Update: District vendors donate $35K to Ravenswood school board race | News | Palo Alto Online |


Update: District vendors donate $35K to Ravenswood school board race

Three companies give to committee in support of incumbents

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Three companies currently engaged with the Ravenswood City School District -- a construction management company, architecture firm and utility construction company -- have made large donations to campaign committee formed to support three school board incumbents running for re-election.

Santa Ana-based SVA Architects and Los Angeles-based Telacu Construction Management each donated $15,000 in September to Parents for a Better Ravenswood City School District in Support of Pulido, Lopez, and Knight for School District Board 2018, campaign finance reports show. San Jose-based Lewis and Tibbitts, Inc. gave $5,000 on Oct. 8.

The committee's name refers to school board President Ana Pulido and members Marcelino Lopez and Charlie Mae Knight, whose terms expire in November.

The three companies are currently working with or have been recently engaged by Ravenswood. Telacu staff serve as the district's construction managers. The companies did not return requests for comment.

The district has paid SVA Architects about $706,000 through September and Telacu Construction Management, about $151,000, according to monthly vendor payments.

Recent work with SVA Architects includes a $271,500 contract, approved by the board in January, for new kindergarten classrooms, a playground and other improvements at Ronald McNair Academy; and a $9,500 contract, approved by the board in July, to replace kitchen hoods at Cesar Chavez/Ravenswood Middle School and Brentwood and Willow Oaks elementary schools.

The school board unanimously approved a $2.1 million bid from Lewis and Tibbitts in June for the McNair project, as well as about $604,500 in change orders last month. The district funded the work from the Measure H bond measure.

Adam Faville, territory manager for The Garland Company, a roofing and building company based in Ohio, contributed $1,000 to the campaign committee on Oct. 8, the campaign report shows.

Pulido said she is not involved with the campaign committee and has "never asked for contributions, nor will I, from any of the district's vendors, as I feel it is inappropriate."

"My campaign is self-financed and fueled by the community relationships that I have earned through my life as a resident of East Palo Alto and my service on multiple nonprofits in the community," she wrote in an email to the Weekly.

Political-contribution records available through the California secretary of state show that Telacu Construction Management frequently donates to candidates, political action committees and propositions throughout California, including Assembly and Senate candidates, the state superintendent race and the statewide Coalition for Adequate School Housing, which advocates for school facilities funding. Telacu Construction Management has contributed about $114,000 to candidates, ballot measures and committees since 2002.

Campaign contributions appear to be more unusual for SVA Architects, which has given about $12,000, the majority of it to the Coalition for Adequate School Housing Issues Committee in 2015, according to the Secretary of State database.

The Parents for a Better Ravenswood City School District committee was started by a group of parents and community members who "have witnessed firsthand the positive changes that have occurred at Ravenswood under the current leadership," parents Marco Duarte and Diego Barragan wrote in an email to the Weekly. Duarte has led two parent groups, the District Advisory Council and District English Learner Advisory Committee.

They believed opposition to Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff, voiced last year in protests and calls against renewing her contract, was solely to "embarrass the superintendent."

Duarte and Barragan expressed particular concern over Belle Haven Elementary School parents' decision last spring to keep students home from school in protest of the sudden transfer of their principal, Todd Gaviglio.

"To us, that was the tipping point because educational needs of students in our community were placed secondary over the needs of one person," Duarte and Barragan said. "That is not right."

The campaign committee's treasurer is Lucy Barron, who works in curriculum and instruction at the district office, campaign filings show. Barron did not grant an interview for this story.

In the most recent reporting period, the committee has spent more than $8,000 on mailers, banners, yard signs, door hangers and campaign consulting.

The three incumbents are competing against six challengers for three open seats on the school board: special-education administrator Brooke Crosby, nonprofit curriculum manager Stephanie Fitch, paraeducator Julian Garcia, teacher Laura Nunez, paraeducator and parent Nicole Sbragia and Tamara Sobomehin, who oversees development and strategy for youth technology nonprofit Streetcode Academy.

