No on A!

Return to ACCT Home Go to Ballot Arguments

 

Our thanks to the 74,192 Contra Costa voters who saw through CCCCD's schemes, and voted "NO" on Measure A.   Unfortunately, the measure passed narrowly, with 57% of the vote in a bond election which required 55% approval for passage (down from two thirds since 2000).  

 

In our view, the Contra Costa Community College District cheated to win.  The flier below (shown front and back) was apparently produced by CCCCD personnel, and then distributed at District campuses (with the second page changed for each campus), with arrangements apparently made by CCCCD's student member of its governing board.   

The flier below was distributed at Diablo Valley College.   Notice the college's name, seal, address, phone number and website are all included at the bottom of the second page.   A separate such flier was produced for each CCCCD campus.

 

No school district or community college district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall 
be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure….” 
— California Education Code  §7054, in relevant part
“Be fair in reviewing both the good and bad aspects of the measure….   A board of 
education… should not urge the electorate to vote in support of or in opposition to 
[an] initiative….  Do not use your official appearance to speak for or against [a] measure.” 
— From “Nine Guidelines to Follow When Confronting an Election Issue,” transmitted by 
CCCCD's Manager of Audit Services, to CCCCD's "Interim Special Assistant to the 
Chancellor (whose term coincided with CCCCD’s Measure A campaign and its immediate 
aftermath, and who appeared to spend much or most of his time promoting passage of 
Measure A)   March 8, 2006

 



 

Measure A is the $286.5 Million bond measure promoted by the Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD) and appearing at a polling place near you on Election Day, June 6. 2006.   

If you voted NO on Proposition 39, you should vote NO on 
Measure A.  Measure A's unscrupulous tax promoters hope to 
take further advantage of Prop. 39's lowering of the threshold for school bonds to just 55% of those voting in the bond election.  

Here is why CCCCD has a perceived money problem:  

Read about CCCCD's scandal involving "concurrent enrollment" 
of local high school students in physical education classes
here.

Adding to an extended list of other scandals, the District was caught
padding its flat or sinking enrollment figures with high school students,
inflating its apportionment of state taxpayer dollars.   

Read about CCCCD's illegal use of taxpayer dollars for a 
previous bond measure,
below.  

CCCCD Scandals We Know About:  

B.  Audit finds CCCCD Accounting Department "in disarray" (CC Times, 1/31/98)
C.  CC College President "Candy" Rose -- "no contest" to misusing public funds (CC Times, 3/14/98)
D.  CCCCD cuts salary + benefits deal with Candy Rose to end that scandal (CC Times, 4/12/98)
E.  DVC Foundation pays $2500 for not reporting bond campaign donation  (CC Times, 4/28/98)
G.  CCCCD's Fired Chancellor files large benefits claim (CC Times 12/15/04)
H.  CCCCD spends $17,000 publishing self-congratulatory report on 2002's Measure A

  At left is CCCCD's new Dougherty 
  Valley Campus, under construction.

  Remarkably, even as the District
  claims to be desperate for funds to
  modernize and upgrade facilities
  that are "more than 40 years old,"
  they overspend vastly on salaries...

  ... and build a brand new campus 
  just 7 miles from existing Las Positas
  College.   A Las Positas trustee 
  called CCCCD's irresponsible action
  "a sad waste of taxpayers' money."

 

In November, 1996 and again in November of 2000, enough Contra Costa Voters  had the good sense to vote NO on Measures D and K, earlier bond measures orchestrated by the irresponsible Contra Costa Community College District, to defeat those measures.   

Unfortunately, Prop. 39 passed in the meantime, nullifying a 121-year old state Constitutional protection for California school-bond voters, and requiring only a 55% affirmative vote to approve school bonds....

  .... So CCCCD returned to the ballot in 2002, still seeking too 
  many dollars, with too little sense, and passed a $120 Million 
  bond measure that would have failed under the old rules.    

  And they're already back for more -- now, $286.5 Million more,
  in principal alone, if Measure A passes!

 

At Least One CCCCD Employee Speaks Out:

Mark Bradley, a courageous long-time current CCCCD employee, has written to say  
"I strongly agree with the stance of your organization....  tuition is ever rising and internal quality in the institution deteriorating. This bond...  is ethically unsupportable. Why pay 
more and continually receive less? Where did the last bond money go? We have not had 
the growth to substantiate the huge bloom of over-paid positions that continue to be 
created despite claims of being under funded and needing to cut salaries. 

