College trustees still under the media radar *

In the wake of the Los Angeles Times' terrific series on the tragedy of errors in the L.A. Community College District's $5.7 billion construction program, you might want some guidance on who to vote for in Tuesday's college board election. Good luck with that.

The Times doesn't cover the college trustees routinely, nor does any other major media. The Times editorial board has endorsed candidates for the L.A. City Council, the school board and even the council in the tiny city of Bell. But not for the college board, which has far more impact on more L.A. lives (and wallets) than all the officials in Bell put together. Unless the paper plans to rush in late endorsements on Monday or Tuesday, you won't get the editors' take on who should be held responsible for the college mess. Or anything else about the 17 candidates running.

News coverage of the campaign hasn't been much better, but that's no surprise. The Times' usual practice with the college board has been to send an unlucky reporter who knows little to nothing about the issues or the candidates to spend a day or two on a pre-election roundup. This time that story ran March 2, and it mostly lists names and lets the incumbents say why they should be reelected. Once again, L.A.'s most invisible elected powers escape real scrutiny. And like with Bell, which Times editors decided years ago to stop covering, people are shocked to discover that once the media looks away there are problems.

Hint: The two incumbents on the ballot are Mona Field, a trustee since 1999, and Miguel Santiago, on the board since 2008. There are two open seats on the ballot. For the college board, candidates run at-large but for a specific seat. Labor has made its endorsements, of course. The Times did throw up a neat graphic on where trustees get their campaign contributions. The Van de Kamps Coalition in Northeast LA has been reporting a lot on the trustees in recent years.

College board trivia: The board has only existed since 1969, when the first batch of elected trustees included Jerry Brown and Mike Antonovich.

* Update: The Times ran another news story on the races on Election Day morning. I aired a KCRW column on the lack of coverage the previous night.

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