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Zimmer may have ‘virtual’ solution to filling open board seat

Michael Janofsky | January 30, 2014

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LA Unified board member Steve Zimmer

LA Unified board member Steve Zimmer

Steve Zimmer isn’t giving up.

Despite legal opinions against him, the LA Unified board member for District 4 is still seeking a way to give voting rights to a temporary appointee to the vacant District 1 board seat until a permanent member is elected later this year.

The board voted earlier this month against such a possibility. So he knows it’s a long shot, as he told LA School Report today, conceding that he might not convince three other board members to join him in challenging the LA City Charter, which denies an appointment the same voting rights other board members have. With the board now comprised of six members, four votes are required to approve anything.

But Zimmer may have found an acceptable compromise: a “virtual” board member, whose vote would be recorded but not count. In that way, he said, the district represented for a decade by the late Marguerite LaMotte would get as full representation on the board as possible during a time the district is facing major financial and structural issues.

“This is the line in the sand for me,” Zimmer said. “I’m adamant about the vote being recorded. I’m adamant about the interim representative fully participating in the debate process — offering amendments, participating in committee work, all the things a board member would do — and Board District 1 just doesn’t have that now.”

While district lawyers have counseled against the appointee attending closed sessions of the board, which generally include discussions on employment and legal matters, Zimmer said that prohibition “is not make or break for me.”

However it all turns out starts with a public meeting on Feb. 4, when Zimmer presides over an ad hoc committee to consider the possibilities. What comes out of it goes before the board at its regular meeting a week later, and the board is expected to name the appointment on March 4.

That person will serve through the conclusion of a special election, which begins with a June 3 primary. If no candidate secures a majority of votes, a runoff would be held on Aug. 12.

“I don’t concede there is no way to enfranchise this vote,” Zimmer said. “But there’s a practical dilemma — I need to be able to get four votes. I need to be able to present something that honors the concept of representation, but something acceptable to my colleagues who care about representation as much as I do but may be less willing as I am to challenge the City Charter.”

Previous Posts: Memo from legal: LAUSD cannot appoint a ‘voting board member; LA Unified board votes against filling vacant seatKayser changes vote, board approves non-voting board member.



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