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Mt. Diablo school board candidate Ernie DeTrinidad drops out of race

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 at 2:31 pm in Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district.

I have received the following statement from Mt. Diablo school board candidate Ernie DeTrinidad, announcing his decision to withdraw from the race. Please note that he will still be listed on the ballot.

“As residents of the Mt. Diablo school community continue to face really tough challenges, the need to change the makeup of the School Board is without doubt the most important and vital. It is critical for residents to elect new members, members with new ideas, solutions and, most important, new approaches. We must build a more positive, productive, collaborative, and inclusive environment for our students, teachers and district staff, to achieve their very best – because successful students are essential for a healthy and prosperous community.

It is my belief that two candidates offer the Board exactly what is necessary, a genuine passion for positive change. Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason bring educational, community and organizational experience to the table. They are independent, yet can collaborate on creative solutions for the benefit of our students and our community.

We don’t need someone who will use the Board as a stepping-stone in his political pursuits, and falsely labels himself as an educator. We don’t need someone who has had ample opportunity as a current Board member, and yet has failed to lift our School District out of low performance results, instead filling the Board with negativity and distancing the Board from the very communities it serves, alienating District employees and staff.

In order to bolster our opportunity to achieve positive change, I have decided to withdraw from candidacy for School Board. This is a most difficult decision, but one I make in the best interest of our students. Instead I stand ready and ask that our community join me in support of the two best candidates for MDUSD School Board; Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason.

Ernie DeTrinidad
Parent/Candidate for MDUSD School Board”

Do you agree with DeTrinidad’s decision to drop out of the race?

OCT. 15 UPDATE: Here is the link to the CCTV MDUSD candidate forum:

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

145 Responses to “Mt. Diablo school board candidate Ernie DeTrinidad drops out of race”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Ernie showed a lot of courage and grace in reaching his decision.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There is more to the story. There is a small group forming that is working to support Mason and Oaks. It includes DeTrinidad, Trustee Cheryl Hansen and Pleasant Hill City Councilman Jack Weir (not acting in his capacity as a councilman), according to Weir. Weir said he also wants to defeat Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and Brian Lawrence.
    Oaks said she is not running on a slate with Lawrence, even though MDEA’s signs list both names. Oaks also said she does not feel like she is running “against” anyone.

  3. Anon Says:

    I hope Ernie runs for election in 2014. I will be one of the first to endorse him.A true gentleman; a man of honor. Ernie, you are a good and decent person.

  4. teacher Says:

    I fully supported Ernie’s candidacy for School Board and I will fully support the candidates he recommends. He truly listened, asked questions and learned. His goal is to provide our students the education that they need and deserve. He is an honorable man.

  5. Jack Weir Says:

    Mr. DeTrinidad’s selfless and courageous act deserves respect. His decision to throw his support behind Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason reinforces the need to provide fresh new independent leadership for a district board that is mired in negativity and secrecy.
    Incumbent Whitmarsh is responsible for much of the dysfunctionality on the current board, and candidate Lawrence has been deceptive in claiming that his primary occupation is “educator,” insulting the professional staff in the district.

  6. Anon Says:

    I would like to pose a question to candidate Brian Lawrence, he has claimed on many occasions that he is not a part of the cabal currently running the board (Eberhart and Whitmarsh).

    Would he be willing to publically denounce the Whitmarsh candidacy?

    If so, I would vote for him as he seems highly intelligent. If not, I suspect he is just the “chosen” replacement for the unelectable Eberhart and will be every bit the tyrant that Ebermarsh is.

  7. Anon Says:

    I would like for Brian Lawrence to explain how he is an “educator” and how he determined that is his primary occupation.

  8. Brian Lawrence Says:

    I wish Ernie the best of luck in his future efforts. I’ve only met him briefly, but have heard many good things about the work he is doing in the community.

    #7- I am a technology executive and I am a paid instructor at a vocational school. I’ve stated this in my ballot statement, on my campaign literature, to Theresa Harrington when she asked me and on this blog. Here is the line from the state worksheet that guided my designation:

    ” (3) No more than three words designating either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate, or the
    principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination
    documents. For purposes of this section, all California geographical names shall be considered to be one word. Hyphenated words that
    appear in any generally available standard reference dictionary, published in the United States at any time within the 10 calendar years
    immediately preceding the election for which the words are counted, shall be considered as one word. Each part of all other
    hyphenated words shall be counted as a separate word.”

    #6 I understand your anger and frustration with the current Board, but I won’t denounce Ms. Whitmarsh’s candidacy or anyone else’s. That’s not the kind of campaign I am going to run. I’m happy to speak about the areas of policy where I differ from the Board or other candidates, but I won’t be attacking anyone personally.

  9. #6 Here Says:

    Ok Brian,

    I see from your carefully worded statement that the politician in you is dominant.

    To go along with your willingness to speak of areas where you differ from the board:

    Exactly where would your policies differ from Ms. Whimarsh?

  10. anon Says:

    Mr. Lawrence,

    It certainly doesn’t appear that you could possibly justify describing the work that you say that you have done as an “educator” as your principal profession. Come on now, you are in your 40’s or something and how many classes have you actually taught? Are you teaching a class now? How many hours a week?

    At least be honest and just say that you put “educator” down as your profession because you saw that it got Lynne Dennler elected and you wanted to follow in her footsteps. The difference of course is that Ms. Dennler actually is an educator.

    So before you are even on the Board you are, at best, bending the truth. Frankly I’m surprised that the teacher’s union would endorse someone who would do such a thing. Just what we need.

  11. MD Educator Says:

    Perhaps Mr. Lawrence should also have read the “Guidelines for Basic Test for Acceptable Ballot Designations”.
    Those guidelines ask:
    1) Is it true?
    2) Is is accurate?
    3) Does it mislead?
    4) Is it generic? ( This means “IBM” is unacceptable, “Computer Company Manager” is acceptable.)
    5.Is it neutral?(This means not for or against.)
    6. Is this how this person makes a living?
    A cursory examination of these questions would suggest that Mr. Lawrence is pushing the envelope to address whether his designation is accurate or true. As to whether it misleads, yes, to the average layman, it is misleading. He manages to get through 4 and 5 but then # 6 pops up…Is this how Mr. Lawrence makes a living? How many hours a week does he teach at this vocational school? What percentage of his income comes from his work as an instructor? How long has he been an instructor? During the last election he identified himself as a technology executive.
    Thus, one can conclude his being an instructor has been a more recent undertaking.
    Frankly, I’m unconvinced by Mr. Lawrence’s somewhat tortured and superficial explanation. I also would like to know that when he appeared before my union, MDEA, did he present himself as an educator? Many of my colleagues share my doubts and concerns and while MDEA may endorse him, we, as individual teachers, will not vote for him
    Character counts and Mr. Lawrence, in this instance, failed the first test for being a public servant.
    One final thought…..Mr. Lawrence says he won’t be attacking anyone personally. Mr. Lawrence, when you present himself as an “educator” for political gain, you are personally attacking me as well as every “educator” who has ever committed themselves to the students. Your conceit is no different than that of the pretender who passes himself off as a war hero.

  12. anon Says:

    Brian Lawrence – The political spawn of Whitmarsh and Eberhart.

  13. Anon Says:


    Are you sure? I’m beginning to believe that is the case given his unwillingness to denounce Whitmarsh. But if he is truly anti-Whitmarsh I would vote for him in a second.

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lawrence did chastise the board for not endorsing Prop. 30 and urged trustees to bring it back. He quoted Dante, saying something like: The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis. (I’m not sure if that’s an exact quote, but it’s close.)

  15. anon Says:

    Of course he did TH. He is probably doing everything he can to stay in the good graces of the teacher’s union. They are huge supporters of prop 30 and probably not too pleased with Mr. Lawrence’s ballot designation. It’s going to seem like a long way until the election gets here for Mr. Lawrence when he is going to have to back pedal the whole way there.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    Brian Lawrence has now hid his “friend list” on Facebook, but he has tacitly acknowledged what we know from Sherry & Gary’s friend lists: they are mutual friends. How that plays in politics is still to be seen.

