Claremont Insider: Monday CUSD Recap

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday CUSD Recap

The Claremont Unified School District continues to fascinate inquiring minds.

We noticed that the Daily Bulletin article on the CUSD school board meeting last Thursday cited a person named Bill Fox, who spoke in favor of the board's proposed $95 million bond:

"It's an opportunity to take advantage of a crisis in the construction industry," resident Bill Fox said. "Construction costs are way down. It's a much different environment than 10 years ago. Ten years ago, when Measure Y (a $12.5 million school facilities bond) passed, we had very different challenges in bidding on what was out there. What we're seeing is prices are coming down."

(As we have pointed out, the Bulletin was incorrect. Measure Y was $48.9 million, not $12.5 million.)

We had wondered if Bill Fox was any relation to Michael K. Fox and Fox Transportation, who together donated $10,000 to the last CUSD bond campaign in 2000. We still don't know if there is any connection, but we do know that Bill Fox is a Claremont resident and is the president of The William Fox Group, which, among other things, operates a housing development company called William Fox Homes. Fox is also Claremont High baseball team sponsor.

If memory serves, Fox has served on a Claremont school district advisory committee. We believe it was Fox who first suggested that the district might be well-served leasing out it's old district office land on Base Line Rd. to an RV storage business. Fox would presumably know about the profit that CUSD could earn through such an arrangement because his company operates Route 66 Self Storage at 450 Foothill Blvd. Route 66 Self Storage advertises RV storage as one of its services.

In any case, Fox is very deeply involved in school issues and in the community. Here's a photo from the 2009 Claremont Educational Foundation newsletter showing Fox and his wife Cindy posing with former Claremont mayor Dianne Ring, Ring's husband Robert, and Ken Corhan (whom we last saw working on Bridget Healy's failed 2009 city council campaign):

Fox is also involved with the LA County Fair Association, according to a press release from 4/11/09:
Sharon Autry (909) 865-4262
Wendy Talarico (909) 865-4263

For Immediate Release


William R. Fox has been named to the Los Angeles County Fair Association. Fox is president of William Fox Group and William Fox Homes Inc. located In Ontario.

He founded the companies in 2003 to engage in commercial and residential construction and development. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He currently serves as a member of the Claremont committee for the L.A. County Fair, on the Claremont School District Site Council and Claremont School Asset Advisory Committee. He resides in Claremont with his wife, Cindy, and children Heather and Brian.

The appointment complements a roster of nearly 50 notable and dynamic community and civic leaders that serve on the association of the not-for-profit organization. The LACFA operates and manages Fairplex, home of the L.A. County Fair and more than 500 diverse year-round events.

If you read Saturday's Claremont Courier, you may have also seen reporter Landus Rigsby's coverage of the Thursday CUSD meeting (no link available). Rigsby didn't mention Bill Fox, but he did quote another bond supporter named Mike Seder:
"To me, it all comes down to timing," said Claremont resident Mike Seder. "We have an emergency right now. We have a school [district] that depends on a state budget that is unreliable at best and if we are going to take control, we need to do it now. This is an investment we need to make in our schools and in our children. What we do now will leave a legacy for future generations of students."

Seder (pictured, left), like Bill Fox, CUSD school board member Jeff Stark, and Stark's mother Jil, has a connection to the LA County Fair Association. Seder is LACFA's Vice-President of Finance and CFO. Jil Stark is (was?) and LACFA board member, and Jeff Stark, along with fellow CUSD board member Beth Bingham, Arteco Partners owner Ed Tessier, and Claremont Club owner Sue Hyland, is an LACFA member as well:

Click on Images to Enlarge

This all just goes to show how well-networked are the movers and shakers in our neck of the woods. But, then, it's like everywhere.

We just hope (but don't really expect) that they'd be open to contrarian views. As we've noted in the past, many of our community's problems have been a result of a groupthink mentality in which a collection of individually intelligent people makes collectively stupid decisions by excluding important information that just doesn't fit the group's preconceptions.