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School leader who criticized Greuel gave donations to Garcetti

April 11, 2013|By James Rainey
  • Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel poses for a picture with students from Camino Nuevo Charter School.
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel poses for a picture with students… (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles…)

When Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel went to a school in her rival’s City Council district Wednesday to chide his abilities as a school reformer, she apparently didn’t realize many at the school like Eric Garcetti.

The chief executive of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy criticized Greuel for bringing “negative campaigning” to the campus and for making the “odd” choice of attacking Garcetti at a school where he helped bring in a $700,000 federal grant to build a soccer field.

It only became clear after the event how unfriendly the turf was for Greuel. That's when Camino Nuevo executive Ana Ponce told The Times she felt uncomfortable with her school becoming the backdrop for political barbs.

Greuel's team then poked around and learned that Ponce is a backer and financial supporter of Councilman Garcetti. Records on file at the City Ethics Commission show that Ponce has twice donated to Garcetti’s campaign for mayor, giving a total of $350.

Ponce said in an interview Thursday that she gave $250 last spring, when she served as a co-host of a "Latinos for Garcetti" fundraiser.

Still, Ponce said her criticism of Greuel — who had suggested Garcetti would be in the pocket of the United Teachers Los Angeles  union— was based on the negative tone of her remarks.

“The organization Camino Nuevo Charter Academy does not engage in political campaigning nor does it endorse candidates,” Ponce said. “My political position as an individual is separate from the organization’s position.”

Ponce said she would have been just as critical if Garcetti had come to the high school campus — located near the junction of Silver Lake Boulevard and the 101 Freeway — and leveled attacks at Greuel, the city controller.

“Camino Nuevo is not a forum for negative political campaigning” by either side, Ponce repeated Thursday.

Greuel’s team noted that she and Los Angeles School board President Monica Garcia spent most of the time at the school talking about how it is a model for reform. They met with teachers to discuss how to improve training and other issues.

Greuel did not level her critiques at Garcetti until the end of the event, when she took questions from reporters.

 “What Wendy has been talking about is how her decisions will be about kids and not about politics,” said Greuel spokeswoman Shannon Murphy. “They picked this school because it is a great example of reform."

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Twitter: @LATimesrainey

james.rainey@latimes.com

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