Tag Archive for Measure G (Solano Community College District 2002)

Opponents of Project Labor Agreement for Solano Community College District Will Make Formal Presentation to Governing Board

The Vice President of Finance & Administration for the Solano Community College District has asked Nicole Goehring, Government Affairs Director of the Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), to make a 15-minute presentation about Project Labor Agreements during the March 6 meeting of the Solano College Governing Board in Fairfield.

The board wants more in-depth background about the ramifications of a proposal to require its construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions. This would be a condition of working on projects funded by borrowed money obtained through bond sales authorized by the $348 million Measure Q, approved by voters in November 2012.

(Union officials and lawyers: in keeping with your consistent views on appropriate limits of freedom of speech, be sure to contact this person and the superintendent-president and demand their withdrawal of the invitation. How dare this college give opponents of Project Labor Agreements a public forum to present their viewpoints?)

Voters were not provided with any indication from the district that unions would have a monopoly on construction work funded by these bond proceeds, although Associated Builders and Contractors, the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC) tried to alert the public to the district’s history of requiring contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement as a condition of working on the district’s projects funded by Measure G, approved by voters in November 2002. (See A Thoroughly Documented History of How Solano Community College Requires Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions for the full details of that history.)

There was a small effort by the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group to warn voters that Measure Q bond proceeds would be squandered on Project Labor Agreements and other wasteful ventures. But a couple hundred yard signs and letters to the editor could not overcome the $227,600 Yes on Q campaign funded by special interests that feed off the college and its construction projects. (See complete list of contributors below.)

Here are my writings on Project Labor Agreements at Solano Community College District:

Governing Board for Solano Community College District in California Hears Debate Over Project Labor Agreement on $348 Million Bond Measure Q – February 6, 2013

Waste Once, Then Do It Again! Project Labor Agreement on Solano Community College District Board Meeting Agenda – February 5, 2013

Updated Chart! Who’s Paying to Convince Solano County Voters to Take On $348 Million of Additional Debt – Plus Interest – with Measure Q? – October 30, 2012

$348 Million Measure Q for Solano Community College: Yes on Q Campaign Fails to Submit Latest Legally-Required Campaign Finance Report – October 27, 2012

A Thoroughly Documented History of How Solano Community College Requires Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions – October 21, 2012

Solano County’s Measure Q Looks Vulnerable to Defeat: Will Voters Refuse to Authorize Solano County Community College to Borrow $348 Million Through Bond Sales? – October 20, 2012

California Local Election Report: Construction Bond Measures for School Districts and Community College Districts – Four That Obviously Deserve a NO Vote – October 13, 2012

Contributors to Campaign to Convince Solano County Voters to Approve Measure Q

Total Monetary Contributions: $227,600

DONOR INTEREST AMOUNT
Piper Jaffray Investment Bank/Bond Broker $25,000
Kitchell Construction Construction Manager for Solano College Measure G $25,000
RBC Capital Markets Investment Bank/Bond Broker $18,000
Swinerton Construction Management $15,000
Steve M. Nielsen, MuniBond Solar Bond consultant $10,000
Steinberg Architects Architect $10,000
VBN Architects Architect $10,000
tBP Architecture Architect $7,500
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Construction trade union $5,000
Sonoma/Napa Counties Electrical Contractors Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $5,000
[Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104] Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $5,000
Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104 Issues Account Construction trade union $5,000
Robert A. Bothman Construction Construction contractor $5,000
Solano Community College Educational Foundation Construction contractor $5,000
Jelly Belly Candy Company Candy company based in Fairfield $5,000
Stradling , Yocca, Carlson and Rauth Law firm $3,500
WRNS Studio Architect $3,500
Barnes & Noble corporate headquarters Operates Solano College bookstore $3,000
Zampi Determan & Erickson Law firm for community college districts $3,000
United Association Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 343 Labor-Management Cooperation Committee Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $2,500
Keenan and Associates Insurance broker for school districts $2,500
Timothy B. Kelly Executive with elabra: bond transaction management $2,500
CSDA Architects Architect $2,500
Alfa Tech Engineering $2,500
Sandis Civil Engineers Engineering $2,500
Northern California Mechanical Contractors Association Unionized construction trade association $2,500
Lionakis Architect $2,500
Ratcliff Architect $2,500
B&L Properties Property holding company in Fairfield $2,500
Dannis Woliver Kelley Law firm for school & college districts $2,500
Vanir Construction Management, Inc. Construction management $2,000
Hensel Phelps Construction Company Construction contractor $2,000
Dougherty & Dougherty Architect $2,000
Henley Architects & Associates Architect $1,600
CSW/Stuber-Stroeh Engineering Group Engineering $1,100
Cement Masons Local Union No. 400 Construction trade union $1,000
BCA Architects Architect $1,000
Leland Saylor Associates Construction management $1,000
BRJ & Associates Construction management $1,000
William (Bill) T. Kelly, executive with SunPower Solar contractor $1,000
Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo Law firm for school & college districts $1,000
Stafford King Wiese Architects Architects $1,000
The Lew Edwards Group Political consulting firm in Oakland, works to pass bond measures $1,000
LPAS Architect $1,000
Roy Stutzman Consulting Financial consulting for school & college districts $1,000
Student Insurance Insurance company for school districts $1,000
Daniel Iacofano CEO of MIG – campus planning & design $1,000
KPW Structural Engineers Engineering $750
Creegan + D’Angelo Infrastructure Engineers Engineering $500
MatriScope Engineering Laboratories Engineering $500
PAE Consulting Engineers Engineering $500
TLDC Architecture Architect $500
Devin Conway, engineer for Verde Design, Inc. Landscape architect, engineering, construction management $500
Turley & Associates Mechanical Engineering Group Engineering $500
Noll & Tam Architect $500
Optimal Inspections Inspector $500
Kurt Forsgren, executive with Webcor Builders Construction contractor $500
Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin Metz & Associates Polling firm for political campaigns $500
Denis Honeychurch Solano College Board Member $500
Dovetail Decision Consultants Furniture, fixtures and equipment for educational districts $500
Sylvia Kwan Principal with Kwan Henmi Architecture Planning $500
Andre Stewart, The Doctors Company Candidate for Benicia School Board $250
Gary Moriarty, executive with Kitchell Construction management $250
Teresa Ryland, executive, TRR School Business Consulting Consultant for education administrators $250
Thorton Tomasetti Engineering $250
International Union of Elevator Constructors Local No. 8 Construction trade union $200
Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers Local Union No. 3 Construction trade union $200
Blach Construction Construction contractor $200
Marsha Perry Park, executive with Vanir Group Construction management $100
Jason Reiser, engineer with Miyamoto International Engineering $100
Law Offices of Larry Frierson Lawyer for community college districts $100
Elñora Tena Webb, President, Laney College Peralta Community College administrator $100
Yulian Lisioso Solano College Administrator $100
Sarah Chapman Solano College Board Member $100
Rosemary Thurston Solano College Board Member $100
Anne Marie Young Solano College Board Member $100
James Dekloe Solano College Faculty Member $100
Dee Alarcon President, Solano Community College Educational Foundation $100
Unitemized $50
TOTAL $227,600

