take a Whack at Manuel Ramos on New Adolescents Album Cover! (link): The Adolescents are at it again. The iconic punk band formed in Fullerton decades ago is still angry about the Kelly Thomas beating death by city police in 2011. With a new album scheduled for release this summer, they're letting you know with a provocative album cover. The devil-horned piƱata head of ex-Fullerton cop Manuel Ramos, shaded in a piggish hue of pink, dangles as a homeless man wielding a stick readies a whack to the delight of other homeless in the background. HA!

In addition to the artwork, there's a new song off the album that inspired it all. Lead singer Tony Cadena penned "A Dish Best Served Cold" about the Thomas killing. Slated to take a direct cue from the song, the album's working title was Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold before settling on La Vendetta..., a hat tip to the original Sicily saying.

"After [Cadena] wrote the song, he came to me and says, 'Hey, this is my idea for the cover,'" says bassist Steve Soto. The Adolescents turned to Mario Rivera next, a Madrid-based artist whose done the album art for the band's last three releases. His talent brought their vision to fruition.

The song and the cover convey the anger still felt by the killing, especially after the murder trial ended in acquittal for Ramos and Jay Cicinneli, his partner that night. "Right before the verdict came in, I really thought this was going to be the time that things were going to change," Soto says. "It ended up being just one more bitter pill with a lot of bitter pills in life to swallow."

With the Weekly getting an exclusive sneak peek, "A Dish Best Served Cold" is righteous punk rock at its best. "We'll never forgive / The story will be told / With this pen, I'm gonna to f--- you up!" Cadena sings. The last line, of course, alludes to the infamous words Ramos said to Thomas while putting on latex gloves during the encounter.

"One of the ideas is to maybe pre-release that song as a digital download," Soto says. "It's not for commercial reasons as much as for people knowing what's going on."

The Thomas family responded positively to the album artwork. Cadena and Ron Thomas remain friends as the Adolescents headlined the one-year anniversary memorial concert in Fullerton for his bludgeoned son. The singer gave an early preview of the image to his approval. The band turned La Vendetta... into their label just a few weeks ago. The 16-song album is due out July 11 before the start of a European tour.

It's also coincidentally a day after the three-year anniversary of Kelly Thomas' death when taken off life support.

Anarchy at the PUSD (Part 2)

A Statement Cut Short 
Add caption
The last thing the Madamn President wanted to do was give me a platform from which to speak. They had cut public comments to two minutes, and only allowed their pets to speak over the time limit. This is typical. I dealt with the nasty glares, and the snippy remarks from my seat prior to going up. I was allowed to read about half of it before I was shut down. I appealed to Tom Selinske who, true to passive form, mumbled about the two minute warning.

I've heard Mickey Mouse speak with more force.

I looked at Queen Renatta, sitting on her throne. Smug, in control. The self appointed. I walked away from the podium and used the amplifier I was given with my genes. I finished what I had to say with my back to the Board of Ed. I tried to address the board, but they chose to not hear it. So I gave the rest to the disapproving people in the boardroom.

Ron Thomas (click here) then went to the podium. When I consider the absolute Hell he and his family have been through, I can only feel like my concerns are a microcosm. Yet, here is Ron, going to bat for my child. I am humbled and grateful.

The faces of many in the boardroom went through something of a startled change when he began discussing the Brandenburg saga, and then suggested that we pursue a complaint with the Department of Justice against PUSD on Title 18, U.S.C Section 241, Conspiracy Against Rights, Title 18, U.S.C. Section 242 Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, and Title 18, U.S.C., Section 245 Federally Protected Activities.

Consistent with the Brandenburgs' belief, Ron felt the child's civil rights had been violated, and that he had been falsley imprisoned. I won't lie. I found a certain comfort in the blinking eyes and bewildered looks. It was as if there were some in the room that actually believed he was going to congratulate the PUSD.

You can view myself and Ron at approximately 1:28 on the April 24 video link (click here).

My Statement to the Board of Education April 24, 2014
Who needs a mic, anyway?
We have waited another year for resolution. Instead of a solution, we’ve simply ruffled more feathers. We came to this board for resolution, instead we received resolutions blocking our appeals on internal investigations that should have been handled by outside entities.

A subordinate - Steve Miller - was the lead investigator on the following requests- a board member, the former superintendent, the former Coordinator of Special Ed,  a former school principal, a few teachers, and specialists. All of this resulted in NOTHING.

