This one is coming down to a he-said-she-said, so make of it whatever you will.
Josie Hirsch is running for the Simi Valley school board and two weeks ago I reported on her outspoken criticism of teachers unions. She said she planned to reject any endorsement of the Simi Educators Association, whose parent organization is the powerful California Teachers Association. An endorsement would have been unlikely anyway, if this really did happen at Hirsch's interview with the SEA in August:
"They were wise not to endorse me," Hirsch said, "as I told them during the interview that unions are outdated, and that the job of the union is to represent the teachers in negotiations--not to lead the board in them."
Hirsch said she only interviewed with them to sharpen her interview skills and to find out what the union's interests were.
A representative from the SEA, who is on the interview committee, disagreed with Hirsch's account of the interview.
Mark Sheinberg told me that Hirsch said in the interview that she was seeking the union's endorsement to improve the area's schools. He also said it was clear that Hirsch was a political novice making her first foray into politics.
She didn't even know what "CTA" stood for or that it was related to the SEA, according to Sheinberg.
He believes that Hirsch's campaign theme suddenly became anti-union when the union found her opponents to be more qualified and therefore more worthy of its endorsement.
Hirsch said she attempted to retrieve the interviewers' notes from SEA President Dayle Gillick to back up her story. According to Hirsch, Gillick told her that the interviewers did not keep notes, "nor did they remember any specifics from the original interview."
I asked Hirsch for comment on Sheinberg's recollections and she neither confirmed nor denied them for me. Instead, she said recalled what Gillick told her.
"[Gillick] said the impressions she received from the committee were that I was gracious, excited to be running and very concerned for the teachers and students of the district," Hirsch wrote to me in an e-mail, recalling that Gillick also said "that I really wanted to help improve the schools and education of the students."
The SEA also told me that no audio or video of the interview was recorded, so there's no proof to back up either Hirsch's or Sheinberg's conflicting claims.