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Summer must reads Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Jun 08 2013 12:00 PM

If anyone has advice, '’d be willing to consider it. In my home there is a pile of reading material that doesn’t dwindle. The problem compounds in the summer when a separate pile of "fun, light, suspenseful reads" is created. Both stacks of reading material compete with an already existing tower of magazines that are as tall and imposing as Lebron James in a gladiator costume.

My problem is two-fold: Which magazines do I read first — oldest to newest or vice versa? And to which stack do I add the thousands of pages from the grand jury transcripts in the Sweetwater/Southwestern corruption case? —magazines or fun summer reading?

On its face the corruption case has the makings of a political thriller — alleged bribes, massive egos jockeying for contributions and power, and a crusading district attorney intent on cleaning out the gutters that are South Bay politics.

But on the other hand, some passages reveal the kind of honesty and behind-the-scenes maneuvering a feature magazine article might.

For example, when prosecutor Leon Schorr questions Sweetwater Union High School District Superintendent Ed Brand about  performance evaluations for superintendents, Brand’s answer, if obvious, is nonetheless jarring:

Q: That yearly evaluation, is it important, obviously, to maintain the relationships with the entire board or at least three members of the board? Explain that.

A: Yeah, you need three people to vote for you. Typically you always would like to have a 5-0 vote because whether it’s negotiations or community perception, the idea that you are pulling a group together is very, very important, particularly when you are talking about children’s success and trying to get everybody on the same page. But you never want to get three mad at you at one time, particularly around evaluations, because then they can ask you to leave.

Wow. “But you never want to get three mad at you at one time, particularly around evaluations, because then they can ask you to leave.”

Already I’m exhausted imagining the constant stroking of egos and political manipulation that goes into what amounts to self-preservation — and this is just a few pages into testimony by one of many characters in this drama.

Time and again, when policies are discussed, when appointments are considered and decisions are made, the popular and safe refrain from administrators and parents alike is that “It’s for the children.”

It’s an equally naive and noble sentiment. As that short passage reveals, it’s as much if not more so about protecting your interests as it is about doing something that might benefit students.

Light summer reading or prolonged drama? Help me decide.

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