The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Workers in Communist countries had a famous aphorism: "We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us." Here in America there is a similar, though friendlier, relationship between government bodies and left-wing interest groups: The pressure groups pretend to be adversarial plaintiffs, and the government pretends to defend itself.

Witness this sham that took place recently in San Francisco. The article goes back and forth in its chronology, so I will quote selectively. A San Francisco school had a student-painted mural:

The mural, called ``Different cultures united for a common cause,'' culminated a semester-long class that focused on social issues. The 15-by-15-foot scene, painted in June 2002, included a fist of power and a panther symbolizing the Black Panthers and ``justice for all people,'' said 19-year-old Reynaldo Marquez, who designed the mural during his senior year at McAteer.

The mural's completion coincided with the closing of McAteer, an under-performing school where enrollment and graduation rates had slid significantly.

The campus reopened that fall as the School of the Arts. Over the summer, parents from the relocating art school cleaned up the site and unwittingly turned the mural into a bold block of red.

Some students were allowed to paint a mural. There was no agreement as to how long the mural would stand. Sure, murals stand around for awhile, but did Marquez and company think people would still see it in the year 2052? Anyway, the school closed. Why would anyone expect that the mural would survive it?

And even if you think that the students were wronged, what possible legal recourse could they have? Could the students actually be given money because their mural was painted over? When the people who did so were not employed by the school district? Of course not! The very idea is laughable, right?


Well, there was an activist lawyer:

``Everybody was really shocked,'' said Brooke Oliver, the lawyer representing the muralists.

(Oh, come on. As if anyone gave a shit. Well, people at the School of the Arts were probably relieved that they no longer had to look at lumpenfuckingproletariat idiocy.)

And there was a school board that was happy to shovel money at their ideological pals. Deficit, schmeficit! It's not their money:

According to a district press release, the school principal ``immediately expressed remorse for the mistake.'' At Oliver's suggestion, the district looked into restoring the mural. But art conservationists for both sides determined it could not be recovered.

("Art conservationists for both sides?" This sounds like a courtroom drama gone horribly wrong:

"We need to plan the art conservationist testimony. Who have the plaintiffs got?"


"Well that's good news for us. That guy hasn't won a case in a decade. Anyone else?"

"They might have Smythe. He won't return our phone calls"

"Smythe!? David Smythe? My God. He's the Restorinator. By the time he gets done the jury will be in tears. There's only one thing to do: Get me Magnum, P.A.C.")

And so some lucky kids, a charity, some paint stores, and of course a lawyer got a big payday:

The district this week finalized a $33,000 agreement that will go toward a new mural, to a charity and to the 10 former McAteer High students and the community artist who together created the courtyard mural of the Latino labor leader.

Let's review how the loot will be split:

As a result, community muralist Antonio Chavez and the 10 former students will divvy up almost $20,000, in proportion to their roles in the art project.

I hope the kids all agree on how much work they did. I can see it now:

"Two hundred fifty? Yo bitch, I own tha mothafuckin' fist. Ain't no mothafuckin' ''united for a common cause'' wit'out no mothafuckin' black fist!"

A charity that supports single women with children will receive $1,250 of the settlement,

Where the hell did that come from? I'm drawing a blank as to how painting over a mural injured single women. "Every time revolutionary art is painted over, an angel gets a new pair of wings and is born into a nontraditional family"?

The charity was probably stuck into the settlement on a last-minute whim, to make the operation look better. I bet it was like the scene in Die Hard where the head thief pretends to be a revolutionary and agitates for the release of Asian Dawn. "I read about them in Time Magazine."

and supplies for another mural will be bought with $2,500. The remainder of the settlement will pay for the attorney's fees.

It was very polite of the Mercury News to obscure how much Brooke Olive earned for a few afternoons of indignance. I'll do the math:

Around $9500.

Oh, and the district isn't done spending tax money:

``It certainly is one of the district's top priorities to make sure we have everyone in our community understand the importance of diversity,'' said district spokeswoman Lorna Ho.

And how do we do that?

The settlement also requires the district to hold cultural sensitivity workshops and put together a plan to protect its artwork.

Add the diversity workshop scam artists to the list of people with their hands out for the district's money. They don't work for free.

The next time someone whines about how California's schools face unprecedented hardship, or how education is in crisis, remember how easy it was for the San Francisco school district to give away forty grand of taxpayers' money.



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