Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Charter Schools Association Sends Negative Attack Mailers in D-5 School Board Race - Post News Group

Charter Schools Association Sends Negative Attack Mailers in D-5 School Board Race - Post News Group:

Charter Schools Association Sends Negative Attack Mailers in D-5 School Board Race

In the final days before Oaklanders go to the polls, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), funded by pro-charter school billionaires, is sending out negative mailers to voters’ homes.The “hit pieces” are attacking attorney Roseann Torres, the incumbent Oakland school board member who is running for reelection in District 5.

One of the mailers attacks Torres for being a defense lawyer, saying she is a “lawyer for child molesters.”

“Rosie does well as a lawyer, defending abusers, molesters and kidnappers,” the CCSA mailer said.

Another mailer said, “Rosie opposes affordable housing” for teachers. The actual school board discussion it references, which never resulted in a vote, was whether to build “tiny houses” for teachers on public property where a school was located. The proposal was opposed by many teachers.

A third mailer blasted Torres for going to conferences, where she represented Oakland on statewide and regional issues and accuses her of going on “travel junkets,” for which the school district paid about a total of about $11,000.

The campaign to unseat Torres is funded by the CCSA and Great Oakland (GO) Public Schools political action committee (PAC), an Oakland-based pro-charter school organization, which receives funding from the CCSA and donations from some of the same billionaires who are making independent expenditures for three Oakland school board candidates.

The negative mailers are attributed solely to the California Charter Schools Association Advocates and the CCSA Advocates’ Independent Expenditure Committee.

According to Richard Garcia , director of election communications of CCSA Advocates, “CCSA Advocates continually provides voters with pertinent information on candidates with respect to their history of civic service, work history, and standard of conduct. This is to allow voters the opportunity to learn in-depth the vision and plans of each candidate and their ability to carry out these goals based upon prior work product.

“In the case of Ms. Torres, information about her is public record and readily available to voters. We hope they will take time to review each candidate and their backgrounds, including their successes, and vote tomorrow,” he said.

GO is sending out positive mailers for newcomer Huber Trenado, a charter school teacher who the two organizations are backing for District 5 school board member.

Ash Solar, executive director of GO Public Schools Advocates, told the Post, “Our efforts have been focused on providing voters with information about how a candidate has performed or would perform in public office. The mail piece about Rosie Torres’s legal practice is outside of those boundaries and we are not comfortable with it.”

GO and CCSA together have spent over $550,000 on three candidates in the Oakland school board elections, including $212,000 to back Trenado.

Before the involvement of pro-charter school billionaires in local elections, many school board candidates ran for office in campaigns that cost under $5,000 or $6,000.

In a statement sent to the Post, Torres responded to the hit pieces.

“I get the honor of (working as a lawyer) representing mostly low-income Latino families with legal issues like custody/divorce, arrests of all kind, often profiling by police, as well as horrible car accidents because of someone’s negligence,” she said.

Torres said the flyers attacking her are “negligent and misleading, (and) the GO Public Schools Oakland Advocates’ candidate (has) messaged this hate to me personally at forums.”

Ismael Armendariz, an Oakland special education teacher and executive board member of the Oakland Education Association, says he has talked to a number of people who are concerned about the negative mailers.

“A lot of us in Oakland are not very happy about these mailers,” said Armendariz, who lives in District 5 and has been receiving the mailers at this home.

“Oakland is a very progressive city, and this goes against our values,” he said. “It goes against democracy when we get mailers against Rosie and others that are slanderous, that are nasty name calling. It’s not the way to engage in politics.”

The money is being spent by a small group of rich people to elect candidates who do not represent the interests of Oakland parents and the community, he said.

Trenado, in a statement to the Post, said he in no way endorsed the negative mailers attacking his opponent.

“I have intentionally run a positive, issues-based campaign focused on what I have to offer to the Oakland school board,” he said. “I have no knowledge or control over what independent committees that have endorsed me do, and legally I’m not supposed to.”

The CCSA, which funds school board and state legislative campaigns throughout the state, is backed by a number of billionaires including Eli Broad, who cofounded the homebuilding giant KB Homes and was also the owner of Sun Life Insurance, who donated over $1 million; Carrie Walton Penner (WalMart), who donated $1.2 million; Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, who donated $1.7 million; and Doris Fisher, who donated over $5 million.

Earlier this year, during the June primaries, CCSA supported candidates won elections throughout California, including unseating Marlon McWilson, Alameda County Board of Education incumbent.

Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Steve Zimmer denounced the tactics used by the CCSA Advocates.

“This is no longer about choice. This is no longer about kids. It’s certainly not about civil rights,” Zimmer said. “It’s about deregulation. It’s about privatization.”

In response to Zimmer, Carlos Marquez, CCSA Advocates’ director of political affairs, said, “We obviously respectfully disagree with President Zimmer on his rhetoric and his characterization of our campaign.”

Marquez said his organization’s mission is to “advance the public good” and give every student in every ZIP code an opportunity to have a quality education.

 Huber Trenado, Roseann Torres and Mike Hutchinson

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