Politics and Poker / Shuffle up the cards, and find the joker…

Politics and Poker, Politics and Poker
Shuffle up the cards, and find the joker
Neither game’s for children
Either game is rough
Decisions, decisions
Like who to pick, how to play,
What to bet, when to call a bluff.

Yup, it’s that time again. Tuesday we have a Primary Election here in Los Angeles, and for a local election, the phone lines have been really busy with political calls. What office you ask? Nothing of national import… congress is even numbered years, and the mayoral election isn’t until 2009. Our city councilman (Greig Smith) is running uncontested. No, the furor is about the Los Angeles School Board.

Right now, there is a big fight in the city between the Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Unified School District Board. Hizzoner wants to run the school distict, and although he had a bill passed by the legislature to allow him to do this, the courts declared it unconsitutional. This has resulted in a nasty battle

Politics and Poker, Politics and Poker
Playing for a pot that’s mediocre
Politics and Poker, running neck and neck
If politics seems more predictable…
That’s because, usually,
You can stack the deck

So, turning to the ballot, we have three candidates for the school board for this district, two of whom have substantial financial backing (to give you an idea how nasty the battle is: when I did a Google search on the incumbant… the link for his primary opponent came up as a sponsored link):

  • Jon M. Lauritzen, the incumbent. Backed by the Teachers Union, although according my wife, the administrators don’t like him that well. A former math and computer science teacher, who has taught at numerous schools in the valley, and whose kids are all products of LAUSD. His daughter is currently teaching in the district. Lauritzen is in favor of class size reduction, noting it is already in UTLA’s contract. He also wants to increase parental involvement in schools and improve school safety. According to his position paper, he wants to cut wasteful spending and ensure spending is intelligent. He also wants to fight to keep valley school money in the valley.
  • Tamar Galatzan, Hizzoner’s candidate. Backed by the mayor and the political establishment. A former prosecutor, her only experience in the educational system is as a parent and one-time LAUSD student. She believes that increasing safety for students, teachers and staff, decentralizing decision-making, improving graduation rates, and preventing truancy should be top priorities of the L.A Unified School District. She has also been the most vigorous on the phone banks… in fact, as I was typing this, I received yet another recorded call from her that talked trash about Lauritzen. She is endorsed by the Daily News.
  • Louis Pugliese, backed by, ummm, no one in particular, but endorsed by the LA Times. He is currently a lecturer in Educational Psychology for CSUN’s teaching credential program, as well as an LAUSD teacher and education writer. He’s not the product of LAUSD, but his kids attend LAUSD schools. As for his positions, perhaps his website sums it up best: “I will be the voice that says “Hey, wait a minute! Aren’t we supposed to be talking about TEACHING and LEARNING?””. Specifically, he wants to focus on student academic motivation and modernizing curriculum. He seems to be the only candidate with a blog, for what that is worth.
Politics and poker, Politics and poker
Makes the average guy a heavy smoker
Bless the nominee, and give him our regards
And watch while he learns that in
Poker and politics
Brother, you’ve gotta have
That slippery, hap-hazardous commodity
You’ve gotta have the cards

So, who do I endorse. Pugliese has some interesting ideas, but I’m not sure he is going to win. I’m not in favor of putting a lawyer (Galatzan) in the office, particular one who has harnessed the phone banks to annoy me — this strikes me as someone looking for future city office, not working for the kids. So, I think go for Lauritzen.

As for the other offices: I’m inclined to go for the incumbents for the Community College District seats (Scott-Hayes, Field, Mercer, and Furutani). There are two city measures on the ballot:

  • Measure L, which would establish contribution limits and additional disclosure requirements for School Board campaigns; have local enforcement of School District campaign finance rules; provide campaign finance training for School Board candidates; create term limits of three terms (twelve years) for School Board members; and establish a School Board compensation review committee. One thing this might do is change the school board from part-time positions to full-time positions.

    Position: For

  • Measure M. Establishes a voluntary program to allow members to purchase service credit with the Fire and Police Pension Plan for full-time service with other public agencies, provided the member pays the full actuarial cost for the service purchased.

    Position: For

So that’s it for this election. Somehow, in this game, I’m not sure that I’m a winner….