Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
California charter school lobby pouring big cash into Ponder school board bid
San Diego's Proposition Z, a measure to raise property taxes for school bonds, is billed by its backers as a way of enabling the "San Diego Unified School District to maintain safe and productive learning environments for students during the state’s ongoing budget crisis."
But, according to report Friday by a local online news site backed by several well-heeled charter school advocates, a little-discussed political sweetener is tucked inside for the state's charter school lobby.
As reported by the Voice of San Diego, the tax boosting measure would "allow the district to pull an estimated $2.8 billion in loans. The money will go to a number of things, but $350 million will go to charter schools, new and old.
"The district will also set up a special committee dominated by 'representatives of the charter school community' to advise the school board on how to divvy out the money."
According to the Voice, "San Diego could set a national precedent and see an explosion of new facilities for charter schools."
That explains why La Jolla's Qualcomm billionaire Irwin Jacobs is backing the measure, the story added. As first reported here October 9, Jacobs and his wife Joan have kicked in a total of $80,000 to the Prop Z campaign.
"I am increasingly convinced that we should move most students from [the San Diego Unified School District] to charter," wrote Jacobs in an email quoted by the Voice, which derives an undisclosed portion of its budget from contributions by the controversial Democrat, who - with total donations of $2.12 million - is number four on the Associated Press list of top givers to the campaign of Barack Obama.
The Voice also reported that the "political arm of the California Charter Schools Association" had funneled $100,000 to Prop Z.
And now there's a bit more to add to the story.
In addition to cash for Prop Z, recently filed state records show that the "California Charter Schools Association Issues Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee," based in Sacramento, has given $49,950 to another independent expenditure committee, this one backing the San Diego Unified school board bid of Bill Ponder over Marne Foster, the teachers union's candidate in the race.
According to a November 1 disclosure filing, posted online by the San Diego county Registrar of Voters, the "Alliance for Quality Education in Support of Ponder for School Board 2012" has spent $111,584 on direct mail for Ponder and other expenses, including $5,000 paid to the firm of Tom Shepard, the GOP political consultant now working for Democratic Congressman Bob Filner's mayoral bid.
As we reported in July, the pro-Ponder independent expenditure committee is also backed by R.B "Buzz" Woolley, Jr., the wealthy La Jolla financier and founder and chairman of the non-profit corporation that runs the Voice of San Diego, who gave $5,000 in the spring.
In a September twist to this year's unprecedented political money-giving derby, Woolley contributed $10,000 to the campaign to defeat Proposition Z, less than the $80,000 fellow Voice backer Jacobs gave in favor of the measure, but still enough to provide Woolley plenty of street cred among San Diego's professional politicos, and draw a rebuke from Prop Z campaign manager Larry Remer.
More like this:
- La Jolla billionaire to get the Neil Morgan award — Jan. 25, 2013
- Chicago-based Realtors give $20,000 to kill San Diego's Prop Z school bond measure — Oct. 29, 2012
- Irwin Jacobs bankrolls $2.8 billion San Diego Unified school bond campaign; Buzz Woolley opposes — Oct. 9, 2012
- Wealthy charter school advocate gives cash to interest group opposing San Diego school bond measure — Oct. 9, 2012
- Wealthy La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe denizens pouring big cash into Southeast school board race — Oct. 5, 2012