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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Austin Mess Gets Deeper

You may remember that Ben Austin, an official with the Green Dot charter school chain and the rumored pick of Mayor Villaraigosa for the Westside school board seat currently held by the retiring Marlene Canter, failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the March ballot.

In an LA Times interview, Austin told reporter David Zahniser that political consultant Sue Burnside mistakenly collected over 300 petition signatures from a neighboring district represented by Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte.

However in an email sent to several blogs and local writers, Burnside claims that Austin is not her client saying that "Burnside & Associates is not and has never been under contract to him or his Campaign. I have never met Mr. Austin."  Burnside later states than an unnamed independent contractor "misrepresented himself – without my knowledge or approval – as an employee of Burnside & Associates when he agreed to collect the signatures for Mr. Austin."

Insiders are telling us that that this "indepenedent contractor" is allegedly City of Montebello Councilmember Robert Urteaga who did work at one point for Burnside's firm at least according to this cached version of Burnside's company website (the current website does not list Urteaga's name).

In the meantime Austin's web site is still up despite the fact he will not be on the ballot. Perhaps he will run a write-in campaign.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

Burnside is just covering up. She subcontracted Urteaga, not thinking he would be such a screw-up, and is now disavowing herself.

The more fun version: Austin -- Mr. Charter -- was set up by Burnside -- a longtime consultant for UTLA and LAUSD. She did the "voter education" field work for the school bond paid for by taxpayers.

December 16, 2008 2:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hey Higby - Why don't you let REDSPOT report on this???

What did you do to Red Spot?

- Banish him to playing on the freeway?

- Wish him into the cornfields?

- Did Captain Jack walk her off the plank?

December 16, 2008 2:45 PM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

Red Spot has been sent away for re-education. He should return soon.

December 16, 2008 3:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

That is very Stalinist of you.

Don't forget to airbrush her out of those pictures.

Good day Comrade

December 16, 2008 4:01 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

when is jose returning?

December 16, 2008 4:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

From Austin's website:

There has been much discussion about what happened with our signatures. These are the facts. I called Burnside and Associates. I was told that Burnside and Associates would take me as a client and gather signatures for our campaign. Robert Urteaga gathered our signatures on behalf of the firm, told us that they had collected and validated the requisite amount of signatures -- until I later discovered that they had gathered signatures in the wrong district, and used the wrong list to validate the signatures. I had also collected hundreds of volunteer signatures, which basically turned out to be our only valid signatures. Afterwards, I received a bill from Burnside and Associates for their services

December 16, 2008 7:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Burnside has longstanding ties to UTLA, and Urteaga has longstanding ties to Nick Pachecchio -- both arch enemies of Villaraigosa. Given the bizarre nature of this snafu, this smells like dirty tricks.

December 16, 2008 8:02 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

they are all crooks.

December 16, 2008 8:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Personally, this is what I think: Austin got screwed. Something dirty went down against him. Something that may have been very wrong or illegal. That said, I'm a little glad because I'm for Stryer. He lives in my neighborhood and is a good guy. He is the only teacher not endorsed by its special interest union. And he loves and understands Pali Charter High.

December 16, 2008 9:15 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This is why we need to abolish school boards!

December 16, 2008 9:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Break up LAUSD- Enough is Enough!!

December 16, 2008 9:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

austin is way too close to too many insiders to be a revolutionary.

December 16, 2008 9:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The only way that both of Burnside's main clients -- LAUSD and UTLA -- could have beaten Ben Austin was this way. Take him out before he gets to the ballot. This one-in-a-million mistake sounds more like it was a "mistake" in exchange for a million bucks.

December 16, 2008 9:55 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The LAUSD is a disaster.

December 16, 2008 10:16 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Austin is an insider pretending to be an outsider.

December 16, 2008 10:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Why would Austin hire someone who has such direct ties to UTLA, LAUSD, and Nick Pachecchio? Seems like he is at fault too. Who hires consultants who are working for their enemies?

December 16, 2008 10:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Anyone who read the Steve Lopez column knows Ben Austin was raging against the machine. But why does a revolutionary hire a paid signature gatherer? Seems a little contradictory to me. But I do like what he has to say.

December 16, 2008 10:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

So when does Red Spot get out of Jail, I mean Yale?

December 16, 2008 10:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Steve Barr and Ben Austin are responsible for the only good thing that's happened for the school district in decades: Locke High School. And they took on all the assholes in the LAUSD to do it. It's too bad Steve Barr is not running for school board.

December 16, 2008 10:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

So who's left? Stryer, Zimmer, Garcia, and Pugliese. Oh yeah, "Mayor" Martinez, also endorsed by UTLA. What is wrong with this picture? What's the mayor of San Fernando got in common with UTLA, beside supporting AB 1381? Don't ask why AV would endorse her.

This isn't about the kids.

December 17, 2008 12:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Austin, while as flawed as anyone who is stupid enough to run for office, was the only authentic voice in the field, and on the school board. Taking on REAL special interests. And now he's out, in a very shady and bizarre way. This is why nothing every changes. Because the people who suck off the tit of the status quo will do whatever it takes to keep that power.

December 17, 2008 6:57 AM  

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