Blog: Betsey Butler or Anderson Cooper: Who do you believe?

While Butler was not exactly fighting to keep pedophiles in the classroom, she was doing her best to derail efforts to provide effective mechanisms to remove teachers who molest their students.

     Last week I got a robo-call from Eric Bauman, Chair of the Democratic Party of the County of Los Angeles, breathlessly reminding me that the Party’s endorsed candidate in the 50th Assembly District, Betsy Butler, was being “attacked by corporate agricultural interests.”  “Don’t believe their lies” Bauman intoned.

     This was on the heels of a mailer from the Butler campaign claiming that she was victim of “an untruthful smear campaign.”  Butler’s mailer indignantly stated “their smear campaign is not only false, it is deeply offensive.”

     But if you want to see something truly offensive check out the CNN Anderson Cooper’s exposé on how Betsy Butler cynically killed a bill passed by the State Senate to streamline the cumbersome procedures for firing teachers who molest their students. 

     Senate bill 1530 was introduced by State Senator Alex Padilla, (D-Pacoima), in response to the problems school districts were having terminating teachers who were clearly guilty of sexually or physically abusing students.  The story aired on CNN by Anderson Cooper related to the Mira Monte Elementary school teacher who was offering semen laced cookies to his students.  He was ultimately given $40,000.00 to quit as the school district did not want to subject itself to the expensive and tedious termination process.  These union supported procedures cost school districts hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, dollars that could be spent on keeping school libraries staff, providing art supplies or musical instruments to enrich the educational experience of California’s children.

     Cooper revealed how the California Teachers Association, (CTA), flexed its’ political muscles and was able to get pliable professional politicians such as Butler to do their bidding.  Butler helped kill the bill in the Assembly Education Committee even though it had sailed through the State Senate with bipartisan support.  The smirk on Butler’s face as she refuses to be interviewed by CNN tells the whole story.

     Former State Senator, Gloria Romero, a certified progressive who now leads Democrats for Education Reform, blasted this behind closed doors power play.  If Butler had legitimate concerns about SB 1530, she could have moved to amend it or bring it to a floor vote where it could be openly debated.  Instead Butler conspired to kill the bill anonymously in committee.

     The Cooper piece is based upon a prior story from the LA Weekly.  Both the CNN video and the LA Weekly article have been circulated by grassroots Democrats on the Westside, bucking the Democratic establishment. 

     Now that the CNN video is going viral, the Democratic Party is circling the wagons around Butler, a mediocre first term back bencher whose only apparent talent is being a reliable vote for the Speaker.  Butler’s paltry record of achievement is a mish mash of minor reforms that have little bearing on the crisis facing California.  Yet to read her mail you would think she is a bold legislative leader.  The Cooper exposé shows Butler for what she is: an ambitious political hack who is willing to compromise her supposed progressive beliefs in order to kow-tow to powerful special interests.

     This week I got two more slick Butler mailers.  One called her “a courageous champion” while the other proclaimed her to be “a real champion for our schools.”  If only it were true.

     Fortunately the residents of the 50th Assembly District, which runs from Malibu to West Hollywood, have a viable progressive alternative in Richard Bloom.  Currently serving as Mayor of Santa Monica, Bloom has real world experience dealing within his own school district where he was able to expand school budgets in tight economic times.  Unlike Butler, Bloom is putting two kids through college.  He has been to parent-teacher meetings and knows the challenges parents face when trying to meet the rising costs of tuition.  A former Coastal Commissioner, Bloom is the proven progressive.

     Check out Anderson Cooper’s report yourself on www.thetruthaboutbetsybutlercom

     Decide for yourself if you believe Betsy Butler or Anderson Cooper.

