February 10, 2015
California AG's Opinion Targets School Bond Practices  
January 28, 2016 | By Kyle Glazier |  www.bondbuyer.com  
EXCERPT:  School and community college districts violate California law if they hire outside firms to campaign for bond ballot measures or purposely incentivize municipal finance professionals to advocate for passage of a bond measure, the state's attorney general said in a formal legal opinion.
Attorney General Kamala Harris released the opinion Tuesday in response to a request from Treasurer John Chiang.
     California law prohibits using public funds to influence the outcome of an election, including campaigning for the passage of a bond measure. Voter-approved bonds backed by property taxes are the primary method of new school construction in the state, and Chiang sought a clarification on whether some common industry practices might be violating the law.
    "A practice has developed within the municipal financing industry whereby investment bankers, financial consultants, and bond attorneys offer to contract with a school district to provide the pre-election services that the district seeks," the opinion said. "Under such an arrangement, the firm agrees to provide the pre-election services at no, or reduced, charge to the district in exchange for the district's promise to select the firm as its contractor to provide postelection services, if the bonds are approved by the voters. Naturally, it is within the firm's financial interest to be awarded the contract to provide post-election bond services." ...
     ...A previous Bond Buyer investigation found a nearly perfect correlation between broker-dealer contributions to California school bond efforts in 2010 and their underwriting of subsequent bond sales, and financial advisors have similarly been accused of using "pay-to-play" tactics. ...
     The attorney general also concluded that a district runs afoul of the law if it reimburses a municipal finance firm for providing the pre-election services as an itemized component of the fee that the district pays to the firm in connection with the bond sale, as well as if it uses bond proceeds to reimburse the firm. ...
     ... Lori Raineri, president of independent financial advisory firm Government Financial Strategies in Sacramento, said she was pleased by the opinion and that the attorney general deserved a lot of credit for taking an "important step." Raineri said there are some subtleties and loopholes that will likely to continue being exploited despite the opinion, but that many of the most blatant conflicts of interest have stopped due to increased focus on this issue in recent years. ... 
S a v e   t h e   D a t e
CaLBOC Annual Conference - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 
  Curtis Mathews Presentation:
The Proper Performance Auditing According to GAGAS 
Attorney General Opines on Brown Act Web Posting Requirement 
Harris Says Web Glitch Will Not Prevent Meeting if 72-Hour Notice Mandate Has Been Substantially Complied With
EXCERPT:  A public agency that has substantially complied with the Ralph M. Brown Act will not be deemed to have met illegally if third-party Internet problems result in its agenda becoming inaccessible during the 72-hour notice period mandated by the act, Attorney General Kamala Harris has opined.
     The Brown Act, which establishes open meeting requirements for local legislative bodies throughout the state, requires those entities to, among other things, post their agendas in a place accessible to the public for a continuous 72 hours prior to the meeting. Local governments are not required to maintain web sites, but if they do, the agenda must be posted on the site for the 72-hour period.
     That requirement prompted Assembly member Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, to ask the attorney general whether a meeting would have to be postponed if the agenda became unavailable online during a portion of that period for reasons beyond the control of the agency, such as a power failure or cyber attack. ... To read the complete article, please visit: www.metnews.com 
Attorney General Opinion No. 14-1203, 1/19/2016 
In This Issue
California AG's Opinion Targets School Bond Practices
CaLBOC Annual Conference - Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Attorney General Opines on Brown Act Web Posting Requirement
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