Statement About Brackpool, Cadiz Inc. Campaign Donation

Speaking to a group of environmental activists recently, LAUSD School Board Member Scott Schmerelson pointed out that his opponent had solicited and accepted a very generous campaign contribution from Keith Brackpool, founder of Cadiz, Inc. Brackpool is a notorious felon and longtime proponent of a plan to pump groundwater out of the Mojave Desert and deliver it via a 35-mile pipeline to the Colorado Aqueduct despite studies showing that Cadiz was planning to extract more underground water than could be naturally replenished, horrifying environmentalists with regard to the ecological impact of a pipeline stretching for miles across the desert.

Scott called on his opponent to reject money from Brackpool and any other donors with ties to Mercury Public Affairs, a corrupt lobbying firm implicated by Robert Mueller in the Paul Manafort indictment as being complicit in a scheme to hide foreign influence pedaling.

“My opponent appears to care very little about who donates to her campaign,” said Schmerelson, a former longtime teacher and school principal who is seeking re-election. “Keith Brackpool, whose Cadiz company sought to drain the water table in the Coachella Valley for its own commercial purposes and has consistently supported developer’s interests over the good of the environment, is now surprisingly interested in a school board race in a country where he is not even eligible to vote. We need to question why that is.”

In 1983, Brackpool was convicted of criminal charges related to securities trading in his native England before moving to the United States and founding Cadiz. Then in 1991, Brackpool was forced to resign his post as chief executive in North America for the Albert Fisher Group, a highflying British food company whose chairman had hand-picked him for the job. The resignation was the direct result of Brackpool’s personal dealings with Polly Peck, a British conglomerate that had imploded in a spectacular accounting scandal resembling the Enron Corporation fiasco.

“We should be very skeptical about convicted white collar criminals bankrolling school board candidates with toxic profits from promoting anti-environmental policies,” stated Board Member Schmerelson. “LA Unified is the largest school district in the country with an elected Board. We are committed to preparing our students to be college and career ready. But our children are telling us that all the preparation in the world will be meaningless if we are unable and unwilling to transform our energy systems to avoid the frightening reality that we are rapidly, and perhaps irreversibly, destroying the health of the planet that they will inherit.

Scott Schmerelson, in collaboration with students and climate change activists, introduced and unanimously passed an historic policy initiative entitled, Transitioning Los Angeles Unified School District to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy Resulting in Healthier Students and MoreSustainable, Equitable Communities. This resolution instructed the LAUSD District Facilities leadership team to convene and oversee a task force consisting of renewable energy experts, representatives of local utilities, clean energy advocates, students, parents, teachers and our labor partners to begin a planning process that commits to the goals of achieving 100 percent clean, renewable energy in its electricity sector by 2030 and in all energy sectors, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), cooking, and transportation, by 2040.

“I am humbled by how much I have learned from our students about their hopes and fears for the future of our planet,” concluded the Board Member. am proud of my record on fighting for environmental justice and I challenge my opponent to reconsider soliciting campaign donations from individuals like Keith Brackpool who view droughts, water shortages and other consequences of climate change as merely great opportunities for investors to profit.”

Lies, Billionaires and Democracy

Once again, the billionaires such as the owners of Netflix and Walmart, who are financing Scott’s opponent’s campaign, are running a vicious campaign of lies and distortions. Perhaps it is because they believe this is the only way to beat a candidate who has as strong a record as Board Member Scott Schmerelson.

They can’t run against his formidable experience in the District, and the endorsements of so many elected officials, parents and employee associations, the los Angeles Times, the Democratic Party and advocacy organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project.

Please ask yourself, why do these unimaginably wealthy individuals want to control the LA Unified School Board?

Is it just because they can?

Do they have so little respect for the one person, one vote bedrock of democracy, that they can spend literally millions of dollars on a single school board race when millions of dollars is merely loose change for them?

Or…is it because they are totally aligned with the Trump/DeVos narrative about “failing government schools” and the need to privatize public education like fast food franchises?

Still, undermining democratic local elections is not enough for these rich out-of-state tycoons. They still need the lies and misinformation to win.

Sound familiar?

For example, they scream that he tripled his compensation as a school board member.

A quick glance at Section 804 of the Los Angeles City Charter describes the process whereby Board Member salaries are set every five years by an independent Compensation Committee appointed (mayors, and other elected officials) by the mayor of L.A., the mayors of other incorporated cities in the district, the President of the L.A. City Council and the Chair of the County Board of Supervisors.

The same duplicity can be said about almost every assertion in the rich guys’ mailers including a recent one proclaiming that his opponent is endorsed by Arne Duncan. Check out her endorsement list for the accuracy of that statement!

We could spend a lot of time correcting all the lies. We even have a section on the campaign website to correct the lies.

Still, the money and the lies are not enough. His opponent’s supporters have gone even farther with hateful and anti-Semitic campaign literature (as covered by the LA Times), something we never dreamed would be acceptable in 2020 America.