The majority of the candidates -- Crosby, Fitch, Garcia, Lopez, Knight, Sbragia and Pulido -- have signed forms stating they anticipated receiving and spending less than $2,000 for their campaigns.

A campaign committee formed by Sobomehin and Nunez, who are running on a slate together, has received just under $10,000 in contributions, including $2,000 from Sobomehin and $5,000 from Stephen Dow, general partner at Dow Venture Capital in Menlo Park.

Other donors include Larry Moody, an East Palo Alto city council member and former mayor ($100); Lara Sellers, director of major gifts and campaigns for Menlo School in Menlo Park ($100); and Karen Pace, a Redwood City School District teacher ($100).

Sobomehin and Nunez have spent about $2,000 on their campaign website, buttons, flyers and other elections paraphernalia, according to their finance report. They have accrued $2,470 in unpaid bills.

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33 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 10:20 am

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

This is an important story and a huge wake up if anyone doesn't think Ravenswood School Board needs dramatic change. The corruption implied in these donations is staggering.

19 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 10, 2018 at 10:26 am

Pulido is listing her signs say the same thing as knight, Lopez: paid by parents for a better..” bit now she wants to deny it, too late. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment.]

23 people like this
Posted by Machiavelli
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 10:40 am

This is a disgrace. Ana Maria Pulido, Marcelino Lopez and Dr. Knight have no shame! The mafia runned by the leadership at RCSD needs to go. This a perfect example of why.

23 people like this
Posted by EPA Kids Matter
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 10:47 am

Interesting that "[she] never asked for contributions" You may not have asked for them, but did you say no to the support? Because, where did they get those nice super high resolution pictures of you Ana? It's interesting that her campaign must be self-financed and that she can't find community members to support her. Tamara has already raised over $2K from COMMUNITY MEMBERS only...no corporations. Mark is correct about the corruption this implies! A DISTRICT EMPLOYEE, a parent (who is put on TV by the district and sent to conferences around the state by them), and campaign finance lawyer who has ties to Voler Strategic (the district PR firm) put this group together. If people don't think that Gloria Hernandez Goff didn't set this up with the cooperation of Pulido, Lopez, and Knight, then you place FAR too much faith in the district leadership.

22 people like this
Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 11:10 am

Campaign finance in this country is a mess. Maybe there is not much I can do about that at the national level, but in a small district like this, donations from individuals (as in unique human people, not the Supreme Court's outrageous definition) should be plenty to run a campaign. A school board candidate who accepts contributions from corporations does not get my vote. Fellow residents, it's on us not to vote for someone just because we saw their name plastered all over the place. Take advantage of the candidate interviews, forums, and reputable journalism to learn about each candidate.

12 people like this
Posted by Machiavelli
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 11:14 am

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment.]

26 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Woodside
on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:44 pm

It is truly a mafia. I’m glad and thankful to Elena who wrote the article and expose the truth. I have always been proud of the kind of articles Palo Alto weekly publish. Great job again. Now I hope that by knowing who our incumbents really are, we can make a better desicion when it comes to who they are voting for. st this point anybody besides the incumbents will do a better job. We need to take our district tack from Gloria, the Bonilla, Lucy, Duarte , lorena the curriculum and instruction, Sevilla the principal, the, incumbents, and whoever is involved in this corruption

10 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Sorry somehow when I picked my neighborhood I did not do it right or the computer did not took the one I picked.

17 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 4:11 pm

I have a child at Cesar Chavez and the middle school is a mess because it is under staffed. Students do not get the number of service minutes that their IEP says. The 3 incumbents can’t stop bragging about The Ravenswood Comphrensive Middle School; the name sounds so good but in reality it should be callled the joke middle school. Students get bullied every day. There are fights, students have brought knives and guns to school. There is not enough supervision during lunch and recess. The first day of school students showed up but there was no classroom list so students did not know where to go, and they were sent to the cafeteria. My child has special needs. He was piled in the back with other special need children and many of them to were crying. Last year, because the news were going to be there the administration prepared well for the first day to impress the public but now they have abandoned the students. There is a new principal who is also sick, and taking time off. They have not another principal like they did at Belle Haven like they did when they removed the principal. At that the time, the superintendent sent her friend Maria Sevilla to take over. Now, our student population is growing more than at Belle Haven and we don’t get a substitute principal for the days the principal is off work.

