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Posts Tagged ‘Craig P. Alexander’

Live from the 45th Congressional District CRA Candidate Forum

Posted by Chris Nguyen on November 21, 2019

We are live from the 45th Congressional District forum for Republican candidates sponsored by the California Republican Assembly.  Participating are the four major Republican candidates:

Hosted at the Norman P. Murray Community Center in Mission Viejo by the the Saddleback Republican Assembly, Tustin Area Republican Assembly, and Anaheim Republican Assembly, the forum is moderated by OC Political’s own Craig Alexander, who is an attorney from Dana Point and former State CRA Executive Vice President.

Much appreciation to the City of Mission Viejo for supplying free WiFi.  (Most OC Political live-blogs are done typing into a smartphone due to most venues not having WiFi.  Thanks to the free WiFi, this live-blog will be done on computer, so there’ll be even more detail than usual.)

After the invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, and Star-Spangled Banner, moderator Craig Alexander is introduced.  He explains the candidate order was by random draw.  There will be several questions from the forum organizers, and then there will be audience-submitted questions via index cards.  CRA delegates will vote on a potential endorsement on January 11.

90-second opening statements begin at 7:20.

Don Sedgwick grew up in San Juan Capistrano and raised his four children here with his wife.  He served 18 years on the Saddleback School Board and two terms on the City Council, more elected experience than all the Democrats and Republicans combined in the CD-45 race.  He says Katie Porter does not reflect the values of the district.  He was ASB President, coached his children’s youth sports, and is involved in the community.  He says, “the freedoms of our country are at stake in this country…our economy is headed toward socialism, and I will do something to reverse that.”

Greg Raths welcomes everyone to Mission Viejo jokingly calling it “home field advantage.”  He introduces his wife as the First Lady of Mission Viejo.  He notes his city is the second largest in the district.  Six years ago, his children had grown up; he had retired after 30 years in the military, including assignments in the White House and Pentagon; and he decided to run for Congress after the election of Barack Obama.  Then he got elected to the City Council after his unsuccessful bid for Congress.

Lisa Sparks is Dean of Communications at Chapman University and serves this area on the Orange County Board of Education.  She speaks of her Midwestern upbringing and family values.  She has been a Republican since age 2.  She raised three of her four children in the 45th District.  She has written 12 books and published numerous articles.  As a college educator, she was frustrated with the way K-12 schools were treating students.  She decided to run for Congress on her father’s 80th birthday.

Peggy Huang is a Yorba Linda Councilwoman and Deputy Attorney General.  She came to the U.S. at the age of 7 after waiting 12 years to legally enter the country.  She described her Christian family fleeing from socialism.  She is frightened by the tyranny of socialism and does not want anyone in the room to endure what her family did.  She warns of the path that Katie Porter will lead us down.  At the Department of Justice, she worked to protect children.  She notes that she has worked on the issues that matter to the district.

7:28: Questions begin. Alexander asks which committees the candidates would like to serve on.

Raths picks Armed Forces (Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee), Homeland Security (Border Security subcommittee), Intelligence (National Security Agency subcommittee), Oversight (National Security subcommittee), Aeronautics, and Veterans Affairs.

Sparks picks Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education as well as Homeland Security, particularly on cybersecurity.

Huang picks Health and Human Services, Transportation, Commerce, Judiciary (Immigration subcommittee), Natural Resources (water subcommittee), Foreign Affairs, and Energy.

Sedgwick picks Education, Budget, and Judiciary.

7:32 PM: Alexander asks which caucuses the candidates would like to serve on.

Sparks picks Republican Study Committee and is interested in the Blue Dog Caucus.

Huang picks the Tuesday Group, the Freedom Caucus, the Asian-American Caucus, and the Taiwan Caucus.

Sedgwick picks the Freedom Caucus and the Problem-Solvers Caucus.  He says this election is about freedom versus socialism.  He says he will solve problems and get things done.

Raths picks the Freedom Caucus and the Problem-Solvers Caucus.  He speaks of speaking with Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows of the Freedom Caucus.  He says as a Marine, he took Marines of all parties into battle and in Congress, he will represent people of all parties.

7:35 PM: Alexander asks about the Equality Act (HR 5) and how they would have voted and why.

Huang says she would have opposed it to protect religious freedom.  She fears the risks to the First Amendment in the present environment, particularly due to social justice.  She says losing religious freedom will threaten Second and Fourth Amendment rights.

