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MDUSD responds to grand jury report

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, August 15th, 2011 at 1:03 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

In April, the Contra Costa Grand Jury released a report regarding the district’s 2010 Measure C bond, organizational structure and finances. I recently obtained the district’s response, which was sent May 24.

I am posting both below.

“Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report 1102
FINANCIAL CHALLENGES PERSIST AT MDUSD
TO: Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education

SUMMARY

Mt. Diablo Unified School District (District), like other school districts, has suffered revenue losses. The District has had ongoing budget deficits due to declining enrollment and reduced State funding. The District continues to face increasing costs for salaries and benefits. In an effort to address revenue losses and to complete identified projects not funded by a 2002 Bond, the District Board of Education (Board) sought passage of a bond measure (2010 Bond) that was later approved by the voters.

Four factors raised questions regarding the Board’s procedures and transparency:

- an expedited bond initiation process,
- a lack of open discussion at Board meetings of the full range of costs for financing a bond,
- revisions to the organization’s structure within the District, and
- continuing budget shortfalls.

Completed initial Bond offerings suggest that bond interest expenses should be less than the worst case scenario calculated by the bond advisor or reported in the news media. A potential 42-year life of the 2010 Bond could tie taxpayers to a long-term financial
commitment that significantly impacts future Boards’ ability to address funding shortfalls.

BACKGROUND

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District can be characterized as a microcosm of California demographics. One of the largest school districts in the State of California, the District has more than 56 school sites and programs. District statistics – for ethnic/racia1
diversity, average class size, test scores, number of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students and the primary languages they represent – mirror those of the State.

The District encompasses the cities of Concord, Pleasant Hill and Clayton, portions of Walnut Creek and Martinez, and unincorporated areas, including Lafayette, Pacheco, and Bay Point. Student population for K-12 is approximately 33,200 students.

The Board is composed of five elected members. As stated on the District’s website, the Board recently set the following goals:

- Improve the achievement of all students and close the achievement gap
- Improve attendance and reduce lost average daily attendance
- Insure access to all programs and services for all students
- Improve maintenance and facilities and appearance of the grounds
- Address legal and programmatic mandates
- Support new program initiatives:
o Career Integrated Academics
o Early Childhood Education
o Smaller Learning Communities
- Maintain sound fiscal procedures and practices.

The District Budget and Fiscal Services Department is responsible for developing and maintaining a balanced budget. The FY2010-11 Approved Operating Budget is $268.4 million.

The District has faced funding reductions from the State and from declining enrollment. In response to revenue losses of $20 million, the District has resorted to staff and service cuts by reducing its Approved Operating Budget by $17.9 million over the past three
fiscal years (FY2008-09 thru FY20 10- 1 1).

Even with significant efforts to reduce operating expenses, the District’s last two Annual Audits shows a cumulative deficit of $5.1 million as shown in the Table below: [Due to technical difficulties, the chart is not included in this blog. You can see it at http://www.cc-courts.org/_data/n_0038/resources/live/rpt1102.pdf]

Approximately 81 percent of the Approved Operating Budgets for the past three fiscal years has been committed to District employees’ salaries and benefits.

Since 2007, the District has discussed and attempted passage of a parcel tax to remedy budget shortfalls. A parcel tax generates school revenues at the local level to be used for general operating expenses without incurring interest costs. The District was unsuccessful in 2009 when a parcel tax was narrowly defeated. Subsequent surveys validated that securing the necessary two-thirds voter approval for a parcel tax was unlikely.

After the parcel tax failed and still faced with revenue losses, the Board sought new cost savings measures and revenue sources to offset operating expenses. In January 2010, the District began considering a bond measure. By law, funds raised from a bond can be used only for capital projects. Bonds require a 55 percent voter approval and the appointment of a Bond Oversight Committee (Proposition 39 and Education Code Sections 15278k, 15280 and 15282). Previously the District had prepared a list of capital projects with an estimated cost of more than $1 billion. About one-third of these projects had been completed with funds from a 2002 Bond.

On March 9, 2010, a resolution to seek voter approval for a $348-million bond was unanimously approved by the Board. Alternative bond financing measures provided by a financial advisor were reviewed by District staff. However, these financing alternatives were not discussed at open Board meetings. The resolution was placed on the June ballot for voter approval. The terms and conditions of the Bond included maintaining the existing tax rate (currently $60 tax per $100,000 of property valuation), and extending the repayment duration for up to 42 years. In the judgment of the Board, this scenario provided the best opportunity for voter approval.

