Last night, the district held the first in a series of community meetings to gather input on the proposed redrawing of trustee areas.

Present at the meeting at Rea Elementary School was Spencer Covert, the district’s legal counsel in this matter. When I first saw Covert, I wondered why he was there and at what cost to taxpayers. If for making only one particular point, it turned out that it was good that he was present.

A review of the district’s agendas or websites will leave the reader believing that the district realignment and the switch to area voting is at the recommendation of the superintendent and/or because the trustees are just nice people.

Both are wrong.

This entire process is happening only because the district is being threatened with a lawsuit for its failure to comply with laws pertaining to the federal Voting Rights Act and Covert made that quite clear last night. Contrary to what the district believes when it evades the truth, the sky did not fall. So, thank you, Mr. Covert.

Superintendent Frederick Navarro was also present, and revealed an interesting insight into his attitude toward the process of equalizing the opportunities for community representation. Regarding the attorney who has threatened to sue the district and who has sued or threatened to sue other government organizations with the same law violations, the superintendent said, “It’s a shakedown to get money from them.”

So, there you have it. Despite the law having been around for over 50 years, despite numerous opportunities to change their ways on their own, and despite a growing number of lawsuits over similar arrangements that were handwriting on the wall, the superintendent and the school board did nothing.

But, you see, it’s not their fault, it’s the fault of some parasitic attorney.

I’m not buying this pathetic excuse for foot-dragging. Pointing fingers and placing blame in response to this issue – or any issue –  is a clear sign of weak leadership. A strong leader would have said, “We’re being forced to do something we should have done a long time ago,” and left it at that. Instead, attendees got scapegoating.

But, scapegoating is the district way. Just ask Laura Sacks.

I asked Covert why the district was not fighting the lawsuit and once again, I got clarity. He told me that it would be expensive and the chances were good that they would lose.

There were some complaints about the PowerPoint presentation – census and other figures were small and difficult to read and the superintendent promised to put the slide show up by Friday. I asked the superintendent whether the settlement agreement could also be posted and he turned to Covert for a reply. Covert stated that since it is a public document, there was no reason why not. Thank you, again, Mr. Covert.

See? This clarity thing isn’t so hard. Kind of refreshing, too, once you get the hang of it. Even though he’s an added expense, I’d like to see Covert up there providing it more often because no one in the district seems to know how it’s done. And there is some irony there, too: The truth is revealed from a guy named Covert.

Here’s the bottom line: This whole thing is about Area 7, which is Costa Mesa’s heavily Latino Westside. Everything else is status quo. The tea leaves say that Plan B is most likely to be adopted and that’s fine because it preserves the Westside boundaries appropriately.

Oh, and we were all handed forms we could fill out to offer input. If you go, don’t bother. Plan B will be presented for adoption regardless of what you say.

There’s some more clarity for you.

Steve Smith
Taxpayer, N-MUSD

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