Dear Editor – Healthy Dialogue

Recently, concerns have been raised about negative campaigning in the Culver City School Board election. When candidates file papers to run, they are given the opportunity to sign the “Code of Fair Campaign Practices” – per Elections Code Section 20440-20444 (see full text)

This is what it says specifically on the issue of negative campaigning:

(2) I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT the use of character defamation,whispering campaigns, libel, slander, or scurrilous attacks on any candidate or his or her personal or family life.

I signed the document, agreeing to live by it.

Whenever people have posted comments that I believed to be problematic to the Facebook Group I manage (Culver City PEERS*), I let them know that because I manage this page, and I had signed this pledge I would be removing comments that I considered to either violate section 2, or in my opinion, give the impression that I was supporting negative campaigning towards any candidate. I did this every time something was posted that I considered unacceptable. If anyone persisted I eventually would block them from my group, as the intent of the group was to share education news and have a healthy dialogue on the issues.

In addition, I have specifically asked anyone volunteering to help me get elected to the Culver City School Board to abide by these same principles.

I fundamentally believe that people should be elected based on what they believe in and not as a result of negative campaigning against their opponents. There have been a lot of negative, inaccurate and unnecessary things said and done during the campaigning period for this year’s School Board elections by groups and people on many sides of the issues.

I will continue to abide by the Code of Fair Campaign Practices and I urge all of the candidates and their campaigns and supporters to do the same.

Claudia Vizcarra

*PEERS stands for Parents and Educators for Equity and Resources in Schools

The Actors' Gang


  1. History is rife with cries for “unity” … the unity of intolerance, the unity of prejudice and the unity of dictatorship. Whereas the philosophical foundation of democracy is the concept that truth emerges from friction created by the free exchange of ideas. Questioning ones elected leaders and candidates is fundamental to democracy! Lest we end up with local leadership looking like Washington or Sacramento, hard questions should be asked and answered. Platitudes shouldn’t be the basis for one’s success at the ballot box.

    So…Why is it every time a Silbiger or Silbiger clone gets questioned they want a “kinder-gentler campaign?”

    How is one to question an incumbent’s record without spawning cries for a “Unity” rally?

    Notice any trend among the candidates on these notes?

    Alan Elmont

  2. I wonder what the opinion is from the unity campaign towards the “Occupy” movement. Pretty divisive. Lots of disagreement. It’s not very unifying. I mean, even though all those people are pretty upset at the actions of their elected leaders, they should only talk about the positive attributes of the candidates they support, right?

    Rhetorical question over.

    In all seriousness, public personal attacks should always be off limits. Especially in our small town. However, if someone is pointing out the problems they have with a candidate’s statements, voting record or positions on pertinent issues, it is right and necessary to inform the public of those points. I admit to doing so. If the electorate were to depend solely upon the flyers and campaign ads they receive, they would see seven perfect candidates.

  3. Well, gosh – look at today’s letter to Culver City Crossroads. Candidates accused of “using the school board as a stepping stone to the next political office,” “forwarding unions’ agendas ahead of the needs of our children” and “wanting to bring LAUSD policies to Culver City….”

    None of these strike me as reflective of any of the candidates’ statements, voting records, or positions on pertinent issues — but they are clearly accusations leveled by the UPCC.

  4. Laurin,

    Mr. Hamill is not a member of UPCC!!

    I have no recollection of the UPCC making any such statements in any of it’s press releases or endorsements.

  5. Laurin,

    Unless someone puts the title of their position under their name, they generally do not represent the voice of an organization. I’m not positive that Michael Hamill is a member of UPCC… he may be, but he definitely is not representing UPCC.

    Regarding the quotes of putting the unions ahead of the kids and bringing LAUSD policies to Culver City – I think those are valid concerns and relate directly to the actions and/or words of two of the candidates on the ballot if you look back to positions taken regarding the dispute over parent-funded employees in May of 2012.

    There are many people, myself included, who felt that was an issue which was initiated by the actions of CCUSD union leadership, led to the formation of UPCC in response to that action, and was important enough to be brought up in the questionnaire provided to the candidates during the endorsement proceedings carried out by the teacher & classified employee unions of CCUSD.

