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BHUSD President Clashes with Council Over Subway Fight

Lisa Korbatov tells City Council members that she objects to a tour of the high school and "clandestine" meetings with Metro and county officials.

Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education President chided Beverly Hills City Council members Thursday for what she claimed were "unwarranted and improper actions" with county officials who will decide whether or not to build a under .

Korbatov's primary objection was to an "abbreviated tour" of the BHHS campus Thursday for Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that was facilitated by Mayor Barry Brucker, Vice Mayor William Brien and City Manager Jeff Kolin. Korbatov said this was improper because it was done unofficially "with no minutes, no notes, no agenda" and with no experts to offer in-depth knowledge of engineering or environmental law.

The school board president also pointed to off-the-record meetings with Metro CEO Art Leahy and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

"Two members of the council have valiantly tried to get the majority to support [the school board's] efforts to defend our high school," Korbatov said during the audience comments segment of the council meeting. "The mayor and the vice mayor and [Councilman Julian] Gold refused until very recently to defend this high school."

Korbatov criticized a sent by Brucker to Metro officials as "words not deeds."

"Instead you have pursued an uninterrupted course of meddling, holding clandestine, covert meetings with MTA decision-makers and you have even ridiculed some [school] board members," she said.

Brien said "there was nothing clandestine about this," referring to what he described as a broad-daylight tour for Ridley-Thomas and the supervisor's staff members of parts of Beverly Hills that could be affected by a Metro subway coming through town.

"We had the opportunity to take one of the ... key decision-makers for the MTA project out to the entire region," Brien said. "We never entered the high school grounds. We showed and went over with the [supervisor's] staff the area that we were talking about in terms of where the tunnel may go."

The vice mayor also said council members weren't obligated "to check with the school board every time we meet with another elected official." He noted the reluctance of Metro officials to meet with BHUSD board members "because of the trashing that they have continually taken in public and ... in the news."

Korbatov said she would raise the issue of council interference with the BHUSD's fight against a subway going under the high school at the Sept. 13 board meeting.

"It is time to stop these stealth meetings," Korbatov concluded to a thunderous round of applause and cheers from those assembled in Council Chambers.

Brucker cited the need for candid discussion as the rationale behind off-the-record meetings with MTA brass.

"Please don't think for a moment that simply because this council isn't throwing grenades ... at the Metro board that our resolve and determination isn't as potent as ... yours," Brucker told meeting attendees who applauded Korbatov's remarks. "We're trying to see if we can succeed by drowning them in honey versus throwing vinegar in their face."

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