The other night I attended another forum for candidates hosted by the Rowland Community Council at the Community Center. According to the President of Rowland Parents and Educators Association, Mr. One Chu, the Rowland Community Council is a shadow city council for the City of Rowland Heights to be incorporated soon, and has been operating for a while under the funding and direction of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor, Mr. Don Knabe’s office. The President of the Rowland Community Council is Ted Ebenkamp.
A few weeks ago, after receipt of the invitation, I had a brief chat with Mr. Ebenkamp and found out that his wife was running for the school board in the same school district. Mr. Ebenkamp is also a member of the Oversight Committee for the School District’s Measure R Bond issue, but admitted to me that the Oversight Committee was powerless, like a rubber stamp for window dressing, approving what had been spent by the School District. This happened to me before, when I was a school site council board member at Blandford Elementary, so I resigned. Mr. Ebenkamp promised to send me some papers about the Measure R Bond in his possession, but he never did.
Mrs. Ebenkamp is endorsed by the Association of Rowland Educators (the “Rowland Teachers Union”), a special interest group that seeks interest for member teachers only. Mrs. Ebenkamp is also endorsed by Mr. Knabe, the forever County Supervisor for Rowland Heights. I personally talked to Mr. Simmons, the local representative for Mr. Knabe, who affirmatively told me that Don Knabe, as a County Supervisor, could not endorse any candidate.
On closer examination of Mrs. Ebenkamp’s campaign website, Mrs. Ebenkamp is cross-endorsed by many current and past RUSD Board members. One endorser stood out: Dr. Maria Ott, who just stepped down last year as the Superintendent of Rowland Unified School District, but somehow conveniently or deceitfully misspelled as “Retired Superintendent RUS” and separated by 3 different endorsers from all other RUSD endorsers referred to as “RUSD Board of Education” or “Rowland USD Board of Education” for the current or past RUSD luminaries. Dr. Ottwas the RUSD Superintendentthat the Rowland Teachers Union condemned to be unfit with 75% of its members petitioning her removal. This raises a reasonable doubt about the discipline and credibility, if not integrity, of the candidate and its banker-endorser, the Rowland Teachers Union, about their purity of commitment and abilities to carry out their professed and avowed campaign promises, especially when Mrs. Ebenkamp’s candidacy is equally endorsed by many local political entities either associated with or derived from Mr. Ebenkamp’s local political positions and affiliations, making them altogether like apolitical fraternity, rather than a selfless undertaking for education.
This is my first experience ever getting into any election and I naively thought that an election for a school board member should be the purest election as it is for education, but I see more politics and political manipulations than should be in this process. The more I have learned about the potential convoluted entanglement in this election and the future operations of the school district that is supposed to be free from politics and political machines, the more uneasy I feel. I am now a “very worrisome” parent, not just a simple-minded “concerned” parent any more.
Even if I am willing to set aside my personal concerns and fears of potential and unwanted political pollution into the future operations of Rowland Unified School District, I saw no beef being offered by any of the other candidates. I have solid plans and solutions as enumerated throughout my website and my campaign. And I am the only candidate who has spoken from personal experiences dealing with the school district, including teachers, substitute teachers, school principal, Assistant Superintendents, the Superintendent, the board members, and many of their secretaries and assistants, only to find them acting in concert with each other to perpetuate their deceitful operations. For example, they openly lied that there is no employment contract for school principals or Assistant Superintendents, etc., among many other ongoing willful violations of law, as demonstrated in my email correspondence with the School District under RUSD Problems in this website. My son is at the 7th grade at Alvarado Middle School. This means that my firsthand knowledge and experience dealing with the school district will continue for years to come, and no other candidate has such unique opportunity to witness firsthand on a daily basis.
