February 21, 2013 ncil L.A. City Cou s Candidate Forum This Thurs4day See page Marina del Rey Local News & Culture Westchester S a n ta M o n i c a Free P l aya d e l R e y P l aya V i s t a M a r V i s ta Del Rey VenicE Charter School Buzz Bloomberg’s $1 million donation creates controversy in local school board election New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the latest billionaire to contribute to an independent expenditure that is bankrolling LAUSD candidates, including Kate Anderson in District 4, who are more receptive to charter schools. By Gary Walker Valentine’s Day brought more than candy and flowers for one incumbent and two challengers in the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education elections. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gifted them with a $1 million donation to a group that is supporting them and a week after the largess became public, the contribution as well as the reasons behind it continue to reverberate on the Westside. The Coalition for School Reform, an organization that is backed by billionaires A. Jerrold Perenchio and Eli Broad, was the recipient of the donation but the candidates that the coalition supports, which include Mar Vista resident Kate Anderson, will be the beneficiaries. The group describes itself as “a group of parents, educators and business and nonprofit leaders dedicated to reforming and improving public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.” Anderson is challenging incumbent school board member Steve Zimmer in LAUSD’s District 4, which includes schools in Mar Vista, Venice, Westchester, Del Rey and Hollywood. LAUSD School Board President Monica García and challengers Anderson and Antonio Sanchez are contenders who are considered more sympathetic to charter organizations and Perenchio, Broad and Bloomberg are staunch supporters of the charter movement, often described by supporters as school reform. “The mayor has said he’s going to support efforts and candidates around the country on the issues that he cares about and education reform is one of the issues at the top of that list,” Bloomberg press secretary Marc LaVorgna told another publication after the donation was announced. The coalition has spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on behalf of Anderson, who Rep. Waters plans to ‘wait and see’ how community care ordinance is handled By Gary Walker Rep. Maxine Waters (DWestchester) is encouraged that the Los Angeles City Council chose to postpone voting on a contentious ordinance after hearing from a housing official who informed them of the potential legal consequences if the proposed law were approved in its current form. Los Angeles Housing Director Mercedes Marquez, who worked in the Obama administration in the civil rights section of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, told the council at its Jan. 30 meeting that an ordinance that would outlaw community care facilities in most residential neighborhoods could likely put the city in jeopardy of violating federal housing policy. In prior Argonaut stories, attorneys from various law firms who represent housing non-profits had raised the possibility of the ordinance violating federal housing laws. Councilman Mitchell Englander, who represents a large constituency in the San Fernando Valley, is the sponsor of the ordinance that would create new conditions and regulations for sober living residences, boarding houses and group homes. “I’m very happy that (the City Council) listened to the opposition to this ordinance and that they are now aware of what HUD rules are,” Waters told The Argonaut. New Directions, a social service agency that provides housing and rehabilitation to homeless veterans, has three residences in Waters’ district that would be impacted by the ordinance: Keaveny House and Mitchell House in Mar Vista, where female veterans reside, and Chris’ Place in Del Rey. Englander submitted his proposal to his council colleagues after receiving complaints from constituents about boarding homes and sober living residences, which are home to recovering addicts, that were causing nuisances in their neighborhoods, including violating zoning and parking regulations. Opponents of the ordinance counter that it is far too broad and would displace veterans, recovering substance abusers and those who choose to live together who may not be related. Waters says she is aware that there are situations where there are group homes and sober living facilities in residential neighborhoods that may be engaging in unlawful conduct, but she is also concerned about the possible dislodging of veterans and others who may not be able to easily find affordable housing. “We have a severe housing problem that needs to be addressed,” said the congresswom(Continued on page 7) is a member of the Mar Vista Community Council, election reporting records show. “This is unprecedented,” Zimmer said in an interview days after Bloomberg’s contribution. “This is not the first time that someone has tried to buy a local school board election.” In 1999, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan attempted to put his stamp on the school board by financially backing candidates of his choosing and was successful in helping to elect Genethia Hundley-Hayes and Caprice Young, both of whom were defeated in their reelection bids four years later. Zimmer said there is a stark distinction this time. “The biggest difference is in the balance of power and how brazen it is,” he explained. “In this scenario, they are looking to buy complete and total control of the system.” Ann Wexler, one of the cofounders of Westchester Secondary Charter School, is not sure (Continued on page 8) •This Week• Page 12 Decade of Dissent: Democracy in Action, 1965-1975, an exhibit featuring original protest posters, will be held at the Arena 1 gallery in Santa Monica Feb. 23 through March 23.