  17. Jack Weir Says:

    Mr. Lawrence’s “lawyerly” response validates the concern many of us share. I discussed this credibility issue with him face-to-face, and he was warned of the offense taken by true educators – see above.
    Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason share four decades of actual in-the-trenches educational experience. Mr. Lawrence’s two-hours-per-week instruction of barbers may qualify him for the governing board of the barber college, but not our public school board.
    His lengthy defense smacks to me of the Eberhardt/Whitmarsh regime, one noted more for its counter-productive divisiveness than its focus on the district’s real challenges. The contrast between Oaks/Mason and Whitmarsh/Lawrence could not be clearer, which is exactly why Ernie DeTrinidad (who I met and greatly admire) bit the bullet and withdrew, throwing his support behind Oaks/Mason.
    I’m going to respect that honorable sacrifice, and shun what appears to be opportunism.

  18. Brian Lawrence Says:

    Dr J- I’ve made no recent change to my Facebook friends list or preferences. I have 717 friends on Facebook- if you want to be one, just send me the request.

    #9, I appreciate the Jedi phrasing. I’ve disagreed with the current Board on the following:

    – Handling of school closure
    – Handling of the Clayton Valley Charter
    – 3 year contract extension for the Superintendent and top administrators
    – Lack of community meetings
    – Top down implementation of strategic planning
    – Vote of no confidence in the principal at MDHS
    – Lack of bathroom accessibility for MDHS students
    – Loss of $1.5 million QEIA funding for MDHS
    – Failure to endorse Prop 30
    – Failure to share info with the public in a timely fashion

    I’ve stated my disagreements on most, if not all, of those matters in public over the last two years.

  19. anon Says:

    TWO HOURS! Brian Lawrence works two hours- TWO HOURS- a week at a barber college and calls himself an educator? When he is called on it, he goes through all sorts of mumbo jumbo to justify his misrepresentation. This guy is so much like Eberhart it’s scary. You can almost hear them having the conversation “Well, Brian, I have a certificate from going to some class on solar power so I’m a solar expert.” “Yeah, Gary, I talk to barbers in a barber school two hours a week so can I be an educator?” “Brian, sounds good to me, go with it Yuk, yuk, yuk.”

    Think about that again – TWO HOURS! All those educators-teachers and administrators, out there who went through those hundreds of hours in graduate school, student teaching, professional development courses to increase skills and move over on the step and column on the salary schedule, taking work home, going through parent conferences, night duties, duties as assigned, etc. are probably sorry they did all that after they learned that all they would have had to do every week is two hours of “talking to barbers” and they would have been “Educators”, at least in Brian Lawrence’s politically jaundiced eyes.

    TWO HOURS! And Lawrence hasn’t even revealed his work year at the barber college. Good grief, that may cover all of two months?

    MD Educator and Mr. Weir make very cogent points. If Lawrence is so disingenuous- read “lie”- about something as basic as what he does for his vocation, why would anyone have reason to trust him to sit on the board and make decisions that affect our children’s education?

    We have had enough of what one writer has called the cabal. I will honor Mr. DeTrinidad’s endorsement and vote for Oaks and Mason and encourage others to take two minutes and cancel out Lawrence’s two hour charade when they vote this November.

  20. Jack Weir Says:

    With the exception of the next to last bullet point In Mr. Lawrence’s most recent post, every single one of these issues has been raised by Trustee Cheryl Hansen, in her lonely struggle to persuade the current board lock-step majority to abandon petty aquabbles, and address actual critical issues confronting the district. Does the term “purloined” occur to other district watchers?
    Ms. Whitmarsh seems fixated on getting through public sessions in the shortest possible time, and Mr. Eberhardt seems motivated solely to squelch any public discussion of matters that may peel back the veil of secrecy that characterizes the Eberhardt/Whitmarsh modus operandi. For example, his petulant demands that discussion of the superintendent’s goals be instantly recessed to closed session, while the public in attendance is left cooling their heels, is telling.
    Candidate Lawrence’s carefully crafted statements peg my “Slick” meter, but avoid any of the questions inquiring minds pose:
    >Why does Dr. Lawrence say, “No report” during the Superintendent’s Report segment of the public board meeting? Are there no issues of importance deserving of comment? 20% drop-out rate? 200 NCLB children showing up at PH Elementary with one day’s notice?
    >Is the Superintendent’s practice of intimidating our principals likely to generate positive outcomes for our kids? Will it encourage quality applicants?
    >Does anyone other than Ms. Hansen care that parents in Pleasant Hill see district administration as an obstacle to the implementation of local school site improvement programs they are willing to finance themselves?
    >Does it make sense that a member of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee should be forced to pay $250 of her own money for access to public records? Seriously?
    BTW, some have asked: why is a city councilman sticking his nose into another jurisdiction’s business? The answer is painfully simple: no issue is more important to the residents of Pleasant Hill than the quality of our schools. It’s really not about Mr. Eberhardt and Ms. Whitmarsh covering their tracks, or Mr. Lawrence enhancing his future political aspirations. It’s about giving all of our kids the best education we can, and getting the maximum bang for taxpayers dollars. That is the razor sharp focus of Ms. Oaks and Ms. Mason.
    Enough is enough; it’s time to get real.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    @Brian Lawrence. Brian since you are now running for public office, its time to unveil your list of Facebook friends like many people do instead of keeping them secret. The public is entitled to know “who” you consider to be a “friend” — all 717 of them. And BTW, Doctor J does not have, and does not intend to have, a Facebook page. We know of two — Sherry and Gary — and I suspect Paul Strange is there too. Who else ? You say that you are an open book — then open the book !
    PS Theresa, could you establish a protocol so we can differentiate between Steven and Brian when the phrase “Lawrence” is used in a post ?

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Yup, Brian Lawrence is Facebook friends with Paul Strange too — just verified it. Who else Brian ? Brian, you preach transparency, now its time to practice it ! Keeping your 717 friends secret is far from transparent.

  23. Michael Langley Says:

    NEWSFLASH! My FB Friends include Sherry Whitmarsh, Paul Strange and Lynn Dennler. Does that mean I’m in a secret cabal to support the current MDUSD board majority? Grasping at straws much folks? #20, Mr Weir, the list Brian posted is very close to mine and most of the regular attendees to the MDUSD board meetings. Are we all stealing from Ms. Hansen for stating the obvious? I have watched Brian grow in his understanding of the district from his first interest two and a half years ago to the present time. His concern is genuine. If he has political goals beyond the school board, then that is his concern. It is my observation that recently the MDUSD board is not exactly a stepping stone to political success.

  24. anon Says:

    And, Mr. Langley, did Brian Lawrence present himself to MDEA as an educator when you endorsed him while you were still president in June?

    And, what do you think of his calling himself an educator? Do you and/or MDEA support that?

    It is noteworthy that Mr. Langley quietly supported Brian Lawrence two years ago despite the fact MDEA did not.

  25. Wait a Minute Says:

    I think it is more noteworthy that Mr. Langley and MDEA supported Gary Eberhart AND Sherry Whitmarsh during their last election (and I assume it was based on the lies that EberMarsh told the MDEA).

    In other words, MDEA has a recent poor track record in picking who to support.

    A question for Brian Lawrence.

    Brian, based on your list of disagreements with the current board, WHOM SPECIFICALLY and HOW would you hold accountable for these mistakes? In other words, what SPECIFICALLY is your take on accountability?

  26. Doctor J Says:

    TRANSPARENCY — Mike Langley apparently that doesn’t mean the truth to you, does it ?

