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October 09, 2007

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Benecke and Draper have no excuse

Since the Fleming-era trustees have set the ethical bar so low at CUSD, it is probable that Benecke and Draper will simply claim ignorance of their obvious Brown Act violations and point their dishonest fingers at Fleming, Rutan & Tucker and Ron Wenkert for the "bad advice" they received.

Never mind the damning Grand Jury report from 1991, the opinion of the leading Brown Act expert during the summer scandals of 2006, the revealing testimony before the Grand Jury released earlier this year and, now, the scathing rebuke of the District Attorney in this latest report -- all of which condemn the Fleming-era trustees for what they knew or should have known. The record shows that the Fleming-era trustees have had plenty of warnings but have never learned their lesson.

If Benecke and Draper try to plead "ignorant" at this late date, it will be very interesting if the ABC reform trustees step forward to condemn the Fleming trustees for one more attempt at deception. After all, open meeting law violations was one of the main reasons for the Recall Campaign and a key part of the ABC platform when they were elected in November. Let's hope that the ABC's speak out publicly to distinguish themselves in the interests of reform, rather than giving the Fleming trustees another pass and allowing them to move on without accountability, once again.

It also will be interesting to see if newly appointed interim superintendent Woodrow Carter steers clear of this political bombshell, or pulls a McCully by helping the old guard in its whitewash efforts in an effort to just "move on." He's played it safe so far, but if he's not careful, this is where he may cross the line.

That pesky 1990-91 Grand Jury Report

Lest we forget, here are some excerpts from the 1990-1991 Grand jury report:

“In the opinion of the Grand Jury, it would appear that the District is far from inexperienced in conducting political campaigns and, in fact, the District’s behavior in this case shows a carefully planned and often secretive effort to push the law to the limit. Moreover, the District did not willingly file its reports when notified of the obligation. It did so under protest. Finally, the fact that the District attempted to conceal its advocacy under the guise of “informational” activity, evidences a more sophisticated approach than just an innocent mistake.”

"A meeting to discuss clandestine 'incentive pay' cannot be reconciled with any of the above listed Code sections [the Brown Act]. Neither can a decision to employ a political consulting firm to assist in the efforts to pass Measure A. Therefore, it is the opinion of the Grand Jury that the closed door meeting held on March 6, 1989, was highly improper."

Orange County Grand Jury
1990-1991

Marlene Draper was a trustee at that time, and Sheila Benecke, though not a trustee, was the Chair of the political action committee used by Draper, other CUSD trustees and CUSD staff to launder their illegal express advocacy money during the Measure bond campaign.

Benecke and Draper are tainted, old political dogs who should be soundly kicked in their rotund fannies if they even think of claiming ignorance. They've known the score for years and the record proves it. They chose not to do the right thing out of stubbornness and arrogance.

Now that we have evidence from the Grand Jury report released earlier this year and the scathing findings of the DA report released today, none of the Fleming-era trustees have any excuse. They all should resign in shame.

Unfit to serve

Some district die hards have said that CUSD critics needed to wait for the district attorney before demanding the resignation of the Fleming trustees. Well now that we have the district attorney report, there is no doubt that the Fleming trustees either violated the law repeatedly, or they were colossal incompetents. Either way, they are not fit to serve as CUSD trustees and they should resign or be recalled as soon as possible.

Standard of proof

The "wait for the DA" argument is a Red Herring advanced by district personnel and supporters. The standard of proof for a criminal prosecution (or even a civil prosecution in the case of the Brown Act) do not apply or control in the case of a constituency's decision to keep or recall its elected trustees. Neither malfeasance nor criminal behavior is required. All that is necessary, is that the trustees fail in a manner that causes the constituency to want new leaders...and the Fleming trustees passed this threshold long ago.

Can't

Carter can't succeed as interim superintendent and the district can't "move on" until the Fleming trustees are gone.

