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Fact-Checking School Board Races

The campaign in Capistrano Unified is heating up. But no one seems to be talking about educational and financial issues.

With misleading website addresses and unreported campaign contributions, there seem to be more questions than answers associated with the race for school board in the Capistrano Unified School District.

Patch is here to help you figure out fact from fiction.

Who IS John Alpay?

There’s a website that asks that very question, www.whoisjohnalpay.com. Like the misleading domain names Patch has been reporting on this past week, the owner’s name is masked by a company called Domains by Proxy, which is owned by GoDaddy.com, which hosts the site.

Unlike the deceptive URLs, this site doesn’t redirect visitors elsewhere. With its somewhat grumpy-looking caricature, it probably doesn’t fool anyone into thinking it’s a fan site.

Alpay believes the domain name is "misleading."

So who’s behind it? Ken Starks, a San Clemente dad who said he was inspired to investigate Alpay’s record after Starks' two special-needs children’s academics declined when he moved here a year ago.

The site links its contentions about Alpay to minutes from school board meetings.

“It’s a good-faith effort,” he said. “The proof of an elected official is in their public record.”

Oh No, They’re Going to Close My High School!

Although no proposals exist to close any of CUSD's comprehensive high schools, advertisements for Alpay (Page 2), Carol McCormick and even a robo-call (see video) in Aliso Viejo say the current regime’s opponents intend to close fill-in-the-blank high school.

While the controversial charter school Oxford Preparatory Academy – a nonprofit unlike what’s said in the audio clip – is testing the waters to expand to a K-12 in Capo, there is no proposal before the district, Superintendent Joe Farley has said. And OPA Superintendent Sue Roche told Patch she will not ask for space at a CUSD high school.

"We have no intention of taking over a present high school. That's just a fabrication,” she said.

For the record, candidates Jim Reardon, Bill Perkin and Steve Lang all say they oppose closing any local high schools.

Don’t Use My Name, Part II

In a political brochure, Lang gave opponent Alpay all Fs in a report card for his tenure on the school board. One was for “Engaged in reckless deficit spending,” and cited the Orange County Department of Education.

The county education office's legal staff has sent a letter to Lang, asking that he not credit the county Department of Education because officials there actually commended CUSD on its most recent budget. (See the PDF accompanying this article.)

However, in the same letter that applauded the district for balancing the budget, the county noted that the district’s current budget includes $3.6 million in deficit spending. Last year’s budget included $9.6 million in deficit spending, according to the county.

Because the district cannot prove it will be solvent for the next three years, the county is monitoring CUSD’s finances and sent a liaison to board meetings all through the recent budgeting process.

Alpay’s Gonna Change it, Alpay’s Gonna Lead

Perhaps taking a cue of soliciting children from candidate Barack Obama's supporters, an Alpay campaign volunteer enlisted students from Shorecliffs Middle School to hold Alpay signs while parents picked up their kids in the parking lot off of Vista Hermosa on Monday, according to several parents.

The lot is not school property. 