Sedgwick says Porter referred to thoughts and minds without prayer after a tragedy.  He says there should be separation of church and state but state should not be separate from God.  Doctors should not be forced to provide services they object to and religious organizations should not be required to insure services they object to.

Raths argues the federal government’s reach has gone too far.  He says national defense, common currency, and interstate commerce are its responsibilities.  He says government should not be in people’s bedrooms.

Sparks notes that protesters are trying to take away the ability to have invocations at the board of education.  She expresses agreement with the other candidates.

7:40 PM: Alexander asks Save the Internet Act (HR 1644) which would restore Obama-era regulations for net neutrality.

Sedgwick speaks of the importance of the Internet being able to transmit information, such as President Trump’s tweets.  He speaks out in opposition to hate speech but supports freedom of speech on the Internet.  He says parents should be able to opt out of things they object to in school.

Raths says he doesn’t know the details of HR 1644, but the federal government needs to get out of people’s homes.  He says his goal is to make Katie Porter a one-term Congresswoman.  She joined the Progressive Caucus and called for impeaching Trump.  Raths notes the district is Republican because every City Council in the district has a Republican majority.

Sparks speaks in support of free speech and speaks of encouraging it at Chapman University, noting the event they sponsored with Robert Gibbs and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  She says she despises hate speech but it must be protected under free speech.

Huang says the question was about net neutrality.  She notes the regulation forbids cable companies from charging other companies for using their Internet cables.  She says taxpayer dollars should not be used to pick winners and losers.  She says the market should decide.

7:44 PM: Alexander asks about signing the discharge petition to allow a vote on SR 962, which would provide immediate medical care for a child born alive after a failed abortion.

Raths speaks in opposition to abortion and urges adoption.  He opposes late-term abortions and all other forms of abortion.

Sparks says she is pro-life and especially opposes late-term abortions.  She supports adoption instead of abortion.

Huang says she would support the discharge petition.  She says they need to support President Trump.  She speaks of the Susan B. Anthony health clinics that provide women’s health services in contrast to Planned Parenthood, which she refers to as an abortion group masquerading as women’s health services.

Sedgwick says it took seven years for him and his wife to have children and were initially told they wouldn’t have any.  He expresses support for life and is pro-life.  He expresses opposition to Planned Parenthood programs in the schools.

7:49 PM: Alexander asks if the candidates had any reason where they wouldn’t vote to defund Planned Parenthood.

All four support defunding Planned Parenthood without reservation.

Sparks calls it an easy question.

Huang supports funding health groups like Susan B. Anthony instead of Planned Parenthood.

Sedgwick says Katie Porter is out of touch with the district.

Raths expresses disappointment that Trump and the Republican Congress did not do this in 2017-18.  He speaks of seeing the movie Unplanned.

7:52 PM: Alexander asks the first audience question.  The question asks for opinions on DACA, comprehensive immigration reform, and border security.

Huang supports immigration reform.  Her parents waited 12 years to get permission to enter the U.S. She calls for reform of skilled visas vs. unskilled visas.  She does not support DACA. She says federal law dictated that children under the age of 5 would be presumed to be Americans if found in the U.S.  She worked on legislation to undo that, but it was vetoed by President Bill Clinton.

Sedgwick wants to work on Day 1 to end illegal immigration.  He says it is not compassionate to expose children to human trafficking, the drug trade, and immigration coyotes.  He says the U.S. is a nation of laws and that sanctuary cities are wrong.

Raths says borders must be secured because drugs and human trafficking are a major problem.  He served as a Marine with DACA Marines.  He will not send them to a country of birth that they do not know.  He wants immigration reform.  The U.S. needs labor because there are 7,000,000 open jobs and only 6,000,000 unemployed.

Sparks wants to secure borders.  Her husband waited 10 years to immigrate and is finally a citizen.  Her stepson took 12 years to immigrate and still only has a green card because the system is so slow.  She has DACA students at Chapman.  She says the U.S. needs to know who is entering the country.

7:57 PM: Alexander asks the candidates: what would be their top three legislative priorities in Congress?

Sedgwick says the federal government should get out of the way on education.  He wants to pass a federal opt-out law, noting that parents can opt-out of everything by homeschooling, so parents should be able to opt out of individual things in schools.  He wants to work toward eliminating tariffs because he supports free trade.

Raths wants Veterans Affairs to be run better.  He says Trump has made progress but needs to do more.  He expresses concern about pay for medical personnel at the VA.  He wants a constitutional amendment for term limits for Congress, 6 terms in the House and 2 terms in the Senate.  He wants to break up health company cartels and allow health care across state lines while protecting pre-existing conditions.