"San Ramon has added a whole new tier of bureaucratic administration [despite an alleged]  'lack of funds.'  District staff continues to elevate itself and expand at the expense of actual teaching and services. People are sickened by the notion that Chancellor Helen Benjamin should receive a yearly bonus merely for receiving a ‘satisfactory’ review from the Governing Board.  

"The Bond money was requested before the priorities on how it would be spent were completed...; the principled effect is to subsidize bottomless pockets. 

"I do not want taxpayers misled by what is a ‘perceived need’.  This Bond does not help...." [Instead, it acts in ways which] compromise our future."

 

CCCCDHQ.jpg (46734 bytes)

At left is CCCCD's headquarters office building, overlooking the Martinez Waterfront, and characterized even by  
a CCCCD consultant as "palatial."  Taxpayers appreciate the benefits of community colleges; but this district operates a taxpayer-funded gravy train for its employees -- especially the bureaucratic layers, headed by a chancellor paid more than the governor of California.

                                                                        What's Wrong with Measure A?

Measure A involves four major issues:

    1. Can CCCCD demonstrate a legitimate $286.5 Million "need," 
      costing Contra Costa taxpayers over half a billion dollars more 
      (on top of 2002's $261 Milion bond measure) when interest is included
      ?
       
    2. The answer is NO.   Measure A includes extensive funding for repair,  renovation, and furnishing projects that could and should be accomplished with general-fund dollars.   But Measure A is a bait-and switch scheme.  
      If passed, the millions in new taxes it generates would free up general- 
      fund money for the next round of salary and benefit increases.  

    3. Supposing CCCCD could prove some genuine need for $286 Million (principal only): are long-term bonds, imposing new 25-year debt loads on taxpayer homes, the appropriate funding mechanism? 

      The answer remains NO. State taxes provide most of the funding for community colleges, and California accumulated a $13 billion tax
      overpayment as of the year 2000, then squandered the surplus.   It’s time
      to force politicians and agency bureaucrats to behave responsibly -- and
      the way to do that is with tax cuts, not new tax liens on our homes.
    4. Has CCCCD "made every effort to manage resources wisely," 
      as Measure A proponents tend to claim
      ? 

      Again, NO.  CCCCD has overspent vastly on salaries and benefits — especially for the district’s numerous bureaucrats — while irresponsibly neglecting its existing facilities.
    5. Should CCCCD be trusted with so much money? 

      Once more, NO. The district has been involved in several fiscal scandals,
      and has recently had to pay large sums to a chancellor it forced out. 
CCCCD Salary and Benefits Far Exceed Inflation and Enrollment
CCCCD Enrollment Numbers Level or Dropping
Some of CCCCD's Excessive Salaries
CCCCD's Illegal Use of Public Funds in Promoting Failed 1996 Bond

SchemeFPPC Findings Regarding Failures to Disclose Campaign Funding
Ballot Arguments Opposing Measure A  

  Measure A seeks $286.5 Million in new bonds -- at an   
  anticipated local taxpayer cost of over $500 Million in 
  principal + interest.    And the total could go much higher
  depending on the interest rate in effect at the time that 
  CCCCD's  decides to sell Measure A bonds.   
  
dolrgone.gif   This new Measure A scheme has been advanced after the 
  State Legislature irresponsibly squandered a $13 Billion 
  overpayment by California taxpayers
Additional taxpayer 
  funding for unnecessary schemes like Measure A will 
  only encourage more waste in Sacramento.
  Meanwhile, CCCCD salaries and benefit increases have 
  far exceeded the combined effect of both inflation and 
  enrollment growth.  And in fact, CCCCD enrollment, as 
  measured in "full-time equivalent students" or "fall-
  census enrollments," has leveled off or even dropped 
  off since 1992.  More facilities dollars from bond money 
  "frees up" general fund dollars for more raises.           
moneylaf.gif

 From 1984-85 to 2004-05, CCCCD enrollment increased by 28.1%; Bay Area inflation increased by 91.8%; and the compounded effect of enrollment and inflation was a growth of 145.8%.   

But CCCCD's salaries + benefits grew by 211.0% !!!

