My absentee ballot has arrived and I'm ready to vote for three La Cañada Unified School Board candidates: Dan Jeffries, Kaitzer Puglia and David Sagal. Ballots must be back at the County Office by November 5. (For information about the candidates, check out the interviews on the La Cañada Valley Sun web site. http://www.lacanadaonline.com/news/elections2013/)
A few people have asked me; don't we need the continuity incumbent Joel Peterson offers? The answer is no, for a number of reasons. Peterson is recommending a low parcel tax amount, which may help him attract votes, but then, Peterson doesn't live in La Cañada. When the schools run short of funds, and they are deficit spending now, class sizes will get even larger than they are today and some valued programs will be cut. But that's not Peterson's problem. He is registered to vote at a friend's home on Jessen Drive because he doesn't own a home in La Cañada. Peterson risks no loss in his property value when our schools are short of money in the coming years.
And worse yet, he has a for-profit business that offers tutoring in subjects like math and Spanish. Just before the recent Candidate Forum, he announced that his business wouldn't be accepting new students from La Cañada Unified while he is on the School Board. But the School Board does long-term planning.
For example, the Board votes for budgets for the current period and three years ahead, and the Superintendent's goals may stretch out several years. The impact of Peterson's votes will extend long after his four-year term. It is in his financial interest to underfund the schools so class sizes are large, students receive little individual help and therefore need as much outside, private tutoring as possible. When Peterson's business does start accepting LCUSD students again, his operation will be primed to expand, and he will be the one who profits.
In the meantime, who is going to audit whether or not his business 'accidentally' accepts LCUSD students in the next few years? Remember, this is the guy who signed voter registration and candidate forms "under penalty of perjury" that his home is in La Cañada, while it appears that he lives in Glendale with his new wife. By the way, if you do vote for him, he may later be disqualified to sit on the School Board by the District Attorney's Office.
Of the current school board members who are publicly endorsing, not one has endorsed Peterson. I have not had a chance to contact all recent past school board members, but so far, I haven't found any retired school board members who are endorsing Peterson.
The current School Board has requested two attorney opinions on conflict-of-interest issues regarding Peterson. To read the legal letters, click http://www.lcusd.net/Page/2560
I have endorsed Peterson in two prior elections, but with all due respect to his personal friends, this is not the time to get sentimental.
We need candidates who will bring integrity and dedication to improving our schools for the long-term benefit of our students and the community. Please join me in voting for three candidates who live in the community and are offering their extensive expertise to our School District: Dan Jeffries, Kaitzer Puglia and David Sagal.
Wilcox is a retired Member of the La Cañada
School Board, 2003-2011. Wilcox can be reached at thewilcoxfamily at earthlink.net