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City Life: Foley stands alone in doing what's right

November 29, 2011|By Steve Smith

In last week's column about the enhancements to Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard's contract prior to its original four-year termination date, I referred to the school board as the group responsible for approving Hubbard's contract details ("City Life: School board enhanced Hubbard's compensation mid-contract," Nov. 23).

I should have excluded Katrina Foley, who was elected to the school board only a year ago and has had no involvement in awarding Hubbard any of his contract extensions or any other additional compensation. Foley was the only board member who fought against the paid administrative leave Hubbard received last January.

In her first school board meeting, Foley questioned whether two contracts set for extension should be reopened and reexamined. Later, Foley, an attorney, recommended a review of the manner in which district's legal services are billed in order to save taxpayers a lot of money. Amazingly, her colleagues resisted this review.

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Over the past year, Foley has been the "1" on several 6-1 board decisions.

Foley has become the new Wendy Leece, the board member who dares to question the status quo. But the comparison ends there.

Unlike Leece, Foley has no reputation as a religious extremist — a reputation Leece's school board colleagues were content to let simmer so it could justify their shabby treatment of her. As with Leece, who is now on the Costa Mesa City Council, there will be attempts to cast Foley as someone who must be wrong simply because she doesn't agree with the rest of the crowd.

Instead, Foley is appealing to a bigger, more important crowd. This other crowd — parents, teachers, classified employees and students — sees the contradiction in awarding Hubbard paid administrative leave while kids go without science camp. They see incentives being awarded and contracts enhanced while the salaries of teachers and classified employees remain stagnant and benefit participation rises.

The parents see their hard-earned tax money being spent as though it grows on the proverbial tree. This other crowd also happens to hold the voters who will decide on the open board positions next year.

Contrary to what some may want you to believe, there are Foleys in other districts. The best recent example is in Beverly Hills, where Hubbard was superintendent for three years before coming to Newport-Mesa.

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