EDUCATION POLITICS--Why a vote for Steve Zimmer in the LAUSD Fourth Board District is like bringing to life an avatar for RESISTANCE.
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Point of order:
‘Resisting’ means here: Refusing to be manipulated deviously by plutocrats. (Plutocrats are those whose power derives from their wealth.)
Resisting signifies here: Refusing to abdicate your vote, which is your portkey to democracy.
Several “Independent Expenditure’s (IEs) have been made by Political Action Committees (PACs), and unlike forcing notrump in the game of Bridge, these are no paeans to subtlety or finesse.
Everyone should be aware that former-mayor Richard Riordan just plunked down $1m to establish a PAC brazenly titled “LA…Opposing Steve Zimmer for Schoolboard”.
Remember Dick Riordan? He’s LA’s octogenarian, thrice-divorced, Irish-American, Republican, self-styled “tough-guy”, the 39th Mayor, who reigned from 1993-2001. He has been agitating to emasculate Los Angeles’ popularly elected schoolboard for decades. He’s not the only major contributor to IEs opposing Zimmer, and there are more such crocks of gold. Riordan contributed $15,000 to an IE for Nick Melvoin and donated $22,000 (total), the maximum allowable personally to each of Steve Zimmer’s other two LAUSD4 opponents. Like this race, his political machinations are nonpartisan.
And unbounded by moral compunction either; just last summer Riordan was fined $11,250 by LA’s Ethics Commission for shenanigans of incomplete disclosure during the previous LAUSD elections.
But nevertheless he is a card-carrying member of the über-rich, a constituent of the immensely wealthy upper echelon, where a wide swathe among the 1% have lately become preturnaturally obsessed with Education Opportunities for the rest-of-us. In particular, this national cabal of multi-millionaires and billionaires is inordinately interested in throwing the outcome of a local populist candidate, to a populist post, in a populist election: Steve Zimmer.
So every single last one of us recently-Berned, Left Without, and rendered outraged electorate should be asking ourselves: Why? Why are the super-wealthy so intensely interested in Public Education? And why are they *particularly* eager to see Steve Zimmer unseated? What does it mean to vote for the plutocrats’ pick?
We should be excruciatingly vigilant against unwittingly empowering yet another pivotal sycophant.
But more to the point, we should be acutely sensitized to beholden money and the consequences of empowering a politically compromised leader.
Ironically, simply having the most money does not immunize against indebtedness; operating through firm moral grounding with an ideology derived internally – not externally – matters.
Independent expenditures may be employed properly to support a candidate but the donors ought never to shape, own or direct the elected’s ideology.
That external rogue influence is what characterizes our Trump crisis, and resisting its furtherance is what understanding the power working to undermine Zimmer’s candidacy will inoculate us against, protecting us from the jeopardy we now face nationally.
So that is why voting for Zimmer is an act of resistance: it protects us from stealth, undisclosed and pernicious, gratuitous agendas.
What clues signal threat from among the supporters of Zimmer’s opponents?
The funders of the PACs supporting Zimmer’s two opponents are constitutionally ambiguous; the same organization chips in $20,000 for one, $25,000 for the other (1/1/16-1/26/17), seemingly without care or ideological conviction regarding which paired endorsee exhibits stronger ideological compatability. From this funder’s dispassionate point-of-view the goal is not to recognize or identify merit but to draw votes from Zimmer thereby forcing an expensive, inefficient electoral run-off less likely to advantage the incumbant than in a primary. This outfit seeks to elevate any non-Zimmer, the better to secure that board seat for their staff. The actual corporeal realization of Zimmer’s loss is irrelevant to them; their indebtedness is not.
And the group running this ambivalent opposition? It is the California Charter School Association (CCSA), equivalently and disingenuously – if not illegally through copyright infringement – conferring advantage through a front group aka “Parent Teacher Alliance”.
Do not imagine for a moment this is the iconic “PTA”, the national Parent-Teacher Association in whose shadow your parents raised you. This copycat Parent Teacher “Alliance” is a Gorgon of a wholly different composition and end-game. It should be enough to note the unapologetic and deliberate replication of the CA State PTA’s moniker, (“CAPTA”, as it’s known here in this state). Observe the palpable difference between this CCSA-“sponsored” and funded, professional web-presence and PTA‘s – a genuine grassroots parent-organization powered by volunteers, who give freely of their time (from many into the thousands of hours sometimes) in service of “children, families and education”.
In contrast CCSA’s “PTA” is a group supported by IEs, dedicated to CCSA’s special interest in seating LAUSD board members. This disclosure anchors the homepage in small print but the implied association clearly piggybacks on the 120 year strong reputation of PTA – and that connection is simply not valid.
So far CCSA has invested $94K toward this special interest of theirs in the LAUSD election. Half this devotion supports the ‘lets-see-who-sticks’ candidate-pair opposing Steve Zimmer. Despite authorizing more charters than anyone anywhere, even in the face of defiance and deception, CCSA deems it intolerable that LAUSD should exercise the oversight of charter schools which it is mandated by election and law to conduct.
And in addition to this “PTA” wannabe group, CCSA funds a network of associated but shrouded special-interest support groups. SpeakUp.com is a parent-branded ‘alternative-news’ website that evades PAC rules for transparency because they are nominally informational and not political. The personnel among these and previous iterations of the same ineffective Edu®eform tropes are abidingly static. But the connection with Trumpism remains: who funds CCSA and why do their initiatives betray common cause with destructive billionaires like Bill Gates, the Walton family and Trump’s nominee for the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos?
While excoriating Zimmer’s acceptance of PAC money from legitimate interests that never were “special” or tangential to teaching and education – that is: Teachers (via their collective association, UTLA), meanwhile “special interests” that truly are dark, obscure and undisclosed actually do underlie Zimmer’s opposition. Ten times that scraped together by his fellow education-professionals – an entire order of magnitude more money – has been spent (so far) by America’s wealthiest-of-the-wealthy to occlude Steve Zimmer, via money funneled through private contributions and the aggregated-money PACs of CCSA and others.
Refusing to accept the cherry-picked candidates of the 1% is precisely the resistance to Trumpism we must engage.
Zimmer’s opposition are all candidates hand-picked by the billionaires. We must resist the temptation to empower them no matter how slick the astroturfed literature that champions support from the faux- or misled grassroots
(Sara Roos is a politically active resident of Mar Vista, a biostatistician, the parent of two teenaged LAUSD students and a CityWatch contributor, who blogs at redqueeninla.com)