Bond vs. Health Benefit.

An open letter to the BOUSD Board and our community from Brea resident and business owner Dwight Manley.

Bond

I am writing this to clarify my position regarding the BOUSD board member’s compensation. The following 12 points summarize my considered opinion:

1.   I view the privilege of being elected and serving on the board as a “volunteer” position.

2.  Our schools have been hit hard by rising pension costs, which has resulted in severe reductions in funding for basic class needs, sports programs, school events and teacher’s salaries.

3.  I deeply sympathize with the teachers that are having to dig into their own pockets for supplies, and parents that are repeatedly hit up with requests for funding.

I especially find the school district’s use of children to be the messengers for these pleas to be unacceptable. Making a child return to class with a signed form saying “No” and having to be involved in a parent’s inability or unwillingness to “give” is not healthy for a child.

4.  As a self-made person who has done well in my life, I feel a responsibility to give back. Consequently, I receive numerous requests weekly from BOUSD students, teachers and parents.

5.  I have extra joy in providing funds for those less fortunate. One example is funding the senior night which runs over $100 per student. I feel every student should be able to attend regardless of their parent’s financial situation. Every student should be able to attend.

6.  Every time I sign a check, I think of the thousands of dollars per month the BOUSD board is taking for their “volunteer” position. Over the last 20 years, this is over $1,000,000 and some years was over $120,000.

These dollars would have a real impact on hundreds of lives immediately. Imagine a free breakfast program with supervision at the Jr High for parents that go to work early and could drop their children off at 7am?

7.  I’ve challenged members of the Board to drop this “benefit” for several years now, and they’ve repeatedly refused.

8.  Again and again I have told the Board that I would support a bond measure if;

a.  They drop their health insurance and only receive their stipend.

b.  A bond be tightly regulated with a sub 4% interest rate; no refinancing to pull out more money as was done in the past; the projects be “front loaded” meaning we get as much as can be built in 36 months.

I don’t like the money sitting around for 20 years unused like Olinda School did; a specific list of projects that improve the school’s ability to teach kids and not have a “Cal K-12” taking 15% off the top to feed to do their work.

The overseer of any funds needs to be a publicly bid process with a sub 10% fee. I don’t want to see bond money spent on fencing etc.; the district already has plenty in reserves to do that if its truly that vital.

9.  Various terms have been thrown around to describe my stance; “political blackmail”, “extortion”, “threats.” Those are all being used to deflect and attack me, rather than staying focused on the only issue at hand.

Kids and teachers are woefully short of funds, and the board, some living in million + dollar homes, are taking those funds for themselves. I equate this to people working at a food bank for the needy, taking the food home for themselves.

10.  Having health insurance for “volunteers” creates a huge conflict of interest. If the board members can’t afford their own insurance – they become dependent on the benefit.

Those that can afford it, besides being greedy in my opinion, would have to change doctors if they lost it, and as we all know, that’s not desirable. Why would we have such a personal, emotional and important thing be injected into a position that requires 100% selfless actions?

11.  Our own City council does not have such a “perk”.

12.  Some say “The bond initiative and health insurance issues shouldn’t be linked.” As stated above, having this “perk” is too personal and too important to not play a role in decisions.

If we have $150,000,000 to spend from a bond, no matter how tight the controls are, we can’t have a repeat of the horrific sale to Hines of the old school farm for pennies on the dollar, by a board that thought nothing of taking over $120,000 personally per year, while supposedly so low on funds, they had to do that deal.

Imagine the district having the $71,000,000 that Hines received from Avalon Bay just for a piece of paper saying they can build 653 apartments on our old school farm. We would not be in this position if they hadn’t done that.

Final Thoughts.

So, there you have the gist of my thinking and why I’m taking this public stance. We can’t waste another dollar on a board member’s health insurance until each and every teacher doesn’t have to send one of those letters home asking for money. Until every coach doesn’t have to send out letters or have players canvas the town for money to buy basic items.

Brea is where my heart is. I’m from here, I went to school here and my mom is buried here. I will be buried here. I will always try to help our community and when needed, step up to defend it.

Thank you.

Measure K: Mailers & Robocalls Again.

Mailers and robocalls continue unabated and, for Measure K supporters, they will be their undoing. Let’s start with the latest robocall from another political fossil.

lynndaucher_400“This is Former Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher calling about Measure K. Don’t be misled by the anti public school message from the downtown developers special interests and the No on K campaign. Measure K is a smart investment in our kids, our community and our property values. Don’t be fooled. Measure K is a fiscally responsible plan with accountability and oversight.”

Emphasis on former.