  27. MDUSDTeacher Says:

    As a teacher in the MDUSD I’m completely shocked that our union would endorse Brian Lawrence. I spent countless hours and money earning my credential, I am an educator. Teachers, we need to join together and demand that MDEA, the union that is supposed to represent us, that takes money each month from our paycheck withdraws their endorsement immediately! It is a complete and utter insult to all of us.

  28. Michael Langley Says:

    WaM, Mike Langley was not part of MDEA leadership during the Whitmarsh/Eberhart election. During the last election, MDEA chose not one to support.Also, MDEA represents the members of the union, who are not monolithic in views. MDEA represents the majority will of a population that is everchanging. To talk about what MDEA did 10, 8 or 6 years ago is assuming that there is no change in the organization and its members.

    Dr. J, I am confused by your quip. Transparancy does not mean truth, it means doing business in an open and clear manner.

  29. anon Says:

    Mr. Langley is not answering my question. I’m not talking about six years ago, I’m talking about 4 months ago when Mr. Langley was MDEA President.

    In the spirit of transparency, open and clear,, Mr. Langley, did Brian Lawrence present himself as an educator when MDEA endorsed him in June?

    And, open and clear, personally Mr. Langley, what do you think of Mr. Lawrence calling himself an educator? Do you and/or MDEA support his doing that.

    Open and clear, do you believe that a organization such as MDEA whichh purportedly represents professional educators should promote and endorse people for public office who misrepresent themselves as educators?

    One last trasnparent question,Mr. Langley, you did support Mr. Lawrence two years ago, did you not?

  30. Wait a Minute Says:

    Sorry Mr. Langley, I did not know that you were not a part of the MDEA leadership during the 2008 election cycle when the MDEA strongly backed the EberMarsh duo.

    See here:

  31. Michael Langley Says:

    No, I did not support Mr. Lawence two years ago. I did advise him to go to school board meetings and learn about the very complex job involved. Funny how a totally false statement concerning my support for a candidate can take on a life simply by the comments of an Anon. blogger. BTW, I gave the same advice to Ernie last Spring. In him I saw a passionate parent who wanted the best, but was inexperienced in the matters of the School District. As I am no longer part of MDEA, please address your questions to the current leadership, who participated in the interviews. Or speak to the community members who attended as observers. You see, we held open and tranparent interviews.

  32. Jack Weir Says:

    Mr. Langley, whose work on behalf of the district and its teachers I greatly appreciate, makes good points. None of the current board members or candidates are saints, nor need they be. None of the current board members or candidates are evil people, nor should they be so characterized.
    However, the real world critical issues in this election are candidate credibility, credentials and motivation. Ms. Oaks and Ms. Mason pass that test. Ms. Whitmarsh and Mr. Lawrence do not.
    I believe MDEA made one great choice, and that’s a good thing. I hope Local One and others will choose wisely as well.
    I’m doing everything I can to support the best qualified candidates for this election, and to start work toward the next. Even under the most optimistic scenario, it’s going to take several years to turn this district around, and that should be our focus.

  33. Anon Says:

    Mr. Jack Weir,

    You sir are a good upstanding citizen, but you are dreadfully wrong on one point. Eberhart and Whitmarsh are indeed evil people serving only to further their own personal interests.

    If Brian Lawrence fails to denounce Whitmarsh he must be considered part of the cabal.


  34. Wait a Minute Says:

    I would definetly categorize Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Rolen, and Stevie Lawrence as evil for what they have done to this district and will continue to do until replaced.

  35. The Observer Says:

    While Brian Lawrence exaggerates his work history, a cursory review of board minutes reveals his exaggerated statements about his participation in speaking on board issues.

    The most egregious claim is that he spoke out against contract extensions for the superintendent and cabinet. On April 23 the board considered contract extensions for the superintendent and his cabinet. During that debate 11people spoke to the issue – 2 supporting contract extensions , 9 not supporting- Mr. DeTrinidad and Mr. Langley were amongst the 9 who spoke against the contract extensions. Mr. Lawrence sat in thein the back corner of the room and watched, silently. The super-majority voted 4-1 to offer extensions.

    It wasn’t until four weeks in late May that Mr Lawrence brought himself to the front of the board and loudly declaimed the contract extensions. That took real political courage!

  36. Doctor J Says:

    #27 Langley admits that TRUTH is NOT a condisderation for MDEA — he basically says that as long as they lie in a transparent manner, it is ok. How can anyone believe what Mike Langley says ? How can anyone believe what any spokesperson for MDEA says ? Anyone who does not denounce what Langley says does not support the TRUTH !

  37. MDEA Says:

    I am a MDEA member and I DENOUNCE what Mike Langley says. MDEA leadership is about the most corrupt leadership there is on the planet and yes that includes the “retired” Mike Langley.

  38. mtz man Says:

    As one who refuses to make public their own identity, Dr. J is hardly in a position to be complaining about transparency.

  39. Michael Langley Says:

    Dr. J, re-read my statement and you will see your interpretation is erroneous.

  40. Doctor J Says:

    Mike, I have re-read your statement on transparency. You said in part: “Transparency does not mean truth . . .” I disagree — transparency does include the TRUTH or else it would not be transparent — the truth would be occluded. You then say that transparency “means doing business in an open and clear manner.” If you mean “doing business” would include suppressing the truth, hiding the truth, massaging the truth, or anything else that would prevent the truth from being known, then I have to say that is miles from transparency. So please tell me Mike if I am misinterpreting your statement and if I am, please explain how the “truth” is part of transparency or if you really believe that “doing business in an open and clear manner” does not always include telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I look forward to your response.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    And Mtz Man, you are ? What a hypocrite. I have been the same identity for years ! You pop up as multiple identities. What really scares them, is that I am already Facebook friends with them. :-)

  42. 2busymom Says:

    Dr. J,
    Please clarify, at post 21, you state you do not now, nor will you ever have a facebook page, then in post 41 you claim to be facebook friends with “them”. Did I miss something in the translation?

  43. Doctor J Says:

    Doctor J is a psuedo name. Doctor J does not endorse candidates nor have a Facebook page. However, I am a real person and do those kinds of things.

  44. Jim Says:

    Mtz Man — It is not the responsibility of any private citizen on this blog to be “transparent” to you, or anyone else. That’s why we have the term “private citizen”. Public officials and employees, on the other hand, owe the public the duty to be completely transparent, in all of their public capacities, because the public funds their organizations, their salaries, and benefits and generally makes it possible for them to hold their positions and pursue their careers. You can’t possibly struggle to make such a simple distinction, can you? Except for a few MDUSD board members and administrators, I can’t think of anyone who could be so hopelessly confused.

  45. MDEA Member Says:

    Notice how quickly Mike “Retired” Langley and Sue “Retired” Berg disappear from the blogs after being called out with the truth?

  46. mtzman Says:

    Seems like I struck a nerve here! No one is saying someone can’t use a pseudonym on a blog post. Obviously, mtzman is one, but that wasn’t my point. I am not going around decrying the lack of transparency.

    BTW, I pop up as multiple identities? I’d be really curious as to who I supposedly am.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    @#45 Great Friday humor. Love the last line. Hope you figure it out !

  48. mtzman Says:

    #46, I was so hoping you would enlighten all of us, especially me …

  49. Sue Berg Says:

    MDEA Member,
    Not disappeared, just not moved to participate in the Brian Lawrence and Mike Langely bashing that’s taken over the comment section recently. Not sure what I’ve said that you think is untrue. I typically comment only when I read a statement that I know, from my experience in the district, to be inaccurate and that I believe should be corrected either to advance the discussion at hand or to stop the misinformation from becoming accepted as fact. Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Engage in productive discussions about issues important to our children’s education?

  50. anon Says:


    On here? Engage in productive discussions? Not for a long time. This is a place to light fires, pour gasoline on and watch it burn. There may be a productive comment here and there, but the likes of Dr. J and Ms. Harrington herself are only interested in one thing, disrupting and putting a negative spin on everything.