Sparks wants to allow crossing state lines and protect pre-existing conditions.  She wants to find ways to allow 529 funds to provide relief for people who are caring for both their parents and their children.

Huang supports a bipartisan bill (Feinstein and Stivers) that will address mental health and homelessness, which Katie Porter has failed to coauthor.  She wants bonuses for employees with student loans where the bonus is not taxed for employees or employers.

8:02 PM: Alexander asks which think tanks would advise the candidates in the House.

Raths says he would work with the Club for Growth, who’s he’s met with.  He says free college is available if you join the Marine Corps, and you won’t have student loans.

Sparks picks the Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth, and Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, all of which she has already worked with.

Huang picks the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Children’s Defense Fund, all of which she has already worked with.

Sedgwick picks the Club for Growth, who he’s worked with.  He notes he is the only businessman and understands the challenges businesses face.  He expresses disgust that Katie Porter blasts “CEOs when she hasn’t even run the corner store.”  He says the people in the audience are the best think tank.

8:05 PM: Alexander slightly alters an audience question: the question asks how they support diverse ethnic groups in California and voice their concerns.

Sparks says the Republican Party needs to reach out to all groups and peoples.  She says the “Democrats have taken a lot of those groups hostage.”

Huang notes she is the only Asian-American on the stage.  She says she does not run on identity politics but she is running on freedom and liberty.  She says common issues are the best way to reach out to these groups because they all desire freedom and liberty.  She says Democrats have called minorities victims.  She says America is the land of opportunity where she could come not speaking English and then finds herself running for Congress.

Sedgwick speaks in Spanish (OC Political’s Spanish is rusty from college).  He says Hispanics are an important part of the fabric of the community.  He says most of his employees are Hispanics, and they support his stance on immigration.

Raths says television keeps talking about racists.  In the military, he says everyone worked together regardless of race.  He sees that as Mayor in his city.  He will fight racism and discrimination in Congress.  He says racism is overblown by the media.

8:10 PM: An audience question asks for candidates’ opinions on Common Core.

Huang has two children, and Common Core math makes no sense.  She calls for parental rights, local control, and electing school board members who will stand up to liberal mandates.  She says Integrated Science does not teach legitimate science and fails to prepare students for the future.

Sedgwick was President of the California School Boards Association even though he is a conservative.  Many people would boo him but others would come up to him privately to express support.  He calls for more local control and parental rights.

Raths’s wife was a teacher, and his daughters are both teachers.  He was a substitute teacher and jokes that it was the worst job he ever had, expressing his admiration for teachers doing this difficult work.  He calls for local control and getting the federal government out.

Sparks speaks of the craziness of Common Core that she is seeing on the County Board of Education.  She expresses concern about California Health Youth Act (CHYA) and holding a forum to inform parents.  She says health is the window dressing that is used to sneak all sorts of programs into schools.

8:15 PM: Alexander asks: What is your opinion on the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act which would allow military families to redirect funds for their children’s education to private school.

Sedgwick wants to give military families any leg up.  He wants to give more opportunities to children from Gold Star Families with increased educational tax deductions.  He wants the private sector healthcare expenses to be reimbursed for the military.

Raths is on the Orange County Veterans’ Advisory Committee for the Board of Supervisors.  He supports local nonprofit organizations assisting veterans in addition to the VA.

Sparks proposes each year of service for a military servicemember resulting in a year of free education for the military servicemember’s child.

Huang notes that military families are often forgotten.  She wants strong social networks and mental health care for military families, not just military servicemembers.  She wants to support nonprofits because government involvement results in inefficiencies from funding bureaucracy.

8:20 PM: Alexander asks: Do you agree with President Trump’s efforts for a better deal with China, including tariffs?

Raths says China nearly became the economic superpower until President Trump stopped them.  He says Trump has done a phenomenal job.  He doesn’t normally support tariffs but has found the tariffs on China are reasonable.

Sparks says “America wins when we lead at home and abroad.”  She praises the USMCA as an improvement over NAFTA.  She warns tariffs are taxes that are passed on to American consumers but has been surprised how well the tariffs on China are working.

Huang calls for student visa reform because students get shipped back to their countries and compete against the U.S.  She opposes tariffs because she is a free-market person.  She says tariffs hurt American consumers and companies.

Sedgwick says tariffs are a tax on consumers.  He supports President Trump’s efforts but believes it will eventually reach “zero, zero” tariffs.  He has been on Fox News six times in the past four months.  He warns the country to look to California to see what would happen if one of the Democrats wins the presidency.

