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Questions raised about MDUSD bond expenditures

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, February 17th, 2012 at 7:51 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Alicia Minyen, the taxpayer representative on the Mt. Diablo school district’s 2010 Measure C Bond Oversight Committee, has been raising questions about bond expenditures since she joined the committee.

Most recently, she is questioning two items that appear in the district’s first audit of money spent from the $348 million measure. The audit was completed by Christy White.

Here are the items questioned, as noted in the audit, which has not yet been posted on the district’s website:

Lease and general obligation bond payoff

On page 20, under “Tests of Expenditures”
“…In addition, the bond proceeds were used to prepay outstanding lease and general obligation bonds for a total of $14,288,580. We were unable to verify specifically in the bond ballot language the allowability of bond proceeds for debt service. Upon further inquiry, the district’s legal counsel advised us that these redemptions were permissible uses of the bonds and we relied on their expert legal opinion.”

Based on this, White concluded: “We found all expenditures tested to be in compliance with the terms of the Measure C 2010 Bond ballot measure and applicable State laws and regulations, without exception.”

Here is what the ballot measure said:

“To support quality education and safety for local students, and reduce impacts of State budget cuts by improving science, career and technical education facilities; upgrading classroom instructional technology; repairing leaky roofs; improving safety; maximizing energy efficiency including adding solar panels and modern air conditioning; and repairing, replacing, equipping or modernizing other school facilities; shall Mt. Diablo Unified School District issue $348,000,000 of bonds at legal interest rates, with independent citizen oversight, audits, and no money for administrator salaries?”

Issuance costs paid with bond premiums

On page 20, under “Deposit of Bond Proceeds”

“…The issuance costs were paid for with bond proceeds in the case of the Series C and D bonds, which appear proper. However, $1,781,511 in issuance costs was paid out of bond premiums for the Series A and B bonds. While this is an industry standard practice, there is a private letter to Poway Unified School District’s bond counsel from the State Attorney General’s office which expresses concern about the industry practice of artificially inflating the bond yield to generate a premium for cash out for construction and/or payment of issuance costs. The district did not receive any cash out for the construction purposes, which was the main concern of the Attorney General’s Office in citing the Superior Court decision. But, the district did use some of the premium for issuance cost payments, again a common practice. We found that the district did properly deposit these premium in a debt service fund pursuant to Education Code 15146(f) and then transferred the funds to the bond fund for payment of the issuance costs. Therefore, the district appears to have complied with the law.”

The letter says: “The law is clear that any premium, even if legitimate, must be deposited into a special fund, applied to pay debt service, and therefore cannot be diverted to pay costs of issuance.” It cites Gov. Code Sec. 29303 and Ed. Code Sec. 15146(f).

Gov. Code Sec. 29303 says: “…Whenever any bonds issued by any county or by any school, drainage, or other district in any county, whose accounts are required by law to be kept by the county auditor and treasurer, are sold at a premium or with accrued interest, or both, the amounts received for the premiums and accrued interest shall be deposited in the debt service fund of the county or district unless it is expressly provided by law that they be deposited in some other fund.”

Ed Code 15146(f) states: “The proceeds of the sale of the bonds, exclusive of any premium received, shall be deposited in the county treasury to the credit of the building fund of the school district, or community college district as designated by the California Community Colleges Budget and Accounting Manual. The proceeds deposited shall be drawn out as other school moneys are drawn out. The bond proceeds withdrawn shall not be applied to any other purposes than those for which the bonds were issued. Any premium or accrued interest received from the sale of the bonds shall be deposited in the interest and sinking fund of the district.”

Minyen questions whether the district’s bond counsel from the law office of Matt Juhl-Darlington can be considered to be truly independent. The firm contributed $10,000 to the Measure C campaign, including $5,000 donated May 10, 2010 (less than a month after the board approved a contract with the firm if the bond measure passed) and another $5,000 contributed so late that it didn’t get reported to the public until the election was over.

At the meeting, Committee Chairman John Ferrante initially told the group it couldn’t vote on the audit, since it hadn’t been publicly noticed as an action item on the agenda. Pete Pedersen, the Measure C program manager, said he didn’t realize he was supposed to do that. He said he had been expecting the group to accept the audit.

Since no one else raised any concerns about the agenda, the committee voted 7-0-1 to accept the audit as presented, with Minyen abstaining. Two of the members who voted to accept the audit had arrived late and missed a portion of the presentation and discussion, Minyen said.

Now, she’s wondering if the vote was legal due to the lack of public notice and lack of a quorum when the presentation and discussion began.

The audit covers expenditures through June 30, 2011. One committee member said she wants to be sure the next audit includes objections some members have to the district’s plan to install solar panels at Holbrook Elementary in Concord, which the board decided to close.

Pedersen has defended the idea of putting solar on the school, saying it could reopen in the future. But some committee members say it wouldn’t be cost effective to spend about $800,000 on a project that may not return the investment.

Do you agree with Christy White’s audit conclusions?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

105 Responses to “Questions raised about MDUSD bond expenditures”

  1. g Says:

    No, because we paid her to stand behind her own questions and get her own counsel to advise her if necessary, not to just acquiesce to the District’s Counsel.

    And going back even farther, Alicia once also tried to question spending Bond funds to pay off COPS, and Ferrante flat out told her to fugeddaboudit, because COPS didn’t fall under their purview. How about Bond fund spending Ferrante?

    Alicia, did that issue ever get worked over?

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe that was part of what was discussed under “Lease and general obligation bond payoff”

  3. g Says:

    I still question the true number of members on the committee– 15 or 16? (my comment on the other Bond Oversight Committee thread, to Alicia).

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I am going to be out of the office next week and will not be covering the Thursday special board meeting. I’ll be back Monday, Feb. 27.

  5. Alicia M. Says:

    G…I believe there are 15 members since someone quit.