    Look, I’m as entertained as the next person with this blog, but let’s be honest, there is nothing happening on here that could be remotely consider positive for the students of the district.

  51. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon, It is not my intent to put “a negative spin on everything.”
    In fact, today I interviewed several Olympic HS students for our next Hometown Hero story about longtime teacher Skip Weinstock. This will be a very positive story that will focus on his work with students at the school, as well as other outside work he does that helps the community.
    I am also hoping to post more information about the candidates from my interviews. However, I still have to complete my interview with Brian Lawrence.
    Board President Sherry Whitmarsh specifically thanked me for my blog post about the Ygnacio Valley HS’s visit by a B-Girl who helped the school get ready for a rally.
    Also, I met with Rep. George Miller on Wednesday and he said he reads my blog excerpts in the Sunday CC Times and appreciates my coverage of education issues.

  52. David "Shoe" Shuey - Clayton City Council Says:

    Anon #50 – As someone who fought long and hard for the Clayton Valley Charter on behalf of our kids, I have to disagree. While it certainly got vitriolic, this blog was a valuable and necessary resource to oppose the lack of transparency and one sided dissemination of information that came from the District. While there may be some bad postings, without this and othe similar outlets, the public would have no other resource to present counter arguments to one side dissemination of information. Theresa and this blog provide a valuable resource to make sure all sides of the argument are heard.

  53. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#50. I am only interested in one thing: THE TRUTH. Unfortunately, that is hard to find with the MDUSD sleight of hand. If you want the TRUTH, read the API scores next week and realize that without the 3 SIG schools fantastic accomplishments, that the district would have dropped 25 points. You think Steven Lawrence is going to tell you that or cover it up ? it matches his track record — and remember the only reason the SIG schools made such huge gains in the API is because of the lengthened school day REQUIRED by the Feds and State when they audited MDUSD and discovered that MDUSD was NOT KEEPING its grant promises. Only because the Feds/State caught Lawrence and Lock in non-compliance and withheld money until a “Corrective Action Plan” was submitted and approved, did we such such massive gains in the SIG schools — unfortunately, the rest of the schools suffer under the lack of leadership of Lawrence’s brainchild — SASS. Call that negative if you want, but the fact is that it is the TRUTH. Until the TRUTH is revealed, improvements cannot be made.

  54. anon Says:

    I stand by my statement. This blog is nothing more than an outlet for those who wish to anonymously bash the school district, with or without facts. Sources go unchecked, facts go unchecked and comments are often completely false. Fortunately, most people do not see the comments here, so most people are blissfully unaware that such misinformation exists. There was a time when the newspaper could be counted on to ensure that news and comments were supported by fact, or at least that news and comments could be accurately attributed to a real person so we would at least know the source and understood the bias. Without that information, comments here are meaningless, including mine.

  55. Anon Says:

    Anon #54 ,

    Hi Gary – good to see you posting again. Why the sour grapes if you aren’t running?

  56. anonymous 5 Says:

    Anon: distinguish yourself from the other Anon’s

  57. Doctor J Says:

    Anon#54 describes Eberhart’s M.O. — Modus Operandi — perfectly: “Sources go unchecked, facts go unchecked and comments are often completely false.” When Gary is asked to produce his sources, he declines. When Gary is asked to produce his alleged Diploma from St. Mary’s, he declines. When Gary claims he relied on certain documents to base his votes, he declines to produce them. Gary declined to run for reelection, because the TRUTH would have defeated him. But those facts won’t go away — they just wait for his next election.

  58. Doctor J Says:

    API scores delayed by CDE until Oct 11 — guess the bad news is going to impact the election. Prop 30 is already dropping and barely above 50% on Field Poll — Prop 38 well below 50%. Maybe Steven Lawrence is hoping Prop 30 doesn’t pass so he will have an excuse to wipe out his massive failure of SASS and blame it on “budget cuts” instead of his bad idea and horrible leadership. Meanwhile the children of MDUSD suffer at his hands. Remember MDUSD will “spin” its few points gain, but if you take out the MASSIVE gains of the the 3 SIG schools, MDUSD would have dropped more than 25 points !! And Sherry thinks all is well at MDUSD — unbelievable.

  59. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the link to the CCTV candidate forums:

    Also, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh does say in her ballot statement that more work needs to be done and she lists several issues she wants to focus on.

    Regarding blaming budget cuts, I attended a workshop about Common Core Standards on Friday that featured superintendents from Santa Ana, Long Beach and Sacramento, along with an assistant supt. from Oakland. They all said that while they could use more money, they are not using that as an excuse to shortchange students. Instead, they are working creatively with what they have to provide the best education possible. The Long Beach supt said his board meetings usually last 45 minutes because everyone is on the same page — focused on what’s best for students. He also said the board has a two-day retreat each year to delve into important issues in the district.

    This reminded me of the MDUSD board retreat, when the facilitator scolded Trustee Cheryl Hansen after Hansen said she didn’t want the board to continually blame Sacramento for its woes.

  60. Anon Says:

    Schools are already reporting their API’s and increases.
    Does everyone know about this meeting on the 3rd?

    The MDUSD Superintendent is holding a feeder pattern meeting for parents from MDES, Ayers, Highlands, Silverwood, Diablo View and Pine Hollow on October 3, 7PM at the Pine Hollow Middle School library. There will be 4 meetings throughout the year for our feeder pattern parents. The Superintendent is interested in receiving agenda items generated by parents on district issues about which they would like more information. You can send agenda items to the principal of your child’s school to forward to the Superintendent’s office prior to the meeting.

  61. Monte Garden Parent Says:

    Monte Gardens API = 932

    Yes folks the school Sherry Whitmarsh wanted shut down.

  62. Theresa Harrington Says:

    During my candidate interview with Board President Sherry Whitmarsh, she told she was working with the superintendent to go out to each feeder pattern three times a year to meet with parent leaders.
    But, it’s surprising there has been no public board discussion about this and no districtwide newsletter announcing this, to my knowledge.

    Here is the direct link to the MDUSD candidate forum:

  63. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s advice from AASA about what superintendents should seek in their contracts:

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a reminder about the CAC candidate forum tomorrow at 6 p.m., followed by the CAC meeting:

    Although the announcement says it includes attachments regarding Lorrie Davis’ Sept. 24 comments to the board and an email exchange with Trustee Linda Mayo, I don’t see those attachments.

  65. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#60 These are API estimates based on STAR scores and the district’s private consultant estimates from their computer program — usually a few points off. Make no mistake about it, MG’s 932 is tremendous, but as I recall only a 1 point gain from last year. At that level, its hard to improve ! But again, when you take out the stupendous gains by the SIG schools due to the increased learning day imposed by the FEDS and the STATE as part of the SIG requirements, which MDUSD ignored the first year of the grant, and got caught by audit and had their money cut off, were required to do a “Corrective Action Plan” to lengthen the school day, the longer instructional periods made a huge difference, and thus you see the massive gains. ASK the candidates if they will support further extensions of the school days after the grant ends next year ? Steven Lawrence is saying NO.

  66. Anon Says:

    [This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation]

    Thanks for placing the link to the Candidate Forum online. After watching it the only question I have is how much longer can Sherry’s nose get. …

  67. Doctor J Says:

    [This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation.]

    @Anon#66 You are too kind. Sherry … (appears to be) in denial about the horrible state of affairs of the district. The other three candidates are pretty united that “it happens” in the classroom, not in the Supt’s office, and way too few dollars are hitting classroom — most of the dollars being swept by Dent, and in particular, by Steven Lawrence the Supt. Remember that Barbara Oaks worked as a Principal under Steven Lawrence,…. I have not heard a single good word about him from anyone from Mt. Diablo [except Sherry and Gary] , West Sacramento or Roseville, his two prior employers — except for the person who rode his coattails — Sue Brothers, the major monetary benefactor of him.

