In just about 90 days, including a two week Christmas break and a one week Spring Break, the Beaumont Unified Shool Board has changed the way they are elected, bringing the Supervisor Marion Ashley style of politics to our schools.
On Monday the Riverside County Committee on School District Organization met at BUSD to approve the process the board used to go around the voters and impose an election by district on our community. I've written a few posts on the process and you can read them on my website, OurFocusOurKids.com. You can also check out the front page article in Friday's Record Gazette. There are a few important details left out of the Recod Gazette article but you can get a good sense of the process from their article.
Here's what was left out…
The district's attorney mischaracterized the two board meetings leading up to Monday nights approval by the county. In a response to a direct question from one of the committee members, he explained that the process allows the factor of incumbency and even though the map of the new district shows one board member in each of the new districts, he didn't feel the board members were too concerned about the appearance that the districts were drawn to insure that none of the 3 incumbents up for re-election this year would not be able to run.
I suggested the committee listen to the pod cast from the December 10, 2013 meeting where it is clear this was a concern of the trustees. In my post about this meeting - Wards, How Can This be Good for our Kids? , I pointed out Board Member David Sanchez said it was a good thing the map could be drawn in a way that each board member resides in a different ward because otherwise there would be “so many biases.”
The district's attorney also misrepresented the following meeting in January where every City Council Member, the City Attorney and the City Manager all argued against the proposed change. He said that there were some concerns and questions about the California Voting Rights Act but that few spoke out specifically against the election by district for BUSD trustees. Those who were in attendance that night I'm sure saw it differently. I asked the committee to also listen to the pod cast from this meeting.
It appears from the Record Gazette article that I came closer than I thought to stopping this. Maybe if I hadn't been the only one there speaking against it, the committee wouldn't have voted a second time once they realized they had failed to get enough votes for approval after the first vote. Well, that's county politics. Get used to it, it's coming to our schools in November.
A little egg on my face...
I must admit, I misrepresented a fact as well on Monday night. It was pointed out in the Record Gazette that when I argued how the new election process would benefit the Pass Area Families For Good Government political action committee and their candidates that I misspoke. I told the committee that four of the five sitting board members had all received significant campaign contributions from PAFFGG. I told them each of the four had received about $5,000 in one of the last two elections and that Board President Margaret De Longchamp had received closer to $10,000. The Record Gazette mentioned an email they had received from Mrs. De Longchamp correcting me that she had only received $5,000 from PAFFGG. I stand corrected, this is true.
Now for the rest of the story...
The PAFFGG is managed by members of the Bogh family and the largest contributor is Bogh Engineering. Mrs. De Longchamp received $5,011 from PAFFGG. She also received another $4,800 from The San Gorgonio Pass Tax Payers Association political action committee (SGPTA). Who is SGPTA? The following is from a section on my website, OurFocusOurKids.com, titled "Show Me The Money."
SGPTA has received only two major contributions, $4,900, from Bogh Construction and $1,000 from Bogh Engineering. SGPTA has only supported one candidate, Margaret De Longchamp. SGPTA reported they contributed $5,350 to her campaign in 2010. This is $550 more than she reported receiving.
You say Tomato, I say Tomoto
I love it every time I get an opportunity to remind everyone how much influence the "local pac" has over our elections. A "local pac" that receives much of its contributions from construction and development firms from outside of Riverside County.