(February 27, 2006) -- In our opinion, what LB school board president Suja Lowenthal seems prepared to do would be unconscionable.
We interpret her Feb. 25 reported comments in the Press-Telegram to mean that in effect, she will abandon tens of thousands of south-central LB residents she represents on the LB School board, constituents whose votes she sought for a second term to the exclusion of all others, leaving them with the option of an opponent she's denigrated as a political opportunist, to chase for herself the City Council seat vacated by Dan Baker.
We believe LB residents -- especially Suja's friends and supporters -- have a duty to convey a painful truth: what she is considering would make a mockery of the electoral process, disrespect taxpayers, parents and residents citywide and ultimately hurt her political future by displaying an attitude of entitlement inconsistent with public service.
It's been roughly a dozen years since Kathleen Brown (daughter of former Governor "Pat" Brown and sister of former Governor Jerry Brown) announced she was running for Governor because "I'm a woman, I'm a Democrat, and I'm a Brown." She held university degrees and public office. Partisan political Kool-Aid drinkers thought she had it made...but voters were repulsed.
Voters aren't stupid. They will not not elect someone whose actions show they consider themselves entitled to public office primarily by virtue of their last name (in Suja's case, her married last name).
Lowenthal's decision, which comes too late to remove her name from the School Board ballot, leaves her constituents with one other listed ballot choice: an individual Lowenthal said on Feb. 8 "appears to be a roving candidate, moving from place to place, looking for any office in which he could run."
After a LB court struck verbiage from the opponent's candidate ballot statement, Lowenthal added, "It is heartening that a court of law today identified his rhetoric as false, and disallowed it. It is my hope that the public will view any campaign material he subsequently disseminates with the same degree of skepticism as that applied by the court..."
But in her own official School Board ballot statement, printed and mailed to every registered voter in her school board district at taxpayer expense, Lowenthal pledged to "use her experience and ability to continue to serve our schools" and "is committed to continuing to improve our award-winning schools and ensuring that our children remain the focus."
Flushing that commitment comes at the very moment the LB School District is negotiating with a hardball teachers' union that wants to remove Suja from the School Board and install a board majority that can dictate terms to taxpayers.
School Board president Lowenthal's conduct in cutting and running parallels the Groucho Marx approach on being presented with a bill for an expensive dinner. "This is outrageous!" Groucho announces...as he hands the bill to his guest with the advice, "I wouldn't pay it if I were you."
If Suja Lowenthal's Council fantasy comes true, a special election to fill her school board seat could cost taxpayers roughly $100,000, scarce money that can't be spent on schoolchildren citywide at a time when parents are holding raffles, bake sales, pleading for donations to try and avoid the impact of School District budget cuts. These are the very people whose interests she professed to represent in seeking their votes.
And suppose she's re-elected to the School Board (since it's too late to remove her name from the ballot)? What a spectacle it will be on the day she swears an oath to serve the public in that office while simultaneously working to abandon it within weeks.
We do not believe that in LB in 2006, a candidate for political office can be elected by so brazenly scoffing at the consequences of their actions.
We hope Suja Lowenthal gives her contemplated maneuver second thoughts. We respectfully think they're warranted here and they will ultimately reflect better on her.