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Posts Tagged ‘Gloria Romero’

Patricia Bates Becomes 1st CA Senate Republican Leader from South OC

Posted by Chris Nguyen on March 15, 2017

Yesterday afternoon, State Senate Republicans in Sacramento unanimously elected Senator Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) as the new Senate Republican Leader, effective April 12.  Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) is stepping down as leader since she will term out of the Senate in 2018.

In the caucus statement announcing her election, Bates said, “It is no secret that Republicans face a challenging political environment in California. But Republicans embrace taxpayers who want a more efficient government, parents who want better schools and safer streets, and citizens who want their constitutional freedoms protected. That is a Republican Party that can attract broad support in California, and I will do everything I can as the next leader to spread that message in every part of the state.”

Prior to her election to the Senate in 2014, Bates was an Orange County Supervisor from 2007-2014 (serving as Chair in 2009 and Vice Chair in 2008 and 2013-2014), a State Assemblywoman from 1996-2004, and on the Laguna Niguel City Council from 1989-1998, including serving as the City’s first mayor after leading the city’s incorporation efforts (she would serve four terms as mayor).  A South Orange County resident for 40 years, she worked as a social worker in Los Angeles County before embarking on a political career.  During her tenure in the Legislature, she has served as Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee in both houses.  She has also been Vice Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee.

Bates is the first South Orange County resident to lead a party caucus in the State Legislature.  She is also the first former Orange County Supervisor to serve as a legislative party caucus leader (Bill Campbell was Assembly Republican Leader before he became an Orange County Supervisor.

Serving as the Republican Leader’s chief of staff is not an unfamiliar position for Kevin Bassett, Bates’s chief of staff.  Bassett had been selected for the role in 2010 by new Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton and continued in that position when Bob Huff became Leader in 2012, departing in December 2014 when he became Bates’s chief of staff.  Bassett had been on the late Senator Dave Cox’s staff for Cox’s entire political career in the Senate, the Assembly, and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.  He was Cox’s chief of staff during his entire tenure in the Legislature, including when Cox served as Assembly Republican Leader (2001-2004), and the latter part of his time on the Board of Supervisors.

Fuller is the first woman to head a Senate party caucus while Bates will be the second.  No woman has yet led the Senate Democratic Caucus.  (While Gloria Romero and Ellen Corbett have served as State Senate Majority Leader, from 2005-2008 and 2010-2014, respectively, that position is the second-ranking position in the Democratic Caucus behind the Senate President Pro Tem, who has always been a man.)  Three women have served as Speaker of the State Assembly (Republican-Elected-Speaker-by-Democrats-Until-She-Was-Recalled-by-Orange-County-Voters Doris Allen in 1995, followed by Democrat Karen Bass from 2008-2010 and Democrat Toni Atkins from 2014-2016) and three have served as Assembly Republican Leader (Carol Hallett from 1979-1981, Connie Conway from 2010-2014, and Kristen Olsen from 2014-2016).

Bates is the first Orange County legislator since Senator Bob Huff (Fuller’s predecessor from 2012-2015) to serve as the head of a party caucus in either house of the Legislature and the first Orange County resident to do so since Dick Ackerman was Senate Republican Leader from 2004-2008 (while Huff’s district included Orange County, he is a resident of Los Angeles County).  An Orange County legislator has not served as Assembly Republican Leader since Bill Campbell in 2000-2001 or Speaker of the Assembly since Curt Pringle in 1996.

While multiple Orange County residents have served as Senate Republican Leader, Assembly Republican Leader, and Speaker of the State Assembly in recent times, none has ever served as President Pro Tem of the State Senate.  However, Republican R. B. Carpenter of Los Angeles County represented both LA and Orange Counties when he served as Senate President Pro Tem from 1892-1893.  For Bates to become Senate President Pro Tem, she would need to grow her caucus by 61% or somehow get 30% of the Democratic Caucus to vote for her.

Posted in 36th Senate District, California, State Senate | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

County Board of Ed President Robert Hammond to Kick Off Re-Election Thursday

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 26, 2016

Orange County Board of Education President Robert M. Hammond is kicking off his re-election on Thursday at 6:00 PM at the Bluewater Grill in Tustin.

Hammond may well be the first person ever whose endorsements include both former Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante (D) and current State Senator John Moorlach (R).  Moorlach’s challenger for re-election to the Senate, Assemblyman Don Wagner (R), has also endorsed Hammond.

Besides Lieutenant Governor Bustamante, Hammond’s endorsements also include the majority of Orange County’s State Senate delegation, State Assembly delegation, Board of Supervisors, and Countywide officeholders.

hammondkickoff

(In the interest of full disclosure, the consulting firm that owns OC Political ran Hammond’s successful 2012 bid for County Board of Education and is running his 2016 re-election bid.)

