Most Important OC Votes pt 2: GOMEZ & PARHAM for OC Board of Ed! (and a talk with Norby.)




We vouch enthusiastically for THESE two: Gomez and Parham.

We vouch enthusiastically for THESE two: Gomez and Parham.

As a preface to this preface about the current state of the troubled OC Board of Education, let’s first quickly get the issue of charter schools out of the way.   First let’s be clear – there are and have long been Charter Moderates and Charter Extremists.  Not until recently have there been Charter Foes – and that is only a reaction to the Extremists.  The vast majority of folks involved in education policy have always seen charters as a good thing if done right – giving flexibility and choice to communities, teachers and administrators to better serve the area’s children.  And our Board of Education has traditionally approved many responsible, well-run charters.

But over the last several years, a movement has grown and gotten out of hand, with charters run solely for a quick profit by Wall Street investors like Michael Bloomberg and Eli Broad.  These enterprises bleed money from our public school system, abusing the easy catchphrase of “parent choice,” refusing to take students with any difficulties, and often go out of business after a few years after making their corporate owners a quick few million.  

This is a KLEPTO project – diverting public money to quick private profit – a Klepto project masquerading as a conservative ideological one – which explains why Anaheim Chamber shill Matt Cunningham is so comfortable and enthusiastic about it.  Until one of us comes up with a better name, I’ll refer to these charters which cut corners, lease facilities and buy books from themselves, cherrypick their students and avoid using union teachers, all in the name of a QUICK PROFIT … I will refer to them as Klepto-Charters.

And since the last election in 2014, the OC BOE has had a majority of Charter School Extremists who notoriously give the green light to ANY charter as a matter of principle – even ones that have been turned down by the other local boards.  This extremist majority consists of Linda Lindholm, Robert Hammond, and Ken Williams.

But there are other problems besides just Charter Extremism bedeviling the Board under the current majority – this majority manifestly does not believe in the Board’s own mission, which is to educate the county’s thousands of special-needs children – the autistic, the dropouts, the juvenile delinquents, many of them minority and/or LGBT:  this majority bridles at the requirements put on them by state and feds to serve these youths.

They prefer to use the Board as a bully pulpit for their far-right adventurism – exploring whether the Federal Dept of Education should exist, fighting against Common Core, passing resolutions in favor of God and America and Jesus, launching numerous taxpayer-funded and ALWAYS-losing lawsuits against the Feds, the state, and Superintendent Mijares, and always going home at the end of the night feeling good about themselves.

And over these two years, 3000 of the 10,000 at-risk youth they are supposed to be in charge of educating have left the system and are on the street getting in trouble.  This election needs to be about bringing sanity and competence back to the OC Board of Education.  And that is up to you voters from Irvine, Tustin, Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Orange, Villa Park, Yorba Linda, Brea, Anaheim Hills and a bit of Fountain Valley.

Okay, let’s zoom in:

1.  Why NO on Robert Hammond and YES on Beckie Gomez?

"Bob, you're a freak."

“Bob, you’re a freak.”

Hammond’s your rep on the Board if you live in Santa Ana, Tustin, Garden Grove, and parts of Fountain Valley and Orange.  A classic OC nutjob, he’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t mind spinning yarns at the end of the bar or around a campfire, but you don’t want him dictating public policy or anywhere around kids.

First elected with less than 40% of the vote, living in his deceased parents’ home and driving their car, Robert has no other job than this $500 a month Board position.  He home-schools his kids, a tell-tale sign that he sees his position as that of a saboteur, with a clear mission of undermining a public education system he does not believe in.

More comfortable than ever in his own skin since being part of a majority, he has recently shown himself to be a racist, an anti-semite, and a homophobe, most recently making headlines for vowing to find out if staff members are “sodomites.”  Funny you might say, colorful and quaint you might say, but given the large percentage of troubled LGBT youth that this board is responsible for … Robert Hammond has to go.

And have we got his replacement for you!  Tustin councilwoman Beckie Gomez is a Charter Moderate, all of whose kids went to public school.  A tireless overachiever, Beckie has been active in the PTA’s of all her kids’ schools as they grew up, serves as the chair of the county library board, works as a professor of health sciences at Cypress College, and was until recently the president of the Tustin Education Foundation.