  6. Alicia M. Says:

    G…the auditor said that using bond proceeds to pay the debt service on the 1998 COP and 2006/2007 leases was not disclosed on the ballot’s project list. With respect to the 1998 COP, the district set aside a little over $5 million in a Prepayment Fund to pay investors the remaining debt service until maturity in 2023. So the taxpayer is paying interest twice on the 1998 COP…bond interest on the $5 million and paying interest to investors of the 1998 COP.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Lets see the correspondence, including emails, between Christy White and “district’s legal counsel” — all public records now with her disclosure in the audit and reliance on them. Theresa, I hope you request them from Christy White so we can be assured they ALL are produced !

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Word is leaking out about Lawrence’s “secret boundary change” committee, to save “bus costs” in two poor sections of the district — Bay Point and Meadow Homes — placing the burden on low income parents to travel great distances, cross busy streets, no public transportation and which will cost about 1/3 of Meadow Homes students to lose the benefit of the $2 million per year SIG Grant, Cohort 2. Why does this committee not have fair representation of parents from Bay Point and Meadow Homes instead of nearly all school administrators who are just counting bus dollars ??? Why ? Why ? Why ? What about the Strategic Plan to involve parents ?? Why does Lawrence continue to Hypocrite #1 in MDUSD ? Does the Board even know about this secret committee ?

  9. g Says:

    Hopefully affected families will find a way to join the others who get paid to privately transport their kids to school, to day care, to tutor, etc.

    I have wondered what the district pays per mile, and how the district manages to keep this fund from being abused. Some of the individual figures are astounding.

    On any given month you can see that in addition to the million$ spent for private transportation contracts the District pays in the neighborhood of (at least) $20,000.00 directly to individual parents under “contracted parent transportation”.

    I’d love to see a few of those “invoices” the parents turn in. Some are $60 per month, some are $500 plus per month.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Hope the “Strategic Plan” discussion focuses on Lawrence’s “secret boundary change committee” as being inconsistent with the Strategic Plan initiative, specifically Section 2: “MDUSD will actively build strong, positive relationships with students, families, and the community to foster trust and shared responsibility.” and “2.2 Increase opportunities for meaningful community input and participation.”

  11. Anon Says:

    Dr.J##8,10-“partnerships with students and parents” is prominent on the MDUSD home page:
    “Your Gateway To Learning-We take pride in embracing an energy and commitment to learning that’s truly unique. From the magic of the San Francisco Bay Area, to our partnerships with students and parents, to our passionate delivery of curriculum — MDUSD provides an educational experience unlike any other.”

  12. **anon Says:

    Again, I’m trying to gain info from this blog because the district’s website never indicates or informs its community: as community members we were led to believe that both the CVHCS waiver issue AND the Strategic Plan input meeting were scheduled at 6:00 on Wed., Feb. 22nd. Now I’m hearing that the CVCHS waiver meeting is now on Thurs., Feb. 23rd. Since the district’s website provides me no info, are they doing two different meetings – one on Feb. 22nd for Strategic Planning input, and then the following day a separate meeting for the CVCHS waiver meeting? I’m also assuming that both meeting or a combined meeting begins at 6:00 pm in the board room. would one of you be kind enough to fill me in?

  13. g Says:

    **anon: So far the website is still showing the Waiver Hearing will be followed by a Stratigic Planning study session. Both on the Wed, 22nd.

  14. **anon Says:

    thx, G (#13); i agree that both are on the agenda for feb. 22nd. but TH’s response in #4 states that she won’t be able to attend the Special Board Mtg. on Thurs…

  15. **anon Says:

    @Dr J (#8): the boundary-gate isn’t just leaking, it’s now flooding. This “secret” boundary change is a direct contradiction of the Strategic Plan, the California School Boards Association (which recently worked with the supt and the school board) but it also defies the regulations of the Brown Act’s mandate of receiving input from the community. Personally, I find it another case of this supt bullying site administrators and most importantly the families of students who are unaware that they have a voice in providing input regarding the best interest of their children.

  16. Anon Says:

    I agree with the auditor that the district is conducting itself lawfully. When pointing out biases it’s also worthwhile to point out Ms. Minyen’s opposition to taxation. These issues that she continues to bring up have been answered by the district’s expert legal advisors. Everything is always a conspiracy on here.

  17. **anon Says:

    @Anon #16: who are the district’s expert legal advisors? My children have been in this district for quite some time and have never known of any expert legal advisors. Making large salaries doesn’t qualify someone as an expert.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    @G #13 — 4.1 is a late Friday addition, bumping the Strategic Plan to 5.1. Prior to Friday, the Strategic Plan was 4.1. No where does it say the Agenda, including the “Public Hearing” [a ten day notice requirement] is an Amendment.

  19. Another MDUSD Mom Says:

    Anon 16,
    I cannot speak for Ms. Minyen but I have spoken directly to her. I do not believe she is simply against taxation, she is against reckless taxation and the complete disregard this District shows toward the community’s money. In the infamous words of Paul Strange, “the solar project has no debt service.” Are you kidding me!!!!

    What you and the District do not understand is that those of us who oppose the audit, or the bond structure, or the solar, do so because we have taken the time to understand the details and to diligently pursue answers to questions that the District is unwilling, or at best hesitant, to provide.

    This District would do themselves a lot of good if they truly believed in communication and partnership with the community. Don’t forget, this is the community’s money and we are partners whether the District likes it or not. This District needs to own up to the Measure C mistake, break the political promise of the $60 cap, end the reckless advanced refundings, small costly issuances, and the issuance of capital appreciation bonds. Then we may be heading in the right direction.

  20. g Says:

    Another MDUSD Mom: There are at least a couple of others on the BOC that I believe agree with your points, as well as Alicia Minyen’s appraisal of the bond spending. Unfortunately, they are the proverbial bumps on a log at the meetings. I just can’t figure out why neither has the personal fortitude to step up and help her out.

    It is true that once the bond money is obligated by contracts it would take legal action and General Funds to recover illegally spent funds, and that would still be costly to the district. But the point is that only right is right, and committee members sitting on their fiduciary thumbs is wrong.

    There are still a couple hundred million dollars on the bond. It needs to be protected.

  21. Another MDUSD Mom Says:

    I wish I was on the bond committee to help her.

  22. g Says:

    I am anxiously awaiting the 2002 Bond Audit Christy White was also contracted to do. Although the District cleverly only asked her to look at the last year to two(?)years.