While Lynn’s history might be credible in many ways, it is just that, history. Like Punxsutawney John Beauman and the ephemeral Bev Perry, propagandists drag these vestiges of 20th century small town politics out and parade them around hoping their reputations might lend credibility to highly dubious issues.

More a liability than an asset, when was the last time Lynn Daucher regularly attended local school board meetings or weighed in on something other than reelecting Hall or Rollino?

Like the anonymous “parents” promoting boycotts, the robocall tries to tie “downtown developers” to a rejection of everything that might benefit the education and development of Brea’s youth.

girl-1_sqHow ignorant and unbelievable. Name one individual who can claim to be a fraction of the philanthropist that Dwight Manley has been for years and continues to be in spite of being constantly denigrated by halfwits.

Measure K is a fool’s investment offering nothing to our kids, our community or our property values. Measure K is fiscally irresponsible and lacks meaningful accountability.

Now, the latest mailer.

Proponents of Measure K need to be reminded that repeating their lies does not somehow make them true. As many have already clearly pointed out the Oversight Committee doesn’t even give passable lip service to the idea of accountability.

back-bAs one commenter on Nextdoor posted, “I just received a “Vote Yes on K” [mailer]. If I only read this, I would have to vote for K. It states, ‘Measure K has strict fiscal accountability rules required by California State Law!’. It sounds terrific. I am a CPA. I have been a CFO for not-for-profit corporations for most of my career. The notion of being able to spend $148 million with only an oversight committee after-the-fact reviewing the expenditures to confirm that they were spent for ‘facility improvement’ is not even close to ‘strict fiscal accountability.’ This piece didn’t ‘lie,’ but it sure stretched the definition of accountability to its breaking point.”

A comprehensive list?

Again with the harping about detailed lists developed by “Architectural and Construction Management firms” – you mean like Cal K-12 and Pinnacle Design Group who are on record donating $35,000 to the “Yes” PAC? Does anyone not see the ulterior motives?

jasons_map

Monday night, October 24, the BOUSD Board approved payment of $9,780 to the very same Pinnacle Design Group for designing an interior dividing wall in a portable classroom. According to the Facility Improvement Needs Lists, portables need to be replaced. That’s $10k to design a wall, not even to build it, in a temporary structure slated for removal.

General funds must support instructional programs?

pipe_300When Measure K proponents say that general funds must support instructional programs they fail to mention that these funds also pay staff and teacher salaries, excessive health benefits to Board members and, sad to say, underfund pensions. They “skip” right over mentioning the $21,000,000 surplus that could be legally tapped to handle priority projects like those severely corroded pipes they’ve been whining about that caused a leak in the Arovista server room.

We can’t afford to wait until 2018.

Who’s crystal ball are they using when they predict dramatically increasing interest rates in the coming years? They suggest this will cause project costs to soar.

Oh please, these are the same years when 3 of the 4 tranches would be released. Wouldn’t they be subject to the same prohibitive interest rates? They can’t have their cake and eat it too.

This last minute mailer is total hogwash.

front-bThe ink was already dry on these flyers and the donors money was burning a hole in their pockets. The logical next step was… go to the post office. It’s this logic that has contributed to the current situation and it has been exercised by the same small band of people.

Shame on the 24 local notables, most of whom have shown little interest in solving the district’s financial woes in recent years. They seem to have no objection to grabbing few minutes of faded glory at the expense of out-of-town donors.

Dig deeper into the details.

As we’ve gratefully come to expect, Jason Kraft has meticulously gathered together details on everything I’ve spent the last 17 paragraphs ranting and snarking about. You can read Jason’s commentaries here –

“Don’t Believe The Lies” Part 1

“Don’t Believe The Lies” Part 2

“Don’t Believe The Lies” Part 3

“Don’t Believe The Lies” Part 4

Additional analysis will be linked here when they become available.

Vote No

Robocalls: The Final Straw

This weekend yet another campaign season nuisance, robocalls, were launched by the supporters of Measure K. Infinitely more intrusive than big banners and bogus boycotts (and hugely more expensive I might add), robocalls are unsolicited political messages free from the limitations of the “Do Not Call” list.

When did you ever get a robocall you believed?

robocallsWell, the Measure K calls share much in common with their telemarketing cousins. They often rely on a familiar name or voice. Their intent is to convince you to take action that benefits them. They’re not too concerned with truth in advertising guidelines or adhering to them. The sales pitch is often based upon making misinformation sound like fact, lies sound like truth.

Measure K robocalls are no different.

The spokesperson is none other than former Mayor Bev Perry who begins by identifying herself as though it gives credibility to the message that follows.

She has had lucid moments in support of important local issues… this is not one of them.

