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Guest post regarding MDUSD Bond Oversight Committee

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 at 12:39 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The following guest post was submitted to me by g. de la verdad regarding the Mt. Diablo school district’s Bond Oversight Committee. Please note this post is the opinion of the guest poster.

“The board is due in January to assign board members to their committee assignments.  As it is, without minutes we cannot tell if those assigned last year have even attended the meetings of their assigned posts.

To Brian Lawrence, Linda Mayo:
RE: Bond Oversight Committee(s) 2013.

Knowing how difficult it is to find volunteers, it is not too soon to start recruiting (and installing) new members for our Bond Oversight Committee(s).  ALL original 2yr (X two terms) member Terms will expire in AUG 2014.

Question:   Of those recruited after June 2010, (who actually attend) whose seat did they fill – which should determine their official ‘term’ of membership? Please don’t tell me “no one kept track of that.”

Bylaw:  ’5.4 Term. Except as otherwise provided herein, each member shall serve a term of two (2) years, beginning August 10, 2010. No member may serve more than two (2) consecutive terms. At the Committee’s first meeting, members shall draw lots to select a minimum majority for an initial two (2)-year term and the remaining members for an initial one (1)-year term.’

That Bylaw is NOT to be interpreted by the ‘needs’ or ‘wants’ of either staff or the existing members on any given day, for any given cause. Either follow the Bylaws, or hold a public hearing and then ask the Board to vote to change them. Keeping those Terms in mind, please note:

Some members held themselves to their initial 1 or 2 year terms, and have stopped attending. However, possibly to ‘by-step’ Prop 39 mandates, some names are being kept on the roster long after they stopped attending, and some far beyond their legal term, and some without attending for two or more years.

Some with a 1 yr term, automatically extended for another 1 yr but, in fact, are still on the committee 3.5 yrs later. Some were placed on the committee, by ‘staff’ recommendation to the board, only to fulfill certain Prop 39 criteria — but have attended, at best, one meeting a year, if ever at all.  Some may have never actually attended more than one meeting in over three years. This is NOT the intent of the law.

Board Member(s) assigned to the BOC are to, on a regular basis, report back to the board – and taxpayers – on the activities of the BOC – Not the bond, but the committee!  That is especially important when dealing with Measure C Staff who seem not only reticent, but in fact rebellious in adhering to the Prop 39 requirements. In this case, that minutes be posted in a timely manner. It is not enough to have the BOC Chair annually regurgitate a STAFF engineered PowerPoint, spilling out data that is more than a year – or two – old, just to ‘fulfill the requirement’ and ‘fill the allotted space on the board calendar.’  That too, is not the intent of the Prop 39 law.

NINE months:  On 12/13/2013, at 3:05 pm, the minutes of March 2013 were posted for the 2010 measure. None for 2002. With that, we are still waiting for June and Sept minutes, and fear that they too will take nine months to post for the public/taxpayer benefit.

Please take the time to read, carefully, the March minutes. Please go back and read the older ones too.  You will see a pattern. A pattern that is often repeated when questions are asked at Board Meetings.  Then, ask yourself: ’If I were the person asking staff these questions, would I be satisfied with these answers, or in many instances, non answers.’

Example: You/the board recently asked Tim Cody if Alisha Jensen carried insurance on any workers she might hire as subs or assistants. His answer was: ’I don’t think she will need that on this project.’

Was that really an answer to the question?  Not even close. But the board accepted it – as if it had come from some higher authority. I remind you that the board didn’t hire or even ratify Tim Cody’s position. Pedersen ‘bequeathed’ the job to him.

With this new board I had hoped that the dogmatic Staff control – and the board’s lax oversight - of the mandated requirements of G.O. Bonds-Prop 39 would be addressed and corrected when needed.  That has not happened. Specific to this problem, I hoped the BOC would, as mandated by Prop 39, be given a proper ‘secretary/clerk’ to handle quarterly minutes and upkeep of the BOC’s portion of the Measure C website. Sadly, after a full year of waiting, I and many other taxpayers are very disappointed.

That takes us back to the huge dilemma. We have a scant handful of dedicated volunteers on the BOCs). How shall we handle their mandatory departure in just a few months?

