Folks with deep pockets will want to know they now may spend up to $750 per election cycle to elect a favorite candidate for San Diego Unified School Board.
This action came from the school board itself at 10 p.m. last night on a near-unanimous vote of 4 to 1. Board member Scott Barnett wanted to up the ante to $1,000, but his cheeky suggestion failed for want of a second.
Oddly, no one on the board itself was willing to claim sponsorship of the self-serving measure. Ostensibly, it originated in the District Legal Services office where, with assistance from “outside counsel,” it was determined that the dramatic increase was consistent with changes in cost-of-living, inflation and the recent Supreme Court decision called “Citizens United” which permits unlimited campaign contributions from corporations.
Go figure any relevance: I can’t. Except that board members Jackson, Evans and Barrera are up for re-election next year.
The decision moves the campaign contribution limit from $500 where it had been since 2000 when the most expensive school board campaign in the history of this city was conducted. Even the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors have a $500 limit, but the five-person school board seems to feel they are worth the higher tariff.
After waiting four hours to testify against this escalation of more-money-in-politics, I argued that it is undemocratic; that the rationales are smokescreens; and that it heightens the struggle between business and labor for dominance of San Diego public schools — to the exclusion of ordinary citizens and their children who can ill-afford $750.
Frances O’Neill Zimmerman lives in La Jolla.