Now this matter came up during the Measure TT vote, with opponents of the initiative suggesting that the PUSD just can't be trusted with the public's money. Something that apparently did not worry the voters much at the time as TT passed by a huge margin.
But there are two things that make this matter relevant once again. One, despite the PUSD's assurances that the matter would be dealt with legally, nothing ever came of it. The money is still gone and those who took it are walking around without having suffered any legal consequences. Secondly, the Pasadena Unified School District, now desperately strapped for cash, is gearing up to try and convince the voters they deserve a parcel tax. And given the unfortunate debacle regarding the Measure Y rip off, you can't help but suspect some rather tendentious nonchalance on their part.
So here are three additional articles I found on the Measure Y funds theft. More corroboration that will hopefully dissuade the PUSD's last loyal supporters from their blindness on the topic. After all, incompetence at the top of our school district is pretty indefensible in my opinion, and in the end only hurts those who are least capable to deal with the consequences.
1) Measure Y funds probe ends (Pasadena Star News, October 25, 2008): A 10-month probe into allegations of fraud and theft in the Pasadena Unified School District ended with no charges when prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to file a case ... Pasadena police Friday blamed shoddy bookkeeping and lack of oversight by the school district in administering the projects funded by Measure Y, a $240 million bond measure approved by voters in 1997 ... "Nobody was checking, nothing was being done," Pasadena police detective Lt. John Dewar said. "There was no paper trail verifying work was being done." ... From the beginning of the investigation, police "found some serious issues with lack of control and oversight," Dewar added. "There was no audit to check what was done," he said. "The thieves got in and took the money."
2) Pasadena school district withholds public records of alleged theft of school bond funds (Pasadena Star News, October 30, 2008): Pasadena Unified School District officials refused Thursday to release invoices, an attorney's report and other public records related to their investigation of at least $80,000 they say is unaccounted for from a 1997 school bond ... According to the District Attorney's charge evaluation worksheet, the allegations surround Eric Peterson, a former project manager for contractor Pacifica Services Inc. The District Attorney's worksheet said PUSD officials suspected that the company improperly billed the district for work that was never completed - or was completed by others - at Washington. The district hired Pacifica to complete Measure Y modernization projects. The contract required Pacifica to provide regular updates to a citizens' oversight committee. It's unclear if those updates were regularly provided, officials said ... Peterson said Wednesday he was the "13th project manager. Everybody else either went nuts or walked off the project," which he described as "pandemonium."
3) PUSD to file suit to recoup Measure Y funds (San Gabriel Valley Tribune, February 25, 2009): The school district will sue three contractors officials allege owe it at least $300,000 for unfinished work at Washington Middle School related to the Measure Y school bond measure passed in 1997 ... The school board late Tuesday said they will pursue a lawsuit against contractors Eric Petersen and Jess Yzaguirre and Mark Kingsbury, a former district official responsible for approving the invoices on Measure Y projects ... Superintendent Edwin Diaz Tuesday said the district will not wait for the District Attorney's office to reopen the investigation. The DAs office had declined to file charges in June 2008 and said it couldn't make sense of the documents provided by the district.
Rather cut and dried as far as I can tell. The thieves took hundreds of thousands of dollars in Measure Y bond money, and have yet to suffer any consequences. And to date there are no indications that I've seen of any lawsuits having been filed, nor has the District Attorney changed his mind about prosecuting anyone in this case. Again, shoddy PUSD record keeping being cited as the reason for the DA having backed off.
Pretty sad state of affairs, and hardly the kind of thing that would make anyone feel comfortable about approving their request for a parcel tax.