Steve Martin

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Stonewall Young Democrats October 27, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Thank you for carrying Richard Bloom's negative campaign message. Now, can you explain this to all of us? Let's talk about funding, sure! Richard Bloom is getting awful lots of money from his Republican Friends. A special interest group who represents farmers called the Western Growers Association is attacking Betsy for supporting a bill that would have provided shade and water for California's farm workers. Although Governor Brown vetoed this bill ensuring farm workers are given shade and water on September 20th of this year, this special interest group has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on mailers in the 50th Assembly District in retaliation against Betsy for advocating for our farm workers. http://www.frontiersla.com/Channels/ElectionSpecialReports/story.aspx?ID=1791542 This is not just a local beef. Tom Nassif, President and CEO of the Western Growers Association, is one of six national chairs for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Farmers and Ranchers for Romney coalition. They just gave Richard Bloom $3,900 for his campaign and $50,000+ to oppose Betsy. https://twitter.com/CADollarDollar/status/260962581609603072 It's all right there, too. Richard Bllom - the choice of Republican special interest.
allegra October 27, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Funny, I’m a Democrat and Bloom is my choice. Interesting that Bloom only lost blocking Betsy’s endorsement by Stonewall Dems by two votes. Were the rest of those Democrats, in the Stonewall Democratic Club, who voted for Bloom, Republicans? Were all the Democrats who voted for him in the primary, actually Republicans? Here’s the link to that Anderson Cooper video. Disgraceful! <http://www.thetruthaboutbetsybutler.com/
scott ferguson October 27, 2012 at 06:09 AM
If Steve Martin were a Santa Monica resident, he'd be leading the charge for Butler - Bloom apparently is seen by many SM locals as a tool of campaign donors and real estate developers. The hypocricy is staggering. If I have to choose between believing the major anti-labor agribusiness lobby who has smeared Butler or the entire state and county Democratic leadership, as well as virtually every progressive group in the state, or Steve Martin, who seems to base his political preferences on the basis of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, I'm going with the Democratic leadership. I don't think Jerry Brown or Kamila Harris would support someone who did what Steve Martin, at the right-wing agribusiness lobby's behest, says she did. I assume Anderson Cooper fell for this because it sounded like a hot story.
me October 27, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Sheila Lightfoot October 27, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Dear Stonewall & my dear friend SF… Oh, for heaven’s sake. Can’t the Democratic “machine” within our party get a little more inventive? Going straight to the same old “they’re backed by Republicans” slur every time fellow Democrats don’t get in line with the party hierarchy is getting a little overused, don’t you think? What Betsy Butler did is the issue here. Nothing else. People can decide for themselves what that is and whether they think it’s right or wrong. I can’t for the life of me figure out what this or that Republican organization has to do with it. So, judge for yourselves, folks. Here’s the LA Weekly article about Betsy Butler’s actions: http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2012/10/betsy_butler_sex_predators_assembly_district_50.php Here’s the Anderson Cooper segment: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/08/24/ac-lah-california-blocks-sex-crimes-bill.cnn And before you start attacking me, the answer is “no.” I am not a Republican. In fact, I’m a member of both the Stonewall and the West Hollywood / Beverly Hills Democratic Clubs. And also for the record, many of my friends are Log Cabin Republicans… so what? If you want to defend what Butler did, fine… do it. But changing the subject isn’t the same as defending her actions.
scott ferguson October 27, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Sheila I have never used the "Bloom is backed by Repubs" argument - I have said that the impetus for the smear on Butler comes from a racist, anti-Latino, anti-labor agribusiness combine that should horrify you if you wish to be the progressive you claim to be. They despise her because her key piece of legislation was one that was passed backing workers rights. That's why this has been used against her. As in the case of term limits, the minority opposed to our city government has a horrifying willingness to ally themselves with the worst forces of the big money/anti-liberal right wing money machine. I have nothing against Bloom - he'd likely be an adequate progressive legislator. But the people against him out of SM are EXACTLY the same people as you and others who oppose the WeHo gov't - they say he is what you dislike about our council members. I don't have any doubt in the world that if the WeHo Dem establishment backed Bloom Steve Martin would be railing against him, with your support. That's they way you guys roll. For what it's worth, I voted for Butler in the primary on my own decision after reviewing the issues and the candidates. Endorsements had no impact then.
Sheila Lightfoot October 27, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I’ll leave you with a final comment, Scott, by repeating myself. If you want to defend what Butler did, fine… do it. But changing the subject isn’t the same as defending her actions. Now, the floor is entirely yours. I’m sure everyone is waiting for your well-reasoned argument in support of Ms. Butler’s decision to block this bill in the Assembly Education Committee. As I recall, asking other people to make reasonable arguments that will persuade you… someone who is just looking for the truth, is kind of “your thing.”
scott ferguson October 27, 2012 at 07:30 PM
I understand that she abstained on this bill. And as I understand it, the lack of support came from the lack of due process (likely unconstitutional) in what might have been a feel good, easy vote. I admire legislators (in general) who take tough stands against easy votes. I still don't know enough about the details to know for sure how I would have voted. Obviously, any teach charged with child abuse (in the criminal law system) is removed from teaching immediately. So I've answered your question - now please answer mine. Why are you supporting a candidate who, if he were a council member in West Hollywood, would be #1 on your want to defeat list? I think the main reason is, again, the enemy of my enemy (because Butler is supported by WeHo Dems, as well as virtually every other Dem leader in the state) is my friend. And, will you be willing, like me, to say whoever wins will likely be a solid progressive vote in Sacramento? Or maybe you want to get some more of the right-wing, Koch Brother-allied support in your future WeHo political races, which you guys are now 2 for 2 on. That's my concern - you have sold your souls.