The initial Bond offerings were completed at an interest rate significantly lower than the projected worst case scenarios as calculated by the bond financial advisor. Based on current low interest rates for bonds the probability of reaching the worst case scenario is diminished.

One feature of the 2010 Bond allocated $68 million for installing a solar energy system that would decrease operating expenses (i.e. reduce utility bills). The savings could be used for other operating expenditures. The District estimated that the solar energy system would create $5 million per year in savings, based upon receiving energy rebates, for the first five years after installation. Subsequent savings are estimated at $3 million per year for the remaining life of the solar energy system.

Some parents mounted a ‘Yes on C’ campaign that was funded by an assorted group of interested parties. There was no formal rebuttal on the ballot measure filed with the Contra Costa County Elections Office. The 2010 ballot measure does not state a range of costs to the taxpayers for the entire bond term. Voters approved the bond in June 2010. The Bond measure, from inception to voter approval, took only five months.

Another approach to reduce expenditures included changes to the District’s organization structure. This included eliminating some management positions and consolidating responsibilities into remaining positions. Specifically, the Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services position was eliminated and some duties were assumed by General Counsel. The time demands of this newly assigned administrative work takes time away from conducting legal work. Recently another attorney was hired to assist with legal duties.

Despite cost cutting and revenue generating efforts during the past several years, the District still faces an operating expense deficit of approximately $8.6 million for FY2010-11.

FINDINGS

1. No discussion of the 2010 Bond’s possible financial ramifications took place at open Board meetings before the Board passed the resolution to proceed with a ballot measure.

2. Some of the capital projects, such as solar panels, insulation and window replacement, to be financed with the 2010 Bond should generate energy cost savings for the Districts.

3. The organization restructuring of the General Counsel’s responsibilities has not resulted in anticipated operational effectiveness and may not have fulfilled the cost savings originally projected.

4. In addition to the anticipated relief to the general fund from specific 2010 Bond projects, further savings could be achieved through further salary and benefit expenses reductions.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Grand Jury recognizes the Board for their efforts in addressing funding problems in these challenging fiscal times. The Grand Jury has the following recommendations:

1. When contemplating future taxing measures, the Board should allow sufficient time for full disclosure to the public of financial information including legal fees, underwriting costs and repayment obligations. The Board should develop a written process addressing discussion of the financial consequences of taxing measures in a public forum and share their proposal with the public in the next 180 days.

2. To verify the estimated energy savings from specific planned capital projects, there should be an annual audit of energy expenditures. The audit should focus on and reflect any costs reduced by the use of solar panels funded by the Bond. This audit should be done within 180 days after the initial solar panels are installed and continue on an annual basis for 3 years.

3. The Board should review the effectiveness of combining the General Counsel’s responsibility for legal work and services with transportation, maintenance and food services. They should also analyze the impact of combining these responsibilities on actual costs.

4. The Board should continue to pursue reducing salaries and benefits to address the District’s 2011-2012 budget shortfalls.

REQUIRED RESPONSES

Findings

Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education 1 through 4

Recommendations

Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education 1 through 4″
————————————————
[END GRAND JURY REPORT]

Here’s the district’s response: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/document-preview.aspx?doc_id=89997086

Do you believe the board should have discussed the report and response during a public meeting?

AUG. 17 UPDATE: I just spoke to Lloyd Bell, the current civil grand jury foreman, who served on the grand jury that issued the report. I specifically asked him about the district’s response to finding number 1, which states, in part: “The respondent disagrees with the finding and is unclear as to the factual basis there for. The board had an extensive conversation on March 9, 2010, concerning the possible financial ramifications of the bond. The board discussed the tax rate extension, tax rate estimates, the par amount of the bond, and a possible bond proceeds schedule…”

Since this directly contradicts the grand jury’s finding, I asked whether the grand jury would take any further action on that issue.

Bell said the grand jury does have options to follow-up, if it disagrees with the district’s response. However, he said he couldn’t tell me whether it would or not, due to the confidentiality of the proceedings.

“There are things that can be done,” he said. “The grand jury, if it decides that the issue warrants further evaluation, could conduct another inquiry.”

If this occurs, the public wouldn’t find out until another report is released, he said. The grand jury could also seek clarification in a letter or invite district officials to clarify their response during a confidential interview in the grand jury room, he said.

