BOUSD Puts $148 Million Dollar Bond On November Ballot!

BOUSD Board met last Monday evening and once again I’m turning to a Brea resident with special insight into the district, Connie Lanzisera. Connie has monitored the BOUSD for many years, holding them accountable on a wide variety of issues… mostly linked to money. The Board attempted to very quietly hustle a bond issue onto November’s ballot and almost got away with it. Here’s the backstory from Connie.

BOUSDI would like to thank the many Brea residents that attended the BOUSD Board meeting Monday night voicing their opinion on a possible $148 million dollar bond. Even though the outcome did not turn out as many had hoped, it was good to see the public become involved in the discussion.

For many hoping to at least delay the bond issue for a couple of years, the BOUSD Board’s decision to put it on the November 8th ballot appeared to have been decided before the meeting began.

Unfortunately, the School Board chose not to listen to Brea taxpayers who had legitimate complaints about, amongst many things, the lack of transparency thus far in this process.

Strong opposition voiced.

Every person opposing the bond measure told the board they would support a bond IF and only IF the District was truthful, transparent, and thorough in explaining how the $148 million dollars would be spent.

It seems both prudent and reasonable to ask for a detailed list of projects and costs the District wants to spend. However, the District has provided only a vague list in their attempt to define the scope of work to be performed.

They want the taxpayer to cough up $148 million dollars without any prior oversight from Brea residents… no questions asked.

BOUSDBOUSD – History repeats itself.

This mimics the Board’s strategy in 1999 when they duped voters into approving a $27 million dollar bond for which there has never been an adequate independent audit. We are still paying for it even though the money was spent many years ago.

In 2012 the Board tried to slip another $54 million dollar bond initiative onto the ballot but voters were smarter and the measure failed… much to the embarrassment of both district staff and the Board who assumed the measure would easily pass.

This year, attempting to gather public input, phone surveys were conducted on a very limited basis. Less than 300 taxpayers were contacted at a cost of $127,340 (those phone calls cost $425 each).

The consultant confirmed they called from a list of voters who had voted in the last two presidential elections because they had a high probability of voting this November. They called the week after their huge sob story postcard landed in Brea mailboxes. This is playing a numbers game, nothing else.

How many surveyed were homeowners or renters like you and me who will eventually be stuck paying the bill? Hardly a projectable sample.

Marketing vs. Engagement.

The District, rather than legitimately seeking public support, is relying on buzzwords tested by the financial interests in the bond industry. Rather than conducting broadly announced public hearings where community opinions might become part of the public record, the matter slipped onto last week’s agenda like a thief in the night.

Had sharp eyes not spotted the attempt to sneak the resolution through, there would have been little or no opposition expressed. A handful of teachers and PTA parents would have congratulated the Board for their forward thinking.

BOUSDBOUSD – A pattern of deception.

If the School District begins this process deceiving the community and trying to mask their intent, how can we expect them to be transparent and truthful when it comes to spending our money? Their flagrant disregard for truth is obvious.

The Board couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer questions to how the $148 million dollars would be spent. Their answers, turning to those tested buzzwords, were generic phrases like fixing leaky roofs, upgrade wireless infrastructure, energy efficiencies and environmental upgrades and reinforce eroding hillsides.

This will raise the quality of education how?

Board member excuses ring hollow.

BOUSDBoard members spoke of their good stewardship and management of district assets, bragged about their success “saving” the district during tough financial times and took issue with comments from the audience to the contrary.

BOUSDBottom line, this is the Board that, in spite of millions of dollars in bond revenue and millions in profits from the sale of properties, has allowed our schools to deteriorate into a completely deplorable and unacceptable state of disrepair.

Our children and parents deserve better… so do those of us whose property taxes will take a big jump for another 30 years. The plan is not sufficiently clear or adequately detailed. The public has been disregarded.

The only reasonable choice is to vote no on the BOUSD school bond measure in November.

BOUSD

Dear Mr. Vargas…

This morning an email showed up in my inbox from a good friend and neighbor to Councilman Vargas. All of Council was copied. It echoed rising sentiments following the last Council meeting (read my summary here).

All things considered, I thought it only reasonable to add this to the public discussion before the next Council meeting on Tuesday.

June 18, 2016

Dear Mr. Vargas –

Hearing about term limits, I took the time to familiarize myself with the issue by reading Brea Matters and then viewed the hour long council discussion, which presented two very opposing views.

