EDITOR’S NOTE: This report was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 by Jack Mayne The Highline Citizens for Schools has filed a complaint with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission claiming the opponents to the narrowly-defeated bond issue failed to properly file as a political action committee, which it denies. The bond issue last November fell less than 1 percent short of passage, or by a margin of only 215 votes, failing to reachÂ the state required 60 percent approval. Lois Schipper, president of the Highline Citizens for Schools, said in a telephone interview with The B-Town Blog on Monday (Jan. 12) that she had been informed by the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) only last Friday (Jan. 9) that it had accepted her groupâ€™s challenge. It took several phone calls and follow-ups to get the complaint acknowledged by the commission, she said. On Tuesday, by telephone, Philip Stutzman of the Public Disclosure Commission said the complaint is dated Oct. 7, but was not found until much later, leading to the acceptance of the complaint. Schipper said her committee first filed a complaint on Oct. 7 and followed up on Nov. 30 but did not get official word of its acceptance until last week, she said. Stutzman said he could make no comment on the nature or specifics of the case while it is pending, nor could he comment on the timing of a decision. The Highline Citizens for Schools (HCS) charges Sensible Spending on Schools (SSOS) with illegally operating a campaign to defeat Highlineâ€™s capital improvement bond on last Novemberâ€™s ballot, and never filing financial records with the state, as required by law. â€˜Smear Campaignâ€™ Schipper said that Stutzman, PDC director of compliance, said the SSOC is accused of â€œfailing to register and report as a political action committee in its efforts to oppose a Highline School District bond measure.â€ On Tuesday, Jan. 13, Stutzman said he had never talked directly with Steele but the information comes from the boilerplate letter sent accepting the complaint. Sensible Spending on Schools denied the accusation. Its leader, Karen Steele, said the charge was â€œa smear campaign to try to discredit those who oppose Proposition 1 and a public relations attempt â€¦ to gain more notoriety in the media.â€ Karen Steele of Sensible Spending on Schools (SSOS) said she has received a request from the PDC for more information on SSOS, â€œwhich we are complying with.â€ â€œAs originally directed by the PDC, we are registered with the Washington State Department of Revenue. All donations received are in a segregated account and every penny received or spent is detailed and accounted for. Stutzman could not comment because the case is now ongoing before the commission. â€œThere has never been an attempt on the part of SSOS or anyone working to defeat the School Construction Bond, Prop 1 to deceive anyone. I am confident that once the facts are revealed, it will be obvious that Lois Schipper and her group are resorting to dirty politics to account for why the School Bond failed in Nov. She was mortified that there was any opposition at all and how dare the public disagree.â€ Law requires disclosure State law requires individuals and groups that engage in political campaign activities to report revenue and expenditures as public records, so voters know who is backing or opposing measures and candidates, Schipper said. â€œSSOS is hiding information from voters and violating the principle of free and fair elections,â€ she said. â€œIt is time for SSOS to come out of the shadows and let voters know who they are and what they stand for.â€ If passed, the bond would have replaced deteriorating, out-of-date buildings with safe, modern schools; built two additional schools to relieve increasing overcrowding and make room for lower class sizes; and funded desperately-needed repairs and upgrades to schools across the district. A new measure is now slated for another vote on the Feb. 10. It is a similar bond proposal, trimmed by $9 million, along with renewal of the districtâ€™s Educational Programs and Operations Levy, which pays for basic education needs not fully funded by the state. Schipper said Highline Citizens for Schools has filed all required records with the PDC.]]>
SSOS Sensible Spending on Our Schools says:
January 12, 2015 at 5:56 pm
This is just another attempt by Lois Schipper and the Highline Citizens for Schools to muzzle the opposition. Apparently they resent our First Amendment Right of Free Speech.
She was mortified that anyone would DARE oppose the school bond and now she is looking for the reason it failed. Plain and simpleâ€¦.the people have little faith in the HSDB to efficiently and responsibly manage the citizensâ€™ money. This is nothing more than trying to get media attention and it will backfire. Sensible Spending on Our Schools is in FULL compliance with the PDC, have been in talks with Philip Stutzman, Director of Compliance and anyone who doesnâ€™t believe this should call the PDC themselves. We have done nothing wrong except try to get the truth regarding this Bond out to the public so they could make an informed decision.
This is not China and Lois Schipper should realize that the HCS does not have a lock on being the only ones to carry on a campaign. This bond is flawed and that is why it failed, plain and simple. She is looking to knock out any opposition and this is not the way to do it.