“It’s very important that the public also has within its authority the ability to appear at a board meeting and question their response to the grand jury’s inquiry,” Bell said. “That is perhaps one of the most visible and effective — and the quickest way — to clarify that situation.”

He said the grand jury is prohibited from disclosing who it interviewed, what it considered, what it is evaluating and what it isn’t looking at.

“I can outline what we can do,” he said, “but more importantly, what the citizens can do, once they see their response.”

If the grand jury takes further action, it would do so before mid-June, 2012, Bell said.

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  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    I believe it goes farther than they should have, to they had a legal obligation to discuss this as a board matter.

    But as we all know what is legal and what is not has never prevented this board from “hiding” information from the public in the past.

  • g

    The Board should have had Rolen give a public presentation regarding the Report, and allowed public comment on it.

    Initially, the Board should have told the public that nothing they do with the money over the next five years will still be around when the $1.8 billion is finally paid off by their grandchildren in 42 years!

    The County treasurer should have (like LA) refused to put a 42 year Bond on the books.

    The Grand Jury, the Board and Legal Council should have looked at the legality issue of combining “Refunding Bonds” in the same measure with a Facilities Bond.
    —-
    (last paragraph) Ed Code 15100: Any one or more of the (list of facilities improvement)purposes enumerated, EXCEPT THAT OF REFUNDING ANY OUTSTANDING VALID INDEBTEDNESS OF THE DISTRICT EVIDENCED BY (prior) BONDS, may, by order of the governing board entered in its minutes, be united and voted upon as one single proposition. (my emphasis)

  • Doctor J

    The Grand Jury addressed the report to the “Board of Education” but the Board never considered the report and instead the lawyer just shined them off. As far as I know the Grand Jury report “directed to the Board” [not the District] and its response was never noticed for discussion at any Board meeting, either in public session or private session. I believe under the Brown Act, it should have been noticed for public discussion so the public could comment on it and the Board could vote on the proper response. Since it was never noticed, it would have been illegal for all five board members to have considered it in secret. I find it horribly ironic that Greg Rolen’s poor performance was the subject of one of the issues, and he offered “his own defense” claiming that he took over some responsibilities, but there was no loss of legal work — that’s impossible since any time he spent doing non-legal work could not have been spent on legal work. I also wonder if it is a conflict of interest since as the General Counsel, the Grand Jury previously pointed out that he is the lawyer for the Board, and not for the District, and yet he now has two masters — the Board and the Supt. Doesn’t that give him a conflict of interest as a lawyer ? I think the Good Book says something about no man can serve two masters. I guess the Grand Jury can take up the matter again if it wants but based on yestereday’s postings on the Measure C fiascos, it could probably include it in another investigation. The fact that MDUSD kept this response a “secret” is reprehensible.

  • John Q

    This is shocking, not only that Theresa just recently received the district’s May 24 response over 2 months late. The response to Finding 1 states “The Board had an extensive conversation on March 9, 2010, concerning the possible financial ramifications of the bond.” Voters like me, John Q Public, don’t see any financial ramifications, calculations or spreadsheets attached to the March 9 Agenda Item 14.4. The Minutes don’t describe this supposed discussion, but do show there was a meeting extension until midnight indicating Item 14.4 went past John Q Public’s bedtime. That’s a good trick, passing the multi-million or billion dollar ballot measure at the deadline when the voters literally are asleep.

  • Doctor J

    I would love to hear from the Board Members if they even received copies of the Grand Jury report in April when it was received at the District office. That would be a typical district cover-up if they didn’t. Note that each of the four recommendations are addressed to “the Board” but yet the Board has never considered these recommnedations. Why not ?
    @G, I think there was a recent article about Pleasanton district having to repay millions to taxpayers for doing the same thing you are saying that MDUSD did. Or is that a different issue? When will that bombshell hit MDUSD ?

  • Doctor J

    Check out the Board agendas for April 27 & May 11, the two possible meetings where the Grand Jury report could have been discussed. Not noticed on either the closed session or open session. So which session was it discussed in without notice ? It appears we may have another blatant Brown Act violation doesn’t it ?

  • g

    Theresa, can you send an inquiry to Lawrence regarding: I just went back and reread the Voter Pamphlet. Nowhere does it mention that funds from 2010 Measure C will be used to payoff previously issued Bonds. It states that the combined cost of prior bonds coupled with 2010 and subsequent issues will not exceed $60. per $100K assessed value, but NOTHING about this illegal use to “Refund” prior issues.