    There were several lawsuits around 2005-06 between subcontractors and contractors that also named MDUSD. I have never seen anything posted indicating what amount MDUSD had to pay in those suits. In the Quarterly reports back then they mention “disputes” and I seem to remember “settlements”. But just how much did we have to pay over and above the contracts because the people that won the bids didn’t pay their bills?

    As the District was putting together plans for 2010, they indicate there were “liens” and not yet approved DSA closeouts, and that was going to cost about $93,000.00 (no actual figure was given even though this current committee requested those figures more than once).

    Were some 2010 bond funds used to pay off legal debts, liens and Closeout costs of the 2002 Bond? That cannot be even close to legal. Oh, I understand. You transfer this money over there, and that money over here, and pay Christy White to “correct accounting codes”. Viola!

    And maybe even more importantly, why has the District continued to hire some of those same contractors that got us sued in 2005-06?

  23. Alicia M. Says:

    #22 G- SB 423 requires that the 2002 Measure C audit be presented to the bond oversight committee no later than March 31st of each year. Unfortunately, there is no oversight committee for the 2002 Measure C. I’ve proposed a solution to be discussed during the 2010 Measure C meeting next month to combine the 2002 and 2010 Measure C committees. The concern was that some of the existing 2010 Measure C committee members would term out in this scenerio. However, I believe with the 15 members on the current committee, even with those members that would term out, we would still have the requisite number in order to form a new 2002 Measure C committee. Any termed out members could simply recuse themselves from discussion. This might help the district comply with this new law just before March 31st. In any event, the district should at a minimum post the 2002 Measure C audit on their website for the public to review. Also, AB 1199, which should pass this spring, will allow committee members to extend their terms from two two year terms to three two year terms (i.e. 4 years to 6 years).

  24. Alicia M. Says:

    #16 Anon – Please note that I am in no way opposed to taxation, and you have mistakenly misunderstood my efforts as a bond oversight committee member. As a member of a bond oversight committee, we have been charged under Article XIIIA of the Constitution to oversee the expenditures of the district to ensure that bond proceeds are spent only on those projects disclosed in the ballot. We are also charged with informing the public on how the bonds were spent, at least annually, in a report to the public. Any misuse of bond proceeds must be reported immediately.

    You should also note that those expenses, which I have questioned, include $14 million in bond proceeds used to payoff debt service pertaining to 1998 Certificates of Participation (securities issued investors) and 2006 to 2007 leases of El Monte and Westwood Elementary schools that were used to purchase energy efficient projects like solar on Nortgate in 2007. The debt service associated with these debt obligations were not disclosed on the ballot, and the auditor, Christy White agreed and made a written statement with this regard in her audit report. Christy White chose to rely on legal counsel in this instance. I choose not to rely on legal counsel, since they have appeared to impair their independence by giving campaign money to the 2010 Measure C election and being paid 2010 Measure C bond premium, which the State Attorney General has stated in March 2011, that this practice is illegal.

    As an oversight committee member, I have been attempting to inform the public of how the bond proceeds have been spent and why certain expenditures do not appear to be in compliance with the law. You certainly have the right to disagree, but at least the public should know the opinions of committee members, even though some members may have differing views.

  25. Alicia M. Says:

    @19 Another MDUSD Mom – I’m all about full and fair disclosure of all material facts.

    You correctly mentioned the political promise the district made in the June 8, 2010 ballot that the combined 2002 and 2010 Measure C would not exceed $60 per $100k. We were also told in the ballot language that the highest best estimate would be $59 per $100k to occur in 2034-2035. This highest best estimate and the $60 cap was exceeded in the first tax assessment following the June 8th election. How can the projections be so wrong?

    I have found some other potential issues with the election disclosure to the public in board resolutions and in the ballot. For example, I could not find a board resolution that stated the district would keep the 2002 and 2010 Measure C, combined, under a $60 per $100k cap.

    Instead, the board resolution I did find at,

    said the opposite. It states that 2010 Measure C …”WHEREAS, pursuant to Education Code Section 15270, based upon a projection
    of assessed property valuation, the Board has determined that, if approved by voters,
    the tax rate levied to meet the debt service requirements of the bonds proposed to be
    issued will not exceed the Proposition 39 limits per year per $100,000 of assessed
    valuation of taxable property;”

    This statement is unclear, and no reasonable person would actually research the law to found out that this statement actually meant $60 per $100k. Why doesn’t this board resolution clearly state the $60 per $100k cap and why is this inconsistent with the ballot language?

    Further the ballot language is required to disclose the maximum interest rate on the bonds (see Election Code 15122…however, check out the ballot at

    I don’t see any mention of a maximum interest rate.

    Did you know that the district has elected to issue bonds under Government Code 53506, which allows them to issue bonds with a max interest rate of 12%?

    Perhaps if the district had made these required disclosures in the ballot, the public could have made a more informed decision before casting a vote on the 2010 Measure C.

  26. Alicia M. Says:

    @G #22 – I believe there were only 1 or 2 years of audits for 2002 Measure C that were remaining. It may be that one of the audits was performed, but not posted on the website.

    Also, I had questioned the $93k in dsa fees early on, and I believe there is ballot disclosure that speaks to site preparation, that I believe can make this expense allowable.

  27. Retired CPA Says:

    Christy White’s conclusions are not correct. The bond premium must remain in the debt service fund to pay the debt service and not diverted to pay bond issuance costs. The District never should have hired Matt Juhl Darlington for legal services related to bond matters. His background is special education law, not public agency finance. The District should have gone with a law firm with the expertise of several attorneys.

    The Press should ask the District how much the District paid Juhl Darlington’s law firm over the past three years, and ask Juhl Darlington what percentage of his Firm’s revenues come from the District. He is not independent and cannot issue a reliable opinion on the District’s expenditure of bond funds.

  28. Retired CPA Says:

    The District’s Measure C ballot disclosures were inaccurate and misleading. The District did not disclose that the District would be building new schools. The District disclosed that the District would build new classrooms. But, any reasonable person you ask interprets that disclosure to mean the District intends to build additional classrooms at existing schools. The District is closing schools. Why would anyone interpret “additional classrooms” to mean additional schools?

