Today I want to talk a little bit about CVUSD school board trustee Sandee Everett and local politics here in Conejo Valley. Sandee Everett was elected in 2016 to the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) in Conejo Valley. She won in large part for a few reasons: 1) People weren't aware of her history within the CVUSD schools (I'll dive in on this later), 2) She had cute little apple signs, and 3) She had enormous financial support from church supporters and well-known GOP politicians — like Mike Huckabee — who hosted a meet & greet/fundraiser for her.
Last Saturday, August 10, 2019, Sandee Everett attended, participated in and spoke at an anti-public school forum titled — per its official press release — "BATTLEGROUND THOUSAND OAKS: PARENTAL RIGHTS AND OPT OUT MOVEMENTS" hosted at Godspeak Calvary Church in Dos Vientos — church of current Thousand Oaks mayor and pastor Rob McCoy. If you're not familiar with Rob McCoy, it's time to get familiar folks. You can learn a bit about his mission via this article:
Let the 2020 Race Begin: Evangelicals, Pastors Set To Mobilize, Change America
The article highlights Rob McCoy's affiliation to Westlake-based resident David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project (which is on the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate watch list.) David Lane's name may ring a bell if you were following our local elections here in 2016, when it was reported he donated $5,000 to former school board candidate, Angie Simpson, who lost both in 2016 and 2018. Mike Huckabee is also mentioned in this article. To be clear, here is the goal of ARP: "“What we’re doing is the mobilization of pastors and pews to restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage. That’s our goal.” – American Prospect, 1/23/2008" The ARP is designed specifically to drive evangelical pastors into politics in an attempt to establish a Christian theocracy in America.
And it looks like Thousand Oaks is ground zero — on all fronts.
Last night I listened to an immigration attorney speak, and this is what I learned.
There’s no one experience when it comes to dealing with immigration and immigration policy. There’s no easy “a-ha” answer. No obvious solution. It’s a topic torn between compassion and circumstances and law and policy.
How can something so broken be fixed? It’s the answer no one can come up with on either side of the aisle. And while we’re bickering over it, lives are being irreparably damaged.
As you may have heard (as reported via Acorn online), Ronda Baldwin-Kennedy (apparently she's dropping "Baldwin" from her name for her next political campaign), has filed paperwork to run against Congresswoman Julia Brownley in 2020, on the heels of losing by nearly 29,000 votes to Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin this past November.
Let's talk about Ronda, shall we? Because, after my personal experience with her, I will work my ass off to ensure she never represents our community and I believe everyone should be an informed voter.
Last June was my first experience/interaction with Ronda — I had observed her interacting on Twitter with The Acorn's editor, Kyle Jorrey, after he made commentary regarding her win in the primary, positioning her to face off against Assemblymember Irwin in November.
Ronda was arguing with Kyle, and others contributing to the thread, about the concept of "hometown roots," as someone had mentioned that they believed hometown roots would prevail in November, in support of Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (who is from Thousand Oaks and has deep hometown roots here ...). Ronda took high offense to this observation, suggesting that this was similar to telling someone to go back to their own country. (?????) I know. So, I commented on the thread, stating that it appeared that Ronda wasn't familiar with the meaning of hometown roots and that I encouraged her to do more research. That's when she replied, calling me "INVISIBLE MOMMY", screaming (when people write in all caplocks, I assume they're screaming anyway) that it was "liberals like you who keep black people on the plantation."
It was a colorful exchange, but I honestly didn't expect it to go much further than that. However, it did.
Days later, I was notified that the woman who I was seeking an order of protection against, fired her lawyer and hired Ronda to take over as counsel. This put me in the position to experience Ronda and her behavior in person, and throughout the duration of a court matter that would go on for nearly 10 more months.
Given that Ronda eagerly talked about the case to press, I believe she took on the case believing the press and attention she would garner from it would boost her political campaign.
Ronda's tactics, as it would appear to me, became clear rather early. She absolutely buried my lawyer in unnecessary discovery and paperwork requests. As my lawyer explained it to me, there are some lawyers who will do this in hopes of suffocating the petitioner financially, forcing them to drop the case, simply because it would be too costly to continue. Now whether that was her intent or not, all I can say is that my lawyer logged a shit ton of hours on this.
In addition to paperwork shenanigans, Ronda called multiple last-minute "emergency" hearings, (of which she often got the time wrong for court), and attempted to have the case dropped multiple times, dragging my lawyer to court each of these dates. She was not successful in any of these attempts.
During one of these hearings, when I refused to drop the case, she told my lawyer that if I did not drop the case, she would seek a restraining order against me. That felt unethical to me. I've never heard of legal counsel (let alone a political candidate at the time), using the threat of legal retaliation to scare/silence a petitioner.
And then there's the matter of the depositions. Ronda (and a second lawyer she hired as co-counsel, Richard Elie), deposed both myself and my husband for eight hours each. My deposition consisted mostly of Ronda's co-counsel (she didn't want to take the lead in questioning me apparently) challenging my political opinions and being offended that I was wearing a shirt of Jacqui Irwin, on Ronda's behalf, during my deposition. And while all of that was a real party and she had her co-counsel ask where I could be served because she was going to file a lawsuit against me for defamation, it was nothing in comparison to what she did to my husband. Richard Elie, by the way, would go on to tweet out pictures he took of my deposition transcript far before it was ever filed into public record. Ronda was tagged in these tweets.
The night before my husband's deposition, Ronda tweeted to his employer, tagging my husband's account in the tweet, stating that she was going to withdraw her business because they employed him, and that both he and I were terrorizing our community, while alleging he made "racial attacks" against her.
The next day, during the deposition of Brian, she spent a significant amount of time asking my husband about Al Sharpton, and ... his work's social media policy, asking him whether or not he thought people should be allowed to contact his CEO and file complaints against him. And, do you know what was happening during his deposition? Ronda's co-campaign chair, Nikky Jones, and her client of whom I have an order of protection against now, were both doing just that ... contacting my husband's employer to file complaints against him. We know this because they testified to doing so in court.
I find Ronda to be one of the most unethical people I've ever come across, and someone completely unqualified not only for any role as a political representative, but as any sort of leader, really. 2020 is a ways off, but I thought this was something important for me to ensure that people knew about. This to me, isn't a conversation about whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. It's about the character of a person. I do not want someone I believe to be of bad moral character and questionable ethics — personally, professionally and ethically — to represent our community.
If you're like me, you're looking for ways to support the amazing families that comprise our immigrant communities locally, or at least ways to support organizations that are working directly with them. Here are a few local organizations to consider.
I'm going to ask a favor today. (And like, every day until August 9.) And then probably lots of times after that as well. But that's because it's an important one.
I'm going to ask that if you happen to have $5 or $10 or $50 or ... $XX to spare, you considering making a donation to my nonprofit Conejo Community Outreach (CCO).