...and Woody's right where we've come to appreciate him the most - smack dab in the middle of more Old Guard mischief-making!
Oh m'gosh…they’e back! Former CUSD Trustees Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke have been elfed…again! And this time, former Trustees Mike Darnold and Duane Stiff, and Superintendent Woodrow Carter have joined them in the holiday fun.
Marlene and Sheila were booted in a humiliating landslide recall last June, the Stiffler went down hard in the November election and, with no more Old Guard buddies to play with, Mikey quit. Woody has been implicated in numerous old guard wrongdoings and some brand new ones of his own. But none of this has dampened their holiday spirits - or their notorious, tricky moves - as these party animals have been hitting the holiday party circuit.
They may have been a disaster for the district, but in the spirit of the holidays, and just for grins, let's all join Woody and the Old Guard Mischiefmakers for some hoppin' holiday fun:
Woody & the Old Guard
Mischiefmakers in "Forest
Woody & the Old Guard Mischiefmakers in "Charleston Elves"
Woody & the Old Guard Mischiefmakers in "Hoedown Elves"
Woody & the Old Guard Mischiefmakers in "Disco Elves"
But their dishonest threats and bullying tactics have harmed the district and could backfire on them.
Spt. Woodrow Carter (aka Arnold Carter), was scheduled to undergo a performance review yesterday, but now faces an uphill battle after he joined union boss Vicki Soderberg in a dishonest and disgraceful preemptive strike against the new board by attacking them, playing the victim card and inciting possibly the worst example of mob behavior in CUSD history.
The special board meeting had been noticed as a "performance evaluation" for Carter with possible disciplinary action or termination of an unidentified "public employee." No allegations or charges were disclosed and no action was taken.
Carter delivered a speech before the trustees went into closed session. The speech obviously was written in large part by Carter's labor counsel and was designed to intimidate and influence the new board's decisions by inciting confusion over the facts and the process, undeserved sympathy for Carter and groundless, hysterical outrage against the new board - all coordinated with the support of an unruly mob rallied by union boss Vicki Soderberg. Read More...
Recall committee leader Tony Beall: "Congratulations on your impressive election victories…and Best Wishes for tremendous success."
Tony Beall Rancho Santa Margarita Councilman and
CUSD Recall Committee Leader
Parents and Taxpayers -- in CUSD and all across America – want to believe and trust that their children, and their educations – are being properly taken care of by their school district leaders.
Over the past five years, that belief has been shattered.
The people have spoken…clearly and unmistakably -- for the third election in a row -- and they’ve given you a mandate for positive reform in CUSD.
The old guard did not go quietly... They fought to the bitter end to retain their stranglehold on the people of CUSD -- and upon our school district’s massive annual budget. Read More...
Recall committee leader Jennifer Beall: “I’m not at all surprised by the election outcome. I heard the people for years and I knew what they wanted.”
Public comments following the swearing in of the reform trustees at the December 8, 2008 special meeting of the CUSD Board of Trustees
Jennifer Beall CUSD Recall Committee Leader
I’m Jennifer Beall and I’m not sure I’ll be able to wipe the smile off my face tonight.
This has been a long time coming. I’m proud to know all of you and to call all of you a friend. Thank you so much for standing up there, taking the oath of office, and doing the right thing for the students of Capistrano Unified.
I am always going to remember the road we took to get here -- and I hope you do too.
Michelle Russell CUSD Recall Committee Volunteer
Hello, President Addonizio and Trustees. My name is Michelle Russell.
I just wanted to take a moment to congratulate the new trustees: Sue Palazzo, Mike Winsten, Ken Maddox, and Jack Brick, and remind you that with great power comes great responsibility in the case of the reform agenda.
Please, after five years of hard work on recalls and elections, the people made it clear they want positive changes, and that’s what is needed.
This is your opportunity, with a clear majority, to finally effectuate positive change. I was proud to have fought for you these past five years in the campaigns that led to this amazing moment. Read More...
Recall committee leader Tom Russell: "This is a momentous occasion and we...finally can declare victory, and the beginning of a new era of positive reforms at CUSD."
Public comments following the swearing in of the reform trustees at the December 8, 2008 special meeting of the CUSD Board of Trustees
Tom Russell CUSD Recall Committee Chairman and Spokesperson
Congratulations to the trustees. Wow…what a difference five years makes. Who could have imagined that ALL seven board seats would be replaced with reform trustees.
This is a momentous occasion and we at the CUSD Recall Committee finally can declare victory, and the beginning of a new era of positive reforms at CUSD.
You ran on a platform of academic excellence, first-rate classrooms…smaller classrooms.
Every parent has a reasonable expectation of safe and sanitary classrooms for his children. Every child has a reasonable expectation of having his own desk and adequate classroom supplies. Read More...
Candidate Mike Winsten offers sensible solutions to improve transparency and restore public trust in their school district
Mike Winsten addresses parent concerns over the lack of transparency at CUSD and proposes solutions for the benefit of parents and taxpayers
Winsten is the reform candidate for CUSD Trustee Area 3
CUSD can do a lot to improve its transparency. Here are just a few of the ideas I have:
Constituents Bill of Rights Draft and adopt a Constituents Bill of Rights requiring the Administration to pledge to conduct themselves openly, neutrally and transparently, by setting standards of conduct and ethics that are greater than current state law, but in fact raise the bar to the highest standards of openness, honesty, integrity and accountability;
Conflict of Interest Code Draft and adopt a more stringent Conflict of Interest Code that sets standards far greater than the sham standards set by state law, that ensures there are no more cozy hidden relationships involving sole source contracts for years and decades, between CUSD vendors and Administrators, like we have heard about in the recent past; Read More...
