The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (April 15, 2013)

I want to take this opportunity to update you on some important developments – and Congressman Henry Waxman’s role in them – at both the national and local level in recent weeks that impact our nation’s finances and the quality of California’s public schools.

The Good

After four years, the United States Senate finally passed – albeit by one vote – a federal budget. The Senate’s action is a positive step in getting our nation’s finances under control. This is no doubt due to the passage of legislation that was signed into law by President Obama that requires Members of Congress to not be paid if their respective legislative chamber fails to pass a budget.

The political reform organization “No Labels,” of which I’m one of several co-founders, was a leading proponent of “No Budget, No Pay.” Rep. Waxman voted in the House for passage of the budget language that required “No Budget, No Pay.” It was the right thing to do.

The Bad

We must be able to address our nation’s soaring budget deficit and its negative impact on our economy. To do so, our political leaders must be willing to provide leadership and compromise for the sake of our nation and our children’s future.

Unfortunately, Congressman Waxman was one of 107 Members of Congress who signed a letter to the President demanding that any budget deal not include any changes – not even the most minor reforms – to entitlements. This is simply irresponsible and extreme.

The Ugly

I supported education reformer, children’s advocate, attorney, former Henry Waxman staffer and Democrat Kate Anderson for election as a School Board Member to oversee the badly troubled Los Angeles Unified School District. Although he told me after the election that he personally supported the efforts to reform LAUSD and indicated to others that he was going to vote for Kate, Henry Waxman refused to formally endorse her. Presumably, this was for fear of alienating the powerful education unions that oppose reforms in that district.

Sadly, Kate Anderson lost by less than 2 percentage points against entrenched incumbent and union endorsed candidate Steve Zimmer. Within days of the election, Board Member Zimmer cast the deciding vote to oust courageous School Board President Monica Garcia from her leadership position as partial payback to those unions. Neither Mr. Zimmer nor Congressman Waxman had the courage to put the interests of the children ahead of special interests. Shame on them both.

These are challenging times and much is at stake. For this reason, I will continue to update you on some of the important issues of our day.