“Take the Sweetwater Union High School District, drenched in political deviousness and unholy alliances.”
This sounds like a good opening line for this week’s editorial when it comes to the race for seat 4 between Burt Grossman and Bertha Lopez. But unfortunately this is the opening sentence of a UT editorial for the same seat in 2008. So it seems not much has changed over the years.
Bertha Lopez is the incumbent and is a politician who defies logic. How she gets elected is beyond us.
We have known Berth since her days at County Ed when she used to work with Migrant Education. Even back in those days, she had a mean-spirited, devious personality. This trait has continued with her and was manifested in 2008 when 21 co-workers at John Otis Elementary School in National School District signed a petition that stated:
Lopez “is not a team player, and in actuality she has worked assiduously at creating division and tension among staff members.” The letter went on to read, “A great majority of the staff have lost all confidence in Ms. Lopez as an effective language arts specialist for our school. She has continually fostered a negative environment.” Lopez would later voluntarily move to another school.
Stability-It’s a matter of practice, in most schools, to try and retain the better teachers, for as long as their energy and commitment allows. The good ones usually have the respect of their peers and principal because they do a good job and are team players and leaders. Then there are the others. Bertha Lopez falls into that category. While she has never been involuntarily transferred, in her current district, it is established that she has been in a number of conflicts with her peers and principals and has during her career at national school district voluntarily transferred to just about all the schools in the district, following a conflictive school year. The pattern of inordinate amount of voluntary transfers, tells the story.
Then there was the Temporary Restraining Order that came to light in 2008 when Bertha Lopez was first running for the elementary school board in Chula Vista, filed by Rafael Hernandez who was then a UCSD Instructor of Teacher Education and an instructor at the Bishop School in La Jolla. The temporary order request that Bertha not come within 100 yards of his sister’s house or his place of work. Mr. Hernandez indicated that they had a “dating or engagement relationship.”
The documents also stated that the: “Defendant (Bertha Lopez) constantly calls my work and my home. She has started to follow me. She told me that it may all end in blood if I do not do what she wants. I’m afraid for my safety. The `blood’ threat took place on 7/16/93.” It is a matter of public record case # 368879. The case never came to court.
Still Bertha gets elected.
Then there was the court case where a Sweetwater employee filed a suit against Bertha for retaliation, civil harassment and emotional distress after reporting a subordinate was working unapproved overtime. A judgment in favor of the district and for Lopez was handed down. But the fact that the case was even tried speaks volumes.
This year in a re-election year where two of the board members are facing corruption charges, Bertha has escaped the DA’s indictment, despite the fact that her home was raided and emails soliciting questionable contributions were found.
Some have attributed this to the fact that she has friends in the right places. Others have suggested that she is feeding the DA as much information as possible to avoid prosecution. We don’t know if any of this is true, but the fact that this even discussed says a lot, kind of along of line ‘if there is smoke….’
Lopez has taken advantage of her perceived innocence and portrays herself as the people’s champion. This stands in stark contrast to her ten year stint at the Chula Vista Elementary School District where, as a board member, she was described as having a “lack of accountability and accessibility to the community.” Apparently Lopez knows how to take advantage of the political winds.
Lopez has taken advantage of her new found role and has taken to encouraging the raucous crowd at the board meetings, encouraging them to be disruptive, and stay behind when the rest of the board retires to closed door meetings, to further incite the crowd. Is this good leadership, or is this grandstanding?
The problem is that her opponent Burt Grossman doesn’t offer us much in the way as an alternative. He has done very little campaigning, has no signs, does not show up much in the community and appears to be a Republican, with a conservative view point.
Bertha needs to go, but we are not sure Grossman is the right man for the position. We have talked with Grossman and he is extremely likable, it just seems that he did not put enough thought into what it is to campaign or even why he ran.
There is a future for Grossman in politics, and I think he can use this time as learning lesson, and plan for the future.
The choice is up to the voters.