Waste Once, Then Do It Again! Project Labor Agreement on Solano Community College District Board Meeting Agenda – February 6, 2013

The Dayton Public Policy Institute, a project of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, predicts the future correctly every time! This item is on the February 6, 2013 meeting agenda for the Solano Community College District Governing Board:

6. REPORTS (NO ACTION REQUIRED):

(b) Project Labor Agreements – Facilitated by Yulian Ligioso, Vice President, Finance and Administration

Here’s a copy of the staff report outline: Solano Community College District Staff Report on Project Labor Agreements – February 6, 2013

The meeting is on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. at the Solano Community College Administration Building, Room 626, 4000 Suisun Valley Road, Fairfield, CA 94534-3197. Expect a healthy attendance of union officials and community activists.

Here’s some of my articles last year about the proposed Measure Q for Solano Community College District, a ripe target for unions to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement.

Updated Chart! Who’s Paying to Convince Solano County Voters to Take On $348 Million of Additional Debt – Plus Interest – with Measure Q? – October 30, 2012

$348 Million Measure Q for Solano Community College: Yes on Q Campaign Fails to Submit Latest Legally-Required Campaign Finance Report – October 27, 2012

A Thoroughly Documented History of How Solano Community College Requires Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions – October 21, 2012

Solano County’s Measure Q Looks Vulnerable to Defeat: Will Voters Refuse to Authorize Solano County Community College to Borrow $348 Million Through Bond Sales? – October 20, 2012

California Local Election Report: Construction Bond Measures for School Districts and Community College Districts – Four That Obviously Deserve a NO Vote – October 13, 2012

Updated Chart! Who’s Paying to Convince Solano County Voters to Take On $348 Million of Additional Debt – Plus Interest – with Measure Q?

The Fairfield Daily Republic reported today (October 30, 2012) that “supporters of Solano Community College’s Measure Q brought in more than $80,000 in the latest filing period, mostly from firms from outside Solano County…For the latest period, nearly every large donation came from a company or individual donor from outside of Solano County.” (See Measure Q Funding Continues to Grow.)

Say "No" to $348 Million Bond - No on Q - Taxed Enough Already!

Say “No” to $348 Million Bond – No on Q – Taxed Enough Already!

How is the opposition doing? Well, it’s definitely local. According to the article, “The No on Q campaign received and spent less than $1,000, thus isn’t required to report finances at this time. According to John Takeuchi, the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group spent $590 on a sticker ad and small yard signs.”

Measure Q would authorize the Governing Board of the Solano Community College District to borrow $348 million for construction by selling bonds to investors. The Solano Community College District Governing Board required contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions in order to work on projects funded by Measure G, which authorized the Governing Board to borrow $124.5 million for construction by selling bonds. (See my October 21, 2012 report A Thoroughly Documented History of How Solano Community College Requires Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions.)

Here is the complete list of contributions to Yes on Measure Q:

DONOR INTEREST AMOUNT
Piper Jaffray Investment Bank/Bond Broker $25,000
Kitchell Construction Construction Manager for Solano College Measure G $25,000
RBC Capital Markets Investment Bank/Bond Broker $18,000
Swinerton Construction Management $15,000
Steve M. Nielsen, MuniBond Solar Bond consultant $10,000
Steinberg Architects Architect $10,000
VBN Architects Architect $10,000
tBP Architecture Architect $7,500
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Construction trade union $5,000
Sonoma/Napa Counties Electrical Contractors Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $5,000
[Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104] Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $5,000
Robert A. Bothman Construction Construction contractor $5,000
Stradling , Yocca, Carlson and Rauth Law firm $3,500
WRNS Studio Architect $3,500
Barnes & Noble corporate headquarters Operates Solano College bookstore $3,000
Zampi Determan & Erickson Law firm for community college districts $3,000
Keenan and Associates Insurance broker for school districts $2,500
CSDA Architects Architect $2,500
Alfa Tech Engineering $2,500
Sandis Civil Engineers Engineering $2,500
Northern California Mechanical Contractors Association Unionized construction trade association $2,500
Lionakis Architect $2,500
B&L Properties Property holding company in Fairfield $2,500
Dannis Woliver Kelley Law firm for school & college districts $2,500
Henley Architects & Associates Architect $1,600
Cement Masons Local Union No. 400 Construction trade union $1,000
BCA Architects Architect $1,000
William (Bill) T. Kelly, executive with SunPower Solar contractor $1,000
Stafford King Wiese Architects Architects $1,000
The Lew Edwards Group Political consulting firm in Oakland, works to pass bond measures $1,000
LPAS Architect $1,000
Roy Stutzman Consulting Financial consulting for school & college districts $1,000
Student Insurance Insurance company for school districts $1,000
KPW Structural Engineers Engineering $750
Creegan + D’Angelo Infrastructure Engineers Engineering $500
MatriScope Engineering Laboratories Engineering $500
Devin Conway, engineer for Verde Design, Inc. Landscape architect, engineering, construction management $500
Turley & Associates Mechanical Engineering Group Engineering $500
Noll & Tam Architect $500
Optimal Inspections Inspector $500
Kurt Forsgren, executive with Webcor Builders Construction contractor $500
Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin Metz & Associates Polling firm for political campaigns $500
Andre Stewart, The Doctors Company Candidate for Benicia School Board $250
Gary Moriarty, executive with Kitchell Construction management $250
Teresa Ryland, executive, TRR School Business Consulting Consultant for education administrators $250
Thorton Tomasetti Engineering $250
Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers Local Union No. 3 Construction trade union $200
Blach Construction Construction contractor $200
CSW/Stuber-Stroeh Engineering Group Engineering $100
Marsha Perry Park, executive with Vanir Group Construction management $100
Jason Reiser, engineer with Miyamoto International Engineering $100
Law Offices of Larry Frierson Lawyer for community college districts $100
Elñora Tena Webb, President, Laney College Peralta Community College administrator $100
Yulian Lisioso Solano College Administrator $100
Sarah Chapman Solano College Board Member $100
Rosemary Thurston Solano College Board Member $100
Anne Marie Young Solano College Board Member $100
James Dekloe Solano College Faculty Member $100
TOTAL $190,250

Sources: Campaign Finance Report through September 30, 2012Campaign Finance Report through October 20, 2012.