CCCCD Growth Factors 1984-85 2004-05 % Growth
FTES (Enrollment Measure) 20,256 25,952 28.1%
BAY AREA CPI, December 104.0 199.5 91.8%
FTES Growth x CPI Inflation (compound effect of both factors)  145.8%
SALARIES + BENEFITS $39,003,834 $121,308,636 211.0%

  

Had CCCCD salary and benefits grown at the rate of inflation + enrollment, plus
(let's say) another 15% in aggregated real income growth, CCCCD would have 
another $18 Million more in general fund money each year to spend on facilities.
But the district continues overspending on salary and benefits, and now 
CCCCD's overpaid bureaucrats want local taxpayers to bail them out -- despite
the enormous tax overpayment also accumulated by the state.  
                             
                            Just say "NO" to such double-dip shell games!

 yikes.gif         

Now take a look at scanned excerpts from CCCCD's own "Fingertip Facts" 
brochures, as distributed (1) 1996 -- 2000 and (2) June 2000 forward.  
                              
Note that Fall Census enrollments peaked in 1992, have fallen sharply since. 
CCCCD has stopped updating the 1996 graph; but compare its peak (39,216 in 
1992) with the 2000 brochure's number:  34,693 (apparently, the Fall Census for
1999).  A separate 1999 Fall Census document reported 34,788 students.  
                              
 Another attendance measure, "full-time equivalent students" (FTES), shows 
 a very slight increase -- from 28,044 FTES in 1992 to 28,386 in 1999.   The  
 FTES number  dropped to 25,952 in 2004-05, and will apparently drop again
 for 2005-06, based on CCCCD's own documents.     CCCCD  DOESN'T NEED   
 OR DESERVE ANOTHER $286.5 MILLION WINDFALL that would cost County
 taxpayers over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS OR MORE (principal + interest).  
 
   CCCCD Brochure Distributed 1996-2000  CCCCD Brochure Distributed Beginning 6/2000
   CCCCD Brochure Distributed 1996-2000 CCCCD Brochure Distributed Beginning 6/2000

CCCCD spends far too much in taxpayer funding on salaries and benefits.

laf2bank.gif   CCCCD bureaucrats must be laughing all the way to 
  the bank!  Look at what some of them are paid, in 
  base annual salary alone
  
  Chancellor -- up to $218,700 (More than statutory
  limit for Gov. Schwarzenegger, which is $175,000)

 
Presidents -- up to $143,124
  Vice Presidents -- up to $129,888
  Vice Chancellors -- up to $$129,660
  Associate Chancellors -- up to $117,456
 
Directors (many) -- up to $117,456
  Deans -- up to $111,792  

  These are junior colleges, not 4-year institutions!

CCCCD's excessive 1996 measure failed, despite CCCCD's illegal expenditure of public funds to promote it.  (The district cannot legally solicit, collect, or spend campaign funds -- nor directly promote a ballot measure.  
It did all of these, with public dollars, even after being advised by certified mail 
that such activities are illegal, under California Ed. Code Section 7054.)

The District was fined $16,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission for
its failure to file campaign-finance reports -- for campaign funding that wasn't
legal in the first place.  See the FPPC's August, 1998 summary of the case
(go to page 5:  "In an effort to gain voter approval of Measure D, CCCCD sent 
a brochure and  paid for advertisements urging voters to vote for Measure D.")  

You'll need Adobe's free Acrobat reader to see the FPPC pagegetacro.gif 

CCCCD officials later paid the $16,000 FPPC fine with more taxpayer dollars.

As even the pro-tax Contra Costa Times editorialized (Mar. 13, 1997):

"College officials, in campaign documents they were forced to file, 
admit to spending more than $44,000 on printing, postage and mailing 
labels for the Measure D campaign.  Almost $18,000 came from the                     district's non-profit foundation [troubling in itself, since these are tax-
exempt funds being used to promote higher taxes], but almost $26,000
came directly from the district's own funds -- that is, from the taxpayers."

" ...[College officials] should make it clear to the public that they know
what they did was wrong and they won't do it again."                             

clown.gif   Instead, CCCCD has continued to claim innocence, despite 
  its certified-mail receipt of notice regarding the requirements 
  of law.   And at roughly the same time that CCCCD was being 
  fined by the FPPC for its failure to report campaign funding 
  that  was illegal to begin with, the District was involved in 
  two other fiscal scandals -- including an independent audit 
  firm's finding of a district "accounting department in disarray" 
  (Contra Costa Times, 1/31/98).

 So now you're supposed to trust this irresponsible outfit with over $500 Million  
 more in new taxes?  We hope that voters are smarter than that!
           