Candidate Mike Winsten explains a key element of his reform platform: "Spend our tax dollars equitably throughout CUSD."
"Please vote for me and I will help lead CUSD forward while making sure every school site is treated equally. I will not quietly tolerate one school site being treated more equally than others due to shadow politics and favoritism. Thank you for taking the time to make an educated vote for our public schools."
Mike Winsten, an attorney and independent businessman, is the reform candidate for CUSD Trustee Area 3, which covers most of San Clemente. His opponent, Duane Stiff, is one of the two remaining, old guard, Fleming-era trustees.
As noted in my candidate statement on file with the Registrar of Voters and in the sample Ballot Statements recently mailed by the Registrar of Voters, a key element of my platform is ensuring that CUSD spends our tax dollars equitably throughout CUSD, and stop taking money dedicated for one community to spend on unfair projects in another community. For instance, recent audits by the City Councils of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita established that under the old Board, there existed a long standing pattern of education money flowing out of these cities into other CUSD cities, while many of the school facilities in Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita suffered from overcrowding and lack of maintenance for far too long. Similarly, Mello Roos funds that should have been spent on new or upgraded school facilities in Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and San Clemente, were instead spent on the obscenely oversized and underutilized new Administration Building, that white elephant overlooking the 5 freeway in San Juan Capistrano, while school facilities where those Mello Roos dollars were collected, are suffering. My opponent enabled these practices with a series of ‘yes’ votes, without ever dissenting against this imprudent spending of your money.
To correct the inequitable treatment of the past, the CUSD Board of Trustees needs to focus itself and the Administration on the following priorities, and must ensure that the Superintendent and Administrative Staff faithfully follow and implement these policies: Read More...
CFAC condemns Old Guard Trustees with "Darkness Award," branding them as foes of free speech and open government
Tomorrow, the California First Amendment Coalition, a freedom of press group, will present its annual Darkness Award to three recipients, including the CUSD Board of Trustees, in recognition of "conduct that thwarts freedom of speech and the public's right to know." The award follows the release of an OC District Attorney's report condemning the CUSD Old Guard trustees for their "disturbing disdain, if not outright contempt" for district residents. The same report praised the CUSD reform trustees for their commitment to end such disgraceful practices at CUSD.
Here is an excerpt from The California First Amendment Coalition's official blog:
The California First Amendment Coalition has named the 2008 recipients of its “Darkness Award,” given in recognition of conduct that thwarts freedom of speech and the public’s right to know. The awards, to be presented Saturday, October 18 at UC Berkeley, are given to:
-- The Capistrano Unified School Board, which was so indifferent to anti-secrecy laws that the Orange County District Attorney issued a public report outlining the board’s many violations of the Ralph M. Brown public meetings law. In a follow-up inquiry, the District Attorney found further violations and concluded that the board had proven itself “incapable or unwilling” of complying with the law. Read More...
• Union Leadership and Candidates are Illegally
Coordinating Campaign Efforts
• Union Trying to Buy the Election with $72,797.49 Spent So Far
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. The Teachers Union PAC is the largest special interest group involved in the CUSD local school board races -- and they are trying to buy the election using deceptive and illegal tactics. To date, the Teachers Union PAC has already spent $72,297.49 on behalf of candidates Duane Stiff, Erin Kutnick and Andrea Kooiman!
Here is a link to the California Secretary of State’s website disclosing the Teachers Union PAC filings:
Illegal and Deceptive Tactics. The Teachers Union PAC, as well as the three candidates they are supporting for School Board, have engaged in illegal and deceptive campaign practices, including without limitation the following:
Privacy laws restrict our new trustees from openly discussing personnel matters involving public employees. This restricts them from discussing specific allegations or charges, if any, against Superintendent Woodrow Carter (aka Arnold Carter). The law is clear and Carter knows it. He has taken the same position as the board in the past.
Despite this, Carter and his new booster-in-chief, union boss Vicki Soderberg, have done nothing to properly inform disrespectful and unruly district employees about the law or attempted to bridle their disruptive behavior. Instead, Carter and Soderberg have stood by and watched, and even encouraged ignorant or mean-spirited employees to intimidate the board with their mob-like behavior.
With Carter's job on the line and Soderberg fearing for her union gravy train after betraying reformers in the last two elections, they are intentionally destabilizing the district in a power struggle to control the board, the legitimate governing body of the district, and preserve the dominance of a power-hungry administration that hasn’t respected the legitimate chain of command since the early days of the Fleming administration. Hopefully, the board will remain strong and keep their promises to the voters by setting this upside-down situation, right.
In the meantime, the board may not be talking, but that hasn’t stopped community members from weighing in on the subject. Here is one community member’s list of Top Ten reasons why Carter should be dismissed: Read More...
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. Each of the most
prominent Republican Party organizations have
Jack Brick, Ken Maddox, Sue Palazzo and Mike
Winsten, the four reform
candidates running for seats on board of trustees of
the Capistrano Unified School District in the
November 4th general election. The
endorsements were unanimous and came from the most
prominent Republican Party organizations, including:
• The California Republican Assembly Link
• The Republican Party of Orange County Link
• The Orange County Young Republicans Link
Brick, Maddox, Palazzo and Winsten are also endorsed by the CUSD Recall Committee.