$348 Million Measure Q for Solano Community College: Yes on Q Campaign Fails to Submit Latest Legally-Required Campaign Finance Report

UPDATE: The Yes on Q campaign for Solano Community College District submitted its overdue Form 460 today (Monday, October 29, 2012). Better late than never.

As of October 20, 2012, the campaign has raised over $200,000. Big contributions between October 1 and October 20 include $15,000 from Swinerton (a construction management firm) and $10,000 from MuniBond Solar, run by someone named Steve Nielsen, which has collaborated with companies such as SunPower Corp to secure “Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds” (QECBs) for several California educational districts. (An executive with SunPower Corp also contributed $1000.) As shown in this May 2, 2012 Solano Community College Financial and Budget Planning Advisory Council meeting, MuniBond Solar wants a relationship with Solano Community College District.

Other contributors include the usual suspects: architects, construction trade unions, and unionized construction associations that look forward to a Project Labor Agreement.


Yesterday (October 26, 2012) I went to the Solano County Registrar of Voters office to obtain the paper copies of the Form 460 reports that the “Yes on Q – Solano College” campaign must legally submit to the county. These reports are meant to inform the public about campaign receipts and expenditures. The staff there was quite professional and helpful, but I left knowing that the Yes on Q campaign was breaking the law and getting away with it.

Measure Q asks Solano County voters to let the Solano Community College District Governing Board borrow $348 million for construction by selling bonds to institutional investors. Solano County taxpayers must pay this money back to the investors – with interest! It will cost at least $500 million – perhaps more if the district is lured into selling Capital Appreciation Bonds.

The Solano Community College District Governing Board wants to borrow $346 million by selling bonds

The Solano Community College District Governing Board wants to borrow $348 million by selling bonds.

The Solano College governing board voted 6-1 in 2003 and 2004 to require its construction contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of working on projects funded by bonds authorized by the $124.5 million Measure G, barely approved by 55.6% of Solano County voters in November 2002. A majority of governing board members are likely to again make a deal to give unions control of additional projects funded by Measure Q. Project Labor Agreements raise costs and cut competition, as shown by the failure of the Project Labor Agreement pilot project at Solano Community College in 2005. (No one on the board cared at the time.)

The Yes on Q campaign finance report for the period from October 1 to October 20 was due by October 25, but it was not at the Solano County Registrar of Voters on October 26. After further inquiry, I learned this afternoon that an official of the Solano County Registrar of Voters had contacted the treasurer of the “Yes on Q – Solano College” campaign to check on the status and was told the report would not be turned in until Monday or Tuesday of next week.

So much for openness and transparency for citizens as they fill out their absentee ballots this weekend. I guess the local newspapers won’t be informing the voters in their Sunday editions who is giving to the Yes on Q campaign and who is getting from the Yes on Q campaign. Does anyone care?

I did get a copy of the campaign finance report of the “Yes on Q Solano College” for the period from July 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012. Here are a few items of interest:

1. This Campaign Is a Sitting Duck for Accusations of “Pay-to-Play”

Here’s a list of all of the campaign contributors through September 30, 2012, with links to the company web sites, the amounts contributed, and the business interest of the contributor.

DONOR INTEREST AMOUNT
Piper Jaffray Investment Bank/Bond Broker $25,000
Kitchell Construction Construction Manager for Solano College Measure G $25,000
RBC Capital Markets Investment Bank/Bond Broker $18,000
Steinberg Architects Architect $10,000
VBN Architects Architect $10,000
[Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104] Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund Construction trade union-affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee $5,000
Stradling, Yocca, Carlson and Rauth Bond counsel – worked before with Solano College on bond sales $3,500
Keenan and Associates Insurance broker for school districts $2,500
B&L Properties Property holding company in Fairfield $2,500
Dannis Woliver Kelley Law firm for school & college districts $2,500
The Lew Edwards Group Political consulting firm in Oakland, works to pass bond measures $1,000
LPAS Architect $1,000
Roy Stutzman Consulting Financial consulting for school & college districts $1,000
Student Insurance Insurance company for school districts $1,000
Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin Metz & Associates Polling firm for political campaigns $500
Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers Local Union No. 3 Construction trade union $200
Sarah Chapman Solano College Board Member $100
Rosemary Thurston Solano College Board Member $100
Anne Marie Young Solano College Board Member $100
James Dekloe Solano College Faculty Member $100
TOTAL $109,100

There’s very little financial participation in this campaign from anyone in Solano County, but there is much interest from various professional service firms that do business with Solano Community College District and/or want business if voters approve Measure Q and let the Governing Board sell $348 million in bonds. I guess that’s how the world works, but taxpayers will pay the bill.

2. Underwriters Among Top Contributors – These Firms Get Fees When Selling Bonds

After the investment bank/bond underwriter Piper Jaffray got smacked around along with other financial service firms earlier this year about contributing to campaigns for bond measures for which it subsequently became the underwriter for those bonds, I figured that firm would back off from the practice. I was wrong.

Piper Jaffray $25,000 campaign contribution to Yes on Measure Q Solano College November 2012

Piper Jaffray $25,000 campaign contribution to Yes on Measure Q – Solano College (November 2012)

Piper Jaffray is tied with Kitchell Construction – the construction management firm for Solano Community College’s Measure G (2002) program – for making the largest contribution to the Yes on Q campaign.