Confused, I asked others, what was the impetus for the filing? I thought we as a community were finally satisfied with our city council members.

The response from several sources was that you have a personal vendetta against Marty.

I am abhorred that you would drag the residents of Brea through an initiative that will be very difficult to overturn to satisfy a personal agenda.

In the last election, we as a community rid the incumbent simply by voting and through grass root efforts. Do you believe it’s satisfactory that Brea ‘start over’ every eight years? Glenn Parker’s stats prove that people leave on their own or by votes, which is the why it’s called an ‘election.’

Your campaign promises to me personally, and to the community, was to engage with us. You’ve now compromised your commitment to us by filing for a ballot initiative with no regard to the residents’ opinions on the proposal.

Steve, this is from your website: stevevargas.com.

term limits“For over a decade politicians have been promising us a more transparent government, but we’ve yet to see it. As your Council person, my number one objective will be to help ensure that every resident and voter is afforded a real opportunity to make your feelings known to Council.

Your input should always play a key role in Council decisions. This is your home.

Bottom line, a government that listens to its constituents, that demonstrates the ability to work as a team, that keeps the budget balanced and the city safe, is all any of us could wish for. Together, we can make a better Brea.”

This is classical bait and switch politics, and I am disappointed that you’ve become one of ‘them.’

I implore you to do the right thing and withdraw your submission.

Susan Fujioka

Twain_1

 

Term Limits: Debate Or Debacle?

council_aAs term limits, once again, entered the public discourse last Tuesday evening I was reminded of something my dad said to me and my brothers on countless occasions, “Knock that crap off!”

term limitsThings started sliding downhill when comments were made during Matters From The Audience by the very people (former elected officials) who blocked any discussion of term limits when Steve Vargas raised the question in 2000 and Roy Moore asked to put it on the agenda in 2002.

While no one else who spoke specifically favored term limits, they acknowledged it’s timeliness, underscoring the complex options and how appropriate it is to hold a public debate.

ParkerFor almost an hour Council “discussed” the matter where some members resorted to language, accusations, gestures and tone of voice that violated all five guidelines Council adopted in their Code of Conduct covering behavior in public meetings. The lack of civility during Council’s debate was alarming and reminded me of how petty and political municipal government has become.

Councilman Simonoff, a perpetual opponent to term limits (considering running for an unprecedented sixth term) dug up an obscure response I made to someone commenting on Brea Matters four years ago. “The notion that anyone has an expiration date after which they are no longer capable of contributing to society is preposterous.”

SimonoffWell, four years have passed. Since then, especially this past year as Mayor Simonoff orchestrated the most unproductive Mayoral year I can remember, he consistently has kicked the can down the road on important issues.

Was he hoping to avoid any possible new blemishes on his record as he prepared his attempt to set a city record for consecutive terms in office? Seems more than plausible.

No worries Councilman Simonoff, you could continue to contribute to society by volunteering at the Senior Center or with the Brea PD as a VIPS Officer. As far extending your career in politics… twenty is plenty.

Finally, as the vitriolic exchange ran it’s course and everyone had ample opportunity to share their opinions, Mayor Marick put a lid on the embarrassing and unproductive runaway discussion… bringing a voice of reason to the proceedings.

MarickShe pointed out that neither the upcoming meeting of Brea First addressing term limits and campaign finance reform nor the floundering Brea Envisions project facing another nine months before completion, was an appropriate place to kick the can.

Further, to ward off a threat from outside the community to collect signatures and jam a “two terms and out” term limit initiative on November’s ballot, Mayor Marick pointed out it’s Council’s responsibility to manage the discussion and to act upon the majority opinion in a timely manner.

Staff was instructed to come back with recommendations, amongst other things, on how best to conduct a public forum on campaign finance reform and term limits.

This seems to be a perfect place to share a recent comment posted on medium.com by Vice President Biden, “Our country’s history is studded with moments where we’ve found a way to moderate the extreme reactions that threaten to tear us apart — and find a path to progress. It’s when we’re truly at our best.”

So, as my dad used to say, “Knock that crap off!”

This isn’t rocket science or tiered water rates. There is no reason we can’t have civil discussions about term limits and campaign finance reform – and reach a consensus about how we wish to formally deal with these issues in a way that will benefit the community for generations to come.

To view the meeting yourself, go to Brea’s website and click the “Meeting Index” tab, then 11 Matters from the Audience and 14 Term Limits Discussion.

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