Tag Archive for Proposition R (Southwestern Community College District November 2008)

Unions Move One Step Closer in Chula Vista to Control of Southwestern Community College District’s $389 Million Proposition R Construction with Project Labor Agreement

What will be California’s 45th educational district where contractors must sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions in order to work on construction? (Here’s the list of the 44 Project Labor Agreements used or in use for California K-12 school and community college district construction.) One candidate in the running for this shameful, costly, and discriminatory status is the Southwestern Community College District in Chula Vista.

Election results of Chula Vista’s Proposition G in June 2010 showed that the people of Chula Vista do not want their local governments to enter into contracts requiring companies to sign Project Labor Agreements. Nevertheless, the union-backed majority elected in November 2010 to the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board proceeded tonight (October 24, 2012) with its plan to impose a government-mandated union agreement before bidding begins for most work funded by $389 million in bond sales authorized by Proposition R.

On a 3-0 vote, the Southwestern College board approved up to $25,000 in Proposition R funds to hire the law firm of Atkinson, Adelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (San Diego office) to negotiate the Project Labor Agreement with union attorneys and officials on behalf of the college district.

Atkinson Andelson beat out The Solis Group as the other finalist for the Project Labor Agreement negotiation contract, out of six applicant firms that also included Dannis Woliver Kelley, Law Offices of Julia SylvaPadilla & Associates, and Orbach, Huff and Suarez. Next, the board wants to consider awarding a contract for a Project Labor Agreement administrator.

Voters in the Southwestern Community College District approved Proposition R with 71% of the vote in November 2008. Of course, they had no idea that a future college board would give monopoly control of the work to the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council.

The board also received a “Proposition R – Monthly Executive Update” that consistently spelled “Quality Assurance” as “Qualilty Assurance.” (Yes, this place is truly a ripe candidate for a Project Labor Agreement.) As of September 1, 2012, the college has spent $5,888,504 from Measure R bond sales on construction, out of a total of $15,045,522 spent. Considering there is still $374 million of authorized Proposition R funds to spend, along with many millions of dollars in potential state matching grants, and this is a huge guaranteed taxpayer-funded bonanza for construction trade unions (although not as huge as what the unions are getting at the San Diego Unified School District with the Project Labor Agreement for Proposition S work).

Here are the five people who signed the ballot argument for Proposition R in 2008. (No one submitted an argument against Proposition R.) They told voters “Whatever you do, find R on your ballot and vote YES.” Where are they now that the Southwestern Community College board is cutting competition and increasing costs with a Project Labor Agreement? Ask them!

  • David Bejarano – Chief, San Diego Police Department (Retired)
  • Ditas Yamane – President, National City Chamber of Commerce (successor: Jacqueline L. Reynoso)
  • Lisa Cohen – CEO, Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce
  • Peter S. Mabrey – Physician Relations Manager, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Chula Vista (He used to be on the Citizens’ Proposition R Bond Oversight Committee for the college district.)
  • Adrian Del Rio – Former Student Trustee Chair, San Diego County Unified Disaster Council

Also at the October 24 meeting, board members received a timeline from staff indicating the Project Labor Agreement would be in effect for construction at the Southwestern Community College District by May 2013.

Finally, the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board wants to remind you: “Call It a Community Benefits Agreement, NOT a Project Labor Agreement!!!!” (And please ignore that politically undesirable but more accurate “Project Labor Agreement” terminology used in our new contract with Atkinson, Andelson.)

Southwestern Community College District Governing Board Approves Negotiations for Another Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreement in San Diego County

Tonight at the Crown Cove Aquatic Center in Coronado, the Governing Board of the Southwestern Community College District (based in Chula Vista) voted 4-1 for a resolution to negotiate a “Community Benefits Agreement” (aka Project Labor Agreement) with construction unions in the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council for projects funded by Proposition R, a $389 million bond measure approved by 71% of district voters in the November 2008 election. (The student representative also voted for the resolution.)

