By Daniel Wright
By Daniel Wright
is the objection letter to an item on today’s meeting agenda for the
Board of the Los Angeles Community College District. Since December
2009, the LACCD has been trying to use constitutionally restricted bond
funds to purchase the parcel of land at the corner of San Fernando Road
and Fletcher Drive in the City of Los Angeles. The District proclaims
it “has no current plans” for the purchase of the site (in order to
claim the purchase is exempt from CEQA review) yet under Proposition 39
real property can only be purchased for a “school facility” which
implies that a school project must exist before bond funds can be used
to make the purchase.
The City of Los Angeles is actively involved in the creation of a new
redevelopment area centered around this intersection and, of course,
redevelopment of the Los Angeles River. This effort includes a plan to
obtain federal funding to pay for development of the redevelopment plan,
to pay for the up-zoning of the Northeast Community Plan to allow dense
urban development, and inevitably, use of tax increment to subsidize
density development of Fletcher/San Fernando and the LA River corridor.
This effort may or may not be beneficial to residents of the proposed
The use of restricted educational bonds to buy the land where a Pollo
Loco, Denny’s Restaurant, and Auto Zone currently reside for “no
particular project” is unconstitutional and unlawful. Numerous public
officials who have oversight duties to prevent this type of misuse of
bond funds continue to sit on the sidelines.
The California Attorney General has the authority to intervene and
support the current CEQA lawsuit and taxpayer lawsuits. The cost of an
Attorney General investigation is chargeable against the LACCD yet
currently the Attorney General sits on his hands and does nothing.
The Los Angeles District Attorney has primary enforcement responsibility
for malfeasance in office and other misuses of public authority by
public entities but has initiated no publicly-acknowledged investigation
of the LACCD bond program. The cost of an investigation may be
recoverable from LACCD.
The State Controller has the authority to initiate an independent audit
of the bond program of LACCD. The cost of the audit is chargeable to
LACCD, yet Controller Chaing passively sits on the sidelines and does
The Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee for the LACCD is populated with
former LACCD employees, and others who have a stake in the $5.7 billion
dollar construction program. This Committee is chaired by a retired
LACCD Harbor College President (which is implicitly inconsistent with
the statutory prohibition of employees sitting on a bond oversight
committee). This Committee has known about alleged bond abuse in the
LACCD bond program since December 2009 and has not fulfilled its most
basic duty to immediately issue a press release when it observes
The Los Angeles Times has been investigating wrongdoing and
irregularities in the LACCD Bond Program for more than a year but has
failed to publish the results of its investigation. LACCD has hired
lobbyists and may have pressured Times editors to refrain from
Meanwhile, the LACCD Board continues to try to use Proposition 39 bond
funds for unconstitutional purposes. Do we have to wait for revelation
of someone personally stealing funds for an investigation? Does it have
to go as far as the City of Bell before elected law enforcement
officials leap into action (in front of television cameras like Bell)?
Has the crime of malfeasance in office become meaningless in the
California Constitution because it has been interpreted in some quarters
to mean that prosecution of public officials may only occur when they
are converting funds to themselves, family, or intermediaries, and not
when they knowingly and willfully violate laws intended to protect the
public and taxpayers?
The Northeast Los Angeles communities have stepped up by initiating two civil lawsuits. A third lawsuit focused on the laundering of bond funds into a stream of general fund revenues is about to be filed if the LACCD Board does not change direction. Is the LACCD scheme to convert capital bond funds into general fund revenues lawful? Apparently, it requires the low-income predominantly minority residents of Northeast to fund this litigation because the taxes they pay do not purchase vigorous oversight by state, regional, and local law enforcement institutions that their taxes support.
How long will the institutions established by the people of California to enforce the laws and police the public entities persist in failed oversight?
How bad does the situation need to get before investigation and enforcement of public rights are commenced by the law enforcement officials charged with this public duty? In my more than twenty-five years of representing and advising public entities, I have never witnessed a more systematic abuse of Public Laws: Public Records Act (to stonewall public finding out what LACCD is doing), the Brown Act (to systematically deprive the public of participation opportunities), CEQA (to avoid disclosure of profit making ambitions using bond funds), Proposition 39 (to expand spending authority of LACCD into areas prohibited by constitutional limiting language), California Contract Code (to hide construction contract expenditures exceeding the 10% change order limit that requires competitive bidding), and Education Code (to use the City of Los Angeles as a municipal entity “front” to give a no-bid subleases to private entities not entitled to no-bid contracts under the Education Code). These violations of law are ongoing and systematic and LACCD.
If you have any questions about the current Notice to Sue or have any thoughts about when enforcement of LACCD public duties should begin, I can be reached at (323) 223-4797.
Attorney for Van de Kamps Coalition and taxpayers in its service area