Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Latest Siraganian Campaign Postcard Addresses the Pasadena Unified Conflict of Interest Controversy


Out of all the issues raised in this campaign, this has been by far the most contentious for certain members of Larry Torres' support pod. Can someone who has belonged to a teacher's union for years, then taken money from a teachers' union while running for a Board of Education seat, still be counted upon to help administer a school district in an even-handed and transparent way once elected? Can the taxpayers depend upon that person to represent the interests of their children in all the best ways possible? Or will the fix be in and any decisions on matters such as PUSD employee benefits and pensions be preordained ones? 

For most it appears obvious that a longtime teacher's union loyalist such as Larry Torres, who then ran for office blessed with money and other assistance from just such a union, would focus on just the interests of those who helped get him there. To date Larry has received over $9,000 from just such interests. 

And rather than making tough decisions about salaries, benefits and platinum pensions, Torres, once elected, will cast his vote like it is his own concerns that are at stake. Which, of course, they are. 

Making this a true conflict of interest.

This is something we see in government often in fiscally imperiled California. Somewhere along the line the concerns of taxpayers were shoved aside, while those of government employees were somehow pushed to the forefront. Resulting in almost $200 billion in unfunded public pension debt according to State Controller John Chiang (link). 

All of which is being paid for by the very people whose children are being shortchanged in this shady arrangement, taxpayers such as you and I.

So would you like a few PUSD examples of this conflict of interest problem? We're talking about the power of union money used to build support for Board of Ed members making decisions directly affecting union membership pocketbooks. 

If you go to the Larry Torres campaign page you will see that two retired Sierra Madre Elementary School principals have endorsed him. Gayle Bluemel and Tyrone Gaffney are their names. Here is what you are paying them every year in pension benefits. 


That is over $200,000 a year between the two of them. More than a million dollars every 5 years. How many of those currently scarce textbooks would that much money buy? This is what you get when you have Board of Education members with the kind of conflict of interest problems we described above. 

How many of you working stiffs out there are hauling down six figures a year? How would you like to do that while sitting in your backyard drinking iced tea and swapping Instagram selfies with Jon Gundry?

You ready for a few PUSD salaries that kind of jump out at you?


I think you get the point about why a Larry Torres conflict of interest matters. If you want a fox to guard your henhouse, then Larry is your dude. Just don't expect there to be any eggs left over for the kids' breakfast.

A great article you might want to check out

(Mod: This comes to us from Robert Fellner at Transparent California. It was originally published in July of last year.)


Pasadena Unified Superintendent Promoted, $55,000 Raise, Despite District’s Failing Performance - Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) superintendent Jon Gundry has just been tapped as the new superintendent for the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE), despite PUSD’s failing marks under his tenure from 2011 to 2014. His base salary will rise from $240,000 to $295,000 with the promotion effective August 1.

In 2013, the PUSD received a 751 score on California’s Academic Performance Index (API), down from 762 in 2012. API scores range from 200 to 1000, with 800 the targeted goal. Additionally PUSD received an “F” grade in a report card issued by State Sen. Carol Liu, which assessed the school’s performance in serving its low-income and minority students. Their overall grade of “D” was not much better.

When discussing the declining API scores, Gundry cited a decrease in district revenue as responsible for the poor scores.

Recently published compensation data for employees in California’s K-12 schools by TransparentCalifornia.com sheds light on this claim. The data reveals that Gundry earned substantially more than other superintendents in the area, despite overseeing a district with significantly lower performance marks. Further, the median compensation of the District’s teachers was rising, not falling, and remained consistent with the level of similar districts within Los Angeles County.

The payroll data reported by most schools does not distinguish between full and part-time employees. As such, this analysis considers teachers that received at least $25,000 in salary as full-time. The median compensation for a full-time teacher in PUSD in 2013 was $90,092, an approximately 2.7% increase from the 2012 median compensation of $87,226. At the same time he was bemoaning district funding levels, Gundry also saw a similar percentage increase in his compensation, which rose from $291,717 in 2012 to $301,081 in 2013.

(Mod: You can read the rest of Robert's article by clicking here.)

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

71 comments:

  1. but Mod, Larry does everything "because he loves the children".

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  2. United Teachers of Pasadena (the teachers' union) would LOVE to have Larry Torres on the PUSD Board.

    More teacher raises and Platinum Pensions coming up!

