click here). Or, as it says on the portal page of the City of Sierra Madre website where they list such events, "Council Meeting Joint with PUSD." Which I guess is their advice about what you will need to attend this thing. Where would I be without the City Hall guys? I'd probably have to get a dog or something.
There are, as I know you're aware, many things that need to be discussed. And, with the exception of two City Councilmembers, most everyone up at the dais will be doing all they can to make sure these items are not discussed in too much depth. After all, the folks running the PUSD are not all that big on resident awareness, it is not how they do business. How else can you explain their need to steal our 2013 Board of Ed vote, or the endless and poorly explained delays in building the Middle School? In the minds of these folks your ignorance is their bliss. They are, to mix metaphors, the $350 million dollar bond issue elephant in the room that wants to fly under the radar. Trust me, the last person in the world they want to hear from is you.
The missing Measure TT money is definitely on the PUSD's "no fly" list for tomorrow evening. This matter is, as you know, currently "under investigation." A convenient process that permits the relevant shenaniganeers to piously proclaim that the matter cannot be discussed at this time because it is, of course, under investigation. Which means they won't talk about it.
We have seen this kind of investigation/cover-up operation put into action here in Sierra Madre with the Bob Matheson child porn case, the EVG gas station skimming scandal and, of course, Johnny Harabedian's police in uniform campaign postcard. Trust me, none of these matters will ever see the light of day. Investigations of this type being the metaphorical cave where transparency crawls off to die a very grim and lonely death.
Last December 8 I wrote something about Larry Wilson's memories of a previous scandal involving another looted PUSD bond issue, Measure Y. Larry's column was called "Going to school on construction bond rip-offs" (click here). Reposted today in a tasteful light blue, this is how it went:
In a strong column published in today's Pasadena Star News, Larry Wilson reminds us about the last time bond money was going out the backdoor at the Pasadena Unified School District. The bond measure back then was Measure Y, and yes, a significant amount of it got stolen. Apparently just like Measure TT bond moneys have been stolen now. Here is what Larry has to say:
As we reported in 2008: "Pasadena police Friday blamed shoddy bookkeeping and lack of oversight by the school district in administering the projects funded by Measure Y ... `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."'
Even one of the suspects in the alleged failure to perform work at Washington said the accounting and the entire project was chaos: "Peterson said Wednesday he was the `13th project manager. Everybody else either went nuts or walked off the project,' which he described as `pandemonium."'
Things got so bad back then that the District Attorney refused to prosecute the culprits who took off with all of that Measure Y bond money. Why? Because the PUSD didn't have the paper work necessary to prove that they had actually cut any checks to these guys.
Who knows? Maybe it is deja vu all over again. But then there is also this. If you are taxed without having any representation, does it still matter if later on the money gets stolen?
Whenever I feel the need to get a handle on things I cannot figure out on my own (which happens from time to time), I go to my file of Wise Friends for a tutorial on the matters at hand. There are quite a few folks in this file, and they talk to me mostly because they trust me to leave their names out of it. There are good reasons for that. People do have to work, right?
And there is one person in particular who is extremely well connected with the stuff we are discussing today. Nobody amongst those who will talk with me has this person's depth of knowledge on the topic. Wise Friend is also very patient and generous, two qualities that are important when working with The Tattler. However, since this wise friend makes a living in the relevant fields, any identity here must remain strictly QT. Don't even ask. Here is how our e-mail exchange went:
Wise Friend: I had a front row seat to that thing, having worked for one of the (xxxxxxxxx) and knew the Citizen Oversight Committee people very well. The OC for Measure Y tried to hold the Board accountable for their inability to manage the contract of the big state CM that ran the operation into the ground (Vanir), but were not able to do much about it. The oversight committee for TT is just a bunch of foxes in the hen house, the bad players left over from Y.
The Mod: Can you say who the bad players are? Maybe we can create a PUSD Rogue's Gallery.
Wise Friend: First off the bat, it's more the system that's run from Sacramento through some big school Construction CM firms and State agencies that's the corruption network that Larry Wilson is talking about. The guys who are "in the business" will lobby for specific subcontracts and work behind closed doors in lining up the subcontractors, because they're embedded in labor relations. That's what that whole business is about. They'll be able to sway enough folks on the committee to go their way 80% of the time, which is all it takes.
People don't understand this business, and the contractors always play it this way. None of those guys works that hard for free. They all "owe" to the folks in Sacramento that run the game. You can't really beat the Sacramento School Industrial Complex, it's all wired together with labor contracts up and down the state and various school CM firms that are embedded in CASH.
Note the connection to the State Allocation Board (Bond money)
Talk about war games. Bond underwriters, lawyers, financing companies, laws out of Sacramento that forbid USD's from hiring their own contractors for construction if Bond monies are used, via DSA, which qualifies every inspector assigned to each school project (required). This is the agency that does architecture plan reviews and enforces supply chain specifications for all products used in the schools. Lots of political games around campus design and funding at the start. They're the ADA enforcement as well.