The ballot measure and arguments did NOT indicate possible consideration of a requirement for construction companies to sign a union agreement to work on Proposition R projects. See my earlier blog post about the Project Labor Agreement threat for Southwestern Community College District here.

The San Diego Union-Tribune published an editorial today (June 13, 2012) entitled “Southwestern College Risks Its Momentum” against the government-mandated Project Labor Agreement proposal. The Union-Tribune had endorsed Proposition R in 2008, noting in an October 18, 2008 editorial that “The untold story is of a community college that used its funds wisely from the Proposition AA bond issue of 2000. Every project from that bond issue has finished on time and under budget. That’s a testament to John Wilson, in charge of facilities planning…We do recommend a yes vote on Proposition R, Southwestern College bond issue.”

Subsequently, the college’s construction program became tangled in inappropriate and questionable practices concerning contract awards, resulting in indictments in January 2013.

It’s a shame that the governing board has proceeded with a plan to give construction trade unions a Project Labor Agreement at this sensitive time. Project Labor Agreements are routinely associated with fiscally irresponsible, mismanaged local governments with little accountability to the citizens they serve. Requiring construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions as a condition of work smacks of favoritism and sends the wrong message.

The elected Governing Board voted as follows:

Up for Re-Election in November 2012

Jean Roesch – Seat 1 – NO

Humberto Peraza – Seat 3 – YES

Up for Re-Election in November 2014

Terri Valladolid – Seat 2 – YES

Norma L. Hernandez – Seat 4 – YES

Tim Nader – Seat 5 – YES

Don’t Be Fooled! Meet Some Sneaky Fake Taxpayer Groups In California

In November 2000, California voters approved Proposition 39, which allows school districts to seek voter approval for school construction bonds at a 55% threshold instead of a two-thirds threshold. One of the conditions in Proposition 39 required of school districts seeking the 55% threshold for passage is to establish a Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, with the requirement that “One member shall be active in a bona fide taxpayers’ organization.” (See California Education Code Section 15282.)

I scoffed at that provision and figured it wouldn’t be long before the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and its regional affiliates created their own “bona fide taxpayers’ organizations” to undermine bond oversight committees and make sure taxpayers remain a generous source of revenue for the government and the people who live off of it.

That has surely happened with the case of the Middle Class Taxpayers Association in San Diego, one of two obviously phony taxpayer organizations that float about nowadays to provide cover for the union tax-and-spend agenda.

The Middle Class Taxpayers Association in San Diego – FAKE!

The Middle Class Taxpayers Association, formed in 2011 in San Diego, betrays its true agenda with the code words in its mission, as reported in the leftist Ocean Beach Rag: “MCTA will focus on pocket-books issues such as healthcare coverage, housing affordability, quality of life, small business development, asset building, moral public budgeting, employment self-sufficiency, lifetime education, retirement security, and consumer safety.” (They forgot to include “investment” in this list.) In other words, more taxes, more programs, more spending.

A post on the web site of the San Diego County Republican Party claims that “the ‘Middle Class Taxpayers Association’ isn’t a new voice for responsible stewardship of our tax dollars. It’s a front group shilling for the San Diego (Central) Labor Council. The Labor Council doesn’t even try to hide its involvement.” No surprise, the Middle Class Taxpayers Association opposes Proposition A (Fair and Open Competition) and Proposition B (City Employee Pension Reform) on the June 5 ballot in the City of San Diego.

In the summer of 2011, the Governing Board of the Southwestern Community College District in Chula Vista declined to reappoint Rebecca Kelley, the representative of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, to its Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee for the $389 million Proposition R bond measure, instead placing a representative of the Middle Class Taxpayers Association on the oversight committee.

