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                               Why I’m Not for Mary Wells

I do not know Mary Wells personally, so I interviewed people who are

familiar with her work on the school board.  As a result, I will not be voting for Mary Wells.

                    Mary's Incomplete Service on the School Board

The consensus is that Mary had no interest in our city schools but ran for the school board simply as a stepping stone to a run for city council.  In fact she used state level campaign consultants who are generally hired to plan for a city council run.  

 

If she is elected, she will quit the school board well before the remainder of her term at the end of the year.  In fact, she has been working on her council campaign since January of last year, as opposed to working to improve our school system.  

 

If our schools were improved, many parents would not be sending their children to private schools like Mary did, and we would not have to close schools.  

 

Under Mary’s board tenure, the district saw the largest increase in bullying and behavioral problems in our schools while Mary’s focus was on construction.

 

Mary is falsely claiming that she solved our school construction problems.  It is true that she spearheaded the substitution of a construction bond manager, accomplished by the board, but it is debatable that there was a problem with the previous bond manager, and there has been no evidence of any savings whatsoever.  

 

In fact, just as before, the school will have a big shortfall for the construction work that needs to be done.  A billion dollars has been spent and there is not much to show for it.  Nevertheless, Mary is falsely claiming that she has saved taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars by revamping the bond program”.

 

If any savings can be claimed, it would be due to the re-allocation of contingency money which was set aside for cost increases and does not reflect real savings.  Other claimed “savings” are due to the cancelling of construction projects.  Meanwhile the cost of inspectors has increased over $30K per year since Mary initiated the ouster of the previous bond manager.   

 

Mary had joined the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) in about 2016 and did not question or even suggest that there was a problem with the construction bond manager.  She later created the appearance of a problem with unfounded allegations about the construction bond manager so that she could “solve the problem” by substituting that bond manager.  Mary has therefore been referred to as an “arsonist firefighter”. 

 

Although it has been pointed out to Mary that savings have not resulted from the change of bond managers, Mary continues to falsely claim that “tens of millions of dollars” in savings have been realized, to bolster her political campaign.

 

When the CBOC came to the board with a presentation and evaluation of the overall bond funds and construction project, Mary, then the board president, allowed them only 5 minutes for their presentation rather than a 30 minute presentation which had been allowed in the past.  Mary did not want any information to be provided that would debunk her claims about the construction program.

 

Similarly, a Facilities and Construction committee was begun but after about a year, Mary moved to get rid of the committee.  Mary did not like the information which was being provided to the public which contradicted her positions on the construction program.

 

Mary, as board president, also stifled resident input by moving short public comments about matters not on the agenda, to the end of the meeting forcing resident to have to wait hours to be heard.  Mary’s thoughtless violation of long established procedure was reversed after Mary’s tenure as president. 

 

Mary has also claimed responsibility for a school security program, but that program was started by the previous board and was underway 2 to 3 years before Mary was on the board. 

 

Some say that Mary changed the legal strategy in our litigation against metro at the last minute, which caused our school district to lose its bid for the reimbursement of substantial funds.

 

Mary had promised that a substitute teacher who made anti-semitic statements had been fired, but that substitute was back teaching later.

 

                                 About Mary and her Supporters   

 

Some state that Mary’s veneer of kindness and agreeability is only skin deep and that behind closed doors she is demeaning and insulting to district staff.

 

Mary played up the city and majority pro-development council members at board meetings and was perceived to be in the camp of big developers in the city.  

 

People have also stated that Mary is not a person who is known for original ideas, and some believe that she is intended replacement for Julian Gold on the council, and will be a “puppet” of our present council majority and Judie Fenton.  

 

Judie Fenton is a longtime developer lobbyist who ran the campaigns of Julian Gold and Lester Friedman.  Fenton's methods included using unethical photos of candidates with uniformed police and fire personnel, in violation of the intent of the Government Code, fake voter guides, and even a mailer directed to Republicans which made it seem like Lester Friedman was a Republican.  In addition, many unauthorized campaign signs were placed, especially around Judie Fenton’s home, which had to be removed by businesses and others.  

 

Following their election to the council, Gold and Friedman approved One Beverly Hills, the dual skyscraper development project advanced by the Hilton developer and Fenton’s long time client.  Neither Gold nor Friedman requested any changes to the project or required the developer to comply with the 10% affordable housing requirement with which all new housing projects in Beverly Hills must comply.   

 

Mary’s stated position on Cheval Blanc which was favored by the council majority and Judie Fenton was that Mary voted in favor of it based upon the opinions of the planning commissioners (selected by our council majority) and the council majority.  Their judgment was good enough for her, as opposed to investigating the issues and making her own decision.  

Now that more information has come out about Mary and Judie Fenton, Mary has deleted Fenton as an endorser in recent fliers.

 

In addition to not wanting to finish her stint on the school board, Mary also recently started and then quit the Beverly Hills Citizen Police Academy program.  That is an 8 to 10 week program, with a weekly 3 hour class, for which as many as 250 applied, but only about 18 were selected.  After being selected and taking a valuable sought after space in the program, Mary attended one class and then was the only one to drop out of the program.  