       

cashrain.gif    CCCCD's 1996 bond anticipated spending $8,000 per
   classroom
just to paint walls, and $5,000 per classroom 
   for window coverings.  We're still trying to discover what
   similarly outrageous costs are hidden in Measure A.

                                      

spin100.gif   Read the fine print: Measure A’s quoted annual 
  take of $9.00 per $100,000 assessed value "is based 
  upon District projections and estimates only,
which 
  are not binding upon the District"
(emphasis added). 
  Should you trust long-term guesstimates from a district 
  involved in several financial scandals since 1995?

  And with  PROPOSITION 39 having passed, notice  
  that other school districts are rushing to the ballot 
  to cash in on more new property taxes. 
  

stresman.gif

Below are the ballot arguments we opponents submitted on March 17 and  
(Primary Argument) and March 24 (Rebuttal Argument).  The Measure A
proponent submissions, meanwhile, say that "
Those who signed the argument against did not get answers before making uninformed and dated accusations." 

Not so; our data is drawn directly from CCCCD documents and newspaper reports.   It's the tax promoters who obscure the fact that Measure A would free 
up general funds (that should be spent to maintain buildings)  for more salary 
and benefit increases.  

seenoevil.gif   This is the kind of distortion that should probably be expected 
  from those supporting a district that spent taxpayer funds to 
  promote its failed 1996 bond measure, and will now collect many
  thousands from CCCCD contractors and vendors to promote 
  Measure A.  Not surprisingly, after slandering Measure A opponents, 
  the tax promoters then fail to rebut our arguments.  They claimed in 
  2002 that "nearly 60,000 students" attend CCCCD campuses.  
  Now they say it's "more than 35,000 students."  But in fact, the District
  has enrolled fewer than 30,000 full-time-equivalent students in 2005-06.

 

REBUTTAL ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE A

TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 2006

wiwdom.gif

DEMOCRATS AND “LESS FREQUENT VOTERS” — IDENTIFIED BY CCCCD’S $36,250 PUSH POLL AS MEASURE A CAMPAIGN TARGETS 1 — SHOULD JOIN OTHER CITIZENS IN REJECTING THIS $286.5 million bond.  

          ·     CCCCD’s 2002 BALLOT ARGUMENT — FOR THEIR $120 Million bond THENclaimed CCCCD “serves nearly 60,000 students and will grow up to 30% over the next ten years.”   Now it’s allegedly more than 35,000 students.”  In fact, CCCCD enrolled fewer than 30,000 full-time equivalent students this year.

 

          ·     during 2004-05, CCCCD “enrolled the equivalent of 1,700 fewer full-time students… than in 2003-04” (Contra Costa Times, February 26, 2006).

          ·     TAXPAYERS ALREADY FUND REDUNDANT facilities.  CCCCD’s new Dougherty campus is only 7 miles from Las Positas College.   As a Chabot-Las Positas Community College District trustee said, This is a sad waste of taxpayers’ money.”  At Cal State East Bay ’s Concord Campus, “attendance has been consistently sparse since the site opened in 1992” (Contra Costa Times, October 22, 2004).  

          ·     Measure A’s advertised  $9.00  per  $100,000 tax rate based upon... projections and estimates only was contrived from how-much-can-we-get-away- with polling.1   

          ·     taxpayers have generously supported state EDUCATION bonds,   
from which CCCCD has received many millions
including Proposition 203 ($3.0 Billion, 1996); Prop. 1A ($9.2 Billion, 1998); Prop. 47 ($13.0 Billion, 2002); 
Prop. 55 ($12.3 Billion, 2004).  November’s state bonds anticipate many billions more for schools.
 

          ·     “Citizens’ oversight committees” become just crony committees, stacked with bond supporters.  CCCCD personnel nominated all 15 independent oversight committee members for CCCCD’s 2002 bond.     

Measure a, another irresponsible Prop. 39 bond, requires just 55% approval.    Citizens opposing Prop. 39’s assault on Prop. 13 should  

Vote NO on measure A!

www.ACCTaxpayers.com

(925) 930-2825

Michael Arata Industrial Consultant; Former                    Marilynne L. Mellander         
Chemistry and Mathematics Instructor, Swim Coach            Coordinator, Save El Sobrante
                                                                                                 Licensed Medical Technician

Richard S. Colman Founder and Owner of                     Donald E. Lively Lafayette   
a Biotechnology Company                                                     Lafayette Taxpayers Association 
                                                                                                Spokesman; Telecom Consultant

Marla J. Kaste Community College Student; 
Certified Phlebotomist; Co-Founder, Concord
Association of Taxpayers  

1 We do not agree with the CCCCD pollster's assertion that "those who can evaluate
   the district... give the district high marks,"  for all the reasons we document here.  
   The pollster's company was paid at least $36,250
in taxpayer funds by CCCCD.



