Sunday, March 12, 2006

CA: Bersin confirmation hits a snag

Alan Bersin is a Schwarzenegger appointee, replacing former LA mayor, Richard Riordan, as CA's Education Secretary, whatever that position is since CA already has an elected CA state Superintendent position. Remember Riordan went down in flames after making an inappropriate comment to a little girl.

I've written about Bersin before. Formerly the San Diego superintendent, he came to Sacramento trailing clouds of controversy. More recently, he addressed the state Republican convention for Schwarzenegger AND came out in support of the infamous Proposition 76, the one which would have seriously hurt public school funding.

Now that he's up for a formal confirmation (what took so long?), it's not surprising some of the San Diego dirt has followed him.

SacBee (sorry, registration req'd) has the article. The issue in question is how he spent money from a foundation associated with the school district. Most interesting is where the money comes from and what he used it on:
The foundation collected money for the fund through private donations from groups such as the Walton Family Foundation, Wells Fargo and the J. Dallas & Mary H. Clark Fund.
Bersin often used the fund to reimburse his travel and entertainment expenses so the district wouldn't have to. The San Diego school board was not involved in the fund's creation and did not have oversight over its spending. That led school board members to question the foundation's activities.
Bersin spent $574,733 through the fund during his tenure, according to the report. The report calls into question about $44,871 of that, including: $471 to attend President Bush's inauguration; $160 for the Union of Pan Asian Communities annual fundraiser dinner; and $500 to Nice Guys Inc. of San Diego for an advertisement in a program booklet at an awards ceremony.
Legally, I suppose he's clear to do what he wants to with the money since the school board had no jurisdiction over it. Still, I think Bersin's activities suggest he could easily be beholden to corporate special interests.

I don't think we need another corporate special interest guy in Sacramento, especially one involved with our public schools.