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  • Tuesday, September 19, 2006


    eLECTION Watch 2006

    With two candidates on the Orange Unified November Ballot:

    a Special News Analysis series
    by Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    In June of 2001 voters in the Orange Unified School District recalled three OUSD School Board members with ties to a political group called the Education Alliance. Marty Jacobson, Maureen Aschoff, and Linda Davis were defeated after a bitter recall campaign and an attempt to hijack the recall election ballot by adding inflammatory “advisement” votes to the beginning of the ballot. Coupled with those ballot engineering tactics, the Education Alliance candidates also campaigned accusing the local teacher’s association of trying to establish “sex clubs” at schools while Marty Jacobson during the OUSD School Board meetings openly discussed deviant sexual fetishes that would show up at schools if he was recalled. In the end, the three fringe trustees were recalled. Then a few months after being recalled two of the recalled trustees, Jacobson and Davis, were running for their old seats back as two other Education Alliance supporters, OUSD Trustees Kathy Ward and Terri Sargeant ran to hold on to their seats. All four Education Alliance candidates were ultimately defeated by a landslide vote in another messy election. To the relief of the Greater Orange Communities those days seem long ago, but the November election could start the nightmare cycle again as two of the candidates that are running for seats on the OUSD School Board are connected to the same Education Alliance voters ousted from OUSD five years ago.

    The Education Alliance is the brainchild of Orange County political activist and ultra conservative attorney Mark Bucher and his allies Jim Righeimer (now Orange County Housing Commissioner) and Frank Ury (now Mission Viejo Councilman). The idea was to elect fringe ultra Christian right extremists (which they label as conservative) to local school boards. The Education Alliance was started in 1994, with financing coming from radical Christian extremist financer Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., heir to the Home Savings fortune and a member of the Board of Trustees for the leading radical Christian Reconstructionist think tank Chalcedon. Chalcedon’s website (see link below) states its beliefs as follows:

    “We believe that the whole Word of God must be applied to all of life. It is not only our duty as individuals, families and churches to be Christian, but it is also the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King. Nothing is exempt from His dominion.”

    It further states it is dedicated to “the necessity of returning to Biblical Law”. In addition to his Chalcedon leadership, Ahmanson is a member of the secretive ultra conservative Council for National Policy.

    In 1993 Bucher, Righeimer and Ury backed Proposition 174, a school voucher initiative that lost big in part due to opposition from the state and national teacher’s associations. From there the story is that Bucher was angered that the “unions” were able to mobilize huge resources against his political initiative. Bucher and his allies took inspiration from a 1992 Washington State “pay check protection” proposition to limit political contributions to labor union Political Action Committees (PAC). In June 1998, Bucher and political allies brought California the “Paycheck Protection” initiative, Proposition 226. The number one donor to their cause was Howard F. Ahmanson Jr. At the polls, Proposition 226 was defeated.

    Meanwhile the stealth Education Alliance candidates had eventually captured five out of seven seats on the Orange Unified School Board. Thus started a community nightmare which saw the Greater Orange Communities become ground zero in the battleground of educational ideological and culture wars that eventually became a magnet for fundamentalist religious zealots from around the country. Orange Unified became a nationwide educational laughing stock and a bell weather of what could happen if a local community is drawn into culture wars that extend far beyond its borders by groups with a hidden political agenda.

    Bucher’s direct involvement with the OUSD Trustees became evident when he became the attorney for the OUSD Recalled Trustees in their attempts to hijack the Orange Recall Ballot by introducing controversial non-binding advisory votes and manipulating the ballot order, one of the fringe Education Alliances’ favorite political tricks. Bucher represented the Recalled Trustees and OUSD (which they controlled at the time) in court challenges brought by then candidate Kim Nichols. Bucher lost the bid to control the ballot and the “advisory” votes when the courts ruled against him. This first Nichols v Bucher set the stage for round two in the Education Alliance battle for OUSD.

    Fast forward five years later to 2006 for round two of Nichols v Bucher. Now the incumbent, OUSD Trustee Kim Nichols faces two challengers this November. One is Chris Enami who filed for election with the ballot designation of “teacher”. After the surprise election win two years ago by Steve Rocco (which many experts attribute to his election ballot designation of “Teacher”) Nichols was not about to let the “teacher” ballot designation for Enami go unchallenged because he is actually a walk-on girls basketball coach, not a California Credentialed teacher. In the court challenge, Enami would be represented by none other than Education Alliance founder Mark Bucher. In this second court challenge, Bucher again lost to Nichols and Enami was ordered to change his ballot designation. It now reads the more accurate “Coach/ Sports Program Director” description.

    Further proof of Mark Bucher’s continued ties to the Educational Alliance can be seen on the new website of the Education Alliance. Not only is Bucher listed as a contact under the contact information, but his Irvine Boulevard business address in Tustin is listed as the Education Alliance headquarters. The other contact person listed on the Education Alliance website is recent Chapman University communications graduate Hope Gray.

    On June 30th, 2006 Education Alliance leader Hope Grey sent an email out to 15 present and former local community members about the Educational Alliance choice for a candidate to run against OUSD Trustee Melissa Smith in OUSD’s Trustee Area 4 covering mostly Anaheim Hills. Among the 15 email recipients’ the email was sent to was local former supporters of Gray in her bid for the Republican Central Committee, as well as famous anti-Orange Recall players Mark Bucher, Villa Park City Councilman Robert Fauteux, local Villa Park gadfly Kathy Moran, and recalled former OUSD Trustee Linda Davis who now lives in the Palm Springs area. The email reads:

    Hi Everyone!
    You're invited to attend the upcoming Education Alliance meeting for the Orange Unified School District. We are pulling together a group of education activists in the area to build support for Alexia Deligianni, who has stepped forward to run against Melissa Smith for School Board Area 1, and also to discuss other potential candidates and issues in Orange.

