Week-in and week-out, the familiar script at Fresno Unified is that Superintendent Michael Hanson has attempted to force the school board to hire three criminal defense attorneys to represent himself, CFO Ruth Quinto and COO Karin Temple – the big three of Fresno Unified.
His first attempt was spurned by a 3-3 tie, thanks to the defiance of trustee Chris De La Cerda. De La Cerda, the board’s lone swing vote, has backed many Hanson measures. But the decision to spend taxpayer funds to hire Hanson and his leadership team individual lawyers to personally represent them amid Federal tumult was a bridge too far.
Hanson followed up this attempt with a second try just two days after the State of Education lunch, where he said that the Federal investigation into Insider Building would have little-to-no impact on the district or his future prospects. By the time the board entered closed session, the trustees punted on the issue.
For the third straight meeting, Hanson and Board president Cal Johnson put the issue on the agenda. However, The Bee‘s Mackenzie Mays reports that this go-round was about ensuring that Quinto had a lawyer, not Hanson or Temple. The end result was not exactly what either probably had in mind.
Sources said that De La Cerda was leaned on hard to prior to the vote to approve Quinto’s lawyer contract. In the end, De La Cerda stuck with his conviction that the deal was rotten and stuck it to an exceedingly desperate Hanson. Other sources reported the final tally on the criminal defense lawyer issue was 2-4-1, with De La Cerda joining Brooke Ashjian, Carol Mills, and Luis Chavez in voting down the deal. Cal Johnson and Valerie Davis voted for the deal.
Strangely, Janet Ryan, one of Hanson’s most loyal supporters on the dais, abstained from the vote. It added insult to injury.
Each time the Board has discussed spending taxpayer money on criminal defense lawyers for the Big Three, it resembles a goal-line stand for the new Board majority. Last night, it played out a lot like this: