Board candidate endorsement questioned
SAN BERNARDINO: A union is checking claims that Joseph Turner is linked to radical groups.
10:00 PM PDT on Friday, October 20, 2006
By CADONNA PEYTON
The leadership of the classified employees union for the San Bernardino City Unified School District is looking into claims that one of the candidates endorsed for the Board of Education may be involved in radical groups, officials said Friday.
Last week, Chapter 183 of the California School Employees Association endorsed Teresa Parra, and Rhonda Early, Amanda Jacobs and Joseph Turner.
Steve Holt, 1st vice president-elect and chief job steward, said that since the endorsement, the union has heard numerous concerns regarding Turner's alleged involvement in radical organizations.
"There has been a flood of e-mails involving him and radical groups, and we are looking into it," he said.
Holt said the union has not rescinded its endorsement.
Turner said he is not involved in any radical or racist organizations. As of early Friday afternoon, he had not received any calls from the union regarding the endorsement.
The candidate is the executive director of Save Our State, which he describes as an "aggressive anti-illegal immigration organization."
He led a petition drive for a San Bernardino city ordinance that would have barred public funding of day-laborer centers, and would have required the city to revoke licenses of businesses that employ illegal immigrants, and fine landlords who rent to them. A judge ruled that not enough signatures were collected to place the measure on the ballot.
Turner said he has been open about his position regarding illegal immigration with the public as well as the union.
"The topic was discussed during the (candidate) interview," he said.
Holt said the union membership has been disappointed with the district for some time now, particularly regarding the process of hiring employees.
Members have complained about rampant nepotism and favoritism in the district's hiring process, officials have said.
In response, Holt said, it is clear the members wanted a change in the system and that is why the union endorsed the three newcomers instead of incumbents Antonio Dupré, Lynda Savage and Elsa Valdez.
He said the selection committee endorsed incumbent Parra because she demonstrates fairness.
"Although she doesn't agree with us on all the issues, she has always been willing to meet with us and is open to communication," Holt said.
Last month, the San Bernardino Teachers Association endorsed the four incumbents because they were the best candidates "to keep our school district moving forward and in the right direction," President Linda Whitaker said.
Reach Cadonna Peyton at 909-806-3053 or cpeyton@PE.com