Former CUSD

It’s not only the Trustees. Many managers at Capo still manage by the “Good Old Boy” method. If you are in the club you receive perks like free time off at district expense, advancement based on favoritism, not on job performance or skill.
If Carter has any ambitions of becoming the permanent Superintendent at Capo he has his work cut out for him.

Taxpayer

Isn't it a great feeling to know how our hard earned money is wasted by this school district. Let the state take it over!

LifeWith3Girls

The D.A. is a help. The parents of CUSD are trying to Reform the district, block avenues which have been used to misdirect 100's of millions away from the classroom over the past 8 years.

The D.A. would not slap a bank robber on the hand for a $100,000,000.00 crime and can not be so content. Even after D.A. civil and criminal processing of the past, nothing changes. We need Reform at CUSD and we need not reform the D.A. office. We need the D.A. to prosecute at the fullest effect of law, whether it be a white collar crime, civil rights 'list' or corrupted kick-back spending of tax dollars.

ethicalman

I hope someone will look at other appointments that these unethical trustees and Fleming have made, such as the Principal at CVHS. Talk about unethical. He made age descriminatory statements during a summer retreat, he surplused several good teachers who had been at the school for years, and what he's done to past choir directors is completely without any ethics at all. He has now had five choir teachers in as many years. The sad part is that he relegated an excellent choir teacher with over 20 years of experience and a Master's degree to teaching five periods of reading, so he could bring in local celebrity Renee Bondi, mainly to raise money for the theater that is his pet project. It should be noted that Renee Bondi has not taught in the district for 20 years, since her accident, and only taught in the district for 3 or so years before that. The good ol' boy's network at it's best. Five periods of reading? That's three more that the on-site reading specialist. Even after growing the program by leaps and bounds, from sixty something to over 90 in one year, only to have her heart ripped out, the original teacher still put the kids first and did everything she could to provide the best education she could for the reading students. Now that's a professional teacher who has her priorities straight. There are a lot of others in this district that could learn a lesson from this teacher. Oh yea, the lie that was being propagated was that she was only a temporary teacher and that Ms. Bondi had years of history with the district. Well this teacher had been in the district eight or nine years at the time. More misinformation from the good ol' boy's network!

ethicalman

If the new Super wants reform, he should do a blind poll of the teachers in the district to get the low down on some of the other unethical administrators. Most teachers won't come forward with information for fear of retaliation, but if allowed to submit complaints with anonymity, he just may find out more than he ever wanted to. P.S. One can blame teachers for test scores, but a teacher without administrative support can't be successful. Start at the top before you blame teachers.

Make CUSD A Team

ethicalman,
Your story is very disturbing, but is a typical CUSD story. People in many positions, who loved and excelled in their assignments, not only at school sites, also in the administration office, have been replaced by people because of favoritism. I believe many years of promoting people based on being one of these “Good Ol Boys” has led to weak managers, who are insecure, vindictive, and weak.
I can only hope our new Superintendent will not lead by the method of fear and intimidation as we have experienced in the past.

Be Real

Get Real! The new Super has no ambitions of fixing the administrative problems. This could take years. He will do a quick tune up, take credit for fixing problems, and then move on as he has in the past.

ethicalman

Yes, I know there are many other stories but felt this one was o.k. to tell since that teacher, actually both teachers have moved on. Even though I believe she is still in the district, she's not here at CVHS anymore. It's just sad that a teacher that has dedicated her life to teaching music, or any subject for that matter, should be relegated to teaching something else because of favoritism. No morals, no ethics, and a total power trip going on there. Any wonder test scores are going down?

ethicalman

Did I mention that the celebrity teacher was given more than a handful of days off for personal speaking engagements? The choir wasn't even her first priority, unlike her predecessor who put in many hours and made her students her first priority! Putting up with all of that bull, and still giving her all, even to the remedial reading kids after her heart was ripped out. That's someone who should be teacher of the year, and maybe even the century! God bless her and all others like her!

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