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Perceived Conflict of Interest

Original post made by Casey Jr. on Oct 27, 2010

School Board Candidate, Bowser was quoted in last week's Independent Newspaper as saying,"it is only a perceieved conflict of interest". His wife works as a teacher for the district. Many of the school board descessions could affect his personal income as he and wife most likely share their income and thier home. If there is a perceived conflict then there probably is one, if not, then it could be a question of ethics.
I want a board member who is independent, trustworthy, and can provide oversight as to how our tax payer dollars are spent and managed. Bowser could abstain, which is really a non-vote. How will the board be effective with it's questionable 5th vote? This is a candidate I cannot support. Sorry.

Comments (15)

Posted by Robert Byrd, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 27, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Agreed. Determining the school district's (already troubled) budget, when your decisions impact your wife's salary is too much of bias.

Even if Mr. Bowser does not vote on salary issues specifically, who is to say his decisions to cut science labs and class sizes are not tied to his conscious (or even subconcious) interest in improving his family income or his wife's working conditions.

As employee salaries represent over 65% of the District budget, does he not come to over half of the meetings?!

Posted by Wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Don't we want a candidate who is concerned over teachers working condition? I have been going to board meetings for years. Salary is not a topic that is covered monthly, as many of you would have others believe. Other current board members have family members as PUSD employees, this excuse is another way to place distrust and blame against the school district. Creating controversy when there is none. It is time to end the us vs. them attitude that is so prevalent in this blog. PUSD, its teachers, and its unions are not the enemy. This successful school district has risen above the negativity many would have us believe to be ranked 12th in the state.

Posted by Tina, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 28, 2010 at 12:32 am

Correction to Robert Byrd. Employees salaries represent 85% of the District Budget (I think!) I think all current board members and candidates absolutely care about teachers' working conditions. I agree with Wondering that other board members do have family members employed by PUSD. The big difference in Jeff Bowser's case is that the family member (his wife) contributes to his immediate household income. It is just a little too close for comfort for me. Also, the fact that she is a union site rep for the Pleasanton Teachers Union is a "double whammy" of conflict. If he wins, he really shouldn't vote on anything relating to teachers or unions. What is the point of running for school board member then? At the minimum, he could really complicate board meetings with other board members citing conflict of interest about different agenda items, etc. I want a board focused on what is best for teachers and students--not unions! It's not us vs. them. I think most parents are 100% behind the teachers.

Posted by Teacher's Mother, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2010 at 9:07 am

I agree that there could be a conflict of interest with Bowser and his wife.. Our Daughter is a Teacher and also a strong Union Rep. for her School District. She is not pleased with our current Board's decision making or with 2 of the people running. It is so sad that we do not have better candidates to choose from. That is why our Family only voted for Sandy. We don't know her, but she is probably the only one untainted. Bowser and Larsen appear to be cronies of our present inadequate School Board. I don't see any improvements if these two get elected. It will be the same old misuse and bad decision making. Our Children are too important not to give them the best!

Posted by Wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2010 at 6:28 pm

"I want a board focused on what is best for teachers and students--not unions! It's not us vs. them. I think most parents are 100% behind the teachers."

I hear what you're saying Tina, but do realize- you can't say you're against the unions, yet you back the teachers. The teachers are the union.

I am still shocked that people would actually post they would rather vote for a person they don't know at all just because someone has experience in the schools. This is a clear example of the destructive mentality that US vs. THEM brings about. Such distrust for our award winning district, that proved successful even though $20 million was cut from the budget. Experience doesn't matter? Just vote for some "outsider" who will be sure to go against the teachers and the union-and Sandy, they think you are the one who will do this? DId Arkin? As Stacey pointed out, she was backed by the union.

This district has done what the community cried for, and still some want to find controversy- well there is none. It is made up by those who do not know what is actually taking place everyday in every school.

Posted by Teacher's Mother, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm

No wonder Wondering is still wondering! The Teacher's Union does not always represent the best interest of the teachers, but rather work at lining their own pockets. As I said, my Daughter is a strong Union Rep for her School District. She attends all of the Teacher's Conventions in Calif. and back East every year. We have heard horror stories about the Head Union Board and how they vote. As for supporting someone with experience, (remember) not all people with experience make good school board members. Yes, I know what I am talking about, because I volunteered many a year for our Schools and also served on a School Site Council. I know this School system. People like you will always take the low road. Just like Joy Behar, you prefer to call names and try to put others down, when you can't back up what you are trying to sell the public. Vote for those who tout they have the most experience. Even if your candidates win, our children lose. We need better candidates.

