Friday, September 30, 2011


by smf for 4LAKidsNews

The agenda for the Community College Board meeting next week (follows) was forwarded to me for comment -- with my attention directed to the item appointing LA City Controller Wendy Greuel to independently investigate appointment of the LACCD Inspector General.

It’s a lengthy agenda and I scanned it in its entirely …but not in any real depth. Too many questions that beg other questions spring off the 108 pages

I have some real concerns and questions - especially in light of the State Controller's Report and the series of LA Times articles by Michael Finnegan and Gale Holland of misbehavior in the expenditure of bond funds - which identify a lack of oversight and accountabilityby LACCD staff and the various bond oversight committees. There is one oversight committee for each community college campus plus a central one. Ultimately accountable are the trustees of the Community College District themselves - they are responsible to the voters and taxpayers and the students of the district for the expenditure of the LACCD's Proposition A and AA and Measure J construction and modernization bonds.

I am sharing my thoughts here.

Re: BT3. Resolution Authorizing an Independent Review of the Selection Process and Qualifications for the Inspector Genera! (pp10 of 108)

I am unconvinced the city controller is the right independent investigator. 

  1. There has already been a controllers investigation by the State Controller, a 'second opinion' – or 'watchdogging-the-watchdog' - is not what's called for.  The LACCD can’t just call up audits and investigations until they get one they like!
  2. Second, this proposed review will be bought-and-paid-for by the LACCD with a limited scope - so independence becomes a question.
    • The alleged improprieties in the selection of the LACCD Inspector General and the alleged improprieties in the use, lease, environmental study and further acquisition of property at Van de Kamps are intimately coupled.
    • Any further investigation stemming from the OSC report should be free to follow leads wherever they go. My reading of the OSC report and my understanding of the oral presentation that accompanied it was that further investigation should be of possible criminal and not just civil impropriety.
  3. Ms. Greuel is a declared candidate for mayor of Los Angeles - and it is obvious to me that any further investigation may identify the current mayor as part of the problem with LACCD actions at the Van de Kamps campus. There is the appearance of a potential conflict of interest.

Re: BT5. Resolution to Request California Attorney General Opinion on Los Angeles Community College District's Proposition 39 Compliance (pp12 of 108)

  1. Yes. The AG is the right agency to investigate any and all of this …unless a grand jury is empanelled.

BT6. Resolution to Adopt a Master Budget Plan and to Implement Policies to Strengthen Oversight and Spending Practices for the District's Construction Program (pp13 of 109)

BT7. Resolution to Strengthen the District Citizens' Oversight Committee's Authority and Responsibility to Ensure that Bond Moneys are Spent Appropriately (pp.14 0f 108)

  1. These two resolutions are an interesting combination of too-little/too-late and rushing-too-fast.
  2. The many agenda items that follow in the 108 pages approve and authorize contracts and expenditures for construction and modernization under the bonds – including 'emergency contracts' and bond expenditures for questionable items - in the same old absent-a-master plan/un-overseen way that got us to where we are today. Remember Einstein's definition of 'insanity'.

The trustees must stop and question all these expenses and staff recommendations – and must empower the Bond Oversight Committees' responsibility and authority to oversee before they go ahead doing it the way they always have.

A Resolution for Oversight and Resolution for A Master Plan are not the same as having those things in place.

To proceed before establishing the things called for under these two resolutions – Strong Accountable Oversight and A Master Plan - or without resolving the allegations of prior impropriety - is the epitome of hubris.

The central Bond Oversight Committee must have independent staff and counsel – as should the trustees themselves - who can answer questions like "Is the expenditure of long term bond funds to purchase short-lifetime I-Pads – especially in contracts with only one bidder fiduciarilly responsible, wise …or even legal?"    (pp.41 of 108)

There are excellent things happening in the Community College District – the joint use contracts  and co-development of the Middle College High School with LAUSD is a case in point.

But legal? That's a whole other matter.


LACCD Agenda 10-5

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