She and the HSDB have carried out a campaign that just skirts the laws for propriety with the PDC.
IF THE HCS DOES NOT PUBLISH A RETRACTION REGARDING SSOS BEING CHARGED WITH VIOLATIONS, WE WILL SUE THEM FOR LIBEL!
NO CHARGES HAVE BEEN FILED AND THIS IS JUST LOIS SHIPPER RESORTING TO DIRTY POLITICS WITH LIES AND INNUENDOS. She is setting a disgusting example for our students. Way to go, Lois!
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Good luck suing someone when you are the one breaking the law. If you are in full compliance how come sensible spending on schools does not appear on the PDC reports?
Wild acquisitions and blind assumptions, this is what the Highline School Board has now resorted to.
It seems that someone is watching SSOS to make sure this small group is following ALL of the rules. Is someone doing the same due diligence regarding the school district?
Is the school district following all of the rules? Someone has already stated that if the central district administration has to work this hard to sell their message, then something isn’t right.
No such complaint showing up on PDC website.
No SSOS you are the one that has been spreading lies from the beginning. You are the one on a smear campaign. You are the one that should be ashamed but you never will be because you have nothing to share but delusions.
Thank you Nicky you have now convinced me to vote no.
Well then John you just showed how uninterested you are in supporting schools if this little comment can send you off the rails. Nice try on the sad power play though. You should make sure you save your comment so you can re-post it anytime someone says something you don’t want to hear.
Most of us support schools plenty. Consider the fact that 39+% of my property taxes go the HSD. Further, 17% of my property taxes go to the state school fund. I wholeheartedly support the local schools, but this bond is too large. If there were not two other existing bonds already on the books (which we’re still paying off), then I would be much more inclined to support this. But this is too much.
Further, the fact that the HSD (Susan Enfield, et al.) went right ahead and immediately re-submitted the bond proposal with seemingly NO input from the public, just seems like sour grapes on their part. I gives the impression that, “Well, you didn’t approve the bond? We’re going to run it again until we get the result we want. So there!”
A more moderate approach would be to wait a little while (a year, etc.), get some meaningful input from the community, work on the education and outreach to the voters, and then see what happens.
But no, pretty-much say “screw you” to the voters and re-run ASAP.
Lastly–and in the most insane move (impressively, I might add)–they run the Maintenance and Operation Levy re-authorization vote at the same time. This is what really makes me shake my head. It is obvious that the bond measure is very contentious, and it has become polarizing. So why would you risk having the M & O levy vote fail as well. If the voters get irate, they vote down everything.
I just don’t get it. Political amateurs at work, I guess. Sheesh…
Not sure where some of you were, but there was meetings and surveys about the Bond that the public was aware of. You will never get everyone to agree about the content of the Bond. But the Bond is on the ballet and that will not change. And if we donâ€™t Vote Yes, the crappy schools and the other needs will not not change either. Most of you are missing the point of what the Bond and the Levy are needed for. Instead you want to talk about salaryâ€™s and other non issues with no bases for your opinions.
How many board meetings have you been too? How many public forums? Instead you want to use the public social media to spout your lack of knowledge in what it takes to run a district from the janitors, teachers, admin, books, supplies,maintenance and building of schools.
Spreading delusions? Telling us that this bond measure is twice as much as the bonds we approved in 2002 and 2006 and that we are still going to pay on these until 2026? Property taxes and rents will increase? Our district academic ratings are the lowest of average? Nicky, these are not delusions they are fact. The Highline School District and Citizens for Highline want us to “Just be quiet and don’t say anything”. In fact they decided not to put anything in the Voters Pamphlet regarding the impact of this major decision that will be in front of us………again.
Nicky, Lois Schipper’s accusations are retaliatory and without basis. SSOS was formed to do nothing more than get the truth to the citizens of the Highline School District. It always was and always will be the focus of our intent. The focus was never power and money, which apparently is high on Lois’s radar.
It is more important that the citizens of Highline know that this Bond will affect their pocket book and standard of living. But more than that, if they don’t make their decision based on all of the truth, they are fooling themselves. People of Highline….Don’t vote on this Bond until you know all the facts.
You can diss us all you want but the truth stands alone and we will prevail.
If you were following the law SSOS why the PDC ask for the PROPER paperwork that was lacking from you? Where is list of your donors? HCS has all the proper documentation and full public disclosure. Regardless if you are for the bond or against it, there are rules to be followed SSOS.