fact checker October 23, 2012 at 10:50 PM
And there is no bias in this report?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Please let me know what's not factual, fact checker. I do promptly correct mistakes. Two of these items were done at Mr. Alpay's request. Please listen to the robo-call. There's not anything on there of substance. Just about everything is wrong. Mr. Perkins did not just move to the neighborhood a year ago, he does not support hundreds of cell towers or swap meets, he does not want to shut down Aliso Niguel High. It's not that he doesn't "have children in the district." He doesn't have children at all. I have to tell the whole truth. Not just the letter from the OCDE where it commends the district about balancing a budget. But also, the part of the letter (and letter after letter) that DOES indicate the district is deficit spending. That is TRUE. i have the letters. So what, what is not factual?
Sunny D. October 23, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Finally...the TRUTH is told. The Teachers' Union have a lot of money and influence. It is hard to get the truth out there when all the Union backed candidates do is lie, lie, and lie some more. The teachers are fed all this b.s. and then try and pedal it to the public. We need to stand up to the Union and let our voices be heard by voting down all of their candidates. The teachers have the Union to support their cause. Who do parents have? It was supposed to be our elected officials on the Board.
Yeparoo October 24, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Fact Checker - It's been over an hour since your last post. Is everything okay? Is this a required union break?
PDub October 24, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Here is an account from a parent about the shorecliffs incident. Just sick and wrong...How much derision is Alpay gonna get away with? VOTE HIM OUT!!!! "Yesterday I went to pick up my son from middle school. There are always A LOT of kids lined up behind the school for pick up. They were all holding up John Alpay for school board signs. I thought it was odd, but was in a hurry to get to our next thing. When I rounded the turn I saw a man with "Volunteer" on his shirt who was loading a stack of these signs in his trunk. When my son got in the car I asked him what the signs were about. He said the volunteer guy had come down the line and and handed out signs asking the kids to hold them up. Makes me sick to think that this guy (agree with him or not) is willing to use our kids (no parental permission) to further his political agenda... to make it appear that all the kids were endorsing him".
Tom Richins October 24, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I fail to understand why deficit spending is acceptable form of government spending. Any politician regardless of party that supports deficit spending should be fired and replaced...
Capo Parent Too October 24, 2012 at 02:09 AM
OPA couldn't find a site to lease for their k-8, so they think they will be able to find one for their k-12? Seriously? She can say whatever she wants in public, but some know what her out of control OPA parents expect and want and if she can't deliver, she will be in trouble.
fact checker October 24, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Bias is a subtle slant. You quote the letter from the OCDE and then point out the deficit spending without adding the fact that it is not illegal and is, sometimes, necessary in these troubled financial times. You may correct a mistake on occasion but it is not always prompt, as in the exchange with Shelly on another thread regarding the role played, allegedly, by people in the domain issue.
Capo Parent October 24, 2012 at 02:56 AM
No, just facts. What kind of a fact checker are you?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 02:59 AM
How in any way did I imply that deficit spending was illegal? It is what it is. The county points it out (if it were illegal, I would expect stronger language), and I report what the county says. Sometimes bias is in the eye of the beholder. Whether you want to consider Lang's characterization of being "reckless" is fair; that's a good subject for debate here. I only report that deficit spending IS a routine fact of recent budgets, as is a shrinking of the reserves to be commensurate with the shrinking of the overall budget (if reserves are always at 2 percent, and the overall number shrinks, then the reserved amount shrinks, freeing up some funds for spending). When the district is back in a growth mode, it will have to sock away more money in reserves to make up for this fluctuation. All this is very factual, but is not self-evident in one snippet of a letter that commends the district for passing a budget. There seems to be a desperate need to focus in so narrowly. I like to provide the bigger picture.
fact checker October 24, 2012 at 03:15 AM
When you provide a bigger picture that includes just one additional aspect it can indicate bias. You choose one aspect that supports your bias. You have never reported on the actions of Mr. Lopez which led to his recall. Why is that? The bias is clear. His deeds are a matter of public record. And yet he is provided a bully pulpit by the Patch which allows him to disparage others, as well as pass judgement on local schools which have excellent programs and teachers.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Lopez does not have a bully pulpit at my Patch. You'd have to ask the editor where his blog appears. However, everyone IS invited to blog, even you, in fact, especially you! Though you'd have to use your real name. I'm not going to do a story about something happened two years before Patch launched. Sorry, I write NEWS. Lopez is "olds." And, the full document as transmitted by Alpay to me is posted as a PDF for all to view.
fact checker October 24, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Lopez has a piece right on the front page today...hardly "olds." No thanks to using my real name. Bad things happen to people using their real names who disagree with the majority here on the Patch.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Not here at SJC Patch. Must be another Patch. Ask that editor.
