Friday, August 22, 2008

Moraga opponent targets mayor's resume

Moraga Mayor Lynda Deschambault has less than four months left in office, but that won't stop former Town Council candidate Lee Bren from asking the council at next week's meeting to remove her from the mayor's chair. Some of the many recipients of Bren's frequent e-mail tirades against Deschambault may join him.

His stance: She lied on her 2004 candidate statement by saying she had a California teaching certificate and that she taught at Los Perales Elementary School in Moraga. She was an instructional aide, not a full-time teacher.

His motivation: He opposes a November ballot initiative that would strictly limit development on vacant land outside downtown. Deschambault supports it. Bren, who lost a council seat to Deschambault in 2004, doesn't want her to have the mayor's "bully pulpit" from which to voice her support.

Deschambault, who is not running for re-election, said Bren is splitting hairs. Details of her teaching jobs a decade ago, she said, are insignificant. The flap about her rsum and candidate statement is just a question of wording, she said.

Whether Deschambault had a credential is unclear. She had completed all the requirements to get an emergency teaching credential, the "certificate" she says she had. She passed the test required of teachers, the California Basic Educational Skills Test, and has an undergraduate degree in her subject.

In addition to her work at Los Perales, she was a substitute Advertisementscience teacher at the private Athenian School in Danville. Teachers at private schools, as with public school aides, aren't required to have credentials.

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing did not find a record of a credential under Deschambault's name and birth date, said Marilyn Errett, a spokeswoman for the commission.

A definitive search cannot be done without her Social Security number; Deschambault requested that search last week. It will take 30 days.

The commission found Deschambault had passed the test for teachers by going back into the testing company's records, Errett said.

"It's a dotted pattern of either half-truths or lies or deception," Bren said

He acknowledged he cares because of the dueling ballot initiatives the town faces in November.

One would strictly limit development if approved, and the other would restrict growth in some areas while encouraging it in others.

"This is the most important 21/2 months in the history of Moraga," Bren said. Whether Bren's will be a lone voice at next week's council meeting is not clear. Moraga resident George Juarez, who regularly attends council meetings, said he has heard people would ask Deschambault to resign.

"It is truly a rumor at this point," Juarez said.

Councilman Michael Metcalf said the council — and town — have more important issues to focus on.

Councilman Ken Chew agreed. "It's not a big deal for me," Chew said. "She's doing this for the community, she's teaching. If there's somehow something that falls through the cracks, I'm not sure I want to spend the time prosecuting somebody for trying to do something for the community."

Councilwoman Rochelle Bird, who has sparred with Deschambault, added, "I have no interest in focusing on any one individual's personal issues. I think the focus needs to be on the work for the people."

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