  68. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: In my interview with Oaks, she did say that Lawrence seems to be good with numbers. But, she said she never really got to know him. She said she felt that former Supt. Gary McHenry took more time getting to know her and asking her opinions about things. Oaks told me that Supt. Lawrence is meeting with all the candidates. She said she appreciated that.
    Debra Mason said she also appreciated the opportunity to sit down with the superintendent. But, she said he did most of the talking and didn’t really ask her any questions.

  69. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#68 Of course, Steven Lawrence is up Sh$t creek, without a paddle after he didn’t get the Sacramento job — after his fiasco, the Supt headhunters are avoiding him like the plague. He can spin numbers like no other, and then refuse to divulge the details !! As you know, his numbers change by the minute and by issue –one day we are deficit spending by 7 million and the next day by 10 million. He manipulates the FCMAT reports and FCMAT is so inept they cannot even make all the changes to make the report consistent from paragraph to paragraph. But don’t forget the biggest fauxpau exposed by the Times: TOILETGATE. A national embarrassment that Lawrence sanctioned and condoned. If he is lucky, he might have a lifetime teaching credential and can return to the classroom — but not in MDUSD.

  70. Doctor J Says:

    Ask Barbara Oaks about one of Lawrence’s “first” principal meetings when he pressured all principals and administrators to “be a team player” and support the furlough days . . . “or else”. The intimidation was intense and the implication was that if you didn’t support “furlough days” then you were not part of “his team”. Barbara retired at the end of the year.

  71. Anon Says:

    Ask Steven Lawrence how many of those administrators chose the “…or else” and left the district either by retirement or moving to a different district.

  72. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD is next !!! The “legacy” of Steven Lawrence and Mildred Browne’s “neglect” ! sorry the link is not copying — google San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland USD Federal Monitoring for disproportional suspensions.

  73. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the CCT link the the Oakland Tribune story:

    And here are student testimonials about Weinstock, which show that he is able to connect with them and show that he genuinely cares about them:

  74. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is my Hometown Hero story about Olympic HS teacher Skip Weinstock, which looks at the positive difference he is making in students’ lives:

  75. Anon Says:

    [This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation.]

    Sherry, we have to ask you to wrap it up.

  76. Anon Says:

    Who is Anon #60 announcing the feeder pattern meeting at Pine Hollow on Wednesday night? My site administrator told us that the feeder meeting was at Riverview on Wednesday. Where is it?

  77. Doctor J Says:

    I wonder why Steven Lawrence keeps these feeder pattern meetings “secret” and doesn’t post them on the District Calendar on the website ? Perhaps the candidates can email the Supt and ask him ? Is his self proclaimed “better communication” really improved ? or just more lip flapping ? Did “Good News” even announce these meetings ? Or are these meetings just more “shoot from the hip” last minute concoctions that no one else “knew about” ?

  78. Anon Says:

    #76. I am a parent who got this info sent to me in a school news letter. I cut and pasted it right out of the news letter.
    I don’t know what to tell you except call the District office. They have not put dates, times and places on the District site so perhaps Mr. Lawrence can answer your question.

  79. Doctor J Says:

    [This comment has been edited to delete unsubstantiated allegations.]

    Just finished a cursory review of the Sept 2012 “Good News” — erroneously labeled as “Spring 2012” — another rush job by staff who thinks “proofreading” means “spellcheck”. Anyways, not a single mention of Feeder Pattern meetings — and “Good News” is all about feeder pattern “news”.

  80. Doctor J Says:

    I can’t wait for Oct 5 — Sherry has to file her campaign contributors through Sept 30. Next one is Oct 21 — she can’t hide her contributors for long. This time, she doesn’t have Eberhart and Strange to fund her campaign through contributions they received. It will be interesting to see how many MDUSD “vendors” want their names on the front page of the Times for donations to Sherry.

  81. The Observer Says:

    Speaking of donors, did you know that Matt Juhl-Darlington donated to Brian Lawrence’s campaign in 2010 and that former MDEA presidentMike Langley had a candidate sign for Brian Lawrence in his front yard in 2010. Looked like an endorsement to many who saw it.

  82. Doctor J Says:

    Until Brian Lawrence reveals who his 717 (?) Facebook friends are, we won’t know ALL of the details.

  83. Anon Says:

    MDEA seems to be downplaying Brian Lawrence’s claim he is an “educator” Their website endorsement for him says, ” Mr. Lawrence is a father of four young children, two of whom attend elementary school within the District”.

    Contrast that statement with the one about Barbara Oaks,” Barbara Oaks is a recently retired Mt. Diablo teacher and administrator. Barbara spent many years teaching special education students and she completed hr career as a vice principal and principal at College Park High School.”

    Appears that MDEA might be suffering from buyer’s remorse.

  84. Wait a Minute Says:

    [This comment has been edited to delete unsubstantiated allegations]


    If Matt Juhl-Darlington gave money to Brian Lawrence’s campaign then that means ….

    I can’t help but notice that Brian Lawrence has yet to respond to my prior request for him to spell out his views on accountability and what steps he would take to hold people accountable for the many MDUSD decisions he says he “disagrees” with?

    Also, if Stevie Lawrence has become Sherry Whitmarsh’s de-facto campaign manager by scheduling meetings with parents all over the district for Sherry to speak at and capitalize on then I would hope another candidate would complain to the FPPC and perhaps even complaints to the Grand Jury/DA and Credentialing Commission would be appropriate.

  85. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have edited and/or deleted several comments to delete name-calling and/or unsubstantiated allegations.

    I will remind readers and commenters that opinions should not be stated as facts. Unsubstantiated allegations stated as facts will be deleted. Name-calling will also be deleted.

  86. Anon Says:

    [Note: This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation.]

    If Brian Lawrence steps up and complains to the Grand Jury or FPPC about Whitmarsh using the feeder pattern meetings to campaign, I would take that as a subtle sign he is denouncing the Whitmarsh run.

    As such I would then vote for him as he seems to be the most itelligent one of the bunch.


  87. anon Says:

    @#76, Riverview’s feeder pattern meeting would not be the same as Pine Hollow’s. I would go with what your admin said.

  88. Anon Says:

    I suppose that if everyone thinks Sherry is using the meetings for her own benefit, then we should attend and find out what it is about before we start that rumor. If in fact she is there speaking and it is not what it was said to be then we have more problems that I thought.

  89. Anon Says:

    [This comment has been edited to delete an unsubstantiated allegation]

    Can someone post a complete schedule of the feeder pattern meetings?

    I will gladly attend everyone and tape Sherry Whitmarsh for posting on youtube ….

  90. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I interviewed Brian Lawrence yesterday for my election coverage. He said he found out about the feeder pattern meetings when he met with the superintendent (the superintendent met with all candidates). Brian Lawrence said he asked the superintendent why there haven’t been any Parent Advisory Committee meetings this fall, since Brian Lawrence had previously attended them. Brian Lawrence said the superintendent told him that the feeder pattern meetings are intended to replace the Parent Advisory Committee meetings, since attendance was low at the Parent Advisory Committee meetings. Based on this, it does not sound like these meetings are intended as vehicles for trustees to talk to the public. Instead, they appear to be vehicles for the superintendent to talk to parents.
    But, as has been previously noted, it’s surprising that the board has not publicly discussed the idea of disbanding the Parent Advisory Committee and holding feeder pattern meetings instead. Also, if the board supports feeder pattern meetings, it is surprising that the board failed to support Trustee Cheryl Hansen’s motion to hold meetings in the community:
    In fact, no one even mentioned the fact that the superintendent planned to hold community meetings himself during this agenda item discussion.
    If the district is truly committed to transparency, it should post all of the feeder pattern meeting times, dates and locations on the district website. The superintendent should also let the community know how and why the decision was made to hold these meetings.
    This would have been a very appropriate item for the superintendent to have announced during his Superintendent’s Report at the last board meeting. But, he made no mention of it.

