Putting The Unified Back Into BOUSD.

BOUSD put Measure K on the ballot and all hell broke loose.

Proponents launched “Yes On Measure K” flooding neighborhoods and public thoroughfares with signs, mailboxes with oversized postcards, inserting themselves into our dinner hours with unsolicited robocalls. They hung out on street corners distracting traffic waving signs and passing out flyers, advocated boycotting downtown businesses with ill conceived letters accusing a local developer of buying elected officials and interfering in local politics and created a Facebook page where anyone with opposing views, contrary to the spirit of the first amendment, was blocked.

Opponents launched “No On Measure K” and prominently hung four giant banners and flooded public thoroughfares with signs, attended back-to-school nights and walked neighborhoods handing out flyers, hung out on street corners distracting traffic waving signs and passing out flyers and created a Facebook page challenging every message coming from the opposition.

A self-righteous bunch reactivated their “Reject Negative Politics In Brea” Facebook page and proceeded to attack every No on K sign, banner, flyer or attempt to get their message out. Their pro-K bias was blatant. They continued this masked propaganda until a couple of unattributed third party signs showed up that were truly negative politics. Only then did they suspend activity.

The BOUSD Board of Directors, especially the incumbents running for reelection, were notably silent though state law allows them to support the bond measure on their own time. Neither the Board or district staff conducted or participated in any public forum debating Measure K.

Both sides took to Nextdoor with posts about Measure K that became inflamed with personal attacks, unfounded allegations and unsupported assertions. Comments were repeatedly tagged for review when, as it turned out, the only offense was often the expression of an opposing opinion. Once friendly cyber-neighborhoods sharing coyote sightings, lost puppy alerts and selling used furniture, became bloody battlegrounds pitting neighbor against neighbor.

The “Yes On Measure K” Facebook page has now become “Take Brea Back” and the “No On K” page is now “Brea Watchdogs” – could they be any more divisive?

fb_savebreaTake Brea back from who? From that nasty ol’ developer hell bent on becoming the King of Brea? Exactly how does that benefit our kids or the BOUSD? (Ed Update: 11/29: The facelift continues, suggesting the group is formed “to provide information about local issues, concerns, elections and government activities that affect quality of life in the City of Brea.” – They have extended their ban prohibiting me from posting on their page.

fb_watchdogWatchdogs? Watching who? Watching what? I thought you promised to become part of the solution should Measure K fail to pass. Exactly how does perpetuating an adversarial stance benefit our kids or the BOUSD? (Ed Update: 11/29: Not to be outdone, the “Watchpuppies” group also claims to be an informational resource about local issues, particularly BOUSD. Like their nemesis Take Brea Back, they have also prohibited me from posting on their page.

Yesterday Joe Rollino resigned from the Board. Why? He already announced he would not be seeking reelection in 2018. Did he finish remodeling that beach house earlier than expected? Is there any chance Bill Hall might take the easy way out too?

Would Rod Todd dare apply to fill the vacancy after failing to get reelected? If Jason Kraft and Joseph Covey both apply to fill the vacancy, who does the Board select… the candidate with the most votes? What if a new name gets tossed into the ring?

On par with unfunded pension liabilities, putting the “unified” back into BOUSD is the top priority. Not how many apartments should Hines be entitled to build. Not how to rein in the loose canon on city Council. Not term limits, tiered water rates, parking citations on trash day, where to put a porkchop on a country road, Brea Envisions struggle for relevance or how to preserve those damned hills everyone is so up in arms about.

Its the preservation of Brea’s most valuable assets. Our kids and the BOUSD.

unified BOUSD

 

BOUSD Is After Your Wallet Again.

OCR staff writer Chris Haire published the following today.

(Undoubtedly from a district press release.) “District Survey: The Brea Olinda Unified School District recently released a community survey in which 53 percent of the 350 respondents said the district is heading in the right direction; 78 percent said the quality of education is excellent or good. A majority also said the district needs more money. The margin of error was 5.2 percent.”

wallet2Whether the results are projectable will be the first issue raised. Here’s a basic research truism: when three people answer a question and 2 say no, the result of 67% is projectable to that group of three people… not to the larger population from which the sample was selected. The margin of error comes into play.

The MSE (Maximum Sampling Error), in this case ±5.2%, adjusts with sample quantity in a non-linear manner and it can make a big difference in how you interpret a statistic.

Painting the picture with their favorite colors.

The BOUSD and their consultant, no surprise here, will naturally characterize the survey results in a manner that supports their aspirations of successfully launching a school bond measure on the 2014 ballot. A modestly conservative interpretation of the same results is hardly as encouraging.

Twisting the numbers to suit their agenda.

If, as reported, 53% of the sample said the district is heading in the right direction (a concept that was not clearly defined to those taking the survey by the way), there is a 95% probability that the opinions of the entire population (in this case high propensity voters) would range between 47.8% to 58.2%.

Theoretically, the same holds true for each inquiry and it’s results. It is as legitimate to interpret, in this survey, that a majority (more than 50%) would feel that the district is NOT heading in the right direction.

brea_HSThe statement that “a majority” said that the district needs more money is misleading at best. Various dollar amounts (ranging from $129 million to $45 million) were suggested in the survey. Only when Yes and Maybe are added together does a supportive response emerge.

Another non-surprise, the BOUSD “favored” figure of $78 million got the highest response, 27% Yes, 28% Maybe. That 55%, considering the margin of error, pushes the credibility of calling the response a majority. When one adds together the No and Maybe Not in that inquiry, the response is equally ambivalent. The “I Don’t Care” response received 9%. What does that tell you?

If one takes all of the statistics into consideration, including the very small sample size relative to the large demographic group used, and factors in the stinging loss the BOUSD was handed on Measure E in 2012… I doubt they will succeed in burdening an already heavily indebted homeowner population (still paying off millions from the ’99 school bond with no idea where the money was spent) with a new bond measure in 2014.

NoE_02How much of the ’99 bond has yet to be paid? Millions? Yes. What is it costing the average Brea homeowner every year? Hundreds, if not thousands? Yes.

Will Brea’s homeowners really be willing to double down on the BOUSD and it’s money hungry Board of Directors to the tune of almost another $100 million dollars?

I’m betting the answer is no.

Mr. Haire, in the future I wish you would seek input from both sides of an issue before publishing a public relations piece like that which appeared today.

 UPDATE: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2013

In a rare exhibition of fiscal sensibility, the BOUSD tonight dismissed an agenda item to continue their pursuit of a new school bond (spending an additional $64,000 on the Lew Edwards Group). This was accomplished because no one would move or second the item for consideration.

Vigilance is still the byword however. And the 2014 elections should be a clean sweep of all the old deadwood.

 

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!