The elections are over, people are assessing failures and successes and preparing to move on. Before we do, let’s ask ourselves: In this age of rampant dirty politics how much of our integrity are we willing to sacrifice to win?
We’re used to low standards of behavior in elections, but dirty tactics are still shocking when schools and children are concerned – as in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) election.
On November 2nd, our friends and neighbors in Santa Monica came home to find a political advertisement hanging from their front door. It contained a photo of school board candidate Craig Foster, Photoshopped to add a menacing frown and dark circles under his eyes, and stated in stark black and red: “VOTER ALERT” “We cannot trust candidate Craig Foster.” It went on to accuse Mr. Foster of “oppos(ing) policies aimed at closing the achievement gap.” The flip side had smiling faces of board candidates Laurie Lieberman, Oscar De La Torre, Ralph Mechur and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.
L.A.-based hotel workers’ union, UNITE HERE, claimed responsibility in the advertisement’s fine print and implied that the message was endorsed by the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, Service Employees Union International (SEIU) Local 99, IBEW Local 11 and Santa Monica and Malibu parents.
Immediately, the Classroom Teachers Association publically disavowed any approval or prior knowledge of this flyer. Unfortunately, the other parties listed have yet to publically condemn the message.
This type of dirty politics leaves a sour taste in the mouths of most decent people in our community. The Malibu Schools Leadership Council (MSLC) is issuing a public call for decency to all the organizations listed as endorsers on the flyer. Let’s dispense with the racial jabs, the mud-slinging, the win-at-any-cost mentality, especially when it comes to our schools and children. Please publicly repudiate this flyer and demand an apology from UNITE HERE Local 11 PAC!
Malibu Schools Leadership Council