Tag Archives: Capistrano Unified School District

Capistrano Unified – Corruption Galore

There is a path to follow in this series regarding the mess here in South Orange County and the Capistrano Unified School Districts Board of Trustees.  The big picture needed to be outlined in one diary, to show how this board was working against the teachers and the bargaining process.  It was merely a snapshot, the picture is bigger and it has been going on for years.

The second piece of the puzzle has to do with Education Alliance, a Political Action Committee in Tustin, CA and a number of other political entities hell bent on dismantling public education (And opposing other important political issues such as health care reform and climate change legislation) so that they can privatize and funnel money into charter schools.  

The argument of the Charter school people is that Capistrano Unified isn’t working, even though it is ranked as 137th in the State out of 870 school districts and it’s the highest ranked school if you consider it’s size by number of students.  Capo also has an amazing graduation rate with over 95% of their students graduating high school with the State average at 79%.

The district is working, the teachers are the reason why our schools are competitive and the students are high achievers as well as passionately involved parents.  Pacific Research Institute would like you to think otherwise, that communities like Capo are dysfunctional.  PRI has been touting their documentary, Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School which attempts to paint this as an issue of public education, which it is not.  It’s an issue of corrupt and ineffective board of trustees.  And they were corrupt, it’s why so many parents wanted them gone, so beginning in 2006, recall candidates started to replace the corrupt board and replace it with new slate of “reform” candidates who would restore out district to sanity and transparency, or so we thought.

And the story to be told here is about another Board of Trustees that has replaced the last bunch by taking advantage of angry, hurt parents in a unimaginable situation.  This is about the current board of Trustees and it’s not pretty.

“We have been engaged in this battle for many years and it just came to a point where it made sense to end this litigation,” said plaintiff Tony Beall, a Rancho Santa Margarita city councilman and a leader of Capistrano Unified’s “reform” movement.

The settlement agreements were authorized by Capistrano’s “reform”-minded school board, the same group many of the families in the lawsuits helped elect. Indeed, the leaders of the politically popular “reform” movement – including Beall and Tom Russell – will receive some of the $653,350 settlement money.

Trustee Ken Maddox defended the board’s decision to award money to some of the parents who helped get him and his colleagues elected, saying it was “silly” to suggest a conflict of interest.

OC Register

Emphasis added by me

Silly?  Really, you think that’s silly?

I don’t think it’s silly, I think it’s a valid point, that Tony Beall, Republican Mayor of Rancho Santa Margarita and political backer of Winsten received settlement money from the board of Trustees just months after he was sworn in.

Capistrano Dispatch 12/12/08 – Winsten was sworn in by reform committee leader Tony Beall (Beall was a donor to Winsten’s campaign and a recipient of settlement funds). Capistrano Dispatch 12/12/08 – Winsten was sworn in by reform committee leader Tony Beall (Beall was a donor to Winsten’s campaign and a recipient of settlement funds).


Then the recall itself cost almost $700,000 because they couldn’t wait for the general election in November, which would have meant a lot more turn out.  But what about saving the district some much needed money?

The school board on Monday authorized paying the Orange County Registrar of Voters Office $677,603 for the full cost of administering the special election.

Opponents of the recall say the special election was pointless and a waste of money, as the two recalled trustees would have been up for re-election in November anyway, less than five months after the June recall election.

And now that two of this current board are under recall threat?  Guess what their argument is?  Seriously.  And the writer of this piece happens to be Tony Beall.  I know, it’s so ridiculous, the same players with the same song, singing in tune and together for the same purpose.  Starting to think it’s more than just “silly”?

The recall proponents were roundly criticized when they commenced this recall because it appears virtually impossible for any organization to gather more than 22,000 valid petition signatures in the short nine week period remaining before expiration of the deadline to qualify for the November 2010 general election – thereby making it:

  • far more likely the recall proponents would force an $800,000 special election upon the cash-strapped school district in the middle of the worst budget crisis in our country’s history; and
  • far less likely voters would sign the recall petitions because voters do not want to take $800,000 away from the students.
  • Red County

    And then began the broken promises as soon as the votes had come in.