Brick, Maddox, Palazzo & Winsten each bring a wide spectrum of impressive personal and professional talents that will make them uniquely qualified and ready to serve as CUSD Trustees once elected in November. They possess qualities and experience the “old guard” Trustees clearly lack.
Superintendent Woodrow Carter (aka Arnold Carter) and Old Guard Trustees Implicated
Recently-elected Reform Trustees Praised For Exposing the Ongoing Corruption
Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca. The Orange County District Attorney has issued a new stinging report dated September 2, 2008 – the fourth such report in a little over a year – detailing the results of their on-going investigation of the Capistrano Unified School District for numerous Brown Act violations and other illegal acts. The scathing report confirms that Trustees Duane Stiff, Mike Darnold, Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke – four trustees who served for years with the now indicted former Superintendent James Fleming – continued to engage in illegal behavior despite repeated rebukes by the District Attorney. The report also condemns numerous actions taken (and not taken) by current CUSD Superintendent A. Woodrow Carter (aka Arnold Carter) – the acting CUSD Superintendent during the entire period of time covered by the latest D.A. Report.
See copies of:
District Attorney’s reports, dated:
October 9, 2007, February 28, 2008, March 13, 2008, May 12, 2008 and September 2, 2008
Joint Statements by ABC Reform Trustees, dated:
October 19, 2007, February 10, 2008 and March 27, 2008
CUSD Recall Committee press releases, dated:
October 9, 2007, May 9, 2008, May 27, 2008 and September 9, 2008 Read More...
The OC Register published this excerpt from a report by the OC District Attorney, dated September 2, 2008. Draper's statement was quoted from a February 25th closed session board meeting to discuss a permanent employment contract for Superintendent Carter. Draper's comment was in response to reform trustees Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson and Larry Christensen, who argued that a proposed $58,000-a-year raise was too high in light of the district's pending fiscal crisis. Their point was that such excesses were not in the best interests of the "them" in question...the constituents of CUSD. The District Attorney took issue with Draper's insulting, wrong-headed remark, concluding the report by mocking Draper with the obvious truth: "It is all about them."
OC Register calls CUSD Recall win "stunning," "overwhelming" and says voters did the right thing at the ballot box
An Orange County Register editorial
Perhaps now, finally, the tumult at the Capistrano Unified School District can die down, following a stunning and overwhelming recall this week of two of the school board's holdouts from the bad old days. Longtime Trustees Sheila Benecke and Marlene Draper were tossed out of office by overwhelming majorities, with about 70 percent of voters agreeing to recall both members. Ms. Benecke was replaced by former Assemblyman Ken Maddox, and Ms. Draper was replaced by teacher Sue Palazzo.
The two new board members’ three reform-oriented colleagues won their seats in November 2006. The reform crowd holds a 5-2 majority. It has taken three years and enormous time, money and effort to gain control of a board that was previously known for its consistent unanimous votes and its unyielding support for a powerful former superintendent – James Fleming, who faces criminal charges in August related to his compilation of an "enemies list" of district parents who had supported a previous recall attempt. Read More...
CUSD Recall Committee thanks all who supported reform at CUSD
Tom Russell, Spokesperson
CUSD Recall Committee
To All Friends of Reform at CUSD,
Last Tuesday’s special election was a remarkable event. Seventy percent of South Orange County voters spoke loudly and clearly: “YES” on CUSD Recall, marking the historic end of the Fleming-era at CUSD.
The CUSD Recall Committee is grateful to the many of the volunteers, donors, elected officials, community organizations, voters and others, without whose support, none of this would have been possible. We can all share in the pride of knowing we took a stand for the betterment of education for the children of South Orange County.
Trustees-elect Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox will be sworn in next Tuesday, July 1st, at 6:00 p.m., at which time the board, currently led by old guard trustee Mike Darnold, will be reorganized. We hope all persons of good will come to witness this historic event.
Finally, please read the following editorial from the June 26th edition of the Orange County Register. It captures the spirit of accomplishment and the future hope of CUSD Recall.
CUSD Recall Committee
* * *Read More...
From the Desk of Sue Palazzo & Ken Maddox:
Please vote 'YES' on CUSD Recall - June 24th
To Our Friends and Supporters:
The June 24th Special Election Day is fast approaching! We urge you to “Vote Yes” on the CUSD Recall.
The targets in this recall election (Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke) must be removed from office now.
According to the District Attorney, CUSD shifted resources away from students to create an unlawful list of political “enemies.” The criminal prosecution, dishonesty and misuse of funds have caused many of our school facilities to fall into disrepair.
The two of us, Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox, are committed to providing the students the best education possible. We come from different backgrounds – but we each are dedicated to restoring honesty, integrity and accountability to our public school system. Our children all currently attend, or have previously graduated from, CUSD public schools. Read More...
Robocall message delivered to South OC residents by
Todd Spitzer, Assemblymember, 71st Assembly District
Hello, this is Todd Spitzer – your California State Assemblymember. Education is my top priority - I care deeply about our kids. I have children in our public school system as well. That’s why I'm urging you to Vote Yes on the CUSD Recall – Tuesday, June 24th.
We need to restore honesty, integrity and accountability to our troubled school district. Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, June 24th.