    The District’s Bond Counsel acknowledged that school districts typically keep the ballot language vague. Voters need to be aware of the misleading disclosures and vote against any bond measures that don’t specifically itemize the expenditures, including any new schools the District intends to build. I doubt District residents in Concord, Martinez, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek would have voted for the Bond Measure if they knew the money would be used for a new High School in another town

    Ms. Minyen is right to contest the legality of the vote by the oversight committee. The District Attorney should review the matter and require the oversight committee to reconvene with a proper agenda and a quorum present for the entire meeting. Otherwise, the vote to approve the audit report is illegal and inappropriate.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Ret’d CPA, while your points are well taken, MDUSD will continue to operate as an island unto itself ignoring the law and hiring lawyers that rationalize their actions, until a HIGHER AUTHORTY prohibits it. I doubt local politicians like the CoCo DA will take on these “complicted” financial legal matters way outside the scope of prosecuting physical crimes. So far MDUSD, its Board and Supt have been like a stealth bomber and deflected every attack against them. I just don’t know why taxpayer advocates like Howard Jarvis League, and Pacific Legal Foundation or even the First Amendment Coalition are not willing to take on these issues in court.

  30. Wait a Minute Says:

    Retired CPA,

    Matt Juhl Darlington was given the bond counsel contract because he is buddies with MDUSD General Counsel Greg Rolen!

    Greg and Matt share the same background as Spc Ed lawyers and Greg did his buddy a favor by getting him a very lucrative contract to which he was wholly unqualified to perform so he instead “associated” in a real bond counsel from an LA firm (I can’t remember the name right now).

    In any case, Matt gets his “cut” while the associated in bond counsel does the work which makes me wonder why didn’t the district cut out “middle-man Matt” and save some money directly hiring a real bond counsel?

    I’m sure its the same reason that Greg Rolen was put in charge of Transportation so that he could personally benefit (some more) from the district’s money which is actually the public’s money. I’m sure that Matt will return the “favor” to Greg sometime!

    Then you have “pay me twice Pete Pederson” running the Measure C work and that money is similarly being spread around to benefit certain connected and priviledged individuals.

    The only one that got away was Sherry Whitmarsh’s attempt to steer the entire solar contract to her employer Chevron when her lame Superintendent Stevie Lawrence got busted by the CCC Times meeting secretly and receiving free gratuities like drinks, meals, golf green fees from Chevron. I sometimes wonder if he and maybe some others also received a pre-paid Chevron gas card?

    Of course their is the evidence of the original solar certificates signed off by a CHEVRON ENGINEER and the fact that the Measure C Committe chairperson John Ferrante is a Whitmarsh buddy.

    The “MDUSD, where failed administrators and corruption comes first.”

  31. g Says:

    I would expect that Juhl-Darlington, as well as other Bond Counsel being employed by our District received their copies of the White Paper issued by the Los Angeles County Treasurer last May. It makes for some very interesting reading.

    Pay very close attention to each point, but especially #’s 4 and 5.

    Do the math on your own tax bill for 2011. We have already exceeded the $60./$100K that we were guaranteed would not happen. It is a small amount, to be sure, but none the less, it was exceeded, and yet more bonds were issued after that.

    Where is the Contra Costa County Tax Assessor–what is his opinion on this–and why did he allow our bond tax to exceed the legal limits of Prop 39?

  32. Just J Says:

    Why do we need Greg Rolen in Juhl-Darlington handles everything? I am so confused on what Rolen does? Can anyone answer that?

  33. Alicia M. Says:

    G – The law allows that $60 per $100k can be assessed for each bond measure, 2002 and 2010, for a total of $120 per $100k. The ballot language states that the district will seek to charge property owners a combined $60 per $100k, but district’s bond counsel says this is merely a policial promise and not enforceable. Of course, the district’s ability to assess up to $120 per $100k was not disclosed in the ballot. As I previously mentioned above, I could not find a board resolution that approved the ballot language “political promise”. So I question whether the district complied with election laws with regard to appropriately disclosing the tax assessment costs of the 2010 Measure C. I believe that if the appropriate disclosures had been made, such as charging up to $120 per $100k for both 2002 and 2010 Measure C, and disclosing the maximum bond’s interest rate of 12%, this 2010 Measure C may never have past. In addition, Retired CPA has good points in that the ballot language does not disclose using bond proceeds to build new schools. However, district’s counsel has disclosed that they are relying on disclosure in the ballot that pertains to using bond money for new classrooms and bathrooms.

  34. Alicia M. Says:

    G- Further, I’m not sure that the district’s political promise can be enforced by our County’s Assessor. The tax assessments can also increase by declining property values.

  35. Anon Says:

    @27 Retired CPA – You bring up some excellent points. If the district has arrangements substantially material to Matt Juhl Darlington whereby legal counsel’s source of revenue is predominently from the district…I would also argue that this scenerio could impair legal counsel’s independence.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    Its about time that Rolen’s FPPC Form 700 be published to determine his sources of income and compare with his divorce file to make sure the sources are the same. There is always an opportunity for surprise.

  37. g Says:

    Alicia; …just a “political promise”… hmmm. Makes me think of the many legal opinions I have read where, in fact, the courts do indeed rely on the intentions of “‘the spirit’ of the law” in their decisions.

    My apologies to those big talkers, big spenders and the spokespersons in the District who might not believe in “spirit” in legal terms.

  38. Anon Says:

    Thanks to Gov Brown, City of Concord has lost its redevelopment agencies, and what is the financial effect on these MDUSD bonds?

  39. g Says:

    Anon: I think there’s no direct effect on the Bonds really, but it may mean more tax money being filtered down to the school districts that once went to Redevelopment. That was one of Brown’s “sort of” promises anyway.

  40. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#37: The indrect effect is that low income areas will not be revitalized, and ultimately that will cause urban blight, that will lower all tax areas, lower sales tax revenues, entually resulting in less available money to school districts. In the short term, it may temporarily bump up available money for schools, but not for long and not that much.