At least that is what the PUSD want the public and press to know.

In reality, however, it bought the PUSD time. As we sat and waited for responses, statutes of limitations expired. This allowed the people who were responsible to slink off into retirement and protect their precious pensions, their reputations, and their eligibility to be hired at a competitive rate. Well, that’s the people in administrative roles. The board could determine what it would or wouldn’t hear in the appeal process.

Then there are the teachers and the others. They are still hear, enjoying their status. No repercussions. Everyone gets to enjoy the fruit of destroying a child. MY child. The co-conspirators, the bully parents who petitioned and smeared my child’s reputation, they are now strutting around like peacocks at Sierra Madre Elementary, and one is now celebrated by your union, the UTP. Maybe it’s for assisting in the removal of my child with her written smear campaign which was supported by, big surprise, union negotiator Yolanda Munoz

Here’s your award, Monika. Smile for the camera. Cheese!

No one bothered to show empathy or compassion to my child. No one questioned why he may be reacting the way he did. No one thought for a moment that he lacked the communication and coping skills to navigate complex situations which PUSD didn’t bother to help him navigate.

NO. Instead they tried to extinguish his communication. They blamed him for his disability. The tried to make him more compliant. When they couldn’t the tried to remove him, and they engaged the community to attack our whole family.

My child was ABUSED in your schools, kicked by a PUSD teacher’s assistant, locked in a storage room, timed out in a bathroom, squirted in the face with a cleaning bottle by a PUSD teacher, forced to pick up garbage as he wretched and vomited, secluded from his peers, had his lunch withheld from him, stuck inside a plastic tub, and caged like an animal.

Why are you refusing to negotiate this in a fiscally responsible way? What do you gain from blocking our desire to leave? Four years ago you tried to force it. Is the real problem here that we are in the middle of another special education power trip? Is this just another ploy to try and beat us into submission like they tried to do to our child?

The leadership in the Special Ed department took the nine studies - Nine audits that they ignored - the ones that led up to a special ed task force, whose report they bastardized under Michael Jason, and then spit out a mess so muddled and confused that it lived up to the low expectations that the UTP has for our kids. Other parents and myself WASTED months of our lives working for FREE on those recommendations.

The PUSD special ed team under the current leadership specifically entraps parents by opening of IEPs that they have no intention of completing. That’s right. They are opened not in order to complete them- but to tangle up the parents in red tape, to trick the state, the Board, and the superintendent with statistical markers that make it appear that there is progress, when in fact there is not.

If you believe the number of complaints against PUSD has decreased, or that there are less instances of compliance issues, then you are not digging deep enough, and you will be in for a rude awakening.

I predict that your special ed leadership will be gone in the next couple of years because all of those unfinished IEPs are going to come home to roost. When the parents realize how badly they’ve been duped is when all of those compliance complaints, and all of those due process complaints, and all of those lawsuits are going to come in.

Meanwhile, your special ed leadership will get jobs in neighboring districts using those positive statistics I referenced as proof that they know what they are doing. And yes, they do. They have been doing it for years. That’s why they need to move on- after getting an award, of course.

This smokescreen is designed to break down parents, and to bankrupt the families, like mine, who dare to say, “Please sir, I want some more.”


We want out. We have provided the district with our wishes, and this can be done simply, and without continued distress financial damage inflicted onto my family. Or it can be drawn out in hearings for the next 6 years. But I promise, if this district chooses the latter- the road that leads to continued discord and disruption- that we will no longer be silent.

There is no statute of limitation on the VOICE of TRUTH!

Mary says, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Dice ... and No Letter, Either!" 
Mary put the kabosh on my latest emailblast to the PUSD Board of Education. She does that sometimes. Believe it or not, she is considered the more reasonable of we two by many people who don't know better.

I beg of you dear people. Please, please, do not tell anyone-especially Mary - that you saw this unsent letter.

Tom, Renatta-
Here's the text that you thought you were too important to hear last night. Yay you. 

Four years ago PUSD fought to get rid of us first by bullying us in our neighborhood, and then went as far as to the point of suing us. Now you fight to keep us. Amazing.

Congratulations on the acquisition of a whole new group of protesters. They stream live, too, so y'all can turn off the monitors inside and control what YOU show the public, but you can't control what WE show the public.

