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.)