We followed the rules and did EXACTLY what the PDC told us to do. If you think that trying to ASSASSINATE our character with these false accusations is going to win friends and inflluence people, I assure you that you are mistaken.
We are in full compliance and everything is documented, accounted for and above board.
Interesting that all of you YES people are so eager to get a hold of the donors….what for?
To intimidate and badger them for having an opinion different from yours? To muzzle them and remove the opposition? Not happening.
This is NOT NORTH KOREA and I will fight to the death for everyone to be able to speak their mind and for everyone to learn the truth. Just accept the fact that there are people that don’t agree with this ridiculous Bond and will express themselves on their ballot..yet again!
Lois Schipper, president of the Highline Citizens for Schools is part of that underground mess called the 33rd Legislative Democrats. They prop up these crazy people like Unlected SeaTac Mayor Mia Gregerson aka 33rd Legislative District Democrat Represenative. Bunch of carpet baggers. Then want you to vote for large wasteful spending tax increases. I am all for education but the Highline School District is not effective and wastes money.
Hope this looses again.
I actually live in the 34th. Just continuing my effort to get actual facts out, not supposition. Thanks
33rd, 34th, same difference
I am not affiliated with SSOS and don’t know the people involved in the no campaign, but after months of attempted brainwashing via glossy mailings telling me how wonderful the school district is, emails and endless phone calls, I appreciate those that have tried to inform voters of the opposing side. If the district really wanted me to know everything and be ready to make an informed decision, the school board wouldn’t have voted against printing the bond and levy in a voters pamphlet. They’ve made it hard for us to get any information other than their version. Exaggerations exist on both sides. Honestly, I’d rather sift through the exaggerations than be subjected to only one side’s interpretation of ‘facts’.
Rosalie it appears that the School District has now resorted to a nasty game of smear and discrediting of any and all opposition careful you may be next.
When the district has to work as hard as they are to “sell” us on this bond, it’s clear that voting yes is not the right thing to do. If this bond package were the right answer, they wouldn’t have to “sell” it to anyone. High pressure sales don’t work with me.
I too appreciate the awareness that SSOS is sharing with the community.
Who is Highline Citizens for School? Didn’t the people vote? The bond measure failed. The losing side has seen and heard comment as to why. Instead of crafting a plan to correct what folks detest about the measure this Citizen for School group would have you believe the district is victims to SSOS- yet another group I’ve never heard of.
I voted no without their help. Just as an FIY.
Highline Citizens For Schools is nothing more then a Political Action Group doing the dirty work for Susan Enfield and the Highline School Board and have they gotten dirty.
Mark, you are an intelligent and well-meaning individual. You, too, see that Lois Schipper is looking for a scapegoat to blame on her failure to get the citizens to do her bidding.
This Bond represents a 58% increase in your school property taxes and all of the cities of Highline are not getting served by it. There are people in our community who see that the HSDB’s lyiing by ommission is still lying.
You know what I know? At the beginning of this year I was told the HSD couldn’t afford school calendars.
A month later I start receiving color card stock flyers about Pro Bond Side.
Children and parents can’t get meaningful documentation, but HSD can send out expensive political ads. We won’t even get into the outright lies I have been told both at my grand son’s school and at the District offices.
Oh and Lois, how bout you spend some time and finish up cleaning up your Pro signage around the area. As another poster noted, it’s not literature after 3 months, it’s LITTER… Start the responsibility and clean up after.
I’m grateful for the brave and courageous people like Lois Schipper in our community who stand fearlessly for our students and schools.
The November bond was approved by more than 59% of voters. To me, that says the majority of this community supports Highline School District, its teachers and its students. I was very happy to see the bond and levy on the February ballot.
Thank you to Lois and the entire HCFS team. Keep up the hard but important work. There are many of us that appreciate and applaud your dedication.
The voters of Washington state approved campaign reforms that created the PDC. This SSOS group has not filed with the PDC and is therefor breaking state law. They will be held accountable. And they should be. They seem to think that their views entitle them to some special privilege; to not follow the law, to personally ridicule others who disagree with them and to make exaggerated false statements. Public disclosure laws must be followed by everyone or they do not work. And for some of you and your double standard; hypocracy is not a virtue. Lois Schipper is a rock star for trying to help educate our children. And she’s a babe too!
Wasn’t there a pig named Babe?