We will pursue righting those wrongs as long as we continue to be trapped in the PUSD. We tried to leave, but Michael Jason wants us to stay. I hope you'll remember to thank him. We can do this for six more years if that is YOUR desire. 
Expect us at your meet and greets, at your dignitary functions, and at your meetings. Expect us to hold our signs everywhere.

Remember Madamn President,  all we ever asked for was an APOLOGY for what YOUR STAFF DID TO OUR CHILD.  When this is finished, it will be the most expensive apology never given.

But you know best; that's why you're the president. One day I, too, hope that I can make myself president of something.

Keep on Keeping On
I am so ready to have my kids go to a non-public school on PUSD's dime. Keep in mind that we can't get specialized services in a non-public setting without suing for them. Some of us are not fortunate enough financially to go private. School districts do not just provide specialized services to those who do. Besides, the PUSD owe us so much more than just a kick in the ass as we walk out the door.

Perhaps that explains why - for now anyway - they want to keep us so near and dear to their bosom.

Well then, I guess we can party with them for six more years. Fasten your seat belts. We come equipped with Republicans, Democrats, and Anarchists.

The Bogus Award
Government Cheese
This year's Bogus award goes to ... Mayor McCheese! That's right, guys and gals, this year's Bogus Award goes to Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard. Thankfully he kept his balance on the Pasadena Rose Parade float and didn't topple off of it like I did on the curb. Ooops! Too much cocoa!

Congratulations, Hail to the Cheese, and all of that jazz. All praise goes to mighty Jah and to the Pasadena Education Foundation for this grand exercise in self-congratulatory back patting (click here). And for a mere 100 'denas you, too, can dine on a delicious plate of soup. Be sure to bring your fork! There will be a potluck out front.

(Mod: You will be able to join Tony and his merry band of trans-ideological friends at the Pasadena Educational Foundation's May 7, 2014 gala event at the Pasadena City Hall courtyard. Or at least nearby. Tony's version of this event won't cost you $100 dollars, either. Which is good for those who might be on a budget. 6PM.)


  1. Congratulations on the new album, Tony!

  2. One of PEF's sponsors are the same law firm that PUSD retains to negotiate with the UTP, to fight against parents, property, etc. Atkinson, Andelson, Loya and Rudd.

  3. I'm glad this topic of being trapped the PUSD came up. What would it take to break our horrible association with them and annex with the Arcadia school district??? Given that we border Arcadia completely on the south and Pasadena on the much smaller west side, wouldn't this be a more logical situation? Now that the middle school is being built, does that mean we're stuck with PUSD for the long haul? The truancy rate alone in the district speaks volumes about the absolute failure they've become.

    1. That effort was made some years back. The judge ruled Sierra Madre parents were racist and denied the change.

    2. We are today an ethic minority living in a small enclave. Perhaps that opinion of us has changed?

    3. I agree, Arcadia is prominently Asian now, 60% to about 31% white. How could they deem us racist at this point by wanting to merge with them? There's got to be some way to make it happen. Property values would increase over night and frustration levels would plummet. Sounds great to me.

  4. I am a product of the PUSD Arcadia don't wann us.......

  5. What time is the May 7 PEF-athon?

    1. 6PM but we will party a little earlier

    2. The PEF invited guests need a greeting party to kick off the event.

    3. A gauntlet of good cheer and bonhomie to send them on their way.

  6. As a wealthy city bourgie Pasadena has done remarkably little to support public education. Outside of abundant cheap lip service, of course. The PUSD lags far behind comparable school districts in this area. That this PEF is holding a party to celebrate itself is abhorrent to me.

    1. And to celebrate all that Mayor Bogaard has done for education doubles the hypocrisy.

    2. The $$$ spent on the party to celebrate themselves would have been better spent on those they supposedly serve- the students.

    3. What is the point in being wonderful if you can't have parties and win prizes?

    4. and get an award!

    5. I want an award!

    6. Patty, if you want an award you'll have to stand in line behind all the worthy people slotted for recognition in the next couple years. In front of you are Eric Walsh, Peter Dreier, Renatta Cooper.....

  7. You just outed Tony B. as Tony Cadena of the Adolescents! Sierra Madre brace yourselves for screaming middle aged groupies .Amoeba one of my punk favs.......

    1. Dave, you might be the only person in Los Angeles County that didn't know that.


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