by Wayne Lusvardi
How can the public separate truth from falsehood and accusations from political smears in the charges made against PUSD school board candidate Sean Baggett published in the Pasadena Weekly? http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/wanted_sean_j_baggett/9934/
Who can we trust? The newspapers? Mr. Baggett? Or the judgment of the People who may end up bamboozled?
In the article “Wanted: Sean Baggett,” the Pasadena Weekly asserts:
“Police are urging Pasadena Board of Education candidate Sean J. Baggett to surrender on a $30,000 bench warrant stemming from a 2008 arrest on suspicion of drunken driving and alleged failure to pay a fine.”
Sean Baggett commented online:
“There is NO bench warrant. I called today at 12 noon to verify and No bench warrant.”
Mr. Baggett does not deny he has a past record of two DUI charges plea-bargained down to reckless driving, albeit his story that it was from taking prescribed drugs is inconsistent with a reported 0.08 blood alcohol level.
Who is telling the truth? Which is the lesser of two failures, an individual with failings or institutional failure due to policies set by School Board incumbents?
It gets more complicated. John Crawford who runs the Sierra Madre Tattler blog is also covering the Sean Baggett story. http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/
Crawford tells his own story of when he ran for Sierra Madre City Council against Joe Mosca and lost, Crawford was publicly accused of having a police record for going through people’s trash cans, when in fact he had no such police record. Mosca had fabricated the whole story. And who is endorsing Sean Baggett’s opponent, Tom Selinske, to PUSD School Board but Sierra Madre City Councilman Joe Mosca! As they say in criminal terminology, same M.O. (method of operation) as in the Mosca versus Crawford race.
Granted that if reported accurately there appears to be inconsistencies in Mr. Baggett’s statements and his plea-bargained reduced sentences for DUI’s are not good behavior, it does not necessarily disqualify him for serving on the school board.
If Mr. Baggett is correct, why do newspaper writers treat outsider candidates to the school board so unfairly? The answer is that they have no reason to fear otherwise. After all, writers face far few adverse consequences when they accentuate the mistakes and deficiencies of common people than when they do of incumbent school board members. The common people lack any real recourse against writers for the Establishment who maliciously slander them.
Conversely, the School Board, the City, and Water & Power Department patronize the newspaper Commentariat with ad revenues and the prospect of possible future public affairs jobs in government.
Newspaper writers tend to gratuitously criticize the People but treat elites and insiders with power and influence with respect. Those who have a couple of serious driving infractions are “Tea Party supported trailer trash,” or “anti-gay,” or “racist,” while those incumbents who have been inside partakers of corruption are “for the children.”
There are no doubt thousands of unreported cases where political elites have bullied or threatened writers into silence or where their editors have pulled stories for fear of losing ad revenues or access to the halls of power.
The Common people express little or no interest in retaliation against those who smear them. Hence, it is an asymmetrical game of power aligned against those who would challenge a widespread system of elite corruption.
As detailed by no less than the California Legislative Office (LAO), the entire State education funding system is full of bureaucratic union fluff and politically protected “categorical” jobs programs that the mainstream newspaper media will not report.
This corrupt system filters down to local school districts,
Within certain limits, the People typically make better judgments as to who is the better candidate for office than do the newspapers or the Elites. They can more accurately assess the potential for corruption and virtuosity in the candidates they consider for office despite some personal flaws.
On the other hand the Elite Few, because of their inherent appetite for slander, their self-serving benefit from a system of corruption and widespread collusion, conspiracy and co-optation of the newspaper media, are incapable of punishing individuals who have abused use of PUSD credit cards in the past or those who padded bids in school building improvements under Measure Y and Measure TT.
The People’s judgment may be best but it is imperfect especially when it relies on one-sided newspaper journalism, which diverts attention against legalized big crimes. The People are wiser than their rivals as to which choice of candidate furthers the common good. But people often make bad choices when their opponents, who know what’s good for them selves and how to achieve it, often get the better of the People.
Sometimes people desire their own ruin, especially when deceived by mistaken conceptions of the Common Good. The People can be misled by those who cry that there will be teacher layoffs when there were none, as happened last year during the Measure CC Parcel Tax election. The People can be manipulated into deferring to the existing Oligarchy that runs government as reflecting the Common Good.
When confronted with a choice of an outsider candidate with flaws or a self-serving incumbent and an institutionalized system of corruption, the solution is to favor those with a reputation for serving the Public Good over those earned for seeking private goods or private favors in the name of helping children.
Sean Baggett presently runs the County schools at juvenile detention camps and has been involved in attempts to save them by cutting costs so they won’t be axed by the State. Despite whatever personal flaws, he is not involved in a widespread system of corruption as far as we know.
The average citizen can see that Baggett has been set up in the Pasadena Weekly to be portrayed as anti-gay.
Whichever candidate you vote against, don’t let the self-serving newspaper media divert your attention from the bigger question of who serves the Common Good in a time of austerity. According to the State Legislative Office, local school districts can absorb another 5% or more budget cut without having to lay off core teachers. But you won’t read that in the newspaper.
All you will read is somebody’s rap sheet which is not supposed to be disclosed except in court. And to think that the newspaper that is smearing Mr. Baggett touts them self as the champion against the intrusions into privacy of the Patriot Act?
“The people, when deceived by a false notion of the good, often desires its own ruin.” — The Discourses, C. 53