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“President Trump’s proposed budget is an out and out theft from the least of us to give to those with the most.” That is Bay Area Democrat Delaine Eastin in the April 5 San Jose Mercury News. The piece notes that Eastin is a candidate for governor and a former state education superintendent but says nothing of her record in that powerful post. On Eastin’s watch from 1995 to 2003 the state was funding an interlocking directorate of “Community Based Organizations.” The CBOs, in turn, were to use the money for citizenship classes and English language instruction for immigrant children. Instead CBO bosses were spending it on political activism, the purchase of new homes, and luxury items such as Mercedes-Benz automobiles and jewelry. The CBO that got the most, some $7 million, was Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, founded by Bert Corona, a Communist Party activist going back to the 1930s.
When state auditors Robert Cervantes and James Lindberg began investigating the CBOs, Corona complained to Delaine Eastin. She did not put a stop to the massive fraud and theft of public funds. Instead she reprimanded and demoted the whistleblowers, who were also on the receiving end of threats from Corona, a Stalinist with a record of violence. The whistleblowers took legal action and the state wasted more taxpayer dollars defending Eastin. Cervantes got his job back plus a monetary settlement. In 2002, a jury awarded Mr. Lindberg $4.5 million and held Delaine Eastin personally liable for nearly $1.4 million in non-economic damages and $150,000 in punitive damages because she had “acted with malice” toward him. The award was reduced to $4 million and Eastin’s punitive damages dropped, but by then the damage had been done.
“Taxpayers’ money was ripped off, and politicians were at least compliant, if not complicit,” wrote Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee. “Those who tried to set things right were punished and the taxpayers were tapped again to compensate them. Finally, taxpayers’ money meant to educate children is, instead, being spent to fight a whistle-blower. What’s wrong with this picture? Everything.”
During the campaign for governor, parents, students and taxpayers alike should monitor how much Eastin’s record comes into play. To paraphrase Milan Kundera, the triumph of accountability over government corruption is the triumph of memory over forgetting.