Posted in Orange County Board of Education | 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?”

Posted in Anaheim City School District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

CTA Hypocrisy Exposed by Vergara Ruling

Posted by Mark Bucher on June 11, 2014

The California Teachers Association is the most powerful special interest in California. They often run ads touting how much they care about education and our students, while at the same time steadfastly defending laws that make it virtually impossible to fire grossly ineffective teachers who can have a devastating impact on the education of students. Yesterday a judge in Los Angeles exposed this hypocrisy by ruling that CTA-backed laws protecting ineffective teachers are illegal because they deprive our children of a quality education.

The judge found:

“Evidence has been elicited in this trial of the specific effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience…There is also no dispute that there are a significant number of ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms…The number of grossly ineffective teachers has a direct, real, appreciable, and negative impact on a significant number of California students, now and well into the future for as long as said teachers hold their positions.”

“This Court…finds that based on…the evidence presented at trial, Plaintiffs have proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the challenged statutes impose a real and appreciable impact on students’ fundamental right to equality of education and that they impose a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students.”

The CTA and their allies set up this system, profit by it, and will fight to keep it this way. But this landmark court case, Vergara vs. the State of California, has been a long time coming. The interests of students are finally being heard.

Vergara claimed that three current statutes violate the civil right to equal education. The first challenge regarded tenure, which requires an administrator’s decision after only 16 months, which the plaintiffs argued is far too short a period of time in which to identify an ineffective teacher. The second concerned dismissal practices, which are costly and time consuming, making it impractical to fire a teacher. The third challenge was to the “last-in, first-out” layoff rules, which force school districts to fire top teachers and retain ineffective ones.

This ruling, which will be appealed by the CTA (of course – why would they put the education of students before the interests of grossly ineffective teachers), is far reaching.

In a mesmerizing 56 minute closing argument, plaintiff attorney Marcellus McRae dissected the objections of the defense. As he repeatedly cited, it was the witnesses for the defense who, withering under cross-examination, provided some of the most compelling testimony. Again and again they admitted that yes, it is impossible to evaluate a teacher for tenure in only 16 months, yes, it is for all practical purposes impossible to fire ineffective teachers, and yes, LIFO layoff rules cause districts to lose some of their finest teachers, while retaining many who are ineffective.

McRae’s argument concerning the disproportionate harm these rules cause low-income and minority communities was impossible to refute. Good teachers accept new job offers and migrate to better schools while poor teachers take advantage of their tenure to remain in place. Vacancies are then filled by poor teachers getting transferred out of good schools because they can’t be dismissed. The few good new teachers who are attracted to poor schools are lost whenever there’s a layoff.

The judge agreed.

In their official response the CTA made this accusation, “Students Matter is supported by Michelle Rhee and Students First, Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben Austin, Billionaire and school privatizer Eli Broad, former lawmaker Gloria Romero, and other corporate education reformers with an interest in privatizing public education and attacking teachers’ unions.” But their logic doesn’t hold up.

If anything, the abolition of current laws that protect ineffective public school teachers will not further the agenda of private education special interests, but rather help to rescue public education. A Machiavellian strategy to push private educational solutions would be to allow the public school system to fail completely. If proponents of private education and charter schools are supporting Vergara, it’s because it’s the right thing to do for California’s students.

The coalition that opposed the Vergara plaintiffs was obvious – the public employee unions representing teachers. Apart from sharing a conviction that California’s students deserve better, the group supporting Vergara defies simple characterization. That they have coalesced on this issue, and are likely destined to fundamentally improve the rules governing California’s public schools, should be cause for great hope to anyone who wants to reform California’s public institutions. All of them.

*   *   *

Mark Bucher is the president of the California Policy Center

Posted in California | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Democrats for Education Reform California and Senator Gloria Romero (Ret.) Endorse Prop 32

Posted by Former Blogger Chris Emami on July 16, 2012

It appears that the Yes on 32 Campaign is gaining some bi-partisan support based on their press release. In the effort of full disclosure Custom Campaigns is doing consulting work for Yes on 32. Here is the press release:

DEMOCRATS FOR EDUCATION REFORM CALIFORNIA AND SENATOR GLORIA ROMERO (RET.) ENDORSE PROP 32

(SACRAMENTO, CA)—Today, the Yes on Proposition 32 campaign, supporting the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act, welcomed the endorsement of Democrats for Education Reform California and its director, Gloria Romero, a former state Senator (D-East Los Angeles) and Senate Majority Leader. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in California | Tagged: | 1 Comment »