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Concerns About ABCUSD Bond Outreach Company Causes Heated Exchange at Board Meeting

By Brian Hews

In March, the ABCUSD Board considered and approved two organizations that will help them pass a much-needed facilities bond to upgrade its aging infrastructure.

The district is being left behind by other area districts who passed bonds two years ago. Nearby Norwalk-La Mirada School District is well into spending and building new facilities after they passed a $300 million bond in 2016.

The Board easily approved a contract with Piper Jaffray as the firm to advise the district on the financial complexities of the bond process.

But when a vote came to approve another company for community outreach, AMN Key Solutions, the meeting became extremely heated.

The day before the meeting, Hews Media Group-Community News published a wide-ranging investigative story about AMN that revealed a suspect AMN website, little or no social media presence, troubling conflict of interest relationships, a history of questionable transactions by its owner Ms. Ann Nock, and questionable actions in the ABCUSD bid procurement process.

Board member Chris Apodaca wanted to table the AMN vote and call a special meeting to discuss the company. The meeting could have occurred within days, rendering no effect on the implementation of the community outreach.

“I am concerned with AMN’s sub-standard website, their social media presence and AMN’s corporate structure,” said Apodaca.

Vice-President Leticia Mendoza echoed Apodaca’s statements of concern with AMN and asked the vote to be tabled.

“We were looking for the best of the best,” said Mendoza alluding to the AMN website, “the Board discussed that cost was not an issue, we only got two responses, we should table this item.”

Board member Nishii was also concerned with the website and social media. I don’t see how they are going to do social media outreach, they did not explain it very well in their proposal.”

Board Clerk Rios indicated she was also concerned with AMN’s website and social media issues.

Mendoza once again asked if the board could send out for more bids, but President Soo Yoo “did not want delays.”

“We lost last time (in 2014) because we did a bad job of reaching out, if we go out to bid we will be wasting time.”

Board member Maynard Law wanted to move on AMN also, “these are people who are leaders in their field, we cannot afford to waste time.”

Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu argued against sending out a new bid ignoring the HMG-CN article and AMN’s web presence. “If we

Dr. Mary Sieu

go out to bid, we will not get going until May, the process is lengthy, the current process took over a month. The companies work as

a team, we can’t be moving forward without all the pieces. We can work with the Board to send out new bids, but it won’t work until May and by then it will be too late to put on the ballot.”

Board member Apodaca spoke out once again.

“I am asking to table this; the Board President has the ability to call a meeting in three days where we can ask the company to be at that meeting and ask questions. I respectfully disagree this will take until May. There is a stark comparison between Piper Jaffray and AMN, several community members interviewed Piper, only ABC staff interviewed AMN, we need to get this right.”

Apodaca continued his argument to table and that is when the meeting got heated.

Soo Yoo

A visibly angry Yoo cut off Apodaca saying, “you have repeated yourself a few times, I want to give others time to speak.”

“Point of order Madame President I am not done speaking,” snapped Apodaca, “I represent my constituents I want to finish speaking.”

Board member Tse then cut off Apodaca, violating rules of order,  saying, “I call for a vote.

Yoo followed Tse’s lead saying, “we are ready to take a vote.”

Yoo herself then attempted to bypass rules of order saying, “I don’t want to vote to table the contract, I want to take a vote to approve the contract.”

Apodaca called Yoo out on her rules violation, “point of order Madam President you need 3/5ths majority (five out of seven members) to call the question to vote.”

The Board discussed and subsequently corrected Yoo who finally called for a motion to table the AMN contract.

Roll call was taken; Apodaca, Mendoza and Rios voted yes to table. Yoo, Law, Tse, voted no.

Board member Nishii, who voiced concerns about AMN, also voted no to table.

Yoo then tried to call the vote to approve the contract and was once again corrected by Apodaca. “point of order Madam President, you need 5 out of 7 yes votes to end discussion on tabling the vote.”

A vote was taken with Apodaca and Mendoza voting no to end discussion to table.

Yoo, Law, Tse, and Nishii all voted yes.

Rios, who had voted to table the AMN contract,  also voted yes to end discussion.

Yoo then quickly called a vote to approve the AMN contract. The vote to approve the contract was 7-0.

Editor’s note: This is first in a series about how the ABC Board went about approving the AMN contract even though four members out of seven had major concerns about AMN’s website,  social media presence and strategy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why should the property tax payers, for ABC Unified School District, have to pay for school bond, which is just another Mello-Roos Bond , wrapped in camouflage money, pay for students, who live outside the ABC Unified School District boundaries? THIS IS NOT RIGHT!! Almost 30% of the pupeles who attend ABCUSD are being imported from outside the district boundaries. (Any- all) Students who attend ABCUSD, will all receive the free benefits of the parcel land taxpayers, which will be financing the rehab ABCUSD. Said district needs to live within its means, abort all the students which live outside the… Read more »