Editorial: Pay-to-Play Concerns in WCCUSD School Bond Program?
October 7, 2016 | By Daniel Borenstein | www.eastbaytimes.com
EXCERPT: An audit of West Contra Costa's $1.6 billion school construction program indicates vendors felt pressured to contribute to two board trustees' pet causes in order to receive district contracts. Former trustee Charles Ramsey, current trustee Madeline Kronenberg and political ally and current school board candidate Don Gosney solicited money from vendors and subcontractors, according to the audit.During fiscal years 2009-15, $2.1 million was donated by 26 vendors and subcontractors including architects, financial consultants, contractors, engineers and the bond program's construction management firm. ... According to the audit report, SGI declined to cooperate with a number of requests for information and thus limited the audit’s scope. ...If vendors were required to make contributions to obtain public contracts or continue their business relationships with the district, that would violate state and federal criminal bribery and extortion statues, said attorney Michael Martello, a government ethics expert. ... The audit, by the Southern California firm of Vicenti, Lloyd and Stutzman, doesn't specifically label the solicitations as pay-to-play, but indicates that several vendors regarded the contributions as a cost of doing business.
The report contains paraphrased summaries of comments from unnamed vendors: "The message was always clear - here's what it costs to stay in." "This is how we continue to get work from WCCUSD." ...
The contribution solicitations arose as part of the conflict-of-interest section of the investigation. The auditors offered no opinion on the legality of the practices. On Sept. 21, the school board voted unanimously to send the audit to law enforcement. ...
To read the complete News Release please visit: mercurynews.com/2016/10/07/borenstein-pay-to-play-concerns-in-school-bond-program
Link to WCCUSD Forensic Audit, it is broken up in downloadable sections:
TC = Test Controls, FI = Forensic Investigation
Prop. 51: $9 Billion Bonds for School Construction
Supporters see needs, critics question affordability
October 29, 2016 | By Christine Armario, Asso. Press| www.ocregister.com
EXCERPT: .California voters are deciding whether to approve $9 billion in bonds for school and community college construction projects - a measure proponents say is necessary to fill a backlog of needed new buildings and renovations.
Opponents of Proposition 51 argue the state cannot afford the estimated $500 million it would cost each year to pay off the bonds and that reform is needed in how school construction projects are funded. The measure is backed by a coalition funded by two developer organizations that have contributed more than $6 million since January, as well as the California PTA and dozens of school districts, labor and business associations. It would authorize $6 billion in general obligation bonds for building new K-12 schools and renovating older ones, as well as $1 billion for charters and vocational schools and $2 billion for community colleges. Principal and interest payments would be paid off over 35 years and cost a total of $17.6 billion if sold at an average 5 percent interest rate. ... An analysis by the Legislative Analyst's Office warned that the existing system "fails to treat school facility costs as an ongoing expense despite the recurring nature of facility needs" and deepens inequities between school districts, among other concerns.
The construction bonds are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis, which critics say gives larger and wealthier districts that have facilities staffs dedicated to obtaining new funding for construction and renovation projects an advantage over smaller, less affluent districts. Opponents of Prop. 51 contend that bond money for school projects should be doled out based on need. ...
To read the complete News Release please visit: www.ocregister.com/articles/school-733716-state-bonds.html
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Los Angeles Civil Grand Jury Report:
"Capital Appreciation School Bond Debt: Consequences of Poor Financial Practices" Final Report 2015-2016
5th CaLBOC Annual
CaLBOC Annual Conference
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Presentation Documents TO COME
"How Citizens Can Prevent Fraud"
Pesentation by Governmental Financial Strategies:
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