Thursday, August 18, 2011

LA COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD MEETS TO DISCUSS AUDIT AS GROUP PROTESTS: State Controller’s Office advises criminal investigation of Inspector General appointment, warns of taxpayers lawsuits. smf squeaks from the sidelines.

2cents smf


smf: Aug 18 - The stories below were written before the meeting, which stretched until past 10pm last night and was alternately informative and contentious – with intimations of fireworks+recrimination to follow.

THE STATE CONTROLLER’S OFFICE presented their audit – and – unprompted, warned of taxpayers lawsuits for misspending bond funds, And when questioned about who should investigate the “possible malfeasance” (text in the audit)  in the appointment of the Inspector General, suggested that investigation should be by the District Attorney or Attorney General – suggesting criminality.

THE CHANCELLOR agreed to some findings, disputed others – defended the record and belittled the allegations - and offered what a critical observer might call a whitewash of the program. (I am a plaintiff in a taxpayer lawsuit already.)

THE BOARD was divided and appointed a ad-hoc study committee – amidst protestations that they didn’t know that oversight was being overlooked.

I did make some remarks, which follow.

Look elsewhere for a fair+balanced report.

LA Community College Board meets to discuss audit

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | KPCC  |

Aug. 17, 2011 |Administrators of the nine-campus L.A. Community College District meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. to review a blistering state audit report of the district’s $6 billion construction program.

The audit report says $140 million was misspent on unapproved construction, unfinished or cancelled building projects and public relations while the committee in charge of monitoring spending was asleep at the wheel.

L.A. Community College District Trustee Mona Field apologized to taxpayers and said she and her colleagues have been fixing the problems. "We’re changing the way the citizens oversight committee functions, they’re meeting more frequently," Field said. "We’ve also changed the ways that we pay the many, many consultants."

Trustees fired the head of the construction program earlier this year. Field says the problems shouldn’t diminish the importance of the major improvements that were made to the nine community colleges. "We have the confidence of people because they are desperate to come to college, and that’s our goal, to provide that, and that’s what this building program was for."

The construction is expected to continue for another three years.


Group Calls for Protest Before LACCD Board Meeting

The Van de Camps Coalition wanted Northeast Los Angeles residents to voice their displeasure regarding the still-unopened community college campus at the Van de Kamps property.

David Fonseca

David Fonseca |


Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch

August 17, 2011 - Residents of Northeast Los Angeles have called for their neighbors to protest before a special Wednesday night meeting of the Los Angeles Community College District, while also calling for the district's disclosure of its use of bond funds.

A release from the Van de Kamps Coalition states that the 5:30 p.m. protest will take place near LACCD Board Meeting Room, located at 770 Wilshire Blvd. (at Flower Street) in downtown Los Angeles.

The main talking point of the meeting, slated for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night, is State Controller John Chiang's audit of the district. The board is also expected to address the concerns of taxpayers, according to the Van de Kamps Coalition, a group that has voiced its concerns before regarding the LACCD's money use.

The group also said in the release that while board president Michael Santiago announced the meeting regarding the "damning" state audit on Aug. 10, agendas for the meeting were not available to the public until the "last minute."

Patch is headed to the protest and meeting. Check back for more details.

smf’s remarks to the community college board:

This board and this district is has been challenged – and can turn that challenge into opportunity. You are poised on the brink of real change – between failure and success. Between progress and business as unusual.

The building of schools, colleges, and universities is civilization investing in its own future. That is what the voters voted to do when they voted for these bonds.

Doing a bad job of it is inexcusable. That is what the controller is saying.

I am voter and a taxpayer – and I have long term intimate knowledge from a decade on the LAUSD Bond Oversight Committee of how these things are supposed to be done. You have taken my money and my neighbors money and given it over to people who have ripped me and you and the future off.

Either that ….or you are ripping me and the future – taxpayers and students - off.

This audit makes allegations of Waste, Fraud and Abuse. The trifecta of public mismanagement and malfeasance.

It accuses you, it accuses the citizens oversight committee. It accuses past management.

But I am standing on the metaphorical bridge and right now I don't care about the water that has already passed under. Please: Stop the Waste, Stop the Fraud, stop the Abuse – let the controller and law enforcement sort out the past. Don't try to spin control this. Don't try to frame it. Don't play the blame game. Don't look for scapegoats. Don't look back.

Please, please - start doing the right things now. Stop the bleeding. Empower Citizen’s Oversight. Hire a professional Inspector General. Do a bit of introspection.

Create a strategic execution plan and execute it. Build some colleges and open the ones you've built – we need them.

You're trustees. Earn the trust.

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