I suggest you nay sayers run for the school board or get on the band wagon to have our government put more money into the schools so we don’t have to depend on voting in these bonds. But until that happens we will need to Vote Yes to the Bond and the Levy. This has been the way to fund new schools for the past many years.
Perhaps this has been the way we have had to fund schools but not nearly to this level of excessiveness.
I too hope that many will consider running for the school board.
Not everyone is in a position that enables them to serve on the board. But we can all vote our preferences, and board members have an obligation to respect voter opinions. In this case, that would mean going back to the table and finding a way to reduce the amount of the bond. Anything short of that is pure arrogance.
They did reduce the bond!!!!! By 9 million dollars!!!!! 9 Million Dollars!! Good grief, does anyone educate themselves anymore before posting false statements?
The reduction was not significant enough.
And in light of our neighboring districts and what they
are doing, the Highline bond needs to be reduced
again in order to get my vote. I have always supported
bonds and levies, particularly since my family
members are district employees. The lack of
adjustment based on community feedback is just
unacceptable. If this bond is reworked again,
I might vote for it.
That’s just the amount needed to send our eleven year olds to middle school in 2015! That amount was just making room for transitions at that time, the plan to move them to middle school has not changed.
And by reducing the bond by that 9 million is a saving of a whopping 3 CENTS per $1,000 . Imagine what that 9 Million could have done in updating our schools. Geez people we are talking about an additional $28.00 a month for a property valued about $300,000. And don’t forget we will NOT get the government funds if this does not pass.
Hold on there, we now know how much the Levy will be and we have to dig deep in our pockets to make this significant increase. We are jumping up two more million this year which is the end of our four year Levy, next year IF the new Levy passes, we will be going up ANOTHER $6.5 million dollars for the first year. 2nd year, another jump of $5.30 million. And the 3rd year, $3.90 million. So you see, that nine million less means nothing to us, we will see that increase in the beginning of the Levy. I know I am repeating myself but, another thought to ponder, why are the increases in the beginning of this Levy proposal? Our four Levy we had TWO YEARS of the same amount then it went up 1 million and then this year up two million. Seriously, did they just move that NiNE MiLLION to the Levy?
Hold on a second… Before you play the “victim” card let’s step back and consider who may be doing the bullying here..?
Lois Schipper’s group has hundreds of thousand of dollars to spend to buy your votes. Much of this from wealthy Eastside cronies who will not bear the burden of paying off THREE school construction bonds.
The Sensible Spending campaign is some neighborhood individuals pooling resources to buy a few signs, xerox leaflets, talk to neighbors and speak out on blogs.
Who do you think is paying to blanket Highline with glossy mailers and brochures? It wasn’t folks on your block. It was a circle of connected wealth and influence. The postage alone is big buck$ not to mention hiring an ad agency to design and print. Who got the Seattle Times to reprint their marketing copy under the guise of an editorial? Then there is their bond infomercial broadcast one afternoon by KING-TV as “news coverage”.
$159 million to rebuild Highline High? Consider Seattle’s Roosevelt High School ‘s elaborate renovation for $93.8 million in a much more expensive real estate neighborhood.
Voters might want to take a moment to think outside the box – “Aging Buildings” and “Crowded Schools” are compelling brand names that reach for our heart strings. It may not necessarily mean their product is right for our community – at this time and in this form.
Mark, it’s charming to hear you gush that Lois is seductive. Ten years from now, we will all be glad if voters fall under that spell..?
Humble Opinion has an excellent point about the very large Highline High School sticker price. Can we rebuild HHS for less than $159 million? Federal Way is beginning the rebuilding process of Federal Way High School for about $100 million. The school will be built for 1,600 students and will include athletic facilities, a theater, and an open common space.
And, if Federal Way can build a 1,600 student high school for $100 million, what kind of grand plans are in the works for the HSD bond’s two middle schools for over $82 million each? Surely the middle schools will not need a high school quality theater and athletic facilities, and they will have fewer students. So, why so much?
Were there any citizens in the bond planning committee involved in approving school construction plans and bids? Can we find more creative ways to trim these costs so kids can have new schools but not at the most premium prices?
Why not listen to people with an alternative opinion and compromise? Pull the bond measure.
just want to remind everyone that this issue is really about what is best for our kids and our community. Seems like some of us are looking at this issue through a somewhat selfish and short-sighted lens.
What is best for my community and my kids is that my neighbor can afford to keep his house. Its short-sighted to think that the bond will solve this community/school district’s problems, which it won’t. When I step back and look at this bond long-term, I see nothing but problems and regrets for my community, and a financial mess I’m passing on to my kids.
