Opinion

Ref Rodriguez is accused of committing a deceitful crime, not a 'rookie mistake'

To the editor: There’s no need for debate about the nature of the charges against Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education member Ref Rodriguez. (“A rookie mistake, or a premeditated strategy? The actions of LAUSD’s ex-school board president still leave some wondering,” Sept. 27)

What he is alleged to have done — reimbursed family members for $24,250 in donations that were made to his 2015 campaign in their names — is not simply a “rookie mistake” as the chief of a charter advocacy organization contends; instead, they are intentional acts of criminal deceit.

Columnist Steve Lopez is right on when he notes that “you can’t help but think that a man who might have committed one of the dumbest crimes in local history is still making big decisions on the welfare of several hundred thousand students.” If so, Los Angeles students deserve better — they deserve school members who are both smart and honest.

David Michels, Encino

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To the editor: Lopez is right to show how absurd it is for Rodriguez’s supporters to use “he’s a rookie” as a defense for his alleged criminal activity.

He was the treasurer of a charter management organization and is now the former board president of the largest school district in the country with elected leaders. If Rodriguez is being honest, then he is incompetent. If he’s lying, he’s a crook.

Either way, all of us working to strengthen schools for our students have lots of work to do. He needs to step down from the board because he is distracting everyone from this most important task at hand.

Karen Wolfe, Venice

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To the editor: I remember when “reform” meant getting rid of corruption. I guess the word has gained in irony what it has lost in innocence.

L.A.’s electorate recently voted in a “reform” majority at the LAUSD board, only to learn the new president has been indicted for multiple felonies and misdemeanors involving election fraud. And what was the “reform” majority’s reaction? Did it disavow Rodriguez and demand his resignation?

Of course not; that would have cost them their majority. The “reformers” let him step aside from his presidency without leaving the board. In fact, they didn’t even ask him to recuse himself in the vote for a new president to replace him, because, likewise, that would have derailed their political agenda.

Apparently the current meaning of “reform” matches the traditional meaning of “machine politics.” Why do we and our media go along with this corruption of plain English?

David Ewing, Venice

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