Betsy Butler, elected to serve a South Bay Assembly District in 2010, is running for our Assembly seat thanks to re-districting, even though only a couple blocks of the new 50th were part of Butler’s original district. A loyal yet mediocre back bencher, Assembly Speaker John Perez determined that Butler was probably unable to get re-elected in her re-configured district, so he anointed her as the Democratic standard bearer in the 50th. The notion that we Westsiders might have preferred homegrown leadership with genuine connections to the District was not part of the Speaker’s calculations.
I would think that West Hollywood Mayor Jeff Prang and Councilmember John Duran, our local Butler partisans, would have had some concerns about her lack of familiarity with the political nuances of our district. After all, why would Butler accept an endorsement from the Apartment Owners Association of Los Angeles, a long time foe of rent control in West Hollywood and Santa Monica?
Despite all evidence to the contrary, our local Democratic Party hacks have attempted to portray Butler as a strong, progressive leader with an impressive record of accomplishment. But a recent investigation by CNN’s Anderson Cooper lays bare the myth that Butler is a principled progressive and exposes her as being a small minded and opportunistic politician who is quite susceptible to putting the interest of her contributors over the public good.
While Butler’s mailers trumpet her concern for veterans, gays and whales, when it comes to protecting California’s schoolchildren, her reservoir of compassion runs dry. Her actions to sabotage a bill to streamline the cumbersome process for terminating school teachers who have sexually abused pupils has cast Butler in the role of protecting pedophiles.
The Anderson Cooper 360 investigation exposes the sleazier side of Sacramento politics where Butler seems in her element.
State Senator Alex Padilla, (D-Pacoima), introduced Senate Bill 1530 which would have made it easer for school districts to fire teachers who had sexually abused children. The current system is a horrifically expensive and ineffective process that protects offenders. The bill had wide support, including an endorsement by former State Senator Gloria Romero, a proven progressive who now heads “Democrats for Education Reform." Padilla’s bill sailed through the State Senate with bipartisan support.
But when the bill went to the State Assembly, the California Teachers Association, (CTA), decided to flex its’ political muscle. The bill was sent to the Assembly Education Committee where four of the committee’s Democratic members, including Butler, refused to vote on the measure, effectively killing the bill at the request of the CTA.
Padilla’s bill arose out of the controversy at Mira Monte Elementary school where a teacher was feeding innocent children semen iced cookies. Rather than keep the teacher on salary during a prolonged investigation, the school district decided it was cheaper to pay him $40,000.00 to resign. What a huge waste of money in the era of limited budgets.
The California State Senate is hardly a conservative body; it is dominated by progressive Democrats. So you have to ask yourself, why would Butler sabotage a bill that would protect our schools and our children?
The Cooper investigation revealed that the four Democrats who refused to vote to bring the bill up for a full vote were also some of the largest recipients of CTA contributions. Indeed Butler had received over $11,000.00 from the union in her short Assembly career. Butler refused to speak to the CNN investigators and cameras captured her smirking as she refused to be interviewed on the Assembly floor.
I could understand if Butler took a principled stance against Senate Bill 1530. She could have echoed the CTA argument that the bill was unnecessary and that it infringed upon the rights of accused teachers. But we will never know why Butler opposed the measure because she took a cowardly route to derail the bill. If just one of the four Democrats who refused to vote had changed their mind, the bill could have gone on for a full and open debate where its merits or demerits could have been aired publicly. But apparently Butler did not have the courage to voice her opinions in the face of public scrutiny and chose to kill the bill with an underhanded procedural power play. What is worse, she prevented the full Assembly from having an opportunity to debate the bill. That is the apex of arrogance and political cynicism.
But this is not Butler’s first vote against children.
In 2011 she voted in committee against AB 13 a bill that would have given schools the right to reject volunteers who had been convicted of specific sex crimes or violent crimes involving minors.
Don’t take my word on Butler; see what Anderson Cooper has to say here. It is great to watch our “progressive” Assembly members at work.
Fortunately we have an opportunity to vote for a principled progressive in November. Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom has a proven track record of progressive accomplishments. He successfully fought for more funding for Santa Monica schools and is currently putting his two boys through college. Unlike Butler, he has real world experience with education issues and is familiar with the challenges faced by teachers and parents alike.
After watching the Anderson Cooper video it will be difficult for anyone to seriously consider Betsey Butler as a credible progressive. She is simply a willing cog in the corrupt machine that dominates Sacramento politics. Sure she has a handful of nominally liberal bills but at the end of the day, little of her legislation goes beyond re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. She is hardly a worthy successor to our current Assembly member, Mike Feuer, who is running for Los Angeles City Attorney.
The people of the new 50th Assembly District deserve better. We don’t need to send another compromised insider back to Sacramento. Her long list of endorsements is more about the Sacramento money game than about a real commitment to making California great again. As she floods our mailboxes with slick mailers, remind yourself that the special interest groups who paid for them are her real constituents.
It is not often you can send a message to the Democratic political establishment that we are tired of business as usual in Sacramento. But a vote for Richard Bloom will send that message loud and clear.