John Fullerton Is in the (Blogo-sphere) House

I of course join the Eureka Teacher’s Association and the Humboldt Democrats as a proud endorser of Lisa Ollivier.  In fact I put in a little time yesterday (not enough) canvassing my neighborhood for Lisa’s campaign.  It was the first time I had ever done this and was a great experience.  I hope we can start getting more people involved in this first hand, grassroots democracy.  It’s very rewarding.

With that disclosure, I am also a strong believer in public participation.  I think our side (progressives, liberals, Democrats, whatever) has an important message to deliver and we need to do as much as we can to get our message out there.  While I will probably disagree with John Fullerton on a bunch (not all, but a bunch), I DO appreciate his willingness to engage in the local blogs.  I have seen him on Fred’s blog (9/29 post on Eureka School Board) as well as Sohum Parlance.  I recommend you to both, especially his detailed posts on Sohum.

I don’t ding Lisa for not being as involved because a) I’m biased and b) I am very aware that working people (and parents) don’t have the time to be everywhere all the time – but I do hope she will join the fun.  It’s not going to decide the election, but I am a believer that the blogs and digital realm more generally are going to be increasingly important to elections.  Which I consider a great thing over the alternative (television campaign ads).


Also, rather than generating a new post for each update, I think I’m going to update this post (here not the comments) with my opinions on the daily opinion page talley for the TS.  I’m going to offer a judgment (as fair as possible) on their coverage of this election.




20 thoughts on “John Fullerton Is in the (Blogo-sphere) House

    1. I say yes. This is kinda my point. Partisan ship is not something to run away from. The dialog has to be improved, but partisanship is an innate aspect of elections. For some reason, and I have to research this, we as a state have decided we are going to declare our elections at and below county supervisors as non-partisan. That gives the party of money a huge advantage. John is a board member of one of the most partisan entities in our country, the Chamber of Commerce. I am sure he is privy to the same great sign locations other Republican or conservative members are in addition to the Republican databases and funding lists. (same as Lisa is as an endorsed Democrat).

      I think striving for non-partisanship is, well, odd. Is the presidential election any less important than the local school board? I understand the point you are making, but as someone who is living the partisan differences first hand on a local level, it just has to be done (and is being done). Whether we choose to participate as a group or not is on each of us.

      I would argue that the school boards are so important that they demand partisanship. Here is the internet’s definition of partisanship. “prejudice in favor of a particular cause; bias.” We are all prejudiced and biased, including on education. Unfortunately. You would think we would agree on what is best for our children but we don’t. (full disclosure I don’t have any children, but I don’t think that should mean.I’m not also desperately concerned about our educational system as well) Here are a few examples of policies that are well defined by politics…pay of our teachers, emphasis on vocational education, Common Core, vouchers, science/religion in classes, etc etc etc. It’s all there.

      The party system is a way to become involved. It IS very important for people who have interests that may not jibe with those members of our community that have the most influence by default. Whether that default is money, friends, standing, good looks, etc.

      I know it’s not a popular argument to make as we are afraid of further politicization of our class rooms. I don’t disagree. I want to have that buffer between electoral politics and the classroom, but we can’t put our heads in the sand either. (to borrow a phrase from another commenter and thread)

      I am doing my best to start a real discussion online (or anywhere) between the two candidates. I admittedly do not know, well, much to anything about the local election. I try to read everything I can, but I don’t feel particularly edified by what I have read. I ask the questions I know of and am otherwise dependent on our media and political system to elucidate the choice I will have to make on November 5th. The problem is, of course, that people are not engaged. That’s part of what I am trying to do, engage people again, and to do that, we need to have real discussions, and to do that we cannot extract politics from these discussions as there are real political issues to discuss to come to the best policy decisions.

