Monday, February 15, 2010

Call with opposition messages to LAUSD Board members- they decide Tuesday on June Ballot proposal: New $100 parcel tax

An answer to some of the budget shortfalls for LAUSD will be more taxes, according to the school board. "LAUSD board to vote on parcel tax," By Connie Llanos, Updated: 02/13/2010 05:59:27 PM PST There was a ballot measure that was put on the ballot by this Board a few years back for $7 BILLION and it was first planned to be about $3.5 Billion tax proposal, but at the last minute, the LAUSD Board decided to DOUBLE it.

It was an amazing burst of arrogance and disrespect for the taxpayers in a worsening economy in 2008. Even the board members admitted then that they didn't have specific things in mind to be addressed by the planned taxes.

More amazing was the result: The voters PASSED this proposal. There is a very good story on this proposal, written before the election happened. This gives a good description of the problems and circumstances with this taxk hike.
"LAUSD Doesn't Need $7 Billion in Bonds- District's budget is rapidly growing even as enrollment declines, schools close," by Lisa Snell, October 17, 2008 in the Reason Foundation's news blog,

Mentioned in this 2008 article was a discussion of facts to show that the money was not needed. The District was facing problems of declining enrollment and yet more construction was an expense undertaken. The LAUSD's history of handling money is an example of waste and neglect, with some fraud in there as well. This article has a lot of reasons that will still stand up to show why the current parcel tax is not a good idea.

When you give a wasteful group of politicians that are only able to throw money at the problem and do it with little or no accountability, you just encourage and enable them to do that even more. The irresponisbility of the District is visible in many areas; the $200 million spent on payroll software that did not work and overpaid some teachers and underpaid others is one huge expense without any real accountability ever shown. The District does a collective shoulder shrug and that's about it for responding to wasteful incidents.

At this point, the projected increase generated by this tax is $92 million per year. In comparison, that software disaster was double that amount. A public agency really does not treat tax dollars like it would treat the money coming from their personal wallets. Would they be so quick to spend if they would have to cover goofs? They are very good at making POM ("OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY") disappear.

More prudent policies on construction and expensive legal fees generated by building schools that were not needed. Another bad effect of this program was that it cleared out blocks of housing in the very neighborhoods that were supposed to be aided by the school, further cutting down on the student population level. On top of all this, many of these new schools will not even be managed by the LAUSD as alternative organizations that include charter schools, will have the right to submit proposals to control the schools. That makes no sense, at least to me, although charters are technically "public" schools with a right to access some facilities.

But does building a new school, and often lavishly designed instead of one being built with necessary functions in mind, promote the solution to the budget crisis for LAUSD? The story in the Daily News has some comment from former Board member David Tokofsky that very accurately covers the picture:

Former LAUSD board member David Tokofsky, who served from 1995 through 2008, said the district has been considering a parcel tax at least since 2004.

"We shouldn't have gone for $7 billion in facilities money when we knew for the last five years that we were running out of instruction money, not construction money," Tokofsky said.

The LAUSD board has until March 12 to decide whether to place the parcel tax on the June ballot.

More mismanagement will be the only certainty that any tax increase will create, above all else that is claimed by the Board.


It is the first item, and you will notice that the common practice of agenda writing is followed here, as in City Council. The real subject of the agenda item is not very clearly stated- you won't find "parcel tax" or a dollar figure to clue you in to the nature of the item. Instead, you have the intentionally crafted language inserted that satisfies legal requirements of notice while not generating any practical information to the general public that a "written in plain English" policy would do. (Another example of constutuent-unfriendliness in government.)

"1. Board of Education Report No. 221 – 09/10 PUBLIC HEARING
Office of the Superintendent (Resolution Ordering an Election to Authorize a Qualified Special Tax, Establishing Specifications of the Election Order, and Requesting Consolidation with Other Elections Occurring on June 8, 2010)"

I urge you to call and leave message for each of the Board members to oppose this plan. A vote Tuesday is possible although they have until mid-March as a deadline to put it on the ballot. Even if it happens to be after the 3 p.m. time that the matter comes up in the Board's Tuesday meeting, leaving your message for each Board person will show them the amount of opposition and unpopularity of the public- that is, of course, if you do oppose the tax (and renters would still be subject to some pass thru, so it's not just property owners being affected).

Use the link below to get CONTACT INFORMATION FOR ALL LAUSD BOARD MEMBERS and call, email or fax your opposition to the tax plan.