Vote Yes to recall the incumbents, AND in their place,
Elect Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox, two highly qualified reform candidates.
If you vote by mail, please return your completed ballot Today.
71st Assembly District
The CUSD Recall Committee is grateful to the numerous elected officials, community leaders and prominent community organizations who have supported or endorsed the CUSD Recall, reform candidate Sue Palazzo and/or reform candidate Ken Maddox, including:
• State Senator, Dick Ackerman
• State Senator, Mark Wyland
• State Senator, Dennis Hollingsworth
• State Assemblymember Chuck Devore
• State Assemblymember Todd Spitzer
• State Assemblymember Audra Strickland
• State Assemblymember Mimi Walters
• State Board of Equalization Member, Michelle Steel
• CUSD Trustee, Ellen Addonizio
• CUSD Trustee, Anna Bryson
• CUSD Trustee, Larry Christensen
• Aliso Viejo Mayor, Carmen Cave
• Dana Point Councilmember, Lisa Bartlett
• Dana Point Councilmember, Diane Harkey
• Dana Point Councilmember, Lara Anderson
• Dana Point Councilmember, Joe Snyder (ret.)
• Laguna Niguel Councilmember, Linda Lindholm
• Mission Viejo Mayor, Trish Kelley
• Mission Viejo Councilmember, Frank Ury
• Rancho Santa Margarita Councilmember, Tony Beall
• Rancho Santa Margarita Mayor, Neil Blais
• Rancho Santa Margarita Councilmember, Gary Thompson
• Rancho Santa Margarita Planning Commissioner, Tom Russell
• San Clemente Councilmember, Steve Knoblock
• San Juan Capistrano Councilmember, Mark Nielsen
For more information, please visit the CUSD Recall Committee website at: www.cusdrecall.com
Special guest column by CUSD Trustees Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson & Larry Christensen that appeared in the June edition of the Trabuco Canyon News
Come June 24th, constituents who live in the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) will have the opportunity to make a positive change in direction of our troubled school district.
Three years ago, citizens dedicated to reforming CUSD gathered over 177,000 signatures in a failed attempt to recall all seven members of the Board of Trustees. The following year, the three of us sought seats on the seven-member school board running as the “ABC Reform Slate” candidates. Read More...
I'm proud to be at the forefront of the fight to reform the Capistrano Unified School District.
Our five-year campaign to restore honesty, integrity and accountability into the Capistrano Unified School District has already achieved much...and on election night, we will celebrate a truly remarkable achievement:
For the first time in nearly two decades, the seven-member CUSD Board of Trustees will have a majority of Trustees dedicated to restoring honesty, integrity and accountability!
Please vote -- Tomorrow, June 24th -- If you vote by mail - return your completed ballot Today.
Please "Vote Yes" to recall Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke.
Please elect Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox to replace them.
You can visit our website at www.CUSDrecall.com to learn more about these very important issues.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions, require any additional information or if I may ever be of any assistance to you.
Robocall message delivered to South OC residents by
Mimi Walters, Assemblymember, 73rd Assembly District
Hi, this is Assemblymember Mimi Walters. The education of our children is one of my highest priorities. That is why I’m urging you to Vote Yes on the CUSD Recall on June 24th.
We need positive change in our troubled school district. Please – mark your calendar for Tuesday, June 24th.
”Vote Yes” to recall the incumbents, AND in their place, elect Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox - two highly qualified reform candidates.
If you vote by mail, please return your completed ballot Today.
73rd Assembly District
For more information, please visit the CUSD Recall Committee website at: www.cusdrecall.com
Oh no, not that again! "Good Things Happening in CUSD"? Superintendent Carter borrows one right out of the James Fleming playbook
• Carter ignores facts and attacks OC Register study, instead
• Carter announces another revisionist dog and pony show
In his latest weekly update, Superintendent Woodrow Carter (aka Arnold Carter) announced his reaction to the OC Register's May 30th study of Orange County's Best High Schools. Carter's reaction proves how thoroughly he has embraced the corrupt practices of the Fleming old guard at CUSD.
Contrary to years of "happy talk" from CUSD, the OC Register study revealed the performance of CUSD high schools to be below average across the board. But never a district to let facts challenge the incessant, self-laudatory praising of the old guard, Carter has announced he will do what his predecessors have done best since the darkest days under the leadership of now-indicted, former Superintendent James Fleming...he's going to SPIN! Read More...
Committee Also Calls for Public Censure of Superintendent and Board President
Board President Mike Darnold and Superintendent Woodrow Carter signed illegal secret contract
See CUSD Recall Committee’s formal complaint letter.
See CUSD Recall Committee press release.
See illegal secret superintendent's contract.
See Government Code section misrepresented by superintendent.
See OC Register cartoon that mocks Carter's secret contract.
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. The CUSD Recall Committee filed a formal complaint today against Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent Woodrow Carter (aka Arnold Carter) and Board President Mike Darnold for fraud, conspiracy and continuing intentional violations of the Brown Act and other applicable laws. Read More...
The CUSD Recall special election will be held on June 24th.
CUSD Recall Committee spokesperson Thomas Russell was present for the May 19th Central Committee meeting and stated, “We are pleased the Republican Party agrees that Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke should be recalled and removed from office.” Read More...
