It’s About Bill Fanning’s Legacy… It’s About Our Kids.

From time to time I’m made privy to email and presentations to Council and the BOUSD Board to offer comments and maybe the occasional edit. Such is the case for Drew Hefner’s statement to the school board.

A Brea resident for over two decades and twice over a Fanning parent, Drew has helped spearhead the opposition to the fallacious allegations coming from a handful of out-of-town wannabe social activists.

He has been kind enough to allow me to publish his remarks here with the hope that they encourage others to attend next Monday night’s meeting and to speak their mind as well.

kidDrew Hefner’s remarks.

I am speaking up to urge the citizens of Brea to do the right thing and call for the retention of William E. Fanning’s name with Fanning Elementary.

I was surprised to learn that instead of being a local, grass-roots effort, those demanding that Mr. Fanning’s name be removed from Fanning Elementary are mostly outsiders to Brea: from the OC Weekly (Costa Mesa), the Voice of the OC (Santa Ana), OC Human Relations (Santa Ana), the Fullerton Observer, the Democratic Party of Orange County (Orange), and a Facebook group, founded just last December, predominantly of La Habra residents.

The reasons offered by those calling for the change are not supported by facts, but instead are a conflated mess of opinion and conjecture coupled with a desire to be on the right side of history.

The facts related to this issue are clear.

Social media comments and on-line reports dating back to 2011, and resurrected in 2017, suggested a connection between W.E. Fanning and the KKK are false.

The primary evidence offered is a list of names found in the Anaheim Heritage Center’s collection which is purported to be a list of KKK members.

This list and associated information was examined by the Brea Historical Society’s Museum Curator in 2017 per a request from the BOUSD Superintendent.

The final report, dated 30 November 2017, concluded: “Based on the interpretation of the data, we find no credible evidence to support the petitioner’s allegations”, meaning Mr. Fanning did not have a verifiable membership in the KKK.

In addition, the report stated that no evidence in newspaper articles or personal recollections was found to indicate Mr. Fanning was in any way racially motivated.

From deception to distraction.

Claims of Brea’s racist past, including suggestions of it being a “Sundown Town”, as well as Brea demographics of the 1920’s showing little or no diversity have been offered to corroborate the links between Brea and the KKK.

Though somewhat historically accurate, there is no link to Mr. Fanning… period. It’s a smokescreen and nothing else.

The outsiders disparaging the Fanning name through unsubstantiated claims are little more than bullies.

Mr. Fanning’s past has been reviewed, allegations of his association with the KKK are a toxic brew of rumor, innuendo and conjecture intended to play on people’s emotions.

It reeks of both slander and libel.

It is also clear, stated publically in their meetings, that most of the BOUSD Board does not believe the allegations connecting Fanning to the KKK.

Doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.

Some of the Board have chosen reluctantly the removal of the Fanning name but only out of frustration and a desire to “move on.”

I am one of a very large and growing number of Brea residents, parents, teachers and administrators who do not want to see the name removed when doing so is not supported by facts.

To emphasize, let me be clear: Taking a stand to maintain Mr. Fanning’s name on the school is not the same thing as defending a racist or deeming the allegations as nothing more than ancient history that doesn’t matter today.

I still live in this community and care very much about both our image, and the impact that racist acts could have on our fellow residents, schools and businesses.

The BOUSD Board needs to embrace the results of the well-documented Brea Historical Society report, put an end to this made-up controversy and retain Mr. Fanning’s name as part of any re-branding of the school.

They must not allow Mr. Fanning’s name and reputation to be destroyed by those who have disregarded the facts and the truth in pursuit of their own suspect agendas.

Amen Mr. Hefner. Amen.

Except for the couple of dozen troublemakers who, for several years, have failed miserably to make their case against William Fanning, everyone else agrees that he was truly a pioneer in Brea education, that he stood up against segregation and laid the foundation for the schools serving our children today.

Our children deserve no less than the truth and we’re obligated to give it to them.

If the BOUSD Board gives in to the bullies and leans on one of their indefensible excuses to change the school’s name and discard the Fanning legacy in the process… that is the truth we will share with our kids.

And if this is an example of the weak willed and ill-informed leadership we can expect going forward, what option besides a recall would put Brea schools back on course?

Whether you’re able to be there Monday night or have the time to send the board an email… at least make yourself these two promises.

My kids will know the truth. My kids will not be bullied.

 

W. E. Fanning Name Challenged.

FanningI spotted the following post about the challenge to the W. E. Fanning school’s name from Don Schweitzer on Facebook. After reviewing all he had provided (plus looking up and reading the original inflammatory blogs by Gustavo Arellano/OC Weekly) I felt compelled to share everything here, with Don’s permission, as well.

Over the years, Don and I have butted heads on many issues but on the Fanning matter we agree. First and foremost the truth must be established. Second, though technically the five members of the BOUSD Board can do whatever the hell they want to do on this… the community of Brea deserves an opportunity to wade in and play a leading role in the outcome.

Third party, non-Brea right wing unionist outsiders who have pretended to take up the cause are welcome to stay in Los Angeles, Fullerton and La Habra and save the money putting gas in their busses.

Don’s Facebook Post.

Friends, I need your help. Brea needs your help. Maybe you have heard or maybe you haven’t but the Brea School Board is considering changing the name of Fanning Elementary School. A school that was named after William E. Fanning, Brea’s first Superintendent and beloved Brea pioneer.

The School Board is basing their decision primarily on an unproven accusation that Mr. Fanning was a Ku Klux Klan member in the early 1900’s. An accusation that has been researched extensively and found to have no basis in fact..

I have attached a letter from Dena Sommer, a prior board member, that states the issue much better than I ever could as well as a letter from Bill Fanning, the grandson of W.E. Fanning. They are both very factual. For fairness I have also attached the opinion of the gentleman, that by the way is from La Habra, that is requesting the name change and his reasoning. I want you to hear both sides.

In order for the School Board to make an intelligent decision they need to hear from us. I’ve attached their contact information below. Please write them a short note with your opinion, for or against the issue. They will be voting very soon, next week I believe, so if you feel like engaging please do it soon.

As a side note, I knew Mr. Fanning. My parents knew him well as did my grandfather. In high school one of my teachers was his son and his grandsons were my classmates. The Fanning family have been a fixture in Brea for almost a hundred years. The three generations of Fanning’s I have known have always been respected and admired for their honestly, intelligence and willingness to help others. A founding family that has contributed greatly to Brea’s success, especially in the field of education.

Thank you very much for your time. I hope this note finds you in good health and that you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas.

Respectfully,

Don Schweitzer, Former Mayor

Make yourself heard!

Only the brain dead will not form some opinion or point of view. Keeping it to yourself when you have the opportunity… and responsibility to share it should result in having your ‘Good Ol’ Brea Membership Card’ revoked for life.

If you’re unable to attend the BOUSD Board meeting then these are the folks you need to email:

  • Carrie Flanders, Board President – cflanders@bousd.us
  • Gail Lyons, Board Vice President – glyons@bousd.us
  • Paul Ruiz – pruiz@bousd.us
  • Nicole Colon – ncolon@bousd.us
  • Keri Kropke – kkropke@bousd.us
  • Brad Mason, Superintendent of BOUSD – bmason@bousd.us

Do your homework first!

Below are links to communications from Dena Sommer, former BOUSD Board member, Terry Sullivan, 70 year resident of Brea and the detailed report from the Brea Historical Society.

They are PDFs, easy to read, download and worth saving as permanent reference.

Like I said from the beginning, start with the truth. Don’t rely on that nosey neighbor down the street that always has an opinion on everything but never any proof. Get familiar with the facts and come to your own conclusion.

Whatever that considered conclusion might be… share it. Send an email or, even better, show up at the Board’s General Session next Monday evening (starts at 6:30 pm).

I’ve confirmed that the matter of naming the Fanning school will be on Monday’s agenda as a Discussion Item and that Dr. Mason will be making an oral presentation on the topic. No written report has been prepared.