    The night they were elected, Lopez-Maddox made promises, lots of them but this is the one that many hoped would stick.

    Cost cutting: Maddox said one of the first things he will do is direct administrators to analyze all of the district’s outside service contracts to determine how much the district is paying and whether there are opportunities for cost cutting. Unlike when Bryson and others have asked for similar analyses, the new board majority will ensure district staff completes the tasks they are assigned, Maddox said.

    “We had a group of recalcitrant trustees who refused to yield on any issue where they may be determined to be wrong,” Maddox said.

    OC Register

    Now, rather than reinventing the wheel, I’m going to source two amazingly well researched sites,Capo Recall 2010 and Capistrano Unified Children First for the following information.  I want to thank those who came before me to gather information and keep track of the  current board and their repeated abuse of tax payer funds when our School District can least afford it (When can school districts afford blatant abuse of funds?)

    One of the promises of this board was local control, Capistrano Unified is a huge district and a huge piece of reform that would keep influential money out of the system would be voting “by trustee area”.   This would mean candidates from the local cities representing areas from Aliso Viejo for their schools to San Clemente for their local schools.  Rather than it costing a candidate over a $100,000 to run for a seat, they could spend less than $20,000 and rely on the donations of parents rather than special interest groups!

    All the Board of Trustees had to do was to request a waiver from having to vote on this issue and the problem is solved.  But they refused to do so, five to one.   So not only will it cost the district more money, they are attempting to make it seem like other entities are trying to waste money in “forcing this election”.

    Then there is the Superintendent issue that’s been a tough one for many to swallow since there hasn’t been a new one in place for a little over a year now.   The former Superintendent had a three year contract for almost a million dollars but as it stands, we’re paying an interim superintendent almost a thousand dollars a day who doesn’t have the kind of experience with this sized school district.    How is this helping things?

    SPECIAL CUSD BOARD MEETING AT THE LAGUNA CLIFFS MARRIOTT ON APRIL 26, 2010.  The agenda is available is online.    The question is this, why are they meeting at a local Marriott hotel when they have a perfectly good, 38 million dollar District office to meet at?

    Ah yes, it’s the Superintendent that they are attempting to hire since currently paying the current one almost $1,000 a day doesn’t seem fiscally sound.  I know.  But this board likes to spend money on things like attorney’s fees.

    Rather than retaining in house council as they promised, they’ve retained the services of 11 law firms and a PR firm called Communications Resources for Schools in December 2009,  and have spent 2.3 million dollars of our tax dollars on outside Attorney fees.

    And they don’t understand Brown Act laws either.

    Judge finds Capistrano Board of Education

    Violated “Brown Act” Open Meeting Law

    Ruling confirms CUSD Board solicited assistance from attorney with known history of open-meeting violations

    CUEA News Release

    ALISO VIEJO – ‘This entire school board ran on a campaign dedicated to restoring ‘honesty, integrity, and accountability’ to public education,” said Capistrano Unified Education Association President Vicki Soderberg, “but if their action in this case is their definition of these qualities, I want no part of it, and thankfully, neither do the courts.”

    In a writ of mandate issued March 16, 2010 stemming from a lawsuit initiated by CUEA against the Capistrano Unified Board of Education on November 3, 2008, Orange County Superior Court Judge David T. McEachen found that the CUSD board did violate California’s Brown Act open meeting law when it met in an illegal closed session meeting on August 11, 2008. The ruling specifically states that the school board “. . . did not adequately set forth closed session topics and is in violation of the Brown Act as to the unnoticed attendance of Spencer Covert and the proposed disciplinary action against Superintendent Carter.”

    Beyond the Blackboard

    What’s so upsetting about all of this is that I have only scratched the surface.  There are videos of parents being ignored and belittled by this board during BOT meetings.  There is a lot of evidence of downright hubris by the board for completely turning their back on their promises documented on the blog, Beyond the Blackboard another amazing resource for parents in Capo.  It’s all out there, one just has to dig.  The problem is this, it goes so deep, you feel you might just bury yourself in this mess.

