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Richard Bloom Criticizes Betsy Butler For SB 1530 Vote

Hillel Aron | August 16, 2012

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Mayor Bloom

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, a Democrat running for the 50th State Assembly seat against Democratic incumbent Betsy Butler, isn’t refraining from criticizing his opponent for her abstention during the committee vote on SB 1530.

“I’ve never done that in 13 years of being a public official,” he told me earlier this week. “I think it’s our responsibility as elected officials to register our opinions and have discourse on them. That’s what public discourse is about.”

As you can read below, Bloom doesn’t mince words about what he thinks of Butler’s actions. Whether the vote will hurt Butler (or whether a revised version of the Padilla legislation will come out of this messy process) remains unknown.

SB 1530, sponsored by former L.A. City Councilman Alex Padilla, would have made it easier to fire teachers suspected of committing egregious acts, such as sexual or violent abuse. Written in response to the Miramonte Elementary sex scandals, the bill passed easily in the Senate on a 33-4 bipartisan vote

According to a recent op-ed by California director of Democrats for Education Reform Gloria Romero, that’s where the trouble began:

But then it came before the Assembly Education Committee, which shamefully bowed to the state’s powerful teacher unions and rejected the bill. All this took place while teacher union lobbyists communicated to committee members that they “were watching.”

The California Teachers Association is among the most powerful interest groups in the state. Between 2001 and 2011, they spent $118 million on political donations, more than any other group or individual (the 2nd highest group spent $47 million less during that same period). UTLA president Warren Fletcher was one of those who appeared before the committee to testify against the proposal.

And so, presumably thanks to pressure from the CTA, Padilla’s bill was stymied in the Assembly Education Committee after two Democrats (Tom Ammiano and Joan Buchanan) voted no and four Democrats (Butler, Mike Eng, Wilmer Amina Carter and Das Williams) refused to weigh in, killing the proposal by a single vote.

According to LA Weekly, “Butler said Padilla’s bill made the teacher-firing process “more political” and “jeopardized due process.” She and [CTA president Dean] Vogel want Padilla to compromise. She called her abstention “a nice no … that means I’m with you.'”

Butler has also recently joined an effort to find out whether state antibullying laws are effective.

Of the Padilla bill, Mayor Bloom said: “I thought it was a reasonable approach. We have a small but pernicious problem of dangerous people in the classroom.  It was just a common sense measure to protect school children.”

But even worse than voting against the bill, according to Bloom, was not voting at all.

“To not show up at all is frankly the wrong approach,” he said. “I think it’s the kind of thing that’s feeding people’s cynicism about the state legislature.”

Assembly member Butler has not yet responded to our request for comment.

Note: A previous version of this post identified Bloom as a Republican. We regret the error.

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