One of the darkly beautiful things about L.A. politicians is that they operate so much like the way Kremlin commissars in the Soviet Union did: They don’t give a damn about the public, they do their best to keep the public in the dark and they do whatever is good for them and their pals.
The latest bond issue to support LAUSD’s continuing failure is a case in point. It’s not at all clear how the $3.5 billion (sorry, it’s up to $7 billion now) to be raised by the fifth school bond in 12 years will be spent or what the public benefit will be; deals are being cut in back rooms that the public will never know about and, and apart from the grease typical of all public spending, there’s a provision to enrich certain LAUSD employees.
Buried in the 144 pages of the proposed bond and supporting documentation is a provision that requires that all staff in the Facilities Division, including the extensive support staff, meet professional standards for major construction projects.
On its face, that is a reasonable requirement although how such standards are measured can be a pretty subjective thing and private sector workers don’t get the same level of benefits as public sector employees and surely don’t have the same total protection against job loss.
Here’s the kicker: The bond proposal contains a provision that requires that every two years the district needs to conduct “a survey of compensation of major construction programs and managers of major public and private facilities in comparable locations across the United States in public and private sectors, and the Board shall make a finding that managers are being compensated at a level that will be competitive in the marketplace…”
In other words, voters who only want their own kids and the kids of others to get a decent education in decent facilities are being asked to write a blank check for LAUSD to pack in as many people as officials want into the Facilities Division and pay them whatever they want.
I know it’s picky to complain about a few million here and there when they’ve already spent $20 to $30 billion dollars building failing and dysfunctional schools that now need billions more to break them into manageable pieces.
But I can’t help myself. I voted for the last four bond issues hoping that somehow if we throw enough money at the problem, things will get better, that 700,000 other kids will come out of LAUSD with “comparable” educations and opportunities as my son did.
But my hopes were unfounded and I don”t know why this bond issue will make any difference at all in the dropout rate, the gang problem or the outcomes of the students.