3. Another Labor-Management Cooperation Committee Contributes to a Campaign.

Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund - $5000 Contribution to the Yes on Measure Q Solano College

Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund – $5000 Contribution to Yes on Measure Q Solano College

I snickered when I saw this one: how many people in Solano County know about the Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund? There’s only one place on the web where you’ll read about labor-management cooperative trusts, and you’re reading it now. These trusts are arcane entities authorized by the obscure Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978, a law signed by President Jimmy Carter and implemented by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. There are no federal or state regulations specifically addressed toward these trusts, and these trusts do not have any reporting requirements to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

This committee receives employer payments as indicated in the Master Labor Agreement negotiated between the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local Union No. 104. Here are references to the Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund in their Master Labor Agreement. It says the fund pays to replace stolen tools, but says nothing about political contributions, of course. Note also that employer payments to the Bay Area Industry Promotion Fund are incorporated as part of “Other” into the State of California’s government-mandated construction wage rates (so-called “prevailing wages”).

4. If Yes on Q Raised $109,100 by September 30, 2012, How Was It Spent?

Solano County newspapers have noted the lack of visible campaign activity in support of Measure Q. In fact, this situation apparently deprived Yes on Q of an endorsement from the Vacaville Reporter newspaper:

The Reporter Editorial Board likes the vision and very much wants to support it. But board members have qualms about this bond. The impact of the state’s fiscal mess has meant the college can’t afford to operate the programs it has now. Is it wise to add new programs before the state’s budget is under control?

There are also qualms about the way the bond campaign has been mishandled. In July, when the Editorial Board supported trustees’ decision to put the bond on the ballot, it was with the caveat that an aggressive campaign be mounted to educate the community about its need.

Instead, the campaign has been lackluster and late, not ratcheting up until after mail-in ballots were already out. Where are the trustees, who can speak as individuals in support of the measure and who should have lined up supporters to drive it? Where are the other public agencies and private businesses that stand to benefit from these plans? Where is the faculty, whose union put on a get-out-the-vote drive for Propositions 30 and 32 without even mentioning Measure Q in its publicity? Does the lack of organization in the campaign reflect a lack of organization and follow-through by campus leaders?

I drove on the major thoroughfares of Vacaville, Fairfield, and Vallejo on October 26. I only saw THREE signs supporting Measure Q – all close to the entrance to the main Solano Campus campus in Fairfield.

An elusive Yes on Q campaign sign in Solano County.

An elusive Yes on Q campaign sign in Solano County.

Not that I put much value on campaign signs stuck in public areas, but I would have expected more for a campaign that already had over $100,000 by the end of September. This lack of visibility is so pitiful that it was tied with the three No on Q signs I saw in Solano County. That campaign is a small, committed group of informed local taxpayer activists with very little money to spend.

Say "No" to $348 Million Bond - No on Q - Taxed Enough Already!

Say “No” to $348 Million Bond – No on Q – Taxed Enough Already!

The September 30 campaign report for Yes on Q shows about $25,000 spent on consultants, slate mailers, some apparent development of signs and mailers, and people at phone banks. It will be interesting to see how the remaining money was spent, provided the Yes on Q campaign ever submits its campaign finance reports.

A Thoroughly Documented History of How Solano Community College Requires Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions

Measure Q is on the November 6, 2012 ballot in Solano County. It authorizes the Solano County Community College District Governing Board to borrow $348 million for construction by selling bonds. Taxpayers will pay back the bonds, with interest and financial transaction fees.

Anyone planning to vote on Measure Q should take a look at the 20-event history below and examine the linked primary source documents. It shows how six of the seven members of the Solano Community College Governing Board in 2003 and 2004 required contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions to work on projects funded by bond sales authorized by the earlier Measure G. It also shows how unions used a lawsuit threat and other antics to subsequently expand coverage of the Project Labor Agreement beyond its original intent.

If you’re completely unfamiliar with this issue, here’s an example of a $17 million Solano Community College Measure G project (Vacaville Center – New Classroom Building) with a requirement in the bid specifications that contractors sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

A Thoroughly Documented 20-Point History of How Solano Community College Requires Contractors to Sign a Project Labor Agreement with Unions

1. On November 5, 2002, 55.6% of Solano County voters approved Measure G, which authorized the Governing Board of the Solano County Community College District to borrow $124.5 million for construction projects by selling bonds. Approval required 55%, so the measure barely passed. The ballot measure language and associated information provided to voters mentioned NOTHING about requiring contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

2. On April 12, 2003, the Governing Board had its first public discussion about requiring contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions, as indicated in the meeting minutes. Obviously the unions were aggressively lobbying behind the scenes:

Trustee McCaffrey stated that he will be looking for a decision on the Project Labor Agreements that were presented recently…

Trustee Keith stated that Dr. Perfumo [the college president] has met with Lou Franchimon [the head of the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council] and others to talk with them about the PLAs…

Trustee Honeychurch also stated that he did not want to be intimidated, blackmailed or coerced by a labor union into a labor agreement that cost money, simply for political expediency…

3. The Napa-Solano County Building and Construction Trades Council finally managed to get a presentation in support of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the Governing Board’s September 3, 2003 meeting agenda. To their dismay, opponents of Project Labor Agreements found out about the plot and demanded to have equal time with their own presentation. At the meeting, Sandra Rae Benson of the unabashedly pro-union law firm of Weinberg Roger & Rosenfeld made a formal presentation to the board advocating for a Project Labor Agreement on behalf of her union clients. Her presentation was backed up by public comments from several union officials. Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction made the official presentation against the proposed Project Labor Agreement, with supplemental support from Kevin Dayton of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

4. At the Solano Community College Governing Board’s September 17, 2003 meeting, a representative of the Measure G construction manager Kitchell Capital Expenditure Managers (CEM) reported his firm was collecting information on Project Labor Agreements and would present a report at an informational hearing during the November 5 board meeting.

Read September 2003 Solano County newspaper coverage of the Project Labor Agreement for Solano Community College.

5. In October 2003, college administrators reportedly expressed concerns behind the scenes about the cost of using and administering a Project Labor Agreement. Union officials realized that college administrators were dragging out the process and interfering with their demands, and obviously they did not want a repeat of the drawn-out fight in 2000 and 2001 at the Vallejo City Unified School District over the implementation and wording of their Project Labor Agreement. Associated Builders and Contractors and the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction had alerted the county’s three local newspapers to the Project Labor Agreement, and unwanted media attention and community concern about the Measure G program was growing.

6. After Kitchell CEM presented its Project Labor Agreement report to the Solano Community College Governing Board at its November 5, 2003 meeting, board member Pam Keith attempted to make an “end run” around the college administration and initiated a vote to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement with the unions. Unfortunately for her and the unions, the vote was not indicated on the meeting agenda and was a violation of state laws concerning proper advance public notification of agency actions. The vote was not taken.

