Last year when the citizens of the SAUSD were sold Measure G, they were told that this would not be the boondoggle that Measure C was. They were told that this time the money would be responsibly spent. They said they had to do this now because there was matching funds from the state that Assemblyman Jose Solorio and Senator Lou Correa were obtaining for us. The public was told this could be the end of portable classrooms. They promised total transparency in the process and that money would not be re-allocated to theÂ reserve fund. The public was told that their property taxes would not go up, except for the assessment that comes with the passage of any bond. We are now learning how empty those promises were.
When Nativo Lopez was recalled, the citizens were sold a pack of lies that corruption and cronyism would end in the SAUSD. All that happened was that control was turned from one poverty pimp to another. Apparently the same shenanigans that Rob Richardson and the current Board Majority claimed that Nativo would pull are being pulled by them. Their promise, which they mailed to residents over and over again was that the bond money would be allocated ONLY for construction of new classrooms. This past Tuesday, despite this promise, Rob Richardson, Audrey Yamagata-Noji and Jose Hernandez voted to do what they promised they would not do. They voted to re-allocate Measure G funds, meant for new classrooms to theÂ reserve fund. Board members John Palacio and Roman Reyna voted to oppose the re-allocation. Hats off to those two for standing up for the people and for fiscal responsibility.
Now looking at the agenda item and the rationale for this action, which you can read HERE on pages 16-18Â that is was allegedly to reimburse the reserve funds for money they used from that fund to expedite the construction process for Measure G projects. Problem is, that “reserve” fund being “reimbursed” is money from the Tustin Marine Base Settlement money, which was to earmarked for construction ANYWAYS. So would it not make sense to use the settlement money for those projects and use some of the excess Measure G funds for other projects. Apparenly Superintendent RussoÂ had been trying to push this in May and June and was met with resistance from community leaders such as Santa Ana College President and Bond Oversight Committee member Alex Flores as well as Palacio and Reyna. When I spoke with another Bond Oversight Committee member, they were shocked at this action and said they had been told there was no more money.
When grilled about what will be done to complete current projects, a staff member told some concerned citizens that the money was paid for already by existing money. REALLY? What existing money, I thought the SAUSD was nearly broke? Or did they slip up and mean they were going to use more Tustin Settlement money, which it seems they are turning into their own little revolving account to raid when they see fit .
So what will the board do next. This is where I get concerned. With the recent deductions of property taxes based on the falling property values, the assessments from the bond are not as large. With less money coming in, some districts have resorted to doubling the assessment, which they have the power to do by a majority board vote. Will this board really raise taxes on people who cannot afford to have their taxes raised? This is a path I truly hope they do not go down, but should they, voices need to be raised loud. The people need to back one qualified candidate to defeat Noji, should she lead an effort like this.