    Some very well done videos to pull all this together.

    And a video about the endless spending by this Board.  Millions of dollars.  It will make your stomach turn, it did mine.

    So how does the local Republican Party feel about this?  It’s Orange County, the local political machine is the Republican Party.  When the Board talks about the powerful unions, it is almost laughable because the unions just don’t have that much power.

    Republican Party of Orange County Unanimously Opposes Union-Backed Recall of CUSD Trustees by Tony Beall

    County Party Urges All Voters Not to Sign Recall Petitions

    (IRVINE, CA) – The Republican Party of Orange County Central Committee unanimously approved the following resolution yesterday pertaining to the new recall campaign which is being promoted by public employee unions and their allies against Capistrano Unified School District Trustees Ken Lopez-Maddox and Mike Winsten.

    So, why would the Republican Party care about a non-partisan Board of Trustees being recalled?  Ah yes, they helped get this board elected.  Note who wrote this piece too over at Red County.  And note how they stick to the talking points, “Voters elected Trustees Lopez-Maddox and Winsten to bring positive change and reform to CUSD and that’s exactly what they’re doing,”.

    Really?  Do you think they’ve changed much?  Really?

    So now you know where the local Republicans stand on this who do run the show down here politically and I don’t hide my political affliation, I write for Daily Kos, Liberal OC and Calitics, it’s not secret.  But I also wrote about the recall in 2008, happy to know that the corrupt BOT at that time were being removed.  A lot of people were duped.

    Why keep supporting a corrupt board?  I don’t know, but here’s more posturing from Tony Beall at Red County when the teachers chose to strike and using talking points that have nothing to do with the issue at hand, that the teachers are willing to take the pay cuts they just don’t want them to be permanent.  That’s it.

    But he continues to bloviate about the busted promises of this board, this GOP Backed board.

    The seven conservative republican trustees serving on the Capistrano Unified Board of Trustees are under attack by the powerful California Teachers Association – and they need the immediate support of all conservatives who are sick and tired of the abuses and undue influence exerted by this powerful union.

    The seven Republican Reform Trustees in CUSD have proven they’ve got that political courage and resolve to change the status quo!  Under their leadership, test scores across the district have soared to their highest levels.  They have:

    Stopped years of deficit spending;

    Successfully balanced the budget;

    Increased financial reserves;

    Enacted strong anti-nepotism and conflict of interest policies;

    Completed a district-wide facilities assessment;

    Saved millions by cutting and streamlining the bloated bureaucracy; and

    Demanded the union accept a 10% cut in their contract.

    CUEA has accepted the ten percent pay cut that’s the only honest statement here because even with the cut to teacher’s pay and benefits, the Board of Trustees still have a budget deficit to contend with.

    And of course, a lot of teachers and parents want to know what the board has to do with “soaring test scores”.  Teachers are what make schools great.  Teachers are who do the teaching, not Trustees and not bloggers and pundits or textbooks.

    It’s about the teachers not a Board of Trustees that has broken it’s promises and spends my tax dollars to line the pockets of lawyers, their political allies and others in order to keep the power structure in Orange County intact.

    They are on the wrong side of this issue.  Republicans and Democrats both support Public Education and their teachers.  There is a common ground when it comes to corrupt politicians and liars.  Republicans might want to be careful who they support.

    The Devil in the Details of the CUSD Strike – Education Alliance and Privatization

    I’ve been writing about Capistrano Unified School District and the struggles with our current Board of Trustees.  The teachers went on strike today even as talks began regarding the contract imposed by the Board of trustees.

    The details are important because they seem to be getting lost in translation between the media, the administration, the union and the parents.  The issue is that Teachers are willing to take pay cuts, they just don’t want them to be permanent.  There are other issues as well, which I’ve written about but the real issue is the board, who funded their race and the ultimate goal of a variety of organizations to privatize our public education system.

    Capistrano Unified School District is ground zero for this fight.  It has been documented in an hour long film called Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School.