Read November 2003 and December 2003 newspaper coverage of the Project Labor Agreement for Solano Community College.

7. On November 19, 2003, the Solano County Community College District Governing Board voted 6-1 to negotiate with union representatives for a Project Labor Agreement on Measure G projects. The construction manager was directed to provide the board with a progress report about negotiations in January, with the board voting on the final version of the Project Labor Agreement in February. Union officials “generously” offered to administer the Project Labor Agreement for the community college district at no charge.

One Solano Community College board member, Jerry Wilkerson, voted against the Project Labor Agreement proposal and later voted against the final negotiated agreement. He later explained his reasoning:

Wilkerson said the entire Vacaville community, not just union workers, helped to pass Measure G, so everyone should have the opportunity to bid on those projects. “Otherwise you close folks out who would normally bid,” Wilkerson said.

8. On January 21, 2004, the president of Solano Community College District provided the district‘s Governing Board with an update on negotiations with union representatives for the Project Labor Agreement. It was obvious at this meeting that most board members intended to give the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council every term and condition it wanted in the agreement.

9. A group of major Solano County public works contractors met at a restaurant in Fairfield on March 16, 2004 and concluded that there was no chance of stopping the Project Labor Agreement because of the college board’s strong support of the union political agenda.

10. On March 17, 2004, the Governing Board of the Solano County Community College District voted 6-1 to approve a negotiated Project Labor Agreement for certain projects at the college district funded by Measure G. It was not a complete victory for the unions, as the union requirement (as this time) only covered some of the larger projects. In addition, the agreement contained two provisions for accountability: (1) the designation of a “pilot project” for the college to evaluate the Project Labor Agreement, and (2) authority for the district to suspend the Project Labor Agreement if it determined the agreement increased costs or reduced competition.

Read the Project Labor Agreement for certain projects at Solano Community College funded by Measure G.

11. Associated Builders and Contractors helped the campaigns of Jackie Crockett and Bill Tanner, candidates running for the Governing Board of the Solano Community College District in November 2004, but both lost. A solid majority of board members would continue to support the Project Labor Agreement.

12. In March 2005, the college district’s construction manager Kitchell CEM sent a notice to area contractors that had worked or were prospective bidders for work at Solano Community College. Kitchell CEM requested comments about the Project Labor Agreement included in the bid specifications for the pilot project: Solano College Building 300/500/1500, a $3.2 million project with a bid deadline of April 19, 2005. As least a dozen local contractors informed Kitchell CEM that their companies do not bid on projects with requirements to sign a labor agreement with unions.

Read documents related to the bidding and performance of the Project Labor Agreement pilot project at Solano Community College.

13. On bid day – April 19, 2005 – a mere TWO contractors submitted bids for the pilot project, a classroom renovation job that typically would have received several bids. Inside sources reported that the construction management firm, Kitchell CEM, submitted an analysis of bid results to the college administration, along with numerous comments from contractors against the Project Labor Agreement, and urged the staff to recommend that the board of trustees rebid the project. This was consistent with Section 2.13 of the Project Labor Agreement, which stated “If fewer than four (4) General Contractors bid on these Project(s), and if the owner determines the primary cause of the overbid is the Project Labor Agreement, the owner reserves the right, without reservation to reject all bids and rebid the Project without the Project Labor Agreement.”

14. On May 4, 2005 – the day of the board’s vote to award the contract for the pilot project – a newspaper article in the Fairfield Daily Republic (SCC Board to Decide on Renovation Project) reported on the dismal bidding participation for the project. Union officials were reportedly livid about this revelation going public and revved up their lobbying machine. At the board meeting, Kevin Dayton of Associated Builders and Contractors asked board members to reject the bids and rebid the project without a Project Labor Agreement for comparison purposes. With absolutely no comments from governing board members or college administrators, the board voted in front of a row of stern-faced union officials to award the project to the low bidder.

15. In the end, Kitchell CEM never produced a report on the final outcome of Solano Community College’s pilot project under the Project Labor Agreement, as required in Section 2.12 of the agreement. The project ended up with an additional $486,000 in unexpected expenses, $72,000 of which resulted from errors and omissions by the contractor. The project was finished on time only through some extraordinary measures by the contractor. But the Project Labor Agreement endured. It wasn’t about performance: it was about union construction monopolies.

16. Now union officials began their campaign to pressure the board to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement for additional projects not listed in the Project Labor Agreement approved by the board in 2004. They began requesting the college to provide them with certified payroll records for the employees of non-union contractors on small projects funded by Measure G. They cited a cement slab with excess moisture as a reason for requiring contractors on additional projects to sign a Project Labor Agreement. One board member simply declared at a meeting that every contractor should sign a Project Labor Agreement so that the unions could oversee the work.

17. In September 2007, Solano Community College withdrew a bid notice for a basic gymnasium renovation and then re-advertised the contract with a Project Labor Agreement in the bid specifications, even though the Project Labor Agreement approved by the Governing Board did not include this specific project. Governing board minutes did not indicate how or why this happened. To find out what was going on, Associated Builders and Contractors submitted a request for public records to the administration at Solano Communty College.

18. The college administration provided Associated Builders and Contractors with a letter to the college chancellor from Sandra Rae Benson of the law firm of Weinberg Roger & Rosenfeld. The letter threatened the college with “lengthy and costly litigation” unless the Project Labor Agreement was “enforced” for the gymnasium renovation, even though it was not included in the list of projects covered under the agreement. The letter also claimed, without any evidence of course – see #15 above – that “the pilot projects were completed very successfully.” Finally, the letter claimed that “the amount of damages sustained by the Unions and their members of having this work performed outside of the scope of the PLA [Project Labor Agreement] would be substantial.” The president acknowledged that she had decided on her own authority to expand the Project Labor Agreement to additional work at Solano Community College.

19. Associated Builders and Contractors circulated the union lawsuit threat to elected officials and community leaders throughout Solano County, with a warning about what happens when a local government starts doing the will of union lobbyists and lawyers. In addition, an opinion piece from Associated Builders and Contractors exposing the union lawsuit threat was printed in the “Sunday Forum” of the January 6, 2008 Vacaville Reporter newspaper: SCC Trustees Irresponsible with Taxpayers’ Bond Money. It included some advice five years in advance to Solano County voters:

Solano County voters should be aware that unions are controlling the construction at Solano Community College and using their lawyers to expand their monopoly beyond even what the college Board of Trustees had originally approved. When Solano Community College’s Board of Trustees again asks taxpayers for yet more money for college construction projects, consider how one special interest group has a firm grip on the college at your expense.

