Fresno Teachers Association’s dysfunctional elections

The Fresno Teachers Association is still trying to figure out who is the union’s duly elected president. It seems that elections are a bit complicated for the FTA to sort out when the leadership doesn’t support the results. Now the group’s parent organization, the California Teachers Association, has been called in to count the ballots in the latest election.

This debacle has been going on for months — after Mai Summer Vue, a teacher at Muir Elementary School, won a runoff election. But then things got political. Eva Ruiz, a teacher at Sunset Elementary, challenged the runoff election, claiming that Vue defamed her on campaign fliers. The FTA leadership tossed the results, and held another election. Ruiz won that election in July.

Those results were challenged and the CTA looked into the issue. The state organization then called for another election on Oct. 9, the fourth since April. CTA officials, not local FTA officials, conducted that election to ensure that all sides would accept the results. The CTA is scheduled to count the ballots today.

Billy Graham gets involved in the Nov. 6 election

On page A9 of today’s Fresno Bee, the Rev. Billy Graham has placed an advertisement that makes it clear how he feels about the Nov. 6 election:  ”I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms. The Bible speaks clearly on these issues.”

Graham has placed similar ads in newspapers around the country this week. While the newspaper advertisement does not mention Mitt Romney, the ad campaign is viewed as support for the Republican presidential candidate. Romney recently met with Graham in his Montreat, North Carolina home. After the meeting, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association adjusted its website to no longer make reference to Mormonism as a cult. Graham also issued this statement after the meeting with Romney:

“It was an honor to meet and host Gov. Romney in my home today, especially since I knew his late father former Michigan Gov. George Romney, whom I considered a friend. I have followed Mitt Romney’s career in business, the Olympic Games, as governor of Massachusetts and, of course, as a candidate for president of the United States.

“What impresses me even more than Gov. Romney’s successful career are his values and strong moral convictions. I appreciate his faithful commitment to his impressive family, particularly his wife Ann of 43 years and his five married sons.”


Fresno school board race begins to get interesting

I live in the Hoover High School area so I’m just getting campaign mail from Area 6 school board candidates. But judging by the context of my mailbox, incumbent Janet Ryan could have trouble winning re-election against George Whitman, who is backed by the Fresno Teachers Association. I have received several union-paid mailers mailers from Whitman, and a “robocall” from the FTA office on his behalf. Whitman has also walked my neighborhood.

Ryan is barely on the radar judging by my campaign mail. As an incumbent,  she has a built-in network of support, and in a normal election, wouldn’t be vulnerable. But she has been targeted by the FTA. There are three other candidates in the Area 6 race, but the contest seems to be coming down to a Ryan/Whitman race for the Hoover area seat.

The FTA is also backing Andrew Doris, who is challenging incumbent Carol Mills in the Area 5 race. Ryan and Mills are supporters of Superintendent Michael Hanson, and the teachers union wants Hanson fired. Of course, the FTA has opposed every superintendent the district has had over the past two decades. It’s an organizing tactic for the union.

The third seat up on Nov. 6 is held by Larry Moore, who is stepping down. Moore is the former president of the FTA. There are four candidates seeking to succeed Moore in Area 2, but Hanson’s status is less of an issue in that race. But the FTA is backing Esmeralda Diaz in Area 2.

Final presidential debate is on Monday

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will square off in their final debate at 6 p.m. Monday (California time) at  Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. In this third debate, the candidates will return to the format of the first debate, with moderator Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation, asking questions directly of the candidates during the 90-minute session.

With foreign policy as the topic, this should be a good encounter given all the challenges our nation faces from around the world. The campaigns report that both candidates are intensely preparing for the foreign policy debate.  Viewers should hear a lot about Libya, Syria and the nuclear negotiations with Iran.



Obama, Romney ignoring immigration problems

Throughout President Obama’s tenure, he’s has done little to reform the nation’s broken immigration system. Now in the presidential campaign, both Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney dance around the controversial issue, making it questionable whether the next president would take on this issue.

In our editorial today, we point out how the candidates have been ignoring an issue that impacts almost every part of American life — from our food production system to our schools and hospitals.

Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

“This issue is especially important in California, traditionally a magnet for immigration — from San Joaquin Valley farm workers to forest workers to food processors to housekeepers to high-tech engineers to innovative researchers. Our culture and our economy have been forged by immigration — and are inevitably strained by our current broken system.

“But our presidential candidates, instead of wholeheartedly embracing the challenge, raise immigration as a sort of no-win obligatory issue to appease certain groups of voters. That timidity won’t solve the problem, no matter who is elected on Nov. 6.

“As a candidate in the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama made a promise to tackle immigration: “I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days. But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible.’
That pledge remains unfulfilled. In September, Obama admitted this has been his ‘biggest failure.’ But he remains confident that we are going to accomplish that.’

“For his part, in last Tuesday’s debate, Mitt Romney promised the same thing: ‘I’ll get it done. I’ll get it done, first year.’ We are skeptical, but would support a comprehensive plan that improves the system.

“Presidential leadership is needed more than ever to bridge real divides in American society over immigration.”