    Pacific Research Institute is the maker of this documentary and have used it to push their expansion of privatization of public schools and rather than support the structure that is there, the system that has proven to be successful for many years in the past, they are asking for funding for Charter schools and vouchers, which will further weaken our public school system.  This is their rallying call.

    Not as Good as You Think was the first-ever study to evaluate student performance in schools located in California’s middle-class and affluent neighborhoods. While this study focused on California, its findings received national recognition. The book was the subject of an editorial by the Wall Street Journal, as well as the basis for Lance Izumi’s appearance on CNBC’s Kudlow & Company. The authors of Not as Good as You Think gave major addresses at the Heritage Foundation, briefed staffers in the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Department of Education. Op-eds on the book’s findings have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Sun, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, and other newspapers across the country.

    In California, Lance Izumi and Vicki Murray briefed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top advisors, state legislators, legislative staff, and key education policymakers.  As a result, for the first time in six years, five school choice bills were introduced in Sacramento. The historic number of bills included an opportunity scholarship, a disability voucher, and a safe schools voucher.

    Emphasis mine

    This film was also brought to Washington and shown to people in Congress.  It’s not an Orange County problem, it’s not just a California problem, this is a National issue.

    WASHINGTON – A libertarian think-tank that prominently features the Capistrano Unified School District in a documentary about how the U.S. public school system is broken will screen its 49-minute film this afternoon on Capitol Hill.

    “Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School” recounts a five-year effort by the CUSD Recall Committee parents group to bring reforms to a school district plagued by scandal, community unrest and allegations of corruption reaching into the highest levels of its administration.

    “We have made a national impact here in Capistrano Unified,” said Recall Committee leader and parent Tony Beall, a Rancho Santa Margarita city councilman. “It’s nice that our efforts are being recognized at the U.S. Capitol.”

    The 2:30 p.m. screening will be hosted by two leading GOP lawmakers – U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.

    OC Register

    So, there is a trail here of players and one of the is Tony Beall.

    OC Register June 24, 2008: HIGH FIVE:Tony Beall (settlement recipeient), left, member of the CUSD recall committee, high fives his wife Jennifer (recall recipient), as they celebrate election results that recalled CSUD trustees Sheila Benecke and Marlene Draper and the election of trustees Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox to replace the ousted board members. Mike Winsten is in the background as is Craig Alexander. Mr Alexander is on the Board of Directors for The Education Alliance. 1

    From the Orange County Register: June 24, 2008 special election victory party at the home of Tony and Jennifer Beall (settlement recipients). Also pictured are Mike Winsten, Ken Maddox, Donna Furniss (settlement recipient), Tom Russell (settlement recipient), Juli Pehrson (original claimant), Sue Palazzo, and others. 2


    So, settlements?  Supporters, what does this mean?  

    Trustees Mike Winsten and Ken Maddox voted in favor of an out of court settlement resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid to individuals who financially contributed to or supported their candidacies to the CUSD Board of Trustees.


    Two settlements were reached with CUSD residents who had sued the District over an alleged “enemies list” kept by former CUSD administrators.

    The first settlement was approved on a 7-0 vote on September 15, 2009 and resulted in $475,000 being paid to the Case and Reardon families. Jim Reardon contributed directly to Trustee Maddox’s campaign.

    The second settlement was approved on a 4-0 vote and resulted in $178,350 being paid to the Beall, Russell and Furniss families. Trustees Addonizio, Christiansen and Palazzo recused themselves from this vote. Maddox stated that those three trustees abstained because the families receiving the settlements had lent money to the political action committee that had elected the three to office.

    Trustees Maddox, Winsten, Bryson and Brick voted to approve both settlements which resulted in a total of $653,350 being paid to these families. CUSD insurance policies covered most of these payments but at least $100,000 came directly out of the CUSD general fund to pay the insurance deductible. With more than $550,000 being paid by the insurance company the District’s insurance premiums are likely to be greatly affected. The Beall and Russell families were the primary supporters of the previous recalls and elections that resulted in the current seven trustees being elected to the CUSD Board of Trustees. Mike Winsten chose Mr. Beall to be the person who swore him into office when he was elected to the CUSD Board of Trustees.


