Friday, June 12, 2015

Pasadena Unified's Anti-Election Junta Is At It Again

PUSD: We don't need your stinking votes.
As many happy readers of this daily blog have heard before, way back in 2012 a group of local education establishment figures formed something called the Redistricting Task Force. Stripped of all the politically correct justifications behind this quirky little operation, the idea was to redo the way PUSD Board of Education members are elected to their essentially thankless offices.

More specifically, the aim was to figure out exactly how to elect more minority members to the Board of Education in areas where they are the majority. If that makes any sense. I'm not sure if I've quite figured out how a majority of the people somewhere can also be considered a minority.

But if you give me a little time I promise I'll work on that.

The end result was the entire school district was gerrymandered basically along racial lines, thus restoring the kinds of ethnic divisions that those who had instituted school busing back in the 1970s tried to bring to an end.

Of course, nothing much was actually corrected by this so-called "subdistricting process," and the PUSD's many problems have continued as if nothing ever changed.

However, the big upshot for Sierra Madre was that while most of these newly redrawn "subdistricts" got to elect their own representatives in 2013, we were proscribed from electing anyone here until just a couple of months ago. Meaning this town wouldn't get to vote for its own Board of Education representation until two full years later than most others. All while still paying our taxes, of course.

As you may recall from your high school years, the American Revolution was fought over a rather messy "taxation without representation" issue. But maybe that is now too long a time ago for people to remember. Or perhaps those few who did not forget have learned not to care.

On Bill Coburn's Sierra MadreNews.net site a rather in-depth report on this unfortunate business was posted. A lot of it being cited from a Patch interview. The purpose of Rooster's edit apparently being to reassure people that our own subdistricter, Bart Doyle, had fought hard and long against this ever happening. Of course, had Bart actually shown up at a few more of those subdistricting meetings the claim would have been more believable. But I digress.

Along with the following helpful graph, here is how this was described (link):

-
.. Moon continues “The question was then of either setting Sierra Madre et al at Odd (and Northwest Pasadena to Even), and thus creating a sort of weird SOUTH block which would wind up creating some sort of north-vs-south dynamic, or setting it to Even (and setting Northwest Pasadena to Odd), and thus delay Sierra Madre’s representative election by two years. 

We talked about that question for a long, long time, and most of us did our level-best to take up both sides of the question at different points, so that we weren’t just being an echo-chamber. Ken (Committee Chair Ken Chawkins) stayed pretty much silent on the issue, while Bart argued very strongly for SM being an odd seat. …we heard a *lot* more voices from NW Pas who desperately wanted a rep and felt that they were unrepresented on the current board than we heard from Sierra Madre. 

That isn’t to say that the voices we heard from SM weren’t listened to; they were. There were just more and more passionate voices from NW Pas, really. The vast majority of input we got from the residents of SM was “meh, why bother, won’t change anything, anyway.”

Apparently the justification for Sierra Madre being beaten out of a Board of Education vote of its own for two years was that more people from another part of the Pasadena Unified School District showed up at a meeting in bigger numbers, and made some really loud noises.

However, we would never want to call that mob rule.

Yesterday on the Pasadena Politics page (link), that very same vote snatcher, former Subdistricting Task Force head honcho Ken Chawkins, was flogging the idea of once again avoiding any messy voter involvement and instead appointing someone to take the place of departing District 3 Board of Education member Tyron Hampton. Tyron had run for a Pasadena City Council seat and won, and since he couldn't keep both of these elective positions at the same time, he resigned his BOE seat.

Here is how Ken Chawkins wants to fill that empty chair:


Nice, right? Democracy is expensive, so let's save some money and let Ken and his cronies twist some BOE arms and pick someone for these poor ignorant folks. After all, they'll get to vote again someday, so why would anyone be upset?

Besides, what better way to make sure that only the most correct minorities are picked for Board of Ed seats than by allowing a few concerned white folks from the finest neighborhoods to do their selecting for them?

So who does Mr. Chawkins want to see handpicked for this seat? The eminently underpowered Ruben Hueso (link). A gent whose main claim to fame seems to be that his brother is State Senator Ben Hueso (link).


Not coincidentally, Ruben is the very same guy Tyron Hampton defeated in a runoff for that District's seat in 2013. Plus he also happens to be the dude Fabian Nunez (link) gave $5,000 to in order to, you know, help out a little.



click here

I guess Ken Chawkins thinks the voters might have made a mistake last time and wants to get a fix in for that. You can only imagine why. Especially when you look at some of the teacher ratings Ruben Hueso has received from the Los Angeles Times - (link) and (link):


So in other words, the guy who could not win a majority of the vote twice in 2013, and therefore couldn't get himself elected no how much of Fabian Nunez's (link) money he spent, very well might, should Ken get his way, now be put into office without a vote by his good old boy downtown political establishment supporters.

