(electioneering using tax money)
a background by Jack Hickey
Political Advocacy has been practiced by incumbent politicians and bureaucrats, entrusted with public assets, as long as I can remember. The art has been perfected in the education community.
Hiding behind a facade of "goodness" (children, education, community, etc.), unabashed PR appeals are made directly to voters to generate lobbying efforts aimed at legislation, or to ensure passage of bonds and other tax measures. The purpose? To perpetuate their empires. These are illegal, but difficult to prosecute.
Civil action seems to be the only remedy for taxpayers.
A few examples are in order:
Jan. 28,1979 from the Sacramento Bee quoting State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Wilson Riles:
"I am organizing a statewide grass-roots movement of parents, grandparents, community leaders, business and labor leaders, educators and students who are committed to political action in support of quality education" An admirable thing for a private citizen to do. BUT.....
April 12, 1979. The California Department of Education was called to task for illegal activities, under the direction of Wilson Riles' operative, Marion Joseph, in statewide political organization.
Quote by State Senator Paul Carpenter, Chairman, Senate Education Committee:
'The misuse of public funds which I see is of the following kinds:
- Weeks and weeks of costly department stafftime.
- Major mailings to "Friends of Education" statewide.
- Travel for staff the length and breadth of the state, to organize "Friends of Education"
- The triggering of comparable staff effort and expense by local school districts throughout California.'
Even the efforts of a State Senator were unable to provide a remedy to the taxpayers.
In 1984, my son Bryan attended Woodside High School. This is a sample of appeals he brought home:
'unless we tell them, they'll think they
"took care of Education " last year!'
with a signature of: Mr. Merle Fruehling,
Superintendent, Sequoia Union H.S. Dist.
Legislator's phone numbers were provided.
Sample message: "Support AB-3427 and full funding for SB-813"
Suggestions for postcards: "As a parent, I strongly urge you to support full funding..."
I made a request to the Foreman of the San Mateo County Grand Jury to investigate these "questionable" activities of the Sequoia Union High School District. In addition to the above, other activities involved "extra credit" assignments for students to "lobby" Representatives for the Districts legislative proposals. The response from Dan Foster, Chairman of the Grand Jury Education Committee was that "...we do not believe it an appropriate endeavor of the Grand Jury to pursue your request further."
Another remedy nullified.
I am not an advocate for litigation of any kind. I am a taxpayer's advocate. I prefer negotiation or arbitration.
Today, civil litigation seems the only remedy for combating organized political advocacy.
Perhaps the ultimate solution would be a taxpayer's advocate with an office and computer in every school district in the state. And, with publishing privileges in the District's mailings, and other distributions.
Volunteer taxpayer's advocate liaisons in individual schools would enhance the effectiveness of the operation.
Certain activities, which have become tools of the establishment, need to be monitored:
School site councils, Parent teacher/student associations, etc.