    Orange County Register 9-29-09


    Mike Winsten’s campaign platform, October 26, 2008

    “Conflict of Interest Code Draft and adopt a more stringent Conflict of Interest Code that sets standards far greater than the sham standards set by state law, that ensures there are no more cozy hidden relationships involving sole source contracts for years and decades, between CUSD vendors and Administrators, like we have heard about in the recent past;”

    – Mike Winsten’s campaign platform Oct 26, 2008

    Maddox and Winsten Contributions – Out of Court Settlements Summary – Document is posted on the recall website:



    So this is a board struggling with deficits?  Hundreds of thousands of dollars going to people who supported and funded their campaigns.  These people are closely related in business and with the local Republican party and with the Education Alliance.  The Capo Recall 2010 Website outlines millions of dollars of other obscene unnecessary expenditures as this board, on their private recall site continues to call teachers, “Selfish Public Employee Unions” and “Greedy union leaders”.

    So who supported this slate of “reformers”?  As I mentioned, Education Alliance is behind the board and their website is clear about their goals.


    History of the Education Alliance:

    Electing Conservative School Board Members

    The Education Alliance was formed in 1994, and operated as a political action committee supporting candidates who support local control of our schools, the rights of parents to make educational choice for their children, and an emphasis on basic, academic instruction.

    Since the 1990’s the performance of our schools has continually declined. Today it is still far below its potential, and the control of our education system by the elite, liberal bosses who run the teachers unions have been consolidated and are now more complete than ever. Even the most modest changes, such as merit pay and charter schools, are strenuously opposed using the funds of teachers who often support these proposals. This was shown in the 2005 special election in which overwhelming union spending was used to defeat Governor Schwarzenegger attempts at reform.

    The Education Alliance began to become the organization committed solely to giving a voice to parents and teachers who support excellence for our children through means other than the liberal, self-serving policies of the teachers union leadership and their allies in the education establishment.

    The site is full of buzzwords, from local control and “basic” education,  and they call charter schools “modest changes”.  Of course they also like to bash the “liberal” teacher’s unions, which tends to forget the fact that many teachers in Souther Orange County are Republican.  Republicans support public education and this is a fight about extremism.  And Education Alliance is as about extreme as they come.

    Here is their Platform

    The Education Alliance exists to promote the betterment of our educational system for the benefit of parents, children and society as a whole.

    The Education Alliance arose and exists to further each of the following self-evident principles of an effective education system, and to help insure that these fundamental principles are adhered to by those who seek to govern the educational process:

    Academic excellence and the teaching of the “Three R’s”should be the hallmark of our education system and we should resist any attempt to impose upon our schools any other goals, objectives or ideologies.

    How school districts are run belongs under the control of local parents and taxpayers, not the State or Federal governments.

    Parents and other local citizens are closest to, and care the most about, the children in their communities. Therefore, all control over funding, expenditures, curriculum and all matters of administration of publicly run schools should remain in the hands of local parents, voters and locally elected school boards. The more control the State government asserts over local education decisions the less responsive our schools are to local needs. Federal control of education strikes at the very heart of the system of federalism established by the founding fathers of our country and must be resisted. Funding of education by the State and Federal governments is a primary means of exercising control. The failure of many existing school board members to resist both increased State and Federal control of our schools is error.

    We therefore believe that all attempts to increase State or Federal control over any aspect of our education system or its funding should be resisted.

    Students in the United States should be instructed in the English language.

    One indivisible Nation such as ours must be united by a single common language. Failure to follow this policy will lead to an unnecessary and disruptive commercial, social and regional balkanization of the populace and contribute to impoverishment of those who are not educated in English.

    We therefore believe our education system has the duty to insure that all students have an opportunity to become proficient in English quickly and that once English proficiency is achieved that all students receive their educational instruction in English.

    The unions and other special interests currently control our education system for their own gain and to the detriment of our children.