This despite the wisely voted wishes of the very people Ruben Hueso would now be representing.

But hey, that's how they roll at the PUSD.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. That's our Ken. Old dog never changes its spots.

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    1. Democracy is out of style with the likes of Chawkins, Dreir, and their ilk. Then you have Kitty Cahalan (wife of PUSD School Board member) smarting off on Pasadena Politcs Facebook page advocating bypassing the voters and appointing for the vacant seat.

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    2. She is a chatty one. You have to give her that.

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  2. The horn did not sound last evening,my supper was late.

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    1. I hope you didn't make a commotion.

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    2. Thank goodness. Wouldn't want any of the sensitive residents to have their heads explode.

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  3. For those of you just joining us, the PUSD's process for filling mid-term vacancies is governed by the Pasadena city charter, which says that they must be done by an appointment. If someone contests the appointment within 30 days AFTER it is made (with sufficient signatures), then an election can be held. What Mr Crawford seems to think is that the PUSD BOE should be subverting the process it is legally bound to follow (which can be changed via the usual democratic process... but not before this appointment) and spending $120,000 on an election, opening itself up to all kinds of charges from taxpayers that they are wasting PUSD funds on an election they're not allowed to have.

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    1. I think it is better to just let people vote, no matter what the expense. Since when did the vote become a matter of whether the government can afford it or not? In a district where so many have serious doubts about the ability of the PUSD to deliver an acceptable product, appointing political hacks like Mr. Hueso is not going to make things any better.

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    2. I put my name down so I am considered a candidate. Let's see if they invite me for an interview.

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    3. On the Pasadena Politics Facebook page Board of Ed member Patrick Cahalan seems pretty convinced he will be replacing the voters. Here is what he is asking:

      "Everyone who has a candidate they would like to support: Feel free to email me at cahalan.patrick@pusd.us with letters of endorsement. The more community members we hear from, the better. Also, if you are a member of an organization, if you have the time to meet and vote on an endorsement, those would be great to have as well."

      Looks like the fix is in.

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    4. "the PUSD's process for filling mid-term vacancies is governed by the Pasadena city charter"

      Why would the school district's policy for filling board vacancies be governed by the city?

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    5. In Pasadena the widely held perception is Sierra Madre and Altadena don't count. It is like when the Pasadena City Council rubber stamped Peter Dreier's "Community Schools" boondoggle. Not a single person on the Sierra Madre City Council even knew about it. Despite the fact that our tax money was being spent on it.

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    6. The Community Schools concept approved by the Pasadena City Council was an utter failure. Thousands of dollars were spent on the dog and pony show, and for those of us who took the time to serve as a committee member, there was absolutely no follow up afterwards. What a waste of taxpayer dollars!

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    7. Damn. And here my kid was going to be a Fruits & Vegetables major.

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    8. I just wrote this letter to Mr. Cahalan

      Dear Mr. Cahalan:

      It is with great interest that I see for letters of recommendation to fill the vacancy left behind by Mr. Hampton who went to pursue higher office elsewhere. I am hoping that you are not turning the appointment for this vacancy into a popularity contest. I, as a resident of District 3, don't want someone on the Board solely based on your personal likes and dislikes. I for one I am tired of people seeking these obscure position for personal political gain without giving an Angolan pickle about the students who reside on District 3 but are, in large part, represented in all the District's schools but underrepresented on the Board. Most of us at District 3 are minorities, English learners, in need of special education services and undeserved at PUSD schools. Even your wife is turning this into a beauty pageant on Facebook. During the past election cycle even one tried to pretty much buy the position (Mr. Hueso) with outside money and to my dismay, the other one had higher office in mind leaving the PUSD District 3 without a representative. We at District 3 are tired of the power brokers trying to influence the board or attempting to speak for us. Let this process be fair and forget about your letter of recommendation. Those are not necessary since we pretty much know who is who in Pasadena politics and some that are likely to recommend puppets, are not of our liking.

      Yours truly,

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    9. You got my vote, Guillermo! That is, if they let me.

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    10. The Community Schools vampire is not dead yet. A little history: the Community Schools program (aka School/City/Community Work Plan) was passed by the Pasadena City Council. Contemporaneously with this, the PUSD board held their usual annual joint meetings with Sierra Madre and Altadena town councils -- and never brought it up. Once Pasadena decided to sign on, Work Planners came back to the respective councils with "all the cool kids are doing it, you should too" presentations.

