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ABCUSD Superintendent Challenges Cerritos Mayor Pro-Tem Chen ‘Misstatements’ on Bond Plan

Chen cropped

Cerritos Mayor pro tem was challenged by ABC Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu on Chen’s misstatements about the bond measure.

By Brian Hews

ABC Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu has denounced public comments made last week by embattled Cerritos Mayor-Pro Tem Carol Chen after Chen orchestrated a private strategy meeting with top real estate executives and other current and past elected officials to construct a plan to derail a pending $235 million dollar school improvement bond.

HMG-CN spoke to at least two people who were inside the private meeting held by Chen and they confirmed that it was the intent of those attending to “kill the bond, period.”

Last week Chen went on a near 7-minute public diatribe at a packed ABC School Board Meeting where she questioned the merits of a $600 million dollar Facility Master Plan that was crafted with the input of more than 300 local parents and residents who live within the ABCUSD.

Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper reported the details of a secret meeting that Chen coordinated and held in her private real estate office in Cerritos just days before the July 4th holiday.

During that meeting, Chen was joined by ABC School Board Members Soo Yoo and Lynda Johnson, along with current Cerritos Councilman Bruce Barrows, former ABC School Board members Dixie Primosch, Cecy Groom, political consultant Matt Kauble, and former Cerritos Mayor Grace Hu as well as a host of other key professional real estate executives.

Sieu, along with Assistant Superintendent Toan Nguyen, told HMG-CN in a one-hour interview on Monday that Chen was “factually incorrect” in “several key points” regarding statements Chen was distributing to members of the community.

“We want to publicly correct the statements that are being made (by Carol Chen) and to set the record straight about the entire planning process of both the FMP and the possible $235 Million General Improvement Bond,” an indignant Dr. Sieu said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Chen handed a six-page document of notes to current Board President Sophia Tse and other members of the school board during last week’s marathon meeting that was titled “Carol Chen’s Suggestions.”

Chen refused to give a copy to HMG-CN, but the newspaper was provided a copy by ABC School District officials.

In Chen’s written document, HMG-CN found more than one dozen misstatements.

Sieu said that the “miscommunication” that was being sent to community members as a result of the meeting from Chen, Yoo, Johnson, Barrows, Groom, Hu, and Primosch was “astonishing.”

Chen misstated the amount of money ABC School District receives annually from state and federal government officials as it relation to Average Daily Attendance also known as “ADA.” Chen said that ABCUSD garners $15,000 annually per student on ADA funding, but both Sieu and Nguyen said the figure is closer to $7,500 per student.

Chen also said $128,000 has been spent on the bond feasibility study. In fact, no money will be spent unless the bond passes.

Another misstatement was that the bond would cause property taxes to “increase dramatically,” Chen using actual value of homes and not the assessed value for her calculation.

“The average assessed value of a home in the ABCUSD in approximately $300,000,” said Nguyen, “so the average tax increase will be $180 per year. I am not discounting that it might be a lot of money to some, but I wanted to clarify Chen’s misstatement.”

Chen had stated that property taxes would increase $400-$500 per year.

Mysteriously left out of her Chen’s suggestions was that ABC has the lowest bond authorization amount per Student in the County and has the second lowest Tax Rate per $100,000 in the County. “For her to omit that in her comments was reprehensible,” said Sieu.

“We worked very hard to make certain everyone understood the bond measure,” said Sieu. We met with every school and over 300 parents going over every detail to make certain the FMP was comprehensive.”

Indeed, the process started with an open meeting Jan 15, 2014 where they talked about the potential bond measure. The entire board approved that the ABCUSD move forward.

The board then approved a contract with Dale Scott & Company to provide survey research services. The survey of residents in the district, equally weighted by city, asked if they would approve the bond, 72% said yes. “The voters in the district indicated strong support for a local school improvement bond program,” said Dr. Sieu.

But once the bond measure came close to the vote to place it on the November ballot, Chen and her friends sprung into action to try and derail the FMP and the bond in a series of blatant misstatements.

Chen also convinced Board Member Soo Yoo, who received large donations from Chen during her successful election, and Board Member Lynda Johnson to vote no last week.

A defiant Sieu said at the end of the meeting, “We have a responsibility to the community, taxpayers and voters. When statements are made in public that are totally false, we have the obligation to set the record straight, and that is why we are concerned with the wrong facts being distributed.”

Calls into Chen for comment went unreturned.

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M c M a h o n
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M c M a h o n

MELLO ROOS BOND: Bizarre ending to proposed ABCUSD –Mello Roos bond school meeting. Controversial resolution past in the 2399 hr. Almost as crazy as the whole debates were over last few months, the ghostly Bond took quick turn. 10 minutes before closing the meeting, a quick motion on the floor made by crying-shacking ABC president, reduced the proposed $235M Mello Roos bond downward to $190M and some ridiculous change. Seated president called this a compromise. Compromise had never be introduced on the floor, nor debated. There was no debate allowed by the Trustees for this last minute vote. Resolution won… Read more »

Gavin Riley
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Gavin Riley

To correct another piece of misinformation out there, the General Obligation(GO) bond proposal the district simply wants to put on the ballot in November is not Mello Roos. What the district is seeking is based on the California Constitution(Prop 39) while Mello Roos(officially the Community Facilities Act of 1982) is a state law. Beyond that the differences are too numerous to mention. It is time for a lot of people to get their facts straight before they hold secret meetings, make statements or start posting.
Gavin Riley

Council of Thieves
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Council of Thieves

With the new wantabe power couple in Cerritos, CarolLynda, teaming up on this one, I think it guarantees that there will be a lot of misinformation going out to the public over the next couple of months. It appears Johnson wants to be accepted into the ‘inner circle’ and last night she once again showed her true colors. With the ABC board pressed for time Johnson’s ONLY concern was having the last word. The last word not for the schools or for the kids, but for herself. Johnson comes off a a nasty wench. The snarl shown in her face… Read more »

M c M a h o n
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M c M a h o n

Mrs. Gavin Riley Madam Riley; Proposed ABCUSD BOND#2; aka: (AsiansBringCash) is a form of Mello Roos. It is a tax, with start/ end dates, used by 100% of the residents within the district and has architect blueprint of the Master Plan. Personally called ABC counsel & was told it is a form of Mello Roos; not a bond. General Election Bond, would be statewide and no ending. Blueprint of the Mello Roos is bound by Prop 39 restraints. Definition of ‘Mello-Roos’ In the U.S., a form of financing that can be used by cities, counties and special districts (such as… Read more »

AM
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AM

When Cerritos city can spend millions of taxpayer $ on sculptures why are they hesitating to spend on schools and the children

M c M a h o n
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M c M a h o n

Memo: ABC Meeting- Tues 7/15/2014 | 6pm Channel 29 | Chan 31 | PC or smart phones…. www.abcusd.k12.ca.us/pages/ABC_Unified_School_District/About_ABC/ABC_Broadcast_Channel www.abcusd.k12.ca.us/pages/ABC_Unified_School_District/About_ABC/ABC_Broadcast_Channel/Watch_Live There are no winners!!. Vvvvvery subjective via: Carol C or Mary S. Carol is just trying to get a lot of publicity in order to booster her identification in order to be a candidate in upcoming election to become congresswoman and or become presidential ambassador of the United States to China. ADA, is more than >$7,500 dollars per student, when you figure in the additional money from the state for administration cost and deferred maintenance. The number realistically is closer to… Read more »