Saturday, July 26, 2014


The L.A. Wave’s always outspoken “Soulvine” columnist Betty Pleasant  has never been afraid of going one step too far, that is how the game of agent provocateur is played, no matter the ‘hood. Her last two columns for the Wave have not been published, withheld for reasons unstated. Maybe because they speak for Dr. George McKenna – or against Mark Ridley Thomas? Or both?  Maybe.

Censored. Censored. Censored.

By Betty Pleasant [published under John Walsh’s byline in the  THE FRONT PAGE ONLINE]

7:00 AM July 18, 2014 ::  This Is It! --- For the past seven months, the people of Los Angeles County have been engaged in a great war against the politicians we elected to represent us. For the most part, our battles have been pity-pat encounters to make our local politicians respond to our needs --- rather than to their own obsessions to reign over us as little kings doing everything they can to create and/or perpetuate rich dynasties for themselves, their kin and their sycophants.

Well, nuclear war was declared this week when residents of LAUSD’s District 1 received two sets of campaign mailings in support of the election of Alex Johnson, King Mark Ridley-Thomas’s chosen minion, to the district’s seat on the School Board. These mailings are the worst pieces of campaign literature I’ve ever seen in my lengthy career. They are full of baldfaced and boldfaced lies about the people’s candidate, George McKenna, and constitute the nastiest smear campaign money can buy. I did not believe King Mark could stoop that low.

Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell and I have not agreed on a single thing in almost 50 years --- until now. We both wholeheartedly support the election of McKenna --- who last week received the overwhelming endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, and today was endorsed by LAUSD Board member Monica Ratliff, who, like everyone else, maintains that McKenna’s “years of experience as a dedicated and successful teacher, principal and administrator will continue to serve the students and parents of District 1 well.”

It’s time to fight nuclear bombs with nuclear bombs. The only people who support Johnson are preachers who tow King Mark’s line because they have charter school and preschool contracts with L.A. County which they believe would be jeopardized if they didn’t back Johnson. They told me that. They told others in the community as well. It’s now common knowledge, particularly in view of what reportedly happened in one of our largest black churches a couple of Sundays ago when the pastor refused to interrupt his service to allow Johnson and King Mark to speak to his congregation. The preachers are getting bold, as they come to realize that the election of the truly qualified candidate, McKenna, would set them free.

Smearing McKenna

The first batch of smear literature against McKenna sported the disclaimer that it was not sent by the candidate or his campaign committee. It did state, however, that it was sent by the African American Voter Registration, Education, Participation Project (AAVREP), which, as we all know, is King Mark’s pet organization. He founded it, and he is, therefore, responsible for viciously maligning McKenna’s stellar career. The offending document lists as supporters, King Mark, Rep. Diane Watson (ret.), Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (ret.), Congresswoman Janice Hahn, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson and SEIU #99, Education Workers United. Now, it really upsets me when people I like do something I hate. So I called them for an explanation. I called Hahn in Washington D.C. and Watson at her house and both women were appalled that their names appeared on such a raunchy piece of campaign literature. “You know I’ve never participated in anything like that!” Watson said. “Johnson came to my house and presented himself well and asked for my support if he ran for the School Board,” Watson explained. “This was early when the election was finally agreed upon and I wanted McKenna in the seat. But he said he did not want to run for it. So I agreed to support Johnson, not realizing that McKenna would change his mind,” Watson said. “Now that he’s in the race, I definitely support McKenna. I do not like having my name on campaign pieces that attack him. I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” Watson said.

Like Watson, Rep. Hahn said she made an early commitment to support Johnson when he took her to lunch, where he made a decent impression on her. “Politics can get really dirty sometimes and this looks like one of those times,” Hahn said. “I must call over there,” she added. The other supporters named are obvious, as Burke’s support of Johnson is quid pro quo for King Mark’s support of her daughter for the Assembly. Wesson’s support may have something to do with the rumors that Wesson has been anointed to replace King Mark on the Board of Supervisors when he terms out. We will speak of this, and related matters, some more.

The House Is Open --- The McKenna campaign held an open house last Saturday at its Crenshaw area headquarters to which an overflow crowd attended. The people left the morning rally held in Leimert Park to protest the beating of Marlene Pinnock and headed straight to the McKenna party. In addition to good food and great camaraderie, we had the pleasure of hearing rousing speeches from Rep. Maxine Waters, former School Board member Rita Walters, venerable LAUSD teacher Owen Knox and Rep. Karen Bass’s deputy chief of staff, Solomon Rivera, who exclaimed to the enthusiastic crowd: “We will not be owned by anybody.”


SOULVINE UNCHAINED (The 7/24/14 Soulvine column rejected by the Wave)

Received by 4LAKids by email from a secret source.

By Betty Pleasant | Journalist

MEAN MAILERS --- As the Aug. 12 runoff election for the 1st District LAUSD school board seat draws near, potential voters are being inundated with campaign mailers, the overwhelming majority of which are sent by the Alex Johnson campaign and all of which malign education icon George McKenna and shed little light on Johnson.

