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Will Voters Reject Corruption, Bigotry, and Scandal?

Corporate funding of campaigns has created an entitled political class that continues to seek office even after getting caught red-handed.

By Carl J. PetersenPublished about a month ago 4 min read
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The American public should simply accept no distractions. In our democracy, it is our duty to hold our elected leaders accountable. We do it at the ballot box.

– Wesley Clark

In the final weeks of the campaign that will determine control of the LAUSD School Board, two Board districts have been rocked by revelations that threaten to upend the races. Graciela Ortiz, the candidate supported by the Charter School Industry in BD5, was served with a lawsuit alleging that she did not take the steps necessary to protect a minor from a violent sexual assault. This was on top of allegations of improper campaign contributions mirroring those that led to the felony conviction of former LAUSD Board Member Ref Rodriguez. In BD1, Kahllid Al-Alim’s campaign was derailed by the spotlighting of a Tweet supporting a book that is “widely criticized for being antisemitic.

In both cases, it is surprising that the candidates pursued a run for office knowing their closets were fully stocked with skeletons. LAUSD elections are big money affairs and even in a race like the one in BD7, where the challenger has only raised $3,484.00, the Charter School Industry has spent over $1 million to support the incumbent. Ortiz and Al-Alim should have known their secrets would not be safe in this type of environment.

Kevin de León, John Lee, and Wendy Carrillo (From their respective websites)

The situation is even worse in the races for City Council seats where numerous candidates filed to have their names appear on the March 5th ballot after getting caught in the act, the most notorious being Kevin de León. The CD14 incumbent’s political career should have been dead in the water when he was caught on tape plotting to dilute the vote of black Angelinos through a corrupt redistricting process in a “conversation rife with disparaging and racist language.” Ignoring calls by President Biden and the example of Nury Martinez, de León refused to resign. Instead, he is running for reelection. Either he will be removed from office with a final, humiliating loss or his constituents will embarrass themselves by ignoring his transgressions and returning him to City Hall.

One of de León’s seven challengers is California State Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo. In November of last year, she risked the lives of her constituents by driving with a blood alcohol level that was “over two times the legal limit” while driving home from a fundraising event. She was arrested after crashing into two parked cars. While she “issued a statement of apology, saying she would seek the necessary help and support,” the incident did not stop her from continuing her campaign. She pleaded “no contest” to the charges instead of taking responsibility for her actions. The voters will decide on March 5th if further accountability is warranted.

In the Valley, City Councilman John Lee decided to seek reelection despite being implicated in the corruption scandal that sent his former boss, Mitch Englander, to jail. While Lee admits that he “was in Las Vegas with Councilmember Englander in June 2017,” he refused to acknowledge that he is “City Staffer B” as mentioned in both the charging documents and the disgraced City Councilmember’s guilty plea.

“Businessperson A” fronted the costs for this debaucherous trip, which included a $2,481 dinner, $34k in bottle service at a nightclub, and $300 to $400 for the “services” of two escorts. Lee says that he “did everything in [his] power to pay for and reimburse expenses related to [the] trip,” but the records show that he only paid $442, thousands of dollars less than the actual costs. This payment caught the attention of authorities as it was postdated, allegedly to make it appear that it was sent before Englander was called in for an interview with the FBI.

Lee is currently suing to stop the City Ethics Commission from investigating charges that he aided and abetted the misuse of a city position, accepted excess gifts, failed to disclose gifts, and misused his city position. While the process plays out, the voters can be the first to extract accountability by evicting “City Staffer B” from City Hall. His opponent on the ballot is Serena Oberstein, the former president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.

In an attempt to obscure Lee’s apparent ethical lapses, his supporters are bombarding his constituents with over $1 million worth of telephone calls and junk mail. Oberstein has earned $157,355.94 worth of public matching funds, proving her grassroots support is based locally. While Lee has “Accepted” matching funds, he has yet to earn any. Instead, he is relying on corporations like Delta Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines that are pouring money into independent expenditures even though they have no operations in his district.

After being rejected by the voters, former City Councilman Paul Koretz yielded his time to Angelenos with a big “F@ck You.” It is time for the public to return the favor and take back a City Council chamber rocked by corruption, bigotry, and scandal. Vote accordingly by March 5th.

____________________________

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for public education, particularly for students with special education needs, who serves as the Education Chair for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him “a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles.” For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

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About the Creator

Carl J. Petersen

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with SpEd needs and public education. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Opinions are his own.

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