 

Let’s look at some of Mary’s other supporters.  

 

There is Barry Brucker who traded on his past mayorship to charge at least $100K to $125K to lobby for Cheval Blanc.  He also served as a lobbyist for One Beverly Hills.  (Search Brucker at https://www.beverlyhills.org/application/lobbyist/search.jsp?keyword=Brucker&action=search.)

 

There is past mayor Les Bronte who has always favored large projects which violated our excellent building codes, and he had misrepresented that he graduated from UCLA when he had graduated from Cal State.

 

There is Andy Licht and Peter Ostroff who as planning commissioners favored a robust city density bonus program, to give developers much more generous density bonuses than the state density bonus program, such as greater height and reduced parking, 

 

Terri Kaplan, one of Mary’s supporters, is a planning commissioner who was selected by pro-developer council majority members.  Mary’s husband works at the same law firm as Terri’s husband.

 

Some think that Rachelle Marcus felt obligated to endorse Mary because she helped get Marcus re-elected.

 

Howard Fisher, our treasurer, has endorsed Mary, but in the last election he endorsed all of the candidates.  This time he is endorsing four candidates—probably a combination of being nice and hedging his bets.

 

            Mary's Unethical Acceptance of Firefighter's Endorsement

 

Mary also accepted an endorsement from the Beverly Hills Firefighter’s Association, which is believed to have been arranged by Judie Fenton.  The acceptance of endorsements from public safety unions creates a conflict of interest since if the candidate is elected, she will be negotiating with the firefighters.  Yet Mary allowed firefighters to get a jump on negotiations with council by Mary’s promising in advance to invest more in firefighters and their equipment and tools, resulting in her receiving their endorsement.  More ethical people, such as Council Member John Mirisch, and council candidate Craig Corman, do not accept endorsements from public safety unions due to the stated conflict of interest.  Although many of us appreciate our excellent firefighters, they do not live here and do not share all of our interests.  So we feel that they should butt out of our council elections and should not attempt to improperly skew negotiations with our council.

 

In fact Mary has chosen to maximize her unethical acceptance of this endorsement by paying the Firefighters' Association to robo call Beverly Hills residents and urge them to vote for her.

In another unethical move, Les Bronte, a co-chair of Mary Wells’ campaign, moderated the candidates forum for senior citizens at Roxbury park and it was reported that he gave Wells considerably more time than the other candidates.

 

From TristenWalker.com:

Mary Misuses Taxpayer Dollars

February 23, 2024|BHUSD, Mary Wells, School Construction

 

 

I am writing to share more disheartening actions coming from Mary’s unethical campaign. This week, Mary used the high school kids and resources from KBEV6, Beverly Hills High School’s television station, to film a campaign ad. She then posted clips on her social media platforms with a misleading headline implying a KBEV endorsement. This is yet another display of her self-serving antics that lack morality, leadership, and sound judgment.

It is a direct violation of BHUSD Board regulation (4119.25), which prohibits the use of district equipment for the preparation or reproduction of political campaign materials, even if the district is reimbursed, posting or distributing political campaign materials on district property, disseminating political campaign materials through the district's mail service, email, or staff mailboxes, and using students to write, address, or distribute political campaign materials. This is not the first time Mary has violated these provisions; she was caught and given a slap on the wrist when she was running for the school board in 2020. She posted pictures taken on the El Rodeo campus after agreeing not to and signing an affidavit that she would not do so. She has a blatant disregard for regulations.

In addition, Government Code section 8314 says it is unlawful for any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to use or permit others to use public resources for campaign activity. Public resources means any property or asset owned by the state or any local agency, including, but not limited to, land, buildings, facilities, equipment, supplies, computers, and state-compensated time.  Use means the use of public resources that is substantial enough to result in a gain or advantage to the user.

Furthermore, it is a violation of Cal. Ed. Code § 7054 (a) which states:  "No school district or community college district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.” 

If it was taped after school, it was a violation of the City Center Act with respect to the JPA; Organizations separate from the school district itself, such as employee, student, or parent organizations, may hold events and disseminate information on school grounds that advocate for or against a measure providing they receive approval to use school facilities for such purposes through the “Civic Center Act.” - which ensures groups or individuals with opposing viewpoints have the same right to use school facilities under the Civic Center Act. The First Amendment precludes the government from making public facilities available to only favored political viewpoints; once a public forum is opened, equal access must be provided to all competing factions.

If the taping was done during school hours, and broadcast on any district asset or platform, Wells would have necessarily exerted undue influence, rising to the level of creating a hostile work environment and placing Beverly Hills High School Media Director in the precarious position of saying no. It is a disproportionate use of authority. The media director is a subordinate to a sitting school board member.  School board members are considered employees. School boards must maintain workplace integrity as well as political integrity. 

Using her position and access as a sitting Board member to film on campus and use that recording with the KBEV set in the background to create the illusion of endorsement is illegal. Offering it to one but not to all is equally a violation of the law. Did she ask for this coverage? Was it offered to her by the Media Director? Either way, it certainly was not offered to all candidates, as I have confirmed at least four were not approached.

