I’ve followed the rise of Michael Allman intently and with great joy, the way that you watch a glorious racehorse galloping towards the finish line at a derby, crushing dirt and jockeys beneath its hooves. The people of the United States have been longing for a hero in these desperate times, and at last, we have found one in the form of the great and noble Trustee Michael Allman.
I, like the great majority of CCA students and staff, applauded Mr. Allman’s performance at his first school board meeting. A review of his conduct there reads like Facts and Logic’s Greatest Hits. His first order of business was to take the oath of office, sealing the pact that the people of our district made with him on the triumphal night of November 3rd. My heart leapt to ecstatic heights as he raised his right hand and swore to protect the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic — the Founding Fathers can rest easy now, knowing that a man of such character has sworn to defend their holy creation against all who would wish to destroy it. Then it was on to the work he was there to do: namely trying to convince an incredulous board to hire a man named John C. Lemmo as a sort of in-house legal council. The rest of the board wasn’t convinced; Junky Limo had worked for charter and private schools in the past, as well as the people who were trying to stop the rebuild of Del Mar Heights Elementary School because the new buildings might superficially alter their ocean views. Trustee Young also objected, on the grounds that Mr. Allman had initiated contact with Jaundiced Lemmon not only before he was officially sworn in as a member of the board, but also before he was even ahead in the vote count. Mr. Allman handled this with quiet poise and dignity, replying that these rebuttals actually proved his point–after all, he said, he needed an in-house lawyer to determine whether or not the things Young had said about him legally qualified as defamation or not. Having scored one great victory already, Trustee Allman made another power play: this time suggesting that the board adopt Rosenstein’s Rules of Order as a sort of guidebook for running meetings in an orderly manner; he also added that as an Esteemed Private-Sector Businessman he knows how to run a good board meeting. I agree with him here, because if there’s one thing that the world needs, it’s for all school business to be conducted in the same way as private industry–a bunch of balding men named Mike and Dave and Jim sit around a big fake-wood table and make vaguely condescending remarks about each other and restrain the urge to punch each other in the face long enough to swap millions of dollars. The school board, being exceptionally ignorant and unable even to comprehend the dazzling intellect before them, did not adopt this suggestion. But it was still a win for Mr. Allman in spirit!
Then, of course, was the main event. Mr. Allman has been a staunch advocate of reopening schools as soon as possible–he campaigned mostly on that issue in November’s election–and when the discussion turned to the district’s reopening policy, I knew we were in for a treat. A panel of doctors appeared, and Mr. Allman immediately began asking them the sort of tough, informative questions that would make him an excellent Today Show host if he ever decided to get into that type of thing.
“How many kids have died in California, of COVID?”
Three, came the reply from one of the docs.
Allman found his position vindicated, but expressed this vindication in humble and humane terms. “Well, that’s only three out of forty million!” he exclaimed. Some may say that three children dying is three too many, but we don’t have time for that sort of bleeding-heart snowflake nonsense. We are serious people here.
The meeting continued long into the night, and the hour neared eleven. And yet my focus did not wane, nor was my admiration for Mr. Allman’s work dulled by the lateness of the hour. As the board prepared to vote on the reopening proposal at about fifteen minutes to 11, Mr. Allman made a statement that was received warmly by every student watching. Referring to the student representatives who spoke at the meeting, Mr. Allman said, “The value that they provided, in what we have to decide, is very near zero. These are young kids, and this is a serious topic, and the fact that we’d let a couple of the ASBs… and I respect them, and I’ve been a student government person and supporter all my life. But to think that this board should place very much weight at all on what one individual or a couple of individual high schoolers think is a dereliction of our duty.”
As a person who has always believed that I count for nothing and should just shut up, this line of argument really appealed to me. I am a young kid too strung out on pineapple Juul pods, mescaline, and rap music to ever be trusted with making an informed decision. I am happy to delegate that authority to Respected Business Figures like Michael Allman, who know what is best for me.
I felt that the meeting had gone splendidly for our Number 1 Trustee, but I wanted to get a sense of what other people thought. I called up my friend Hans-Albrecht Strauss, one of my closest associates in the journalism business and a fellow who I always trust to be honest with me. Hans-Albrecht is a crazy half-wild German man who lives in a shipping container and who writes articles by smashing his face into an antique typewriter.
“What’d you think of Allman’s performance last night?” I asked him.
“Oh, I thought it was awful.” Hans-Albrecht said.
“Why?” I asked, bewildered.
“The guy has no filter at all!” Hans-Albrecht said. “It’s his first meeting and he already stuck his foot in it. ‘Very near zero.’ Geh zum teufel, jah? We’re the ones who are going to be going out and getting sneezed on, and he’s saying we don’t count for anything! What makes him count so much? All he did was trick the parents into voting for him because he was the only guy in the race who had a Facebook.”
“I think that’s very cynical.” I said.
“That’s what I do. Look, it’s pretty clear what the guy wants. He ran for Congress in 2018 and got obliterated by at least four other people. He got 3.9% of the vote! I could get that much just by buying a Costco package of Werther’s Originals and saying I’d give one to everybody who’d vote for me.”
“I would absolutely sell my vote for a Werther’s Original.” I said, almost involuntarily.
“I know! Look, it’s clear that the guy wants higher office. The school board is just a stepping stone to whatever he wants to come next. He might carpetbag over to the 50th district and run for Congress there. Much friendlier ground for a Republican than the coastal districts. They’re all stuffed to the gills with libs.”
“That’s unfair.” I protested.
“You seriously think this guy is in it for selfless reasons? Bro. Look up his Ballotpedia survey answers from the 2018 campaign. He cites compulsory public school attendance as an example of government overreach. And he literally sent his kids to private school! Pacific Ridge! That place is so bourgeois that they probably give you a yacht and a bitcoin on orientation day. This guy is not on the school board out of some selfless love for the public school system.”
Hans-Albrecht probably would’ve continued, but he was suddenly interrupted by a great cacophony and a flurry of swearing. There was a long stretch of silence. “Sorry.” he said, after about two minutes. “I just rolled my car off a bridge.”
“You have a car?” I asked.
“No, I stole it.” he said. “Anyway, gotta run. Guten abend.”
The line went dead. I must admit I felt a little bit shaken by Hans-Albrecht’s cynicism — what if I had it wrong all along? However, after engaging in my usual mental refocus technique–drinking two cans of Redbull and hanging upside down from the ceiling like a bat–I had thankfully vanquished these doubts.
All I needed to do was imagine our glorious reopening. I thought of sitting in a mostly empty classroom with people I may or may not know, unable to say anything to them, because we’re all staring at a screen with headphones on just like we would be at home, but now with the added risk of killing our teachers and family members with disease! I thought of sitting in the quad on a drizzling February morning, eating my frozen chicken nuggets at my designated spot on the concrete as a tepid silence settles over everything. I thought of the eeriness of going to the same old rooms, walking the same old halls, but now with a soft aura of doom hanging in the air. Christ, our wonderful reopening! How could we not sacrifice ourselves for so glorious a vision?