“Don’t shoot the messenger,
You might miss the message.”
After reading my candidate profile of Elizabeth Badger, she called to express her displeasure. While she demanded a retraction of the article, I stand by what was written. I will, however, present her arguments along with the responses that were given to the candidate.
Badger’s first complaint was that I had “lied about her record.” When pressed she stated that the article said that she had not been active in her community since losing the school board election in 2015. She then went on to say that she founded a non-profit, serves on the board of the Regional Center and has been elected as a member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party’s Central Committee.
As explained to the candidate, the specific wording of the article stated that “she has not been a regular face around the district since her last run and her lack of knowledge about the issues is readily apparent in the Speak Up article”. In fact, her work with the Regional Center and the Democratic Party was actually specifically mentioned. However, none of this work has given her any insight into how the district is currently operating. This knowledge is something that is needed in order to make comments that the incumbent has “done absolutely nothing.” Of course she “can’t pinpoint anything [Schmerelson’s] done that’s significant or beneficial to the children in our community”; she was not paying attention.
Badger’s response is that she “can’t be involved in district policies” because Schmerelson won the election. This statement is based on a belief that elections are all about winning or losing instead of focused on ideas. Yes, winning the 2015 Election gave Schmerelson the privilege of sitting on the dais at school board meetings, but it did not give him the exclusive right to advocate on behalf of parents and students. As a member of the public, she has the right to attend meetings and voice her opinions there. These meetings are also available online and on the district’s television station, KLCS. While she may be very involved in her own children’s education, her answers to the questions that I sent her do not show that she has in-depth knowledge about district events.
Next, Badger complained that I gave the impression that Nick Melvoin’s Speak Up had led her to express a viewpoint about the incumbent’s political views. She insisted that the answers given were from her own mouth and that Speak Up did not lead her anywhere.
The specific words from my article were that “she allows Speak Up to suggest that Schmerelson voted for Trump.” Instead of admitting that she had misread the statement, she doubled down on the accusation saying that he absolutely voted for Trump. I asked her how she could possibly know such a thing and her response was that she had “pulled the records.”
Considering that there are no records kept of the decisions we make in the privacy of the voting booth, I again asked how she could possibly know who Schmerelson voted for. It was at this point in the conversation that things turned really heated. She expressed dismay that a friend would do this to her, reiterated her passion for education, promised to respond “accordingly,” called me a “bitch” and hung up the phone.
If Badger intends to retaliate against me by divulging private conversations that we have had in the past, I will save her the trouble. In the days before Jackie Goldberg was elected to the board, I expressed frustration that Schmerelson was not always consistent in his resistance to the charter industry. I even considered running again to push him into fighting harder. However, in the end, I decided that such a run would do more harm than good and that it would be far better to support Schmerelson’s positive steps than to focus on the fact that he is a really nice guy who is sometimes out of place on a board full of vultures.
In the closing of my original article, I acknowledged Badger’s passion but warned that unchecked passion can sometimes be an Achilles heel. Her conversation with me proves this point. I am sorry that she feels betrayed as a friend, but this race is not about personal loyalties. It is about the students for whom we advocate.
Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, an appointed alternate to the LAUSD’s CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.