    The proper function of teachers’ unions is not to dictate educational policy, but to support teachers in collective bargaining of wages and working conditions. Unions have usurped unto themselves the role of educational policy makers. Union dues which are taken from teachers’ salaries without the teachers’ consent are used to fund political activities which they often disagree with. the election of school board members who represent the Unions, not the teachers, parents or the local voters. This has allowed the Unions’ handpicked candidates to gain majority status on most school boards and to therefore control educational policy. School board policy should be made for the benefit of children, not Unions.

    We therefore support eliminating any ability of the Unions to require membership or dues to be paid as a condition of employment. We also support eliminating the absolutely indefensible practice of allowing districts to act as collection agents for the Unions by taking dues directly out of employees checks.

    Our schools must impart positive values and discipline to students in order to maintain an optimum learning environment and to properly prepare students for life as productive citizens after school.

    All educational processes necessarily impart values of some sort to their pupils. We reject the fallacy that it is possible to educate children in a “value neutral” manner. It is no more possible to govern schools in a “value neutral” manner than it is to govern an entire nation or state in such a manner. Likewise, just as it is not possible to govern an entire nation or state that is in anarchy, it is not possible to govern a school system or a class that is in anarchy and where discipline is neither maintained nor enforced.

    We do not support teaching religion in our schools. Liberal defenders of an education system devoid of values charge that the teaching of values is somehow synonymous with teaching religion. We believe that this is a ridiculous and is designed by the defenders of the educational status quo in an attempt to deflect attention from their own failures.

    Is it getting clearer here?  The most appalling thing is that teachers are some how the other, that as local community members they wouldn’t understand what might be best for their students, that they would only be interested what’s best for their own gain.  This is the gist here.  It’s an adversarial stance that creates a hostility between parents and teacher.

    The agenda is privatization and it’s insidious.  And our board was supported by this PAC, specifically created to vote in School Board members to support their agenda.

    So now it’s all abouttracing the money.

    Also waiting to be seen at this point is how much of a financial role the CUSD Recall Committee will play in the June 24 special election. The committee raised eyebrows after reports that it received $17,000 from the Tustin-based Education Alliance, a group that supports education vouchers and local control over schools. It opposes bilingual education and contends teachers’ unions are too powerful. The Education Alliance also gave $5,000 directly to Bryson.

    The Education Alliance was co-founded by Mark Boucher, a member of the Republican Central Committee. Rancho Santa Margarita City Councilmember Tony Beall, a leader in the CUSD Recall Committee, is also running for the Central Committee. They would both represent the 71st Assembly district. Also on that list? Acting Sheriff Jack Anderson is an incumbent seeking re-election, and Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, bumping against term limits, is also seeking on the district’s six seats.

    And tracing the relationships through articles and nuances, this board has been watching through the last couple of years and there are signs here and there that people get it but not enough people get it.

    “There’s a new battle being waged in Capistrano Unified, and it is every bit as dangerous as the battle voters just won,” says district parent Tony Beall, addressing the board of trustees he helped elect as a leader of the CUSD Recall Committee. “Many who directly profit from CUSD’s multimillion-dollar budget are continuing their efforts to frustrate and roll back reforms.”

    Beall, a Rancho Santa Margarita city councilman who speaks with the nasal precision of the elder George Bush, has mastered the art of political euphemism. He thinks teachers and staff are making trouble because they don’t like the board’s recent suspension of A. Woodrow Carter, the retired army colonel who has served as CUSD superintendent since September 2007. Trustees say that personnel laws prevent them from saying why they voted 6-1 behind closed doors on Jan. 6 to put the popular superintendent on paid administrative leave after hearing scores of constituents praise him. Carter’s seat at the dais at the Jan. 12 meeting is empty, and the many parents, teachers, students and district employees who say Carter was the most honest, effective, friendly and helpful superintendent they’d ever worked with (CUSD has gone through four people in the top spot since Fleming left in 2006) took the board’s vote as a troubling sign. (The Weekly’s efforts to reach Carter for comment were unsuccessful.)