      (I have an inside source who says that PUSD is always trying to get the city of Pasadena to pay for things, and this is just the latest attempt).

      Currently, the beast has been renamed "Collaborate Pasadena." "Collaborate" make me think of Vichy France. The collaborators' mission statement reads: "The communities of Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre collaborate to ensure desired outcomes for all children and families through the alignment of resources, shared accountability for results, and meaningful participation of diverse stakeholders." If you can squeeze any blood from that turnip of bureaucratic gobble, you're a better man than I.

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  4. So the measure of a teacher is how students perform on a standardized test.

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    1. Pretty much.

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    2. Standardized tests scores can be used legitimately, but only comparatively. See how the students test when they start with a teacher, and where they test after a year with that teacher.

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    3. Is there a better criteria, 8:45?

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    4. Yep. Improvement - but that requires looking at each student as an individual.

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    5. So how do parents that are looking for a school district to send their children decide. Obviously you visit and talk to the people working there. But kids are graded on a number system, and have been forever. A lot of online sites rank school districts by their numbers as well. How else can you do this?

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    6. 9:15 - That would assume that the teacher is competent and engaged. Keeping bad teachers because they have tenure destroys that, and hiding the test scores for 3 years is unacceptable.

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    7. I think the PENs of this world believe if you say something is nice, then it is. Kind of the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" approach.

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    8. Anybody know how much Dreier's "community schools" thing costs?

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    9. When Hueso gets low rankings compared to LASD teachers that's saying something. It's saying Hueso's not much of a teacher.

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    10. He's still there, right?

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    11. 1:04, you trying to cheer me up? Cuz it's not working!

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  5. It is sad to think that local democracy is in such a bad way. But it is. Nobody votes, fewer even know what is going on. Look at the results.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. These are the same people who advocate the Common Core curriculum (this is where 2 plus 2 equals 5). And there is no test score accountability for the next three years so that the schools "can work out the kinks."

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  8. I don't go by Anonymous, I go by my name and proud of it. I put my name down for the District 3 Board seat left vacant by Mr.Hampton. I am just hoping that we don't get yet another person who is in this for personal political gain. I want someone that really care about the kids. I am not on this to make a name for myself non interested in higher political office. I am in this because I really care about my community and the schools that serve us.

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    1. Welcome back, Guillermo. Good to see you're still standing up for what you believe in. What do you think of Mr. Chawkins' claim that the voters of District 3 will be better served by preventing them from voting?

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    2. I am hoping that they don't turn this into a popularity contest. Mr.Chawkins just want people who will rubber stamps whatever he wants. I certainly don't want Mr. Bones back in the picture he is in it like Hampton to seek higher political office.

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    3. Bones is just a little bitty cog in a big political machine. So is Chawkins.

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    4. District 3 voters should request that the $120,000 being saved by not having an election is given directly to District three schools

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  9. Sad to think that so many brave Americans died protecting freedoms that the Pasadena Unified School District believes they have the right to throw away. And then they wonder why nobody respects them.

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  10. Oops my name is on the online version of the Pasadena Star News. And, on the list, is Mr. Hueso. Since Mr. Cahalan is asking for letter of recommendation I am asking for your support and send one on my behalf. I want to be popular enough to see if I could win the beauty pageant. Maybe if I gather enough likes, they'll have no other choice but to appoint me.

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  11. Off topic, but does anyone know the outcome of the Hildreth suit?

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    1. It has been pushed by the Court to - I think - September.

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  12. As one said rightfully the other day on the Tattler, national politics have no place in Sierra Madre. However elections do have consequences and we need to pay attention to each and every election. I have supported and voted for a very liberal for city council as well as Chris Koerber who is on the Conservative side. And I'm glad I did. That being said, partisan politics do matter in other elections. There are severe unintended consequences in our government right now. Sacramento has imposed several unfunded mandates on the City of Sierra Madre that have had a big impact on our budget. SCAG has put low cost housing on their agenda which so far, has not impacted us, but it will. The White House is now unveiling a plan just like distributing the wealth, to distribute neighborhoods. In other words, unless a community comes up with zoning and planning laws that will ensure equal housing in each and every neighborhood, the government will withhold all funds. Now, granted Sierra Madre does not receive a vast amount of money from the feds, but what little we get, e.g. road repairs, we won't have once this plan goes through if we don't comply with lo cost housing everywhere. Reportedly this plan has been in the making since the Obama first election, however, they are now ready to roll it out to try and get it in prior to 2017.

    So, Crawford, keep up the good work in exposing local government and please remind all that what happens in Sacramento, Pasadena or Washington has an impact on our lives in Sierra Madre.

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    1. Gosh, and central planning worked so well in Soviet Russia.