    More money for the kids? Not so much.

    I'm voting for Sandra Siraganian.

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  3. As always, it is all about the money with these guys.

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    1. Yes. Our money. Which they want to spend on themselves.

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    2. The unions have alot of money riding on these kinds of local elections which is why they are so agressive in supporting their hand-picked candidate. Larry is their man which is why, if we want to improve the schools we need Sandra.

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  4. And ego. Voting schmoting. Silly that everyone is excited about which person should “win” a seat on the board. Like it’s really gonna make a difference how the PUSD ship sails? You think it’s gotten better over the decades? You think This is the Year? Really? How about, you either send your kids there and deal w/ it best you can, or send them somewhere else and pay. Let’s assume at the very best, the best candidate gets in, but it doesn’t matter who you think is the best, because they all get lost in the machine once in. The PUSD machine is a junkyard dog that will limp along forever. It’s theoretically possible to fix it but not with the way politics run it. Every year it’s the same damn thing. Goodness people, don’t get so excited thinking Sonya or Larry is going to make a difference either way.

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    1. You think? Why let Larry get it then? Isn't he from the same awful crowd that dragged the place down in the first place? And second, third and fourth places as well? Better to elect an outsider.

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    2. People have to realize what's going on here. For the Torres camp, its not about the kids. Its about the Teacher's Union. When you look at those pensions that just those two people alone will receive for the rest of their lives, you then realize why there isn't enough money to buy decent textbooks for the kids. You also realize from that how much money is involved. The Teacher's Unions everywhere have resisted all calls for reform that would make the schools better for the kids. For example, tts very difficult to fire teachers for even gross malfeasance. When you look at Larry Torres's supporters, its all the usual suspects. Why does he headline Carol Canterbury of all people as one of his supporters. What does she have to do with anything and how is she representative of Sierra Madre. Then he mentions former Mayors Stockley, Buchanan and Doyle as his supporters. What a disaster they were for Sierra Madre. Remember the headline in the local paper "Betrayed" when they sold out the residents during the One Carter debacle. Now these same people are crawling out from under their rock to support Larry Torres. People need to wake up. They have an agenda and its the union's agenda not the kids' agenda. We need a single mom in there with some real world experience and common sense to look out for the kids and not the union stooges trying to enhance pensions at the expense of the kids and the taxpayers. If people only knew what this election was really about, Torres wouldn't stand a chance. You have to peel things back one layer to look at why those people are so motivated to have Larry Torres in there to look out for the union's interest.

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    3. Who you elect matters. Why turn your kids into special interest hostages? Vote for Sandi.

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    4. There is so much anti-teacher sentiment here. Funny, who is it that spends their own money, volunteers their own time, and gives so much to help make our society a better place. Starting salary for a PUSD teacher is $42,000 a year. My checker at Whole Foods and Barista at Starbucks make more. Yet they still spend what likely money they make on supplies for their class rooms and kids.

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    5. I don't see any anti-teacher sentiment here. To the contrary I would say teachers are in the same boat as the kids. All the money goes to fund the bloated management bureaucracy and their fat benefits packages. No wonder teachers have to buy supplies.

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    6. The checker at Whole Foods and barista at Starbucks don't get a Platinum Pension and Lifetime Medical from the State of CA.

      Quit poor mouthing me. It is very tiresome.

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    7. Hostage taking is about all they have.

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    8. 9:03, I hope you're not a math teacher.

      $42,000/yr at 2,080 hours (40 hrs a week for 52 weeks) = $ 20.19 per hour at Starbucks? Yeah, right.

      Math is hell.

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    9. 10:35. Teachers don't work 52 weeks out of the year. they have summers off and Spring Breaks and Winter Holiday too. if they teach "summer school" they get paid extra. So, how much do they really make? A whole lot more than $20.00 bucks an hour.

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    10. Thanks for pointing out what teachers really make. I would agree with one post that upper management makes way too much which is why they support Torres and expect him to give out an even better deal. The unions have really done damage to the kids. You look at LA Unified and how many teaches have been let go for doing a bad job - you can count them on one hand in any given year and its costs millions of dollars in attorney fees as well. Teachers unions have fought for tenure, for things like seniority when it comes to layoffs without regard to merit, the rules that make it so difficult to get rid of a bad teacher and the list can go on and on. I know teaching can be a difficult job but to look out for their own selfish interest when all those policies just cited hurt the kids is reprehensible. Can you imagine any business that could not get rid of a bad worker? The kids are the ones who have to engage with that bad worker every day. Its a crime. Torres supports all that and the unions know it which is why they are trying to get him elected. If you want to improve the Pasadena schools, you need someone who will shake things up and not follow the same policies that have made Pasadena schools so crummy. That going to be Sandi Seragainian.

