BOUSD Mailer Is A Pack Of Lies.

An oversized BOUSD mailer hit Brea Friday, courtesy of the “Yes on K” PAC and it failed to contain a shred of truth. Instead it leaned heavily on scare tactics. Let’s parse the language one false statement after another.

BOUSD MailerFalse: “Fanning Elementary sustained significant damage requiring over a one year closure and almost $7 million in repairs and updates.”

Truth: Only a portion of Fanning Elementary underwent asbestos mitigation and repair. The total cost was closer to $4 million of which $2 million was reimbursed by the state.

Months passed without the board approving or initiating any work. We’d would have fared better had we called FEMA.

2015 SARC (School Accountability Report Card) states that Safety (Fire & Hazardous Materials), Structural (Damage & Roofs) and External (Playground, School Grounds, Windows, Doors, Gates & Fences) are in good condition and facility is given an overall rating of “Exemplary.”

Facility Improvement Needs list for Fanning lists these “to do” items: Seismic Upgrades for Kindergarten Wing and Main Office – $1 million; Asbestos Abatement – $500,000; School Facility Repairs & Upgrades $12.85 million. Total: $14.35 million

BOUSD MailerFalse: “The Orange County Grand Jury made a ruling requiring mandatory asbestos removal at all schools in O.C.”

Truth: The grand Jury has no authority to mandate anything, they review and recommend. Their 2015-16 report “Dealing With Asbestos In Orange County Public Schools” cited 12 findings and 20 recommendations.

gjury_aNot all of which were applicable to all schools/districts. The 27 OC school districts were required to respond (in writing) to only those findings and recommendations applicable to them. I checked the Grand Jury website and discovered that the BOUSD response is missing for some reason. Looking into it.

There was no mandatory mitigation required, this was a county wide assessment.

False: “Measure K will fund critical projects throughout the BOUSD… Earthquake Retrofit, Restore Leaking Roofs, Plumbing Repairs/Replacement, Installation and/or Repair of Fencing, Asbestos Abatement, Fireproofing, ADA Accessibility/Code Updates, Install Shade Structures, Electrical Repairs, Construct/Renovate Classrooms, Cafeteria & Multi Purpose Buildings, Installation and Upgrades to Campus Security Systems, Replace Outdated Heating/Ventilation/AC Systems, Repair Hardcourt Surfaces.”

BOUSD MailerTruth: This is not the official legal language of Measure K and is therefore excluded from consideration when holding the district accountable.

However, Measure K fine print does say, “… certain construction funds expected from non-bond sources have not yet been secured. Therefore, the Board cannot guarantee that the bonds will provide sufficient funds to allow completion of all listed projects.”

Following consultant recommendations, the district turned to generic terminology, proven via focus group study to elicit a supportive response to school bond measures. It is so nonspecific that it renders bond revenues into nothing more than a slush fund.

The process leading to Measure K has, from it’s outset, relied on total fabrication. It’s genesis can be found in the district’s failure to actually do the work as promised from the 1999 bond issue, in the dismal failures of 2012 and 2014 bond issues, in the mishandled asbestos mitigation projects at Fanning Elementary and the Junior High.

Liars, damned liars and statistics.

Stephen King once said, “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.”

The BOUSD and Board are relying on conscripting faculty to work the phones day and night, scaring the hell out of parents and convincing them that Measure K is the mother load of solutions.

It is not. It is a straight line to creating a massive debt from here to 2056, the preponderance to be paid off by those it is supposed to serve… our children. All with no guarantee provided that anything of real educational value will be created, upgraded, mended or mitigated.

BOUSD Mailer

ADDENDUM:

Measure K

Koreagate – Case Closed.

da-letterAfter almost 16 weeks the other shoe finally dropped. OC Senior Deputy District Attorney Raymond Armstrong sent me a letter saying they were closing their inquiry into Koreagate and that no further action would be taken.

I am still unsure what was actually done beyond quickly reading through the 15 to 20 documents provided as evidence in the complaint. Comments in Mr. Armstrong’s letter left more questions unanswered than answered.

I called his office to solicit more information on their process and ended up talking for some time to his associate SDDA Jaime Coulter. At the end of our conversation I understood the complexities in this case that would lead them to the conclusion that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Letting the results be known.

What follows is my email to Marty Simonoff and Roy Moore (the only Council members interested in getting to the truth) as well as to Armstrong and Coulter plus a couple of OCR staff writers whom I had promised to keep informed.

Marty & Roy…

My response from the OCDA is attached. I called and spoke with Mr. Armstrong’s associate, Jaime Coulter, and it is clear that their investigation fell short of what I had expected. It was, however, conducted in a manner consistent with the prosecutorial restraints under which I understand their office must operate.

Per Mr. Coulter, the OCDA’s determination that there is no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing and their dismissal of my complaint hinges on the necessity for them to be able to prove “criminal intent to defraud” (steal from the city) as part of a case for misappropriation of public funds.

Intent is one the most difficult matters to prove, except perhaps under the more liberal burden of proof required in civil court. It’s a shame that “stupid” isn’t against the law, but then we all might be in serious jeopardy.

While I am not happy with the outcome, I am satisfied… my lengthy conversation with Mr. Coulter helped me to have a deeper, more clear understanding of these legal processes.

Mr. Armstrong’s letter states, “This also appears to be an issue that the city council could adequately address.”

Unfortunately, those most likely to be effected by continued pursuit of this matter, those who would be required to reimburse the city, maintain a strangle hold with their three votes which allows them to impede any effort counter to their personal agendas.

The good news is that, through over three months of relentless pressure from me and others and the wisdom in Measure T, the city has implemented positive standards which will avert this sort of unethical behavior from happening again. Itineraries will be required, Council will formally approve foreign travel and, hopefully, a more robust and enforceable travel policy will be adopted soon.

It’s perfectly legal to be stupid.

I never suggested, from day one, that there was any malice in the hearts of those who made such an ignorant blunder. When the culprits were publicly taken to task by Lynn Daucher, Bev Perry, Glen Parker and others no one called them criminals. It was clear enough that the choices made by Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell were more idiotic and ethically unwise than criminal chicanery.

Regardless of what convinced Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell it would be okay to spend almost half of the city’s annual travel budget on a ten day excursion to Korea and Japan… no law was broken. No common sense was exercised either and almost 50 years of precedents were totally and conveniently ignored.

So, where do we go from here?

First, Council needs to finish the job of formalizing an enforceable travel policy. They reached agreement, by consensus, to require public approval by Council for all foreign travel and that a complete itinerary must be included in the travel request to verify the official nature and direct benefits of the trip.

This is a good start but is nowhere near a robust and enforceable travel policy. A more thorough policy needs to be drafted and approved, in resolution form, in a public session. Not the study session, which might as well be held behind closed doors for all the transparency it provides, but downstairs in front of the tv cameras.

Throughout this lengthy ordeal, virtually all who called, emailed or stopped me on the street to talk about this felt as I did that Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell should reimburse the city. I still feel that way, and with one swing vote a Council majority would agree. I’m not holding my breath.

And finally, November 2014 will give us an opportunity to elect candidates who will truly have the people’s will as their guide and reject those politicians who have repeatedly thumbed their noses at the public, taken every stipend and free chicken dinner they could and spent more time trying to build their legacy than maintain our community.