    “Refunding Bonds” must be issued under a totally separate Bond Measure, voted on for specifically that purpose.

  • Doctor J

    @John Q #4, The Board did not even allow public discussion AFTER this “alleged” discussion. Either way, it doesn’t meet the “smell test.” I guarantee you that even Linda Mayo would not have signed her name to Rolen’s response attesting to the correctness of the response.

  • g

    Dr J: I believe these are multiple issues falling into multiple, and yet related, illegal results.

    1) We were not presented with a request for, nor did we vote for “refunding bonds”.

    2) Per District postings, 2010 funds are scheduled to be used to make payments on the 2002 Bond and its subsequent issues, but apparently will not pay them off any earlier than they were originally scheduled. This merely drags out repayment of 2010 roughly 15-18 years longer than necessary.

    3) Per District postings, 2010 funds are also being used to pay off COPS, which also was not voted on as part of the ballot proposal.
    This also drags out 2010 pay off.

    4) Any interest rate savings that might be generated by the above actions are apparently being routed to fund possible additional projects, not back into payment relief of the Bonds themselves.

    Don’t we have any legal heads reading this board that can properly question and act on these actions? Is it incumbent on the people to trigger the DA or AG or CDE to look into this? Our newly elected District Attorney was a Proponent on the Ballot. I’d think he would keep an eye on it!

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: The refunding issue may be addressed at the Bond Oversight Committee meeting on Aug. 22.

  • Doctor J

    @G, If you go to that article on Pleasanton, I think it will identify some experts in the field, and someone from the AG office. I agree with you that DA Petersen would not want his name tainted by the bond actions, but it may also require him to refer it to the AG’s office.

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa #10. The refunding issue is not on the agenda, is it ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    It is not specifically on the agenda. However, committee members are free to ask questions and I believe this issue will come up.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I take very good notes at board meetings. At the March 9, 2010 meeting, the board did not discuss financing options. This is why I wrote several stories about the district’s lack of transparency about its decision to extend the bonds out 42 years during the campaign.
    The board did, however, discuss using the funds to pay for solar panels and to pay off COPS, debts and leases. Both Sherry Whitmarsh and Linda Mayo stressed the importance of being transparent.
    The meeting ran late, in part because major budget cuts were also on the agenda.

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa #14 The March 9, 2010 meeting was also videotaped and Gary Eberhart has, or had, a copy of that meeting. He has now taken them down from his website. I suspect someone has a copy of that meeting. I also suspect Greg Rolen thinks there are no copies of that meeting video still in existence. I wonder if that could be considered destroying evidence ? Remember the Nixon White House tapes and the missing 21 minutes ?

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa #13, Under the Brown Act, isn’t the public free to ask questions too ? Everyone ought to take their video cameras so we have no shortage of tapes !

  • John Q

    Theresa #14,
    It sure seems the MDUSD General Counsel has made material misrepresentations about the March 9, 2010 meeting in this official letter to the Grand Jury Foreperson. Someone might consult the State Bar http://www.calbar.ca.gov

  • LindaL

    Theresa,
    I don’t believe the District leadership knew the financial consquences of the bond structure on March 9, 2010. I don’t think there were financial options being considered at that point. They certainly were not considered on March 8, 2010 at the CUES (LFPcommittee) meeting. They didn’t have comprehensive numbers weeks later when they went to the CCTimes for an endorsement.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Linda L: I know that they weren’t discussed publicly.
    I found out about the financing options later from Superintendent Steven Lawrence and financial advisor Jon Isom.
    As I previously reported, Trustee Dick Allen said he was not aware on March 9 that there were two different financing options, since the staff report didn’t give the board the opportunity to choose one or the other. The public definitely wasn’t informed about it by March 9.
    Lawrence said the CUES committee was aware of them.

  • g

    Dr J: I believe under the Brown Act, the public should be able to e-mail questions and have them Tabled for the Committee to either put them on the Agenda where they can discuss and take action, or if received too late to go on the Agenda, schedule them for a subsequent meeting.

    PROBLEM: We are only permitted to ask “C” questions by e-mail to Pedersen (who apparently refuses the tough questions anyway), who should NOT be involved in the workings of the Committee AT ALL except to give reports that the Committee ASKS for, and answer questions from the Committee (in a timely manner).