8:26 PM: Alexander asks about policy on Iran and North Korea.

Sparks supports sanctions on Iran and North Korea.  She supports pressuring these dictatorships.

Huang supports Trump policy on Iran and North Korea.  She calls for putting enough resources for the 7th Fleet to strengthen the first line of defense against North Korea: South Korea and Japan.  She wants to protect Israel.

Sedgwick says the role of government is protection from threats, foreign and domestic.  He says socialism is a domestic threat.  He says the border needs to be protected.  He says Trump is right to open communications with North Korea.  He wants to keep the military out of battle.  He wants diplomatic solutions as much as possible.

Raths served two tours of duty in Japan and South Korea.  He had seven tours of duty in the Middle East.  He supports protecting Japan, South Korea, and Israel.  He says it is time to reduce American troops in “countries that don’t like us.”  He says troops should not be in Syria or Lebanon.

8:30 PM: Alexander asks an audience question asking about protecting the Second Amendment and opposing the Assault Weapons Ban.

Huang says she supports the Second Amendment.  She says she opposes all bans and jokes about the straw ban.  She says bans punish responsible people, not criminals.  She wants to reform HIPPA to allow families to speak to medical personnel about relatives’ mental health.

Sedgwick supports the Second Amendment and says, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  He notes gun control would not have prevented the Saugus High School shooting because the shooter already broke existing gun control laws.  He calls for more mental health services.

Raths says the Constitution is clear about the right to bear arms.  He says 99.9% of gunowners are responsible people.  He says the NRA has fantastic gun safety education programs.

Sparks supports the Second Amendment.  She speaks of going shooting with her family.  She notes her parents sent her to camp to get rifle training as a youth.  Her family was very diligent about gun safety.  She says families need to be helped when there are mental health problems in the home.

8:34 PM: Alexander asks the last audience question: “What do you plan to do when you get to Congress about the national debt?”

Sedgwick notes Laguna Hills will be debt free in 3 years.  When he joined OCFA six years ago, he put together a “snowball” plan to pay off the pension liability; he notes interest payments have decreased by nearly $25 million as a result.  He says that attitude is needed to balance the national budget instead of just supporting the presented budget.

Raths says Mission Viejo had a $6 million surplus this year due to $4 million in unexpected revenue and $2 million in cost savings.  He opposes omnibus bills.  He wants a 10% phased-in reduction of federal bureaucracy.

Sparks blasts the size of the deficit.  She opposes the previous budget deal.  She speaks of being on the County Board of Education, where she voted to remove 1% of the budget from expenses for lobbying and travel, and is fighting the Superintendent on that.

Huang notes Yorba Linda is the first city with OpenGov to show every dollar of City expenditures online.  She would start with Health and Human Services and with Education.  She calls for eliminating certain federal agencies, noting there are several in the EPA that should be eliminated.

8:39 PM: Alexander thanks the organizers and discusses the CRA.

8:41 PM: Closing statements begin.

Raths thanks the audience for attending.  He speaks of a life of service: being a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, 30 years as a Marine, 5 years as a Councilmember and now Mayor, and now he wants to go to Congress to represent the people of the 45th District.  He will ensure Katie Porter is a one-term Congresswoman.

Sparks is “an accomplished scholar-teacher and a builder.”  She built the Chapman University School of Communications.  She has only been in politics for a couple years.  She will represent the people of the district and fight for them just as she is fighting for freedom of speech through her work at Chapman.  She says Porter does not represent the district, and Sparks will be the one to beat her.

Huang thanks the audience for attending.  She says next month marks the 30th anniversary of her citizenship and her registration as a Republican the day she was naturalized.  She worked on affordable housing and human trafficking not through reading about them but by working in the trenches with people directly.  She says she worked on the Unabomber case.  She has fought sex trafficking and the drug trade.  She says Porter has worked in theory brainwashing the young offering nothing of value to the people of the district.

Sedgwick says a democracy is only as great as its people.  He wants to strengthen parent rights, local schools, institutions of faith, and the free-market economy.  He wants Congress to not be paid if they don’t pass a budget; he wants to run government more like business.  His city contracts for most services.  They have no pension liability because they have few employees.  He called it ironic that the LA City Council was complaining about the expense of construction when it was their regulations that made it so expensive in the first place.

8:47 PM: Alexander thanks the candidates, the organizers, and the audience and adjourns the forum.  Two raffle prizes (a Thanksgiving basket and a Trump hat) are awarded to the audience.