CUSD Recall leader says contract is unenforceable and calls for complete investigation
Tom Russell, Spokesperson, CUSD Recall Committee
My name is Tom Russell. I am the spokesperson for the CUSD Recall Committee.
On February 25th -- the same night this Board called a Special Meeting to fire hundreds of teachers and increase class sizes, a split Board voted in closed session to offer Superintendent Woodrow Carter (aka Arnold Carter) a new three-year contract and a massive salary increase.
Understandably, a deafening public outcry immediately resulted, and hundreds of constituents urged Superintendent Carter to reject the offensive contract offer for the good of the district.
To his credit, Superintendent Carter publicly rejected the outrageous contract terms and on multiple occasions confirmed he would not sign the contract. Read More...
• Superintendent Had Publicly Rejected the Contract Offer
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. Despite numerous public statements to the contrary, it has now been confirmed that CUSD Superintendent Woodrow Carter (aka Arnold Carter) and Board President Mike Darnold executed and delivered a secret and illegal superintendent’s employment contract. This action violated the California Brown Act and other applicable laws, and the contract is unenforceable for numerous reasons, including the following:
See illegal secret agreement, press release, news coverage and speech delivered by CUSD Recall Committee Spokesperson Tom Russell at the May 12, 2008 CUSD board meeting. Read More...
• Ladera Ranch Republican Assembly, based in Ladera Ranch,
• Rancho Santa Margarita Republican Assembly, based in Rancho Santa Margarita
• Saddleback Republican Assembly based in Mission Viejo, and
• South Orange County Republican Assembly based in Dana Point.
The CRA units also officially endorsed Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox, the two reform candidates running to replace the incumbents in the upcoming June 24th special recall election.
Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, 71st Assembly District
See Press Release
As a former high school teacher and elected school board trustee, I have always made the protection of our education system my top priority. The Governor proposed his budget in January and indicated that it would be necessary to make cuts to our classrooms.
Since then, thousands of parents, teachers and students have contacted me to express your distress about the Governor’s proposed budget cuts to education. I have been working with my colleagues to develop a responsible education plan that fully protects Proposition 98 and yet does not rely on raising new taxes. Read More...
Recently Mission Viejo residents received notices (See attached) placed in their children’s backpacks and school binders by CUSD employees. The notice reads in large print “CUSD teachers deserve our support, not pink slips.” The notice encourages donations of $400 dollars per student in order to offset budget shortfalls.
In a recent conversation CUSD Foundation member Stacy Flynn, told one Mission Viejo parent, “the state budget cuts have created a $7 million dollar short fall for CUSD, and this donation drive will help to fill that shortfall in state budget cuts.” When the parent asked Ms. Flynn if the state had actually reduced the budget amount from last year, or if the cut was in the amount of the increase, Ms. Flynn stated, “No the state has reduced the budget” and that the parent was “misinformed.”
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. An Orange County Superior Court has stricken “in their entirety” the 200-word candidate statements filed by recall targets Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke, two trustees of the Capistrano Unified School District. A copy of the court order is attached hereto.
The court’s action ensured Draper and Benecke’s illegal campaign statements will not be published in the sample ballots to be sent to all voters prior to the June 24 special election.
Leaders of the CUSD Recall Committee filed the lawsuit seeking court intervention to strike numerous “false, misleading and illegal statements” made by Draper and Benecke in their optional “Candidate Statement of Qualifications.” Read More...
Lawsuit Asks Court To Sanction Trustees Draper and Benecke for Illegal Campaign Statements
Committee leaders and lawsuit petitioners Jennifer
Beall and Tom Russell
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA.
April 28, 2008, a superior court judge will hear the
lawsuit brought by members of the CUSD Recall
Committee asking the court to strike numerous false,
misleading and illegal statements contained in
candidate statements filed by recall targets Marlene
Draper and Sheila Benecke, two trustees of the
Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD). The matter
has been scheduled for hearing before Judge Steven L.
Monday, April 28, 2008, at 8:30 a.m., in Department C32 of the Superior Court of California, County of Orange, at 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana, CA 92701.
CUSD Recall Committee Members Ask Superior Court To Sanction Trustees Draper and Benecke
Recall Committee leaders Jennifer Beall and Tom Russell
See copy of complaint and press release.
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. Yesterday, leaders of the CUSD Recall Committee filed a legal action in Orange County Superior Court against Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke, two trustees of the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD).
The legal action seeks expedited court intervention to strike numerous false, misleading and illegal statements made by Draper and Benecke in the optional “Candidate Statement of Qualifications” each filed with the Orange County Registrar of Voters on April 12th. Any final approved Candidate Statement of Qualifications will be published in the sample ballot sent to all voters prior to the special election. Read More...
ABC Reform Trustees expose, condemn new Brown Act violation by Fleming-era Trustees and call upon D.A. to intervene
Joint Statement Condemns New Brown Act Violation and Effort to Conceal Critical Information from the Public
Addonizio, Anna Bryson and Larry
Christensen, the "ABC Reform Trustees"
San Juan Capistrano, Ca. We believe that during our most recent March 24th board meeting, the four Fleming-era Trustees (Marlene Draper, Sheila Benecke, Mike Darnold and Duane Stiff) violated the Brown Act -- again. We believe the facts clearly demonstrate they did so with a specific intention to conceal from the public critical information they knew should have been made available to the public. As a result of this most recent flagrant violation (which continues a systematic pattern of illegal actions), we hereby call upon the Orange County District Attorney to immediately intercede. As a result of these illegal actions, we also will demand that the official agenda for our next board meeting on April 21, 2008 include an item calling upon CUSD to stop all expenditures and further action to construct the San Juan Hills High School Football Stadium Complex because all prior approvals for that project were obtained by presenting misleading and incomplete information to the Board of Trustees – and to the public.