  91. Annie Says:

    Skip is a great teacher and role model for students. His Service Learning Program has helped many students over the years to make better decisions in their lives. You could not have picked a better person. His dedication to Olympic High and students is in his heart and soul.Annie (Love you Skip)

  92. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Annie. I plan to do a blog post later today with more quotes from Skip that didn’t fit into my story.

  93. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have posted a separate blog item with the Diablo View MS feeder pattern letter:

    Somewhat ironically, the letter states that one of the purposes of the meeting is to improve communication. Yet, the apparently new idea for feeder pattern meetings has been communicated to the community in a very piecemeal fashion.

  94. Doctor J Says:

    Censorship: I have asked TH for an explanation via email of what comments by me were censored and for what reason so that either I can substantiate the facts, or restate them as my opinion, which of course they obviously were in the first place. I encourage each of you to do the same. One comment that was censored, I believe, was after watching the Times broadcast of the interview with S. Whitmarsh where I voiced my opinion of the lack of truthfulness of S. Whitmarsh in her unsubstantiated statements. Since when is my opinion “censorable” ? The Times clearly has stated that our opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial board. Otherwise, censoring another’s opinion in fact becomes the opinion of the censor. Hardly, a free speech society.

  95. Theresa Harrington Says:

    If you believe there was a lack of truthfulness, then I suggest that you point out specifically what you think was untrue. If you call a person a liar and leave it at that, your comment will be deleted or edited.

  96. Doctor J Says:

    Ok, lets have a debate about my opinion about her whole performance — it was not based on any single fact. I responded to a prior post. I stated an opinion about the powder puff questions by the Times — and the statements by S. Whitmarsh unsupported by a single fact — censor that under your “guidelines” you are judging our posts by. If you will repost the part of my opinion you censored, you will see that I responded generally to the broadcast and my opinion of it. But apparently you censored more than I thought that Sherry was untruthful in her comments. Further, there was another comment of mine you censored, even after you responded to it, [censored it hours after you had responded to it]. Interesting that you ignored my email but are willing to have the public discourse about it.

  97. Anon Says:

    Is this a sign that the board has begun to pressure to CC Times Editor to censor the paper?

    Is Gary Eberhart really that powerful?

    Theresa did he have the DA threathen you like he ALLEGEDLEY has with other board members?

  98. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No. No one contacted me about the posts. However, it is not fair to call people names or to make unfounded accusations about them. Opinions should be clearly stated as opinions and allegations should be backed up with facts.

  99. Doctor J Says:

    TH did, after I posted the last comment, respond to me privately, which I appreciate. She said I was censored about my opinion of Mike Langley being a “fencesitter” since she opined that I called him a name — and she opined that I was questioning his manhood. She also said she also censored my opinion about Steven Lawrence acting as Sherry Whitmarsh’s campaign manager [actually that may have been someone else’s stated opinion] and I thought I had phrased it differently, but frankly, with a similar theme that he was acting outside of his legally authorized role as Supt.

    Please permit me to restate my opinions: Often, but not always, Mike Langley, is in my opinion a fencesitter [a descriptive term not as a derogatory “name”], as is defined in the dictionary [can’t figure out which side of the issue to be on]. I have no reason to question his “manhood” — frankly gender is irrelevant in all of these discussions. I wish he would be more definitive in his opinions as he has lots of knowledge and experience, and personally I think a lot of him when he expresses his private opinions. As for Supt Lawrence’s alleged actions to support S. Whitmarsh in her re-election, I believe they cross the line of legality and appropriateness based upon what is visible to the public. The Supt should not be taking actions, publicly or privately, that support or build up one candidate over another. I believe the record supports such actions.

  100. Anon Says:

    I am also of the OPINION that what Steve Lawrence is doing for Sherry Whitmarsh is indeed illegal.

    It would be nice for the Times to do an expose on this POSSIBLY illegal activity.

  101. Wait a Minute Says:

    I will say that my opinion wholeheartedly agrees with Dr J’s and Anon#100’s opinions that the superintendent is likely breaking the law by helping Sherry Whitmarsh’s visibility by inviting her to speak at all these so-called “feeder pattern” meetings with the public that apperently were never disclosed properly to anyone but the invitees.

    I would further like to restate my opinion that it appears to me that Greg Rolen is helped to develop/influence Mr. Brian Lawrence as a board candidate.

    I believe he did this (my opinion only) by getting the MDUSD’s highly paid outside bond counsel Mr. Matt Juhl-Darlington of Chico, CA to donate money to Mr. Brian Lawrence’s MDUSD BOE’s campaign.

  102. Doctor J Says:

    In my opinion, the TIMES has failed its constitutional duty and duty to the public by not following through on its public records requests to MDUSD and to FCMAT, as documented in this blog. Personally, I would like a public accounting by the Editor as to why the requests are made, said that it will not take “NO” as an answer, and then gives up time after time when Rolen stalls the release of the documents. The bark has turned into a whisper, and soon will be mute. Why doesn’t the TIMES follow through with its Public Records Requests ? [If you need a list, do a search for PRA and you will be able to put one together quite quickly]

  103. Anon Says:

    I call on Brian Lawrence to confirm or deny the fact that he has accepted campaign donations from Mr. Matt Juhl-Darlington.

    If he has, I think any reasonable person would be able to draw their own conclusions about where Brian’s votes will fall on the issues.

    If you returns the Juhl-Darlington money, I think that we have a candidate worth voting for.

  104. Doctor J Says:

    Brian Lawrence continues to secret his Facebook friends from the public. The voters have a right to know who his “friends” are !

  105. Anon Says:

    Matt Juhl-Darlington’s campaign contribution was reported on Lawrence’s 460 form in February 2011. The actual contribution was made a week before the 2010 election. His other contributors in that last week very much look like the same contributors to Eberhart over the years….trade unions, not local, but in other parts of the state..the same unions who benefit from cozy relationships with certain board members with Measure C ties.. It is quite enlightening to see who brought in money late so that it wasn’t reported until well after the election. The question now is whether Lawrence has the same contributors as he did in 2010.

  106. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have spoken to Board President Sherry Whitmarsh to get clarification on her role in the feeder pattern meetings.
    She said they were the superintendent’s idea, which she supports. She said she has not gone to any feeder pattern meetings yet and doesn’t expect to attend any except for the YVHS meeting, since she lives in that neighborhood. The meetings are not board meetings, she said.
    Whitmarsh said the PAC also supported feeder pattern meetings instead of PAC meetings.
    However, some people at the CAC meeting said they didn’t recall any consensus at the PAC regarding disbanding. Several said they liked being able to meet as a large group so they could hear what schools were doing across the district.
    Also, Pleasant Hill parents said parents were hand-picked by the principal to attend their feeder pattern meeting on very short notice, giving the impression the meetings are invitation only. One parent said only about three parents showed up to the Pleasant Hill meeting.
    Some said they liked the fact that the former PAC meetings were open to anyone. One parent said superintendent Lawrence said anyone who wasn’t a parent in the feeder pattern would not be told to leave.
    Another parent said: “That doesn’t sound very welcoming.”
    CAC parents also said they are not always part of feeder patterns, since their children often attend schools outside their neighborhoods, due to their special needs.

  107. Anon Says:

    Credible information from Dent Center reports that both Whitmarsh and B. Lawrence were seen leaving the superintendent’s office last week within twenty minutes of one another. This feeder pattern meeting plan and PAC breakup is starting to come together. Seems that Superintendent Lawrence is treating candidate Lawrence like a board member already passing on information and Whitmarsh seems to be behind the scenes as the den mother.

  108. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: As I mentioned, the superintendent has met with all the candidates. Although only Brian Lawrence and Sherry Whitmarsh mentioned the feeder pattern meetings to me, it’s possible that Oaks and Mason were also informed about them.

  109. Doctor J Says:

    Possible ? That’s pure unsubstantiated speculation which is easily verifiable with a phone call.