  41. Anon Says:

    I did not vote for this bond but if I were given the choice of heavily discounted Capital Appreciation Bonds, 2002 advanced refundings, continuous issuances of small bond lots, or exceeding the $60 political promise – I would take the broken promise .
    Everything else is a way to hide the Measure C mistake at the expense of the taxpayer.
    The long term and derferred interest was the very objection the bond opponents stated at the time of the election.

  42. Jim Says:

    I agree with Anon #40. All of the contortions and obfuscation come from that original $60 per parcel deception. The district would not be saddled with a $1 billion interest bill over the next 40 years if they had just come clean about what the proposed improvements would cost when interest is included. If you want to borrow +$300 million, but don’t want to start repaying it — or even pay interest on it — for 20 years, then it is going to cost a LOT of money to convince bond investors to go along for the ride.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    Do you think MDUSD schools even have a chance to win this ? “Does your school have a great physical activity program for its students? Do you want the chance to earn up to $100,000 and the opportunity to share your model with other schools? Check out ChildObesity180’s ASAP Innovation Competition, which is looking to uncover the best in-school programming to get kids active. All K-6 schools and districts are eligible to apply. Deadline for submissions is April 2, 2012 so act fast!

  44. Doctor J Says:

    State Board of Education SETS EXAMPLE OF TRANSPARENCY in posting staff reports for public viewing ! Gary, Sherry and Linda “talk” about “transparency” but the State Board actually does it !
    Shame on the MDUSD Board of Trustees and Supt Lawrence for not practicing transparency.

  45. Anon Says:

    @41 Jim – There is no doubt that the terms of the 2010 Measure C bonds would be more favorable if the district was paying the principal and interest payments instead of the taxpayer.

  46. Anon Says:

    Anon 44
    That is not what Jim means. The taxpayer is, and always will be, paying the principal and interest. However, the District is the driving force in determining the structure of the bond with each issuance. This means their actions dictate the cost to the taxpayer. We (this community) would be better off if the District exceeded the $60 2002 cap and issued the remaining bonds with the more favorable terms that come with paying the principal and interest today rather than 20 years down the road.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    Asilomar–Monterey boondoggle starts this afternoon at 4:30 pm ! How many are going from MDUSD ? Will they stay at the Asilomar or private hotels ? Which administrators will miss tonight’s Board meeting and public hearing or will they head down in the morning ? Charter waiver, school visits, and Strategic Plan — how convenient to miss all that !! Wonder which course Supt Lawrence has a tee time at ? Pebble Beach, Spyglass, or another ? Will it be a district expense ? Or will he stay home, worried he might get a special “award” from fellow Supts for Toiletgate ?

  48. PollyEsther Says:

    I thought a while back the board voted for no more off site conferences etc. due to budgetary constraints? When did the discussion happen that now it is ok? Are they really so confident in their budget, surplus and the future of California that they can start this BS again?

  49. anon** Says:

    @ Dr J #46: you should think about writing a column for the Contra Costa Times; seriously! Theresa could continue providing the facts and then you could provide an entertaining (though truthful, unfortunately) reality of the way these morons are running this district. It’s pretty sad and ironic that mdusd is IN the toilet. I’m hoping that the mdusd jester does another parody very soon. Because things have become so shady and illegal that if I don’t laugh, I end up crying.

  50. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon**#47 Thank you, and I offered to write a guest editorial but was turned down since I refuse to take off my mask — my response: remember Mark Twaim ?? That was an alias !

  51. Doctor J Says:

    Heads up = “Master Plan for Bay Point” — code for new high school to be presented early March. Measure C funds. Lawrence, Eberhart and Whitmarsh now feel empowered knowing that public opposition doesn’t matter.

  52. Wait a minute Says:

    It will matter come election time!

  53. Helll Freezing Over Says:

    Sure would be great to see that list of projects the measure is being used to pay for, and what the status is … last status provided/listed on MDUSD site Measure C link is 7 months old:

    •The first connection of new solar to electrical system completed at Cambridge Elementary! More to follow shortly!
    August 12, 2011

    Just show us a list of the “projects” by school site = what is project, when did project start, what is % complete, what is cost to date compared to estimated cost, and what is the target completion date.

    And let’s ask the district & board which of the now 5 district high schools (NG, CP, YV, Mt, CHS) they are considering closing due to declining enrollment (reasons for closing an elementary and middle shool last year) in order to build a brand spanking new high school somewhere else. Isn’t YV at about 50% capacity? What is the estimated time to build a new high shool? And remember, solar has been installed at all current HS in the district costing us a LOT of $$$.

    Speaking of solar, what’s the status on the installations? All done? On Time? On Budget? Are we saving the $$$ we were told we would be?

    Did the trees mistakenly cut down at Delta View get replaced as promised? Trees at CHS were cut down too, and solar panels not on the approved plan drawings were installed … don’t remember that chang plan ever being discussed /approved – wonder how much more that cost us all?

    And back to building a new high school … What ever happened to the discussion about moving, relocating the several SNHS? What are the plans for Olympic?

  54. g Says:

    Dr. J @42—Since Holbrook Elementary was the ONLY district school on the Winning List for four years straight, but was closed last spring before it could even accept its 2010 prize money…

    …I doubt it!

  55. g Says:

    Ooops- should be Dr J @ 43. Here’s a little story on it:

  56. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I also did a blog post about Holbrook’s accomplishment:
    I’m not sure what the district did with the banner Holbrook received in the fall.

    HFO: A very general overview of the list of projects is on the Measure C website: If you click on “Schools” and select each school, you can see what was planned, along with a very general timeline.
    If you click on “Bond Oversight Committee,” then select “December, 2011 Quarterly Report,” you will see the progress.
    Regarding small necessary high schools, Superintendent Steven Lawrence told me he put that idea on hold because he thought it would be part of the strategic plan and might also be included in the Equity Team discussions. Now that the board has adopted its Equity Plan and appears to be taking up the strategic plan again, it is unclear when a task force to discuss the possible consolidation or closure of some small necessary high schools will be formed, as promised by Lawrence in his board-approved school closure plan, and included in his $1.5 million estimated savings.
    The boundary changes are also part of that savings, because parents will be responsible for transporting students who are now in the Meadow Homes and Bay Point areas to other schools. Currently, the district must pay for “overflow” busing.

