Social Justice Shorts

THURSDAY: Social Justice Shorts



Hmmmm. Yeah. Probably so.

Yesterday, Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson called for public hearings on whether to do away with the two-term limit for the city’s police chief. If Wesson’s idea gets legs, this means Bratton Could serve as chief until 2017.

Certainly there are other talented people who could replace the Chief, if it comes to it. But it would sure be great to hold on to Bratton.

Here are some details from the story by the LA Times’ Phil Willon and Joel Rubin:

Removing the term limits would require voter approval and revise one aspect of the police reforms that stemmed from the riots after four LAPD officers were initially acquitted of brutality in the 1991 beating of Rodney G. King. Those reforms limited the police chief to two five-year terms.

Bratton is the first LAPD chief
to serve a second five-year term since voters approved the reforms in 1992. Previous chiefs Bernard C. Parks and Willie L. Williams each served one term and were not reappointed by the city’s civilian Police Commission.

“Why would you not want to have an option
to retain a person who is doing a good job?” asked Wesson, who plans to bring a motion before the City Council on Friday seeking public hearings. “I think at this point, we just want to begin the conversation.”



in a follow-up to this week’s bleak news about teacher layoffs, ex-school board member, David Tokofsky, has an opinion piece in today’s LA Times
in which he points out that LAUSD will likely get $1 billion in stimulus money. So why, Tokofsky wants to know, isn’t Roy Cortines using that money to retain—even hire—teachers, when having enough quality teachers is so crucial to giving students what they need to succeed.

Here’s the heart of it:

My fifth-grade daughter, Rebecca, came home the other day with the news that her dedicated, talented teacher had received a pink slip. Ms. Stanco’s notice that she might be laid off — a Xeroxed form letter with her name filled in at the top — arrived just two weeks after the team of kids she coached brought home the gold medal from the Los Angeles County Science Olympiad.

I know from experience how she feels. In 1992, during another of California’s fiscal crises, I received a pink slip shortly after winning the California Teacher of the Year award. Like my daughter’s teacher, I also had put in countless hours of my own time to coach a team of students. That team became the first in the Los Angeles Unified School District to win the national Academic Decathlon.


It’s all the sadder because this time the pink slips
were sent out at the very same time President Obama came to town to deliver a message of hope. His plan to stimulate the economy includes education funding, and the LAUSD could receive more than $1 billion from the package.

Now is the time for Supt. Ramon C. Cortines t
o think about creating jobs and improving education. Instead, he wants to slash, not because he has to, one has to suspect, but because it’s a way of accomplishing his vision of a decentralized district.

The money is intended as a stimulus, not as a hedge against future needs. It needs to be spent quickly, and it needs to be spent saving jobs

reporter, Alex Caputo-Pearl, gives us a look at teacher organizing around the pink slip issue.



Here’s the SF Chronicle’s story on the slapdown Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
received from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals around the issue of the state’s prison healthcare system:

A federal appeals court reinstated contempt-of-court proceedings Wednesday against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for defying a judge’s order to pay the first $250 million of a multibillion-dollar plan to rebuild the state prison health care system.

The ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in San Francisco was the second rebuff in two days for state officials challenging federal authority over medical care in California prisons.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson
of San Francisco rejected the state’s attempt to regain control of the prison health system. Henderson appointed a receiver to manage the system in 2006 after finding that one inmate a week was dying because of inadequate health care and that the state was unable to meet constitutional standards. Schwarzenegger said he would appeal.

Whatta mess! It would have been helpful if Schwarzenegger
and the state leg had managed to fix the problem earlier, then we wouldn’t be in the fix.


