If one wish were granted to me in this midterm election, it would be that Elton Gallegly be retired permanently to his little Simi Valley oasis with the high gates he built at campaign donors' expense to keep the riff-raff out. This is no secret to anyone who knows me -- I loathe Republicans who claim to represent my interests but won't take the time to hear what they are. I really loathe Republicans who represent big, wide, diverse districts with lots of working-class, taxpaying people in them but pander only to military, elderly and wealthy constituents. I loathe Republicans who reward special donors with million-dollar-plus earmarks. Gallegly does all of these.
But really, what I found in his campaign disclosures last night sent me into orbit. It seems that Gallegly's campaign made some donations to local schools in the area. Wasn't that nice? Only, the schools who received donations are in the more affluent areas of the district. Okay, let me say it straight. The schools who received donations are the ones with student populations which are mainly white. They also happen to be in the more affluent areas.
It's one thing to ignore a constituent and repeatedly duck her questions about things you'd rather not answer, like why he thinks it would be perfectly fine for my son to be denied access to health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. It's entirely another to pull out the checkbook and write checks to school booster programs selectively, which is exactly what the man did, out of campaign funds.
Here's a map of our district:
It's a big district. Lots of cities in that district. Other than the coastal strip, which is Lois Capps' district, Gallegly represents this whole thing. Take note of the various city names on that map. Ours isn't even on it, but we're included, as I'll explain in a minute. Here is a record of donations made during the third quarter from the Elton Gallegly campaign to some, but not all, local high school athletic booster clubs:
- Camarillo High: $300
- Newbury Park High School: $500
- Thousand Oaks High School: $300
- Moorpark High School: $300
- Oaks Christian High School: $600
As the parent of a high school junior, I can't tell you how angry this makes me. My daughter attends a high school in the general vicinity of El Rio on that map. She could go to Camarillo High but she loves her school. It's part of the same district, but the demographics are very different. Her school is quite diverse, with the majority of students coming from Hispanic backgrounds. We live in an agricultural area and the school is smack-dab in the middle of it, so those kids might be working in adjacent fields before and after school while still making good grades and managing to be good citizens. (Yes, that's right. The vast majority are citizens.)
My daughter's school scratches for every donation they can get. Renowned for their dance program (no other school in the district comes close), they had to cancel their winter show because of funding issues and are hustling with the fundraisers to manage a spring show. The band, where my son is a coach this year, is supported almost solely through parent and student fundraising.
Does Rep. Gallegly believe they're any less worthy of his support? On what basis did he choose schools to grace with a donation? Did he suppose any other schools in his district might also appreciate a donation from the man who is supposed to be representing ALL of them?
On a pure human level, I'm furious that he tossed a few hundred bucks at the kids in this area while overlooking the deeper issues we all have with regard to education and federal funding. I'm furious that he overlooked the schools with diverse student populations. I would rather that he had not given anything at all than to choose only a few, because this is the guy who is supposed to be representing ME and MY FAMILY including MY KIDS in Congress.
If the donation pattern is any indication, it would appear that he doesn't represent all of us at all, but only those who fall into his comfort zone. There's something just wrong about that. Terribly wrong.
Let's hope this district wakes up and sends Tim Allison to Washington in Elton's place. In addition to being a Democrat, he's the kind of guy who actually listens to people without editing for skin color, accent, or the size of their wallet.