  57. Realia Says:

    HFO @ 53: During the CVCHS debate, the superintendent threatened to shut down all the SNHSs and relocate the students at an expanded Olympic campus. Space would be made at Olympic by moving the Alliance program to the Glenbrook site. Haven’t heard anything about that idea lately.

  58. Alicia M. Says:

    Dr. J Where do you see the Master Plan for Baypoint?

  59. Anon Says:

    Looks like Bay Point wants their new high school too…but why weren’t all the voters within MDUSD told about this master plan?

  60. g Says:

    Speaking of Bay Point…A couple of board members who have been around for way to many years may need to answer some questions.

    Can anyone, (maybe a long time MAC member) explain to me why County Tax Assessor records show that Delta View Elem. is “owned by” Dianne Adair Day Care Corp., and the tax documents are mailed to their Corp offices in Pleasanton? WTH?

    And, even though the two Sequoias are on one legal address, Spectrum Center in Nashville, TN actually owns 1/3 of the property.

    Then there’s Glenbrook, County records say it is owned by the City of Concord, (huh?) and Holbrook is owned by Mt Diablo Contra Costa Child Care Advocates the private, “not for profit” child care center at Baldwin and Holbrook.

    I’m afraid to check more schools to see who actually holds their deeds!

    Even if, by some chance, for some crazy reason, these are just “mailing” addresses, and not deed holders–how in the world does Dent keep track of their legal docs? Is it any wonder that they have to keep re-doing paperwork and paying over and over for surveys and assessments and liens and on and on….

    Please send someone in from the State Attorney General’s office to take a really close look.

  61. g Says:

    Alicia: When you speak of “leases” of El Monte and Westwood, are these leases, in effect, actually “mortgages”? Borrowed funds? If so, does anyone really know what is the District’s true outstanding long term debt?

    Is that the answer to so many school properties being “owned” by outside entities?

    For Example, the Dianne Adair company appears to own Delta View, and that we lease space to their day cares for only $1.00 per year at 6-8 schools, and who were given double (8) votes on the school closure committee. Just how much money do you suppose we owe them for Delta View? For Alves? For who knows what else?

    Who really owns the district real estate? Does anyone know?

  62. Alicia M. Says:

    #61 – G El Monte and Westwood elementary are school sites owned by the district. The district used these schools as collateral to obtain cash to pay for energy efficient projects. I know one of the more expensive projects was solar panels on the roof of Northgate back in 2007. I asked the district how the rest of the money was used, but received no answer. In the meantime, the district owed the financing company annual payments and the interest was reasonable….but the 2010 Measure C ended up being used to pay the annual payments.

    Using school property as a collateral is a common type of financing that does not require a vote. MDUSD school sites are owned by them, or by the state or someone else like for Mt. Diablo High. If you want to know, just look up each school sites address in the Contra Costa Clerk & Recorder’s website or on the Tax Assessor’s website to see the owner of record. You may have to pay for some of the deed filings to see the actual owner name.

    Any leases or other obligations involving Delta View and Alves should be on the schools audit report…unless the amounts are immaterial. I haven’t looked into either arrangement, other than the $160k of 2010 Measure C money being spent on a proposed feeder pattern involving the Alves property.

  63. Alicia M. Says:

    G – As you know a portion of Glenbrook is being leased. If it is in fact owned by another party…City of Concord, then I don’t know how the district would have authority to lease the property if it is not owned by them.

    I know that leases are recorded just like deeds. Were the day care facilities deed filings or were they lease filings?

  64. Doctor J Says:

    So many issues about next Monday’s Board Meeting: another laugher: Evaluations of Supt and General Counsel — again ? How many Board meetings in 2012 has one of them been on “for evaluation” ? Will have to talk about other issues tomorrow.

  65. anon** Says:

    @Dr J #64: you’re too funny. I think both have been on numerous agendas for evaluations, but nobody knows the criteria or the results or if the reason these evals keep showing up is because they keep putting off the evals. Way too crazy and yet they walk up and down the halls at Dent like they’re some sort of gods (but you can usually find rolen in front of the Dent talking on his cell phone). If eye contact is a part of their evals, they should both lose points.

  66. Doctor J Says:

    Board Agenda 16.9 RDA Consultant again — We still haven’t seen the Annual Report for year 2010-11 on SIG Grant, Cohort 1 where MDUSD was out of compliance and had to write the “Corrective Action Plan” for year 2 (2011-12). 1st Contract $39k (4 schools), 2nd Contract $32k (3 schools), new Contract $4k (2 schools). I say NO NEW CONTRACTS until the public sees the “Annual Report for 2010-11 and finds out why MDUSD was “out of compliance” when RDA is supposed to make sure MDUSD is in compliance !!!!

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s surprising that the board doesn’t ask to see the annual report. During the board’s first retreat last year, the facilitator said trustees should spend more time focusing on educational programs. Even if trustees aren’t that interested, the public deserves to see the annual report.

  68. Doctor J Says:

    Is MDUSD better off in the two years since Steven Lawrence became Supt on Feb 1, 2010 ? Contrast that with the advances that a district in Sacramento area that Lawrence has his eyes on for his next promotion and the importance that the Strategic Plan plays in San Juan.
    Does Lawrence have a shot at becoming the next Supt. in San Juan based on the needs assessments of the district and community members ? Why didn’t MDUSD do a comprehensive search like San Juan is doing ?

  69. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence can’t hold a candle compared to this “Interim” Supt in communicating with the district. Why can’t Lawrence be focused on a Strategic Plan and communicating with the public like this ?

  70. Anon Says:

    The last bi-weekly newsletter was two months ago

  71. Wait a minute Says:

    Why can’t Stevie Lawrence be focused on a Strategic Plan and communication?

    Because he’s not that kind of a guy, he is instead focused on the Palace Intrigues of Dent and its dysfunctional leadership and he is most interested in staying in power himself rather then being a true leader.