Started out as the Field Act and evolved from there
It's just MASSIVE statewide, bigger than the regionals like SCAG and SGVCOG
Harry Hallenbeck, former CA State Architect, VP Vanir CM
Donalee Hallenbeck, his wife, at Lionakis Beaumont Design Group in Sacramento who is on many of the committees that develop School Bond initiatives that direct funding to the contractors. Both of them big players in CASH, which is the entity responsible for creating the "portables" program and funding that screwed up the schools for decades, but made plenty of money for the portable facility sector.
You'll find similar structures behind all of the four below, which will never be disclosed, but is an embedded statewide labor network of school contractor connections.
So now they're on the committee that's supposed to watch for this stuff. They'll just bury it and get the "right" contracts approved. Game's over. The reason the Measure TT passed is because of the Hallenbecks right behind Fatheree, writing it up and getting it passed by the voters. Very tight club. Repeat for every school district in the State ...
Here's the TT Bond website
Pasadena Weekly Endorsement of the measure
And so now this entire "octopus" wants to get into housing on school sites? I'm sure the game is all rigged by now. They write the rules.
Here is the original list of people appointed from among 50 applicants for the Measure TT School Bond Oversight Committee.
Arthur Aviles. A disaster assistance specialist for Los Angeles County; general contractor
Gregory Barna. Assistant Picture Editor, CBS/Paramount
Joanna Bauer. Adjunct Faculty, Kaplan University
Charles Bryant. Architect; Contractor with school expertise
Carolyn Carlburg. Chief Executive Officer of the AIDS Research Alliance of America; Attorney
Michael D'Antuono. Vice President, Capital Improvement Programs, National Construction Alliance, labor relations expert
Carolyn Ellner. Dean Emeritus, California State University, Northridge; Chair, League of Women Voters
George Fatheree. Real Estate Attorney, former Chief Operating Officer, California Charter Schools Association
Jonathan Fuhrman. Retired business manager.
Kenneth Hargreaves Jr. Senior Director, Design and Construction, California Institute of Technology
Paul Hunt. Manager, Regulatory Finance and Economics, Southern California Edison
Lee Johnson. Research Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
James Kossler. Former President, Pasadena City College
Joel Sheldon. Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, A.C. Vroman Inc.
New appointees are here. Don't know any of them except Ed Barnum, who is an advocate for the community and was on the Measure Y Oversight Committee and an original white hat who knows where ALL the bodies are buried.
All stuff I doubt you will hear any Board of Education members bringing up tomorrow night from the dais. Including revelations about building low income housing on PUSD school sites, which is their next act of insanity. Something that, in my humble opinion, is probably a contributing factor in the endless delays at the Middle School. They just aren't ready to roll that particular product out for us yet.
What you will hear, for the most part, will be dumbed down and bromidic nonsense made up for parents, resident taxpayers and other people they have little respect or liking for. A list that includes most everyone who will be seated in the audience tomorrow night.
Nor do I expect the Mayor or the Mayor Pro Tem to weigh in on much of this, either. But that is most likely because they just don't know very much. They're just on hand to make affirmative noises on the relevant issues because that is what they've been told to do. Oh, and go to any related buffets.
Why Do Local Governments Keep Swiping Your Money?
Today's Wise Friend also sent an interesting link, and it is to an article written by Rick Cole. Rick is a former Mayor of Pasadena, and now more profitably serves the people as the City Manager of Ventura. Here is a bit of what Rick has to say (click here):
There is no end to these scandals, but for some reason no one makes the connection between ongoing abuses and shelves of thick reports done over the years pointing out the fiscal lunacy of having 6,500 units of “local” government in California.
No, that’s not a typo. California has 58 counties, 482 cities, 72 community college districts, 1,131 school districts, and a whopping 4,779 “special districts.” The latter provide a bewildering array of specialized services–from treating sewage to operating libraries, running airports, and spraying for mosquitoes.
I’m not sure whether the “Coliseum Commission” is included in this staggering total. Its governing structure is even worse: it’s a hybrid run jointly by the State, County of Los Angeles, and City of Los Angeles. In the task of keeping an 88-year-old stadium solvent without booking concerts that lead to the deaths of 15-year-old girls from drug overdoses, Coliseum overseers have failed spectacularly.
Are you really surprised?
Of course, the Coliseum scandal will continue to spawn headlines, and we’ll exorcise some symbolic demons. New management will “clean up” abuses. The Commission will again fade from public scrutiny. And then something else will happen. When unsupervised civil servants work with showbiz and sports promoters, what else should you expect?
What’s far more disturbing than these infuriating, but essentially petty, thefts is that our 6,500 units of government in California are charged with important public functions. They are as invisible as the water and sewer pipes and gas lines beneath our streets, and no one notices them, including the press, unless they develop into giant sinkholes, erupt in stinking scandal, or blow up in our faces.
More info on this PUSD visit with our City Council tomorrow.