California AG's Opinion Targets School Bond Practices
JAN 28, 2016 | BY KYLE GLAZIER
EXCERPT: School and community college districts violate California law if they hire outside firms to campaign for bond ballot measures or purposely incentivize municipal finance professionals to advocate for passage of a bond measure, the state's attorney general said in a formal legal opinion.
Attorney General Kamala Harris released the opinion Tuesday in response to a request from Treasurer John Chiang.
California law prohibits using public funds to influence the outcome of an election, including campaigning for the passage of a bond measure. Voter-approved bonds backed by property taxes are the primary method of new school construction in the state, and Chiang sought a clarification on whether some common industry practices might be violating the law.
Such California attorney general's opinions are advisory, and not legally binding on courts, but are generally considered authoritative by the officers and agencies who have requested them and given respect by judges.
Robert Doty, a lawyer and former financial advisor who now runs his own litigation consulting firm AGFS in Annapolis, Md., said the opinion is a significant development.
"This is a very important analysis for finance," Doty said. "It is not a general attempt to say that contributions are good or bad, except when they are tied to getting business."... To read the complete articleplease visit: www.bondbuyer.com/news/regionalnews/california-ags-opinion-targets-school-bond-practices-1095134-1.html
California Attorney General Opinion of No. 13-304
School District Bonds and Bond Elections
In connection with a school or community college bond measure, does a district violate state law by contracting with a bond underwriter for both pre-election campaign services and post-election underwriting services? CaAG0pinion13-304.pdf
West Contra Costa School Board Approves Full-Fledged Forensic Audit of Bond Program
January 21, 2016 | By Joyce Tsai | www.contracostatimes.com
EXCERPT: RICHMOND -- With a goal of restoring the public's trust, the West Contra Costa school district's board of trustees authorized a comprehensive forensic audit of the district's $1.6 billion bond program.
The board voted 4-1 to have independent forensic auditors Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman conduct the high-level, detailed accounting of the school bond construction program to root out potential fraud, waste and abuse. The audit also will verify that proper procedures are in place to prevent financial mismanagement in the future.
The vote was a victory for bond watchdogs who had long been asking for improved transparency and accountability in the district. They came to the meeting by the dozens to urge the board to approve a full independent forensic accounting of the bond program so that any lingering doubts about it might be put to rest. ...
"A whistleblower subcommittee, formed after a former analyst made allegations of financial mismanagement in the bond program, recommended that the board approve the in-depth forensic audit. A dueling recommendation by district staff for a watered-down version of an audit was not approved by the trustees. The estimated cost of the forensic audit is $1 million and would be paid from bond program money. ...
... Trustee Liz Block pointed out that annual performance audits, which are conducted to ensure that bond programs comply with Proposition 39, are different from those of forensic auditors, who specialize in uncovering waste, fraud, abuse and financial irregularities. ...
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West Contra Costa District Staff Recommends to Scale Down Forensic Audit's Scope
January 19, 2016 | By Joyce Tsai | www.contracostatimes.com
EXCERPT: School trustees on Wednesday are scheduled to vote on the scope of a forensic audit into whistleblower allegations about waste, fraud, abuse and financial irregularity in the West Contra Costa district's school bond construction program.
Controversy has already erupted, with the whistleblower subcommittee saying that district staff has replaced its recommendation with a watered-down substitute that fails to fully investigate the allegations and does not use the special forensic auditing firm selected by the board last year.
"It was a shock to tell you the truth, to see the recommendation by district staff was written to downplay our recommendation and substituted with the staff recommendation," said school Trustee Liz Block, chairwoman of the subcommittee looking into whistleblower Dennis Clay's allegations of mismanagement. "No one in the district talked to me ahead of time, and it was really unexpected."...
... "When you think about it, the Clay investigation represents an attempt to correct the possible wrongs of district," Block said. "And when we're just on the point of finalizing our recommendation, having the district step in and make their own recommendations, it's the kind of action that could completely undo the other work we're doing."
Fellow school Trustee and Clay subcommittee member Valerie Cuevas agreed.
"Our goal from the start was to be open, transparent and clear in our actions, and our recommendation was open, transparent and clear, so the fact that what's being presented to the board isn't a reflection of that is quite surprising to me ... " she said. "This is not in line with how this subcommittee has functioned through its entirety. ... The staff is presenting staff opinion. ...
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5th CaLBOC Annual
CaLBOC Annual Conference
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Curtis Mathews Presentation: Curtis Matthews, CPA, CCA, Partner,
The Proper Performance
Auditing According to GAGAS
ContractCompliance and Control Solutions
Practice leader, Moss Adams LLP.
Curtis brings extensive construction cost
control experience to projects, having led
the audit and successful controls
implementation of the largest health
care construction project in the United
States. He has helped project owners
negotiate favorable contract terms,
implement strong project controls,
monitor construction controls performance
and ensure that construction project
charges are compliant with
May 19, 2015 Conference
Don Mullinax Presentation:
May 9, 2014 Conference
Lori Raineri of Governmental Financial Strategies Presentation:
Pay to Play in School Bond Measures What it is and Why it is Wrong