Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Election of the Century, Part 2

I was only joking a little when I went on about the importance of the runoff election for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees, but I didn't realize how much I was joking.

The initial shock was over the fact that the registrar's office printed up hundreds of thousands of ballots for an election with only one item. In many districts, there are no other seats up for grabs, nor any propositions, for which Californians have become an international punch line.

So why give a shit?

I was reminded, after doing a little research, that the L.A. Times actually assigned one of its few remaining reporters to uncover the huge amounts of wasteful spending on boondoggle projects at our community colleges in recent years. Notable among them was a science facility at Valley College where some hot water handles were accidentally installed on cold water taps and vice versa, the eye-washing station had dirty water coming out of it, making it useless for eye-washing, and climate control thermostats went haywire, killing some animals in a lab.

In an earlier era, that sort of story would come and go without much thought. But nowadays, since every person, company, and government is broke, money actually means something to people.

Well, that's a good enough reason to vote. Count me in.

Now, what's the difference between these two politicians?

The guy who finished in first place, Scott Svonkin, believes in a bunch of stuff, including protecting taxpayers and "auditing all areas to find savings." This would not explain the fresh story in LA Weekly that told of his insistence that projects not be burdened with financial oversight. One such project was a mammoth solar panel project in the San Gabriel School District, where Svonkin serves as a board member. He insisted that the project would save the district "millions." The school board president refuted his claim, pointing out the mathematical impossibility of reducing an electric bill by millions when they don't spend that much on electricity in the first place.

Svonkin also believes he's an important person. He wishes to be addressed as "the Honorable Scott Svonkin," which already makes him a little douchey. He also believes, if he knows what's on his website, that he's still serving as vice president of the San Gabriel School District, even though he was stripped of that title five months ago. This would make him delusional as well.

He's also got such a long trail of stories of bullying and grandstanding behind him that it's developed into what I'd fairly describe as a reputation. One night during a board meeting, he not only munched on a sandwich in the middle of it, but decided to start shouting at another member mid-chew, food flying everywhere.

Douchey, delusional, and disgusting. Naturally, he's endorsed by every city and state leader in the Democratic party. I mean, EVERY ONE OF THEM: half the California Democrats in Congress, former governor Gray Davis, assemblymen, assemblywomen, state senators, county sheriff, county supervisors, city council members, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Los Angeles County Young Democrats, San Fernando Valley Young Democrats, Young Latino Democrats of the San Fernando Valley, People's Front of Judea, Judean People's Front, you name it. He's also got The Sierra Club, The Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper, and just about every labor union and guild in town.

Strangely absent were the endorsements of any teachers unions.

He's also supported by a long list of individuals, including numerous community leaders, chairmen of local organizations, CEOs of local businesses, and Shelly Levy and Jeff Schwartz, people with no titles at all. I think they should ask Svonkin to address them as "the Honorable," at least.

So how does a purported douchebag get so much endorsing? And does a guy who claims to believe in fiscal oversight fight it when it's demanded?

I intend to find out.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Makes me proud to be part of a teachers union. No douchey candidates for us!