CNN video after the jump...
Will California State Assemblywoman Betsy Butler's refusal to vote on a sex-pervert bill cause her political downfall? Someone sure hopes so.
Butler's in a tight race against fellow Democrat and Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom in the swanky California Assembly District 50, one of the richest, most liberal political districts in the country that largely encompasses the Westside. Any little misstep for either candidate and that person could end up a loser in November.
So folks are taking notice of an email that's making the rounds in Westside political circles. It offers up a link to an August 2012 "Anderson Cooper 360" segment that's critical of Buter for abstaining on a California bill that would have made it more easy to fire predatory teachers. That abstention was essentially a "no" vote, and the bill never passed.
Cooper's "Keeping Them Honest" segment appears to have taken its cue from a July 2012 L.A. Weekly article that exposed the controversy.
As we wrote in July, California State Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles expected his measure, Senate Bill 1530, to sail through the powerful state Assembly Education Committee in Sacramento. It was written to let public schools more easily fire teachers who commit sexual, physically abusive or drug-related acts with their students.
In late June, however, Democratic legislators killed Padilla's bill. Two Democrats voted no on SB 1530 and four Democrats abstained. Betsy Butler was one of them. Butler and the other three knew their abstentions would assure the death of SB 1530 by a single vote -- and they hoped their non-votes would go largely under the radar.
The L.A. Weekly story, and then the CNN segment, prevented that from happening.
Education reformers told the Weekly that Butler and the other abstainers "were motivated by their fear of the California Teachers Association, an extremely wealthy, aggressive union that has launched -- and ruined -- numerous Democrats' careers in California."
Butler wouldn't talk for the CNN segment, but she did speak with the Weekly.
As we reported in July, Butler said Padilla's bill made the teacher-firing process "more political" and "jeopardized due process." She wanted Padilla to compromise, and incredibly described her abstention as "a nice 'no' ... that means I'm with you."
With only a few weeks until the November 6 election, Butler's abstention could come back to haunt her, and catapult Bloom to victory.
Interestingly enough, the California Democratic Party sent out a mailer to voters this week, touting Butler as a "real champion for our schools." Coincidental timing?
The mailer even asks rhetorically, "Who fights to protect our local schools?" The provided answer, of course, is Butler, but we know of at least one occasion in which she failed miserably to protect the kids.
The mailer also makes the bold claim that Butler "successfully fought for a 2012-13 fiscal year budget that did not reduce school funding."
Actually, that's not totally true.
She and other state legislators, including Governor Jerry Brown, put off any decisions on school budget cuts and put that issue to voters in the form of Proposition 30, which calls for personal income tax hikes and a sales tax increase.
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If voters shoot down Proposition 30, a series of "trigger cuts" take place immediately.
Guess what's on the chopping block? The entire California public education system.
Things may get so drastic that public schools may have to resort to a school year that's only 160 days -- tying us with Colorado for the shortest school year anywhere in the entire country.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.