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District 2’s Garcia Responds to Negative Mailers

Samantha Oltman | February 27, 2013

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An anti-Garcia UTLA mailer

The teachers union political action committee has allocated the majority of its expenditures in the East LA District 2 School Board election — almost $90,000 — to attack incumbent LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia and bolster the chances of forcing a runoff between Garcia and one of her three union-endorsed candidates.

But are the attacks accurate or, as LA Times columnist Steve Lopez recently noted about both sides’ campaign mailers, misleading?

In an interview with LA School Report, Garcia refuted most of the claims made against her and took responsibility for those that were accurate.

“I think the other side is using a strategy that is focused on not offering anything, but on just saying no to reform, to change.”

One set of mailers, which purports to support candidates Robert Skeels, Annamarie Montanez, or Abelardo Diaz, has a clear message: “Anyone but Garcia.” (View here.)

In a different mailer, the union criticizes Garcia for supporting charter schools and teacher layoffs and for voting to cut after school programs and libraries. (View mailer here and the story here.)

Garcia said that many of the votes the union has criticized her for were “difficult and painful” decisions she was compelled to make in the face of harsh budget limitations in a state that already ranked 49 out of 50 for per-pupil spending.

But she also noted that none of these decisions were unilateral. “Everyone knows no member of the Board acts alone,” she said. “It takes at least four votes.”

Indeed, UTLA-backed Board Member Steve Zimmer made some of the same difficult votes as Garcia (and is being attacked by the Coalition for making them).

Another political mailer has an even more biting tone: Featuring an unflattering photo of Garcia, it calls her “guilty” and accuses her of “breaking the law and our schools” (a reference to a 2009 situation in which Garcia’s campaign, Friends of Monica Garcia, was fined for accepting three contributions from one company that cumulatively exceeded the $1,000 limit and for contributing once each to the campaigns of two fellow School Board candidates at the time. (View mailer here. See LA City Ethics Commission report here.)

Garcia said her campaign treasurer wasn’t aware the campaign was breaking any rules when it gave to fellow Board candidates, but she takes responsibility. “We returned the money when we were aware of the error in accounting,” Garcia said. When asked how she plans to avoid reporting errors this election cycle, Garcia said her intention is to be “flawless — we’re scrutinizing everything.”

Previous posts: Coalition TV Ad Attacks Zimmer over Robert Kennedy School; UTLA Focus: Defend Zimmer, Defeat Garcia; Here Come the Misleading / Attack Mailers

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