Editor’s note: On Sept. 30, former state Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia and current candidate for the state Senate’s 28th District spoke to the Town Crier on a variety of issues from the campaign.
Education and the recent state court decision on tenure
In June, Judge Rolf Treu of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County ruled that several state laws relating to administering education policy were unconstitutional. The most prominent was the ruling against teacher tenure after two years, but Treu also found that statutes regarding the dismissal process for ineffective teachers and the layoff policy of last-hired, first-fired were unconstitutional.
In September, Attorney General Kamala Harris appealed Treu’s decision, with the full support of Gov. Jerry Brown and Superintendent of Schools Thomas Torkalson.
When asked her opinion of the ruling and appeal, Garcia replied, “It’s important for students of California, but I’m disappointed that the state is challenging this decision.”
If teachers fail in the classroom, they are failing the students, Garcia stressed. “I’m disappointed the state spent resources challenging the decision rather than put the resource to improve classes and buildings.”
“It’s a fight for the [teachers’] union and not in the best interest of the kids,” she lamented saying many community school districts have forgone technical and vocational courses to force students into college-oriented tracks.
Realignment between state prisons and county jail space
In 2011, the state began implementing Assembly Bill 109, which transferred or kept many convicted felons in county jails in order to reduce the state prison population, pursuant to a federal court order.
“AB 109 is an abysmal failure and detriment to communities across the state,” she said. She characterized the result as “turnstile justice” because many convicted are released within days instead of being incarcerated.
Because state and county facilities are designed for different purposes, long-term vs. shorter incarceration, “Counties, including Riverside, are spending millions to provide services not covered by the state,” she asserted.
Garcia said as an Assembly member, she advocated constructing more facilities for prisoners. But she stressed, this was not simply prison space. Many need health facilities, including mental health, and facilities for an aging inmate population. Removing these segments of the prison population would free many beds for the “worse-of-the-worse.”
The failure to move on this principal is the motive behind the federal lawsuit and the reason the governor has had to push many criminals out to the communities, she opined.
When asked if more disclosure of campaign finance sources was needed, Garcia said, “I think there is sufficient disclosure.”
The Attorney General’s website (http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/campaign/) reports campaign contributions quarterly until the final weeks before the election, when daily reports from candidates are required. “There you see every penny to me and how I spend it,” Garcia said.
There’s more! See next week’s paper for part II of this interview.