PRIMARY ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE A

TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 2006

stopspnd.gif

CCCCD passed a $120 Million bond measure just four years ago. This
new Measure A seeks another $286.5 Million in bonded indebtedness — with
advertised general purposes nearly identical to 2002’s. 
Apparent payback cost
(principal + interest) for both measures together would likely exceed $800 Million.   
 

new local taxes, compensating for CCCCD’s building-maintenance
neglect, would leave more general-fund dollars for NEW raises
.

Taxpayers already provide generously for local community colleges, through state funding.   But Measure A’s new property taxes would facilitate CCCCD’s continued overspending on salaries and benefits.   

·     CCCCD’S enrollments are flat or declining.  2005-06 “Resident Full -Time  Equivalent Students” are estimated at 1.6% fewer in number than in 2004-05. 

·     BUT CCCCD’s numerous administrators remain especially well compensated.  At $218,700 in base salary alone, CCCCD’s chancellor is paid considerably more than California ’s $175,000 limit for governors.  CCCCD Presidents
get up to $143,124; Vice Presidents, $129,888;  Vice Chancellors, $129,660;  Associate Chancellors, $117,456;  Directors, $117,456; Deans, $111,792....  No wonder existing facilities have been neglected!

·    Had CCCCD compensation structures not raced past inflation
and enrOllment DURING 1985 - 2005, the district would have
millions more annually for building upkeep
.

·    DESPITE certified-mail advisement that public-money campaign 
     funding is illegal
, CCCCD spent thousands promoting its 1996 bond scheme.    
    
CCCCD later paid a $16,000 FPPC fine also using taxpayer funds  for not
     reporting its impermissible campaign-finance expenditures.  Other fiscal scandals 
     followed.

·     per-person Federal, state, and local taxes ALREADY consume more
than food, clothing, and shelter combined
.  Taxpayers must require
more efficient use of existing tax dollars!

CCCCD’s 2002 bond campaign was financed mostly by beneficiaries of CCCCD
spending, including contractors, vendors, tax-exempt college foundations….  We
expect a rerun in 2006. 
In contrast, our opposition to Measure A is grass-roots.

PLEASE JOIN US IN VOTING NO ON MEASURE A!

                                           Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers
                                           Ken Hambrick, Chairman; Former Grand Jury Member

             Camden W. McConnell Chairman, Libertarian 
            Party of Contra Costa County ; Structural Engineer

      Moh Daoud — Community College Instructor

                              Art Ronat — Financial Analyst, Major Oil Company, Retired; 
                      Former Grand Jury Member  

                          Elizabeth Arras — Co-Founder, Citizens for Responsible 
                          Government;
Former Editor, National Monitor of Education


 

  So-called "Citizen Oversight Committees" quickly become   
  just crony committees, comprised of known bond supporters, 
  and utilized to validate expenditures which bond opponents 
  have identified up front as invalid.

  All 15 members of CCCCD's supposedly "independent"  
  current "oversight" committee were nominated by CCCCD 
  personnel.   When ACCT's chairman -- a fiscal analyst and  
  former grand jury member -- volunteered for the committee, 
  he was turned down.

  The "Citizen Oversight Committee" for CCCCD's $120 Million
  2002 bond published its first "Report to the Community"
  (front page shown at left) -- spending over $17,000 for 
  190,000 copies distributed as a four page color brochure in    
  the Contra Costa Times -- just before absentee voting got 
  under way for this new 2006 bond measure, in 2006.  Both 
  are called "Measure A" -- and many readers won't distinguish 
  between the measures.   We believe that was intentional.

  CCCCD's Community Relations and Marketing Office 
  developed a draft for the text of the "Report" last November.

                   Published Editorial Comments 
       Regarding CCCCD's 2006 Bond Measure

Community Colleges Are Spendthrifts
by Dr. Vlado Bevc
Appearing in SRV Times, April 26, 2006

 

Another election, another expensive bond measure. Contra Costa Community College now wants $286 million in addition to the $120 million it got only four years ago. If there is in fact a real need for the new funding it demands now, it is only evidence that the CCCCD cannot operate within the means already lavishly provided to it by the taxpayers.