On March 24th, we recessed into closed session for the stated purpose of participating in a conference with legal counsel related to potential litigation. Agenda Item 3A was entitled:
“A. CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – ANTICIPATED LITIGATION
Significant Exposure to Litigation: Two Cases…”
Announcing The “P.M. Reform Slate”
Reform CUSD -- “Before It’s Too Late”
Palazzo & Maddox Endorsed by CUSD Recall Committee
Sue Palazzo, Candidate 2nd District - See Biography
Ken Maddox, Candidate 5th District - See Biography
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. Sue Palazzo and Ken Maddox announced today their candidacy for seats on the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) Board of Trustees in the upcoming recall election. The CUSD Recall Committee proudly endorses Palazzo & Maddox – the “P.M. Reform Slate” Candidates.
After an exhaustive search for the very best candidates, the CUSD Recall Committee is confident that Palazzo & Maddox will put the best interests of the children and the taxpayers above all other interests in each decision they make. We are also confident these reform candidates will ask the tough questions, hold the CUSD administrative staff accountable for their actions, and work to create a transparent organization that is responsive to the community. Read More...
The following hard-hitting speech was delivered by reform Trustee Anna Bryson at the March 10, 2008 CUSD board meeting immediately following the pathetic, emotional and error-ridden speech read by Trustee Mike Darnold.
I wish to speak. I will respond on behalf of the three of us seated here, Ellen Addonizio, Larry Christensen and I’m Anna Bryson.
I dislike having the integrity of the three of us impugned, when we have sacrificed a great deal in order to bring the first budget in the black to this community, to this board. In six years…five of the prior six years before we were elected, the budgets were in the red, which means that this board was not doing their taxpayers fiscal oversight.
This was brought up, I believe three meetings ago, in January, when Miss Draper, Trustee Draper told me that I was not telling the truth about the circumstances of the reserves of this district, at which point I called upon Sherry Hahn, our chief financial officer, who stated not only was I correct, but it was even more grave than I had stated. That it was presently at 2.2, not 2.4 at that point. Read More...
The following emotional and error-ridden speech was read by Trustee Mike Darnold at the March 10, 2008 CUSD board meeting.
Thank you Trustee Draper. I umm…I just want to make a statement that I prepared. It’s…umm…I’m gonna read it so that I don’t screw it up.
Umm…first of all, I’m not a politician. I have absolutely no political aspirations. Generally, speaking, pretty much I avoid conflict at all cost. I’m a rather, umm…I’m a rather, umm passive person who would really rather pray for my detractors than confront them.
Umm…the reason…uh…that I’m speaking today is I’ve always avoided using the…my position here on the board to air my personal thoughts, because they’re just that, they’re personal.
My position as a board member is to be of service to the constituents of Capistrano Unified. I make every effort possible to assure quality education and work for the other…with the other six board members to provide the vision for the future. And that’s what we’re tasked to do.
However, the time has come for me to stand up publicly for what I believe to be true. Read More...
This speech by Marlene Draper at the March 10, 2008 CUSD board meeting reveals she is in complete denial of the problems facing CUSD.
By Trustee Marlene Draper
Mr. Darnold, would you mind allowing me to respond.
Umm…the campaign I plan to…to perform, is to reach out to the parents of our district, the parents of the children in the wonderful schools, to vote against the recall.
I am not planning on seeking re-election in…in November, but I think it is incumbent to remember that good, solid leadership is important in this district.
And it is a tragedy that right now the recall occurs at a time, and at a cost that equates to about ten teachers and ten classrooms, 766,000 dollars, which I think is a tragedy.
Thank you. Read More...
Rancho Santa Margarita, California: Today, leaders of the CUSD Recall Committee were informed by the Orange County Registrar’s Office that the Registrar had certified the recall petition against Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke, two Trustees of the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD).
On January 28th, The CUSD Recall Committee submitted to the Orange County Registrar 66,000 petition signatures – 60% more than required, to recall embattled Capistrano Unified School District Trustees Sheila Benecke and Marlene Draper. Read More...
Full Disclosure re-releases six-part series on parents' battle to restore honesty, integrity and accountability to CUSD
• Chaos follows corruption allegations in OC school district
• Release Date: March 7, 2008
Orange County, CA. The Full Disclosure Network® is re-releasing a ground-breaking six part series covering the historic battle to restore honesty, integrity and accountability to the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD). The citizen revolt began in 2005 with a petition drive to recall all seven members of the Board of Trustees and has now culminated in a full scale criminal investigation of the school board members and the indictment of former superintendent James Fleming for multiple felonies.
Provocative Series This provocative series will be featured on Cox South Orange County Cable Channel 31 starting Wednesday March 12th at 6 p.m., and will continue each and every Wednesday for the next six weeks. Read More...
Town Hall Meeting to Discuss: "What Impact Will California’s Budget Crisis Have on South Orange County?"
Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca. On February 19th, a Town Hall Meeting focusing upon the impacts that the State’s budget crisis will have upon South Orange County will be held in Rancho Santa Margarita. A panel of several prominent local elected officials will analyze and discuss these issues of critical importance to all residents. The panel will include:
Three Trustees from the Capistrano Unified School District, Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson and Larry Christensen, who will address the particularly severe impacts on our local school district and their plans to address it.
71st District Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, Rancho Santa Margarita Mayor Neil Blais and Rancho Santa Margarita Councilmember Tony Beall, who will act as the moderator for the event.
Dear Superintendent and Trustees,
I am a parent of a 3rd grader in Mission Viejo. I was in attendance at last evening's meeting and I have to tell you how completely saddened I am at the lack of respect you (with exception of 3 board members)have shown toward our Mission Viejo Schools.
First, I would like to address your lack of preparation as it pertains to our boundary issues. I can't count how many times I heard you, Mr. Carter, make this statement, "I don't have that information in front of me." We were in front of this board in December. This was TWO months ago. Read More...
MV reform advocate addresses CUSD Final Budget Workshop, shares essay on Newhart overcrowding by Barbara Casserly
The extreme fallout from last night's board meeting is too incredible and mountainous to put in one email so I will give you some topline and other resources to read.
This feedback distribution list began with bus transportation and after last night, the buses are pretty much a thing of the past. Unfortunately, buses are now the least of our problems.
In last night's meeting, the CUSD reform trustees were magnificent and really spoke up for the interests of Mission Viejo , especially Newhart Middle school (see attached essay for details). The Superintendent recommended "do nothing" for the overcrowding at Newhart and the 4 old guard trustees agreed, despite calls to look at other options (stop bussing San Juan kids into our city, look at k-6, etc.). They moved on to address the concerns of San Clemente residents who had turned out in full force last month over their overcrowding issue and worked very hard to resolve that constituency's problem.
See CUSD Board Update: 2008-09 Budget Development
See Essay on Newhart Overcrowding by By Barbara Casserly Read More...
Complaint #3 re Brown Act Violations; Improper February 11, 2008 Meeting Agenda
Tom Russell, CUSD Recall Committee Spokesperson
Dear Trustees Benecke, Draper, Darnold and Stiff:
The purpose of this letter is to demand that you postpone and remove from the February 11, 2008 Board Agenda Items No. 37 – 41 relating to the construction of several multi-million dollar construction projects at the $150,000,000 San Juan Hills High School. For the reasons set forth below, taking action on these items would constitute a knowing and intentional violation of the California Public Records Act, the Brown Act and other applicable laws requiring competitive bidding. Read More...
ABC Reform Trustees issue joint statement calling on Fleming Trustees to comply with Brown Act and transparency in hiring legal counsel
Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson and Larry
Christensen, the "ABC Reform Trustees"
San Juan Capistrano, Ca. In the election of
November 2006, the people of Capistrano Unified
School District elected the three of us to the Board
of Trustees by 17% landslide margins of victory – a
clear mandate for change. We ran as the “ABC Reform”
candidates on a reform platform, vowing to restore
honesty, integrity, accountability and transparency
In October of 2007, the Orange County District Attorney issued a report citing dozens of instances where the four Fleming-era Trustees (Marlene Draper, Sheila Benecke, Mike Darnold and Duane Stiff) illegally discussed district issues in secret behind closed doors, in violation of the Brown Act. In order to avoid further enforcement action by the District Attorney against them, Trustees Sheila Benecke, Marlene Draper, Mike Darnold and Duane Stiff accepted the findings of the District Attorney’s report, admitted they had repeatedly violated the Brown Act, and promised to fully comply with the law in the future.
They have broken that promise.
Recall targets Sheila Benecke (left) and Marlene Draper (right)
Some have said that we should wait until the November general election to bounce Benecke and Draper out of office to save the district the cost of a recall election. I would ordinarily agree, however, these two Fleming-era leftovers keep proving they cannot be trusted to vote in even one more board meeting than necessary.
Last October, they admitted to repeatedly violating the state's open meetings law (the Brown Act) to avoid civil prosecution by the D.A. But in every regular board meeting since then, they have continued to violate the Brown Act by failing to provide proper public notice of important agenda items. The urgency is that the proposals Benecke and Draper are advocating without proper notice involve district spending of millions on very controversial (and arguably, luxurious) projects to the exclusion of well-known, needier projects. Read More...
40,986 signatures – 20,493 per trustee – are required to qualify for an election to recall and remove Trustees Benecke and Draper from office. Read More...
• More than 66,000 Recall Petition Signatures Gathered
• Press Conference Will Take Place Just Before Final
Submission to Registrar
Tony Beall (left) Tom Russell (right)
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA The CUSD Recall Committee
proudly announces that it has successfully gathered
more than enough petition signatures to recall
embattled Capistrano Unified School District Trustees
Shelia Benecke and Marlene Draper.
The Recall Committee gave Trustees Benecke and Draper until noon, last Friday, to resign or face certain recall. Benecke and Draper did not respond, thereby leaving the CUSD Recall Committee no choice but to file the original recall petitions with the Registrar of Voters.
Beverly de Nicola, Los Angeles Times "The district made $13 million in cuts this year, and $7.5 million of next year's cuts were planned before the governor announced billions of dollars in cuts to public schools earlier this month."
Due to years of mismanagement and deficit spending by the Fleming regime, CUSD already faced a financial crisis before the recent state cutbacks were announced. This is the inconvenient truth the senior trustees and staff will attempt to cover up by pointing their dishonest fingers at the state. The Fleming trustees and staff are responsible for the draconian cuts already planned due to the pre-existing financial disaster they created.