  110. Jack Weir Says:

    Here’s an update on school board campaign issues.
    I attended Debra Mason’s Bay Point rally, at which dozens of citizens waved signs at passersby, and discussed the need for more genuine community outreach by the MDUSD board. Trustee Hansen was also in attendance, and outlined a litany of failure on the part of other trustees to support her repeated efforts to steer the board toward op

  111. Jack Weir Says:

    (continuing after a fat-finger glitch)
    …Trusted Hansen shared her frustration at trying to convince the current MDUSD board to be more open to community input and concerns. Bay Point folks’ complaints of being ignored by the board echo those heard in Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.
    Barbara Oaks continues her walking program, now extended into Concord. Her refusal to accept donations documents her commitment to remain independent, in order to focus solely on the needs of our kids, regardless of peripheral influences.
    With the flury of criticisms of candidate Lawrence’s self-labeling as an “educator,” many are perplexed by MDEA’s signs endorsing both Oaks and Lawrence. Oaks has distanced herself from Lawrence, but has no control over MDEA. Local One’s endorsement strengthens Oaks’ campaign. Hansen’s endorsement of Oaks and Mason, following DeTrinidad’s withdrawal, along with Ernie’s endorsement of Oaks and Mason makes voters’ choice clear: Oaks and Mason are independent and dedicated candidates, free of any residual Eberhardt/Strange baggage. Whitmarsh and Lawrence are not.
    We’re already working on steps to prepare DeTrinidad for future opportunities to serve and represent the interests of all of the district’s families.
    On the community college front, Vicki Gordon campaigns for the same fiscal effectiveness on the 4CD board she helped foster during her years as a Martinez teacher and school board member. Her opponent, incumbent Tomi Van DeBrook, voted for a project labor agreement that may ultimately cost 4CD residents tens of millions of dollars in wasted school bond money. Gordon is the clear choice for 4CD Ward II voters.

  112. Anon Says:

    Hope the Times editors endorse Debra Mason. Agree it’s perplexing MDEA did not.

  113. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Mason said she received the Times’ endorsement the last two times she ran.
    As a reminder, Times’ endorsements are made solely by the Editorial Board, which is completely separate from the reporting staff.
    I plan to post more information from my interviews with the candidates, but am awaiting a video from Board President Sherry Whitmarsh (I shot a video of Mason and shot video of Oaks and Lawrence at the MDEA press conference announcing their endorsement, but have extended an invitation to Whitmarsh to also supply a video).
    On a side note: I did not see any candidates at the UMDAF 5k on Sunday. Perhaps I missed them. But, if none showed up, they missed an opportunity to meet and greet very involved parents from all six high school feeder patterns at the event.
    But, Concord Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister was there, rooting on her alma mater, Concord HS.

  114. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, the Times’ editorial board will interview the MDUSD and WCCUSD candidates Oct. 23. I have been invited to sit in on the interviews, but I will not ask questions or have any input into the endorsement.

  115. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDUSD candidate forum Thursday in Pleasant Hill:

  116. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I have added an Oct. 15 update to this blog post with a link to the CCTV MDUSD candidate’s forum.

  117. Jack Weir Says:

    Rumor that Trustee Linda Mayo endorsed Sherry Whitmarsh is confifmed on the site.
    Mayo’s endorsement reinforces her support for the Eberhardt/Whitmarsh regime. She has consistently formed the board majority in blocking attempts by Trustee Hansen to bring openness to public discussion of critical issues. The need is clear this year to elect Barbara Oaks and Debra Mason, staunch proponents of open and respectful board meetings.
    Ernie DeTrinidad will be a worthy opponent, should Mayo decide to run again in 2014, and he has my full support in preparing for that contest.

  118. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the Pleasant Hill candidate’s forum, Whitmarsh said she supports the idea of televising board meetings. All of the other candidates also said it is important to televise and/or webcast meetings, so the public can see what is going on. The only issue is how to fund it.
    Whitmarsh commented that a former board member (Paul Strange) used to videotape meetings. But she said when he left, that service ended. She didn’t mention that Gary Eberhart continued the service for a while on his joint blog with Strange, then took down his blog, including all the videos. So now, there is no archive of all the videos.
    This is why the district itself should provide the service and not rely on someone else, who could pull the plug at any time, like Eberhart and Strange did.

  119. Jim Says:

    @111 — “We’re already working on steps to prepare DeTrinidad for future opportunities to serve and represent the interests of all of the district’s families.”

    Mr. Weir, could you elaborate? How is Mr.DeTrinidad being groomed for a future board race? Frankly, I have to question whether a candidate who needs two years or more of tutoring is what this district needs. We’ve already seen the effects of having a board where only one member seems to possess the requisite organizational skills and institutional background to lead the district in a positive direction. MDUSD is an almost $300 million enterprise that is “responsible” for educating over 30,000 students. We can all see what happens when the leadership is not up to the task.

    I do not know Mr. DeTrinidad, but on the occasions when I have heard him speak, he has not impressed me with his understanding of the issues, his professional qualifications, or his vision of the direction in which he would try to lead the district. He seems like a likable man, who probably wishes to do the right things, but the MDUSD board needs much more than that to pull this sad district out of the fire. I am open to changing my mind on Mr. DeTrinidad, but the necessity of “preparing” him to run does not bode well.

  120. g Says:

    Theresa, I seem to recall a board meeting where the board did instruct Lawrence to look into possibilities and costs of televising meetings, and “report back.”

  121. g Says:

    Found it: 3/26/12–16.8 Televised Board Meetings
    The Board requests the Superintendent to investigate and develop a plan of action to televise to the public all regular and special Board meetings, either through video streaming or through Contra Costa Television (CCTV). This plan will include a working budget that itemizes both start up and ongoing costs. The Superintendent will make his report of findings and recommendation to the Board at a future Board meeting.

    Of course, it has only been SEVEN months….

  122. g Says:

    Now, that is the type of thing I expected to see on the “Accountability and Progress Reports.”

  123. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    When webcasts and recorded board meetings finally do become a reality, I hope board members will have more sense and not be caught texting on their phone during a meeting like Sherry was seen doing multiple times during board and other public meetings (example: school closure public meeting at one of the elementary schools) in the past … There is no excuse for any board member not to be giving full attention at all times during any meeting. That Includes not conducting side conversations during district member reporting or community members speaking (Eberhart and Rolen being incredible rude during public comment portion as captured on tape a few weeks ago).

    Board members and district staff members responsible / part of the the meetings should be required to turn off Phones and all personal devices, and should not be able to log into the webcast as it is happening. A simple verbal reminder at the beginning of the meetings to board members and staff to turn off personal phones/devices during both closed and open portions of the meetings could be made.

    Pet peeve I have had since I saw Sherry do this when the meetings were webcast previously.

  124. anon Says:

    @Jim 118

    Why didn’t you run for the board.

  125. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Thanks, I’ll correct my previous post. It doesn’t seem that staff has followed this directive, since Hansen has reported about her meetings with CCTV, with no comments from staff about actions they are taking to make this a reality.

    HFO: The board could create a policy that trustees must turn off cell phones and other electronic devices during meetings. I have seen staff texting and checking emails during meetings, while they wait for their items to come up on the agenda. It could make them less productive if they are forced to turn off their electronic devices to listen to discussions of items that don’t pertain to them. But, of course they should not be allowed to text or email trustees during the meeting. I know this is a concern that has been raised by Trustee Linda Mayo in the past, but no other board members seemed particularly concerned about it.

    I do recall one board study session in which Whitmarsh said that someone in the room was tweeting comments made by trustees (that was me). I wondered how she knew I was tweeting, since the district blocks twitter from its Wi-Fi (I have to use my phone to tweet). I assume she was either logging on to twitter using her phone — during the study session — or someone texted or emailed her during the meeting to let her know about my tweets.

    Also, Trustee Gary Eberhart openly admitted that he received a text during the meeting about KVHS — when he announced the meeting was not being simulcast on the radio station.