  • Ignoring the compulsive, destructive asshole who attempts to divert and dominate all discussion here, I’m wondering how – based on the last segment of that article on LAUSD and Cortines quoted above – a desire to decentralize the district is inconsistent with spending on teachers. I don’t follow LAUSD politics (mercifully) so can you – Celeste – give a thumbnail on what the Cortines approach to decentralize the district entails and why it means the stimulus money won’t be spent on teachers. I have an image of the LAUSD HQ in my head – thanks to this blog – and it has become a metaphor for what I think is, at least partly, very wrong with many of our large urban school systems – an overlarge bureaucracy trying to manage according to a model that mimics a large corporation as opposed to neighborhood’s being served by schools that connect effectively to the community. It SOUNDS like decentralization is a good prescription – but then all buzzwords tend to sound good. What’s the contradiction here. (Cortines, incidentally, was head of SF schools when my own kids were little and attending quite good public schools in the city – obviously a long time ago – and I had a good impression of him.)

  • Jesus Christ, I just read that Cortines is 76. Of course, given my recollections of the guy in SF many, many years ago, he’d have to be at least up in his 70’s. That strikes me as way old to take on one of the most difficult – if not THE most difficult – educational system executive positions in the country. Isn’t there any new blood ? And he’s just starting in the position ? How long do they expect him to serve ? Just sounds kind of crazy…and more than a bit sad. Cortines has been damned near everywhere in his career –

  • Ooops. cont.. and, I was going to say, his best years were probably early on in SF. There’s no evidence that the other school systems he served aren’t still burdened with the usual problems. I don’t expect a Supe to be a miracle worker, but LAUSD deserves someone who isn’t burned out and who can bring some energy and innovation to the job, not some guy at the twilight of his career. I’m sure there’s some small district somewhere that would be appropriate if he still has some chops left – which I admire and don’t discount for a lot of folks in their seventies – but this just looks like LA has lost any hope.

  • I find this discussion of age rather disturbing. While the comments focus on Ray Cortines, has anyone done the math on Bill Bratton? He is currently 61 and into his second term at the LAPD. IF — and it’s a big if — the term limits for the Chief of Police are rescinded — he could conceivably be approaching his seventies during a third term as chief. Just when would he start approaching the twilight of his career?

  • I’m with Jorja, Reg. It depends upon the person. Jerry Brown’s 70 and still has enough energy to light several medium sized cities. Yet I know some in their late 40s who are slowing down already.

    I don’t always agree with Cortines, but he’s not in the least burned out. The Admiral was the sad choice, as it turned out. Not Cortines.

    I don’t know what we should do about Bratton. Maybe it’ll be time for him to move on. On the other hand, I don’t think Bill’s into twilights. He strikes me as anti-twilight.

  • “he”s not in the least burned out”

    Then, to my more important question, what’s up with his not spending the stimulus money on teachers and his “decentralization plan.” The decentralization sounds like someone who has some useful energy and ideas – not spending the stimulus on teachers but on his bureacracy sounds like a burned-out – or at least misdirected – case of a hack official who doesn’t get it, as impled in the op-ed.

  • I would add that I think there’s a world of difference between someone being effective as an AG – or even as a governor – in their 70s and someone leading a school district. Some of this may be unfair perception, but I doubt that a 76-year old guy who has already been a bureaucratic fixture in a failing district taking over inspires a lot of confidence among the, dare I say it, students who have the most at stake that the city is paying attention to them and their needs and perspective rather than the exigencies of a bloated bureaucracy. I think that’s an important factor, among many, if a completely fucked up school district is going to make any progress.

  • If Bratton was getting stimulus money from the Feds to hire more cops on the street and decided he’ll spend it on his HQ or anything other than beat cops, would we even be discussing whether he should stay on, regardless of his age ?

  • From reg, who made comment #’s 2,4,7,8, and 9: Ignoring the compulsive, destructive asshole who attempts to divert and dominate all discussion here

  • The wit and wisdom exhibited in comment #1 continues. Meanwhile, adults who aren’t impaired and compulsively repeating their same old biased, bigoted drivel look forward to Celeste’s update on Tokofsky’s perspective.