Aug, 2010 ORIGINAL BOC MEMBER and TERMS:
Jay Bedecarre -1 yr
John Burke    -1 yr
Rick Callaway -2 yrs
John Ferrante -2 yrs
Brent Hayes   -1 yr
Pat Howlett   -1 yr
Bonnie McDonald-2 yrs
Faye Mettler  -1 yr
Susan Noack   -1 yr
John Parker   -2 yrs
Jenney Reik   -1 yr
Tina Seagrove -2 yrs
Mark Weinmann -1 yr
Jack Weir     -2 yrs
Marc Willis   -1 yr
Larry Wirick  -1 yr

Evident that they either chose 1 or 2 yr terms incorrectly, or minutes were typed incorrectly—and should have never been approved. There should have been a ‘simple majority’ of the initial ’2 yr’ members.”

Do you share g’s concerns?

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  • Doctor J

    g, very insightful. How is the BOC enforced ?

  • g. de la verdad

    That question is both the Key and the Crux.

    The word too often overlooked (at least in this district) in establishing and being on the Citizen’s Oversight Committee is the first word in the law:

    “Independent.” It should be called an ICOC!

    Some quotes here as stated by CALBOC:

    “Knowledge equals effective oversight, [which] benefits taxpayers and benefits our students.”

    Three focus words make a good BOC. ‘Thorough’ ‘Independent’ ‘Oversight.’

    “CBOCs may not be reviewing financial statements and back up documents such as invoices, general ledger details, and transaction journals.”

    But they do have the right to do so. While they cannot decide the job/bid, they are charged with making certain the money is going where it is intended and going where staff says it is.

    “CBOCs may allow the school districts and school board members to run their meetings. They may allow the district to determine what information will be available to the public. All this can compromise their effectiveness and independence.”

    Some on the BOC have attempted to question the practice of allowing district STAFF to decide what the BOC sees, talks about, and ultimately understands, but they have been thwarted in that attempt, from both inside and outside the committee.

  • Doctor J

    I thought that Linda Loza would have been more pro-active on the BOC, but she seems to have faded into the background.

  • g. de la verdad

    I had also hoped for that. But with minutes taking 9 months to post, the public has no idea what is happening at the meetings.
    We do know our 2010 Bond taxes went up by several dollars, while 2002, even with the much touted refinancing using 2010 money, went down by just pennies.

  • Doctor J

    Scathing editorial blasting the MDUSD Board for its near malicious cover-up of child abuse in the district. When in heaven’s name will protecting the children come first ? http://www.contracostatimes.com/walnut-creek/ci_24802614/contra-costa-times-editorial-mt-diablo-unified-school

  • tmharrington
  • tmharrington

    The stonewalling could be an indication that the district may have a lot to hide.

  • Doctor J

    Should MDUSD trustees raise their “pay” as other districts are doing ? http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/28/6032435/sacramento-area-school-trustees.html

  • Doctor J

    Top administrators being protected ? Could it be Rose Lock ? or Julie B-M ? Or Felicia S-S ? Or Steven Lawrence ? or Greg Rolen ? Or a laundry list of principals starting with Jen Sachs ?

  • g. de la verdad

    Someone cleaned up the BOC site today. Much easier to find things. Now, if the committee will get serious in real oversight. They try, but give up too easily. http://www.calboc.org/reports/CBOCprocedures.pdf
    Note, specifically, #3
    This district has been using bond funds for items (painting, roof repair) that should have been paid by the restricted Deferred Maintenance fund account, ( .5% of ADA from prior years)is required to be set aside each year for those purposes.
    This district has simply used bond money and then transferred the Restricted funds back to the General Fund, and said they were “not needed” for Deferred Maintenance!

  • Doctor J

    Or current/former Board members being protected by the cover-up ? Linda Mayo ? Sherry Whitmarsh ? Gary Eberhart ? anyone else ?

  • Doctor J

    So what is the status of the BANG suit to get records from MDUSD?

  • g. de la verdad

    And what is the status of Stuckey-Smith’s “last call” for immunization compliance? Today’s the day — although it is coming about four months past the Ed Code legal timeline.
    Does she “…still have some darlings that are ignoring our requests….”

  • tmharrington

    I haven’t heard any new developments regarding the BANG suit.

  • Doctor J

    New lawsuit: MDUSD sued for not paying supplier: Lehmann Co. v. MDUSD, Ed Data COM, Case MSL13-06811 More legal fees. Ugh. Likely excuse: “But they are out of Meas C funds” — that’s even worse, paying lawyers fees for 40 years with interest !

