Successful First Meeting of the Contra Costa County CaLBOC Chapter
Saturday June 23rd was the first meeting of the Contra Costa CALBOC Chapter. Approximately 22 devoted watchdogs attended the Saturday morning meeting at La Tapatia in Martinez. We had introductions and discussed the recent County Grand Jury Report #1208 on School Bond Oversight. The group enthusiastically decided to move forward with the formation of this first CaLBOC chapter. We will post more details in the next issue.
Watchdogs Over School Bonds
By Jack Weir
Bond oversight committees (BOC's) are charged by law to serve as public watchdogs over public school construction projects. Prop 39 passed several years ago, making it possible for school districts to pass bonds with only 55% voter approval, rather than the traditional 2/3 requirement. Strong local citizen bond oversight was a requirement of Prop 39, in return for lowering the approval criteria. CaLBOC provides guidelines and training for BOC's, and lobbies Sacramento for improvements in oversight laws.
In our county, we have a district that, until recently, was a model for the way bonds should be managed and overseen. Unfortunately, the Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) board passed a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), which basically denies non-union contractors an opportunity to bid on bond projects. This will likely cost taxpayers tens of millions of wasted dollars.
A recent county Grand Jury report outlines a dozen areas in which both districts are seriously deficient, and recommends they start using the "best practices" published by CaLBOC. Voters will have a golden opportunity this November to determine if their boards got the message, and changed their ways. The new county chapter of CaLBOC will keep the public informed on this extremely important issue.