By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
The mayor was somewhat less chivalrous after the event, when reporters asked him why so many public-school children had been whisked away from their lessons to watch an inherently political event — one featuring a cast of elected officials, union leaders and a banner with the words “Middle Class Tax Cut” printed on it 26 times. Villaraigosa argued that the endorsement gave students a handy civics lesson, even as he threw the school’s administrators under the proverbial bus by saying he played no role in denying the students instructional time.
“I didn’t choose to take the kids out of class. The school did,” he declared.
Officials at L.A. Unified were deeply unhappy with that explanation, saying they themselves learned about the endorsement event late Friday from Foshay principal Veronique Wills, who in turn told them that she had been contacted by Michael Trujillo, a member of the mayor’s privately funded school-reform-campaign team, who assured her that use of the campus had already been cleared by the district. “The request for students was not made by the district or the school,” district spokeswoman Lucy Okumu said curtly. Trujillo confirmed that he called Wills, but insisted he gave no orders. Either way, Foshay administrators drew the line at the midday request by the Angelides camp for even more kids to fill the auditorium.
None of L.A. Unified’s seven school-board members turned up for the endorsement rally, largely because they spent the afternoon discussing their own strategy for suing the state once Schwarzenegger signs the mayor’s education bill. The board voted 6 to 1 to file the lawsuit, but may have to rely on groups like the PTA and the California School Boards Association to pursue it to its conclusion. After all, Villaraigosa needs to elect only three more school-board members friendly to his cause to convince the district to drop the litigation altogether, a reasonable possibility given his track record at pushing the candidates whom he endorses.
Still, Villaraigosa may have trouble remaining faithful to the candidate he is currently pushing. Even as he stood next to Angelides, Villaraigosa said he intends to hit the campaign trail on behalf of Schwarzenegger’s $19.9 billion transportation bond, a possible source of funding for the mayor’s long-promised subway to the sea. Can an appearance on the stump with Schwarzenegger be far behind?
The mayor would not rule out the possibility of campaigning with the Terminator, saying, “I’ll campaign with whoever I have to campaign with to get that initiative passed.” But that strategy could very well confuse voters trying to figure out who Villaraigosa truly favors. And if voters become confused, Angelides may do well to remember the other song the Foshay student band couldn’t stop playing this week, a hit made popular by the Jackson 5: “I Want You Back.”
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