The Education Code of the state of California is very clear on the subject of using local (taxpayer) resources to promote a bond, measure, or candidate. The California School Board Assoc. has rules on this, too.
They are also clear on when employees can and cannot campaign for a bond, measure, or candidate.
But that did not stop Trustee Charlene Metoyer from sending out a fresh, last-minute mailer featuring her in multiple photos of her standing with a total of four school principals and two members of the superintendent’s cabinet.
The cabinet members did not know that their images were going to be used in the mailer.
I sent an e-mail to Metoyer asking her about it, namely, whether it was a mistake or if she did it on purpose. Copied the super.
So, I waited two days, then sent it again. Copied the super again. No reply from either one.
A couple of days ago, I was alerted to a series of short videos featuring four N-MUSD teachers expressing their admiration for Trustee Karen Yelsey. Each one appears to have been shot in a classroom each one ends with a big, colorful “Vote for Karen Yelsey” image.
Forget for the moment that this breaks the rules and is a serious violation. Forget for the moment that the superintendent, despite having read the riot act to a couple of people distributing campaign flyers on school grounds, will not say one word of admonishment to either trustee.
Instead, think about the terrible position they have placed these six district employees. Think about the ramifications of their future interactions with parents who may have voted for the challengers. And think for a moment about what could happen when the incumbents lose and the challengers a become decision-makers.
I’ll bet none of that occurred to either Metoyer or Yelsey – all they were thinking about was clinging to office.
Yelsey, in particular, has shown her true colors to us this fall. She became the first sitting trustee I can recall who has launched a personal attack against an opponent and the first trustee I can recall who has created videos featuring district staff and what looks to be district resources (classrooms).
In a convoluted sort of way, both Metoyer and Yelsey have done everyone a favor. They have delivered to us the proof that they are not worthy of re-election to office.
Oh, and then there was Trustee Vicki Snell’s weak defense of Metoyer’s mailer. She actually tried to downplay it by claiming in an e-mail to me that “Most of the community do [sic] not know who [cabinet member] is or what [cabinet member] looks like. Certainly a picture that is obviously a group shot does not imply everyone in the picture endorses that candidate.”
The first sentence in the reply is immaterial and the second is outrageous.
And the super? He’s doing the smart thing and laying low until Nov. 6 when he can take a new trustee head count.
Oh, and speaking of Nov. 6, here’s the first quiz question: What is significant about the appearance of Metoyer’s mailer?
Answer: It’s very close to election day. So close that there is no time to put the toothpaste back in the tube, even if she could. She, too, is laying low. I get that – it’s the smart thing to do. Not the ethical thing, though.
And here is your second quiz question: What is the difference between Karen Yelsey, Charlene Metoyer, Dr. Gina Nick, challenger to Yelsey, and Michelle Murphy, challenger to Metoyer?
Answer: Neither Nick nor Murphy has launched any personal attacks and neither has used district resources or personnel in their promotional materials. In fact, none of the seven challengers has done this, only the two incumbents.
If you haven’t voted, if you’re sitting on the fence, or if you know someone who hasn’t voted, I urge you to vote for Nick and Murphy. Even if you don’t agree with them on all the issues (no such candidate exists anywhere), you will be assured of people who treat others respectfully and who play by the rules.
Vote for Nick in Area 4 and Murphy in Area 2.
In Area 5, vote for Michelle Barto and in Area 7, vote for Ashley Anderson.
And tell everyone you know to vote for them, too. When you do, you will have contributed to the passing of the torch to a new group of trustees who have great ideas and who do not rely on the old ways of doing things.
They will restore accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility to this once-proud district.
And they won’t cheat.