    Campbell’s words jab against rumors that the reform trustees, whose campaigns were largely financed by such conservative groups as the Education Alliance and Howard Ahmanson’s Fieldstead & Co., seek to sabotage public education from the inside out. The Education Alliance, which publicly opposes the influence of teachers’ unions, has been a point of contention for the new board’s critics. The Capistrano Unified Education Association, the local teachers’ union, endorsed trustee Christensen and current board president Ellen Addonizio when they ran in 2006; after the Education Alliance got more involved, though, the union vocally and financially backed the opponents of the “reform” slate in 2008. Posts on the website of the local chapter of the California School Employees Association (CSEA), which represents classified staff (including custodians and librarians), say Carter’s dismissal may have been part of a plan to “break the union,” a charge the trustees deny.


    And directly from our local Red County Blog, a press release from Education Alliance regarding the recall.

    Dear Education Alliance Supporters:

    As you might have heard, last Tuesday the voters of the Capistrano Unified School District voted to recall trustees Sheila Benecke and Marlene Draper. The vote was very lopsided – over 69% voted in favor of the recall. This result was a great victory for everyone involved in the recall and, most importantly, for the students attending Capistrano Unified schools. This district has been run into the ground for almost two decades by incompetence and corruption. At last, the Capistrano Unified School District is governed by a majority of trustees who are committed to reform.

    The credit for this victory rests primarily with the CUSD Recall Committee, and it leaders, Mike Winston, Tom Russell, and Tom and Jennifer Beal. They have been working on this for 5 years and have devoted countless hours to documenting the problems in this district, gathering signatures, and campaigning.

    The Education Alliance also played a major role by providing financial support that was instrumental to the effort. Many of the funds for this purpose were raised at the Dennis Prager dinner last year, which many of you attended. The recall opponents attempted to make the Education Alliance an issue by orchestrating newspaper stories and emails with dire warnings of outsiders trying to take over Capistrano Unified for some sinister purpose. Unfortunately for them, this scare tactic backfired. Most voters like what we stand for – excellence in education, the rights of parents to make choices for their children, and local control of our schools.

    Thank you for your support of the Education Alliance. Together, we are making a difference for our children.

    Mark Bucher, Chairman

    Education Alliance

    There you go, right from the Education Alliance themselves.  And so today teachers were on the picket line, walking to fight for not their pay, not to keep money in their pockets but to fight for public education.

    Just go to the Capistrano Unified School Districts Webpage and you will see that the board put two new Charter Schools on their agenda today while teachers walked the picket line.

    Do you think that’s not on purpose?  Do you think that Charter Schools being offered on the same day that teacher strike is just a coincidence?

    The strike is becoming a national issue since the Huffington Post is covering it but will Education Alliance be written about?

    I need you to learn more about and spread the word and let your neighbors, friends and family know that this fight is not about money, class size or  the greedy unions.  It’s about keep public education the best it can be and truly public and within local control.

    The Governator visiting South County Tomorrow, Privately…

    Yes, you read that right. The Governator is going to be making a public appearance at a private school in South Orange County and to add insult to injury, thousands of parents of children in public school plan on protesting this appearance. Do you blame them?

    SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – Hundreds of parents, students and teachers from across South County are expected to surround a private school where the governor is rumored to be making an appearance Thursday to protest his proposed $4 billion cut to K-12 education.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is widely believed to be making an unannounced stop at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano for an afternoon pep rally.

       St. Margaret’s spokeswoman Anne Mack referred all questions about the appearance to the governor’s office, which would not confirm his attendance.

       “We respect the right of people to express their concerns through peaceful demonstration … and we want the very best for all students in Orange County and California,” Mack said in a prepared statement.

       OC Register

    The OC Register fails to point out the irony regarding the planned visit to a private school while the Governor puts forth that the best way to deal with the budget shortfall is to cut public education. South County schools are expected to lose a total of 46 million in funding to Capistrano and Saddleback School Districts which educate 85,000 children. What would this private school need a “pep rally” for? Are they laying off teachers and scaling back on their educational standards because of the Governor’s badly managed fiscal plan? Probably not.

    So why bother Arnold? Why do you need to be shoring up support with private schools when the bulk of your constituents have children in public schools? Maybe Arnold will be urging this and other schools to hire the laid off teachers since they will probably have a complete landslide of applicants for private education. Can’t have their classroom sizes affected, now can we?

