Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

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By Lou Segal

On May 13 the League of Women Voters (LWV) put out a statement to Edhat focusing on a disputed timeline with respect to their release form, which was issued to the two candidates for County Superintendent of Schools. Rather than try to figure out on what day the LWV received or sent emails to the Christy Lozano campaign, I would prefer to focus on the rules the LWV ask the candidates to comply with in their forums.

Before hosting a forum, the LWV requires each of the candidates to sign a release form. In the release form, they have various rules the candidates must promise to obey. The LWV sent two release forms to the Lozano campaign, both of which Ms. Lozano objected to. Apparently, Ms. Lozano rejected the first release form, and subsequently informed the LWV that she couldn’t agree to the language in the second release form either, which had been revised to accommodate her.

I have looked closely at these release forms and was startled to see the restrictions they had placed on the candidates. The first LWV release form prohibited any references to the other candidates' qualifications or activities, meaning it would have been impossible for candidates to examine the record of their opponents and to expose the apparent contradictions between the representations and assertions of their opponents and their actual performance and track record. The exact language from the first release form reads as follows, “I will not, in any way, make reference to any candidates or to another candidate’s qualifications, character, or activities – either positively or negatively”. Subsequently, the LWV relented and revised this sentence to say, “I will not, in any way, make negative reference to other candidate(s) or their personal qualifications or character. I may state my disagreements with their views on issues or proposed legislation, but only to provide examples of issues on which we disagree. My focus will be on my views, not those of the other candidates(s).”

Although the revised language is far more preferable than the overly restrictive language in the first release form, it still is too vague and could potentially limit the candidate’s ability to criticize their opponent’s record. For instance, what does the LWV mean by “negative reference to other candidates(s)”? If a candidate lied or misrepresented his/her own record and the opponent pointed this out, would this be characterized as a “negative reference” by the LWV?

The problem with the language in the LWV release forms is that you can’t have a real debate/forum if you don’t allow the candidates to talk about the opponents' qualifications, experience, track record and character. In the end, you need to let the candidates answer the questions any way they like within the time constraints, and let the voters decide if the candidates’ answers were factually accurate or baseless personal attacks. I don’t see why we need to replace the reasoning of the voters with the judgement of the LWV. We don’t need a sponsoring organization to decide what they can hear or not hear.

What the LWV wanted was a stilted forum where the candidates responded to a set list of questions with unreasonable rules as to what the candidates can say, making it nearly impossible to explore the candidates’ views and positions on a wide range of issues. If you were going to do it this way, then just send each candidate the questions and have the answers printed on their website or in the local newspaper. The idea should be to bring the candidates together for an open exchange, giving the voters as much information as possible so they can make an informed decision.
 
It is quite ironic that LWV proudly states on its letterhead that they empower voters. I would say the Santa Barbara chapter disempowers voters with their overly restrictive rules. Even other chapters disagree with the approach taken by local chapter. Another chapter’s website states, “a good format should make it easy for the candidates to discuss the issues and respond to opponents.” Maybe it would be enlightening for the people running the Santa Barbara chapter to consult with their brothers and sisters in the LWV organization as to how to conduct a substantive and informed candidate forum.


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46 Comments

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GeneralTree May 18, 2022 01:10 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

The rules are pretty simple. Apparently one party can't understand them or follow them. The intention of the forum is for the candidates to talk about their own experience and qualifications. It is a forum and not a debate. The LWV already released an update on this. Not too hard to understand for many. If you want to host a debate where the candidates can take jabs at each other - then you should do that. The LWV did not.

Ahchooo May 18, 2022 01:20 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Generaltree says it well. The LWV forum is not intended as a place where candidates attack or even question each other. It is a place where they can present their own platform to the voters. I believe the League asks questions, and each candidate gets a chance to respond. The voters listen and assess the responses. Other formats can also be useful, but the LWV has their format, and it has worked well for many years.

a-1652906867 May 18, 2022 01:47 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Agree with GT and Ahchooo. Lozano's campaign and ilk are trying really hard to nitpick LWV and deflect blame but the fact is she wanted special treatment. And LWV even relented some on their policy and approval to use their videos, but they drew the line at personal attacks and providing the questions ahead of time.