I am concerned. I’ve had the opportunity to visit these schools and despite the bickering between both opposition and Highline School District, it is deplorable that we send our children to buildings where basic functions of: water, heat, and air quality are so poor. Add in leaks, cracks, electrical (geez, the hazards), safety… I can’t see how these issues are easily resolved.
Sure, put more money into an old building.
Sure, build a new building.
One option is like lipstick on a pig, as my dad used to say. The other leaves many paying for years. Granted, either way, we pay. There are basic questions, can it be done for less? I’m sure it can, but I sought out answers instead of complaining. I looked at a Federal Way versus Highline. The new Federal Way building is going to house the same amount of students, but not have the character of Highline. That seems to be a concern of many. When comparing what’s been said of both, they are comparable, not drastically apart. I saw comments about a school remodeled nearly 10 years ago. Costs then, compared to costs now, are fairly close too.
Can this district scrimp on the building? Darn right. Will you scrimp on your next remodel? I guess, I see it both ways. My vote is not undecided, but it’s my vote. I don’t care who John is, Lois is, Loren, Mark, Humble Opinion, Sarah, Betsy, Laura, SSOS, we all need to galvanize on the key component, our children. I can’t send my child to a school that is unsafe. It not only has the opportunity to hurts them physically, but academically.
First of all, I thank the editor for re-wording this report. It has been mine and Sensible Spending on Our Schools intention to provide information why this bond should not be approved as it is written. If the wrong paperwork was filed, so be it, it is being corrected. Its not like large real estate firms and high profiled public relations teams that donated to Highline Citizens for Schools will burden our taxes. I am sure there is an ulterior motive. This bond is flawed in so many ways and very expensive. I have a child in the Highline School District and I want my child to get an education in a well maintained school, but I am more focused on the level of education given. I have been very vocal in my opposition in moving Des Moines Elementary to another location from the beginning. Writing the opposition statement in the 2014 Votersâ€™ Pamphlet educated me on all the schools in the whole district.
What I learned is that we are still paying on two previous bonds until 2026. Fourteen schools were built mainly elementary schools. These new schools did nothing to boost our property values, and some of these schools have the lowest academic scores. So that makes me believe that new buildings do not make an area a desirable place to live.
I went to many council meetings on the bond issue and was more concerned about the state of Evergreen High School than any other school. Even Michael Spear, the Board President of the Highline School Board was so concerned that he had to go see the schoolâ€™s condition for himself. Based on the Building Evaluation Study done on the schools, Evergreen has $23,921,870 million dollars of needed improvements. Highline High School that is proposed to be rebuilt, needs $24,781,126 million dollars in needed improvements. With this proposed bond $159.6 million dollars would go to rebuilding Highline High School alone. Evergreen High School is sharing $25 million dollars with Tyee High School on these critical repairs, so basically all critical needs will not be taken care of at Evergreen. Based on the Q & A section of the Highline Schools website, they plan to ask for another bond to rebuild Evergreen and Tyee schools in three to five years.
Des Moines Elementary is old, we get that, but it has a lot of character, brick faÃ§ade, wood floors. They say this site is too small to rebuild, however they already had shown plans of a new school in this location, so it can be done. Des Moines Elementary school academic rating is one of the best elementary schools in Highline, moving it to the south point of Des Moines will most likely destroy the community involvement in this school. Having it located in the heart of the city makes it a desirable location. Surely they can work something out with the city of Des Moines that was just recently declared insolvent. One of the arguments is that the new location will house 600 + students for an expectation of increased enrollment in south Des Moines in 8 to 10 years. How is expectation going to alleviate current overcrowding at Cedarhurst Elementary with over 700 students? Even sending our eleven year olds to middle school will not help with the overcrowding at this school. Yet we leave schools vacant in this area to deteriorate and be ruined by vandals. Paying six million to take care of the critical needs for Des Moines Elementary would be more well received from the community, rather than moving and building from scratch near a Salmon creek and a housing development that will loose their greenbelt to a bus parking area.
Furthermore, why would we need to spend $160 million dollars on two new middle schools when we have critical needs in our existing middle schools? Is this going to divide the community with the have and have-nots?
We should also take into consideration of the Levy renewal. They state this is a slight increaseâ€¦..Over 22%, thatâ€™s more than slight. Our Current four year Levy, 2012 and 2013 we paid $46 million dollars. 2014 it was $47 million dollars. We are currently paying $49 million dollars this year. If this Levy is approved we will go to a three year Levy in the amount of:
2016 $55.5 million,
2017 $60.8 million
2018 $64.7 million.
