Head of Burbank teachers union clashes with Assemblyman Mike Gatto
A vote on delegates to the Democratic State Convention has led to some acrimony, with the head of the Burbank teachers union accusing Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silverlake) of using heavy-handed tactics to win.
A slate of candidates endorsed by Gatto to serve as delegates from his Assembly district to the convention won Monday after the leader of a competing slate of candidates was a no-show.
Lori Adams, president of the Burbank Teachers Assn. and one of the candidates on the competing slate, cried foul. "There was no need to use the intimidation and threats that you used toward the leader of our slate and endorsed school board candidate, Steve Ferguson, in order to eliminate our slate altogether," Adams wrote in a letter to Gatto. "I find this action to be contrary to our democratic principles."
Adams sent copies of her letter to a who’s who of teachers union leaders, including California Teachers Assn. President Dean Vogel and United Teachers of Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher. Ferguson, a candidate for the Burbank school board, said the threat was "implied but clear'' that Gatto would work to try to take away a key endorsement if Ferguson challenged his slate of delegates, so Ferguson skipped the meeting. "It was a headache I didn't want to deal with,'' Ferguson said.
Gatto denied threatening to get an endorsement pulled if Ferguson showed up. He said he talked to Ferguson only about collaborating. Adams' letter "struck me as an attempt to explain a poor showing," Gatto said. A political aide, Stacey Brenner, said she was in the car with Gatto during his call to Ferguson and only heard "a few questions regarding his previous promises of cooperation,'' no "threats.''
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Assemblyman Mike
Gatto, center. Credit: Rich
Pedroncelli / Associated Press