Taxpayers spent $3,740 for Peralta Community College District Chancellor (and former Oakland mayor) Elihu Harris and his wife to attend Barack Obama’s inauguration. They also covered over $4,000 in personal expenses that Trustee Marcie Hodge racked up on a district credit card before she was asked to repay the money.
Through public records requests, my colleagues Matt Krupnick and Thomas Peele uncovered these spending practices at the local, four-college district – a destination for many Oakland public high school grads. Those findings and others were reported in Sunday’s Tribune and Contra Costa Times.
Interestingly enough, the Peralta trustees willing to be interviewed on the subject claimed ignorance, though they signed off on some of these expenditures. (Oh, and Hodge – whose brother, Jason, served on the Oakland school board – ran for Oakland City Council and the community college board on a stop-wasteful-spending, “clean house” platform.)
So many school districts and agencies have trouble with credit card spending and oversight, I wonder why it’s still a relatively common practice. Oakland school district spokesman Troy Flint said that former State Administrator Randy Ward did away with district credit cards at the outset of the 2003 state takeover, but that they weren’t widely used even before then.
David Kakishiba said Oakland school board members didn’t have credit cards, but that they each used to have about $20,000 to give to schools or use for travel, similar to (but much smaller than) the Oakland City Council’s discretionary “pay-go” accounts. Those have not been re-established.