Foothills Sentry - October 2022

Foothills Sentry Page 2 October 2022 714 282 0828 aco# 4202 You Who Lurking Never Know Is $ 15 95 /mo SECURITY JADTEC Villa Park Marine Thanksgiving is back! By Samantha Frackelton, event chair and VPHS junior It is time to sign up to adopt U.S. Marines from Camp Pend- leton to join your Thanksgiving Day table! It has been three years since the Villa Park Marine Thanksgiving has been held, and we are hoping to adopt over 100 Marines this year. While you can work directly with the Armed Services YMCA to adopt two Marines free-of- charge, you and they will not get to enjoy the Villa Park Marine Thanksgiving experience. The VP Marine Thanksgiv- ing requires a donation that cov- ers limo buses, a gift for each Marine and a big welcome party when they arrive in Villa Park on Thanksgiving morning. This has become a Villa Park annual tradition for the past two decades. Every year, we hire 5-8 limousine buses to bring the Marines, many of whom are fresh out of high school and away from home on their first major holiday, to celebrate in private homes, as a small repayment for their dedication and courage. We need families in Villa Park and nearby who are willing to adopt and feed at least two of these deserving Marines. Every family who has joined has had a blast and were grateful for the opportunity. The Villa Park Marine Thanksgiving program is chaired by Samantha Frackelton, a junior at Villa Park High School, with an assist from her parents Robert and Madonna Frackelton, older brothers David and Evan, and photographer Dan Dyk. Donations are also requested to pay for ground transportation and gifts for the Marines. Finances are managed by the Villa Park Community Services Foundation and all payments go directly to that tax-exempt, nonprofit. See to sign up to host a few service men and women. Orange Unified School Board trustee asks taxpayers to compensate him for volunteer work By Tina Richards Orange Unified Trustee John Ortega was praised by fellow board members for his missionary work in Uganda that caused him to miss the July board meeting, but they denied his request to be paid his monthly stipend anyway. OUSD trustees are paid $750 for their attendance at monthly board meetings. The amount is fixed by the state. State guidelines allow board members to be paid for absences due to illness, school district business or jury duty. The state also recognizes “hardship” as a compensable absence, but leaves it up to school boards to determine whether an absence is due to hardship or not. A board member’s request for a hardship payment must be approved during a public meeting. Answering the call Ortega’s missionary work in Uganda was, he believed, a legitimate reason for his July absence. He requested payment, and the issue was placed on the board’s September consent calendar, along with a stipend request from Kathy Moffat who had missed a meeting due to a death in the family. Items on the consent calendar are routine and are usually approved en masse in a single vote. Moffat’s payment was ap- proved, but Ortega’s was pulled from the consent calendar for discussion by Trustee Ana Page. “I don’t think it falls under the reasons for payment,” she said. Trustee Kris Erickson noted that the reason for Ortega’s absence was laudable, but it was a personal choice and not considered a hardship. She reminded her colleagues that the $750 stipend is taxpayer money, and the board had an obligation to evaluate whether or not the expense is warranted. “Board members get paid a stipend to attend meetings,” she said. “Nothing else. We can attend 30 events a month, visit schools, go to awards ceremonies, but taxpayers don’t pay for that. The stipend is for meeting attendance only. That’s our job.” Ortega may have expected the board to approve his July stipend, because it always had. He had missed three meetings prior to July and had been paid for them. Those absences had fallen within the illness or hardship guidelines. But Ortega’s penchant for miss- ing meetings and being paid for them runs deep. Nothing new here Between 2015 and 2019, Ortega missed 34 meetings. The then-board-majority okayed his stipend every time he asked for it. Although Ortega would not tell the board the reason for his absences, a colleague reportedly once asserted that, “if he says it was a hardship, that’s good enough for me.” That same board majority had also approved a stipend for an- other trustee who had missed a meeting to attend a political rally in Texas. But that majority has since been replaced. The more recently elected trust- ees are unaware that “hardship” stipends were once approved as a matter of course. And because Ortega’s 2020-21 attendance has been consistent, newer board members were not likely aware of his absenteeism. Choosing charity “Not to diminish what you did in Uganda,” Erickson said, “it wasn’t a hardship, but a choice. Your July absence was a charitable venture, not something taxpayers contemplate paying for. It was voluntary, you usually don’t expect to be paid for charity.” “This is political theatre,” Rick Ledesma interjected. “It’s pun- ishment toward Mr. Ortega. It’s election time. You need an uptick in the drama. Ana Page pulled the item. She’s not running for reelection. She’s being used as a political puppet.” “Of course, it’s political theater,” Ortega said. “If you’re going to make it political to benefit yourselves, then that’s the way it's going to be. Instead of theatrics, just vote and we can go home.” “I brought it up,” Page re- sponded, “because we need to discuss where we draw the line.” “Our meeting calendar was approved early on,” Board President Andrea Yamasaki reminded the group, adding that everyone knows when the meetings are. “It’s not good to use taxpayer money to pay for volunteer work.” The jig is up “This isn’t $100,000 or $10,000,” Ortega countered, “it’s 750 bucks. Just vote and get it over with.” Trustee Angela Rumsey asked if board compensation was typi- cally discussed at public meet- ings. She was told it was when a trustee asked for a “hardship” ab- sence to be placed on the agenda. “I spoke to Mr. Ortega about this,” Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen advised, “and he asked that the item be agendized.” The vote was 5-2 against pay- ing Ortega’s stipend for July. John Ortega and Rick Ledesma cast the only “yes” votes.