  • Theresa Harrington

    John Ferrante prohibited members of the public from asking questions at the last committee meeting.

  • g

    Oops, I meant “Benched”, not tabled.

  • g

    Theresa, that would explain every single set of Minutes from the 2002 meetings saying “There were no public comments.” I thought maybe they managed to go for 7+ years without any public even being present because they never posted an Agenda. But now we may understand why Ferrante was “appointed” as the first Chair of the Committee in 2002 instead of being elected by his peers.

  • LindaL

    Theresa, exactly. There were no options considered by the committee prior to March 9, I can guarantee that. On March 8 I asked the Superintendent how he could possibly put forth a bond that was that fiscally irresponsible but we, as a committee, did not discuss options. At best we had cursory information with respect to rates, caps, and term. Just enough to know the term would outlive the asset and at the time that seemed bad enough.

  • Doctor J

    Did anyone call the DA’s office or FPPC office to report these violations ? I sure hope so. And I hope their phones were flooded.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Superintendent Lawrence also initially insisted that the financing was made clear in the board resolution.

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: Ferrante said he would only allow public comments at the beginning of the meeting. He did not allow members of the public to ask questions after that. So, I assume that members of the public could ask questions during the public comment period. However, it’s unclear whether they would be answered.

  • g

    Theresa, I guess if they think they can refuse to even have an Agenda, it’s easy to refuse to let people speak to the “Agenda”.

    Only since it has been “hitting the fan” here have they posted the sorry excuse for an Agenda for the next meeting.

    Hey Ferrante!: Brown Act: „

    Regular meeting.

    … May comment on any matter within the board’s
    subject matter jurisdiction — even if not on the agenda (called “non-agenda public comment”)

    … Must be allowed to comment on agenda items.
    Reasonable regulations, including time limits may be adopted, but must be fair.

    „ Public comment must be made (and allowed)
    before action is taken.

    San Diego put out what you might call a five-minute “Brown Act for Dummies”. While it does not get to the real nitty-gritty, it could teach you and your Committee a thing or two.

    http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/pdf/cow/brownact102908.pdf

  • g

    By the way, Ferrante—If it is not on a properly Noticed Agenda, even you aren’t permitted to discuss or vote on it, except that under “new business or closing committee comment” you may bring it up in order to suggest it for a future meeting Agenda.

  • LindaL

    I guess we will see.

  • Doctor J

    @G, Violation of the Brown Act is not only that the action is invalid, but a misdemeanor. My google search says that is a $1000 fine and up to one year for EACH misdemeanor. How old is John Ferrante ? I have been using my calculator and checking for a life expectancy table. Perhaps his golfing days at Los Lagos are over.

  • g

    Well, the District chose Christy White agency to audit the District for 2009-2010 and this is but one “unfavorable” item:

    “Finding #2010‐1: Internal Audit and Audit Committee (30000)
    ——
    Finding: The internal audit function in the District does not appear to have been effectively organized in the past and was eliminated during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009.  However, in a large district, these functions are an important part of the internal control structure, if properly organized and staffed appropriately.  The internal auditor should report to a Board approved committee and/or the Superintendent thus providing independence from the business functions.  Areas of internal audit focus
    would typically include: compliance monitoring, audits of high fraud risks, special financial audits and performance audits.
    —–
    Recommendation: We recommend that the District consider reviving and restructuring the internal audit function to effectively monitor compliance and internal controls.
    —–

    District’s Corrective Action Plan:  Due to the severe fiscal constraints imposed on the District by the State budget, it is not feasible to bring back the position of Internal Auditor at this time.
    ———– (whine)

    And might I say, closing out the position the same month you made your first obvious move toward pushing for Measure “C” and solar was clever if not financially sound for taxpayers!

    Christy White will be back on the Audit trail this year. Hope she takes a deep hard look at Measure “C”!

  • Wait a Minute

    Being that Stevie Lawrence, Peterson, Ferrante, Rolen and by extension the MDUSD Board has systematically violated the Brown Act and many other laws such as illegally using Measure C funds to pay of COPS.

    I would hope that both the DA (and if he is conflicted because of his support for Measure C then the CA AG office) and the CC Grand Jury would immediately commence an investigation of these matters.

