When all of the audits, investigations and reports eventually are complete regarding the misuse of voter-approved bond funds by the Board of Trustees and staff of the Los Angeles Community College District, the Van de Kamps Coalition believes the attempt to divert the $72 million campus at Van de Kamps to the private benefit of various non-profits politically tied to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be just the tip of the iceberg. How did we get to a place where bond abuse could go on at LACCD for 9 long years and it was not stopped by local Board of Trustees members Mona Field, Sylvia Scott-Hayes, or Kelly
California voters approved Proposition 39 in November 2000. Prop 39 amended the California Constitution to lower the percentage of affirmative votes needed to pass a school or community college bond from 66% to 55%. In exchange for this lower threshold to pass a school bond, Proposition 39 drafters required that the bonds include various guarantees that the funds would be only expended for the following CAPITAL expenses:
1. Construction, re-construction, rehabilitation, or replacement of school facilities.
2. The furnishing or equipping of school facilities.
3. The acquisition or lease of real property for school facilities.
And to drive home the point, Proposition 39 backers also required each bond issued under this provision to guarantee the bond holders that: “the sale of bonds be used only for the purposes specified in [the constitutional list above] AND NOT FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE, including teacher and administrator salaries and other school operating expenses."
On March 10, 2010, the bond counsel to the LACCD, Fulbright and Jaworski, LLP, issued a memorandum to the Board of Trustees identifying nearly a dozen categories of "soft costs" that the District has apparently charged to the taxpayer-approved bonds instead of charging the District's general fund (or not incurring the expenses at all.) One of the categories for which the District has expended bond funds is the cost to make Tenant Improvements to buildings the District is leasing to private or non-profit entities.
The Board of Trustees decided on July 15, 2009 to transfer the Van de Kamps site to LACCD Administration, and then in turn lease the unfinished Van de Kamps site to the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools (a private charter school) and to the City of Los Angeles, to house 4 tenant non-profits politically tied to the Mayor that provide unemployment programs. At that point, LACCD Board of Trustees and staff began to fall over themselves to use restricted bond funds to pay for millions of dollars of TENANT IMPROVEMENTS at the Van de Kamp site. The Van de Kamps Coalition has alleged from the beginning that these actions were unlawful. The bond counsel of the District has now officially confirmed that the Coalition's concerns were right.
Over the last 8 months, an orgy of changes and additional expenses have been incurred by the LACCD to solely accommodate the tenants' needs and desires instead of completing the "school facility" LACCD originally designed to meet its own students' needs. In this way, Antonio Villaraigosa, his Deputy Mayor Larry Frank, and LACCD Trustees Mona Field, Sylvia Scott-Hayes, Kelly
How much were the tenant improvements at Van de Kamps? In searching the records of the construction managers at the Van de Kamps construction trailers, the Van de Kamps Coalition has tallied up (so far) $2,259,226.50 in probable illegal expenditures over the last 8 months. Furthermore, because Van de Kamps was not yet finished when the decision was made to abandon its educational purpose, the Van de Kamps Coalition contends that the entire $72 million campus has been wasted by the community college trustees. Over the coming days, the Van de Kamps Coalition will provide the facts and figures illustrating the betrayal of our community by LACCD Board members who reside in Northeast Los Angeles.
The utter waste of your hard earned taxes at Van de Kamps to subsidize projects of Antonio Villaraigosa, instead of providing the college that voters voted for is just ONE SYMPTOM OF A COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT IN CRISIS. It is not out of the question that the illegal expenditures District-wide will add up to more than 5% of the total value of bonds issued. If that happens, the college trustees may have recklessly endangered the continued tax-exempt status of the billions of bonds sold to investors.
For instance, Bond counsel also informed the LACCD Board on March 10, 2010, that it has illegally spent bond money on elaborate and expensive public relations materials and events to promote themselves. Follow this link http://www.laccdbuildsgreen.org/mediacenter/videogallery.php to view dozens of slick and expensive videos promoting the LACCD's green program and its Facilities Director, Larry Eisenberg. The cost of these videos are as yet unknown, but apparently the cost of them, the public relations contracts with MWW Group and others, the salaries of ex-LA Times Reporter Stuart Silverstein and other persons were all charged against your bond construction funds. They did it because no one stopped to ask themselves: "Gee, is a public relations contract a CAPITAL expenditure?" And the videos tie into other extravagant and unnecessary expenditures of your tax dollars to be explained over the next week here on NELA, Atwater Village News Blog, and our Facebook pages (http://facebook.com/pages/VandeKamps).
The Trustees must be told by YOU to stop the illegal expenditures at Van de Kamps immediately. Hold them accountable for their reckless actions to waste your tax dollars.
Stay tuned to learn the details in the reports of the results of pain-staking research undertaken by the Van de Kamps Coalition. Your voice needs to be heard as the City of Los Angeles and the Trustees of LACCD are rushing RIGHT NOW to spend more money to complete the changes to Van de Kamps before the public learns the details.
The Van de Kamps Coalition
* Correction - 04/01/2010
The Van de Kamps Coalition incorrectly identified a NELA Los Angeles Community College District Board member as "Kerry Candaele" when we meant to refer to elected LACCD Board member "Kelly Candaele." The two men are brothers, however, Kerry Candaele has never served on the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District.
Understandably, Mr. Kerry Candaele was upset to be misidentified in our postings about the problems at the Van de Kamps site.
The Van de Kamps Coalition regrets the error and apologizes to Kerry Candaele. Future posts will be corrected. The Van de Kamps Coalition stands by the remainder of the report. As for the film "A League of Their Own", the Van de Kamps Coalition recommends the film as a terrific Saturday rental!
Here are the online bios posted by the two Candaele brothers:
Kelly Candaele, Los Angeles Community College Board Member from Northeast LA
Mr. Kelly Candaele has produced a number of award winning documentary films, including “A League of Their Own,” about his mother’s experience as a professional baseball player in the All American Girl’s Professional Baseball League. His mother was a lifetime .290 hitter.
Candaele wrote the story for the Columbia Picture’s feature film, “A League of Their Own,” which stared Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. He also produced and directed an award-winning film on the life of assassinated Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme and a film on the Northern Ireland peace process.
Kerry Candaele, Producer and Director from Venice California
Producer/Director, was born in Vancouver, and grew up in Lompoc, a small working-class town on California’s central coast.
Mr. Kerry Candaele has produced and directed several documentary films, including /Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price/, and /Iraq For Sale/.
He also collaborated with his brother Kelly on the documentary, /A League of Their Own/, about his mother’s experience in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which was later turned into a blockbuster hit starring Tom Hanks and Madonna.
He attended Columbia University, where he was a Richard Hofstader Fellow in American History. He has also worked all over the world for with the Democracy Council
He lives in Venice, California, with his wife and three daughters.
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