Thursday, September 22, 2011


Howard Blume – L.A. Times/LA Now |

September 20, 2011 |  7:19 pm The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to join opponents of local redevelopment agencies in the legal battle over who should control funds that are held by these agencies.

The school board’s decision Lorgnuncputs it at odds with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has backed keeping funds with redevelopment agencies, including the one controlled by the city of Los Angeles.

Billions of dollars are at stake statewide. Locally, the issue is whether these dollars should reside with the city—to help it spur development projects—or with counties and school districts.

Mayor Tony - for a double reverse spin analysis on this story see Rob Kaye’s Antonio Villaraigosa, Political Superstar -- Obama's Secret Re-Election Weapon?>>

Until now, a school-board majority closely allied with the mayor has been officially silent on the issue, even though the cash-strapped school district could reap substantial benefit by a transfer of these funds. But the political ground shifted somewhat at Tuesday’s meeting.

The resolution to take sides—and oppose the mayor’s position—was brought forward by recently elected school board member Bennett Kayser. With financial support from the teachers union, he  narrowly defeated a candidate who was backed by Villaraigosa. Kayser took office in July.

Kayser's resolution called for filing an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court over who should control the contested funding. The brief would make legal arguments supporting the transfer that has been advocated by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The school board approved the item in closed session and did not discuss the matter in its public meeting.

Joining Kayser were board members Steve Zimmer—who sometimes votes with the mayor’s bloc, and Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, an outspoken critic of the mayor. The fourth and deciding vote was  that of Richard Vladovic, a longtime mayoral ally who was just reelected. The mayor’s closest ally, school board President Monica Garcia, abstained. Two board members, Tamar Galatzan and Nury Martinez, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, who has enjoyed Villaraigosa’s support, said he had no position on the board’s action, but that, in general, he supported efforts to bring in revenue to the school system. Deasy declined to comment when asked what the legal intervention was likely to cost.

The mayor's office said Villaraigosa, who is traveling, was unavailable for comment.

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