Posted by hey, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm

To Teacher's Mother,

Let me get right to the point. This isn't about the "children". This is about the taxpayers and with all these candidates the tax payers LOSE!

Posted by Teacher's Mother, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I agree with you! The taxpayers lose big time.

Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm

"That is why our Family only voted for Sandy. We don't know her, but she is probably the only one untainted."

Wow, is that really how you vote? Vote for the one because you don't like the other, even if you don't know what the one stands for? Wow, unbelievable. Actually, it's shocking! (Just an FYI, the candidate you voted for has only lived in California for three years, hardly a big selling point on her resume.)

If we are talking about conflict of interest, when our new board takes office, every single board member will have kids in the PUSD school district. That is a conflict of interest as well. I am friends with one of them, is that a conflict of interest? I bet some PUSD employees live on the same street as the school board members, I bet they end up at social situations together, and I believe two of the current board members are good friends. There will always be a conflict of interest somewhere, it's impossible to eradicate. Do we want five people who don't live in Pleasanton, have no kids in school, and know no one who lives in Pleasanton to be our school board members? I know I don't. And I will vote for the candidates I know, who's platform I know, not the ones I don't know.

Posted by John, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm

We need a new perspective and fresh ideas to deal with our schools' budget crisis. Sandy is not from Pleasanton, as mentioned above, having lived here for less than four years. However, I firmly believe that it is a good thing rather than bad. Another person who sits on the board, Luz Cazares, assistant superintendent for Business Services, is not from Pleasanton and she has been invaluable to the board with her financial analysis and knowledge in many areas, including how "things" are done in other districts and states. I believe that Sandy can also provide a "think outside the box" mentality to the school board. Not only from the perspective of not having lived her all her life but also by the fact that she is a college professor at a Naval Postgraduate College, teaching (part-time) business management. She will bring her knowledge of organizational planning and efficiency to the board and district. If you want someone who will represent you, the voter, at board meetings, then Sandy is your candidate!

Posted by Another parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I completely agree with you about Luz! She is a definite plus to PUSD.
Believe the same is true of Sandy who by the way holds a doctorate degree.
It's very easy to get into the habit of doing things the same way, but new people often bring new ideas and perspectives.
Nothing negative to say about the other candidates - just that I think Sandy should be elected to the school board!

Posted by Get the Facts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2010 at 10:27 pm

John, let me guess: you know Sandy, possibly you are good friends with her? How else would you know that she "will represent you, the voter"? Either you know her, or are taking a wild shot in the dark as to who she will represent.

Luz IS great, I agree with you. Our superintendent also does not reside in Pleasanton. But let's not fool ourselves, would we want a mayor who does not live in Pleasanton, or just recently moved here? I think not. School board is similar, I want people invested in the schools and communities. I have seen Joan and Jeff at many district functions over the years, but have never seen Sandy.

And let's not let a fancy degree like a doctorate fool you. A piece of paper does not make one a more qualified candidate. It sounds impressive that she teaches at a Naval Postgraduate College, but what does she really know about K-12 education? Possibly a lot, possibly not much, but her credentials give us NO idea how she will do, or "who" she will represent in her voting.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I don't really understand this kind of discrimination against someone who recently moved here. It is true that someone who has lived here longer has a better understanding of the status quo and all the players involved. But why should that entitle one to have a greater vested interest than another? Is it not enough that Sandy has a child that attends school in this district and that Sandy is ready, willing, and able to commit to public service with more than adequate qualifications? People move here for whatever reason and it is only through accidents of history that lead some families to have moved here earlier than other families. Why should Sandy and her skills be held liable for having not moved here earlier and what loss will it be to Pleasanton to make decisions based upon how many years one has lived here? She was not lucky enough to have been born and raised here. I guess she doesn't pass the nobility test?

Posted by John, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 2, 2010 at 9:11 am

No, I am not good friends with Sandy but have talked to her about her motivations for running for school board as well as her goals, should she be elected. Sandy is not a "polished politician" but a very involved, qualified community member and parent. She attends school board meetings, volunteers at the school, and wants what is best for the students in our district. Her family made no donations to Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and (surprise!) was not endorsed by them. She has no lofty friends in the teachers' union but is NOT anti-union. She is a person we can trust to do what is right! This is what I mean when I say, "if you want someone to represent you, the voter", she is the best candidate for the job. Please VOTE FOR SANDY TODAY!

Posted by voter, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2010 at 11:09 am

I voted for Sandy (hurrah this horrible election is done for me!). I agree with Stacey, it doesn't matter a bit to me that Sandy is relatively new to P'town. She's been here longer than me and I think she's got a good grasp of the issues!

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