Whether you agree with his politics or not, San Diego Unified School District trustee Scott Barnett has a knack for coining phrases.

Barnett is especially vehement with his words when he thinks his colleagues are forging policies that are irresponsible or ill thought-out. Perhaps the best recent example is the school board’s plan to sell off district properties in order to balance its books.

Barnett’s angry about this for a while, and he’s managed to come up with at least three analogies he thinks brilliantly frame the debate.

Selling grandma’s jewelry:

The first analogy I could find Barnett using for selling the district’s land was in a school board meeting last June, when the board first voted to sell off seven properties.

“It’s like selling your grandma’s jewelry to pay the rent. Probably this will go down as one of the most boneheaded things this district has ever done,” he told the crowd.

(You can read Scott Lewis’s analysis of the board’s botched land sales efforts here, and my story about the district’s ineffective real estate dealings here.)

Burning or selling the furniture:

Before long, Barnett moved on from the jewelry analogy to one he thought better fitted what he calls a “fire sale” of district land.

In January, he told me that selling district land was like a family “selling off its furniture to pay the rent.”

By the spring, that analogy had become even more colorful.

On May 14, he told U-T San Diego’s Maureen Magee that selling the property is like “burning the furniture to heat the house.”

Killing cows:

San Diego’s long, hot summer (that’s what I’ve heard — I’ve been in freezing, wet Uruguay) appears to have sprouted some new creative terminology in Barnett’s brain.

Apparently deciding that burning furniture wasn’t quite getting the point across, he told VOSD education blogger Christie Ritter that the land sales are “like a farmer taking his prized milk cow and slaughtering it for beef.”

From jewelry to furniture to cows: It’s all in a year of political analogies for Barnett.

Will Carless

Will Carless was formerly the head of investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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