That so-called taxpayers’ representative is Matt Kriz, political director of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 36 and Local 831. As reported earlier by the Dayton Public Policy Institute, the board of directors of the Southwestern Community College District is about to vote on a policy to require contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with construction unions to work on projects funded by Proposition R. Even the college newspaper was able to make the connection:

Builder Decries Loss of Oversight Members: SWC Board Replaced Two on Prop. R Committee over the Summer – Southwestern College Sun newspaper – October 7, 2011

Also, see Breaking: Labor Corruption…SD Labor Council Seeks to Oust Taxpayer Advocate from Oversight Committee – posted on San Diego Rostra by Ryan Purdy – July 12, 2011

The real taxpayers’ organization in San Diego County is the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. In addition, Richard Rider’s San Diego Tax Fighters is a reliable source of information on local fiscal responsibility.

The Contra Costa County Senior Taxpayers Group – FAKE!

I only checked the existence of this phony organization when construction union officials handed me a letter from the Richmond-based “Contra Costa County Senior Taxpayers Group” on May 18 outside an event hosted by the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association. The letter reiterated union-backed attacks on a study showing that school construction in California is 13%-15% more expensive when a school district requires contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions.

Using web searches, I only find one example of the Contra Costa County Senior Taxpayers Group involved in policy issues: on June 18, 2009, Susan Swift – the executive director of the Contra Costa County Senior Taxpayers Group – spoke to the Brentwood City Council in support of a requirement for contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on the Brentwood Civic Center. (The union requirement was approved on a 3-2 vote.) Swift is a former staffer to two San Francisco Bay Area Democrat state legislators and received the endorsements of numerous Democrat politicians and unions when she ran unsuccessfully for Director of the West Contra Costa Healthcare District in 2004.

The real taxpayers’ organization in Contra Costa County is the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association. There is also a small group called the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers, which still seems to pop up occasionally to oppose new taxes but whose web site has been neglected for several years.

The Mother Lode Taxpayers Association – BONA FIDE or a POLITICAL FRONT?

I was reminded last week of my old 2000 prediction about fake taxpayer groups when I read about the controversy concerning the legitimacy of the Mother Lode Taxpayers Association, a group founded in 2010 that established a Political Action Committee on April 12, 2012 for independent campaign expenditures in support of Frank Bigelow, a Republican candidate for the 5th Assembly District facing off in the June 5 primary against former Assemblyman Rico Oller.

Now, I’m guessing that Frank Bigelow (just like Rico Oller) would be a solid vote for fiscal responsibility in the California State Assembly. But I wouldn’t regard the three donors to the Mother Lode Taxpayers Association’s Political Action Committee to be special interest groups known for their philosophical resistance to relentless tax increases and government expansion. It received $150,000 from the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee, $75,000 from the California Dental Association Independent Expenditure PAC, and $10,000 from the California Cattlemen’s Association PAC (CATTLE PAC).

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (which endorsed Rico Oller) issued a press release noting “fake taxpayer groups like this undermine legitimate taxpayer organizations…” Yet, I notice that the web site for the Mother Lode Taxpayers Association has been active in other local campaigns in the past three years: see here. The executive director, Heidi Morton, is active in Republican and conservative causes in Tuolumne County.

So is the Mother Lode Taxpayers Association bona fide or not? I hope so, and I hope it will join the other legitimate taxpayer associations in California in the lonely fight for fiscal responsibility.

A Fairly Trustworthy List of Taxpayer Organizations in California

I don’t know every listed group, but I believe the National Taxpayers Union (based in Washington, D.C.) has posted a fairly accurate list of bona fide taxpayer groups in California: California is the Best Example of How to Run a State’s Economy into the Ground.

Southwestern Community College District in Chula Vista, California to Vote on Project Labor Agreement Negotiations

UPDATE: the Governing Board for the Southwestern Community College District tabled the item. Next meeting is May 23.

Tonight (May 9, 2012), the Governing Board for the Southwestern Community College District in Chula Vista, California will vote on a resolution to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions in the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. The plot is to require contractors to sign the Project Labor Agreement to work on certain projects funded by Proposition R, a $389 million bond measure approved by 71% of district voters in November 2008.