scott ferguson October 27, 2012 at 09:09 PM
On the bill itself - I just talked with a public school teacher friend who often disagrees with the union. He said this bill was totally unnecessary and an overreaction to past problems in one school where a superintendent (not a teacher) was negligent in reporting reports of abuse to the police. The new system is 100% set up to immediately remove any teacher accused of any sort of abuse from the classroom for review. The bill would have made it less possible for teacher to defend him/herself (otherwise known as due process, or the American way) we progressives like to defend. The union supports removing any teacher thus accused from having contact with students. They oppose firing (and likely ruining someone's life) without due process. Butler abstained because voting no would have made even more demagoging on this issue (again, in her case, paid for and spread by some of the worst anti-progressive groups in the state, who are allegedly progressive anti-WeHo gov't activists are only too happy to ally themselves with). Anderson Cooper was likely fed this because he saw a good story and his people didn't do the thorough research they should have.
me October 28, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Ari Ruiz October 28, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Its nice to see you at stonewall meetings only when you need to vote for a candidate who like you has never shown up at Stonewall events - EVER! Besides, how many new members joined prior to that vote in order to vote for Bloom?
Ari Ruiz October 28, 2012 at 08:30 PM
the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City has spurned Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom and endorsed Betsy Butler for State Assembly. It issued the following statement explaining its endorsement. “Look at all the traffic clogging development that’s come to Santa Monica in the last 12 years since Richard Bloom has been on our City Council. Richard has voted for EVERY commercial development that’s come before the council and has been rewarded by sizable developer contributions over the years. Now Richard wants Santa Monica to become an even greater regional office destination, which is what brings overwhelming and unmitigatable traffic into our city. “Betsy Butler supports our goals. She supports ‘the incredible work and the commitment that [SMCLC] has demonstrated for a more livable community . . . I am with you 100%.’ http://www.santamonicadispatch.com/2012/10/smclc-endorses-betsy-butler-for-state-assembly/
scott ferguson October 28, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Me Please look at Art Ruiz' posts above. Bloom seems like everything the WeHo city council members represent to their opponents here. He has been pro-business interest, pro-growth, hindered traffic flow issue resolution and received mainly business contributions. I'd like to see why you and Sheila and Steve are supporting a candidate for a much important office than WeHo council member when, if he were elected here, he'd be your worst enemy. The silence in a response from you, Sheila, Steve and others is deafening, and bespeaks of what at best is inconcistancy and at worst out and out hypocricy. I defended Butler when asked on a specific issue. Are you guys incapable of defending Bloom? It sure seems that way.
scott ferguson October 30, 2012 at 03:50 AM
I've done more investigating on this bill. Steve Martin should be ashamed of himself. The bill would have allowed any district to immediately FIRE any teacher based on the mere accusation of several things, including pedophile behavior, as well as drug use, even Communist part membership. No investigation, no trial, no abibility to defend - just be fired, just like that. Any person who spreads the lies about what she and 5 other Dems on the committee did is a latter day McCarthyite.. Yes, I mean you, Steve Martin. I know you don't shame easily, but you should be shunned by decent folk after your two blogs. Did you do any investigating on this? No, you just repeated the smear from the right-wing Agribusiness lobby who has been flooding this district with their filth. This has little to do with the merits of Butler vs Bloom. Both have merits, both would be decent representatives. It has everything to do with what the Steve Martins and their ilk in West Hollywood will do to ally themselves with enemies of West Hollywood progressives (as they have done with their alliance with the pro-Prop 8 "CA For Term Limits" group, which is a notorious anti-progressive group in the city., I am voting for Butler based on her clear superiority in the race. But I am also going to do so because a smear campaign that Steve Martin has attached himself with needs to be rejected. Sheila, I hope you have your answer. Now will you please answer my questions to you about Bloom?
Vince Roncone October 30, 2012 at 05:37 PM
michael November 03, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Why isn't anyone mentioning AB1700 a Betsy Butler bill recently signed by Jerry Brown...I will vote or Betsy Butler and thank her for her support of the LGB community.
michael November 03, 2012 at 01:29 AM
(typo correction.).....I will vote for Betsy Butler and thank her for supporting the LGBT community.
scott ferguson November 03, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Butler is one of the most progressive members of the Democratic caucus. In her short time there, she has made a significant contribution and been effective. Because of that, right-wing anti-labor groups are spending 10s of thousands of dollars to defeat her in order to frighten other progressive legislators from following her lead. But the Steve Martins of the world, who are an embarassment to West Hollywood and progressive politics, give voice to the smear these monied interests want voiced because Butler is their enemy. Why? Only because in their small, everything is personal, the opponent of my enemy is my ally world, local Dems support Butler - like virtually evey other Dem leader in the county and the state. There are many reasons to reelect Butler, just as there are many reasons to reelect Obama. But among the best is that it will help show right wing monied interests that they can't win elections with hateful smears and divisive tactics. And in the meantime, they might suggest to Steve Martin and his cronies that they have even less credibility all the time and their alliances with the enemies of everything West Hollywood stands for (as they are doing in the term limits fight) won't be tolerated.
me November 04, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Ryan Gierach December 06, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I believe the headline should read "whom do you believe." Isn't this site supposed to be run by professionals?
me December 06, 2012 at 08:19 PM
OMG Ryan, look in the mirror first....i've been a rather harsh critic of the patch at times, but you have NO room to talk sir


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