Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Politics as usual...

This was originally posted at the Valley of the Doll blog on July 13:

Tamar and Tony Are So Cool!

Well, it's official: Tamar Galatzan has thrown her hat into the Council District 2 race.

This really comes as no surprise. Los Angeles Times blogger Steve Hymon had her number months ago...

from the Bottleneck Blog:

So what does any of this have to do with LAUSD school board member Tamar Galatzan?

Galatzan, who received more than $2 million in campaign help from a Villaraigosa-controlled committee, toppled school board incumbent Jon Lauritzen last year to win a seat on the school board. Shortly after she won election, I phoned her and asked if the rumors were true that she was going to run for Greuel's seat in 2009 if Greuel ran and won city controller?

No, said Galatzan.

I called her again Wednesday and asked the same question. But I got a different answer this time:

"I'm flattered that my name has come up and people have been talking to me about it and it's something I'm considering," said Galatzan, who is now 13 months into her four-year term as a school board member.

I reminded her of our conversation last year. "I don't remember what it was I told you," she said.


Next, I asked Galatzan about a YouTube video I had just watched. In the video -- shot during her campaign in the spring of 2007 -- Galatazan said: "I am really running for school board to make sure that my boys get the kind of world class public education that they are entitled to."

Later in the video she complained that an elementary school in Sherman Oaks didn't have enough money to purchase more paper for the copy machine. Then, in the video, she said, "You know me as someone who ruffles feathers and isn't afraid to ask tough questions. I keep my word and I stand up for what I believe in."

So, I asked, what does it say about her honesty that last year she said that she wouldn't run and now she's saying she might.

"That's definitely something I'm thinking a lot about. It really comes down to what can I do about [making] the community...the kind of place my kids and my family are safe and how are my skills best used," she said. "It's been an interesting year at L.A. Unified and the truth is I don't know how much I can do on the Board or any one person can do on the Board."


Why do reporters hate themselves in the morning?

Because I stupidly did not ask her about the tens of thousands of current and future LAUSD students she represents besides her own children -- many of whom don't have a mom who can run for office.

The few parents I've spoken with after her announcement have voiced disappointment and more than a little annoyance with Tamar. She was elected to do a job, they say, and now that we parents need her more than ever, she's ditched us ... before she's even finished serving out her elected term. Sounds like another recent quitter in the news. But what differentiates our local "quitter" from the Quitta from Wasilla, is that Tamar hasn't officially quit her school board seat, instead she's using her position on the school board as a stepping stone to a different job, a higher paying job to be sure, and one that will be helpful to the man who helped get her elected to the school board: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. She will attempt to do her school board job while campaigning hard the next few weeks for the CD 2 election on September 22. Good luck with that.

As for all the recent public outreach Tamar and her staff have been engaging in (Non Title I School Parent Summits, Student Video Contests, etc.), it all feels and rings hollow now. Those Non Title I School meetings and video contests seem more planned for future campaign resume fluffing and for campaign literature and commercial use than to truly help frustrated parents try to effect change for their children and for LAUSD in general. Apparently, I'm not the only one who's noticed the timing in all of this, and the scheduling and locations of where she's been stumping the hardest.

But now what? Now who do we Valley parents turn to for help navigating the maze that is LAUSD? We had hoped Tamar would help us, but it seems we parents have been left to fend for ourselves with nary a "by your leave..." from Ms. Galatzan. A search of her Los Angeles school board website has no official announcement from Ms. Galatzan regarding her decision to run for the Council seat recently vacated by newly elected City Controller Wendy Gruehl or what this means for the parents and students in her district. There are no assurances to parents that her work on our behalf would continue, or even reasons why she felt the need to leave her position for a new shinier one.

Nothing. Not a peep.

I attended one of Tamar's Parent Summits at Balboa Magnet Elementary. I wasn't alone; a large group of parents sat right along side me for roughly three hours on a Saturday morning as we listened to Tamar and her staff go on an on about Non Title I and how we would organize and work together to change The Way Things Are currently in the battle of the Haves (Title I schools) and the Have Nots (Non Title I schools). Now in hindsight, it feels like those three hours were my unwitting contribution to the "Elect Tamar for CD 2" campaign. Little did I know that I'd be playing the part as "extra" in what I'm sure will be photos and video footage of that summit at Balboa Magnet. She managed to suck in a lot of desperate and anxious administrators, parents and teachers for her three hour campaign photo shoot.

But hey, I can't really complain; I scored some warm and yummy LAUSD coffee-cake out of that hostage situation Parent Summit deal. So, yeah... thanks for that Tamar. It wasn't a total waste of a beautiful Saturday I could have spent in a hundred more productive ways and with my family.

Oh, and good luck to you in all your future endeavors. It's been real. Real disappointing.

UPDATE: Solomon Wolfson over at Notes from LA gives us a shout-out about this story!


Unknown said...

I was wondering when you guys would weigh in on this. I think a lot of us naively believed that Tamar had seen the light. But truthfully, this was in the works from day one--and we're the suckers.

The question now is, do you feel betrayed and hope she gets elected and OUT of there, or do you join with folks in CD2 and try to get someone else into the runoff so that she finishes her job. Make that jobs. She already gets paid by you LA City folks 2x as it is. :)

I wrote about it here:

Debbie Lopez said...

Thanks Angel for your thoughts. And thanks for the link... I've added it into the blog post and I encourage everyone to visit your blog. When I have a chance to do some updating of ... I'll add your site to our Friends links!

Anyone have any answers to Angel's questions? I'm interested, though, in what other parents think.

Personally, I have friends in the CD 2, specifically that rowdy bunch from Sunland-Tujunga, and I only want the best for them, and I can't honestly say that from her school board example, she *is* the best person for CD 2. At the same time, I don't want a politician with delusions of grandeur representing our school district when there is still so much work to be done. Tamar may say that there isn't much one person can do on the LAUSD school board, but I bet Julie Korenstein and Marlene Canter would beg to differ. Those two firecrackers got a lot done in the years and years they served on the school board. I honestly don't know what Tamar is talking about. She was spearheading a campaign that parents were begging for. That that mission wasn't enough of a committment to get her to keep her from throwing her had in the ring says a lot about her true commitment to us, the people who elected her.

Unknown said...

My son went to high school in Sunland-Tujunga and so I feel like a part-time resident, driving up the hill for virtually every school function.

The special election is September 22, and the run off will be December 8th.

Tamar already works two jobs--with the City Attorney and with LAUSD. Now she'll be running for another office. Does she really have time for a job of serious campaigning? And what does that mean to local district 1 parents at a time when *we're* essentially volunteering full time to understand and fight this budget?

As for Julie, you betcha she responded to emails and fought like crazy to keep Mayor Shoulderpads from taking over the entire district. Sadly now, I really think the ONLY way to go is to break up the whole thing and start over--smaller, more responsive, and more sensible.

Patty said...

It seems you can't trust politicians and their promises. I'm just wondering about Wendy Greuel and her promise to continue Laura Chick's fight to cut costs (I'm talking about the audit into the City Attorney's use of outside counsel to fight workers' comp cases that are the city's that can be better spent on the schools).