Posted in 45th Congressional District | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Education Revolution in Orange County: Part II of III – Parent Trigger Law and Palm Lane Elementary

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 30, 2015

Anaheim City School DistrictLast week, I began my three-part series on the education revolution brewing in Orange County with a post on the rapid increase in the number of charter schools in the county after years of stagnation.

In this second post, I will turn to the use of the Parent Trigger Law at Palm Lane Elementary School in the Anaheim City School District.  My colleague, Craig Alexander, was the first person to break the news when he posted here on OC Political that Superior Court Judge Andrew Banks had ruled in favor of the parents in Ochoa vs. Anaheim City School District when Palm Lane Elementary School families used the Parent Trigger Law to petition for a public charter school.

This is a watershed moment in Orange County education.  Should the judge’s ruling stand, this will be the first successful use of the Parent Trigger Law in Orange County and one of just a handful in California.

Utilizing the Parent Trigger Law allows parents of students in failing schools to take back control of their schools like never before.  For many parents in lower-income areas that have been traditionally pro-union, using the Parent Trigger Law exposes them to the first time to the hostility of the California Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association ̣(and their local chapters, of course).  This is an eye-opening experience that causes many of these parents to turn against these unions that are impeding their efforts to improve their children’s education.

It is no surprise that Anaheim City School District administration are opposed to the use of the Parent Trigger Law because it is essentially an indictment of their failures at Palm Lane Elementary School.  Furthermore, the conversion of Palm Lane Elementary into a charter school weakens the Anaheim City School District administration’s control of the school (and its funding).

Four of the five Anaheim City School District trustees are in their first term on the school board, so they could hardly blamed for the failures at Palm Lane Elementary School, and when the petitions were submitted to the school district, two of the trustees had been in office less than six weeks while a third trustee had not yet even been seated.

Disappointingly, the Anaheim City School District trustees voted unanimously to appeal the judge’s ruling.  Not one trustee stepped back and asked themselves one basic question: “What is so horrible about a public charter school that I’m willing to spend an additional $600,000 to stop one at Palm Lane Elementary?”

The Anaheim City School District contends that only 48.43% of Palm Lane Elementary School parents provided valid signatures for the petition.  The Superior Court found at least 51.57% of signatures were valid, but the judge stopped counting at this point because it was clearly above the 50% threshold.

Even accepting the school district’s lower number, at what point do the Anaheim City School District administration and trustees take another step back and simply say, “Wow.  48% of parents at Palm Lane are so upset that they want to convert it into a public charter school.”  That’s not to say that the other 52% oppose a charter school; they simply did not sign the petition (if we use the school district’s numbers).

So, we now await the Court of Appeal, as the Anaheim City School District continues their battle against the parents of Palm Lane Elementary School.

In the second half of this post, I have excerpted four of the most stunning sections of the ruling by the judge.  The two longer excerpts give a glimpse into the truly offensive way in which the Anaheim City School District has handled this process.

What is the Parent Trigger Law?

Readers familiar with the Parent Trigger Law can skip down to the next section on the scathing court ruling.

In a nutshell, the Parent Trigger Law authorizes parents to petition for one of five types of reforms at their children’s school.  The school must meet legal definitions for a low-performing school for the petition to be valid.  A majority of parents must sign the petition in order to for one of the reforms to be implemented.  Yes, a majority of parents at the school must sign the petition.  This is a very high petition threshold. (Contrast that with ballot measures, a certain percentage far below a majority [varying from 5%-20% depending on the type/jurisdiction of measure] is needed to qualify a measure for an election, and most types of ballot measures pass with a majority vote.  Getting a majority to sign your petition is a much more challenging task than getting a majority to cast their ballots for your proposal.)

One of the five options for reform is launching a public charter school, and that is the route that Palm Lane Elementary School parents opted for in their petition to the Anaheim City School District.

The Parent Trigger Law was passed in 2010 by a bipartisan coalition of Sacramento lawmakers, and I don’t mean that a couple renegades from one party hopped on board with the other party to pass it.  This was authored by former Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero ̣̣(D-East Los Angeles) and Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas).  In the Senate, 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats formed the group of 23 Senators who voted to pass the bill; in the Assembly, it was 25 Republicans and 16 Democrats.  These weren’t rogue Democrats who joined the Republicans — this included the Democrats’ top leaders: then-Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, then-Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, and future Assembly Speaker John Perez.