    I would also expect that the Federal Prosecuter/Federal Grand Jury would likewise initiate an investigation of Stevie Lawrence for fraudulently signing SIG Assurances that he knew to be false (Increased teaching time for SIG schools) and thus taking money from the US Govt under false pretenses.

    Bring it on and clean out this rat-hole.

  • Wendy Lack

    Theresa:

    Why did you receive the District’s response just recently, when it was issued May 24th? Had you not requested the document until recently, or was it withheld from you by the GJ or the District?

    The chatter on your blog, which suggests a goodly amount of public distrust of District officials, prompts me to ask this question. Please clarify — since your mention of the May 24th date at the beginning of your article is rather provocative, within the context of all of the controversy surrounding this District.

    Thank you.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Wendy, Since I was unaware the district had responded to the Grand Jury report, I waited for the 90-day response period to end before requesting the response. The district did not withhold it from me after I requested it. I was surprised the Grand Jury didn’t post it.
    It appears that some of the distrust stems from Rolen’s assertion that the board discussed the financial ramifications of the bond on March 9. This is not reflected in the minutes and recordings of past meetings have been removed from public view: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/minutes/0910/03-09-10.pdf

  • anon

    Whoever it was that had previously posted that this blog is 7 people bantering back and forth and not really accomplishing anything was only correct if you include Ms. Harrington in that number. I read the grand jury report and it seemed like the grand jury was, at best, reaching for straws. There is no accusation of wrong doing or law breaking; just throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks. Then you 7 people, who clearly have axes to grind with the district, come on here and make accusations that actual laws have been broken. Ms. Harrington, what laws were broken, specifically? If there were none, why do you allow this slanted rhetoric to exist under your name? I have always heard that you need to check out stories that exist in the newspaper to make sure that they are not biased, but this is over the top bias.

    With all of these accusations, I hope at least one of you will follow through and lodge a formal complaint with an appropriate authority. Do something other than this which is useless.

  • Theresa Harrington

    My comments are based on my attendance at the March 9, 2010 board meeting and subsequent conversations with district officials, CUES committee members, the district’s financial advisor and campaign advisor.
    I blogged about the fact that the board didn’t discuss the financial ramifications last year: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2010/07/29/why-the-mdusd-poll-and-project-lists-are-important/
    I am not saying that any laws were broken. I am saying that no record of the “extensive conversation” that Rolen refers to is available to the public to substantiate his assertion.

  • Doctor J

    Anon #36 A Civil Grand jury has “watchdog” responsibilities, and not “criminal accuasation” responsibilities. There was no reaching for straws, but it barely scratched the surface as this was a brand new Civil Grand Jury. I guarantee you the next go around with them will not be as kind to MDUSD as the evidence is piling up, and Greg Rolen’s response, instead of a Board response, is offensive to them, expecially when he was defensive of his own accused misfeasance.

  • wait a minute

    So now Sue Brothers/Anon is going after Theresa and the CC times. This only further shows Sue’s real intentions and her M.O.

    Well for what its worth Sue And Steve Lawrence played the same games in West Sac those people tell me and it backfired on them there just like it will backfire here.

    Hang tough Theresa and keep doing your excellent job. You are shining sunlight in where these people want darkness.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I would also like to clarify that the views of commenters on this blog are their own.
    I have spoken to Sue Brothers and have found her to be very responsive to my questions. While Superintendent Steven Lawrence is sometimes difficult to reach, he is also usually responsive.
    I do not know who posts anonymous comments on this blog.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    It is going to be real interesting to to find out who #36 is. My money is on Sue Brothers. She talks a good game but appears to be a shill.

    It think the dark horse winner may be Pete Pedersen or John Ferrante.

    Don’t worry over time they will expose themselves. Be on the lookout for one of these people to reference “7 ditractors on the blogs”.

  • wait a minute

    Theresa,

    Both Sue Brothers and Lawrence are going to be responsive towards the press because they know the stakes.

    Unfortunately they are neither honest or ethical (remember the CC Times editorial blasting Lawrence’s lack of ethics vis a vis his being wined and dined by Chevron). Just look at all the “hide the pea”shell games that have been and continue to be played by the MDUSD regarding public information.

    You can easily find out that Sue blatantly lied to you in your interviews of her. Just do a freedom of information request on the West Sac district and you will find out that Sue was at the top of the pay scale there and making way more then the $125,000 she told you.