18 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 10, 2018 at 6:04 pm

It is a travesty that the school board members are more concerned about themselves than the students they serve. Lying on the record always comes out.... shame on them. Support new leadership for Ravenswood!

17 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Sharifa Wilson should be recalled immediately. She is also part of the corruption. People should be aware that Tamara and Regina have ties with Sharifa. They were celebrating their campaign canvassing on Facebook and Regina even called her “thank you mama Sharifa.” It already does not sound good. Anyone who has ties to the present board members are not good to get any seat. This is a big heads up, I hope we don’t make a mistake again.

19 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 6:59 pm

This news story is very disturbing. Pulido, Lopez, and Knight will go down as the worst elected officials in the history of the school district. They continue to spend our tax dollars on wasteful PR like Voler Strategic Advisors (Rolando Bonilla and Perla A. Rodriguez). This firm was brought in by Superintendent Gloria Hernandez Goff because they are her good friends: Web Link This firm is a scam and they are just collecting a paycheck.

The damage that this administration has caused our community is unforgivable. Thank you to the local paper for bringing this to the voters.

15 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 7:10 pm

Council candidate Regina Wallace Jones is not good for EPA. She’s out of touch with reality and does not belong in elected office. She may appear nice on paper but that does not mean she can be a good leader. I agree with comment above about her ties to Sharifa Wilson on the school board. That is not a good sign at all. Sharifa is corrupt and also needs to leave the board.

14 people like this
Posted by Not Believing Pulido
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 8:16 pm

How is Pulido raising campaign funds? She has not registered her own campaign committee with the county, as is required by law. The only registered committee supporting her is the one listed in this article!

8 people like this
Posted by Voter 2
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 9:35 pm

I was going to vote for Tamara and Regina, but I just went to Facebook and in fact there is a picture of Regina, Tamara and other people. They are celebrating the canvassing they did for the two candidates. Tamara had told innovate members that Sharifa was her neighbor but she did not have any relationship with her. Regina replied to Sharifa as posting saying “Thank you mama Sharifa.” If she considers herself to be her daughter she will follow her steps. None of those candidates are good for our school district or for our city. Tamara has not won yet and she is sure that Ms. Pulido will was going to win. Mr. Lopez might not win because he does not speak enough English to hold a conversation, and Dr. Knight does not live in East Palo Alto. Sharifa wanted to keep the two others on her side so they could get three votes [portion removed].

8 people like this
Posted by Bye, Pulido
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 10:00 pm

Pulido is a bad choice for school district. [Portion removed.] She’s not accessible as an elected. She refuses to meet with people, return phone calls, and emails. She also lacks social media presence. Let’s elect people who care about this community.

6 people like this
Posted by Ravenswood corruption
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 10:00 pm

[Portion removed.] They should be asked to resigned right now. And other people who are running could be appointed to be board members till we know who wins.

8 people like this
Posted by conerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 10, 2018 at 10:27 pm

I agree with anyone wanting to get rid of all incumbents including Sharifa Wilson she's the main culprit who fell in with Gloria Hernandez.
community look at all the bad things she has done since her arrival here at Ravenswood School District, she has not improved the kids education, opened a middle school without the community knowing about it. hiring her close friends and relatives this is absurd, she should be investigated
for all school funds she has spent on building the sheds where the washers and dryers went in.
the way Gloria works is build it now and ask later [portion removed].
to the people of all the community of Ravenswood City School District please wake up before we lose our district to the county and please do not support anyone that has any ties to Sharifa Wilson, she is bad news.
thank you and god bless.

