Hu Takes School Board Seat

The Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) board of trustees has selected Philip Hu to fill Mayor Trish Spencer’s seat. Spencer’s election as mayor last November required her to vacate the seat. The board chose to select a new member rather than pursue a more-expensive election.

Hu was among 23 applicants for the seat. The candidates included former school board members Barbara Rasmussen and Mike McMahon. The number was whittled to 19 when four of the applicants either withdrew or failed to show for the first stage of the screening process.

The board chose 10 applicants to return for a second meeting. By the end the evening, the board pared its list to Hu and Jane Grimaldi. When the board deadlocked, Grimaldi withdrew her name.

Although a relative newcomer to Alameda, Hu brings five years of school board experience to the table. He served on the San Gabriel Unified School District board from 2009 until last year. The district, located in the San Gabriel Valley 10 miles east of Los Angeles, has seven elementary schools, one middle school and two high schools.

One of Hu’s school board experiences may have a familiar ring to Alameda residents who just endured a round of outside union money financing their City Council races. The same happened during Hu’s stint as a school board member in the Southland. Hu was first elected in November 2009. He took his seat on Dec. 8, 2009. In February 2010, Hu and his fellow board members unanimously sided with unions in a vote to allow them in on $64 million of contracts, using a concept called "project labor agreements (PLA)."

The Pasadena Star-News reported that many in the audience at the February 2010 meeting, when the vote was taken, considered the decision "hasty." In fact, sitting school board president Denise Menchaca stated that she never heard of PLAs until the night of the meeting. Star-News staff writer Brian Charles penned that many considered the decision "a railroad job."

The Star-News reported that records filed with Los Angeles County showed that "Hu took $5,000 of his $8,957 in campaign funds from labor unions. Records also showed that Hu’s fellow board member Mathew Stadtler had banked $7,250 in campaign funds, $6,250 from labor unions, the rest from Hu.

"Union members (attending the meeting), don’t live in San Gabriel. But they funded the elections of the board members," San Gabriel resident Lori Husein told Charles.

Hu has spent 19 years as an instructor and professor in the California State University and community college systems. He currently works as the assistant general manager for Public Employees Union Local 1.

Hu was scheduled to be sworn in on Tuesday. He will serve out the remaining two years of Spencer’s term, "unless a petition is filed with the county calling for a special election," the school district stated in a press release.