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    11. Math might be hell, but so are facts. My friend is a team lead at the Whole Foods down the street. I called her last night and she makes $24.75/hr. My son works at Starbucks in Huntington Beach. After tips he said he clears over $20 and has benefits. Did you know most people who have pensions pay into them personally. Some to the tune of 20% of their income, while their public employer pays less. When you add the total cost of a public employee it is still less than what a private employee with similar responsibility makes. When a CEO make $14,000,000 a year ($6,863/hr) and a Department head managing more people in a public sector job makes $180,000 seems like a discrepancy to me.

      I just spoke to my friend who is a sergeant for the LAPD and his total benefits are 14% more than his salary. He found out because he Googled his name and his total salary plus cost of benefits was on the Internet. That doesn't seem like a crazy out of control pension/benefit cost to me.

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  5. John and Diane Shear are supporting Sandra Siraganian for Pasadena School Board.
    We will be happy to deliver a yard sign to your home anywhere in the district. Show your support for better Pasadena schools.......call us for a sign
    355-4776 and please vote March 10th.for Sandi!

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  6. Thanks to the Tattler for once again exposing what this election is really about. Its about the money. But not the money for the kids but the money for the unions and their big fat pensions and resistance to any meaningful reforms that would make the Pasadena school district a decent place to go.

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  7. Look at Gundry. At soon as he gets a better offer, he's gone. All they care about is the money. The fact that test scores declined under his watch, doesn't matter. Its the biggest scam going. And now, the union wants Torres in there to represent their interests.

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    Replies
    1. Gundry is just another example of failing upward.

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  8. Why in the world is Carol Canterbury anybody you would want to name on your endorsement list. That alone should disqualify Torres for elected office.

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    Replies
    1. She is part of the Chamber of Commerce. Explains all the empty stores.

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    2. The Chamber is so bad even Nancy Walsh quit.

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    3. Too bad the Seniors can't quit Nancy Walsh.

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    4. I think they're trying to help her.

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  9. Scott Phelps? Ramon Miramontes? Just because you are a teacher means you are not qualified for the school board?

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    Replies
    1. Two of the most independent thinking people around. Too bad Larry Torres isn't anything like them.

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    2. The same establishment figures who attempted to break Miramontes and Phelps are now going after Siraganian. Credit in heaven as far as I am concerned.

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    3. 9:06, is that all ya got? Work harder.

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    4. I'd say that little piece of revisionist history blew right up in 9:06's shocked face.

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    5. The Torres campaign has been primarily funded by special interests and unions. That should tell you everything you need to know.

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    6. They're corrupt parasites who have only shown up for the money.

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    7. "(S)He Works Hard For The Money!"

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  10. Just because a teacher belongs to the union is not a reason to be disqualified. Teachers belong to the union in order to get retirement and other benefits. However, when a teacher makes it obvious that he/she is supporting the union (by way of accepting massive donations), then it should stand that the teacher Is not qualified to serve on the board because of conflict of interest. Thus, Torres is not qualified to serve on the board.

    I sat in a meeting mostly comprised mostly of teachers and the subject casually came up about retirement and pensions. I was appalled at the tactics used by some teachers to increase their pensions. Teachers deserve retirement pay, it's just how much that is distressing.

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  11. What a recommendation! Larry Torres is the 600th choice to run for school board. Hard to get any lower than that. Oh, but he loves the children.

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    Replies
    1. and Larry Dog is loving him some big Union $$ contributions. Oh, and a Platinum Pension. There's that.

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    2. It has been pretty clearly established that Larry Torres was not the first choice. Or the second. He is just a warm body that will vote as told.

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    3. If Torres was the 600th choice, I'd hate to see # 601.

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    4. He filed at the last minute and Terri Buchanan got some of his filing signatures.

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    5. Speaking of the Buchanans, you realize that if they lose this one it will be what, 6 losses in a row?

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    6. 11:09 - to find #601 you will need a shovel.

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    7. The Buchanans are ethically and politically bankrupt.

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    8. John Buchanan has never met a UUT tax increase he didn't like.

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    9. So if I get this right, Torres got to be the candidate because he could fog a mirror? Really?

      Guess the Teachers' Union sets a pretty low bar.

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    10. Torres has a new campaign slogan: "I only got caught once."

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    11. I'll drink to that!

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  12. Why is a PUSD coordinator making $123K a year?

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    Replies
    1. Because they can.

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    2. Because we let them.

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  13. PUSD needs to be taken over by the state ... gutted and started all over again .. plain and simple ... nothing changes ... nothing gets done ... its the same old same old ... the younger grades used to do well .. by the time middle school rolls around and high school most people either put their child into private school (I did for the first one) or public school in a different city (I am doing that now) ... too many lies... too many promises broken ... I will vote for Sandi .. but its an uphill battle ... the last priority is the kids ... its politics, lies and corruption ... and the cleaning needs to start at the top ...

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  14. Feds target 3 alleged Chinese ‘maternity tourism’ operations in Southern California
    http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/government-and-politics/20150303/feds-target-3-alleged-chinese-maternity-tourism-operations-in-southern-california

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    Replies
    1. Anchor babies, people! Anchor babies!

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  15. I want to hire only people who make minimum wage to be my administrators, then PUSD will get straightened out! Working Stiffs Only!

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    Replies
    1. That is pretty much how it works in the private sector. You know, where the wealth needed to prop up California's vast government bureaucracies is created.

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    2. 1:14 sounds like a public sector person, huh. Gotta love that.

      They deserve more money, because, they want more money? As opposed to earning it?

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    3. Us working stiffs are the ones who pay the $$ so you can have your cushy public sector job, 1.14. Ya think all that $$ falls out of the sky?

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    4. 1:14 is convinced the world owes him a living.

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  16. The craziest thing is the PUSD teachers have tenure. Where else can you fail at your job and still get paid for doing nothing and then collecting a pension?

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  17. A tea bagger or a drunk what a choice we have for our children in this election

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    1. I am offended by your use of a sexual pejorative to denigrate a single mother of three. That is just hateful.

      Ad Hominem attacks are the refuge of a coward. Try debating facts.

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  18. Tea doesn't kill people. Drinking and driving does.

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    Replies
    1. According to MADD 10,076 people died last year due to drunk drivers.

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    2. AN AVERAGE DRUNK DRIVER HAS DRIVEN DRUNK 80 TIMES BEFORE FIRST ARREST.

      (Centers for Disease Control. “Vital Signs: Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults — United States, 2010.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. October 4, 2011.)

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    3. EACH DAY, PEOPLE DRIVE DRUNK ALMOST 300,000 TIMES, BUT FEWER THAN 4,000 ARE ARRESTED.

      (Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the United States: 2013”)

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    4. How to Spot a Drunk Driver

      While we work hard to turn cars into the cure and eliminate drunk driving forever, families must continue to be vigilant on our roadways. You can help protect your family from drunk drivers by looking for these signs of intoxication among other motorists:

      Quick acceleration or deceleration
      Tailgating
      Weaving or zig-zagging across the road
      Driving anywhere other than on a road designated for vehicles
      Almost striking an object, curb, or vehicle
      Stopping without cause or erratic braking
      Drifting in and out of traffic lanes
      Signaling that is inconsistent with driving actions
      Slow response to traffic signals (e.g. sudden stop or delayed start)
      Straddling the center lane marker
      Driving with headlights off at night
      Swerving
      Driving slower than 10 mph below the speed limit
      Turning abruptly or illegally
      Driving into opposing traffic on the wrong side of the road

      Source: http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/how-you-can-help/how-to-spot-a-drunk-driver.html

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  19. Is there any evidence that Torres has had issues with drinking? One conviction in 1985 and then a clean slate?

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    1. He hid his 1985 conviction, and hasn't been any more transparent about whatever happened after. The burden is on Larry to explain, and he should have been open about it from the start. He makes his own problems.

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    2. I wonder if Larry Dog had any other DUI or alcohol related cases that were (ahem) expunged from his record? You know, since he didn't disclose the DUI conviction? I'm not feeling the trust from Torres' side of the street.

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    3. That picture his campaign people are using isn't doing Larry any favors.

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