Truly Scathing Court Ruling in Ochoa v. Anaheim City School District

After reading the full text of the judge’s decision that Craig posted, I am amazed that no one has quoted more extensively from it.  In the published sources I’ve seen, the quotes have been limited to the judge’s findings that the Anaheim City School District’s petition “rejection to be procedurally unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious” and regarding petition verification: “The deficiencies in the process used were substantial; so substantial that it made it an unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious and unfair process.”  (Craig in his original post also quoted “Clearly, the Respondents [the District] did not meet their obligations of good faith cooperation with respect to this issue and as mandated by the Act.”)

I am amazed no one has published more excerpts of the truly scathing court ruling.  As I read the full text of the ruling, I was actually angered and offended by the Anaheim City School District’s behavior.  Below are the four most stunning excerpts, and the two longer ones describe the repugnant fashion in which the Anaheim City School District conducted itself with regard to the petition.  In the court ruling, references to the “respondent” mean the Anaheim City School District while references to the “petitioners” mean the parents suing the school district in defense of the Parent Trigger petition.

Judge Banks noted about the school in question, “This proceeding involves parents of students at Palm Lane Elementary, a school whose performance over 10 of the last 11 years as measured by the legislatively imposed standards can be described as abysmal.”

The Anaheim City School District attempted to argue that the Court lacked jurisdiction because the parents had not completed all administrative remedies since the district had not rejected the petition. This is ludicrous because even the minutes of the school board meeting note that the motion was “to reject the Petition” of the Palm Lane parents. The Court described the school district’s brazen argument as:

The Respondent Board rejected the Petition in Exhibit 16…In the section “Action” the last sentence in relevant part reads “Accordingly the Petition…is rejected.”

Respondents sought to characterize the rejection as something less, arguing in the trial brief and at trial that the action of February 19th was not a final determination on the Petition (Respondent’s Trial Brief at page 1, lines 17-23 and page 25 lines 3-5). They presented their case in part on the theory that the Petition was returned as allowed under 5 CCR Section 4802.1(g)(j) and not rejected.  The language used by the District’s Board plainly says otherwise.  They rejected the Petition they did not return it.

The Respondents also argue that this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear this matter as well as to grant relief because the Petition was not rejected but only returned and therefore Petitioners have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies.  This argument fails because the Respondents rejected the Petition.

I find the rejection to be procedurally unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.

The school district attempted to argue that Palm Lane did not fit the criteria of a low-performing school for purposes of the Parent Trigger Law, relying on a truly bizarre rationale that the state Department of Education did not issue a 2014 adequate yearly progress report, so Palm Lane could not have “failed to make adequate yearly progress (AYP).”  The Court wrote:

The Respondents [sic] own internal communications admit to the fact that Palm Lane is a subject school subject to the [Parent Trigger] Act and has failed to make AYP.  Exhibits 29, 31, 32,67 and 80 are just some of those communications.

The reliance of the Respondents upon Exhibit 47 and the determination by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Honorable Tom Torlakson, that no 2014 AYP report for elementary and other schools would be prepared by the California Department of Education did not provide a safe harbor against parents utilizing the Act as the Respondents argue.  Instead, it froze those schools and districts in their status based on prior measured AYP results.  The evidence clearly establishes that Palm Lane failed to make adequate yearly progress.  I therefore find that Palm Lane is a subject school under the Act.

In the Anaheim City School District’s rejection of the Parent Trigger petition, their findings noted that “The Petitioners failed to submit a separate document that identifies the lead petitioners.” The judge rips the school district to shreds for attempting to use this argument:

The evidence on the “lead petitioner list” issue was directly contradictory.  The Petitioners said they provided it when they delivered the signed petitions to the District at the District’s Office on January 14, 2015.  The Respondents said they never got it.  After considering all the evidence I resolve this issue in favor of the Petitioners.  In particular, I find the testimony of Alfonso Flores to be persuasive and he to be the most credible witness on this issue, and probably in the entire case.

I would be remiss however if I left the issue there.  The behavior of the Respondents [sic] personnel in doing absolutely nothing to determine who the lead petitioners were can not go without comment.  Wisely or not, the Act requires the Local Educational Agency (LEA) to work with the lead parent petitioners in the process.  In practical terms it means the Districts must cooperate and work together with the very people who seek to take from the District a school (and its funding etc) and to establish in its place a charter school.  No clearer repudiation of a school district’s performance could be imagined.