  126. Anon Says:


    Is it illegal to tweet about board meetings? I would like to see Sherry try and put an end to that. She can try to have me arrested but that is free speech all the way.


  127. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, it is not illegal for members of the community to tweet about board meetings. The district, however, blocks twitter from its Wi-Fi so that students and staff (and the public) cannot access it via computers. However, the district can’t block people from accessing twitter via cell phones.
    Whitmarsh was not trying to prevent tweeting. She appeared to be making the comment to warn other board members that their comments could be made public.
    She said she was going to make a comment about her daughter, but she decided not to because she didn’t want personal information about her family to be tweeted. I don’t think I would have tweeted anything about her daughter, but I don’t remember the exact context for her comment.

  128. MD Educator Says:

    How will Tom Torlakson, Mark DeSaulnier, Joan Buchanan, and Susan Bonilla respond when they find that the candidate they endorsed for MDUSD school board, Brian Lawrence, cynically listed himself on the ballot as an “Educator” for the purpose of misleading the public into thinking he is something he is not? All four supposedly support public education yet they endorsed a fraud for a position on the school board. Has anyone asked them?

    If they knew, and did nothing, shame on them. If they now find out and do nothing, shame on them. If they withdraw their endorsements, good for them. I’ve supported DeSaulnier and Bonilla in the past and I would expect that they do the ethical thing

  129. Anon Says:

    MD Educator,

    DeSaulnier and Bonilla do something ethical???? HAHAHA

  130. Jim Says:

    @124 — I didn’t run for MDUSD’s board because I understand that my basic vision for our schools is not (yet) acceptable for most voters and educators in the district. And unlike some current board members, I would not run using false pretenses about what I would actually want to accomplish (e.g. “strategic planning”, “greater transparency”, “using best practices”, etc,).

    I believe that MDUSD is simply too big and the leadership is too dysfunctional for incremental approaches — at least within a timeframe that is relevant for most families, who are impatient to see improvements. I would like to see the leadership candidly admit its failings and offer to bring in outside management to any school where the parents want it. For any school that remains district-managed, I would like to see far more site-level autonomy, because in too many cases, the district actually impedes the progress that teachers, parents, and site administrators want to make. And finally, as some other failing districts have done, I would seek to eliminate all of the hostility that MDUSD has shown to charter school organizations, and instead, promise that in the future, responsible charter proposals that could help students will get a fair hearing, and approved charters will see positive, constructive collaboration from the district.

    In other words, the district needs to dramatically narrow its focus to whatever challenges it can realistically handle. (Many advanced countries operate entirely without this unnecessary and expensive layer of “school district” bureaucracy, yet they achieve results that are superior to ours.)

    Unfortunately, instead of a shrink-to-fit MDUSD, we have a slow-motion breakdown where an ineffective board, an unimpressive superintendent, and dysfunctional district administrators work in concert to discourage more capable educators and citizens from becoming involved. Mediocre can only attract mediocre, resulting in a self-reinforcing downward spiral. I am not ordinarily a cynical person, but sadly, it will take more than a couple new board members to really fix what ails this district. That said, I would certainly like to minimize this evolving train wreck, and perhaps even reverse some of the worst trends, by electing more competent board members like Cheryl Hansen.

  131. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    MD Educator @128:

    As a voter in this district, I have to wonder why Torlakson and Bonilla (among others) did NOT endorse the lone incumbent …

  132. g Says:

    HFO: While we may not always like or agree with Torlakson or Bonilla decisions; I think we can all agree that neither of them lack a certain innate intelligence.

    An important component of intelligence is to recognize the lack of it in others.

    Then again, it may be that they tend to support those with a first-class ticket to ride their political train.

  133. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    G @ 132:

    I know you can see me and probably more than a few other voters all nodding our heads in agreement :)

  134. Doctor J Says:

    @G Actually I think its more simple; both have taught high school in MDUSD — Bonilla more recently — and feel some affinity with MDUSD. I believe Susan still lives in Concord. I think they really believe MDUSD can regain its educational prominence. Like most people who have not known what has happened in the last ten years in MDUSD, its really hard to believe the cliff that Gary and Sherry drove the district over.

  135. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I saw a Whitmarsh sign beneath a DeSaulnier sign in downtown Walnut Creek this morning by Trader Joe’s, although that’s not part of MDUSD. It’s in the Walnut Creek and Acalanes districts. But, still, MDUSD residents may shop there and go to the downtown WC Kaiser.

  136. No On Whitmarsh Says:

    Thank you Theresa,

    Now we know where to launch the NO ON WHITMARSH CAMPAIGN!

    Stop the destruction of our district.


  137. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Please note that I am not endorsing any candidates or expressing any opinions for or against any of them. I was merely surprised that the first Whitmarsh sign I have seen was outside the MDUSD boundaries.
    I have seen Lawrence signs around Concord and have seen a few “Lawrence/Oaks” signs, but haven’t seen any Debra Mason signs or Barbara Oaks signs. But, obviously, they could be out there, since I don’t drive all over the district every day.

  138. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Bonilla visited a TK classroom in MDUSD last week:

  139. g Says:

    Some other things we Know:

    1) Sherry obviously doesn’t know (or doesn’t care) where the district boundary is, but knows how to ride someone else’s coat-tail!

    2) That Sherry cannot (legally) Receive or Spend any funds-(even her own)-since she has STILL not filed up-to-date Form 460. Even donated sign costs must be given “fair market value,” and there is a daily penalty building up from Oct 5…ca-ching, ca-ching!

    3) Sherry is the ONLY candidate who did NOT file the “Code of Fair Campaign Practices Form.”

    That says a lot!

  140. Doctor J Says:

    When is the next campaign finance filing deadline ?

  141. Theresa Harrington Says:

    5 p.m. Oct. 25, according to our political reporter, Lisa V. Please note that I will be at an out-of-town conference Oct. 26-27, so may not report on the campaign finance statements right away.

    FYI, I heard that someone submitted a question about Project Labor Agreements (that didn’t get asked) at the PH candidate forum. Here’s the district’s last PLA, as far as I know:

  142. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Reminder that today is the deadline to register to vote:

  143. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just received a phone call from CSEA rep Annie Nolen, telling me that her union has endorsed only Barbara Oaks, based on her experience in the district. She said Oaks came and spoke to her union. In fact, Oaks was the only candidate who asked to speak to the CSEA membership, she added.

  144. Jack Weir Says:

    Jim @ 119 My support for Ernie DeTrinidad stems in part from his courageous decision to withdraw, lest he tip the election in favor of Whitmarsh and/or Lawrence. I observed personal integrity prevail over self interest; is there a more critical quality? However, his intelligence and ability to listen and articulate are extraordinary. He currently lacks the political organization necessary to reach out, but that’s easily remedied. More importantly, it’s only a means to a worthy end – not the political power end-game sought by some, from which the district has suffered.
    Also, he brings insight into the needs and potential for a growing sub-community that has little or no voice. Demographic reality forces us to recognize that we are not just Whites and Blacks and Hispanics, but Vietnamese, Africans, Pakistanis – sailors and bakers and candlestick-makers who share appreciation of the importance of high quality education for ALL our kids. Enough with the dumbing-down “stepchildren” approach; the community requires and can do more.
    To effectively lead, we don’t need “cooky-cutter” or “clone” board members. We need a balance of working parents, true educators, business managers and other representatives of our diverse district. Even when we succeed in electing a better board next month, we will need new voices and perspectives thereafter, and we’re already working on 2014 and any opportunities in between. DeTrinidad is a diamond-in-the-political-rough; he’s the poster-person for responsible grass roots democracy. Talk to him.

  145. Anon Says:

    Very curious, we haven’t heard a peep lately out of Brian Lawrence nor Sherry Whitmarsh on these or any ohter blogs.

    One would think they would be campainging by now.

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