fact checker October 24, 2012 at 04:52 AM
So he is only on the Aliso Viejo Patch? Good...at least he is somewhat limited. That editor doesn't respond to comments questioning Lopez's motives and veracity. Who makes the decision about which blogs and letters to the editor are posted on which Patch (and how many Patches)? Are Dawn's LTE's posted on more than one?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 05:03 AM
There are six Patches in CUSD boundaries (San Clemente, SJC, MV, AV, Laguna Niguel --which includes Dana Point and RSM -- which includes Coto and Las Flores. Ladera stories show up in SJC and MV Patches. Initially, when we first started the blog features, people applied. Now it's more like Facebook. You don't have to ask Facebook for permission to post. See the "start a blog" button on the front page. Ken's blog only appears on AV. Blogs at SJC Patch always use the word BLOG as the first word in headline so no one confuses it with professional journalism. In addition, Patch labels it as "Local Voices."
Penny Arévalo (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 07:21 PM
I've uploaded an email from the teachers' union so that you can get its take on campaign issues.
Dawn Urbanek October 24, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I think there may be a little more "less than honest" political messaging going on at CUSD http://disclosurecusd.blogspot.com/2012/10/cuea-alters-steve-langs-campgne-flyer.html
concerned parent October 24, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Penny, So much attention has been focused on the Alpay-Lang race, but I'd like to see more scrutiny of the Reardon-McCormick race. The pro-union folks' constantly talk about the lawsuits that Reardon has supposedly filed against CUSD and all the money he's made off the district (I wish I kept the campaign material for the specific claims, but I didn't.) They also talk about sending his kids to private schools instead of public. I believe I've seen Mr. Reardon dispute some of those charges in Patch comments, but I'd love to see you add to this article with the truth about those claims. And despite paying close attention to the race, I don't know a single specific position of McCormick's. Thanks!
InformedParent October 24, 2012 at 09:17 PM
How do these "politicians" get away to flat out lies. That robo-call was absurd. If I had received one I would be complaining to the proper authorities.
Ken Lopez Maddox October 25, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I don't expect certain candidates to be at the debate. They would most likely have to address issues like this. It is really sad. The kids of CUSD don't get a vote. Their educations have been entrusted to an element that uses words like integrity as a punchline. I intend on being there.
mc hill October 25, 2012 at 04:08 AM
When is the debate Ken?
Proud Mom October 25, 2012 at 04:49 AM
McHill - Penny wrote an article on MV Patch "CUSD Candidates to Face Off in Debate", which has all the information. It is going to be tomorrow evening at 6:00 at the Norman P. Murray Center. However, don't get too excited, because the union backed trustees and candidates will not participating. They have decided to host a meet and great, $20.00 at the door (aka fundraiser), as if the union's money isn't enough.
PDub October 25, 2012 at 06:14 AM
Here is where the union backed candidates will be during the debate...you decide what their priorities are.... Join us for some fun and meet ALL the Children First Candidates: ★ Amy Hanacek, Trustee Area 1 ★ Carol McCormick, Trustee Area 2 ★ John Alpay, Trustee Area 3 ★ Gary Pritchard, Trustee Area 5 Thursday, October 25th 5:30PM to 7:30PM Ricardo’s Place 32082 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano $20 donation at the door includes one drink and light appetizers We'd love to see you there! Thanks to all of our loyal supporters, we are in the home stretch!
Eric Bergstrom October 25, 2012 at 06:26 AM
The Debate will actually be at the community center in San Juan Capistrano. Located at 25925 Camino Del Avion. 6:00 pm is correct. We have 5 candidates who have confirmed that they will attend. I have name placards prepared for the 4 other candidates whose attendance is in question. One would think that they would want to be there to set the record straight in light of the recent news stories.
PDub October 25, 2012 at 07:01 AM
You'd think...apparently trying to collect more funds by charging their voters $20 for a margarita and a taquito, rather than save face, and address the real voters is more important. I would love to see who actually attends that event. Its too bad when its the kids, who love their teachers and the parents that love those teachers are forced to choose between corruption that represents the teachers and advocates for the children first....its not right...vote the union out...
Capo Parent October 25, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I've heard that at the Children First meet and greet Alpay & Korpi will be giving a presentation, "How to use Cyberfraud to Deceive Voters and Win Elections." Given their first hand experience using cyberfraud, it should be a fascinating presentation.
Capo Parent October 25, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I wouldn't hold my breath on any of them appearing. Given what Alpay & Korpi have done to date, I find it hard to believe Alpay would let himself get publicly grilled. The same is true for the other CF candidates who have created the closing high school rumors and who have run on protecting various high schools from closing. Questioning these candidates would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Since the other candidates are basically running as a CF slate, they will have to deal with the Alpay and Korpi controversies, whether or not Alpay is MIA.
PDub October 25, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Exactly CP....Im sure this meet n greet was scheduled very recently.... maybe move the debate to Ricardo's?

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