Krupp "Exposes" McCarthy And Mensinger
On June 21, 2012 Costa Mesa City Council Candidate Marshall Krupp, http://www.costamesaelection2012.com/, wrote to the President and Members of the Board of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District advising them of what he perceived to be a violation of District rules and the California Education Code that occurred a week earlier, at Colin McCarthy's council campaign kick-off event at The Triangle (formerly known as Triangle Square). He also copied the Fair Political Practices Commission, Enforcement Division, in Sacramento.
ESTANCIA CHEERLEADERS PRESENT
Apparently there were a half-dozen Estancia High School Cheerleaders present at this event and Krupp informed the leadership of the NMUSD that this was a violation of the rules.
MENSINGER TOOK CREDIT (BLAME?)
He went further and recounted overhearing Steve Mensinger, also a candidate for council in November, "touting his relationship with Estancia High School as a large fundraiser and booster of the school and that he had arranged with the District, the Cheer Team's participation and support at the McCarthy event".
DR. BARBOT - "YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!"
In his press release, which can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.costamesaelection2012.com/breakingnews.html, he mentions a telephone conversation with Interim Superintendent of the NMUSD, Dr. Robert Barbot, who - according to Krupp - informed him that he was "absolutely right" that McCarthy and Mensinger had violated District policy.
NMUSD PUBLISHES THE RULES
Subsequently, Laura Boss, Director of Communications for the NMUSD, distributed a letter to "Leadership Team Members", the subject of which was "Campaign and Political Activities". In that letter Boss hedged her bet just a little by requesting recipients to contact her "before making a judgment on permitted or prohibited conduct. The legality of specific conduct cannot be fully answered until the facts and circumstances of specific incidents are evaluated."
She went on to list what may and may not be done by Employees and Students.
What Employees and Students Can Do:
• Employees are permitted to have signs or political bumper stickers on their personal vehicles and park on school District property.
• Employees may wear political buttons or t-shirts in the classroom as long as the buttons or t-shirts do not create class disruption or contain malicious or defamatory statements.
• Employees and members of the public may conduct peaceful picketing on the sidewalk, off school property as long as this activity does not create a dangerous condition for students, block access to entrances or school site exits, or interfere with orderly school operations.
• Students are permitted to wear buttons making political statements as long as the content of those buttons is not obscene, vulgar, malicious, defamatory, or creates a disruption in the classroom.
• Union prepared items may be placed on the NMFT and CSEA designated membership poster boards only. This is the only designated location that items can be displayed. Typically these are located in the staff lounge or possibly another area of the front office.
• The unions may distribute union prepared flyers, notices, etc., via employee’s mailboxes.
What Employees and Students Cannot Do:
• No district funds, services, supplies, or equipment or anything that is a symbolic representation of the District or a specific school site (this would include students as representatives of school sponsored teams, cheer, etc,) shall be used to urge the support or defeat any ballot measure or candidate, including any candidate for election to the Board. (Education Code 7054)
• During working hours and while on school property, employees may not solicit or receive any political funds or contributions to promote the passage or defeat of a ballot measure that would affect the rate of pay, hours of work, retirement, civil service, or other working conditions.
• District resources, including email or computer systems, shall not be used to disseminate campaign literature. In addition, district resources shall not be used to purchase advertisements, bumper stickers, posters, or similar promotional items that advocate an election result or urge voters to take any action in support of or in opposition to a measure or candidate.
• No items may be sent home with students relative to political campaigns or positional items.
ONLY THE MOST RECENT INCIDENT
We've all seen Mensinger use, or "misuse" the Estancia Football Players over the past many months. In fact, many of them stepped to the speaker's podium in their football jerseys to praise him as a candidate for appointment to the City Council eighteen months ago. This most recent abuse of authority and violation of the rules shouldn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention.
ARROGANT DISREGARD FOR THE RULES
It is unclear what action, if any, may be taken by the Fair Political Practices Commission in this matter. What it does clearly demonstrate is the arrogant disregard for established rules of procedure by Colin McCarthy and Steve Mensinger. Now, this really doesn't surprise me, because we've seen Mensinger throw his weight around before, using his considerable influence as a fundraiser to get what he wants, when he wants it. Apparently the rules are for somebody else, not him.
THIS SHOULD WORRY EVERY VOTER
This is certainly something we should consider as we evaluate the candidates for City Council over the next few months, particularly with Jim Righeimer's Charter also likely to be on the ballot. That document provides inadequate controls over precisely this kind of abuse of power, so to consider it in the hands of men like Mensinger, Righeimer and McCarthy should give every voter pause. We will, indeed, Remember In November.