Claremont Insider: Recycling (School Bond) Waste

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recycling (School Bond) Waste

In keeping with Claremont's fine record of encouraging a sustainable community, CUSD is recycling its election game plans. Remember those two Condit Elementary School wiring photos the Claremont Unified School District and its supporters used in its mailers for the 2000 and the 2010 school bonds? Those were supposed to illustrate the grave state of our schools and the urgent need for voters to support giving the district bond money.

Here are the photos from the two mailers. On the left is the 2000 photo with electrical wiring in an open junction box. On the right the photo from the most recent mailer (those are actually telephone wires):

Click on Images to Enlarge

CUSD's recycling program isn't limited to mailer photos. They've also reprising their strategy from 2000 by hiring the same consultant, TBWB Strategies, that they worked with the last time around. Incidentally, TBWB's contract was for $25,000 for the polling they conducted with a second company, True North. Our spies tell us that TBWB's bill ran $10,000 more than the original amount. The current TBWB bill is $35,000 for their services. CUSD certainly doesn't isn't off to a very good start as far with this bond, cost management-wise.

Beyond the consultant, we can probably expect the school district to have already given the grassroots election work over to a core group that will form the actual pro-bond campaign. Following an old Claremont 400 strategy, those people will hold an initial strategy meeting where they will receive a playbook outlining their campaign. They will have also spearheaded prior Claremont campaign teams.

Just to refresh our memories, here's a real game plan prepared by former Claremont Mayor Diann Ring for the failed 2006 Parks and Pasture Assessment District campaign:

Click on Images to Enlarge

As the document on the left shows, Diann's plan covers the 16 weeks of the assessment district campaign, from February 27, 2006, to June 18th, 2006. If you look carefully, you'll see that Diann covered every angle, even penciling in a victory party. Unfortunately the assessment district idea didn't resonate with property owners. It lost 44% to 56%, so no party.

Close...but no cigar, Diann

If you want to get involved with the pro-bond campaign, you'll be assigned to work with one of their team's committees. Only a select few will be entitled to serve on the steering committee. Of course, the 400 have gotten smarter in recent years and mix in unfamiliar names with the old favorites. But, it's still the same old show, and the old names are still in the background directing the steering committee.

Another plum assignment is the communications committee. They'll be charged with, as Diann put it her 2000 documents, "writing and publishing to win hearts and minds" (see the document above on the right). In other places, other times, this committee might more properly be called the Propaganda Ministry.

Someone like Art Parker or Michael Fay will no doubt work with the campaign's treasurer or take on the treasurer's role themselves, as they've done in the past. And there will be a couple very old, respected names listed as the campaign's honorary co-chairs. Jeff Stark, a sitting CUSD school board member, co-chaired the 2000 Measure Y bond campaign, and he'll be involved in this one as well, if not up front, then in the background. The co-chairs will come from the League of Women Voters, the Claremont Educational Foundation, the Claremont United Church of Christ, or former school board members.

The honorary co-chairs and the new faces won't necessarily be Claremont 400 members. They simply be respected and familiar community members who've been roped into being the face of something that our hearts say should be good but which is in reality deeply flawed.

The "Yes" campaign has already organized and is only waiting for this Friday, August 6, to announce themselves. They have to wait because that is the last day CUSD can file its ballot measure with L.A. County for the November election. We expect that the pro-bond core group to have already been apprised of the bond's details - details that have been withheld from the general public. CUSD is holding its cards very close to its vest, and they don't want any specific information on the bond measure's language and total 30 or 40 year cost to leak out until they spring it on the voters in conjunction with the pro-bond campaign's efforts.

Image from

CUSD's operational secrecy has already been on display. At the July 22 school board meeting, the meeting at which the board approved this bond resolution, someone mentioned the matter of the lack of specific projects. Jeff Stark addressed that. He told the audience that the board couldn't consider any specific projects for the bond's $95 million because they had not yet voted on the resolution. This is untrue, and Stark, as co-chair of the last bond campaign, had to have known it.

Below are the two resolutions. The first is CUSD's Measure Y bond resolution from 2000. It contains a school-by-school list of projects for the the bond (including fixing wiring at Condit Elementary). The second is the district's bond resolution for the 2010 bond. There are no specific projects this time.

Why the difference? Because the district has been beaten over the head with its mishandling of the $48.9 million from the Measure Y bond. That list of particulars from the 2000 resolution has come back to haunt the district. Hence, no specifics for the 2010 bond. CUSD and the Claremont 400 do not want to be held accountable when the bond money evaporates this time around.

And CUSD knows well from its recent voter poll that one of the anti-bond arguments that resonated most with respondents was the district's misspending of the last bond. Therefore, they will do everything they can to avoid bringing up Measure Y and accountability.

Compare the two resolutions for yourself and draw your own conclusions (if the docs are slow to load, click on the links):

CUSD res 12-2000 Meas Y_1