Chevy67 May 18, 2022 03:41 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Great point 2:59! If Lozano claims to be a better candidate with better ideas, why can't she simply explain why she makes a good candidate and how she'll make the SBCEO better? She should be able to talk about her better ideas without attacking another person, but disagreeing was completely allowed by the forum in their agreement form.

a-1652970870 May 19, 2022 07:34 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Chillin, In this case it isn't about running a School District is it? This position, County Superintendent of Schools, has nothing to do with the School Districts. School Districts have their own Superintendents and their bloated staffs. It's just another superfluous bureaucratic position with its attendant tax payer funded staff.

ChillinGrillin May 19, 2022 11:57 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

7:34am--Oh apologies, she has even more potential responsibility and impact coordinating countywide policy for multiple school districts. If it's such a superfluous position, why is she running and why are the CRT chicken littles squawking so loudly? Correction: she has no business running a taco stand.

a-1652916365 May 18, 2022 04:26 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

I don't agree with the LWV rules, but respect their right to assert them. Having sat through multiple League debates, I find them wonky, long and boring, and I care about local issues! The rules not allowing a challenger to comment on their opponent's record is a problem. Think about such a forum with Trump as a candidate. You can't point out he messed up horribly with the Pandemic, or his criminal issues, or his role in the 1/6 assault on the Capitol. You'd only be able to say, "I support not encouraging people to attack the Capitol." Ummmm

MarcelK May 20, 2022 02:46 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

" You can't point out he messed up horribly with the Pandemic, or his criminal issues, or his role in the 1/6 assault on the Capitol. "

You don't actually believe any of that, which is why you went incognito here.

RHS May 18, 2022 04:39 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

This commentary/op ed is based on a false premise. Although the author tries to finesse it by referring to the procedure sponsored by the SBLWV as a "debate/forum" that is not what the SBLWV does. Their webpage says: "Our League holds Candidate Forums for the Candidates running for election. We invite all of the Candidates to participate, ask them the same list of questions, and give them equal time to answer." A "forum" is " a place, situation, or group in which people exchange ideas and discuss issues, especially important public issues." Synonyms for forum are: "meeting, assembly, gathering, conference, seminar, convention, colloquy, convocation, congress, rally, council, symposium, conclave, congregation, synod, diet. caucus." It is not a debate which is " to dispute, argue, especially in a public arena." Maybe a person seeking to be a leader in our schools should know the difference. If a debate is what is sought, don't go to a forum but don't try to change a forum into a debate by unilateral temper tantrum.

lss May 18, 2022 08:28 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

RHS, I would argue the LWV doesn't really know the difference between a debate and a forum, since they revised the language in the release form to allow more of what you are claiming is actually a debate. Also, it's interesting that by refusing to sign a form which puts limitations on what you can say is what you call a "temper tantrum". Hmm

lss May 18, 2022 09:01 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Let's examine what you call a "unilateral temper tantrum"
She gets an invitation to a forum. She accepts. A few days later she receives the release form. She objects to the language and gives LWV feedback. Ten days later she receives a second release form with revised language re: allowing more debate-like rules. She asks for further clarification. LWV gives her ultimatum; either sign form or forum is canceled. LWV unilaterally cancels forum. One could argue about who had the "unilateral temper tantrum" (your term).

a-1652972400 May 19, 2022 08:00 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Read the email exchanges and you'll see the LWV engaged in discussions with her concerns, gave her ample time to decide, and was more than professional. This is another publicity stunt by Lozano and LWV is not at fault here. That is evident in their emails.

sacjon May 20, 2022 11:06 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

LSS - Yes, you're right. It does look like it was Lozano throwing the "unilateral temper tantrum." Good call. She refused to accept the terms of the event to which she was invited, even after they tried to appease her. LWV bent over for her and she still wouldn't consent, so they had to cancel the even due to 1 of 2 speakers refusing to follow their rules. Another example of how unfit she is for this position.

lss May 18, 2022 04:52 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

I am the author of this opinion piece. Unfortunately, there was an unavoidable glitch causing Edhat to unintentionally omit the last two paragraphs of the op-ed for the first two hours it was posted. Please take another look if you were one of the readers who viewed the incomplete article.

