Fresno Unified board continues the infighting

Even the day after the election, nothing seems to have changed at Fresno Unified School District trustee meetings. The trustees battled Wednesday night over selecting a McLane area trustee to replace Tony Vang, who was forced to resign after it was revealed he did not live in the district.

The board eventually named Christopher De La Cerda to the seat. He will be sworn in on Nov. 14, and serve until 2014. He is a former teacher and the father of three. As The Bee’s Barbara Anderson reported, the trustees fought over whether to make an appointment or call a special election, which would have cost about $125,000.

The issue broke along the typical political lines for the board. Trustees Larry Moore and Michelle Asadoorian wanted a special election, while the board majority favored the appointment. “In the end, Moore nominated De La Cerda and voted for him. Asadoorian was the lone dissenting vote,” Anderson reported in her story.

The meeting came a day after the election in which trustees supporting Superintendent Michael Hanson were re-elected. That election was considered a referendum on Hanson’s tenure as the district’s top administrator.

After the meeting, De La Cerda said his goal is to communicate and collaborate with the other board members. Good luck in that atmosphere.

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.