      1. Jane says:

        While I think I understand your intent here. But I will disagree on political ideology issue. Oh and if the candidates have campaign managers or even family members assisting they are probably reading but not responding as of yet. When one puts things into written words it must be very carefully considered from so many angles. Just editing takes forever. And then it is still a risk. But I agree it would be nice.

        For myself I see the primary objective to be education. Education is a holistic thing which comes with learned skills and application of those skills. I also see it as a survival need. We educate our children so they will be better able to survive as adults and compete with other members of society, who will have similar abilities, in the future. Politicizing education is to remove a significant value of what is needed for that foundation. It makes it so that some special interest group with an agenda to be more politically powerful gets to decide which skill set the students need to have. That is compared to educators, professionals, making that decision based on about 70,000 dollars worth of training.

        The idea of education is not to induce indoctrination. It is to educate. That means to inform students of choices and ideas which exist in the world. It doesn’t mean to choose which ideas should exist or not. Parents have this job to pass onto their children the family choices. So putting in the politics is like micro-managing. It is doing two jobs while at the same time taking away a parental right to screw up their own kid (sorry, sarcasm slipped in there).

        I don’t want to pay taxes for someone to politically indoctrinate my kid. I’m fine with sensible community standards which are intuitively agreed upon (like do not kill, maim, bully, or do drugs) but these are in everyone’s common interest and are not some check mark on how to obtain more power politically than the next guy.

        1. Yes! and very well put, thank you. Especially for relating politics and indoctrination (and defining indoctrination). I do believe in politics in races. For reasons you mentioned it’s there. I think it’s useful and should be appreciated. From the other side of the School Board politics does not belong. That’s where (underpaid) professionals are doing their jobs. Truth is of course education is a topic of discussion. I don’t want to add to it, but I don’t think it should be ignored. I believe, through experiences like the Rush Limbaugh phenomena from 1985 to 2002 and, more recently, the Tea Party phenomena locally (think Smart Meters). If infotainment baloney isn’t addressed and dealt with, then more people are going to feel empowered to, well believe it. I am going to guess that a significant portion of Mr. Fullerton’s votes believes that Common Core is a plot to indoctrinate.

          I would like John Fullerton to address these things. I feel dirty bringing them up, especially in a School Board race, but they are important imho. I think I have and I’ve given him a chance to address them (not common core, but similar issues). I’ve noticed he has avoided answering most of my points (i.e. what party affiliation he has) but, I do appreciate his participation and feel I’ve had my say.

          The truth is Jane. I don’t know a lot about the School Board race and what it entails. I am doing the best I can to get the candidates to discuss it. Like you addressed, this is not always easy. It’s not easy when you have the weight of a campaign behind you. (and, btw, I don’t think John Fullerton is being especially candid either – he has his talking points down AND has experience to speak about) What I do know is how education is being politicized in the infotainment industry – from common core to school lunches to charter schools to voucher programs to evolution in science to teacher Unions to “government schools”. It’s political fodder which we have an insatiable appetite for because it involves what we cherish most.

          In all the cases I cite the message is basically the same, starve the beast of government and/or beware of the liberal indoctrination.

          The best conversation so far on Sohum with John has been about unions. When it comes down to it Jane, I think that’s why we only have one race. The real story here is how many races are going uncontested, IMHO. In all honesty, the political structure in this county is broken. By this I mean there are no people involved in politics or government.* We’ve all given up under the strain of the economy and a 35 year campaign to believe in the flag, but not our institutions, among other things. I think that conversation on Sohum is THE reason we have one race. Unions have limited money and have to choose their battles. This was the most important race to address.

          I’m not saying that this race is about teacher’s salary vs student’s programs as Mr. Fullerton would like to imply. However, I do believe that the unions happen to be the only viable institution that has the resources and network and GOTV to battle for small d democratic values. They are of course interested in teacher’s well being primarily, but a teacher’s well being happen’s to intersect quite well, imho, with the student’s and the societies well being. The truth is though, that they are our last best hope right now until we get the people back on board.

