Is Scott Harvey a lobbyist and not an educator? Is John de Beck a paid union agent instead of a schoolteacher?
The Battle of the Campaign Statements heated up Thursday between the two finalists for San Diego city schools board Seat C--representing Point Loma, Linda Vista and downtown--with a series of charges and countercharges between De Beck and Harvey.
The head of the San Diego Teachers Assn., whose political action committee pumped more than $15,000 into its support of De Beck during the June primary, charged Thursday that Harvey lied on the campaign statement he submitted for the sample ballot booklet that voters will receive before the November general election.
Harvey, who on the primary ballot identified himself as a businessman, has changed his occupation to "educator and public policy analyst and parent/community leader."
"On his ballot description, Scott Harvey, a lifelong lobbyist, identifies himself as an 'educator,' " said Hugh Boyle, president of the teachers union. "As a lifelong teacher . . . I strongly object to the casual use of the term educator by Mr. Harvey. If I bang some nails at home, am I a carpenter? If I change a light bulb, am I an electrician?"
"Does he face 35 students all day in an elementary classroom, or 175 students in a high school or middle school each day?" asked Boyle, who has filed a written request with Registrar of Voters Conny McCormack to disallow Harvey's claim as misleading and inaccurate under provisions of the election law.
De Beck chipped in with his own criticism, accusing Harvey "of false and misleading" statements.
"Mr. Harvey must be ashamed of his occupation," said De Beck, who retired in June from Garfield continuation high school after 37 years as a teacher and counselor in the San Diego Unified School District. "When he calls himself an educator, that really was an insult to all of us who worked hard to attain credentials to teach, counsel and administer public education this state."
De Beck asked why Harvey dropped the lobbyist designation that was part of his primary ballot statement and switched to public policy specialist and educator.
"If my opponent is careless with the truth about his occupation, then the voters must be cautious about his other statements," De Beck said, defending his deviation from educational issues of overcrowding, curriculum reform and student health.
Harvey fired back strongly Thursday, defending his use of educator by saying he has frequently given talks in classrooms as an invited speaker and taught a course at National University. He said Boyle's action shows that his opponent is a stalking horse for an attempt by the teachers union to gain a seat on the five-member board of trustees.
"I don't think you have to belong to the San Diego Teachers Assn. to be an educator," said Harvey, a former intergovernmental affairs specialist for the city of San Diego before going into private consulting and lobbying. "I have spent 18 years of my life educating--I have been invited into classrooms individually to be part of panels, to talk about the structure of government, about government finance.
"I have taught a graduate course at National University and have lectured there frequently. I am already lined up to talk at Clairemont and Castle Park high schools this fall."
Harvey said his use of the term does not imply that he is a full-time teacher. "In that case, I would have used the word teacher ," he said. Although educator is a change from his primary booklet statement, Harvey said, it is more accurate. "I am so much more than (a lobbyist). . . . My statement was changed to present a more complete picture of myself and reflect the breadth of my experiences."
Harvey also attacked De Beck's ties with the teachers union in his statement, which says, "Don't let labor unions set school policy!" in bold lettering and calls De Beck "a former union agent whose campaign is paid for by a union political committee."
"That reflects the fact that he sat as a union negotiator across the table from the (board of trustees) for many years" in salary negotiations, Harvey said. "I question whether it is proper to have a union person on both sides of the table."
Harvey said he will file his own written appeal to McCormack asking that De Beck be required to add the word retired in front of his statement calling himself a schoolteacher.
"That's OK with me," De Beck said.
As to the PAC support, De Beck said he has no regrets over accepting it.
"Even if you add its $15,000 to the $7,890 I raised (through his own committee), that is less than what Harvey spent ($24,000) to get 26.5% of the primary vote, compared to my 61%." (School board candidates run only in their districts during the primary. The two top vote-getters run citywide in November.)