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    2. Yeah, now we can have a whole country full of diversified neighborhoods where every house is worth the same and every community looks the same.

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    3. The United States of Generica.

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  13. School Districts, like most other political subdivisions of the State, come in either general law form (established through State's general laws) or are creatures of a home rule charter. It just so happens that PUSD is a creature of charter, specifically the City of Pasadena Charter. That literally means that the citizens of the subdivision (in this case PUSD) have significantly more local control over the political structures of their local body. So, for example, when the citizens of our District thought it made more sense to seven Board members, not five, the citizens put that question on a local ballot & we decided the question for ourselves (no pesky Sacramento politics). We did the same to require our Board President to give an annual state of schools. Most recently, we citizens voted to elect our Board members through so called sub-districts rather than at large (PUSD District-wide). When I say we, I mean all of us in Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre & a small portion of unincorporated County on our east side. In each of these elections, Sierra Madre voters participated. As such, there is not a taxation without representation situation here at all. Interestingly, the prior Board vacancy filled through the Charter mandated process resulted in the appointment of a person widely perceived of as a Sierra Madre advocate. I have sat as a Charter Task Force member on two prior task forces which resulted in charter revisions directly focused on our schools. Sierra Madre was ably represented on both bodies I sat on. On both occasions, Sierra Madre locales were included for both special and regular meetings to facilitate participation and, in fact, Sierra Madre always participated vigorously. I was twice elected District-wide to the PUSD Board and can personally attest to the significance of the Sierra Madre even though many sought to pigeon-hole me as a solely Latino candidate whose only focus was Northwest Pasadena. So, I just don't see that factual basis for the position pressed in your article.

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    1. That is your interpretation, of course. Seems like an awful lot of words just to say your "process' was legitimate and removing Sierra Madre's right to vote for two years was fine and dandy. You can at least acknowledge that some sub-districts had their vote sooner than others, correct? I know you are hoping to make people believe that this was a legitimate thing to do, and that the only way your goals could be met was to do that unhappy deed. Not everyone would agree with that. And as far as each city having representation? Mmm, yeah, we had people there. But they seemed more concerned with the needs of the task force than they did the parents of Sierra Madre.

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    2. it's not my interpretation, it's just the law. The Charter is a statute, a law, and one that all citizens got to vote on for issues involving the PUSD. All citizens voted to keep the staggered election pattern rather than have all seats filled in one election. For myself, I honestly did not have a burning position on this aspect. I do know that some community members have had very strong views mostly in favor of the staggered elections. So, I was not surprised when I saw that was approach in the most recent measure. In the end, it was the voters who made the decision, no me alone, not the District Board, not a small minority. It became law because a majority of voters in the entire District voted for it. It was and is legitimate in the truest sense because a majority of the voters who voted in the election favored it. This is true whether or not I agreed or disagreed, it's legitimate because of a vote of the people. If you disagree with a vote of the entire people, that doesn't make it illegitimate. As for Sierra Madre's robust participation in the two Tasks Force Committee's in which I participated, I can assure you that we denied no one the opportunity to comment & advocate. While you plainly seem to disagree with the result, that alone does not render the process illegitimate.

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    3. So the law specifically states that Sierra Madre had to have its vote taken away for two years? Do tell. I voted against that awful measure, as did a lot of people in Sierra Madre. But I do not recall that particular town being called out for a couple years of vote suppression. Rather it was done for very specific political purposes. My guess is it had a lot more to do with race based politics. Methinks you protest too much, Mr. Lizardo. Pettifogging doesn't make it right.

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    4. Can you think of a better name for a lawyer than "Lizardo?"

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    5. Snake Eyes.

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  14. Get ready for El Nino. From the PSN website:.

    "A slow-moving, moisture-laden low-pressure system from Nevada is moving into Southern California, bringing the possibility of thunderstorms and prompting the National Weather Service this morning to issue a flash flood warning.

    “Interesting day on tap today,” the NWS said in a statement.

    The flash flood warning covers the mountains of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and is in effect from 2 p.m. into the early evening, said meteorologist Carol Smith.

    That flash flood warning includes the San Gabriel Mountains and the Antelope Valley.

    “This a very moist, unstable, slow-moving storm with the possibility of heavy rain,” Smith said. “And with a slow-moving storm, that means the chance of flash flooding.”

    The NWS statement said the upper-level low is spinning out of Nevada, and morning sunshine will destabilize the atmosphere, especially over the Antelope Valley. This combination can rapidly trigger thunderstorms that will linger over areas where they develop."

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  15. sound the HORN. the flashflood is coming.

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    1. Did anybody test it yet?

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  16. Tested at 5 p.m.

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