    As Robert in Monterey has pointed out, Arnold could easily reinstate the Vehicle License Fee which would cost the average two car household an extra $300 a year and raise over an estimated six billion in revenue and short circuit these cuts (although the pink slips have already been handed out and the students have already been affected by the threat of cuts). For most families with multiple children, three hundred a year is much cheaper than having to send your child to a private school. I personally believe that public education is one of those things that warrants such action, but then you would probably just call me a liberal.  

    Got Ethics, Anyone?

    This just in from The Liberal OC… Chris Prevatt has had it with all the scandals, all the corruption, and all the sleaze that’s taken hold of just about every level of local government in Orange County:

    In the case of Orange County, it is interesting how many instances of corruption or ethical lapses are prevalent in our government institutions. Whether it is Sheriff Mike Corona [link] and his “Coronies,” the Capistrano Unified [link] and Santa Ana Unified School District administrators, or senior managers in the Orange County Health Care Agency, it seems we cannot avoid the scandals and incompetence of these overly paid buffoons.

    I received word the other day that the Health Care Agency was partially successful in their appeal of the $143,000 penalty they were issued for failing to properly manage a federal HIV/AIDS grant sub-contractor. The Orange County Register covered the story in a detailed investigative report “Misplaced Faith” released in March 2006.

    It never ceases to amaze me how the powers that be here in OC are so willing to waste all of our taxpayer dollars on these dirty crooks… So what can be done about all of this? Follow me after the flip for more…

    So what can be done about all of this? Chris offers some advice for the County on the Health Care Agency’s AIDS Scandal, of which he (unfortunately) has seen and experienced firsthand:

    The Board of Supervisors needs to pay attention to the underlying problem that has been revealed. Specifically, County managers were willing to commit fraud, lie to federal grant managers, cover-up misconduct, and permit retaliation against the employee who spoke out about management misconduct in order to conceal the truth. More than eleven years after the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, the culture of Here no evil; See no evil; and Speak no evil, is alive and well in the halls of Orange County administration.

    And what about Sheriff Carona and his never-ending slew of scandals? Why doesn’t this man have enough decency to resign? Why can’t the Board of Supervisors stand up and hold him accountable for once? Why aren’t more people outraged about this?

    And what about the recent school district scandals? Why couldn’t the Capistrano Unified School District put the students, parents, teachers, and other faculty ahead of their own desire to waste taxpayer money on themselves? Why has Santa Ana Unified been allowed to get away with complete fraud for so long? Why have they been able to overcrowd our kids’ classrooms, and then claim to the state that they’re complying with state class size requirements? Why haven’t these folks been held accountable?

    And why won’t the District Attorney do something about all of this? Oh wait, I almost forgot… He’s a part of it, too. Dammit, where are the ethics in the halls of government in this county? Does anyone have some?

    Today’s OC News Roundup

    Here are some wild and crazy stories, direct from behind the Orange Curtain:

    Will the World Keep Turning If I Have No Supe? Jubal/Matt Cunningham says “Yes” at OC Blog, but I’m not so sure. After all, there’s no one currently on the board to speak up for Central County. As long as the certified winner is denied her seat, we in Central OC will probably remain forgotten.

    CUSD to Cease Paying for Ex-Superintendent’s Legal Bills… So why would they continue to pay the legal bills for this guy, when he has caused so much grief for all the parents, students, and staff at the school district?

    – “We Met, But Not for Sex.” Defendant Jeff Nielsen took the stand in his own defense in his child molestation trial, testifying that he never had sex with a 14 year-old Westminster boy. He tried to explain away an email asking the boy to meet him for “something quick” as a quick lunch date, even thought the email never mentioned food. Hmmm… This sounds fishy to me…

    And finally…

    Mike Lawson Is Famous!! OK, maybe not beyond the county line… But still, I am thrilled to see him featured in this month’s “BLADE” magazine for making Drinking Liberally-OC happen every Thursday. Now go ahead, and give Mike some love at The Liberal OC for all the hard work that he does!