Send a message to the profligate spenders of your money and vote no on Measure A this June.

Vlado Bevc

      
         

 

Taxpayers Should Respond:  NO WAY on Measure A!
by Michael Arata, published in CC Times, May 21, 2006

Should local taxpayers provide half a BILLION dollars in additional taxes (bond principal plus interest) to an irresponsible, scandal-ridden public agency which constructs redundant new facilities while hugely UNDER-funding  existing- building upkeep and OVER-compensating numerous administrators?   

Should Democrats appreciate being pigeon-holed by that agency’s $36,250 tax-funded push poll as submissive targets for new taxes?  

Should voters at large support encroachments on Prop. 13, including certain bond measures now requiring only 55% approval instead of the 66.7% required from 1879 to 2000?    

“NO,” you say?  Then you should likewise reject Measure A, the Contra Costa Community College District’s gigantic new bond scheme.   

Voters approved a $120 Million CCCCD bond measure just four years ago.  Having absorbed another $90 Million in state bond money, the District will receive more millions if November’s huge new state bonds pass.  But Measure A’s tax promoters present virtually the same arguments as in 2002  — “aging facilities needing repair and modernization,” etc.  

Misdirected Dollars  

Meanwhile, the District has constructed an entire new campus just 7 miles from Las Positas College — “a sad waste of taxpayers’ money,” commented a Las Positas trustee — even as Concord’s Cal State East Bay campus remains an underused white elephant.   

CCCCD boasts $2 Million in annual maintenance expenditures, whoop-de-do, just 1.4% of its $140 Million general-fund budget.   The standard for heavy-traffic buildings is 4%, or $5.6 Million here.  But general fund dollars not spent on upkeep are available for salaries; so Measure A is a borrowed-money, bait-and-switch con game to compensate for building neglect.     

As is, CCCCD’s chancellor can now get up to $218,700 in base salary alone, considerably more than California ’s $175,000 limit for governors.  CCCCD Presidents receive up to $143,124; Vice Presidents, $129,888;  Vice Chancellors, $129,660;  Associate Chancellors, $117,456;  Directors, $117,456....      

From 1984-85 to 2004-05, CCCCD enrollment increases and Bay Area inflation together grew 146%, compounded.   But salaries and benefits grew 211%, factoring in the District’s loudly heralded “cutbacks” and employees’ tiny contributions to health-insurance costs. 

Had compensation growth been limited to combined enrollment and inflation increases — plus, let’s say, another 15% in aggregated real growth — $18 Million more would be available annually from CCCCD’s general fund for maintenance and capital improvements!

While seeking Measure A’s unwarranted new millions, by the way, CCCCD is quietly negotiating new raises.

Inverted Priorities, False Pretexts  

CCCCD’s #1 announced goal is to “achieve enrollment growth to better serve our community.” It’s the other way around: serving the community should drive enrollment growth. But their real objective is increased per-student state apportionment money, to better serve their pocketbooks.

Enrollment figures seem to confuse them.  They alleged “nearly 60,000 students” during their 2002 bond campaign.  Now, they say, it’s “more than 35,000 students,” supposedly an increase  of “more than 7% over the past ten years.”  

District attendance has in fact declined, to 24,635 resident full-time-equivalent students (FTES) in 2004-05 — and a reported further “lowering of the projected resident FTES… in 2005-06”— from 26,594 resident FTES in 1995-96.  

Further, CCCCD has admitted registering hundreds of high school students in “concurrent enrollment” P.E. classes.  That scam padded enrollment figures, double dipped from taxpayer funds, and enriched CCCCD’s budget.    Meanwhile, reports the Times,  CCCCD’s Regional Training Institute “has failed miserably,” and “has lost millions of dollars since 2001.”  

Among other scandals, the District’s administrators spent over $40,000 in its 1996 bond measure campaign, despite certified-mail advisement that such public-money campaign funding is illegal,  They later paid a $16,000 FPPC fine — again using taxpayer funds —  for not reporting their impermissible campaign-finance expenditures.  

Measure A’s tax promoters trumpet an “independent citizen oversight committee” to ensure spending as advertised, i.e., to validate expenditures opponents have identified upfront as invalid.   CCCCD personnel nominated all 15 current members of 2002’s Measure A “oversight” committee.   