          * what I’m talking about is there are 135,000 people in this county and it takes me about three months to meet many or most of the active participants – at least on one side of the political spectrum. There aren’t many with the time/energy/funds to become involved.

          1. Jane says:

            Thank you for attempting to energize the process Jon. I think it is a good cause. I, for one, believe in standards because they ensure a commonality between all states. They also provide a commonality for educators to use. Still teachers deliver the nuances of the content. It is more the tonality of the mix of teachers in an education system which can politicize a school. Management can set up that culture and school boards can enforce it. But really students pick up their family’s political leanings. Having multiple teachers over a life time gives a fairly robust spectrum of ideology.

            Education of the public is a liberal progressive ideal in and of itself. But that doesn’t make it a liberal ideology. The point being that education must serve the long term needs of the community.

            Just my continuing thoughts on the politics: Conservatism would leave education to the market place. Meaning private business would move into the public education system (which is what we are seeing now). Those who can afford it get a better education and those who can’t afford it will get whatever the surrounding community can support at this point in time. If the community down the road can provide much better then our children enter the workforce with a disadvantage. We see this system in Africa. It services the business community needs to produce owners and workers. You don’t need a union to produce workers who can just read and write. You also don’t need standards. The idea of common standards ensures that the public has a fair and equal opportunity to be educated regardless of politics.

            Proposing a lack of standards is truly the risk. Candidates need to explain any comments on Union organization in the light that the Union helps to uniformly adopt and train teachers to deliver standards. (We already get the argument economics that government doesn’t want to pay long term benefits so to lower teacher’s wages and remove their economic power gutting unions is a good idea because it leaves the public school system open to having people not trained in education control it. Meaning politicize it). They also must explain any alternative they have for ensuring equal opportunity if they are opposed to standards. (Meaning that the candidate will be forced to expose that standards isn’t the problem they just don’t like “Those” standards. Which will politicize the candidate and expose them for being politicized.) So you can see why candidates may be slow to respond especially in writing. Many may not be prepared to reflect on such issues.

            The other topics: The board has approval over district textbooks and other things like that–we must ask what their policy is for adopting course materials will be and if they are willing to be wined and dined to choose a textbook series or if they will always opt for the low cost series. There is a distinction between the quality of education we give our students today and how well our community will be taken care of tomorrow. The investment isn’t one of just the moment. That kid in Kindergarten will likely be my physician when I am eighty and the child next to her may well be the mayor. If not then they might be running the local community services program. And ultimately, they will all be voters in their physical prime and will together be more politically represented in the future then I will be as an aged citizen no longer working. I want to see all those students well educated. I don’t want to hear about cheap textbooks and course materials. When the choice comes down to keeping the lawn green or buying good quality course materials that is as important as ensuring teachers are effective and compensated fairly for their educational needs, effectiveness, and time. That is what I want to know about how the candidates feel obliged.

            No politician, if you are indeed correct, is going to give up that information before they are elected. A person concerned about education and quality will deliver it however. We will see who answers that call this election round.

            By the way, there are no challengers because being in public office is a duty. The job sucks. The sane and reasonable stay away and just comment on blogs:)

          1. Jane says:

            Thanks for being thoughtful. But, nah, I am just a drive by hit and run kind of poster. Depends on how much writing time I have to spend on the computer or if I am in the field.

  1. To allow more voices at Sohum, I’ll answer some points over here.

    Here’s a quote from Fred.

    “Jon thinks being a Democrat by itself should qualify one for this school board seat because they supposedly share everyone’s values on pertinent issues. Ok. Then let’s deal with some issues. We’ve barely scratched the surface on issues, but it’s not because myself and John Fullerton haven’t tried to bring them up. Let’s hear from Olivier where she would have voted different than Fullerton.”

    No. She represents my values, (not everone’s). How do I know this? Endorsement by Eureka School Board Teacher’s Association for one (note I had School Board up for about 10 minutes. This is the second time I did this – oops) (HCDCC endorsement may seem too self serving – AND please note – I will probably disagree with the HCDCC endorsement going forward. If you have any imagination, you might be able to think of what I speak) (This is going to be interesting for me to see what happens to the two declared Democrats, one active in the HCDCC and one not who have endorsed John.) So, back to my point … in the plus side, she is endorsed by the Eureka Teacher’s Association. and b) John Fullerton is a member of the highly partisan Chamber of Commerce.

    OK, apparently your issues count as issues but mine don’t. I’ll acknowledge that this is not as important as policies directly affecting the students, but I do feel it’s significant. Specifically the use of public School Board funds to advertise on KINS specifically. KINS hosts hosts like Rush and Sean who have an agenda (largely shared by the national Chamber of Commerce btw) of maximizing the private share of the economy at the expense of public institutions. While the inverse is not true, I do believe there should be a strong private sector, I also believe in a strong public sector. Including a public education system that offers a world-class education to all of our students. One that is not gutted by allowing for vouchers and one that always has the student’s best interests at heart.

    I realize that is an off-the-wall topic, but it’s one I am concerned about. I do hope other’s will bring up other topics too.

    More from Fred…

    “I’d like to think most that will vote will vote for the candidate who reflects their feelings regarding how schools should be run, and not simply want to put a stuffed shirt on the board just because of their political party.”

    Nice try, where are the issues in that statement? I’ve linked to Lisa’s policy statement linked to the Humboldt Democrat’s endorsement page. I wish I had a recording of the two times she addressed the HCDCC recently because she was great.

  3. Even more from Fred…

    “I feel safe in saying that the average person that pays attention to local politics would prefer local races deal with issues, not political parties. Plus, many people might personally know the candidate in question and that leaves political parties out of the picture.”

    I agree with you. a) personal connections do effect one’s choice. I think this is obvious to anyone paying attention to Eureka/Humboldt politics. b) Red Herring alert. We are not talking about parties, we are talking about issues, public policy. ie budgets, teacher’s compensation, course curricula, etc. Political endorsements aid in establishing a candidate’s values. Not everyone has as much time as you and I do to dialog with the candidate.

  4. Finally, Fred, some thoughts about participation online. You and John are having fun calling out Lisa for not joining this online dialog. Perhaps I would be doing the same, I really don’t think so unless it was someone like you Fred or Matthew Owen who has already established an online presence and persona. Online conversations are still foreign and intimidating to most. They were to me just until a few months ago.

    Running for office is difficult. I believe 2 Eureka School Board offices went unchallenged. This is a tragedy in my book. It represents a lack of interest in politics and the policies politics cover. It also probably represents a hollowing of the fabric of our society. There are fewer people with the time or interest to put their valuable time into public organizations. Think about it, there are 135,000 people in this county. Only a handful or these have the time/interest/or energy to become active in the slightest of ways other than voting and then only a tiny subset of that group has the qualifications/guts/ or lack of self preservation (KIDDING!) to run for office. So I’m going to be a little lax on Lisa because I know she is an awesome candidate and I’m also pretty sure this is the first time she his crossing the line to try to run for office. I think that in itself speaks the world of her (and John Fullerton, btw). Congrats to the both of them on their will to take on us demos and run for one of the many thankless elected official positions in our county.

  5. pamsistrom says:

    Dear John, I am having a hard time just posting a short comment to these postings from you that come to my e-mail. They put me through endless password and user name loops that I wind up giving up. Is there a simple answer. Yes, Pam… You are old and slow….I know, I know, but really, any tips?

