Corruption Adjacent Or Fully Immersed?
The indictment of Mark Ridley-Thomas is just the latest scandal to plague the LA City Council and supporters of the charter school industry.
“There is no compromise when it comes to corruption. You have to fight it.”
- A. K. Antony
The roots of corruption within the Los Angeles City Council were publicly exposed just after the primary election in March 2020 with the release of an indictment against Mitchell Englander. The charges against the former CD12 City Councilman were centered around a night of debauchery in Las Vegas paid for by a developer “seeking to increase his business opportunities in the City.” Englander’s Chief of Staff and eventual successor, John Lee, accompanied him on the trip and is widely thought to be the “City Staffer B” who obstructed justice when the two found out that their trip to Vegas was being investigated.
Later in the year, Englander’s former colleague, Jose Huizar, was also arrested. The charges against him included an accusation that he accepted “$1.5 million in bribes from developers in exchange for his support of downtown building projects.”
The Charter School Industry has also been racked with corruption scandals within the past several years. In 2016, El Camino Real Charter High School’s principal was caught charging personal expenses to his school-issued credit card. The founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Celerity charter schools pleaded guilty to engaging in a “scheme to misappropriate approximately $2.5 million of public education funds.” An executive at the Community Preparatory Academy charter school embezzled $3.1 million. LAUSD Board Member Ref Rodriguez, who had been elected with financial support from the political arm of the California Charter School Association, was forced from office after pleading guilty to conspiracy in a felonious scheme to launder money “to further his 2015 campaign for a seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.”