Dozens of voters occupied the median of Sunset Blvd outside the Stewart and Lynda Resnick mansion in Beverly Hills Thursday afternoon to declare "No More Sweetheart Deals for Billionaire Farmers!" Hand-painted signs pleaded for "real water solutions, not Prop 1" and decried the water bond as "water for the 1%," not for the people of California. #NoOnProp1
At the "No on Prop 1" press conference, actors portraying the Resnicks toasted the growth of their own wealth thanks to powerful friends in Sacramento, while a tuxedo-clad waiter held a tray of POM Wonderful juice, Fiji Water, and Wonderful Pistachios (brands owned by the Resnicks' umbrella company Roll Global). The skit touted record profits in a drought year, revealing the business model of growing water-intensive crops on toxic Central Valley soil for export to foreign markets in China.
Full story and photos: Voters Rally Against Proposition 1 Outside the Beverly Hills Mansion of Water Barons by Jessica Lux.
“Am I surprised? Yes,” said Brent Smiley, vice chair for UTLA’s political action committee. “I’m truly floored. I think, ultimately, [voters] saw [Sanchez] as a politician. And they viewed [Ratliff] as what she was – a classroom teacher.”
Going into the primaries in March, it was assumed that Antonio Sanchez, who was picked by Villaraigosa's political team and supported by numerous Democrats, and ultimately by both labor unions and "school reform" charter school advocates operating as the Coalition for School Reform, would be the shoe-in winner. They spent heavily to try and achieve a 50%+1 victory in the primaries, but were thwarted by a number of good challengers. Of those, the one with the second most votes was Monica Ratliff, a teacher at San Pedro elementary in South Central LA.
Ratliff, who had won dual endorsements from the LA Times and Daily News, had upset the system, and activists within the UTLA started pushing for her. Fresh from Steve Zimmer's victory against a charter school candidate that was threatening to hand over Venice High to privatizers, hopes were high that this dark-horse candidate could upset the selected candidate, despite the absence of a large campaign budget or active labor union endorsement.
Ratliff's decisive victory is not, formally, a victory for traditional public school, but it is a victory against the general trend toward privatization. Ratliff has not articulated an anti-charter position, and judging from past statements, will not. It's still up to activists to argue their point, and given that she got into office with activist and teacher votes, there is an opportunity.