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ABCUSD BOND ELECTIONS FIRM SUBMITTED QUESTIONABLE INFORMATION, DISTRICT OFFICIALS KNEW AND FAILED TO INFORM BOARD MEMBERS

BY BRIAN HEWS

A Hews Media Group-Community News investigation has found that Ann Nock, who was awarded the election and polling services contract for the upcoming ABCUSD school bond, submitted questionable information on her bid documents and used suspect references to win the lucrative public relations contract.

Even more alarming, at some point during the vetting process, ABC officials discovered the questionable information, did not inform at least three Board Members, and allowed the process to continue.

Nock submitted her bid in March 2018, part of which included a Reference List of clients whom she claimed to have worked with over the last five years. 

The Reference List asked specifically for School Districts under which Nock clearly wrote “Orange Unified.”

As a reference to Orange Unified Nock handwrote, “Denise Biddle.” 

On another page Nock typed a description of Biddle as a “Community activist/Chair Orange Unified School Bond.”

But the Orange Unified claim, the Denise Biddle reference, and the description of Biddle would all turn out to be false.  

 

 

Third entry from top clearly shows Orange Unified and Denise “Biddle.”

 

 

From previous articles on Nock, HMG-CN found several issues including the list of clients on her website nearly matching those of her former long-time employer George K. Baum.

Based on those findings HMG-CN conducted research on the 2016 Orange Unified school bond and found documents that indicated Nock never worked for the OUSD.

Nock had submitted a bid to OUSD in 2015 for election services but pulled out due to “family matters.” 

 

Document from OUSD website showing AMN withdrew from OUSD consideration. Later, she was hired by CARE and paid tens of thousands.

 

Weeks later she was hired by a massive independent expenditure committee supporting the bond called CARE-Community Advancement through Renovation for Education.

And ABC officials who found out about the deceitful information failed to disclose that to at least three Board members.

A MATERIAL MISSPELLING-DID NOCK EVEN KNOW “BIDDLE”

According to ABCUSD officials, it was Biddle who gave the glowing testimonial about AMN and Nock and how “she worked for Orange Unified.”

Given the issues with Nock, HMG-CN researched Ms. Biddle and found nothing, until an internet search combining “Biddle and Orange” returned the name Denise Bittel. 

Ms. Bittel, who lives in Villa Park, is extremely active and well-known in the Orange-area community and once ran (and lost) for a OUSD School Board seat in 2006. 

Questionably, Nock misspelled an important reference’s name twice in her document, and it somehow went undetected during the vetting process.

HMG-CN phoned Ms. Bittel who, true to form, gave a glowing testimonial about Nock’s services. 

Bittel indicated she “was Co-Chair of the bond” and that Nock “advised heavily on the bond.”

But the investigation found that Bittel was not the “Chair of the Orange Unified Bond,” as Nock had stated in her bid documents. She was not even Chair of CARE.

Quite the contrary, on the CARE website, Bittel was number thirteen down on the list as the Endorsements Chair of CARE.

 

 

Bittel listed thirteen names from the top was a low level chair, not “Chair of the Bond” as was claimed.

 

Board Pres. Soo Yoo did not return emails.

When informed of the findings, ABC Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu told HMG-CN, “although she referenced Orange Unified and not Orange Unified School Bond on the Reference List, we believed she listed districts where she worked on public relations related to the school bond.”

Several emails into ABCUSD Board President Soo Yoo, including requesting a confirmation or denial of her knowing about Nock and Orange Unified, went unanswered.

One ABC resident, who did not want to be identified stated, “So she falsified the bid documents to get her foot in the door, and when questioned said ‘oops’ sorry I worked for the committee and not the district, and that was OK with the interviewers?”

A LONG LINE OF QUESTIONABLE ISSUES

In March of this year, prior to the award of the ABC contract, a HMG-CN investigation into AMN and Nock revealed a suspect and unprofessional website, virtually non-existent social media presence, and troubling conflict of interest relationships.

 

ABC District Officials Recommend Board Vote Yes For Public Relations Company With Questionable History

 

 

The revelations should have caused ABC Board members to question and possibly table the AMN vote and send out new requests for proposals. 

But ABC President Soo Yoo, who, according to sources did not read the March HMG-CN article, Board member Sophia Tse, and Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu argued against tabling the vote, which would “waste precious time.” 

Weeks later, HMG-CN obtained AMN’s bid documents through a public records request and found additional alarming red-flags.

Nock listed her company address on the bid documents as 3053 Freeport Blvd., Suite 279 in Sacramento. The investigation found the address was a UPS Store inside of a strip mall and the 279 a UPS mail box.

The bid documents also contained a very suspect AMN former client list, with Nock listing clients she serviced while under her employment with George K. Baum as her own.

The client list also fraudulently included the Orange Unified School District as a client.

 

HMG-CN INVESTIGATION: ABCUSD Bond Public Relations Firm’s Corporate Address is a UPS Store, Client List Also Suspect

 

 

CARE MONEY

Nock was not hurting when she missed the OUSD job and secured her job with CARE.

Campaign records obtained from the Orange County Registrar show that Nock was paid over $58,000 from August to November of 2016.

Nock raked in $30,000 for Aug.-Sept.; $21,000 in Oct.-Nov.; and $7,500 in January 2017.

Bittel was also paid over $2,000.

 

A HISTORY WITH I/E’S

When school districts try to pass a bond, in almost every case an independent expenditure committee is established by residents and activists who want to see the bond passed. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are contributed to the I/E by organizations and individuals interested in the seeing the bond passed.

Vast sums of money can be made by people involved with the I/E through many avenues; companies receiving money and providing services often add a substantial commission to the cost; many consultants and representatives are hired and paid large monthly retainers.

Companies work very hard to keep track of districts ready to offer bonds and “come out of the woodwork” hoping to cash in on the I/E bonanza and construction work from the bond itself.

Four years ago, the ABC tried to pass a bond and failed. Two years later, Al Gafford suddenly came on the ABC scene, making friends, running two board member’s campaigns and attending many events.

Gafford worked with Nock at George K. Baum inside the massive Bond Election Group. 

Nobody knew why he became a fixture at meetings, but he did and soon befriended many, including Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu.

The ABC bond is proposed, bids were sent out, and despite all the issues HMG-CN pointed out about Nock, she is chosen as a finalist and wins the services contract.

Can the establishment of an I/E be far behind?

During the Coachella School District’s successful attempt at passing a bond, in 2011 the I/E “IPads for CVUSD Kids, Yes on Measure X” was established.

One of the first contributors was George K. Baum for $25,000. 

Ann Nock and her Creative Director James Stolzenbach were paid as vendors……

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