7 people like this
Posted by conerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 10, 2018 at 11:00 pm

to the communities of Belle Haven and East Palo Alto if you vote for the incumbents say good bye to the kids education. you might as well home school them, you'll be better of.
it's a disgrace to see a board member who is president like Ana Pulido who was born and raised and elected by the community of East Palo Alto and not listen to her community and for her to vote to renew Glorias Hernandez contract. when the community
protested not to renew Glorias contract and Ana Pulido did anyway.

[Portion removed.]

13 people like this
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2018 at 11:42 pm

$30.000 can certainly buy lots of publicity. This explains the large number of fancy and expensive Campaign signs all over town of incumbents Ana Pulido, Marcelino Lopez and Charlie MAe Knight, last week the city of East Palo Alto woke up to a large number of professionally made full color cardboard expensive signs depicting the TRIO of incumbents running for re-election, but please don’t let fancy advertising fool you. The trio must go now!!! We must seize the opportunity to change leadership in our district. Charlie Knight running for re-election? Seriously? Ms. Knight is in her mid 90’s, it is clear that she does not have the cognitive capacity to serve as a public official any longer, she falls asleep during every board meeting ( the very few that she attends) the times that she seems to be awake it does not appear to have a clue of what’s going on or what topic is being discussed. In case you’re are wondering who would possibly benefit from having those three on board..., you guessed it, Gloria Hernandez. Accepting and using or allowing others to use improperly accepted contributions is wrong and it should NOT be tolerated. "Corruption no more."

11 people like this
Posted by #forwardtogether
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2018 at 11:04 am

I find it very sad that we have drifted so far from focusing on the issues.

“Mama” is a term of respect for age not position or political stance. I have one mother. And she is amazing. And, in many communities of color, “Mama” is a term of generational respect. I don’t call my
Mother “Mama”, I call her Mom. There is a huge difference between endearment, loyalty and respect, particularly when it comes to age.

I hope for our city that we elevate ourselves to the point where we are evaluating people for where they stand, for the lives that they live and for the expressions of enduring hope that we have for our community.

I believe I have addressed my affiliation with Sharifa in transparency. Like other past mayors and council members, I met with her to discuss her journey and to seek her early support. Tell me...have you seen any pictures of any other campaign kick-off parties? I can assure you that most candidates have had them...and yet...none of the details have been disclosed. At the moment, you likely don’t know anyone’s affiliations really. And yet, I have disclosed mine. What that means to me is that I have nothing to be afraid of. There is never fear in showing respect for someone’s age and experience....whether you agree with their political stance or not.

But one thing that I also note is that Sharifa and I are supporting different candidates for School Board. What this means to me is that I am independent enough to work across many leaders to get things done and also smart enough to develop my own ideas.

I am going to encourage us to keep it high and focus on the issues. When we think small, we become small. And I don’t know about you,.,but I want us to walk in our fullness as people, as a community and as a city.

You should vote for me if you want this too!

Keep following me on social media. Keep sharing the information that I am freely and transparently sharing. You drive more smart voters to make smart choices. I want that too!


8 people like this
Posted by Tamara Sobomehin
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2018 at 5:00 pm

I have no political affiliation with Sharifa. I’m not sure why someone would come to that conclusion because we were at the same community/campaign event for another person. There were tons of people at that event. Am I now connected to all of them as well?

Given all the organizations I have worked with in the city, I probably have been in a room or at an event with every candidate, organization leader, city/school board official, and city activist at some point or another. If you are actively involved in advocacy for residents here, I’m sure you have been in a room with tons of folks as well. This does not mean that we are aligned politically.

If I am elected to the school board, I will continue to be in several rooms with all kinds of people - folks I align with and those I do not.

I have been clear and honest about my agenda and my priorities. It’s your privilege to support whatever candidates you like. I know who I am and why I’m choosing to serve in this way and I encourage you to continue fighting for your priorities in truth and love.

I’m not usually on threads like these so I won’t see other messages. If you’d like to reach out to me personally to talk, please email me at my campaign page: www.rechargeravenswood.com.

