AS IF YOU ASKED
Earlier this week, I wrote about what appeared to be an effort to
steal campaign signs posted by school board incumbent candidate Mike
McDonald. Now, McDonald is trying to do away with a campaign tool
used by his opponents -- facts.
If the stunt weren’t so offensive to the truth, it would be funny
for its brazenness. McDonald’s campaign is telephoning voters to play
a recording urging a vote for McDonald. In an excited, almost giddy
tone, a male voice introduces himself. The following is a transcript
of the rest of his message.
“I’m calling on behalf of my friend, Mike McDonald for Burbank
School Board. There have been a lot of accusations about the current
Burbank School Board and they ALL have been proven to be false! Our
schools have never looked better and test scores have gone through
the roof! Now is not the time for change. Vote experience. Vote Mike
McDonald for Burbank School Board. Thanks.”
I don’t challenge the caller’s claim McDonald is a pal. He’d have
to be that, or an employee, to say what he does. Test scores are up,
but it appears the board wants credit for the work of teachers, and
for implementing class-size reductions and other rules imposed by the
state. I also can’t quibble with the caller’s report that a lot of
accusations have been leveled at the board. But the next claim, that
“ALL have been proven to be false,” is so ludicrous it almost has to
be a joke.
Does the caller mean to claim someone can prove McDonald and his
colleagues did not approve a budget for this school year that
accidentally left out $1.4 million in annual special-education
expenses? Has evidence arisen that, when auditors warned in writing
year after year of a long list of careless accounting practices in
the district, episodes that led to shortfalls and expenditures from
inappropriate accounts, the board actually did something?
Has someone found a way to prove that, after secretly dumping the
district’s superintendent, board members did not publicly deny for
more than a week having any idea of why he wasn’t coming to work?
McDonald went further back then, ridiculing the idea that the
superintendent vanishing warranted a newspaper article.
Has somebody managed to prove McDonald did not take part in
setting fees for using school sites, specifically saying he wants to
keep costs low for the kids’ football league he runs? What about
board members repeatedly and inadvertently revealing on camera that
they talk privately with a board majority about district issues? Can
someone prove those revelations of illegal meetings were special
effects, devious manipulations of pixels and digital sound?
Maybe there’s proof the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit
did not opine in writing, “It is apparent from these repeated
violations that the BUSD board is in the habit of conducting business
behind closed doors.” I know a lawyer paid by the board disagrees.
But he and the board refuse to provide details, and no one else in a
long list of local and state officials, Burbank’s city attorney,
judges -- or even rulings from the attorney general or others who
actually enforce the relevant laws -- has endorsed the board’s
Is there proof the entire board did not receive a “no-
confidence” vote from Burbank teachers, a vote unrelated to contract
talks? Is there proof friends who once worked to support the election
of incumbent board members didn’t really take turns at the BUSD
podium last year pledging not to help those same officials win
Schools do look better, thanks to a bond measure that passed in a
second try only after the campaign was taken out of the hands of
board members. And when they brag projects are “on budget” now, it’s
easy to prove the board is bragging about having spent the budgeted
amount -- and the contingency reserves -- without mentioning they’re
getting significantly less than what was planned for that amount.
Can the campaign caller seriously claim there’s proof the board
did not pledge to conduct an exhaustive national search for a new
superintendent and then, without soliciting even one other
application, immediately move to promote the district’s longtime
Let’s not be so picky, and try a simple one: Is there proof we
misunderstood each time last year that it appeared McDonald fell
asleep during board meetings?
Allegations the school board is responsible for crop circles and
dry skin are unfair and untrue. After that, many charges against the
board are incontrovertible. Anyone is entitled to conclude the
board’s positives outweigh those negatives. But denying the negatives
exist, or claiming they’ve been manufactured by “special interests”
(the label pouting incumbents now apply to the teachers they claimed
to respect and adore last year) simply adds another negative to the
AN UNFUNNY THING AT THE FORUM
On Wednesday, all the candidates for City Council and school board
met in back-to-back televised forums hosted by the local chapter of
the League of Women Voters.
I’ve decided it might have been a teensy bit unfair to candidates
that I watched the first half while suffering miserably from an
abscessed tooth. See, I hated everybody. I hated everything everyone
said. I hated the seat I was in. I hated the pen I was using, and I
especially hated all those happy people who seemed to be enjoying
I know some of the candidates actually did quite well, so I don’t
think it would be fair to write about the event until I’ve had a
chance to watch it again after my root canal. But if you intend to
vote, don’t wait for me. The forums are being replayed on Charter
Communications Cable Channel 6 once or twice virtually every day up
through the Feb. 25 primary election. For example, they will run at 6
p.m. today, and they’re scheduled for 10 a.m. and 7 p.m tomorrow.
However, I strongly recommend waiting until after you’ve undergone
any imminent dental surgery.
* WILL ROGERS’ column appears in every edition of the Leader. He
can be reached 24 hours a day at 637-3200, voice mail ext. 906, or
by e-mail at email@example.com or at