-- Howard Blume, LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/gNJ7pN
February 16, 2011 | 5:29 pm - As widely expected, most of the campaign money in the March 8 election for the Los Angeles Board of Education is coming from outsiders and not the candidates themselves.
The biggest player is a committee supported by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Next in line is United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers union for the nation’s second-largest school system.
The Villaraigosa-backed Coalition for School Reform is supporting incumbents Tamar Galatzan and Richard Vladovic as well as Luis Sanchez, who is running to fill the one open seat among four on the ballot.
The Coalition can't be called the "mayor’s committee" because state law prohibits the mayor, as a political officeholder, from exerting control. But that hasn’t stopped the mayor from fundraising for the effort. And the committee was formed solely to support the candidates he’s backing. All told, the committee has spent $410,696, according to the latest filings. It has more than $1 million still in reserve.
Recent contributors to the committee include $100,000 each from Casey Wasserman of the Wasserman Media Group, Megan Chernin of Chernin Entertainment and Zenith Insurance.
To support Galatzan, the Coalition has spent more than $206,000 -- nearly $121,000 for Vladovic and and more than $83,000 for Sanchez. Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union has sided with the mayor in supporting Vladovic (more than $90,000) and Sanchez (nearly $83,000).
The latest city filings show that United Teachers Los Angeles has spent the most on a single candidate: nearly $270,000 on behalf of two-term incumbent Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. The union also spent more than $35,000 each on two candidates -- John Fernandez and Jesus Escandon -- from whom it subsequently withdrew support. Both remain on the ballot, although Escandon suspended his campaign.
The union and mayor are competing head to head only in the race for the open seat in District 5, which stretches from Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Eagle Rock to cities southeast of downtown L.A., including Huntington Park, South Gate and Bell.
There, Sanchez is running against Fernandez -- formerly backed by the union -- and Bennett Kayser, who won the union endorsement last week. The union has not yet reported spending on behalf of Kayser, but it is expected.
The California Teachers Assn. has contributed $40,000 so far to the UTLA effort, according to the union. UTLA’s total reported spending is $341,102.
Under city law, independent expenditures must be reported within 24 hours.
So far, Sanchez is the candidate who has reported raising the most money under his direct control: $85,483.
Other candidates on the ballot are: challenger Louis Pugliese, who is running against Galatzan in District 3, the west San Fernando Valley; challenger Roye Love, against Vladovic in District 7, which includes portions of South L.A. and the Harbor area; and challenger Eric Lee, against LaMotte in District 1, which includes portions of south and southwest Los Angeles.