    If you remember his taking of gratuities from Chevron over multiple secret meetings with them to discuss the contract for solar (on behalf of “Chevron Sherry Whitmarsh”) this is all you need to know about Stevie Lawrence and his motivations!

  72. Doctor J Says:

    With today’s announcement by the Legislative Analyst that State revenues are behind projections again by a few billion, Lawrence wants to promote more “doom and gloom” and cover up his $40 Million dollar surplus he extracted from the Unions. They will never trust him again.

  73. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lawrence says the district is counting on “net metering” to meet its solar savings projections:

  74. g Says:

    Thanks Theresa; Lawrence states: “Without net metering, solar doesn’t make a lot of financial sense for school districts.”

    Did I miss something? Where in all of the contracts is the part about MDUSD being “tied to the PG&E Grid” to either sell extra energy back to PG&E, or even bank credits?

  75. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I think this question has also come up in discussions regarding putting solar on closed schools. I believe that Pete Pedersen has acknowledged that it wouldn’t make a lot of financial sense if the schools don’t reopen, since the district isn’t sure whether it will be able to sell back excess electricity.

  76. g Says:

    Lawrence needs to look into cost/savings differential between hooking one location to the grid -vs- hooking 50 locations to the grid!

    MDUSD executive: Opens mouth-inserts foot (again)!

    Note: “less than or equal to ONE (1) Megawatt, prior agreement and inspection, and let’s not forget we buy a ton of our energy on parallel grid from SPURR who hods a JPA with PG&E.


    As for Holbrook and Glenbrook: since they continue monthly to pay many thousands of dollars of the “contracted amounts” to SunPower, and everyone else involved, they will have the solar at those schools well paid for before they come up for the phase 3a or 3b build schedule.

  77. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The next quarterly report should be reviewed at the March 15 BOC meeting. Hopefully, the district will post it online 72 hours before the meeting.

  78. g Says:

    It would be nice (and legal) if they would attach documents to the Agenda! We need to be given ample time to read the Dec, and Feb minutes — and the Annual/Minority Report, and be able to comment if we choose to before they approve them!

    It appears that Ferrante, the godfather of district committees, doesn’t seem to know the law, or else in an attempt to overplay his role of godfather, chooses to just ignore the law and let Pedersen run his BOC for him!

  79. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the last BOC meeting, Pedersen said he knew that he was supposed to post all the memos that Alicia Minyen has sent to the committee. He asked Ferrante to send the emails to him, which Ferrante promised to do. So far, I don’t see them posted.

  80. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    We should get $$ back (every family in the entire MDUSD area) every time someone admits they were supposed to post something but didn’t.

    It’s simply mind boggling … forgetting one time is forgiven. “Forgetting” over and over is a tactic.

  81. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Apparently, WCCUSD takes this more seriously. I heard their last BOC meeting was canceled because the agenda wasn’t posted 72 hours ahead of time.

  82. g Says:

    Theresa @79: That is hilarious! Pedersen pretending he didn’t receive/doesn’t have copies of everything Alicia has sent to the BOC, and/or Lawrence, and/or the Board–absolutely hilarious!

  83. g Says:

    Why is the Board and the BOC continuing to allow the District Man and his team to RUN the BOC in direct violation of “Independent Committee” standards? It is one thing to have him report his team’s activities and progress to the BOC at the BOC’s request. It is something else entirely to have have that team completely run the show. Ferrante opens the meeting, and adjourns the meeting. Pedersen Inc. does everything else.

    Pedersen decides who the committee may even consider for membership, based on HIS interviews and HIS choices. Chooses what will be on the agenda, based on HIS choices.

    Everyone in the District and on both this BOC and the previous 2002 BOC that permits or encourages this bass-ackward version of independence should spend a long time in front of the Grand Jury and then the Attorney General.

  84. g Says:

    And when it comes to the BOC Voting/Agreeing on anything, including whomever Pedersen approves for the committee—even though it may be expeditious folks—voting/agreeing by email is illegal under the Brown Act. If you want a new member right away, call a special meeting!

    While Pedersen may play the king’o’the hill, Ferrante and a couple others on that BOC could earn big money teaching the art of “feigned ignorance”!

  85. Doctor J Says:

    I guess Ferrante and Pedersen need a PRA request for all their emails regarding the BOC — should be quite a collection for the Grand Jury.

  86. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Agenda for Monday is posted:

  87. g Says:

    Transportation and Boundaries info==with no documents, no maps, just blindside?

    And it is really funny, they’ve done so many Supt and Counsel reviews they can’t keep the dates or names straight for their own agenda items. Who got reviewed on which date–which date is being reported out? Funnee!

  88. MoMx3 Says:

    I see they finally got through whatever process they had to do to fire DVMS teacher Bruce Cottrell. Good riddance to him! I haven’t seen any updates lately on this… what is going on with him, do you know Theresa? Did he get out of jail yet ? Awaiting trial? Did he do a plea?

  89. Doctor J Says:

    I note the minutes are incomplete — even according to the Eberhart reduced minutes policy — in that they do not report accurately what “action” was taken in closed session. There is no record of any acutal “action” or motions taken in closed session. Interstingly, the Feb 6 closed session still remains “unreported”.

  90. Doctor J Says:

    YOUR right to MDUSD Public Records.

  91. Doctor J Says:

    Any attend last night’s Delta View meeting to find out about the district’s plan to cut out bus transportation ? As G points out, there is generic listing on next Monday’s agenda, but no attached report. I wonder if the Trustee’s are getting “secret” reports not included in the agenda ?

  92. Doctor J Says:

    Where are the staff answers to the Board questions asked on Feb 6 – over a month ago – about the elimination of summer school and reduction of graduation requirements ?
    On Monday night’s agenda are posted the unanswered questions, and no staff report with the answers.
    “Since the new requirements have been in place for a year and half the Board would like the following questions answered:

    1. Has the district actually saved the anticipated $400,000?
    2. Has(sic)the changes in graduation requirements reduced the percentage of students completing the UC a-f requirements?
    3. What has been the impact of the change in math requirements?
    4. How do our current requirements compare to surrounding districts in Contra Costa County?
    5. What are the implications of raising the graduation requirements to 210, 220, or 230?
    6. What classes did students historically take for credit recovery in summer school, and are there less expensive ways for credit recovery besides summer school?”