Let’s parse this telemarketing line by line.

robocalls“This is former Brea Mayor Bev Perry calling about Measure K to support Brea schools.”

Got your attention? If you care about this issue, sure. We’ll have to see if the PAC’s disclosures in their 460 filing shows she picked up a little mad money for the effort.

“People choose to live in Brea because it offers a high quality of life which includes good neighborhood schools.”

Well, it did, but if you believe the Brea school district’s $300,000,000 list of repairs they need to do… it would be more honest to say, “People chose to live in Brea…” past tense.

“Yes on K is accountable and includes a list of authorized Measure K projects, independent annual audits and a citizen’s oversight committee to monitor the funds.”

No, not true. A “Measure” is accountable for nothing. It can be written to include an attempt to require accountability but there are no guarantees. In the case of Measure K, accountability would fall to those charged with managing the money. Precisely why we need a new Board. One we can trust.

There is no list within the measure except for very generic language that authorizes nothing specific. The school-by-school “assessment” was manufactured after the fact to calm public protest over a lack of specificity. It has no connection to Measure K.

The Oversight Committee has no say in how funds would be spent. They “validate” expenditures after the money is spent. It’s a rubber stamp committee powerless to oversee anything with any authority.

And Placentia received regular audits from recently replaced Lance, Soll & Lunghard, LLP (aka LSL CPAs & Advisors, Brea’s auditor by the way) yet one of their financial managers is “alleged” to have embezzled $5.16 million before being discovered by Federal authorities.

I guess it would be reasonable to assume that BOUSD auditors, Vicente Lloyd Stutzman LLP would be who Ms. Perry is referring to.

“All funds stay local to improve our Brea schools.”

This is a non sequitur, period. It’s inference or conclusion does not follow from the premises. What does “stay local” mean? No outside contractors will be used? This will be a big disappointment to Cal K-12 and Pinnacle Design Group, Inc., operators from the Inland Empire who would love to snag some Measure K business.

Together these two out-of-towners have donated $35,000 to the Yes on K PAC and are probably prepared to ante up more if asked. Thirty-five large is nothing compared to the millions on the table.

“Remember to find Measure K on your ballot and vote Yes on K for kids.”

Voters would be wise to remember that those opposing Measure K are doing so for the kids as well.

Tactics for dealing with robocalls.

Hang up. It’s a recording. It’s not really Bev Perry. It’s not really true.

Advocates of Measure K insult your intelligence when they presume you can be convinced by a robocall. Do your homework. Demand facts and proof. Don’t settle for generic solutions and a complete lack of accountability.

ADDENDUM: Mass mailer is the latest straw…

Comments shared by Jason Kraft – Candidate for BOUSD Board

yes-cc_10-17Today I received an unsolicited email in my spam folder from “Yes on Measure K”. The arguments they make in favor of Measure K are the same ones that have been refuted again and again, and most of the people I talk to in the community recognize this.

A common argument from Yes on K is “we can’t afford to wait“, since interest rates are at historic lows. This statement ignores the reality that completing these facilities projects will take at least 10-15 years, and the $148 million we borrow will be separated into four separate bond issues stretching through 2025. Current interest rates have nothing to do with future borrowing costs.

Another argument included in the email is that a 2018 bond is not a good idea because classrooms will be two years older in 2018. Let’s look at the big picture here: if our facilities projects take 12 years to complete, Measure K would fund projects from 2017-2029. A bond passed in 2018 with stronger accountability and a prioritized project list would fund projects from 2019-2031.

A better bond in 2018 will provide accountability before money is spent — Measure K’s oversight committee can only look at funds that have already been used. And a 2018 bond would result in classrooms that are two years newer than Measure K.

I’ve also heard from Measure K supporters that voters will be tired of hearing about bonds in 2018, and something is better than nothing, so we need to pass Measure K now or we will never pass a bond again. This argument doesn’t hold water with me.

The first core value at my daughter’s school, Mariposa Elementary, is Reach for Excellence. We all teach our kids that they should do their best work, and they should not settle for “good enough”. The same lesson holds true for this bond measure.

Every time I walk our neighborhoods, I hear over and over again that people want stronger accountability. They want more specifics on where their money will be going.

They are very uncomfortable with corporate special interests providing financial support to the Yes on K campaign. They feel like they were left out of the process. It’s hard to believe that Measure K is really the best we can do.

We have a chance to Reach for Excellence with a new bond measure that has widespread support. But first, we need to vote No on Measure K and vote out the incumbent school board members. Then we can work together as a community to build a bond measure we can all stand behind with pride, the same pride we have in our schools and our kids.

robocalls