I find that the Respondents’ claimed ignorance of the identity of the lead parents and ignorance as to how to learn their identity (feigned and contrived ignorance in the Court’s view) is unreasonable.  They could have looked at the “sign in sheet” for January 14th when the petitions were delivered to see which parents were there – but they did not.  They could have called the name and phone number of the person listed on most of the petitions; which information was listed after the words:

“For more information, all interested persons, the school district, and others should contact:” (emphasis added)

[Name and number omitted by the Court]

And if that was not enough, immediately below the name and phone number of the contact person were the words:

“Supporting organizations”

with the name of two supporting organizations, one of which is headed by Senator Romero, with whom the evidence showed the Respondents were well acquainted.

Any of those acts would have been what a reasonable person would have done and what a reasonable process would have called for.  Instead, they manufactured a continuing state of ignorance as to the lead person identities.

Finally, and not to beat a dead horse, Senator Romero herself wrote to the Respondents and offered to put them in touch with and coordinate between the District and the lead parents (Exhibit 49, page TX 049-003 to 006).  Respondents never responded to her offer.

On July 2, 2015 while testifying before the Court the District Superintendent testified that even on that day she still did not know who the lead petitioners were.  The evidence established that Exhibit 97 (list of petitioning parents, i.e. lead petitioners) was again provided shortly after the District findings were announced on February 19, 2015.  How she could not know the identities is troubling.

Clearly, the Respondents did not meet their obligations of good faith cooperation with respect to this issue and as mandated by the Act.

The Court found the petition signature verification process to be”unreasonable, unfair and incomplete” and with just a few phone calls, the judge himself was able to confirm enough signatures to easily exceed the 50% threshold for the Parent Trigger petition.  Judge Banks brutally dissects the signature verification process:

Under the [Parent Trigger] Act and its related regulations, the Respondents as an LEA may verify signatures on petitions, but they are not required to do so; and if they undertake to do so their efforts must be reasonable. 5 CCR § 4802.1 (b).

I find that the process set up and utilized by Respondents was unreasonable, unfair and incomplete.

The process was developed by a temporary employee (Evelyn Gutierrez) who was given no training or education about the Act, the Regulations or the importance of what she was being asked to do.  She had no background, training or experience in handwriting analysis or comparison.  She was not supervised in any meaningful regard. She received no written procedures to follow.  She had to develop the script she used when calling parents phone numbers.  The deficiencies in the process used were substantial; so substantial that it made it an unreasonable, arbitrary, caprcious [sic] and unfair process.  In fairness it must be noted that Ms. Gutierrez did her best in the situation into which she was placed.

The result of this defective process was that valid signed petitions were not counted.  Ms. Gutierrez testified to several petitions she rejected that on reflection should have been determined valid.  In addition she testified that a number of petitions were placed by her in a “pending” status because she could not reach the parent signatory or for some other reason.  Someone, not Ms. Gutierrez, later decided to improperly classify those petitions as invalid.

A brief description of the signature verification process is in order.  Ms. Gutierrez would call the phone number twice to try and reach a parent signatory.  She called between approximated [sic] 8:30AM and 4:30PM. If she could not reach the person, she would put them in “pending”.  If she reached the parent she inquired about their signing the petition.  Calling only during normal working hours for the parents decreased the probability of making contact.

Some persons reached by phone said they had signed; others said their spouse signed; others said they could not recall if they signed and finally some denied they had signed.

Some children had separate petitions signed by each parent.  If the first petition signature could not be verified there was no attempt to look at the other signed petition to verify the accuracy of the signature on that petition.

In sum, there are numerous deficiencies in the process.  The result of the flawed process was that valid signatures sufficient to reach and exceed the 50% threshold were improperly excluded.

In the interest of brevity I attach and include a list of 29 students and parents utilized in argument and entitled “Improperly Invalidated Petitions (Child/Parent)”.  I have independently evaluated the evidence relating to some but not all of the 29, stopping once a total of 23 additional valid signed petitions were established.  Inasmuch as the Respondents determined and found the Petitioners were 12 valid petitions short there is no need to go further.  The Petitioners needed 367, the Court finds they presented a minimum of 378.  Using the aforementioned chart, the Court determines the following numbers referenced thereon were valid petitions: 1 – 7; 9; 13 -24; 27 -29.  The Court does not reach items 25 and 26.

The Anaheim City School District has much to answer for about the reprehensible way they handled this process.

Key Question for Anaheim City School District Trustees

To reiterate my point from earlier: each Trustee should take a look in the mirror, and then, each should ask and answer this question:

“What is so horrible about a public charter school that I’m willing to spend an additional $600,000 to stop one at Palm Lane Elementary?”