  93. Doctor J Says:

    This is absurd. The minutes for Feb 27, 2012 say: “President Whitmarsh led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and reported action taken in Closed Session.” Uh, what actions were taken ? Impossible to say. In one year, no one will know — no one knows now ! Minutes for Feb 27 did report on Explusion recommendations 15-12 and 16-12. Significantly the Agenda for Feb 27 did NOT list either Expulsions 15-12 nor 16-12 on the Agenda. The Agenda did list item 4.3 for readmission “one student” but nothing was reported in the minutes about it. Nothing was reported about the existing litigation, anticipated litigation, or the two evaluations. These type of minutes do NOTHING for informing anyone of what did or did not happen. Here is the Feb 27 Agenda. Where are the minutes from the March 6 meeting ?

  94. Doctor J Says:

    Correction: The Agenda does not list the Expulsions 15-12 and 16-12 under the closed session.

  95. anon** Says:

    And didn’t Cheryl Hansen request an inventory of buses from rolen and he said he’d provide that info at the next board mfg? I don’t see that on the sgenda-did it ever happen?

  96. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe Rolen said he would provide that to her directly. However, he also promised a Transportation report to the board, which he still has not presented yet. He said he wanted to wait until after the district got clarification on state transportation budget cuts. Now that the state has clarified that, perhaps he will present the promised report.

  97. Doctor J Says:

    This is the problem — information being provided in secret not to see the light of day by the public. Board members are entitled to ask that those kind of reports be made an agenda item, and be written and attached to the agenda. How many months ago was that promise by Rolen ?

  98. Doctor J Says:

    [This comment has been edited to delete personal information.]

    Curious things are happening. Rolen’s office suddenly schedules a “mandatory” sexual harassment training for March 21, and assigns every manager and administrator in the district to attend either an AM or PM session — no requests to attend the unassigned session permitted. Wow. What’s the rush Greg ? Greg are you teaching the course ? Looks like there are lots of conflicting meetings on the schedule.

  99. anon** Says:

    [Note: This comment has been edited to delete a reference to personal information.]

    @ Dr j -98 In regards to the bus inventory – I think it was requested by Hansen within the last 2 mos. But since board meetings’ reader’s digest minutes are always at least a month behind, there’s no way of knowing until next month or the month after-it could be intentional that the minutes come out so late-probably a part of Lawrence ‘s “shift-the-focus” strategy — if the minutes are never up to date, then he and his crew have a better chance of the community forgetting about goings-on at board meetings which provides him time to shift the focus and then he can’t ever be held accountable for anything. It’s actually a very clever (but very deceitful) strategy – you’ve got to give him that!

  100. g Says:

    That first one’s all yours Dr. J. 😉

    Thank goodness we have Theresa keeping good minutes for us!

  101. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the district’s latest News Update regarding impasse with the teachers’ union, followed by comments from Mike Langley:

  102. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#98 Not sure what the personal info was that was not relevant to the potential qualifications of the lecturer on the topic of sexual harassment.

  103. g Says:

    Dr J: In the interest of education, and just for fun, here’s a bit of Friday night pick-and-choose history (and some blatant plagiarism from Wiki) all designed to make you and others ‘in the know’ think about the very real possibilities of history repeating, strange coincidence, and things that go bump in the night.

    The controversial Grigori Rasputin, marries a Dubrovina in 1889, has three children, a boy and two girls, and it seems perhaps, another child by another woman.

    After 12 years of marriage, tiring of the lifestyle, and having an inclination to wander and, it is said, a huge (pun intended) propensity to lust, he roams around and lands on the doorstep of the elite Tsarist Courts, where he soon becomes a controversial figure, becoming involved in a paradigm of sharp political struggle, while the people of the land call for fairness and honesty.

    He is accused by many eminent persons of various misdeeds, ranging from an unrestricted sexual life to undue political domination over the royal family.

    We all know what happened with that entire regime.

    G.R.’s story contains many twists and turns, and goes on to contain many mysteries which we’ll leave for another lesson; but tonight I thought you might appreciate the contemporary image his story evokes.

  104. Doctor J Says:

    “Mandatory” sexual harassment training is the responsibility of the Personnel Dept, so why is it suddenly without prior notice coming from the “legal dept” ? Its only offered “one day” and so mandatory they won’t allow any employee to miss — even though prior commitments and meetings were in place. Could it be related to those undisclosed “potential” litigations ? Has someone filed a sexual harassment claim with the state or feds and it came to light that there is no sexual harassment training as required ? I can’t wait to hear why the district has ignored the law passed in 2004 ? Just remember when months ago I pointed that out — but was ignored. When was the last “sexual harassment” training ? Its required every two years — can’t remember when the last one was ? Was there a “last one”? I wonder why Julie Braun-Martin, Greg Rolen and Deb Cooksey have not been paying attention to AB 1825 that was passed in 2004 ? You wonder why the district hires people in a field who are unfamiliar with basic concepts ? Do you really think President Whitmarsh’s employer Chevron would miss their employees having the mandatory sexual harassment training ? Even the California School Boards Association teaches about it — oh yeah, Gary and Sherry don’t believe in CSBA training.
    Julie, please tell us why you haven’t been insisting on mandatory sexual harassment training every two years for all supervisory employees ? Greg, please tell us. Deb, please tell us. Supt. Lawrence, you of all people should know this, why haven’t you insisted on this ? All of you have put the district “at risk” by not enforcing mandatory trainings in the last eight years !

  105. Doctor J Says:

    In light of the “sexual harassment” pay raise scandal uncovered by Bay Area Newsgroup at UC Berkeley using Public Records requests, one has to wonder if the MDUSD has in place policies and proceedures to prevent superiors that may be involved in a sexual relationship from recommending pay raises or promotions of those they may be involved with. Will this topic be covered in the mandatory March 21 training ?

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