So if this is approved, will we no longer see four year Levys? Will they now be three or two year Levys? We all know they will always have an increase. You will not find answers to these questions in the Q & A section of the Highline Schools website.
Bottom line $376 million dollars is a lot of money for a district where 75% of our kids are on reduced/free meal programs. It will be a 58% increase in our school bond property taxes. With the renewal Levy, school taxes will increase significantly. The maintenance department was downsized yet new positions were created in administration. It has already been acknowledge this bond will not take care of everything in our district and more bonds will be asked from us within three to five years. The school board did not even acknowledge our letter to come together as a community, they used smear campaign tactics by responding only on a blog. We rejected this bond in November and no changes were made to it. As for the narrowing 59% approval, keep in mind 50% of registered voters did not even vote.
Lets send a message to the Highline School District Board that we want a bond we can afford and agree upon. I encourage a No on Proposition 2, Highline Construction Bond. Remember Not voting is not a No Vote.
I hope you will accept Dr. Enfield’s invitation to come to the Town Hall Meeting next Thursday, January 22, so we can have an actual conversation about all the issues you raise. These are complex issues, and it takes more than a blog post to fully explain why the school board has made the decision it has made.
There are not many options for meeting our students’ need for new schools, but if you have a better plan, come to the Town Hall and share it.
Our school board has nothing to gain personally from this bond, and neither do those of us who work for the school district. Our only interest is to fulfill our responsibility to make our schools the best they can be for our children.
You have the same interest, so let’s come together at the Town Hall, look at the facts, and try to see each other’s point of view.
I hope to see you and others who have posted on this blog on Thursday night.
I think that Laura has made an extensive and compelling case on this BLOG. Why doesnâ€™t the school District publicly put their answers out here where we all can see them?
My experience with the school district is they will try to overwhelm one with numbers and then change them using some excuse if successfully pinned down. It is self-defeating for the inquirer caught up in the ever changing game of chasing a rabbit through the warren trying to get facts that constantly change every time the rabbit pops out of a hole.
In the past, the strategy I adopted is to get a verifiable number from public records and use it. Any excuses or alibis from the District become the duty of the official to explain.
Then the game stops.
In this case, there is no reason for Laura to attend anything. She has made her case. It is the duty of the District to publicly answer her presentation thereby fully informing the citizens of our community so they may judge the veracity of the information.
Yes Catherine, we did receive what we thought was a Personal and Sincere message from Superintendent Enfield.
I question your intentions commenting or even referring to it in your comment.
John Castronover – You freely use a public forum for all your comments and false statements yet criticize when the district makes their information public. What a hypocrite. Have either of you ever gone to a public meeting to discuss your concerns or have you decided to hide behind a computer and spout off one sided “conversations”? If your information is so accurate and you want to be heard do it publicly just as your demanding the district do.
I would like to know all the firms involved with helping the district draft this bond and what firms are brokering the bonds.
School bonds are big business and the district should fully disclose the “loading” fees
associated with this bond measure and the last two bonds that were passed.
Below is an article about the problems in some California school districts. Without
transparency and full disclosure, what’s stopping “pay to play” from happening here?
Money & Politics | Daily Report
Critics struggle to end ‘pay to play’ in school bonds
May 14, 2012 | Will Evans
Critics of the practice in which financial firms help pass school bonds that they profit from are continuing to push for reforms, but so far have faced resistance and failure.
In California, underwriting companies hired by school districts to sell bonds often make campaign contributions to help convince voters to pass the bond measures. A California Watch investigation found that leading underwriters gave $1.8 million over the last five years to successful bond measures, and in almost every case school districts gave underwriting contracts to those same firms.
Underwriters are essentially middlemen, buying bonds from districts and selling them to investors at a higher price. Underwriters say they generally only give campaign contributions after getting hired; school districts argue the money has no influence. But critics call it a â€œpay to playâ€ system that potentially costs taxpayers more than a strictly competitive process would.
The California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors has been pushing to end the practice for years. Last year, it sponsored a bill to prohibit financial firms from providing both underwriting and campaign services for bond measures. The bill failed in committee, but its author, Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, vows to bring it back next year and add limits on campaign donations.
I wonder if SSOS has considered filing their own PDC complaint. It seems warranted considering what has happened over this past month.
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