Tomorrow, Tuesday, there is a special runoff election in Los Angeles for school board. If you don't live in L.A. -- or in District 4 where the election is for -- good news! You can skip right past this with no sense of guilt.
For all others, I suspect you know the drill at this point. I hope you'll go out and vote for Nick Melvoin. As I've said, I'm biased being good friends with his parents Jeff and Martha Melvoin, and have known Nick since he was a kid. But that doesn't mean he isn't wildly qualified -- having worked in the Obama White House, worked for the ACLU and been a teacher in Watts (as well as a sports coach there). This, on top of his undergrad degree at Harvard and a law degree from NYU. He's a great guy, smart, active, deeply caring and involved.
In fact, here's a :30 video made by NYU law school a while back of Nick explaining how teaching in Watts got him to got him to go to law school and work on behalf of being an advocate for kids.
All of which is why I find the smear campaign by his opponent Steve Zimmer to be irresponsible and reprehensible, to the extent that it should disqualify him from consideration. Again, I'm biased -- but I think reality shows I'm right.
I wrote about it all at length here, so I won't repeat it all. I'll just summarize to explain. After all, it's one thing to make a charge, it's another to be able to stand up and support it. And do so.
To be clear, there is a distinction between negative politics and smears. Negative politics covers a lot of ground, and some is very fair, while some isn't. Criticizing your opponent, even bluntly, is fair when you're stating their record accurately. Even stretching the truth is simply part of the process, as long as it's based on the truth, problematic as that may be. Where "smears" come into play is when one ascribes motives to their opponent and those have zero bearing on honesty, and knowingly so. And that's what the Zimmer campaign has done.
I completely understand Zimmer supporters disagreeing with Nick Melvoin's platform -- and vice versa. They have different points of view. Melvoin wants a range of options available, whatever works best in different conditions. That includes la combination of local neighborhood public schools, magnet public school programs known for their innovation, and nonprofit charter schools.
If Zimmer supporters disagree with that -- and other the Melvoin platform issues -- that's fine and fair. But they have latched onto the nonprofit charter schools and not only made it seem like that is his sole solution, but (and this is the critical point) they have flooded mailboxes and TV with the false charge that Nick Melvoin is tied to Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos.
Again, in brief --
Nick Melvoin worked in the Obama White House. He worked for the ACLU. He's been endorsed by former Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, former Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former mayors Antonio Villaraigosa and Richard Riordan (a Democrat and Republican), and the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News.
If you don't like his platform, great, explain why and even bluntly, and say why yours is better -- but to try and scam the public into thinking that this profoundly life-long liberal with substantive ties to the Obama Administration is a Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos puppet is knowingly a galling, shameful smear.
If I seemed pissed off by this, you're wise and observant. I have no doubt the Zimmer campaign doesn't like that Melvoin forces has criticized them, and I'm sure they think it's "unfair," whether it is or not. But criticism is a separate world from smearing with 100% fictitious motives you know are untrue. And this in a campaign for who's to be responsible for children?? What kind of sick message is that?
(Actually, they've even gone further, referring to Melvoin in early mailers as wanting "For profit" charter schools. Not only does his platform clearly state he's not, but there are no "for profit" charter schools in Los Angeles.The false charge was egregious enough that the Fair Political Practices Commission agreed to investigate.)
From the first, this has been an uphill battle for Nick. It's his first citywide race ever, and he's up against the sitting president of the L.A. school board. But he was able to force a runoff, and in a special election -- when this is the only race on the ballot (!) -- turn-out will be tiny, so Get Out the Vote will be significant. I suspect everything will revolve around that.
And so, if you live in the district, even if you weren't planning on voting, please know that your vote in this particular race actually, really, truly does matter -- I hope that you'll consider voting for Nick Melvoin (or even vote against a smear) and make the effort to go the police.
I'm Robert J. Elisberg, and I approve this candidate...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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