Another thing that amazed me tonight was all other candidates were able to talk about how they were going to make sure how the funds from the Measure R Bond should be spent before they had had any access to the underlying bond issue papers. Even the two incumbents that had “secret” access to the bond issue papers, and must have been personally involved, could not give intelligent or responsible answers. The others must be either genius or idiots, talking empty nothing, but pretending to be something. This is another danger of pretense. I was the only one telling the truth that, despite my prior experiences on Wall Street working on many bond issues, I could not tell you how, until after I have had a chance to review the underlying documents, which unfortunately the current School Board and the current School Management have purposefully refused to provide me, willfully violating the California Public Records Act, notwithstanding my repeated requests since September 19, 2013, as detailed in my email correspondence with them under RUSD Problems of this website. Having worked on bond issues, advising underwriters or issuers before, I am eminently qualified not only to make sure such proceeds are properly used, but also to make sure retroactively that nomisrepresentations orabuses have been committed by the current Board or current Management to protect the best interest of the taxpayers in this community. To go many steps further, I will even have Measure R Bond issue papers, the spending, and the projects involvedheretofore and hereafter posted timely on the school district website.
Mrs. Angelena Pride is one of the two candidates, aggressively endorsed by the Rowland Teachers Union, that has put in enormous manpower and funds to make sure that both Mrs. Ebenkamp and Mrs. Pride be elected to the Board so that the singular interest of the dues-paying members of the Rowland Teachers Union can be achieved and protected, i.e., higher pay and more fringe benefits. According to Mrs. Pride’s own announced statement in the Ballot, one of the primary reasons for her to run is her eyeing on the $1 Billion school district’s budget for next year. Mrs. Pride must be an insider as well to have such privy information.
Furthermore, the teachers are already well represented by the Rowland Teachers Union by a very able president that has secured a very good contract from the School District. Based on my review of the contract from their website, they are guaranteed every benefit imaginable for teachers, including ensured pay, leaves, holidays, access to school facilities for union activities, many other benefits,etc. Do we really need our future Board to be occupied and controlled by the Teachers Union as well? It is already bad enough to have our current Board and Management judicially protected to be incompetent. It will be much worse, if incompetent teachers are now further protected by the 2 new Board members created by the Teachers Union’s aggressive financial and logistical endorsement. This makes it even more urgent and compelling to ensure someone of my background and independence to speak out for the best interest of the students, the parents and the community, and to withstand any pressures from Teachers Union or Employees Union so that orderly negotiations can be conducted and fair and just contacts can be concluded to ensure delivery of uncompromising quality services, not ones that have contributed to the 3 school closures and 2,000-student flight in a single year. I will definitely re-negotiate the contracts to allow the Board to remove any deficient teachers or employees from the work force for the School District, either directly or indirectly. In short, no deficient teachers or employees can hide behind the union or use the union as a safe harbor; no children of any teachers or employees can enjoy any privileges as being illegally practiced by some school and school principal.
I have always been one of the staunchest supporters for increasing the teachers’ pay so that they will be better motivated to do a better job, and attract better teachers from other school districts. However, I will not reward deficient, incompetent, irresponsive and irresponsible teachers. They cannot be blameless for having caused such gross deterioration in teaching quality, causing 3 school closures and over 2,000 student flight to neighboring districts. And yet, I have not heard any statement acknowledging either partial or equal responsibility by any teachers, school principals, or their union representatives for such deterioration. Again, through my personal experiences with several teachers at Blandford over the last seven years, they could not even write grammatically correct sentences or logically intelligent questions in their tests or assignments. Too many substitutes were used virtually for the entire quarter and many substitutes were beyond comment. How do you expect them to teach our children to speak or write correct and good sentences? API scores alone are not sufficient, because our children cannot communicate with the world in real life with multiple choices of A, B, C or D only.
The two incumbents talked about something they have failed to deliver and expect us to give them another 4 years. Mr. Gilbert Garcia has sat on the Board for 12 years since 2001. Mr. Garcia is a self-professed educator and a vendor of school text books and academic consulting. The fact that the President of the Rowland Teachers Union in his open letter to the members, had to use “a Board favored group” to be the party awarded with such lucrative contract by the current Board to work on the new academic program for the entire school district for the coming years without seeking any input from the teachers nor from the parents, opens a lot room for imagination that self-dealings might have occurred in the awarding process. Again, I have asked the current school Board and current School Management to provide me copies of such contracts and agreements under the California Public Records Act. As of today, the 10-day deadline has long passed; they have neither responded nor produced anything, as detailed in my email correspondence with the School District under RUSD Problems of this website. This only reinforces our suspicion.
