San Diego Unified school board candidate Steve Rosen has been making a big deal about how his company, TV Magic, has repeatedly volunteered its services for the benefit of local students. “Steve and his company’s pro bono efforts were instrumental in the District receiving over $9 million in grant funds from the State of California,” says his campaign website. “These funds are currently providing secondary school students with the opportunity to explore and develop their skills in all fields of Information Technology.” But according to Rosen’s personal financial disclosure statement, TV Magic, which specializes in high-end video gear and broadcasting consulting services, has been getting a sizable cut of the financial action.
Included in an itemized list of the firm’s income over the previous year is $90,000 for a “PT Loma HS Motion Picture Facility.” In addition to that, according to an April 2009 news release posted on TV Magic’s website, there have been at least two other San Diego Unified projects. The release explains that TV Magic worked with the district’s Office of College, Career & Technical Education to get grant funding from the state’s Career Technical Education School Facilities program. Then it was chosen to set up a new TV studio complex at San Diego High.
“After the grant had been awarded, we sat down with TV Magic and realized we needed to find a way to build a fully functional 720p or 1080i facility, on an SD budget, in order to stay true to the grant’s objective,” San Diego Unified program specialist Shawn Loescher is quoted as saying. “The TV Magic team worked extensively with me to make this happen, and now we just can’t wait to see our plans become reality.”
The release adds: “Each site, located at three different high schools, will address how to work in front of or behind the camera, providing students with career preparation experience that will help them learn more about their chief interests and competencies as they progress with further education or move into the job market. TV Magic’s design team will outline the digital workflow and manage all technical aspects of the facilities.”
Rosen’s disclosure lists the source of the Point Loma High fee as the architectural firm of Zagrodnik + Thomas. A $2000 payment from the firm of Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker is attributed to “Mira Mesa HS consulting,” and an additional $2000 was paid by Dominy + Associates Architects for consulting work on a project for the district’s San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.
In an interview last week, Rosen said that TV Magic had been selected for the projects after his company and its competitors responded to requests for proposals issued by the school district. “We bid very low,” he added. Loescher did not respond to a request for comment left with his assistant.
The San Diego County Office of Education paid TV Magic $9340, and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority was the source of $10,115. In addition, according to Rosen’s disclosure, his company also worked for KPBS, the public broadcasting operation run by San Diego State University, making $45,383…Meanwhile, Rosen’s opponent, math teacher Kevin Beiser, has been polishing his résumé. According to his statement of candidate qualifications, Beiser has “valuable fiscal experience in business management.” To back the claim, he submitted a letter from the manager of the Walmart in Lebanon, Oregon. Beiser, it says, “started working for Wal-Mart as the manager of our One Hour Photo Lab in March of 1992. The store was new, and within a year Kevin was managing one of the highest sales and profit labs in the company. In the time Kevin was the manager of the lab he had no turnover in personnel.” Beiser adds that he later became Northwestern regional manager of the photo division at Walmart and was also an operations manager at TJ Maxx for three years, as well as an assistant manager at Target, also for three years.