Please, speak during Matters from the Audience. Your input along with Dr. Mason’s presentation and whatever discussion follows amongst the board, will lay the groundwork for the final recommendations to be presented to the board – likely later this month or in January.

Term Limits – Yes Or No?

NOPARKING-1Term limits restricting the number of successive terms of office that may be served by elected officials has always been a controversial issue.

Brea has never had term limits and I, along with a growing number of others apparently, believe it’s time to put it to a vote.

The almost perpetual reelection of career politicians prevents the rise of new voices in government. By instituting term limits, the problems of the status quo can be solved, and more responsible, accountable candidates and Council members may arise.

Here are arguments in favor of term limits that, IMHO, make a lot of sense to me.

Term limits restore rotation in office and government by the people.

It is unfortunate that politics has become an accepted career path. It is better that participation in government be brief. Term limits will put an end to municipal politics becoming a cushy “lifetime” job, making elected service more a limited leave of absence from a productive career in the private sector.

Without term limits, the temptation to remain in office for decades keeps people seeking reelection long after they have accomplished all the legislative good of which they are capable. It does not take long for legislators to become more occupied with their relationships with each other and with lobbyists, than with their constituents. They pass their “use by” date.

Local government works best when it functions as a citizen council, in which people who pursue careers other than politics enter office for a brief time to do their community service, and then leave to reenter society as private citizens. The typical agenda of today’s career politicians is only to build their own power and influence base ahead of representing the people they were elected to serve.

Term limits make for better elections and empower new leaders and ideas.

Incumbency provides a huge electoral advantage. Sitting politicians, unlike poor Mr. Murdock, almost always win reelection. Over the past 30 years it had become virtually impossible to unseat an incumbent until the grassroots effort of Operation Clean Sweep lit up Brea ballot boxes.

People have a tendency to vote for people they recognize. Donors and special interest groups (in the past I’ve referred to them as the old guard) tend to support past winners who will likely continue to benefit their interests. Term limits actually increase voter choice by making elections more competitive and encouraging more candidates to run.

In communities where term limits have been instituted there is far higher turnover amongst elected officials, giving voters more choice in who should represent them. Ultimately, long term council members using political machines to retain power do their community and constituents a disservice. Power is best used when it changes hands over time in order to allow for dynamic new solutions.

Term limits prevent corruption and exploitation of office.

FINGERS-LWith a few exceptions like Koreagate and the Energy Coalition, Brea has been blessed with a history of well intentioned and ethical leaders. One only need to think of the City of Industry and Bell to realize the magnitude of the risk.

Sure, we’ve seen behavior that danced perilously close to the edge of the Brown Act. Local politics have always been a bit rough and tumble… and personality clashes are unfortunately more commonplace than one would prefer.

That said, when a career politician is firmly entrenched, they may seek to enrich themself at the expense of the public, to shower unearned perks upon family and allies in order to maintain and strengthen their powerful position.

Term limits serve to limit the ability of individuals to put forward self-serving legislation and to retain power indefinitely. Instead, with term limits, elected officials have only a limited time in power, which tends to shift their focus toward genuinely benefiting the public.

Term limits trigger action over apathy.

A major focus of any elected official hoping to serve another term is on the next election and on vote-getting. It is often the case that hard decisions need to be made but it is difficult for them to do so when they are fixated on being reelected. Elected officials have an incentive to put tough decisions off if they can retain power by doing so.

An example of such seemingly perpetual procrastination (climbing on my soapbox for a moment) is the interminable delays in allowing public comment on the creation of an Environmental Advisory Board.

For almost a year Council has been asked to hold a town meeting to determine how broad an interest, or lack of same, Brea residents have in local environmental issues. A simple word to the City Manager and it could have happened months ago.

When constrained by term limits, elected officials must make the most of their limited time in office, resulting in greater prioritization of difficult decisions and reform. While there will always be some of this behavior, it is curtailed by term limits, as elected officials will, in their final term at the very least, not be beholden to as many special interests as they cannot run again.

Where do you stand?

Is it time at last to finish what Operation Clean Sweep started and let term limits put an end to career politicians in Brea?

VOTECOUNTS