Now, after years of serial deficits and tens of millions in cuts due to their incompetence and misspending that already have hurt the children, they have assured that the impact of new state cutbacks will be even worse for CUSD than other, more responsible districts.
De Nicola is spokeswoman for CUSD.
"As you know, I do not read my packet..."
Parents expect their children to do their homework -- don't they expect at least that much out of their elected officials?
Read Benecke's fax memo here Read More...
• Place: Entrance to CUSD administration building
• Signed Recall Petitions To Be Displayed
• Last Chance for Recall Targets to Resign Before Signatures Are Submitted
Tony Beall (left) Tom Russell (right)
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA The CUSD Recall Committee proudly announces that it has successfully gathered more than enough petition signatures to recall embattled Capistrano Unified School District Trustees Shelia Benecke and Marlene Draper.
It has now become painfully obvious there is a desperate need for an immediate change in leadership at the Capistrano Unified School District. We are seeking to recall Trustees Benecke and Draper because they have permitted a culture of corruption to infect our school district and because they have grossly mismanaged school district finances. Read More...
Mean-spirited CUSD hijinks reveals corrupt mindset of CUSD old guard and their contempt for CUSD constituents
Hennes: "Jim, I just had to share the poetry that Bruce wrote following last night's meeting."
Fleming: "Shelia, Phenominal! What a talent. JF"
Left: James Fleming; Right: Shelia Henness
If you took offense at being called “jackasses” and being told to “slither” to the podium by Trustee Shelia Benecke, you haven’t heard anything yet.
Just read the following poem by Bruce Henness, husband of former Trustee Shelia Henness, who takes mean-spirited contempt for CUSD constituents to new heights. The accompanying fax cover reveals that Shelia Henness agreed with her husband and couldn’t wait to share his disgusting “masterpiece” with then Superintendent James Fleming, who praised the disgraceful poem as “Phenominal!” and Henness’ husband as “a talent.” For insight into the corrupt and hateful mindset of the CUSD old-guard that made the infamous CUSD enemies lists and other forms of retaliation possible, read the soon-to-be infamous Henness poem, below, and the original fax memo, here: Read More...
Sheila Benecke, Marlene Draper, Mike Darnold and Duane Stiff, the "Fleming-era Trustees"
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA – The CUSD Recall Committee filed a formal complaint against Capistrano Unified School District Trustees Shelia Benecke, Marlene Draper, Mike Darnold and Duane Stiff, for actions they took during their most recent CUSD Board Meeting in violation of the Brown Act and other applicable laws.
In particular, Trustees Draper, Benecke, Darnold and Stiff (the four senior, members of the Board who served with recently-indicted former Superintendent James Fleming) voted to approve sending several highly controversial, multi-million dollar construction projects out to bid – projects that were never placed upon an official board agenda. Read More...
• District Officials Illegally Accessed Confidential Records on Multiple Occasions
• Action Seeks to Hold Wrongdoers Accountable and to “Send Message” to Future Leaders
• Plaintiffs Pledge to Return Net Proceeds to Cash-Strapped School District
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. Today, members of the CUSD Recall Committee – and their children – filed a legal action in Orange County Superior Court against Capistrano Unified School District’s recently indicted former superintendent James Fleming, recently indicted assistant superintendent Susan McGill, and each of the seven elected “old guard” trustees who for years worked with Fleming.
The legal action seeks to hold the defendants accountable for their unlawful actions that violated the plaintiff’s civil rights and right to privacy, including actions related to the creation and use of illegal “enemies lists” and sending moles into private homes to spy on their political enemies.
See copy of Complaint and Press Release. Read More...
Ellen Addonizio, Anna Bryson and Larry
Christensen, the "ABC Reform Trustees"
San Juan Capistrano, California – In the election of November 2006, the people of the Capistrano Unified School District elected the three of us to the Board of Trustees by 17% landslide margins of victory – a clear mandate for change in the administration of the school district. We ran as the “ABC Reform” candidates on a reform platform, vowing to restore honesty, integrity and accountability, as well as returning scarce dollars back into the classroom. We answer only to the constituents of CUSD and we are charged to do what is best for all of the district’s 53,000 students, as a community.
Under the watch of Trustees Sheila Benecke and Marlene Draper, the school district has experienced a tumultuous decade of controversies that has included unlawful secret meetings, misappropriation or mismanagement of public funds, five years of budget deficit spending (2002-2006), unchecked funding of questionable building projects compounded by misrepresentations of their funding, including the extravagant construction of the district’s 126,000 square foot administration building. Read More...
ABC committee members resign over flawed boundary assessment process and district's failure to take responsibility
Rather than taking responsibility for the controversial Vista del Mar attendance boundary issue themselves, the old guard and their staff have put well-meaning, but inexperienced parents on the Attendance Boundary Committee -- placing them in the line of fire as convenient scape goats and avoiding responsibility for doing the job themselves.
"The whole process is flawed," said former Attendance Boundary Committee member and parent Ron Frantz, 50, of Mission Viejo, who resigned from the committee during last month's public hearing. "The school district doesn't take responsibility. When the heat comes, they put parents in front to deflect the heat of something that is truly their responsibility." January 6, 2008, The Orange County Register Read More...