    Itsalso not much of a stretch to realize that if she lied then, that she has lied in other statements she made to you.

  • Doctor J

    What do we know about John Ferrante ? He chaired the 2002 Measure C Campaign and then got appointed as Chair of the Oversight committee and pops in every few months. Who is he and what is his background ?

  • Dan

    I have a request in to the board, the esteemed (note sarcsam) lawyer, Pedersen, and others to be put into contact with Mr. John Ferrante.

    This request is now over 72 hours old and not a single peep out of them. Something is clearly being hidden here. I plan to be at the August 22nd meeting and will address my questions to Mr. Ferrante directly during public comment.

    That is if he even allows public comment. Word on the street is that Ferrante rides herd on the meetings and likes to do things like not allow public comment during public meetings.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have just posted an Aug. 17 update at the end of this blog post, based on a discussion I had with grand jury foreman Lloyd Bell.
    He said the grand jury could follow-up, if it disagrees with the district’s response.
    In addition, he said members of the public could question trustees about the district’s response during a school board meeting.

  • Alicia Minyen

    I was appointed to the 2010 Measure C Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee by the board on March 29, 2011. The special meeting on August 22, 2011, is to discuss my concerns and possible violations of Prop. 39 and other related laws pertaining to, among others, 2010 Measure C, 2002 Measure C, 1989 Measure A, and Prop. 55 (state matching funds). The Community is probably unaware of many of the issues since Board meetings are no longer broadcasted (I spoke to the board on June 28th and on August 9th). The district has made bond counsel available to the Committee to respond to questions and concerns that I have summarized and provided to the board during public comment on August 9th. These questions and conerns are apart of public record and available to you. I encourage all of you to attend the August 22nd meeting and to speak during public comment. Thanks, Alicia

  • Theresa Harrington

    I am writing a story about Minyen’s concerns that will be published in the Times before Monday’s meeting. I will also post Minyen’s e-mail to the Bond Oversight Committee and her letter to the board, outlining her concerns, as well as her Public Records Act requests from July. The district has not provided Minyen with documents she believes are crucial for the committee to be able to provide responsible oversight.
    I have also submitted Public Records Act requests to the district, which have been only partially fulfilled.
    So far, the district has failed to provide me with a detailed list of “soft costs” paid to the bond underwriters, bond counsel and district financial advisor.
    It has also failed to provide me with correspondence related to “audit inquiries” from the Office of Public School Construction related to the 2002 Measure C bond.
    The district did provide me with Quarterly reports for the 2002 Measure C bond through December 2008 and with an audit for fiscal year 2009. These are all documents that should be posted on the district’s website, but aren’t.
    I also asked for the fiscal year 2010 audit and the 2003 audit, which aren’t posted online either. The 2003 link on the website shows the engagement letter, but no audit.
    And although the bonds were issued in 2002, there is no 2002 audit posted online.
    The 2009 audit shows about $5 million remaining and mentions a deficiency of expenses over revenues of more than $3 million, plus a transfer in from “another fund” of more than $400,000.
    Based on the district’s partial response, it appears possible that no audit was performed for fiscal year 2010. However, district officials haven’t answered my questions about that yet.

  • Anon

    Alicia, thank you for the brief explanation. I noticed that the Board meeting minutes are not available on the website. Would you be able to provide that information here so that we all can see the issues you have addressed?
    Thank you.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon, I had originally intended to wait to post Minyen’s documentation until my story came out.
    However, since there is intense interest building and my story isn’t completed, I will post Minyen’s email, letter to the board and Public Records Act requests later today, along with a copy of the 2009 audit I received from the district.

  • g

    On the 2002 “C” Quarterly Reports page these two items appear, but will not populate, they give a “404″ error. Have they been deleted?
    September 2002 [48.4mb]
    August 2002 [7.3mb
    ———-

    Also as I have pointed out, all minutes from 2002 thru June 2009 appear to have been entered at one time, on 9/29/09 by Danny Wallace.

    Regretfully, since I agreed with the need for the 2002 Measure, I did not pay much attention to it. (Trusting fool that I used to be)

    Were all minutes of 7 years of action only posted in Sept,2009–or were edits made and they were all reposted at that time?

    Also regarding Board minutes: None are available for 2002-3 or 2003-4, and although it appears that there were once posted agenda and minutes starting in 2004-5 most have been deleted up until Jan, 2006. Are we to assume this is only due to a “space” problem?