20. On August 1, 2012, the Governing Board for the Solano Community College District voted 6-1 to ask voters for approval to borrow $346 million through bond sales. To maximize the Yes vote from people who judge a book by its cover, the bond measure name is stuffed with words: it is called the “Student/Veterans’ Affordable Education, Job Training/Classroom Repair Measure.” Of note is that the college’s press release about the bond measure going on the ballot doesn’t mention the cost of the bond. (Is that important?)

Three of the six board members who were on the board when it approved the Project Labor Agreement in 2003 and 2004 (Pam Keith, Phil McCaffrey, and Denis Honeychurch) are still on the board. The minutes of the August 1, 2012 Solano Community College board meeting are quite revealing about the plans for money borrowed through bond sales authorized by Measure Q. Speaking in support of the bond measure at the August 1, 2012 meeting was Lou Franchimon, head of the Napa-Solano Building and Construction Trades Council, which he said supported the bond measure 100%. Public comment also featured this statement from Monica Brown, a candidate for the Solano Community College Governing Board:

Ms. Brown expressed concern that if the Bond Election is passed and approved by the voters that we employ Solano County workers from our community – “not someone from Arizona.” Ms. Brown encouraged that the College employ local firms and include a project labor agreement in contracts, and also to make sure our facilities are built to last. Ms. Brown also encouraged the Board to work hard on this initiative, including walking precincts and participating in phone banks.

One board member, Catherine Ritch, wisely voted against putting this union-backed measure on the November 6, 2012 ballot.

Trustee Ritch commented that she will be voting no on this item. She stated that she does everything she can to support the mission of Solano College, but is troubled by this measure. She thanked the staff and Bond Counsel, but stated her concerns are that she would have been more comfortable if the Educational Master Plan and Facilities Plan were approved. She is uncomfortable with the fact that the document stated the Board has reviewed and prioritized projects which have not been adequately identified. She is uncomfortable asking her family, friends, and neighbors to increase their property tax assessment when it is not specific how the money is going to be allocated. Trustee Ritch encouraged the Board to take a deep breath, work diligently to finalize the two documents, cost them out, and define specific needs.

California Local Election Report: Construction Bond Measures for School Districts and Community College Districts – Four That Obviously Deserve a NO Vote

California’s elected school boards and community college boards have put 106 measures on local ballots for the November 6, 2012 election asking voters to authorize borrowing money for construction through bond sales. At least four of these proposed bond measures are so stunningly misguided that citizens in these districts should take democratic action, defy the well-funded Establishment, and reject the debt with a NO vote.

Below, I list and explain the four districts where voters should Close the Spigot of taxpayer money to the elected boards. First, some general background about educational facility bond measures on the November 6, 2012 ballot:

CALIFORNIA – 106 Bond Measures for Construction at Educational Districts

A web site – www.californiacityfinance.com – lists 106 school construction bond measures on the November 2012 ballot in California. An article from School Services of California and reprinted on September 26, 2012 by the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) confirms there are 106 proposed bond measures. That article also notes that 106 is the highest number of California school bond measures ever considered in an election. It also claims that voters authorize the sale of bonds in California school districts about 70% of the time.

The number of bond measures presented to voters throughout California has trended relentlessly upwards since November 2000, when 53.4% of California voters narrowly approved Proposition 39, which dropped the voter threshold for approval of educational construction bond measures from 66.67% to 55%. This was the start of California’s massive accumulation of debt for educational construction at the state and local levels of government.

A few professional political consulting firms (such as Tramutola Advisors, based in Oakland, and TBWB Strategies, based in San Francisco) specialize in the business of convincing voters to vote Yes for school bond measures. They are adept at emotive messaging (“it’s all about the kids”) and at exploiting technical loopholes to leverage public funds as much as legally possible to develop and promote the bond measures.

Funding for the campaigns to pass the bond measures is collected from banks, bond brokers (underwriters), and other financial service corporations that make money from bond transactions. This has generated some criticism; see Vote No on Sacramento’s Measures Q and R web site for a compilation of 2012 news articles about bond underwriters and campaign contributions.

Bond measures also generate business for the construction industry. A perusal of contributors to bond measures usually reveals architects, engineers, contractors and construction trade associations, and construction trade unions.

Have YOU checked the list of contributors to campaigns to pass bond measures in your K-12 school and community college district?

Rarely does significant opposition develop against proposed bond measures, as shown by how often official voter information guides outright lack an opposition statement to a proposed bond measure. When there is organized opposition, it usually centers around a regional taxpayers association, with help from the local Libertarian Party or Tea Party organizations. Generally, opposition campaigns are passionate, but amateurish. They usually don’t have any money to spend on getting their message out to voters.

PROFESSIONALIZING OPPOSITION WITH CALIFORNIA’S “OPERATION CLOSE THE SPIGOT” 

Earlier this year, I circulated a proposal for “Operation Close the Spigot,” a program to have a well-funded, coordinated opposition campaign statewide against the most egregious bond measures proposed for California K-12 school districts and community college districts. While a formal organization has not yet emerged to close the spigot of taxpayer funding, my agitation on this issue – like my agitation for charter cities – has inspired some promising grassroots movement for local individuals and organizations to gather together and make a more serious effort to inform voters about the huge debt burden accumulating on Californians as a result of the parade of bond measures.

As the November 6, 2012 election approaches, here are the most promising developments for organized opposition against four foolish proposed educational construction bond measures in California.

1. SACRAMENTO CITY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT – $414 Million Measures Q and R

The “Fair and Open Competition – Sacramento” committee that had organized in 2011 to enact Fair and Open Competition ordinances in the City of Sacramento and the County of Sacramento reorganized its leadership and membership and decided to expose the foolhardiness of the Sacramento City Unified School District’s proposal to borrow another $414 million by selling bonds. (District taxpayers currently owe $522 million from the last two bond measures.) This group was inspired to oppose Measures Q and R on the November 2012 ballot because the school board requires its construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions to work on Sacramento City Unified School District contracts. In fact, the leading spokesperson to pass Measures Q and R is school board member Patrick Kennedy, who has been and may still be employed by Sacramento construction trade unions or affiliated entities.

