With His Three Protégés on EGUSD, Will Davis Try to Flex His Muscle on 'Grove' Charter School?

One of the more interesting political developments to watch in Elk Grove over the next few years will be to see if Elk Grove Mayor Gary...

One of the more interesting political developments to watch in Elk Grove over the next few years will be to see if Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis attempts to exert influence over the Elk Grove Unified School District.

This is not an abstract thing to watch either given Davis has already petitioned  the EGUSD to establish his so-called Grove Charter School. While the district denied Davis' petition, the first term mayor promised to come back with another petition. 

Since that denial last year, there has been a drastic change in the composition of the EGUSD with the election of three of Davis' political protégés to the board - Carmine Forcina, Steve Ly and Tony Perez.

While the three newest school trustees may feel they owe a debt of gratitude to Davis for his assistance in their successful elections, it will be interesting if they support Davis should he resurrect his bid for a charter school in Elk Grove. For Davis the matter is more than just a passing interest, in his day job Davis is the Political Director of EdVoice, a leading charter school advocate. 

While Edvoice bills itself as a grassroots movement to improve California schools, much of its funding in fact comes from deep-pocketed benefactors. One such benefactor is Carrie Walton-Penner, daughter of S. Robson Walton and granddaughter of Wal Mart founder Sam Walton. 

As a scion of the Wal Mart fortune, Walton-Penner has actively engaged in various educational issues surrounding school reform, most notably charter schools. Walton-Penner currently serves as director and Vice Chair of of the California Charter School Association with EdVoice's multi-millionaire founder,  benefactor Reed Hastings.   

According to financial disclosures reported to the California Secretary of State, since July, 2007 Penner-Walton was donated $770,300 to EdVoice. Via his last two economic disclosure statements filed with the Elk Grove City Clerk, Davis reports drawing a salary in excess of $100,000 from EdVoice,

Interestingly, Davis who is a member of the Democratic Party, has through his employment with EdVoice aligned himself with several individuals and other groups not only hostile to unions, but public schools in general and his party in particular. (One source makes the link between EdVoice and the ultra-conservative anti-Democratic Party Koch brothers.)

So if Davis comes back to the EGUSD with another charter school proposal, it will be noteworthy to see how amenable Forcina, Ly and Perez will be to their political Godfather. Ly will be the most notable trustee to watch given his promise (listen to the audio recording here) to the Elk Grove Education Association that he does not generally favor charter schools and said mayors should not be interfering in school board matters saying "it is not within their scope."   

Will the three new EGUSD trustees, especially Ly, stand by their campaign promises or will the long-arm, influence and fat wallets of people like Hastings and Walton-Penner persuade them to change their positions through the Davis-EdVoice conduit? 

Time will tell.

Picture caption: EGUSD trustees (l-r) Steve Ly, Tony Perez, Davis campaign manager Pete Fenolio, EGUSD Trustee Carmine Forcina and Mayor Gary Davis confer earlier this year.

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Anonymous said...

Walmart money helps pay for Davis’ salary at EdVoice. That is really none of our business; unless his day job crosses over into his elected one.

Anonymous said...

Let's just set up our lawn chairs on that $1 million piece of railroad property, don our shades, and grab some fast food from the food truck and watch how this plays out!

Anonymous said...


Very interesting article. Should Davis be recusing himself from WalMart issues? If his daytime salary is paid via a Walmart connection; how would you expect him to be "neutral" when it comes to his night time job?

Also, I not a fan of two of the newest school board members. Mr. Perez has not impressed me at all; in fact, he made a fool of himself during the Nancy Chaires fiasco. I thought he was drunk when he spoke from the podium that night.

Will be interesting if Ly sticks by his words.

Thoughtful piece.

Big Bob in Discount City said...

Davis needs to stay the heck out of the EGUSD business. They have enough on their plate without having the mayor exerting undue influence of their policy making and governance of the district.

Surely, Davis has enough to do trying to regain some credibility with his supporters and the rest of the citizens.

He'll get roasted if he sticks his nose into EGUSD business.

Anonymous said...

We will see just how far Davis will go. Is he hoping to influence the School board or just drain more Wal Mart money?

Anonymous said...

Nice photo! Good looking men and good husbands and fathers. I personally know two of them. EGN, please do not delete this comment.

Anonymous said...

Richard Nixon was a good father and husband too.

Anonymous said...

Does any one realy think that Mr Davis has our best intrest at heart. He is just starting to claim the political lader. We will be left behind.

Anonymous said...

Gary Davis is an opportunist. He will take every opportunity to climb over someone and then when he gets caught, he'll have some reason why it was good for the community and it's crazy, but everyone will buy the excuse (all about the money, power and fastest way up), and he will smile while stepping over you. Don't be fooled by his seemingly quite "I'm a good guy who just wants to get along," attitude. It's all business, with that guy, plotting behind the scene and still coming out smelling like a rose, but he is not one to admit it. He certainly would use the three amigo's, but now he's got to hope we forget about this article before he does tries to get them to approve his charter scheme. And now with Robert Trigg, he's got another leg up. Oops, that's a tree, Gary.

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