I have a picture on the wall of my office. It was taken at about 4 a.m. in 1998. I'm in the picture with a group of Democratic and Republican legislators. We look tired; we've been up late for a number of nights. But there's also a glint of celebration.
That was a happy and proud moment. We had just negotiated Proposition 1A, which put $9.2 billion of school bonds on the ballot. This bipartisan breakthrough opened the way for three successful state school bonds that raised $34 billion for school construction.
I've also supported local school bonds, and the state and local money that voters entrusted to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is being used to build schools all over the city.
I don't take this progress lightly or for granted. But building for seats is not the same as building for reform. To date, L.A. Unified has done the former but only paid lip service to the latter. And I find myself moving to an uncomfortable and unfamiliar position on the question of the school district's bid to pass $3.985 billion in school bonds this November.
Until last week, Los Angeles mayoral challenger Antonio Villaraigosa had received unchallenged campaign mileage from touting his role in Proposition 1A, the $9.2 billion school bond that voters approved in November 1998. Villaraigosa had been state Assembly speaker when the Legislature put it on the ballot.