One woman complained to the Soulvine that she had received nine mailings from Johnson that were nothing but smears against McKenna, and she’s angry about them and said she’s sorry she can only cast one vote for McKenna on Aug. 12.

Civil rights activist Pedro Baez of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, was so angry about the series of mailers Johnson has been sending to the people that Monday, Baez and his group filed a formal complaint with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission demanding “a probe into the false, misleading and slanderous mailers sent by the Alex Johnson campaign.”

While Baez has been upset by previous anti-McKenna mailings from Johnson, he said the mailer that arrived Monday was beyond the pale and was more than he could tolerate. “In it, Johnson verged on labeling McKenna a pedophile enabler as he alleged that McKenna covered up sexual abuses in the school district!” Baez shouted.

In his complaint to the Ethics Commission, Baez wrote: “I and other civil rights leaders formally call upon the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for  a probe into the false and slanderous mailings from the Johnson campaign against McKenna. We are demanding that the commission issue a cease and desist order and impose the maximum fine against the Johnson campaign for the fraudulent attacks.”

At Tuesday’s press conference about the mailer, Baez blamed Johnson’s financial backers --- Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Maria Elena Durazo of the L.A. County Federation of Labor --- “for this despicable act” and he said he “also urged the Ethics Commission to charge Ridley-Thomas “with gross violations of ethics and human decency and order him to send out another mailer apologizing to the voters of the LAUSD District 1 --- and for Alex Johnson to withdraw forthwith from the race for this seat.”

The people have given the Soulvine the two most recent Johnson mailers that have upset them so, and I must say they are really raw. Johnson has a one-note theme to his campaign mailings and it appears to be about child molestation as opposed to child education, and in that regard he has accused McKenna of some despicable stuff which I must investigate. And while I’m investigating Johnson’s sex-tinged accusations against McKenna, I will probe Johnson’s lack of delineated credibility in the field of education. In his mailers, Johnson prides himself on having been an assistant district attorney (in the Bronx, N.Y.) “who prosecuted domestic violence, standing up for children and families who were victims of violence and abuse.” If that’s true, then why isn’t Johnson running for Los Angeles County district attorney? Lord knows we need prosecutors in the DA’s office, not on the school board! “Our kids are being prosecuted enough!” declared a group of women Saturday when they found Johnson literature on the windshields of their cars. They’re right. We need experienced educators on the school board, but education is a subject Johnson does not broach in his mailings. After further study we’ll discuss these things about McKenna and Johnson during the next couple of weeks.

WE BAD!! --- Remember when the June 26 Soulvine reported that Ruby Mary Price, the highly educated and experienced children-oriented social worker tried to get  a posted social worker job with the Children’s Institute--- the white-operated agency to which the L.A. County’s LACOE gave the black-operated Kedren Head Start program’s contract when it forced Kedren’s closure? Remember how Price said she was disrespected and ignored by the CI’s staff and was never even given an interview? Remember how she said we contacted Ridley-Thomas‘ office about CI’s racism and Ridley-Thomas‘ obviously ignorant employee named Omar told Price “the supervisor has nothing to do with Children’s Institute, LACOE or any of those because they are separate agencies?”

Well, after we discussed Price’s plight in the Soulvine, the Children’s Institute retrieved her job application from the trash can and offered her two jobs!! Most people (and agencies) tend to change their reprehensible behavior once they’re put on front street. (But then again, a lot of them don’t!) Congratulations Ruby. It’s too bad you couldn’t accept both jobs --- or can you?

DATEBOOK --- The 19th annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday (July 26 and 27) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Central Avenue between Vernon Avenue and King Boulevard. The two-day festival --- presented by Councilman Curren Price--- pays homage to the vital role Central Avenue played in establishing jazz music and culture. Presented in cooperation with the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, the festival will feature three live stages, including one inside the historic Dunbar Hotel, and will present all genre of jazz. This year’s performers will include the Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Ernie Andrews, the Mongorama featuring Justo Almario, among others. As usual, the festival will be free of charge to all.

Congresswoman Karen Bass will be the special guest at the Friends of the Multicultural Coalition’s fundraiser for McKenna, which will be held on July 27 at 3 p.m. at the “fabulous” Taix French Restaurant in Echo Park.

The group invites everyone to a pleasant Sunday lunch at the Taix with school board candidate McKenna.

Then, on July 29, actress Wendy Raquel Robinson will be the special guest at another McKenna fundraiser at Mid-Wilshire’s trendy Rascal Restaurant, 801 S. LaBrea Ave. beginning at 6 p.m.

And on Saturday, July 31, Raul Claros and his group will host a fundraiser for McKenna at the downtown Bonaventure Hotel from 6 to 8 p.m.


2cents smf’s deux centimes: Taix is a Basque Restaurant, the best one this side of Bakersfield.

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