In the 2008 election I voted for 19-year-old Evan Delaney Rodgers for the Carlsbad City Council. I was sad to see her lose because of the youthful energy and positive attitude she would have brought to that gang of mostly good old boys.
After Kelli Moors announced her retirement from the Carlsbad School Board a few days ago, 18-year-old Sage Naumann declared he's more than eager to take her place. But unless you favor contentiousness and political grandstanding, Naumann has already revealed he wouldn't be the right choice.
Unlike Rodgers' city council campaign, filled with dozens of practical suggestions for improving the city's quality of life, Naumann has begun by smearing two highly respected school district retirees, former Superintendent John Roach and board member Moors. Here's what he posted on his Facebook page:
"Is it just me, or does it seem suspicious that both our Superintendent and a board member have jumped ship to take jobs with a law firm that taxpayers are actively paying for? That’s why I am emailing you. Should I assembly (sic) my team to begin looking deeper, or does this just seem like a harmless coincidence? I’m eager to hear your response."
He urged his followers to reply to "Our mailing address: Sage Naumann for Carlsbad School Board 2014, 2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-114, San Diego, CA 92108.
To paraphrase the young candidate, is it just me, or does it seem suspicious that a candidate for the Carlsbad School Board has a campaign headquarters address next door to Qualcomm Stadium? Email your response to email@example.com.
The law firm to which Naumann refers is Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost, which contracts with the school district for legal advice and hired Roach and Moors as consultants after they left their positions with the district. In the style of Congressman Darrell Issa's discredited witch hunt of the IRS, Naumann makes no accusations, since he has nary a shred of evidence of legal or ethical misbehavior. He simply rallies his supporters with the implication of corruption. Those of us of a certain age remember how effectively Joe McCarthy used that technique.
Naumann's outrage that "taxpayers are actively paying for" the services of a law firm reveals both his naiveté and misuse of an adverb for exaggeration. Would he be less offended if taxpayers paid the law firm inactively?
The word "irresponsible" comes to mind when characterizing Naumann's character attacks on Roach and Moors. The words "empty promises" best describes his "Back to Basics" campaign theme. In a breathtaking leap of logic, he promises in one paragraph to "do everything I can to question purchases, staff and faculty additions, and other funding that seems unnecessary," to stop the "reckless spending," and to "be a taxpayer's "watchdog." In the next he promises to "keep class sizes small, " "materials available" and "teachers stress-free and able to concentrate on their students, " while "no longer will we look to slashing department budgets to fill shortfalls."
Naumann ignores the district's most pressing challenge: putting in place a plan to implement the Common Core of expected learning outcomes. But we have a glimpse of what he feels about it. In a Guest Commentary in the conservative blog San Diego Rostra, "Putting the Carlsbad School District Back on Track," Naumann assures a reader: "I have already pledged my support against CCSS, and I will continue my advocacy against it throughout my campaign and if I am elected."
At its July 24 meeting the school board learned CUSD will received approximately $2.1 million in state funds to implement the Common Core during 2013-2015. Judging from his vow to be the taxpayer's watchdog, it sounds as if Naumann will do what he can to turn down the funding. So much for his promise to "Keep cuts away from the classroom."
Naumann's platform calls for making connections with the community. A look at a list of his supporters tells us much about the connections he's already made and what Carlsbadians can look forward to from the influence of his network of colleagues.
Topping the list is Carl DeMaio, former member of the San Diego City Council. He's followed by city council members from Vista, Encinitas and Imperial Beach (none from Carlsbad thus far), School Board members from La Mesa/Spring Valley, Encinitas and Dehesa (none from Carlsbad).
The Vice Chair of the California Republican Party heads a list of 10 San Diego GOP Central Committee members, including Sherry Hodges, whose campaign Naumann staffed.
The list of those with titles ended with the president of the Oceanside Rotary Club and the former president of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce. Curiously missing from the entire list were Carlsbad officials.
See a pattern here? If you liked the vicious tactics of the failed Sherry Hodges campaign and don't mind having a political operative with an agenda joining a non-partisan school board with a history of civility, than Naumann's your guy.
And that would be a sad day for Carlsbad schools.
Richard J. Riehl writes from La Costa. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org