    The meeting is set for 7 pm, Wednesday, July 5 at the home of Deborah Pauly: [edited*] Gloria Circle, Villa Park, 92861. (Phone: (714) 633[edit*]).

    Please forward this invitation to anyone who may be interested and let us know if you will be attending. Your input and help is important!

    We hope to see you there!
    Hope Gray
    The Education Alliance

    *edited for privacy

    In June 2006 Alexia Deligianni ran for the Orange County Republican Central Committee (A.D. 60). Her two key endorsements came from Orange City Council Members Jon Dimitru and Carolyn Cavecche. Alexia Deligianni has held various positions within the Orange County Young Republicans including most recently as Political Director. While frequent biographies list her as a teacher; reportedly her actual position has been as a substitute teacher. Deligiainni received her Tier 1 Administrative Services Certificate from Azusa Pacifica University in August of 2001 (the same university that OUSD Superintendent Dr. Godley taught educational administration classes at before joining OUSD). Her doctorial degree in Education Leadership is from Argosy University, a Chicago university with satellite campuses across the nation. Argosy allows 50% of course work to be done online.

    The candidates’ statements of both Deligianni and Enami have similarities that appear that they were written together with similar phrasing, content and composition. Both statements contain endorsements of candidates that the Educational Alliance website state they helped to elect including Dr. Ken Williams, Alexandria Coronado and Phil Yarbrough (see link). They also include a hallmark of the Educational Alliance Platform: “Promote Local Control”. While Congressional Republican conservatives and President Bush have instituted the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act, the radical Educational Alliance Platform states:

    “How school districts are run belongs under the control of local parents and taxpayers, not the State or Federal governments.
    “Federal control of education strikes at the very heart of the system of federalism…
    “We therefore believe that all attempts to increase State or Federal control over any aspect of our education system or its funding should be resisted

    Among the other targets of the Educational Alliance are “social service programs” including “school breakfast programs” and of course, Bucher’s favorite, target number five on the Educational Alliance platform: ELIMINATING UNION AND OTHER SPECIAL INTERESTS CONTROL OVER SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION. This platform item is vintage Bucher:

    “Union dues which are taken from teachers' salaries without the teachers' consent are used to fund political activities which they often disagree with the election of school board members who represent the Unions, not the teachers, parents or the local voters. This has allowed the Unions' handpicked candidates to gain majority status on most school boards and to therefore control educational policy. School board policy should be made for the benefit of children, not Unions.”

    However, one of the tactics the Educational Alliance uses is stealth candidates, so despite the goal of eliminating union Political Action Committee (PAC) funds, the two hand picked Educational Alliance candidates were more than willing to be interviewed by the OUSD teacher’s association (OUEA) in hopes of an endorsement and election funding from the OUEA PAC that they in principle are opposed to. Neither Education Alliance candidate won the endorsement and sources in the OUEA report that neither candidate in their interview revealed their affiliation with the Educational Alliance.

    While the Educational Alliance does list some mainstream conservative goals that it uses to attract supporters, a number of its goals go beyond the mainstream conservative realm well to the right. In addition, their educational goals appear to be secondary to the groups own political agenda which also goes beyond the mainstream conservative Republican educational agenda of No Child Left Behind (i.e. elimination of all federal and state support to schools and elimination of breakfast and lunch programs).

    On September 12, 2006 the Educational Alliance had its first fundraiser which was sponsored by Red County Magazine featuring conservative radio host Dennis Prager as the keynote speaker. Prager is an ultra orthodox Jew who sides with the right wing Christian political wing (see link) in support of the teaching of the Ten Commandments in schools and other ultra right wing religious educational goals. As the fundraiser’s sponsor, Red County Magazine publicized the fund raiser including on the influential OC Blog (began by Orange resident Matt Cunningham). The OC Blog has just recently become the Red County/ OC Blog as it joined with the Red County Magazine to become the main online presence of that new center-right Orange County magazine.

    If history is any indicator, the voters in the Greater Orange Communities will be subject to another school board campaign full of exaggerated scare tactics and political dirty tricks from outside political interests with a political agenda that goes beyond the operation of the local school system.

    Orange Recall Election Link:

    Chalcedon Website Link:
    Education Alliance Contact Information Link:

    Education Alliance Platform Link:

    Education Alliance History with Candidates they elected:

    Argosy University Online Link:

    OC Blog/ Red County Education Alliance Fundraiser:

    Educational Alliance Fundraiser
    Key Note Speaker Dennis Prager Bio Link:

    Wow -- when did you guys hire the editorial staff of Pravda to write for your blog?

    A difference of opinion is one thing. Just making things up is another.

    I used to have a lot of respect for you guys.
    Our experience in Orange is that we were dealing with the radical right wing Christian folks. Marty Jacobson was a wacko a fundementalist who would publicly preach to you and tell you you were going to hell because you were circulating recall petitions.

    Orange is Glad they are Gone
    Good for the greater Orange blog for taking on these wackjobs. They are scarey people who should not be in charge of our schools.
    I don't know how accurate this account is, considering Greater Orange News eBlog was reporting that Emami initially had "Youth Services Director" as a ballot designation. This only changed to "Youth Program Director" as his ballot designation. Where did "Teacher" or "Coach/Sports Program Director" come from? Neither "Teacher" nor "Coach/Sports Program Director" was ever reported as a ballot designation. Currently, the registrar says it's "Youth Program Director" as Emami's ballot designation.
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