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Robyn Nordell’s Web Site for Conservative Voters is Up for the 11/4/2014 Election

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on October 18, 2014

A long time ago friends of mine started asking me who to vote for on election day as they know I am involved in politics as an activist and I do research on candidates and causes. I began to prepare and send out by e-mail my voter recommendations which I call “Craig’s Pics.”

I also discovered that my friend Robyn Nordell was doing the same thing but she was several steps ahead of me by publishing her own web site called Robyn Nordell’s Conservative California Election Website. Robyn, a conservative Christian, does her own research which includes extensive interviews of candidates, other local elected officials who are her friends, other activists like myself and she attends every CRA endorsing convention even when she is not a delegate.  Robyn always takes extensive notes of what she observes and hears form candidates and others commenting on the choices before voters.  Several years ago Robyn offered to publish my Craig’s Pics on the Orange County portion of her web site along with other friends who also prepare their voter recommendations to distribute.  I consider it a privilege to have my Pics on her site and to call Robyn a trusted friend.

One of the things I like about Robyn is that she and I do not always agree on our recommendations and some of our friends do not always agree with Robyn’s recommendations.  Yet she publishes our Pics because Robyn is not looking for universal uniformity in our recommendations but for thoughtful conservatives giving their opinions and recommendations for voters.  Are you looking for some voter recommendations that are well thought out and researched?  Are you looking for a place to send friends who would like to receive recommendations for voters that are trustworthy?  Then you can recommend friends and family to Robyn’s web site with confidence that you and they will see none of that there.  She also has a link to Craig Huey’s excellent guide that has extensive grading and recommendations on Judicial Candidates. Here it is as well: Craig Huey’s Voter Guide.

Of course as I am honored that she allows my Craig’s Pics to be on her site, I would be honored if you would stop by my Craig’s Pics on her site as well.  Check out the our other friend’s recommendations on that page too.  You may not agree with all of my Pics or all of Robyn’s – but I don’t expect uniformity from everyone who visits the site or reads my Pics either.

Disclaimer – I am a candidate for the Governing Board of Trustees, Capistrano Unified School District, Trustee Area 4 and a supporter of Robert Ming for Supervisor and Bill Brough for 73rd Assembly District among others.

Posted in 73rd Assembly District, Capistrano Unified School District, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Robyn Nordell’s Conservative California Election Website is Up and Running for the June 3, 2014 Election

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on May 13, 2014

A long time ago friends of mine started asking me who to vote for on election day as they know I am involved in politics as an activist and I do research on candidates and causes. I began to prepare and send out by e-mail my voter recommendations which I call “Craig’s Pics.”

I also discovered that my friend Robyn Nordell was doing the same thing but she was several steps ahead of me by publishing her own web site called Robyn Nordell’s Conservative California Election Website. Robyn, a conservative Christian, does her own research which includes extensive interviews of candidates, other local elected officials who are her friends, other activists like myself and she attends every CRA endorsing convention even when she is not a delegate.  Robyn always takes extensive notes of what she observes and hears form candidates and others commenting on the choices before voters.  Several years ago Robyn offered to publish my Craig’s Pics on the Orange County portion of her web site along with other friends who also prepare their voter recommendations to distribute.  I consider it a privilege to have my Pics on her site and to call Robyn a trusted friend.

One of the things I like about Robyn is that she and I do not always agree on our recommendations and some of our friends do not always agree with Robyn’s recommendations.  Yet she publishes our Pics because Robyn is not looking for universal uniformity in our recommendations but for thoughtful conservatives giving their opinions and recommendations for voters.  Are you looking for some voter recommendations that are well thought out and researched?  Are you looking for a place to send friends who would like to receive recommendations for voters that are not paid advertisements (slate mailers), are not self serving mailers by candidates and are not “hit” pieces from some unknown PAC using sleazy innuendo to try and falsely paint the opponent as the political reincarnation of Charles Manson?  Then you can recommend friends and family to Robyn’s web site with confidence that you and they will see none of that there.

Of course as I am honored that she allows my Craig’s Pics to be on her site, I would be honored if you would stop by my Craig’s Pics on her site as well.  Check out the our other friend’s recommendations on that page too.  You may not agree with all of my Pics or all of Robyn’s – but I don’t expect uniformity from everyone who visits the site or reads my Pics either.

God Bless You Richly as you vote for our future elected leaders!

 

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