Strategic Silence

But if Kayser didn't participate because of political concerns, he should have sent regrets from the start. And no matter what the reason, his dithering and late pullout made him look at best disorganized and uncommunicative; at worst, he appeared dismissive, disconnected and unwilling to take the heat of a tough debate.” 

– The Times Editorial Board

When Bennett Kayser and Andrew Thomas pulled out of one of the many debates being held in District 5 LAUSD race, the Los Angeles Times justifiably criticized them by saying that it was “a sign of disrespect for..the process of debate…[and a] disservice to the 200 or so people in the audience who cleared their own schedules to hear a debate.” If they really subscribed to these words, then why have they been silent about Tamar Galatzan’s refusal to participate in the second, and final, debate in District 3? Could it be because they do not hold candidates who support their ideology to the same standards? At least Mr. Kayser did not use public funds to set up a competing event.

The fact that a well funded incumbent has drawn five competitors is testament to the fact that the stakeholders in District 3 are not happy with the representation that they are receiving. Ms. Galazan is clearly out of touch as she states that “the district is going in the right direction” just before Superintendent Cortinez blames a $160 million deficit, and cuts to services, on “mismanagement and misuse of tax dollars under [former Superintendent John] Deasy.” Still, the Times Editorial Board endorsed her re-election, even if it was “with misgivings.” Apparently, the readers were supposed to ignore the fact that the authors said that “Galatzan was at times such a reflexively pro-Deasy vote that she neglected to ask key questions about problematic proposals” in one paragraph and that “Galatzan has been the board member most likely to take independent positions” in the next?

In a disservice to their readers, the Times did not even make a case as to why in their opinion Ms. Galatzan is the better choice. No comparison was made to the positions of the five opponents. Instead it was simply stated that they were not “as strong,” with no explanation as to what that meant. Yes, Ms. Galatzan is a moonlighting full time City Attorney, but how is this useful in a district that includes an entire contingent of attorneys? “Her knowledge of district issues has deepened through the years,” but the qualification should be the amount of knowledge that exists, not the relative improvement.

With the Times abdicating their responsibilities, one of the only opportunities the voting public had to make their comparisons was during the two scheduled debates. Unfortunately, Ms. Galatzan fled the second debate before taking the stage. The voters of District 3 and District 5 are now in the same predicament. The Times should have provided equal outrage.