When Measure R was on the ballot, the district didn’t provide any indication to voters that it might require its contractors to give unions a monopoly on at least some of the construction with a Project Labor Agreement. (Voters would have rejected it if they known.)

I was one of many political observers to predict after Measure R passed that the unions would pursue a Project Labor Agreement at this college district. It’s a relatively costly bond-funded program, and the college district is located in a political battleground between free market advocates and unions. In June 2010, 54% of Chula Vista voters enacted a Fair and Open Competition ordinance (Proposition G) that prohibits the City of Chula Vista from entering into contracts that require contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements with unions.

A candidate supported by Associated Builders and Contractors (Jaime Mercado) lost to a union-backed candidate in the November 2010 governing board elections, giving the unions majority control of the board. Sure enough, on June 1, 2011 the governing board scheduled a discussion about mandating a Project Labor Agreement for Proposition R. (Mercado had been elected to the Sweetwater Union High School District board in 2004 but lost re-election in 2008. He had refused to participate in alleged rampant pay-to-play contracting practices at the district.)

When the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the proposed Project Labor Agreement in September 2011, it appeared the deal was done:

Southwestern College Considering Labor Pact for Future Bond Construction – San Diego Union-Tribune – September 8, 2011

Here is a press release from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction about the vote tonight at the Southwestern Community College District:

May 9, 2012
Contact: Eric Christen
(858) 431-6337

Southwestern Community College to Take Up Union Proposed Project Labor Agreement at Trustee Meeting Tonight

PLA Being Considered Despite Disastrous Results at San Diego Unified, New Study that Shows Huge Cost Increases Associated with PLAs, and the Fact that Citizens in the District Have TWICE Voted Against PLAs

Chula Vista – The Southwestern Community College Board of Trustees will be considering tonight a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the remaining funds from the $385 million Prop. R construction bond passed by voters in 2008. For more than two years the district has successfully been building projects under Prop R making it appear a PLA is a solution in search of a problem. In fact only one other educational entity in the Region, out of forty-eight, has ever agreed to a PLA and that is the infamous San Diego Unified School District that, besides standing on the threshold of insolvency, has also witnessed a 20% increase in costs and 40% reduction in bidders due to their PLA.
“PLAs are of course a political decision, not a rational or even economic decision, which is why we are here.” said Eric Christen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. “Following the last board election that saw two union funded candidates win seats on the board of trustees it was only a matter of time before payback was rendered to union bosses in the form of a PLA.”
The school has spent almost a year researching the issue thanks to the leadership of former Board President Tim Nader who, though a union ally, has taken this issue seriously and understands the potential to reduce competition and increase costs similar to what SDUSD has experienced. At the meeting tonight the Trustees will vote on whether or not to enter into “negotiations” with the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council.  The meeting begins at 7:00pm in the College’s Board Room (214) located at 900 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista, CA 91910. Click here for the agenda.
This issue is not new to area residents who now twice have voted to ban PLAs on publicly funded projects. First they voted 56% to 44% to ban them in the City of Chula Vista in June of 2010. Then in November of 2010 area voters helped pass a County ban on PLAs 76% to 24%.  “The people of the region and the City of Chula Vista get this issue and they have said no to the discrimination and  waste of tax dollars that PLAs represent.” added Christen.  “Will a majority of the Board listen to them or listen to Big Labor special interests?”
This issue is also taking place at a time when the voters of the City of San Diego will be considering Prop A in the June election. There voters once again will be asked to ban PLAs on all San Diego funded projects. Polls show Prop A with a large lead that will not likely be overcome.
PLAs are the most divisive issue in the California construction industry. By forcing workers to pay union dues, pay into union pension plans, and be hired through a union hiring hall PLA opponents claim that they make it very hard for non-union firms and workers to compete for work they are paying for with their tax dollars. Of the County’s 48 school districts (from K-12 through higher education) only one, SDUSD, has ever used a PLA.