The Sacramento City Unified School District sold notorious Capital Appreciation Bonds to bury future generations in debt. These are bond issues for which investors collect a huge amount of compound interest when the bonds mature, rather than getting interest payments at regular intervals and then getting the principal back when the bonds mature.

Fair and Open Competition – Sacramento submitted excellent arguments against Measure Q and against Measure R for the official voter information guide. They tried to discourage Sacramento area business groups from knee-jerk “it’s for the kids” endorsements of Measures Q and R. Finally, they established a web site to make a logical, fact-based case against borrowing more money through bond sales to investors. As I declared in a Tweet yesterday, “Never before has a campaign web site so thoroughly analyzed and hammered a California school construction bond measure: http://fairandopencompetitionsacramento.com.”

The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board has not taken a position yet on Measures Q and R. On October 14, 2012, the Sacramento Bee endorsed Measures Q and R (Sacramento City Unified School Bonds Are a Smart Investment for Students), with the Project Labor Agreement policy as the only negative reference:

Opponents object to the district’s use of project labor agreements for large projects – as has this editorial board. But the district points out that only 14 of 74 projects since 2005 have had project labor agreements. Union and nonunion shops get a chance to bid on the vast majority of projects under $1 million.

2. WEST CONTRA COSTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT – $360 Million Measure E

The Official Statement for the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s latest bond sale contains some harsh facts about this fiscally irresponsible, mismanaged school district in an economically struggling area. Residents and businesses in this school district have taken on a staggering amount of debt through construction – $1.77 billion to date by borrowing money from five bond measures since 1998. (A sixth attempt failed in 2003.) Five is not enough, so now there is the $360 million Measure E.

Chevron owns 13.1% of the assessed property value of this district, and what will happen when Chevron finally decides to shut down its Richmond refining facility? (I’ve been predicting for 14 years it will become a distribution center for fuels refined in Mexico.) And Chevron is not the only problem with the school board’s rosy expectations for future tax collection. In 2009-10, total property value tax assessment in the district dropped 12.3%, and it dropped another 7.7% in 2010-11. (It was up 1.1% in 2011-12, but that’s not a good rationale to take on more debt.)

Bond Measures for West Contra Costa Unified School District

Authorized Bond Amount. Does Not Include Interest and Fees. Does Not Include State Matching Grants.

Date of Election

Ballot Designation

Outcome

$40 million June 2, 1998 Measure E Approved by 76.0% of voters
$150 million November 7, 2000 Measure M Approved by 77.5% of voters
$300 million March 5, 2002 Measure D Approved by 71.6% of voters
$450 Million September 16, 2003 Measure C Rejected in a special election because only 59.1% of voters approved the bond measure, which needed two-thirds voter approval
$400 million November 8, 2005 Measure J Approved by 56.9% of voters
$380 million June 8, 2010 Measure D Approved by 62.6% of voters
$1.27 billion Total from five bond measures from 1998 to the present.
$360 million November 6, 2012 Approved for consideration by district voters through a resolution of the school board on August 1, 2012

No surprise, the school board requires its construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions to work on West Contra Costa Unified School District projects. It was the first school district in Northern California to adopt a Project Labor Agreement, leading the way for followers such as the Vallejo City Unified School District, the East Side Union High School District (in San Jose), and the Oakland Unified School District. (By the way, Oakland USD and East Side Union HSD also have big bond measures on the November 2012 ballot.)

Of course, the West Contra Costa Unified School District sold Capital Appreciation Bonds to bury future generations in debt. One school board member – Charles Ramsey – even recognized the risk, but voted for the West Contra Costa Unified School District to sell Capital Appreciation Bonds anyway.

The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association is leading the opposition to Measure E and submitted excellent arguments against West Contra Costa Unified School District’s Measure E for the official voter information guide. Opposition also includes a small group of local activists who understand the debt implications of this latest bond measure. Unfortunately, the web presence of opposition arguments to Measure E is sparse. A local political and community activist, Charley Cowens, writes a blog called Mystery Education Theater 3000 about this district, which his kids went through, and there is also a blog called West Contra Costa Unified School District Quality Improvement Project. This is a tough place to advocate for fiscal responsibility.

Today (October 13, 2012), the Contra Costa Times newspaper endorsed four bond measures in San Francisco’s East Bay (Four School Bond Measures that We Believe Should Pass), but held off on discussing West Contra Costa Unified School District: “Five East Bay school districts seek voter approval Nov. 6 for bond measures to fund school construction. We recommend passage of four. We will consider the fifth, West Contra Costa’s Measure E, on Monday.” It looks like this district’s proposed bond measure will get a special editorial from the Contra Costa Times on Monday, October 15, 2012.

UPDATE: The Contra Costa Times slammed the proposed bond sales through Measure E at the West Contra Costa Unified School District: see Yes on Measure G, No on Measure E in West County – Contra Costa Times – October 15, 2012. The editorial points out that the official ballot information for Measure E neglects essential information for voters to consider (business as usual), including the huge outstanding debt obligations from five previous bond measures, the projected tax burden in a few years of $290 per $100,000 of property value, and the projection for repayment in 40 years at disproportionately high interest rates. The editorial concludes with this blunt statement:

District leaders say they need the additional bond money to complete their school construction program. That’s what they said 2½ years ago for the last bond measure. They claimed then that they needed more because rising construction costs had eroded their purchasing power. In today’s economy, that excuse won’t work. We endorsed the successful 2010 measure. But we warned that would be the last time. We meant it. As far as we are concerned, this train has run out of track. Vote no on Measure E.

3. SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT – $2.8 Billion Proposition Z

No, that $2.8 billion jaw-dropping figure is not a typographical error. It represents the unapologetic arrogance of a union-controlled school board that is spending itself close to bankruptcy; in the meantime, let the good times roll!

In November 2008, voters in the San Diego Unified School District approved a ballot measure (Proposition S) authorizing the school board to borrow a whopping $2.1 billion for construction by selling bonds to investors. With a new pro-union majority also elected to the school board, the board (on a 3-2 vote) subsequently required construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on San Diego Unified School District construction projects of more than $1 million funded by Proposition S. Unions now have total control of the San Diego school board, which has already voted 5-0 for a union Project Labor Agreement on construction funded by the proposed Proposition Z.