This is an insult to our intelligence and a disgrace to the chosen profession for any person with such track record of closing 3 schools and losing over 2,000 students in 2010 alone to seek our re-endorsement for his reelection. No!!!
Mr. Cary Chen has the skills of pretending to be a “friend” of everyone and the skills of pretending to have done a lot for the community. However, based on my personal experiences, Cary has not once demonstrated any command of knowledge, facts or experiences in dealing with any of the school district, school management or Board related matters. During his presidency of the last four years on the Board, he has overseen the biggest hikes in property taxes in Rowland Heights without any justification, notwithstanding the fact that the school district has to lease out closed facilities to private school, and has been paying interest everyday on the 40 Million excess cash reserve wrongfully raised from our property taxes.
During his presidency of the last four years on the Board, (i) he led to award school district contracts to “Board favored group”, Board family member or Board controlled persons at the expense of the integrity of the Board and contrary to the best interests of the students, the parents, the teachers and the entire community, (ii) he led to award the incompetent, dishonest and abusive and corrupt management with top 10% salaries, and (iii) he led to hire yet another superintendent that had been condemned to be lacking without conducting any search, as expressly castigated by the President of the Rowland Teachers Union.
He is also the one I have personally copied my emails of requesting public records from the current Board and current Management, and I have yet to hear from him throughout this election that he will act as required by the fiduciary duty as a current Board Member, and required by law, to cause all the public records that I have requested heretofore to be produced to me so that I can study them and inform the voters and the public what they are entitled to know as a caring citizen of this community. In addition, the incumbents are cross-endorsed by existing Board members and existing management that have been condemned by the professional and the public to be anti-students, anti-teachers, anti-parents, and anti-community. If you don’t want to pay more property taxes only to be abused and wasted by the current board, you should not be fooled by their “phantom beef”, if any, at all.
To achieve diversity of the future Board members, we must think hard whether we need another retired deputy, because Mrs. Heidi Gallegos is also a retired deputy and one of the incumbent Board members for 10 years since 2003. Furthermore, according to Mrs. Gallegos’s own prior campaign statement: “Oversee a $138M budget and provide vision and direction for over 14,000 students”, I see neither vision nor direction from this retired deputy, unless you call 3 school closures and 2,000 student flight in 2010 a vision and direction. That was a gross deterioration under her direct watch, and you simply do not close 3 schools in one year; it must be a long-accumulated decline over a period of 5 to 10 years. We also have another retired deputy serving as the school district’s security chief that has zero regards for law or parental rights, acting instead as a personal watchdog of a school principal. Furthermore, Mr. Phillip Estrada has yet to demonstrate any substantive knowledge, experiences or abilities to comprehend the current issues and problems, let alone presenting any beef. However, given the well-demonstrated unity of Hispanic voters in any local or national elections, he is sure to receive all the votes from them, He is also endorsed by the predominant Hispanic controlled employees union, he has a very good chance of getting elected, despite substantive deficiencies.
Ms. Anne Ma is refreshing and focused, and seems inspired by a very noble commitment for the community. She will be a new blood for the Board, if elected, even though she might have been too shy to show her beef with solid plans for this election. Given her past endeavors, I have little doubt that she will do no less than what she has accomplished in her life. Nevertheless, given her past performances during various candidates forums, she might not be ready alone to confront or simply deal with the many thorny political, bureaucratic and union issues and problems often created and treasured by many recalcitrant and consummate connoisseurs of bureaucrats, politicians and union representatives. This needs more than surface leadership; we need someone with surgical skills and abilities to remove the cancer-like bureaucracy.
Coming back to myself, I am the only candidate with solid and unique academic and professional knowledge, training, experiences and abilities to tear the issues apart and ferret out the problems for immediate resolutions. Although I am a complete outsider, I have personally witnessed the ongoing deficiencies and denials by the current Board and the current Management that must be stopped forthwith before running deeper into the ground. My beef is real, tangible, feasible and achievable, as set forth throughout my writing in this website, and as repeatedly pronounced throughout my campaign.
It is my singular goal to empower the parents and the community to make the School District a friendly place and institution inviting to all, free from any politics, deceit, bureaucracy and hostility that can actually deliver quality teaching and learning to our children.