The word on the street is that this postcard has badly staggered the Torres campaign. After painstakingly attempting to construct a narrative of educational experience and competence, it now turns out that the school Larry Torres has been helping to run for a number of years has a record for failure that is amongst the worst in the state.
And while it is true that some of the students at the City of Angels school are "at risk" (we are all at risk if you think about it), a 77% failure rate in mathematics hardly makes them any less so. This should be the last place that any caring parent would ever want to send their child.
Many here had hoped that the "culture of failure" issue that has dogged the Pasadena Unified School District over the last decade or so would have finally subsided. And since this is the first Sierra Madre election for a BOE seat under the new "subdistricting" system (an unfair designation since our election is two years behind some of the other "subdistricts"), the hope here has been that we would be the community to choose the person who could finally turn the PUSD around.
It is now painfully obvious that Larry Torres is not that person.
Endorsements from such over-development stalwarts as Bart Doyle, John Buchanan and Rob Stockley have not helped the Torres effort, either. Sierra Madre is now desperately fighting to save itself from the kinds of atrocious Mansionization that have engulfed Arcadia, and because of that association with these kinds of people the Torres campaign is taking considerable heat.
|Nutty Uncle Pete|
Dreier, who is very much a lingering survivor of the failed 1960s Marxist "New Left" political movement, was once upon a time a senior figure in the now kaput Democratic Socialist Party (link). A rather oxymoronic name for a political organization if you think about it. This sad little party was neither democratic or socialist enough to satisfy many of the warring factions claiming it as their home, and eventually collapsed under the weight of its own absurdity.
Starting on Friday many Sierra Madre residents began to receive e-mails posted from Dreier's Occidental College account. A practice that could be at odds with California political law since it puts Oxy in the position of having made a monetary in kind donation to the Torres campaign. Something that the people who actually run that place probably weren't told about. In many companies such a misappropriation would be considered theft and grounds for dismissal.
True to form, Pasadena resident Peter Dreier's mass distribution email is comprised of a series of unfair attacks on Sierra Madre resident and single mom Sandra Siraganian. Teaming up with another political hack by the name of Robert Niles, a writer who until now was known mostly for writing reviews of amusement parks (Robert's moaning about a recent price hike at Disneyland can be read by clicking here), the product they've generated is way out of place for this community. Then again, neither of them have ever lived in Sierra Madre, so how would they know?
|Local Dreier fans|
I have pulled out a couple of the nonsensical attacks that Dreier/Niles attempts to make against Sandi. The first one deals with court ordered busing.
Siraganian's first flyer dredges up the ancient history of court-ordered busing in the PUSD, claiming that "The PUSD never allowed me to attend my neighborhood school." But no family is (sic) the Pasadena Unified School District these days is denied the opportunity to attend its assigned neighborhood school.
This one is almost funny. Many people in this community can still remember the effects court ordered busing had on both them and the quality of the Pasadena Unified School District. The PUSD went from being one of the best in the state, to something that few parents with the wherewithal to send their children to private school would ever think of using today.
The double-talk here is fabulously whack. What Dreier/Niles appears to be doing is defending busing while at the same time noting that there is no such thing happening here today. And why is that? Because that policy failed, miserably. Their intention, of course, is to race bait Sandi over something that no longer even exists. And merely because she dared to mention this court imposed and failed state policy.
Where the silliness takes a far darker turn is with this unfortunate passage.
Perhaps when Siraganian talks about "supporting neighborhood schools," she's not talking about making sure there is space available in them for the neighborhood kids, since that's not a real issue. Perhaps, then, she is talking about making sure that there is no space in them for anyone else — such as children from outside the neighborhood, from elsewhere in the district.
People with a long memory for politics remember how "support neighborhood schools" has been used as a segregationists' rallying cry. Given the complete lack of PUSD families in recent years who've been denied the opportunity to attend their neighborhood schools, plus Siraganian's political background, it's hard to see her mailer as anything other than a coded racial appeal.
As I hope that many of you are aware, the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be observed on April 24th of this year. Millions worldwide will participate. Here is how Wikipedia describes the reasons for this (link):
The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն Hayots Tseghaspanutyun), also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians, as Medz Yeghern (Armenian: Մեծ Եղեռն, "Great Crime"), was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey.
The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre.
To snottily accuse Sandi Siraganian of "coded racial appeals," someone whose own Armenian ethnicity fell victim to an almost incomprehensible cataclysm of race-based murder and hate against a minority population, is truly beyond the pale. That the attack was made this year, during a time of great importance to Armenians everywhere, is equally outrageous.
It is time for Larry Torres to call off his misguided attack dogs and stop the madness.