Night and day, wouldn’t you say, this Hammond and this Gomez?  Yeah, I’d say so too.  Vote for her if you’re in that district.  DO IT NOW.

2.  Why NO on Ken Williams and YES on Michael Parham?

williams-parhamI’ve said that Hammond manifestly disbelieves in his Board’s mission, and the same is true of Ken Williams.  And if that manifest disbelief can be thought of as a “walk,” then Ken Williams sure does walk it:  twenty years on the Board, he shows up late, not at all, or leaves early 80% of the time.  No wonder he still expresses puzzlement about such basic things as where funds come from for the Board’s various projects.

Oh, this bozo non-represents you if you’re in Irvine, Villa Park, Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda, Brea, or the parts of Orange that Hammond doesn’t non-represent.

The big doomed lawsuits, the marathon meetings full of testimony against Common Core and the Department of Education, the pharisee resolutions for National God Day, these are all Ken Williams’ doing … as the schools he’s responsible fall apart around him.

Who better to replace this lump than Irvine’s worthy Michael Parham, tireless PTA dad all of whose kids went to Irvine’s pubic schools?   Currently a board member of the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, Michael has an outstanding record on two fronts at least:  turning school facilities green and solar-powered, and bringing resources to his district from businesses and nonprofits… and of course he is also a Charter School Moderate.  

What a difference this Board would be with Michael and Beckie taking the places of the two mad cranks.  Now get out there and VOTE, Irvine etcetera.

A Talk with Chris Norby; and answering some bedeviling Bedell questions.

bedellFIRST.  Up in my north county district, the race is between incumbent Jack Bedell, who has always been a responsible Charter Moderate;  my friend the eccentric libertarian Chris Norby;  and some lesser-known conservative lady named Zonya Townsend.  Heads began to spin when mailers arrived touting Bedell’s greatness, paid for by the California Charter School Association (CCSA.)  Why would this trade group pour money into a guy who has voted regularly against MANY badly planned “Klepto-Charters” while supporting good ones?

Well, as his old Charter-Moderate colleague Liz Dorn Parker explained to me, a couple things:  This CCSA is noticeably unenthusiastic about its less responsible members;  when a good charter is up for approval they loudly support it, while when a Klept0-Charter is up they remain interestingly silent.  There is a feeling in the air, among Charter Moderates and this trade group, that the gravy train may soon be over due to all the abuse – possibly as soon as unquestioning Charter supporter Governor Jerry Brown leaves office.  And the “baby” of good responsible charters will then get thrown out with the “bathwater” of all this bullshit.

ALSO.  The idea of the unpredictable conservative Norby creating a far-right majority, and possibly (rumor has it) later taking on Superintendent Al Mijares, creates a tremor of angst within the Force itself.   Bedell is the safe choice, backed by Democrats, Republicans, and the Charter group we wouldn’t have expected to.

I voted for Chris, because I like him and trust him.  And also because SOMEBODY associated with Bedell sent out a really nasty mailer calling Chris a wife-beater – a charge for which he has been completely exonerated, and which his ex-wife admitted was false. Sleazy campaign tactics like that should not be rewarded, and – conservative, libertarian or whatever – Chris is not the kind of destructive and loony right-winger we see in Hammond and Williams.

History buff Norby pressing the flesh!

History buff Norby pressing the flesh!

He talks – and I don’t think he has a deceptive bone – like a Charter Moderate, aghast at the idea of Anaheim’s Palm Lane converting from public to charter.  He is proud of the fact that he would be the only public school teacher on the Board if elected (some of these other folks call themselves “educators” – that’s a meaningless word) and also of the fact that he’d be the only member with kids who are currently in public schools.  (Of course if Gomez or Parham join him, he would not be the only one.)

So – I did it, I voted for Norby.  I told you Bedell is the safe choice.  And if the idea of a Norby – Hammond – Williams triumvirate disturbs you, then that much reason to get out there and vote for Gomez and Parham, Central County!

(will add a little when I have a chance to ask Chris a few more questions – our phone conversation was interrupted.)


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.