By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/j82wdo
Los Angeles school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte gives an impassioned speech after being sworn in during the panel's oath of office ceremony on Friday. (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
July 2, 2011 - After four Los Angeles school board members were sworn in for four-year terms Friday, a verbal skirmish broke out, with one member calling the newly reelected board president a flunky for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Monica Garcia, who has strong ties to the mayor, was one of those reelected. She was also reappointed president of the seven-person panel.
But Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte could not let the meeting end without calling out her colleagues for playing politics. She heatedly criticized the district's actions, including allowing charter school operators to take over some campuses, and Garcia's leadership. Garcia has served as president, a largely ceremonial position, since 2006.
"I was personally hoping you'd give someone else a chance," said LaMotte, who nominated Steve Zimmer for the post. "There's so much that's wrong…. Something's got to change. I hope it will not work as it has for the past four years."
When Garcia responded that the board needed to be willing to embrace change, LaMotte snapped: "I'm not afraid of change."
She then bemoaned Villaraigosa's influence. LaMotte, who has served on the board since 2003, has long been an outspoken critic of the mayor, who helped raise funds for four current board members, including Garcia.
The vote to give Garcia another year as board president was 4 to 3, with Tamar Galatzan, Nury Martinez and Richard Vladovic — the members backed by the mayor — in favor of Garcia. The three who were not supported by Villaraigosa — Zimmer, LaMotte and newcomer Bennett Kayser — opposed Garcia's presidency.
"We need another seat where [Villaraigosa] can come up here and sit," LaMotte said.
Garcia also appointed Vladovic board vice president for the second time.
Kayser, a longtime teacher, was elected to replace Yolie Flores, who decided not to run again. Kayser was heavily backed by the teachers union and defeated Garcia's chief of staff.
The other members sworn in were Galatzan, LaMotte and Vladovic.
smf: This story contains a glaring factual error. It is misreported and un-fact-checked.
It also fails to mention the proposals brought to the board by Mr. Kayser in his remarks – covered by the Daily News and which I will describe in Sunday’s 4LAKids - and the wonderful musical performances by District music students – from programs very much on the chopping block.