Is A Special Election Worth it?
In light of the verified petition, Minh Ngo lost his board seat, after having served for just under two months. Right after that happened, though, Ngo wasted no time. On Tuesday, October 14, Ngo announced on Facebook that he had stopped by the ROV to file his Candidate Intention Statement for the Board seat that he had been appointed to just several weeks prior.
Whoever fills the Board seat in March will only get to serve in that seat until November, 2020. In the end, that will amount to eight months of service.
Some vocal members of the community believe that $105,000 is a high price to pay for a Special Election that will merely result in an individual occupying a seat for less than a year.
Chia-Ling Kong herself, a couple days after Ngo was appointed, said that she believed that money going toward a special election would not be “well spent.”
“I know this time around they do not want to spend money on a special election because it’s going to cost the district money,” said Kong. “And money that’s probably not well spent, just for a year of service.”
One of the candidates, who was part of the interview process, feels the same way.
His name is William Lam. A 30-year Milpitas resident who is going into his second year as President of MUSD’s Community Board Advisory Council (CBAC), Lam doesn’t think it’s worth it for him to run for the Special Election. “It’s not worth anyone’s time. It’s kind of a shame there will be a Special Election in March, which is only good for several months. In general, it doesn’t make sense to me to waste school funds for that election. It’s kind of unfortunate that one group felt strongly about the appointee…” said Lam.
The Better Milpitas group, to which Lam is referring, was highly vocal about their disappointment in the appointment process. They initially published questionable information about the school board appointment issue on their BetterMilpitas.org website, and even included a disclaimer urging people not to believe everything on the site, and to do their own research. The disclaimer reads:
Disclosure:The accuracy of this website is not guaranteed! Please do your own research and take your own responsibility to any action.
Individuals from Better Milpitas attended board meetings after the appointment to express their disapproval of the selection process. The group also put together a controversial flyer full of misinformation about MUSD and the board appointment issue, which went up on their website. The flyer, which was written in Chinese, was full of many inaccurate assertions, and some in the community fear that the spread of false information might have led to the procurement of a number of petition signatures.
One of the statements on the flyer focused on the scoring system that board members used in the appointment process, and mentioned that the highest score was ensured the win. However, although Ling did have the highest score, Superintendent Jordan clearly stated at the top of the meeting that after the scoring, Board Members would get a chance to vote. This is in alignment with the Board Bylaws, mentioned earlier in the article, which state that Board Members must vote, in the end, to decide whom they wish to fill the seat.
Another inaccuracy on the flyer: The Better Milpitas group wrote that modernization in the school district (they didn’t mention exactly which schools) was costing $3 billion, and that all of the money was being mismanaged. However, they seemed to pull the $3 billion figure out of thin air. Also, a Citizens Bond Oversight Committee exists to monitor funds and look at how all monies get spent.
When The Beat asked Chia-Ling Kong about the Better Milpitas flyer and all its inaccuracies, she had this to say:
“I’ve never approved of this material. So there is a lot of misrepresentation out there in the community. But at the same time, it is written from people’s perspectives. It’s the opinion of someone. There’s no name attached to it, so we don’t know where it came from. But it’s not my opinion.”
She mentioned that she’s unsure of who exactly created the petition, though she indicated she did know people from the Better Milpitas group, but is not herself a part of it.
“The petition was not distributed based on the flyer. The petition was distributed by people who had their reasons for distributing it,” added Kong. “Whoever did this should take responsibility. I do not agree with a lot of the messaging that was used. It’s not true.”
A few of the individuals who gathered signatures on the petition told The Beat that they did not use the flyers.
When The Milpitas Beat tried to find out who the flyer’s actual creator was, we were met with resistance. Nobody wanted to take credit for it. In fact, not only did nobody want to take credit for it, but nobody even wanted to admit that they were a part of Better Milpitas.
Just about everyone interviewed by The Beat, who was associated with the petition, said they were not affiliated with Better Milpitas, leaving the net impression that the group, though real and active, is a phantom.
Moreover, in all The Beat’s many interviews with people involved in this issue, nobody was willing to even utter the name of a Better Milpitas representative, and some even denied the very existence of the group, saying that it had no formal structure and was simply comprised of concerned citizens who care about Milpitas.