Claremont Insider: Steven Llanusa

Friday, February 29, 2008

Steven Llanusa

We've always thought the election of Steven Llanusa to the Claremont Unified School District Board to be a little queer. Here was a guy, out of nowhere, who all of a sudden had the support of lots and lots of people in Claremont, seemingly centered around the remnants of Sam Pedroza's failed 2005 city council campaign.

We know that early in his campaign he had absolutely no clue about some of the sources of revenue for the district nor the financial issues facing it. His kickoff was filled with generalities, vague statements, and Apple Pie.

And yet.

As election day approached, the most popular yardsign grouping was Jeanne Hamilton, Mary Caenepeel, and...Steve Llanusa. As we recall, more money went to Llanusa (from the usual suspects) than went to either the incumbent, Hamilton, or long-time-toiler-in-the-public-school-vineyard Caenepeel. In the end, there were hundreds of votes--make that 2000 votes--of daylight between the group of Hamilton, Caenepeel, and Llanusa, and the out-of-the-money finisher Kevin Arnold.
The Claremont 400 had scored again. But who did they put on the school board in Steven Llanusa?

Apparently someone whose judgment is at least open to question.

For example, in 2006 Llanusa and one of his children seem to have scoured his Claraboya neighborhood removing American flags and tossing them into a dumpster in Fontana. Nice headline in the Courier on September 9, 2006: "DA forgoes criminal filing for Steven Llanusa" That's the kind of headline you want to see about your school board member. Well, we guess its better than, "School Board member Steven Llanusa charged in vandalism incident."

And now we read in the Daily Bulletin
that Llanusa has apparently annoyed some of his handlers by the frequency and tone of his emails to Superintendent David Cash. Cash decided to be the sole conduit of information between the Board and the District Staff, and then stopped answering Llanusa's emails. The School Board had an illegal closed-session discussion of the matter on February 12. From the Bulletin article,

Board communication with the superintendent was discussed in closed session Feb. 12, Llanusa said.

Hamilton expressed concern Monday that Llanusa publicly discussed an issue that was addressed in closed session.

She said there had been no discussion of censuring Llanusa for the action, but she also said "I suppose it's possible."

We don't know that there are any heroes in this story. We do know that there are echoes of the epic McHenry-Southard battles circa 2004-5. So far, though, we are unaware of any district employee alleging hostile work environment, harassment, theft, hurt feelings, or other Bad Acts. History repeats itself, the saying goes, first as tragedy, then as farce.

Maybe this is an example of running with the other lemmings. You might go over the cliff.

And can anyone think of one positive contribution that Llanusa has made?