7 people like this
Posted by 30+ years in EPA
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2018 at 6:39 pm

#forwardtogether needs to accept that associating with Sharifa Wilson is bad news. Wake up! My biggest concern with #forwardtogether candidate is that she doesn’t listen. “Asking for Sharifa’s support” was your first mistake. This tells me you are not for the people. We need change now. Show the voters that you can be different. We’re tired of the old guard corruption. This also includes all your pics with Council Member Larry Moody. Let’s not forget about his illegal vote in support of funding his wife’s employer and being over a year late on his mortgage payment for a Below Market Rate home provided to him by the City of EPA. Yup, all of this is online and was printed in papers all over the Bay Area. #forwardtogether does not have my vote.

3 people like this
Posted by conerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2018 at 10:57 pm

[Post removed; unsubstantiated allegation.]

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2018 at 10:30 am

[Post removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 19, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Don’t forget to vote it’s getting closer for Ana pulido to be out and Marcelino Lopez and knight they need to be replace I don’t know how Ana is working at Sequoia Districk [Portion removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by Shame
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2018 at 2:44 pm

Give me a break Palo Alto Online - your headline "District vendors raise $30,000 for Ravenswood school board race" is frankly a community disservice. Where is the actual investigative and community representative reporting any journalist would pride themselves on? Shame on this and shame on you.

What the headline should have been is "Pulido, Knight, Lopez campaign gets $30,0000 from RCSD Building Contractors." That would be if you ever wanted to investigate to another level or actually sell some newspapers.

Regardless, we are now up to $35,000 in corporate donations from three contractors located in Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and San Jose that have nothing to do with Ravenswood kids and they come into a campaign for three incumbents (Pulido, Knight, Lopez) whom have voted to approve their contracts in the past and all this into a school district where 80%+ of the students are considered low income and 40% are considered homeless. You really think any parent within the district can afford to fund some campaign like that?

Show your true journalistic ethic and show us the real story. By what means and why would any community member in Ravenswood spend $35,000 on a school board campaign? How is someone going to do that in a district where 80% of the kids are considered low income or underserved? Its from the building corporations that get millions from the bond campaign to rebuild the schools. Someone with $35,000 to spend should not spend it on a campaign, should spend it on the schools, but these corporations are earning way more than that from kickbacks from Pulido, Knight and Lopez anyway.

Shame on you. Shame on anyone representing our Ravenswood community this way. I hope Palo Alto Online can aspire to a higher standard of reporting.

1 person likes this
Posted by Shame
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2018 at 2:50 pm

And it is insulting that these stories would appear under the byline of "Issues outside of Palo Alto."

These are our kids. Yes, East Palo Alto but Palo Alto none the less. Does anyone really in Palo Alto or the United States want to consider these kids as "Issues outside of Palo Alto."

1 person likes this
Posted by Shame
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2018 at 6:53 pm

It is amazing and insulting at the same time that these political hijinks would occur right on our doorstep, effecting our kids, and very few notice.

I hope our community can be better than that!

Pulido, Knight and Lopez do not deserve to continue to get corporate paybacks to their campaign.

1 person likes this
Posted by Shame
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2018 at 7:21 pm

Pulido is lying. Here is her quote directly from this article -

Pulido said she is not involved with the campaign committee and has "never asked for contributions, nor will I, from any of the district's vendors, as I feel it is inappropriate."

"My campaign is self-financed and fueled by the community..."

Reality is $35,000 in corporate deals from Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and San Jose have fueled the campaigns of Pulido, Knight, and Lopez. Don't believe me? Here is a copy of the expenses of this campaign "of parents" that has paid for banners, yard signs, political consultants, data on you the voter, their campaign, etc. Show us the number of "parents" donating $35,000 let alone $25 to this reelection campaign. I pray to God the voters of East Palo Alto are not fooled. Our school board is showcasing a lie.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2018 at 10:46 am

Don’t forget to vote today is the date to do a cleanup at the District we need to remove all the The corrupt people from the district Pulido needs to go Marcelino López and Knight need to go to sequoia District open your eyes with Pulido being at your District not a good she is going to try to do the same thing she’s doing in Ravenswood

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