  • am running off to guest lecture to smart young persons at USC, so will post more tonight about reg’s very smart question. But here’s the short form:

    When Cortines was with LAUSD 8 years ago, he created mini-districts with the idea of decentralizing the behemoth. Roy Romer effectively reversed that, for a bunch of reasons, some good, some terrible. Now rather than making centralized decisions as to what to do with the $1 billion (or so, there are strings here, which I’ll discuss later), he wants to give a percentage of that money directly to the schools to use however. This is good in many ways, in theory, but has some downsides, particular in this economic climate and is not properly set up to be successful.

    I’m writing this quickly, so it may not be as clear as I’d like. And I promise I’ll do more later, as I think it’s a very, very good question and deserves an answer. I may talk further with some other folks at a district level before posting, or may just put it up tonight. We’ll see.

    Weirdly, I think age does enter into it in a peculiar way.

    Back tonight.

  • It sounds like ingrained politics and infighting – whichever side on the decentralization issue is right in theory, and I’d bet it’s Cortines who I assume based on my own recollections has his heart in the right place – is getting in the way of sound, decisive decisionmaking on how to most effectively spend the money. Perhaps Cortines has a good goal, but not an effective infrastructure and culture in place as he’s just taking over. Anyway, thanks for the effort to untangle this – look forward to whatever else you come up with.

  • reg: The wit and wisdom exhibited in comment #1 continues

    …and #’s 15 and 17. The lack of wit and wisdom from reg’s comments and the reality of them can be found in #10, #14, and this one.

    – – –

    reg, for someone who wastes 80% of his posts on slinging mud, you sure are acting self-righteous about anxiously awaiting with bated breath (fish bait) the views of David Tokofsky.

    Really, how phony can you get? “Ohhh, this is so important (looking around smugly and for approval.) Everyone look at me and see how sophisticated I am.” You don’t know what you’re talking about. You make normal people want to puke.

    But, you are like Tokofsky in that you paint people with a broad brush.

    David Tokofsky: “…a different Westchester than the one I grew up with when, (it was) one of the few towns in LA where the American Nazi Party or the KKK found fertile grounds.” and “Is it just my independent-mindedness? Is that what we want, a bunch of troglodytes to lead the district?”

    Otherwise, unlike you, Tokofsky is probably a decent fellow and, ahem, educated.

    What’s important in these threads are views that commenters form rather than views from people like you who copy from others, although I realize that you have a hard time with logical and independent thought.

    – –

    Regarding the age factor that you brought up, reg, did you oppose McCain in favor of an inexperienced Obama because you thought that youth was more important than someone who actually had experience and knew what he was doing, because Obama sure doesn’t have a clue.

    – – –

    reg: what I think is, at least partly, very wrong with many of our large urban school systems – an overlarge bureaucracy trying to manage according to a model that mimics a large corporation as opposed to neighborhood’s being served by schools that connect effectively to the community.

    Precisely why we don’t need a federal Department of Education and should give back control of schools to the local communities. Jimmy Carter was wrong to establish it and Obama is wrong to expand it.

    – – –

    Okay, time to return to your phone, eltie smugness…right after you call me more names.

  • You are welcome to kiss my ass, little jerk. You’re a moron and pollute these threads – you started this one with ridiculous ad hominem and have contributed nothing.

  • “What gotten to you, reg?”
    Not you. You’re obviously spinning into a little snit and looking more insane each time you post here.

  • reg…dull and troll. Hey, reg. You’re welcome to check out any time that you like. I assure you, no one would miss your wonderful contribution of four letter words.

  • “Racist” is a six-letter word. “Troll” is five letters. I’ll stay here and rub your face in the fact that you’re a racist troll as long as you keep sliming this site.

  • Wake up people…LAUSD has been corrupt spending wildly since Huizar was president. Now you have Antonio picks and everything again is haywire with money. Its like leaving a robber to take care of the store cashier. The contingency that went to Washington had the audacity to ask for more $$$$$ for school construction. ITs about time the Feds started an investigation of where all the money went.

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