The community deserves an apology for this outrageous violation. With election day only 10 days away, this is an egregious violation of public trust and demonstrates Mary’s lack of candor and failure to adhere to policy and statute. The Board must operate in an ethical and transparent way.  I implore the Board to denounce these actions publicly and for Mary to immediately remove the video from her campaign platforms.

There are nine other candidates who are NOT breaking these rules and attempting to trick our residents. If she, as a School Board member, cannot operate ethically, how will she if she’s on our City Council? An experienced “proven leader” should certainly know better.

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Also from Tristen Walker:

 

NO Proven Results. NO on Mary Wells.

I am concerned for our community.

We can’t afford to have Mary Wells on City Council.

I served with Mary Wells on the School Board and want to share the truth about her false claims. It's vitally important we do our research this election, and my aim is to provide clarity to assist you in making an informed decision about your vote.

Here are the following claims on her website, followed by the facts:

 

MARY'S FALSE CLAIM #1: "Improving the security and safety of our schools by restructuring the security program." 

 

FACTS: In 2018, before Mary's arrival on the board, BHUSD had our first armed security at all schools, and the fusion center was launched. Also, before Mary's arrival, the district had a dedicated Director of School Safety; in 2017-19, it was Chris Hertz, who was also an administrator, then in 2019-21, Scott Lovelace, a former police officer and school safety manager, and then 2022-present Mark Mead.

 

She was the sole "NO" vote in March 2021 when we voted to extend the armed security contract for NASTEC. Now that she's running for Council, she attempts to take credit for building the security program that was put in place in 2018 after the Parkland shooting.

 

She hasn't restructured anything.

 

MARY'S FALSE CLAIM #2:  She was "instrumental in saving taxpayers' tens of millions of dollars by revamping the district's troubled and controversial Construction Bond Program during her first term on the Governing Board of the Beverly Hills Unified School District." 

 

FACTS: As pictured below, there has been no actual savings on any project at all. Furthermore, no early delivery of completed projects. If anything, the projects were delayed because of her invented controversy over the bond manager.

 

Mary Wells Cancelled Projects:

Mary Wells violated Board policy, CA Code, EdCode, and FPPC statute.webp
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MARY'S FALSE CLAIM #3: "Led the Board's effort to require a Request for Proposal (RFP) to ensure accountability and transparency in the Construction Bond Program, while hiring a new executive leadership team to ensure the projects will be completed on time and within budget."

 

FACTS:  The audit for the new Horace Mann classroom building 2014-16 and the remodel of the 1929 classroom building 2016-18 were both done before Mary was on the board, and both projects were audited and were verified to come in on time and on budget.

 

BHHS Building B1/B2 remodel was audited and verified to have come in $9 million under budget, planned, constructed, and effectively completed before she was on the board.

 

What project is she referring to that has saved us tens of millions of dollars? Answer: not a single one. Canceling planned projects does not ensure accountability or transparency.

 

MARY'S FALSE CLAIM #4: "During her tenure with the Beverly Hills Unified School District Governing Board, Wells also focused on expanding mental health and wellness programs for students and parents."

 

FACTS:  Student bullying, antisemitism, and drug use is at an all-time high in the district, and BHUSD students are prohibited from some businesses on Beverly Drive without their parents due to behavior, fighting, and thefts.

 

Academic measurements were at an all-time low during her Board Presidency and continued to decline under her tenure as she solely focused on construction at the expense of education. BHHS graduation rate dropped to a historic district low of 90% in 2023.

 

OTHER FACTS ABOUT MARY:

  1. Under California Law, public officials who use social media are prohibited from blocking any private citizens on their social media platforms. Mary has a long list of people she's blocked, continuing to break the law and demonstrating her lack of transparency and political sophistication.

  2. Over 15 meetings have taken place to discuss the sale/lease of our Beverly Hills District Office. There have been no details about the type of project that will emerge in that space and how it will affect the neighborhood have been made transparent. This demonstrates the lack of leadership and transparency that follows Mary Wells. This is not an ideal track record for someone who's seeking a seat on City Council.

  3. In November 2021, Wells pulled the TCDS contract off the agenda when it came for vote. Wells voiced concern with the length of the contract being five years.  Yet the new Bond Management firm, Fonder-Salari, was retained under the same five-year contract. The RFP for Bond Management services constructively precluded TCSD from submitting a proposal because Wells demanded that the RFP specifically require any applicant for bond management services to also hold an active contractor’s license.  Wells knew that TCDS’ principal Don Blake did not possess a contractor’s license.  As the court establish in Talley vs. 22nd District Agricultural Association, San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2021-00032169, an RFP written to specifically preclude a person and/or entity from applying is illegal.

 

It's time for the gaslighting to stop. She is NOT a proven leader, she does NOT have Proven Results. She should NOT be on the City Council.

 

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or want more information, Tristen Walker at TristenWalker.com.  

 

Copyright (C) 2024 Townhall with Tristen. All rights reserved.

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Here is Mary Wells at a School Board meeting displaying a campaign sticker on the laptop.  Is that school property and yet another violation?

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