  • g. de la verdad

    Cody signed off a Notice of Completion, and paid a L/LB without making sure he had receipts showing that all subs had been paid? Say it isn’t so!

    By the way, that isn’t “Ed Data COM” as the court papers show it. I’m pretty sure it should be “3D Datacom”. Hope someone points this out to the Plaintiff and hope this doesn’t really cause legal fees for a full year of court procedures.

  • Doctor J

    “In response to a question related to the IRS inquiry, Bryan reported that the IRS seized part of the KREBS rebate . . .. The seized amount of $350,000 . . . .” No wonder Tim Cody is keeping the BOC minutes buried and undisclosed. I wonder if he even told the BOC members ? Why did Bryan Richards never advise the Board of Education or the public ? Perhaps Theresa can do a public records request for all the documents and we can see what Bryan represented to the IRS in order to get the money back. Remember, this was one of the fears of Linda Loza and others that MDUSD was not entitled to all the rebates, especially to the General Fund. http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/Fiscal/Documents/BAC/BAC%20Minutes%209%2018%2013.pdf

  • Doctor J

    Does College Park HS teach character ? Not. Kicked off for gambling after a prior suspension for misconduct ? “McKenzie Moore, a former College Park High standout, has been dismissed from the University of Texas-El Paso men’s basketball team for gambling on sporting events.” http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_24863610/former-bay-area-prep-star-among-three-kicked

  • Doctor J

    “I would hope that my leadership has instilled a set of core values and a culture of fiscal, legal and ethical integrity,” he said. “I have tried to create a culture of doing the right thing.” Wow, if that were the goal in MDUSD we would be making gains by leaps and bounds — we are so far from that goal that it is like looking in binoculars the wrong way !! Words from retiring Supt. in Kern HS District. http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/grade/x429885545/KHSD-superintendent-to-retire

  • g. de la verdad

    BOC: Maybe it’s time to hold an “independent” meeting with NO Measure C Staff to tell you what you can discuss. Maybe the board representatives need to receive “special” invitations to get them to attend meetings. Where are the Audits for the years since 2010? Where is the letter Alicia Minyen asked to place “in the record” on 3/21/13? Where are the minutes for the May 2013 meeting? Why is John Burke still listed as being on the committee? Of the “High School Enhancements” $40million, how much has/is actually going to each school, and is Prop 55 and Deferred Maintenance money being equitably apportioned as well? How did a job get a Notice of Completion payoff without confirming that all subs had been paid–leading to a lawsuit? Etc, etc, etc.

  • Doctor J

    Accountability: Today Gov. Christie fires senior staffer for a lie — she didn’t even get to “explain” why she lied — it was enough to tell the Gov. a lie. How would that kind of standard change the Dent landscape ?

  • Guest

    Hello, wasn’t there a lot of discussion about prior leadership at Dent being vindictive? Governor Christie IMO is a bully and a liar, and what occurred was a result of the culture he created around him. He threw her under the bus. He is vindictive and mean. Time will reveal the real Chris Christie and why he should never be President.

  • Doctor J

    Board: Can you just say NO ? The school board in Monterey just did ” the board rejected a school renovation plan that had massive cost overruns”. ” it is clear that it is the board leading the district staff and not the other way around.” “The decision to slow down the building process at Los Arboles wasn’t “a statement against any builder or any architect,” Chaney said. “As a new board member I’d need to know the big picture, but you’re asking me to make a decision blindly. I want to do my homework so I can make an informed decision.” “MPUSD administrators urged trustees to approve a $10 million renovation project at Los Arboles Middle School in Marina. The project had climbed from an original estimate of $5 million.” “Chaney, who spent four years on the Visalia Unified School District board before coming to Monterey, said he needed more time to study the issue. Lusk said she wanted to revisit extensive plans made in preparation for asking voters to approve a $110 million bond in 2010. ” “”When the board said no, that’s an indication that the board is on that pathway to saying to the community, ‘We want to have all the information we need in order to make good decisions,’” Myles said this week.” Our MDUSD Board has already got the reputation of being a “rubber stamp” Board — on December 11 being handed a 400 page budget and expected to vote to approve it 5 minutes later — Come on Board — only saying NO will stop the hypocrisy, not the dumbfounded stares and polite statements like “I wish I had more time to review this to ask an intelligent question.” http://www.montereyherald.com/news/ci_24873102/new-mpusd-trustees-dont-want-keep-status-quo