At a time like this, when the level of debate has reached unprecedented levels of incivility, those who seek to lead our public schools must remember this: our children are watching.

To represent our communities, we must lead with truth, respect for our democratic institutions and norms and, most importantly, with empathy and kindness.

This is why we are asking for your help.

Please attend campaign forums. Talk to teachers, friends and family that you trust and who are familiar with the record of the candidates. Go to the candidates’ campaign websites.

A democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to prosper.

Those who fill the airwaves and mail boxes with lies and hateful messages are betting that voters will not conduct their own research.

Let’s prove them wrong.

Let’s not get fooled by the Big Lies.

Lastly, please volunteer to help me reach out to voters, to donate what you can afford – even small amounts are appreciated – and to Vote on November 3rd!

Network for Public Education Action endorses Scott Schmerelson

The Network for Public Education Action is pleased to endorse Scott Mark Schmerelson for Los Angeles Unified School District, Board District 3. Scott was elected to this position in 2015 after he beat a two-term incumbent. Scott’s strength has been to inform all his policy decisions on how instruction and operations impact each of LAUSD’s unique school communities. He has worked hard to make meeting the needs of Special Education and English Language Learners a priority of LAUSD. Scott tells NPE Action that he “will continue to support policies that promote social, economic, and environmental justice for our children’s future.”

Scott has served the children of LAUSD for over four decades. He has lived in the District that he represents for 31 years. Scott’s constituents know him as a retired educator who is committed to the LAUSD community. He is known for his efforts in fighting privatization and outsourcing. His opponent in the race is Marilyn Koziatek, a charter high school employee and a charter school advocate. The California Charter School Association and their related political network have funneled money to Koziatek’s campaign directly and through independent expenditures – about $3 million in the primary from donors such Reed Hastings and the Walton family.  

Scott told NPE Action that his top priority is “Continuing to fight for fair and adequate funding for public schools in Los Angeles and against privatization and outsourcing of traditional education programs and services. “

Scott’s positions on testing, charters, and vouchers are all in line with those of NPE Action. “I stand steadfastly against the use of public, taxpayer money financing private schools.”

Scott is an outstanding candidate and friend of public education. We urge voters in District 3 to cast their vote for Scott in the general election on November 3, 2020.

You can post this endorsement using this link: https://npeaction.org/scott-mark-schmerelson/

Scott Schmerelson receives endorsement from Southern California Armenian Democrats (SCAD)

On Thursday, January 27, 2020. After a careful evaluation and consideration, The Southern California Armenian Democrats (SCAD) are proud and honored to endorse Scott Schmerelson’s re-election for Los Angeles Unified School Board, District 3.

SCAD is proud to join the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and numerous Democratic Clubs in endorsing Scott Schmerelson’s re-election to the LAUSD School Board, District 3.  Scott has been a good friend of the Armenian Community and a proven advocate for all children and our public schools.

Southern California Armenian Democrats (SCAD) is the first and the largest regional Armenian- American Democratic Club in Southern California. SCAD’s goals are to represent the collective Armenian-American viewpoint on matters and policies of the Democratic Party, increase and strengthen the number of Armenian-American Democrats, influence and guide California State policy on matters of interest to the Armenian-American community, promote the election of Armenian-American Democrats to political offices, and maintain the viability of our free institutions.

Sierra Club recognizes Scott’s leadership in environmental matters by endorsing him!


Scott’s success is passing the Clean Energy resolution was evidence of his commitment to making sure our schools are strong stewards of the environment. As this LAist article reported, Scott’s resolution represented “an aggressive set of goals that would ultimately wean the nation’s second-largest school district off of all non-renewable energy sources by 2040. And that’s only the long-term goal.” They said that “You might call it LAUSD’s own “Green New Deal” as it commits LAUSD to rely exclusively on clean sources of electricity by an even earlier deadline: 2030.

Los Angeles Times endorses Scott Schmerelson

Schmerelson, an incumbent who is strongly allied with the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has been the most vocally hostile to Beutner and to the growth of charter schools in the district. Yet he is not so rigid in practice, and, to his credit, has actually voted to approve many charters.

Schmerelson shows a dismaying tendency to think narrowly about his own district, which covers the West San Fernando Valley, rather than the students of L.A. Unified as a whole. Asked why there were so few magnet schools in South Los Angeles and other areas of the district where the need is high, he replied that it was up to individual board members to ask for these programs in their district.

Not quite. While board members have a particular obligation to their own districts, it is their responsibility to consider the fair allocation of resources to all students.

But Schmerelson is a stronger candidate than either of his challengers.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD endorses Scott Schmerelson!

I am truly honored to be the candidate, in the race for LAUSD Board District 3, to be endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County Action Fund. At a time when reproductive rights and women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health services are under attack, I am proud to stand with the Advocacy Project and their efforts to make sure that all women, especially low-income Californians, are able to take advantage of the health and family planning services relied on by so many LAUSD families and community members.