Ahchooo May 18, 2022 06:38 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

I have watched other LWV forums and found them helpful. When the candidates answered the questions, I could assess whether they could think on their feet, whether they can string sentences together in a coherent fashion. I could see whether they answered the question or just babbled unrelated stuff. The LWV forums are useful and give us a look at how candidates function in a public setting.

a-1652929403 May 18, 2022 08:03 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Why are so many supporting the failing status quo? Do they like to keep kids down? Keep an under educated servant class? What is it with failing schools that the incumbent supporters love?

a-1652931155 May 18, 2022 08:32 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Take a good look at what the job of County Superintendent of Schools entails. And then look at which candidate is better prepared to do that job. The things that Lozano talks about are mostly not in the purview of the superintendent. She doesn’t seem to understand what her duties would be.

ChillinGrillin May 18, 2022 08:50 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

You're presenting a false choice. It's not between status quo and positive change. It's a choice between basic competence and experience and someone who is all talk and zero walk.

a-1652969451 May 19, 2022 07:10 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

https://my.lwv.org/sites/default/files/candidate_forum_faqs_2019.pdf
Tolerance and reasonable public discourse depend in large part upon education. Learn something before you spout off about it.

PitLocal May 19, 2022 08:43 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Firstly, thank you for the informative article. It sheds some light on previously murky coverage on the topic. As a parent of children that up until recently were in the SB public school system, I have one thing to say: We have 67,000 students in the public school system and half of them are not up to state standards in literacy. I know that first hand from my kids' experiences. Personally, I don't need any more debate. Salcido is fired. It's not acceptable. It's time for change. Vote Lozano.

letmego May 19, 2022 09:54 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

According to CAASPP results on the state website...the percentage of students at or above standards in ELA has been steadily increasing:
2014-2015: 41%
2015-2016: 44%
2016-2017: 44.19%
2017-2018: 45.92%
2018-2019: 47.22% (the last year for which there is full data)

Similar trend for math, though raw percentages are lower, from 29% in 2014 to 36.21% in 2018-2019.

edney May 20, 2022 01:14 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

The performance that matters most is percent at or above grade level in ELA and Math in High School.
This shows how well the school system finishes its total job.
I don't think 11% at SM High School District testing at or above their grade level is a good number.
I don't think Hispanics under performing whites in English Language Arts by 2-1 is good at all and then I see Black students underperform Hispanics by 2-1. Ouch

Stipulating that Lozano is not the person to fix that, comes with the caveat that Salcido hasn't fixed that and her history says she isn't likely to.

At best this looks like a race between two incompetents

TheKid5 May 19, 2022 11:16 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

Lou is a good guy, but has an incorrect view of the LWV Candidate Forum. It is not a debate. It is a question and answer session where the League sets the rules that they want adhered to.

Gimli May 19, 2022 03:22 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

I have been to a few LWV that these ladies organized forum/debates long before COVID, and the one thing I have noticed, these ladies are one sided. They do have their preferences towards a candidate. I can just tell from looking in their eyes, their smile and their body movement. Ever so often I do sense and pick up these feelings.

edney May 20, 2022 09:44 AM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

I don't know why Lozano would bother with the League of Women's Voters. They haven't recommended a Republican since the steam engine was invented. I use their work to differentiate between Democrats in the Democratic primaries. On the Propositions they seem so absolutely progressive on tax increases that the only logical conclusion to their progress is when the people have no more money of their own.

Babycakes May 20, 2022 03:19 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

What???:
"She refused to accept the terms of the event to which she was invited....."

REFUUUUUSED to accept the terms of the agreement is a FAR CRY from she did not accept the terms of the agreement. That being said, she had zero obligation to sign the agreement. It makes no sense that she would sign anything unless she accepted the terms...that makes complete sense. To suggest otherwise would be....unwise.

sacjon May 20, 2022 04:44 PM
Op-Ed: Issues with the League of Women Voter's Statement

"REFUUUUUSED to accept the terms of the agreement is a FAR CRY from she did not accept the terms of the agreement. " HAHAHAHAH seriously? "Refused to accept" and "did not accept" mean the exact same thing: she did not want to comply with the terms, ergo, she REFUSED to comply with the terms..... A "FAR CRY?" Really? Holy moly cows n' guacamole that's basic English son!

And yeah, she DID have an obligation to sign if she wanted to participate in the public discussion about her policies.

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