Of course, the San Diego Unified School District sold Capital Appreciation Bonds to bury future generations in debt. The board passed a resolution claiming they wouldn’t sell any more Capital Appreciation Bonds. (See my article Board of San Diego Unified School District Senses Voters May Reject $2.8 Billion Bond Measure (Proposition Z) Because of Board’s Past Use of Capital Appreciation Bonds.) Now the Voice of San Diego reports (on October 12, 2012 in School Officials Pitch Prop. Z As The Only Alternative to Exotic Loans) that school district officials are claiming the San Diego Unified School District will have to sell MORE Capital Appreciation Bonds if voters reject Proposition Z. Unbelievable!

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association jumped on Proposition Z right away as unworthy of voter support. This particular taxpayers’ organization in San Diego extensively researches ballot measures and is very cautious about taking opposition positions.

The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board has urged voters to reject Proposition Z: Vote No on San Diego School Bond: It Props Up a Broken Status QuoSan Diego Union-Tribune – September 22, 2012.

4. SOLANO COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT – $348 Million Measure Q

The $124.5 million Measure G bond approved by Solano County voters in 2002 was not enough for the businesses and individuals who feed off money borrowed through bond sales. Especially interested in this new proposed $348 million bond measure are construction unions who obtained monopoly control of Measure G work with a Project Labor Agreement on Solano Community College District projects.

Stunningly, one of the board members – Catherine Ritch (representing Fairfield) – voted NO on putting the bond measure on the November ballot. Ritch was appointed to the Solano Community College District Governing Board in March 2012. She is not running in 2012 for a full term, so she could actually vote based on what is right for the people rather than for what is politically expedient. She also has a professional background as a legislative and administrative government analyst, so she was evidently too informed to be hoodwinked by this scheme.

The Fairfield Daily Republic newspaper was not impressed with the 6-1 vote to ask voters to borrow $348 million by selling bonds. In an August 5, 2012 editorial entitled “Board Appears Set for Local Tax Measures,” the Daily Republic said the following:

Solano Community College jumped on the tax bandwagon this week when trustees voted 6-1 to place a $348 million property tax measure on the November ballot. Trustee Catherine Ritch voted no, and for good reason. She said the finer points of the proposal had not been laid out completely for the board to consider, and called for the board to take “a deep breath” before approving the staff recommendation.

The Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group is opposing Measure Q, as reported in Opponents Mobilize Against Local Tax MeasuresFairfield Daily Republic – October 4, 2012.

In an October 13, 2012 opinion piece in the Vallejo Times-Herald (We Deserve the Entire Story on Measure Q), Eric Christen of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction considered the cost increases caused by the Project Labor Agreement on construction funded by Measure G:

…now this same college [Solano Community College District], which still has governing it three of the board members who voted for the PLA [Project Labor Agreement], wants almost $350 million for another bond measure. The reason? Measure G wasn’t large enough to cover the college’s needs. Do you think they could have used that extra $24 million they wasted under a PLA?

The SCCD Governing Board should be honest about whether or not a PLA will be used on this bond should it pass. Voters should have all the information possible before voting to put themselves another $350 million in debt, especially if what they get for that debt is reduced in value in order to placate union special interests. Every candidate running for the board should also be asked whether they would vote to have a PLA placed on Measure Q.

Board members and candidates won’t answer that question. Although the answer is YES to a Project Labor Agreement, Solano County voters won’t support Measure Q if they learn that unions will get a costly government-mandated monopoly on the work.

Solano Community College District sold $1,584,811.70 in Capital Appreciation Bonds in 2005 as part of a large package of refunding bonds. Will the college board do it again on a much larger scale when they have authority from voters to sell $348 million instead of $124.5 million in bonds?

A FINAL QUESTION: Why Should You Care?

As a beleaguered Californian bombarded by bad economic and political news every day, you may now be cynically asking, “Why should I care?” You might have these thoughts:

  • If you live in or pay property taxes to one of these four educational districts, you have probably assumed that any local community opposition to the bond measure will be weak, ineffective, and easily crushed by the bank-and-union funded campaign machine that supports it.
  • If you don’t live in nor own property in one of these four educational districts, you may conclude that citizens who choose to live there accept or are resigned to seeing their school districts waste taxpayers’ money. It’s not your problem – you live elsewhere.
  • And if you live in California but don’t own any property, you may assume that these ballot measures don’t apply to you, because you don’t pay the property taxes for the principal and interest that goes to bond investors, nor the fees to financial service companies for issuing the bonds. You think you have no financial interest in the matter.

Well, you SHOULD care, for four reasons:

  1. Imagine the power of the message voters would send to the state’s political leadership if they rejected huge bond measures to pay for construction in these districts. By using their democratic power and defeating these bond measures, California citizens would nudge their elected officials toward more accountability to the taxpayers instead of the financial industry and union lobbyists.
  2. Voter rejection of bond measures in these four districts would repudiate thoughtless borrowing, taxing, and spending, including the sale of Capital Appreciation Bonds and the adoption of public policies such as Project Labor Agreements that impose costly union monopolies on taxpayer-funded construction.
  3. Voters might encourage some relatively thoughtful school board members in these four districts and other school districts to stand up to the most absurd demands from union lobbyists for more money and more laws. (Surely there are elected board members in school districts who honestly want to focus on student academic performance and aren’t warped by selfish ambitions for higher office.)
  4. Finally, voters would send a message to every California school board member that “it’s for the children” is no longer a sufficient message in itself to collect more taxes for the purpose of repaying money borrowed with interest and fees from investment banks and insurance companies.

Californians need to realize that EVERYONE in the state pays for construction in these three large school districts. The obscure State Allocation Board regularly provides matching grants for construction projects at school districts with proceeds from bond sales authorized by three past statewide propositions totaling $35.8 billion:

Even renters and consumers pay for bond measures. Property owners consider property taxes as a cost of doing business. The tax burden “trickles down” to all Californians.

In addition, Californians need to start thinking about how some of the largest beneficiaries of these bond measures are investment banks, brokerage firms, and other corporate providers of financial services. The so-called “One Percent” makes good money off of Californians’ emotional desire to “help the children.” School districts borrow money now and arrange for property owners to pay it back, along with significant interest payments and financial transaction fees.

Future generations of Californians are going to be crushed under the burdens of debt repayments for the school construction programs of today. For example, the debt of the San Diego Unified School District for school construction bonds was listed in May 2012 at $4.7 billion. It’s time to Close the Spigot and protect those future generations.