    1. Hi Pam! hmmm? I am having the same problem with Fred’s blog. I don’t know. I in that old and slow camp myself. I seem to be approved in the WordPress blog universe. So if I enter my blog or Sohum Parlance, I can comment or post without entering my password. (once every two weeks or so it will boot me out to make sure I’m still me). The same is true for the Disqus commenting universe that Lost Coast has. So by whatever means I get there, whether it’s email or linking or Google search I don’t have a problem signing in as I already am. Sooooo, here is my suggestion, next time you do make it all the way through, see if there is a box that says “remember me” or something like that. If you feel comfortable clicking that (ie you are the only one using your computer or you know and trust the others that do) that may mean that you don’t have to sign in each time. But I am definitely not an expert in this as I’m learning on the fly myself. BTW, I am a little embarrassed to think that you get an email for every comment. SORRY, I don’t mean to spam your in box! There is a way to select only the posts if you choose to go that route. Unfortunately, again, I would not be able to walk you through that as my experience will be a little different than yours (and I’m still learning).

      So, short answer, simple answer may be clicking on that “remember me” button when you do sign up. Hope it is!

      Thanks for participating! Jon

  6. Here’s more evidence that non-partisan positions are not a-political. From the Humboldt Republican website that I only just now thought to check out.

    “We are here to help Republican candidates get elected. We volunteer our time and efforts to find, promote and support Republican candidates for partisan and non-partisan offices. While we do NOT endorse issues or candidates in contested primary elections, we are here to offer assistance and advice.”

    BTW, John Fullerton did not mention in his reply to me if he was a Republican or not. I feel an (R) behind your name rightly or wrongly costs you about 10 to 15 points in an election (total guesstimate). That’s why we Democrats are so popular right now. It’s also why I do respect those that are proud Republicans. I also do believe in the necessity of a strong two party political system. (actually I would prefer a legitimate parliamentary or electoral system allowing multiple parties but that is not currently an option).

    Fun fact from the local Republican Website. Apparently the Republicans find John McAfee to be a credible source. This * is only alleged (ie not established fact), but this is some crazy alleged history Mr. McAfee has dogging himself right now.


    1. Jane says:

      Nothing is a-political. Two flies get together on a wall and there is a political agenda.

      The point isn’t that we can make things a-political it is that we work together to always strive towards being a-political as possible. The world isn’t cut in black and white. It has many shades of color including a lot of gray areas. When we say that something can’t be completely one way or another that doesn’t validate the other end of the spectrum. It means there cannot be any absolute final result.

      I find Americans have a very hard time grasping there isn’t just two choices–either/or.

      1. Jane thanks. You’ve hit on one of my stupid ideas right now. Of course you are right, there are not just two choices. But in politics, the way things are set up there is a case that says that many decisions are made in a binary fashion. Elections, yea or nay votes. Of course there is a bunch of work done in between the electoral votes and the legislative votes by staff etc. But in a very real sense, it’s kinda a binary system. Isn’t it? It’s just a pet theory of mine and something I’m thinking about.

        1. Jane says:

          It is binary indoctrination. Systems are set up for the ease of administrators. The set-up should always be questioned. The idea is to produce the objective. Don’t let the administrators take away all your choices because it is easier for them to just hand you a “yes” or “no” / “right” or “left” vote. Democracies are messy because all choices should be on the table.

  7. I won’t allow myself to dominate the comment discussion at Sohum. I don’t think it would be fair to Mr. Fullerton or other commenter’s so I am responding to comments about me here.

    Here is JW’s comment.

    “Interesting that democratjon always blames Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh for everything, even local issues. But it’s been a while since he blamed George Bush. He must be slipping, or just leaving that up to his buddy Mitch.”

    JW. Admittedly, Glenn Beck is a stretch, he is no longer broadcast locally. But he is accessible online. Rush is broadcast 3 hours a day 5 times a week. That’s pretty significant. There is a reason Eureka City Schools under John’s tenure advertises on KINS among many others mostly private organizations (but including the stealth conservative political group “Sunshine for Humboldt” I’m guessing is disguising itself as a 501 C4 social welfare organization for tax purposes) We hear from Rush infinitely more than any elected official of ours. It’s a shame and one I’m working to correct. We need a new dialog, nationally and locally. The disaster that is currently occurring in Washington is a direct result of the conservative base as represented and encouraged by Glenn and Rush. Just listen to their praise for Senator Ted Cruz if you have any question of this.

