California League of Bond Oversight Committees

Dust up over expensive bonds provokes calls for new regulations

Sept. 4, 2012 | By Kimberly Beltran |
Excerpt: ...Controversy at a San Diego school district over the cost to taxpayers for new borrowing could lead to legislative controls on school bonds, a spokesman for the state treasurer’s office said last week. The issue has come to light in recent months following publicity and public outcry over Poway Unified School District obtaining $105 million in school construction bonds that will ultimately cost taxpayers nine times that amount. By then, district taxpayers will have paid almost $1 billion for the original loan of $105 million...


A Guide to the Media Attention on Poway’s Billion-Dollar Bond 
CNBC San Diego California - Borrowing 
$105 Million to pay back $1 Billion 

Another Contractor Pleads Out in Corruption Probe
Chula Vista, 4/26/2012 
Excerpt: ...Rene Flores, president of Seville Group Inc., sent his attorney to enter his plea of no contest Thursday to misdemeanor charges of aiding in the commission of a misdemeanor... ...Flores' plea bargain is contingent on him testifying in court against the Sweetwater defendants, according to court documents. Flores' company oversaw $644 million in construction bond money. ...


Los Angeles Warns of Bad Deals 
Excerpt: ... Saladino also called into question the use of capital appreciation bonds with 40-year maturities. Byers said they can cost taxpayers more than $10 for each dollar borrowed, compared to costs of around $3 per dollar for more standard deals that extend out 25 years... See:

Recent Issues Regarding the Use of Project Labor Agreements, CASBO Update CASBO, California Association of School Business Officials 
Excerpt: ...The promotion of PLAs without a thorough and honest evaluation sends the wrong impression to taxpayers, one that we work everyday to avoid. This is why, generally speaking, we have srious questions with regard to their usefulness for school construction...."


San Ysidro School District
Schools Chief took $2,500 in Parking Lots

Nov. 17, 2012 | Jeff McDonald|
EXCERPT: ... By his own account in a sworn deposition, San Ysidro schools Superintendent Manuel Paul took the money, about $2,500, from a local builder who was on the hunt for a seven- or eight-figure construction contract. Paul maintains the money was a campaign contribution and says he drove straight to a Tijuana print shop to buy signs to help a school board member get re-elected. ... ...The FBI has been asking questions about the transaction, three sources told The Watchdog. And a federal grand jury is now hearing testimony from witnesses. The handoff could be problematic in many ways. State law does not permit campaign contributions of $100 or more to be given in cash. And Paul acknowledged in the deposition that he got no receipt when he purchased the signs. Weeks after Paul's sworn testimony on June 20, Hernandez and two other candidates amended their campaign filings to reflect $1,897 in previously unreported donations from Romero. ... 
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Manuel Paul's Deposition:​

Lawsuit alleging school Trustee's husband demanded a house from contractor
EXCERPT from page 7: ... 36. Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and based thereon allege, that Defendants Gareth Maden and Manuel Paul raised money and contributed money and services to the election campaigns of the five members of the District Governing Board, thereby gaining control of, and substantial influence over, the decisions rendered by the Governing Board. ... 
39. On a date certain, not yet ascertained but known to be after October 8, 2008, Gareth Maden demanded that Arturo Castanares, the Managing Partner of EcoBusiness Alliance, LLC, purchase a house for his wife and him within the boundaries of the District as a "reward" for having been awarded the Contract. When Mr. Castanares refused, Gareth Maden threatened Mr. Castanares that he would regret refusing to participate in the illegal scheme involving the purchase of a house. ...


Assembly quietly kills school seismic reform measure
Sept. 6, 2012 | By Corey Johnson |
Excerpt: ...A proposal to study seismic safety improvements for public schools – which won initial legislative support – quietly died in an Assembly committee during the last weeks of the legislative session. The measure, SB 1271, focused on whether schools should allow staff and students to occupy unsafe structures and whether the state can penalize officials for evading California's seismic safety law, known as the Field Act. Under the bill, independent experts would have proposed improvements for the Division of the State Architect, which regulates school construction. The Legislature went home without approving the measure, written by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett. Flores' company oversaw $644 million in construction bond money... ...No reason was given for the decision...


Poway Hires Forensic Accountant to Review Borrowing
Sept. 10, 2012 | By Will Carless |
Excerpt: The Poway Unified School District has hired a forensic accountant to review its controversial 2011 bond issue, district Superintendent John Collins announced at a Monday night school board meeting.
"We want to be open, transparent and forthright in our responsibility to the district," Collins said. "We realize that it's not good enough to say that we think we acted in good faith or we believe we did with the best industry expert advice and counsel. We want to take it a step further."
... At last month's board meeting, angry residents decried the deal and sought answers as to why the board chose to issue this type of bonds with such high repayment rates. One resident called on the county grand jury to investigate.
Collins said the review requested by the district will address some of those questions, including:
* Did the district act responsibly upon the market information it was given at the time of the decision?
* Was the district given advice and counsel based on the highest industry standards?
* Are there any issues of integrity with any parties involved in this transaction?
* Were the fees paid to the parties involved at, or perhaps below industry standards? ...
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