Measure E – Follow The Money

Glancing over the “Committee for Brea Olinda Schools – Yes on Measure E” financial disclosure (FPPC Form 460) covering the period between January 1 to May 19, 2012 presents some very illuminating information.

Contributions received total $29,250 and expenditures total $18,212.37 with an ending balance of $11,037.63.

Perhaps there remain outstanding media bills for the heavy campaigning that occurred in the final weeks that will chew up the leftovers, otherwise I’m not sure where that money would end up. It’s pretty much a done deal now, isn’t it?

Who contributed, and why?

Only one contributor was reported from Brea, the PAC’s treasurer Terry Swindle, and one contributor from La Habra, Warren Kraft/La Habra Fence. Mr. Kraft is the retired and well respected Superintendent of La Habra City Schools and a long time supporter of BOUSD. Both Terry and Warren contributed $500 each (or 1% of the total).

The rest of the list reads like a who’s who of companies making a living off of school districts, their construction projects, their bond issues, etc. LPA Architects, Irvine ($5000) who built Brea H.S. and Caldwell Flores Winters, Inc., Emeryville ($7,500) school planners, financiers and bond election services and their CFO Khushroo Gheyara kicked in $250 personally. Illuminate Education, Irvine ($500), Stifel Nicolaus, St. Louis ($5000), BCA Architects, San Jose ($5000), Bernards Builders Management Services, Ontario ($5000).

What’s in it for them?

Seems obvious to me, greasing the wheels of progress to help a little struggling school district in Orange County get it’s hands on $54 million in fresh tax dollars with it’s tagalong $20 million plus from local developers. The ROI stood to be substantial for the winners, except they didn’t win.

So why absolutely zero support from Brea? From Brea parents? From Brea teachers? From all the good hearted active citizens who lent their names and faces to the Yes on Measure E campaign? Even they didn’t seem inclined to put their money where their mouths were.

Where did the money go?

Into an ill conceived, poorly executed and singularly unconvincing advertising campaign conducted predominantly by AMAC, Redondo Beach to the tune of $15,954.44 to date and $1000 to Andrew Todd (now there’s a familiar name) to produce their website. At least with Andrew, they shopped Brea. A quick look suggests that AMAC would do well to hire Andrew to bring their website out of the last century.

Complete with the look of a 1960’s stock photo campaign, this antiquated approach included huge postcards plastered with endorsees (most of whom admitted they hadn’t even read the proposal), brochures, email blasts and personal prerecorded pleadings in unsolicited phone calls from school principals.

And they lost. Beaten by the North Orange County Conservative Coalition who, if I’m to believe what I hear, spent well under the FPPC limitation of $1000 to sufficiently help influence public opinion, ensuring that Measure E went down in flames.

When the education of Brea’s children is more about raising the quality of their learning experience and less about lining the pockets of the special interests or getting out from under the mounting unfunded pension liability… when a full accounting by an independent third party sheds a little light on where the $27 million bond issue and additional $80 million in developer’s funds they got in 1999 were really spent… maybe a bond issue might stand half a chance.

Until then BOUSD, we’re not your personal ATM!