The swearing in of the two new Capistrano Unified School District Trustees remained a pretty professional affair Tuesday night, although there were a lot of celebratory smiles in the audience. It was the first time in years folks could applaud without a trustee sternly reminding them to wave their hands as a silent show of support.
Trustee Ellen Addonizio swore in Capistrano resident Sue Palazzo and Aliso Viejo resident Ken Maddox -- a former state assemblyman who took his oath with his young son at his side. The new board then picked Addonizio as its president.
She bumps Mike Darnold from the board president's chair. There was a very funny moment when district employees tried to remove Darnold's nameplate from the slot in front of the president's chair. It wouldn't budge, leading to chuckles in the audience that Darnold, who repeatedly has dimissed district criticism as lies coming from a vocal minority, supported by a media that prints lies, had glued his name in place.
Darnold and Duane Stiff, the now-senior trustees and part of a former CUSD era that saw its longtime superintendent indicted and numerous violations of the state open-meeting law (cited by the District Attorney), weren't at the meeting. They were on previously scheduled vacations, as was new Superintendent A. Woodrow Carter.
Marlene Draper and Shiela Benecke, who served 20 and 16 years, weren't there either, but no one expected them to show. I saw a few people who opposed the recall in the audience, but none of them addressed the board. They have a concern that recall people complained the former board was too tight, too single-thought, but we now have a board where five candidates were hand-picked and supported by the CUSD Recall Committee.
The board on Tuesday didn't rub in the new majority too much, but did say this was a new era, dedicated to openness, honesty, integrity, quality education and fiscal responsibility.
I don't think things will settle down, now even three or four years after the first recall attempt. The two newest trustees are up for re-election in November, and Darnold and Stiff are, too. They've never faced the voters (after six years -- they were appointed and then reappointed when no one ran against them) and I'm not sure they'll decide this is the first time to go out and try and raise money and campaign. Especially since they were part of a solid board majority a week ago and are now a 5-2 minority.
It was interesting, too, that the old-guard supporters didn't put anyone up to run against Palazzo, who was in Draper's trustee area for the recall. I think they didn't want to give the impression they were running against Draper, but it left Palazzo unchallenged when the recall passed by 70 percent. The period to start pulling candidate papers starts in a couple of weeks, though, so stay tuned.
One change I'd like to see: Getting rid of that huge clock that counts down each speaker's three minutes. As someone who virtually attends meetings for a living, I'm a big supporter of the three-minute limit (my favorite cities even limit the time the elects can speak!) but the big timer in CUSD headquarters reminds me of the doomsday clock, with a big-brotherish air.
The district's news release about Tuesday's swearing in is at www.thecapistranodispatch.com We'll post a recording of the meeting there soon, too.