    And when Ms. Vizcarra lists her experience as the Chief of Staff to LAUSD School Board member, Steve Zimmer as a reason to vote for her, I don’t think that there is any question that these are valid issues to bring up.

  6. I wish Mr. Elmont would figure out which concepts of democracy he wants to embrace this week. A month ago he was bemoaning the fact that the unions wanted to ask the candidates questions about the adjunct issue and the formation of UPCC, having decided, I guess, that those subjects should have been off limits since his chosen candidates apparently found them difficult to answer.

    This week he is sanctimoniously giving us a civics lesson with his admonitions that “By contrast, the philosophical foundation of democracy is the concept that truth emerges from friction created by the free exchange of ideas” and “Questioning one’s elected leaders and candidates is fundamental to democracy.”

    So, Alan, which is it? Is it only democracy in action when you are posing the questions?

    I have to wonder why it is that you ( or anyone else, for that matter) would have a problem with a candidate’s declaration that they want to run a positive campaign, based on the issues or that they feel it is important for our community to be unified. Are these concepts that foreign to you?

    So let me ask–can any candidates, other than the ones you are endorsing, make a statement, however innocent, during this campaign without you making a mean-spirited attempt to discredit it? It doesn’t seem so.

    Is that what politics in this city has been reduced to? If it is, then we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

  7. “In all seriousness, public personal attacks should always be off limits. Especially in our small town.”

    Yet they haven’t been off-limits, Dan, and I would like to also suggest that private personal attacks in a small town such as ours are not only hurtful, but counter-productive. And they have a tendency to get forwarded to people that you may not have intended to receive them.

    So while I won’t give the brutal e-mail you’ve been circulating in the community any further play by copying and pasting it into this post, I will say that your attempt to discredit me and the candidates you do not support for election to the board is beneath you. Perhaps you should consider following your own best advice as noted above.

  8. Ms. Hamme,

    “bemoaned” “sanctimoniously” “admonitions” “mean-spirited”

    Debbie – seriously?

  9. Debbie,

    Again, I don’t believe that is a personal attack, either. I plan on publishing it. So people can judge. You have your reasons to stand up for what you choose. You represent the classified employees as their union leader, and in MOST cases what you stand for, I am in complete agreement with. In the case of the parent funded employees – the existing adjuncts at El Marino & whatever assistant positions Lin Howe & La Ballona were attempting to fund – we disagree.

    In my letter, I do not call you nor anyone else names. I do not question your character nor anyone else. I talk about what I believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates based upon their actions, words and their associations.

    You have every right to defend your position, but to complain about criticisms when you hold a seat of leadership isn’t very, well, leader-like.

  10. Yes, Alan, seriously. Perhaps you don’t realize how you come off to the public in your pieces?

  11. Dan,

    You do not have to call people names in order to discredit or humiliate them. And if you can honestly say that you weren’t questioning the character or integrity of the individuals with which you apparently disagree, then we’ll just have to “agree to disagree” on that point. If you support candidates in this election, simply describe your reasons for doing so. If you are convincing enough, then your chosen candidates have garnered more votes. Casting aspersions on the other candidates isn’t necessary when you have a convincing enough argument.

    I have no problem with someone disagreeing with my position on any issue–providing that they clearly understand it. Yet, it is clear from your statements about the adjuncts that you really did not/do not have a clear understanding of the issue and are content to push forward opinion and assumptions as truth. Since neither you nor any other parent saw what the union proposal actually was, your statements about the union’s intentions are suppositions and nothing more.

    With regard to my leadership skills, I would go as far as to note that your entire e-mail isn’t very “leader-like” as it will only serve to perpetuate the divisiveness in this community. As a parent leader in the district and more especially, in UPCC, I would think that you’d want to set a better example. It’s too bad there was never a good time to have our chat.

  12. This thread has become absurdly acrimonious, and is now over.

    Please find some other way to entertain yourselves, as any more comments added here will be deleted.


    Thank you, The Editor.

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