Carl J. Petersen, a watchdog in Los Angeles, has untangled a web of cronyism surrounding Superintendent Austin Beutner.

He begins:

Instead of meeting with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) in the days leading up to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) strike, Superintendent Austin Beutner and Board President Monica Garciawere in Sacramento in an effort to “drum up lawmaker opposition to the teachers strike.” They were accompanied on this trip by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (SRT), the son of “powerful L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (MRT)”. While not publicly disclosed at the time, SRT was there as a paid lobbyist for the District.

As if a District pleading poverty while paying a lobbyist during labor negotiations was not bad enough, the choice of SRT is particularly bewildering. It appears that, under Government Code §87406, the former Assemblyman was legally prohibited from lobbying his former colleagues “for one year after the end of the term to which” he was elected, a waiting period that he had not met. The younger Ridley-Thomas resigned from his elected office on December 27, 2017, citing “health reasons.” He “was the subject of two sexual harassment complaints at the time he stepped down”.

SRT was then hired as a professor of social work and public policy by USC despite his not having a graduate degree. Shortly afterward, MRT “made a $100,000 donation from his campaign coffers to the social work school. The school dean, Marilyn Flynn, then sent the money to Policy Research and Practice Initiative, a start-up think tank that was unaffiliated with the university and controlled by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.” After an internal investigation, the University ended SRT’s employment and told the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles that “it had concerns” about the donation.

Petersen then details a timeline showing Beutner’s close relationship with the Ridley-Thomases and other political figures.

At least one Angeleno wonders whether Beutner’s lack of an ethical compass will be his downfall.

Shouldn’t the superintendent of schools in the nation’s second largest school district have an ethical compass?