The N-MUSD has received a letter threatening a lawsuit unless it switches from the current at-large representation to representation by district or area. Details to follow but you read it here first.
The threat is no surprise here, coming on the heels of a similar threat made against the city of Costa Mesa not long ago. The city decided to avoid spending an estimated $3 million in legal fees and put the measure on the November ballot. Here’s one of the city’s responses, as reported by the Los Angeles Times and noted on this blog two days ago:
“Under the [California Voting Rights Act/CVRA], at-large voting is sort of going the way of the dinosaur, it appears,” said lawyer Kim Barlow, who negotiated on behalf of the city to avoid a lawsuit by Shenkman in exchange for putting the district system to a public vote. “It is very difficult to defend a case brought under the CVRA and very, very expensive to litigate a case brought under the CVRA.”
Unfortunately, the school board club will not do the prudent thing and switch to district representation, they will dig in their heels and fight this with every available tax dollar, just as they did with John Caldecott, and just as they are doing with Laura Boss and Ann Huntington. It’s not real money, you see, it’s your hard-earned tax dollars that are being spent and they feel free to spend it any way they want. After all, they get your tax dollars regardless of whether they are doing a decent job.
It may not provide you with any comfort to know that the N-MUSD is not doing anything extraordinary. Several years ago, the Oxnard Unified School District spent $532,123 in legal fees and costs to fight a wrongful termination lawsuit. After after more than 2 years of litigation, it settled the case for $150,000.
I should have known something was up but I completely missed the sign: On tonight’s school board club agenda was item 17.a.: “Authorization to Secure Additional Services with the District’s Demographic Consultant, Decision Insite, to Provide Scenarios for Board Discussion of Potential Trustee Area Boundary Adjustments”
The school district voluntarily questioning whether redrawing area boundaries is in order? The school board club examining a potential change in the status quo? Yeah, right. This is nothing more than a Hail Mary to try to keep the lawsuit threat in check, but it’s too little too late. So, start your legal and administrative fee tally going tonight with the $6,000 they’ll be paying these 17.a consultants to determine what to do.
The district pays a lot of consultants a lot of tax dollars. Makes me wonder what all these highly-paid bureaucrats are doing for their money.
At tonight’s meeting teacher union representative Britt Dowdy provided the club members and the administration with a spreadsheet showing that the proposed net salaries for teachers under the current proposal is anywhere from $2,629 to $3,441 less than they are making now.
So here’s tonight’s quiz question: When presented with the data showing the net reduction in salary, the school board club:
a) Demanded that Supt. Frederick Navarro do something
b) Voted to organize a study session
c) Voted to organize a protest rally supporting teachers
d) Continued texting or otherwise show disinterest in the information
e) Deflected the criticism by explaining why they just spent $3,200 at Shirley’s Bagels
If you guessed “d,” you’re correct. The problem, I believe is that the school board club members could not understand the data. And if they did, they certainly don’t want to be bothered with any of that icky negotiating stuff.
I could not help but notice something unusual about Dowdy’s presentation. On two occasions earlier in the meeting, speakers approached the dais and handed things to each school board club member. But when Dowdy attempted to do the same thing, he was directed to hand them to the security guard (who was not texting or sleeping at that particular moment) who handed them to Sherri Snyder, who handed them to, well, you get the picture. The other two handouts were an invitation to an upcoming event at UCI and a gift card to a local restaurant. Jus’ sayin’.
Other items of note:
- A too long presentation that started with a slide show. The headline of the first slide read, “Who do we serve?” After I saw that grammar, I questioned their credibility and could not pay attention to the balance of the show.
- A citizen opposed to the new stadium at CdM High noted that there are about 100 homes just 66 feet from the new stadium boundary. For perspective, that’s 6 inches short of the distance from a major league pitching mound to home plate.
- School board club member Vicki Snell pulled an item from the Consent Calendar for discussion and asked, “What is that?” proving my point that the club members vote on this stuff without knowing much about any of it.
- Three votes tonight, three rubber-stamped 7-0 votes
Then the school board club members gave us their reports, which aren’t really reports, they’re recaps of places they’ve been. Walt Davenport’s was a classic. His entire report consisted of telling his fellow club members how he was driving to a meeting and got caught in the traffic for the Trump rally last week. What a hoot!
Martha Fluor went on some walk, Charlene Metoyer went to some awards ceremony, Judy Franco used some of your tax dollars to attend a PTA convention and I tried to stay until the end but I couldn’t.
This much I know and I’ve written it several times: The school district has not been in a sorrier state in the 30 years I’ve lived here. And that includes the $3.7 million embezzlement, the Jeffrey Hubbard soap opera, and many more newsworthy events.