    501 (C)(4)

    501(c)(4) organizations are generally civic leagues and other corporations operated exclusively for the promotion of “social welfare”, such as civics and civics issues, or local associations of employees with membership limited to a designated company or people in a particular municipality or neighborhood, and with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.[41] An organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting the common good and general welfare of the people of the community.[37][42]

  8. John Fullerton says:

    Jon, I find it sad that you not only endorse my opponent but even went door to door for her only because she is a Democrat. You know next to nothing about her and nothing about what she plans to do differently because she refuses to engage in any debate.

    Then you state you only need to know the teacher’s union has endorsed her. Aren’t you even curious as to why? Aren’t you even curious as to why over a dozen teachers have endorsed me and that I grew up in a family of teachers?

    An informed public depends on a curious public, not one voting only on a partisan basis.

    I have a track record and the last two years as board president has been two of the most successful years for the Eureka School district in decades. I answer questions, I engage in debate. I am frustrated by my opponents silence. It seems she is content to sit back & let the teacher’s union buy the seat for her.

  9. Good Morning John, thanks for commenting!

    Hope the tax season treated you well, congrats on getting though the busy season.

    ” I find it sad that you not only endorse my opponent but even went door to door for her only because she is a Democrat.”

    That is unfair to say and untrue. (btw you are right, I proudly went door to door for Lisa and made calls) I think I’ve stated some of the reasons I’m voting for her on Fred’s blog under this topic (toward the end of my comment – the comment also has political stuff, but the policy stuff is there as well) I’m also working on a day-by-day review of the TS coverage so far and I think as much as your side would like to present the opinion that our side is all about partisanship and your side is above it all, our side has presented many reasons to vote for her including her active role in her local community, the loss in education infrastructure in the West side of Eureka despite ballot measures that were meant to fund the entire district, including the West side. They’ve also listed reasons to vote against you, which out of hospitality, good will, and a appreciation for your participation I won’t bring up now.

    And yes, I said “side”. Even if you disagree with “sides” from a partisan perspective, there is a group of individuals, some of whom think your vision for a Eureka School Board is best for our children, and others that think Lisa’s vision for a Eureka School Board are better for our children. It’s short hand. In the end, we all know and all want what is best for our children. Elections and partisanship and “sides” is just how we work together to promote the values we believe in.

    And yes (again), the values I believe in includes those shared by the ETA.

    “she refuses to engage in any debate.”

    We both know and I think I’ve commented publicly that I have not been able to convince Lisa or her team to comment on this little blog. I feel it’s unfair to extrapolate that to say “she refuses to engage in any debate”, unless you have further information I am not privy too. I need to again state that I don’t blame her, you must know how unfair and mean spirited the internets can be. They have obviously made a risk assessment of an online conversation with you on this blog or Sohum we were both advocating and come to the conclusion that the risks outweigh the rewards. I agree with you that this decision is a mistake, but I don’t blame think it is an unwarranted decision.

    So by the end of the week, maybe as soon as tomorrow, I will be posting my review of the TS. I’d be interested in your input. I’ll give you a spoiler alert – so far, as I’ve been trying to quantify the “fairness” of the coverage, I think Lisa has had more than her share of letters. However, I also think that your letters have been more effective, because they are playing the partisan game while feigning non-partisanship. Your proponents are very effective at going after our citizen’s sense of fair play, while not playing fair (imho). (ie, being partisan in their pretense of being a-political) You know and I know every elected position has political issues. Both of us also know, that once elected, the official needs to govern as a-politically as possible toward what is best for their constituents.

    My 2 cents. Thanks again for your comments and good luck out there.

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