Last November, CCCCD’s Marketing Office drafted a self-congratulatory "com- munity report,” ostensibly to originate from the “oversight” committee.   Spending $17,000, CCCCD’s hucksters finally published their glowing report on the 2002 bond last month, just before absentee voting began on this new Measure A.   

CCCCD’s 2002 bond campaign was 80% subsidized by present or prospective providers of goods and services to the District — smelling very much like shakedowns or kickbacks.  An instant replay is likely in 2006.  In contrast, our grass-roots opposition hopes you’ll vote NO on A! 

Arata, a former chemistry teacher and swim coach, is a board member of the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers, www.ACCTaxpayers.com.  

 

Community College District:  Dialing for Dollars 
(Original Text as Submitted)
by Michael Arata, published in CC Times, February 24, 2007  

As the Times recently reported:   California community college leaders “are doing more to get people in than to help them finish” (Feb. 2).  

Irresponsible front-loading by community college administrators likely occurs because tax funding of their operational budgets (and resultant salaries and benefits) is ordinarily tied to enrollments — i.e., warm bodies, not academic success.  

Indeed, the Contra Costa Community College District proclaimed its No. 1 goal for 2005-07 is to “Achieve Enrollment Growth to Better Serve Our Community.”  That’s cart before horse, of course.   

So what they really mean is “…to Better Serve...”themselves.   And that’s what CCCCD’s buckrakers have done, despite declining enrollments.  CCCCD projects 27,930 “full-time-equivalent students”(FTES) for 2006-07 — 10% fewer than in 2003-04.   

But total compensation is up 4.4% for fewer employees, not counting a $15.6 Million “one-time contribution,” obtained by “borrowing” FTES from one year to another, to begin backfilling a $200 million black hole in bountiful but unfunded retiree health benefits.  

In an earlier scheme, exposed eventually in a state investigation, the district padded attendance figures with “concurrent enrollments” of hundreds of local high school physical education students.   And as the Times reported last May, the district’s Regional Training Institute “failed miserably,” and “lost millions.”    

Meanwhile, buildings had fallen into disrepair.  But taxpayers continued enriching a multi-layered superstructure of CCCCD presidents, vice presidents, vice chancellors, directors....  

Like other public-sector entities, CCCCD sought to compensate for facility neglect by shifting maintenance needs from its general fund budget — whence also come new salary and benefit dollars — to bonds, which taxpayers repay, with interest.   

District contractors and other favored vendors typically finance such new-tax bond campaigns, a practice which smells like shakedowns and kickbacks.    

But in 1996, CCCCD administrators themselves spent over $44,000 pushing that year’s bond measure, despite my certified-mail warning to CCCCD’s Board that such tax-underwritten campaigning is  illegal.  The Fair Political Practices Commission later fined the district $16,000 for failing to report political contributions it couldn’t legally make in the first place.  

The district lost that bond campaign, and another in 2000, while enrollments trended downward but salaries and benefits continued exceeding the combined effect of inflation and (negative) enrollment growth. 

But then, after state voters were misled into reducing the school-bond authorization threshold from two-thirds to 55%, CCCCD passed a $120 Million bond in 2002.   They came right back last year with a $286 Million bond and passed that one too, freeing more general fund dollars to inflate paychecks.

As in 1996, the district utilized public resources in maneuvering to pass its 2006 bond, beginning with a $36,250 push poll to identify likely “yes” voters.   

Those included captive-audience students, naturally.   So CCCCD officials produced handbill texts specific to each college campus, advising students to “Vote Yes on Measure A.” The handbills were then given to the student member of CCCCD’s Governing Board for campus distribution.   The Diablo Valley College version is posted at www.ACCTaxpayers.com/Pages/MeasureA06.htm .  

CCCCD Chancellor Helen Benjamin named a DVC professor and one-time district critic as her “interim special assistant” — for a five-month term that  coincided with the Measure A drive and its immediate aftermath, and paying $8,867 per month, before benefits.  The special assistant apparently spent much or most of his time promoting Measure A.    

Other public agencies, including local K-12 districts, BART, and the East Bay Regional Park District, have become similarly cavalier in supporting their tax campaigns with public resources.  A conscientious Grand Jury — or an intrepid District Attorney — could perform a great public service by grounding these unscrupulous, high-flying spendthrifts.  

Arata is a board member of the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers.