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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.

  • M c M a h o n says:


    ABC Meeting- Tues 7/15/2014 | 6pm
    Channel 29 | Chan 31 | PC or smart phones….



    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 the $7,5000 mark.

    Mello Roos School Bond feasibility, could be well > $100,000 if you factor is in overall wages used by the staff in order to come up with a $24,000 rendering power point presentation to create Mello Roos Landscape.

    Property taxes will escalate. District property owners already have two (2) Mello Roos school bonds; (’97 + CJC) now we will have the 3 Mello Roos school bonds.

    Many homes in the city of Cerritos are >$1M+ plus factor in the commercial property, which are indeed expensive, as Mello Roos School Bond taxes, could bring in >$2500 to $5K per dwelling.

    Cerritos properties will bear the maj. of revenue generated for Mello Roos Bond Taxes, but will be spread throughout the district:
    1. Cerritos;
    2. E Lakewood;
    3. Hawaiian Gardens;
    4. E Long Beach
    5. S Norwalk
    6. Artesia
    7. Sections of La Palma and Bellflower

    Statewide, taxpayers need to come up with strict measures to stop Mello Roos Tax Bonds, as dweller can be taxed out from their properties.

    Taxpayers voted in 1978, for Prop 13, to stop rising Property Taxes and create cap of 1% of Property Taxes. Prop 39 was voted in by statewide elections to curb Mello Roos Taxes to 51% voter approval and cap up to $250M for ea. Mello Roos Tax.

    ———Questions for ABC Voters-Stakeholders??

    Question #1-
    Can the trustees identify the carrier over to this 2014 Master Plan, from prior Master Plans?
    Adopted 2014 Master Plan, there is no reference to the past master plans, which were/ were not completed from generated sales from the following:
    • Sunshine Park sale,
    • Whitney sale to Cerritos Park East,
    • Whitney Sale to Warmington developers,
    • 1997 Mello Roos Bond

    Question #2-
    CFO stated ABC district loses approximately 10% students annually, what percent of ABC school district, imports students from outside of the district, hence how much of the district will be suffering from this bond, allowing students to enter into the district, which will never pay towards financing of this 2014 Mello Roos bond?

    Question #3-
    How much of this bond will go to renewable energy, such as Solar energy and drought landscaping, since ABC is the largest consumer of water in the basin? Big ticket item for all campuses is renewing parking, but no mention of permeable hard surfacing in said parking staging?

    Question #4-
    What percentage of this bond will be used for:
    • Deferred maintenance.
    • New technology.
    • Internal changes For Common-Core introduction.

    Question #5-
    What is a spreadsheet analysis data derived from of the 1997 Mello Roos bond, combined with today’s 2014 Mello Roos bond?

    Question # 6-
    Can a Property Owner pre-pay off the 1997 Mellos Roos Bond plus 2014 Mello Roos Bond in full, without interest?

    Question #7-
    Bulk of revenue from 2014 Mello Roos Bond will be generated from Cerritos Dwellings and Business. What (%) of the revenue stream will be used in Cerritos Campuses?

    Question #8-
    District has 2 Corporate Office compounds. What (%) of the district shares the new Corporate West Offices? The orig. Corporate Office has what (%) of vacant office space now? What plans do the trustees have to generate income from the non-used office space?

    Question #9-
    Since the district has new drawn boundaries/trustees, when will the next (7/11) review asset Mgmt. of the demographic within the district?

    Question #10-
    CFO illustrated data from the LA cities which have Mello Roos School Bonds. ABC was one of the lowest city with the least amount of Bond Debt, but high API national scores. No reference was made how the existing bonds aided the API test score or the property values per sq ft. in all of the other cities which have implemented bonds?


  • AM says:

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

  • Gavin Riley says:

    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 says:

      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 and the contempt in her voice portray a heart for greed.

      Johnson and her greedy ignorance, along with Chen’s behind the scene orchestrating, did nothing more then help promote the Asian stereotype as ‘takers.’

      The Asian community was spotlighted as coming to Cerritos only to ‘take’ from the ABC district and give nothing in return.

      Asian speakers supporting the Chen-Johnson ticket seemed to show they were more interested in what their children ‘took’ form ABC then they were in investing ABC schools (bond) or the community as a whole.

      Hopefully, surrounding communities will see past the nonsense and know that CarolLynda does NOT represent Cerritos or its people.

    • M c M a h o n says:

      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 school districts) to finance major improvements and services within the particular district.

      ABCUSD teachers teamsters are passing around color flyers stating Mello Roos.

      ABC Counsel stated >12% of the district is coming from outside the district. Today, many ABC teachers and PTA are stating, passing of the Mello Roos bond, would attract more students from outside the district, so the district can collect additional money from state, for healthier annual budget. Why should property owners be taxed by said Mello Roos School Bond, for students migrating from outside the district? Also many teachers learned of the lack of funds for the Mello Roos 2014, so now are dismayed in branding another Obamacare Unknown Master Plan hits ABC, with more unknowns then knowns. This came from the District Office Administration today.

      Both Cerritos Council persons have said no on ABCUSD Mello Roos: Bowen and Chen, plus 4 Ret. Trustees: Premise, Groom, Havice, Montgomery. Ret. Superintendant Smutts has told his LP hood and Emerald Villas Senior Center, to vote no. Ret.Trustee Kwang
      Sent mixed messages and told Cerritos realtors to vote no. Hughlett is sweating bullets, as CJC wants Mello Roos Bond #2, so gladly waived Yes, but Mrs. Hughlett told LMSD teachers, doubtful if any more Mello Roos would be passed.

      MPO: Trustee L Johnson should have addressed the surplus of land already addressed by 7/11 data & not bring in new examples:
      1. Elementary School by DJR.
      2. Acreage at Corp Facilities
      3. Horticulture Plots at CFS.
      4. Vacant Pad on Studebaker.
      5. Consolidation of Tracey /Whitney HS.

      ****ABCUSD District Questions: *****
      • What are the actual streets/hoods involved for LaMirada and Sante Fe Springs?

      • Decades ago, 91/Lakewood Blvd was in ABCUSD, but dont hear that mentioned anymore. Are they in or out of district?

      • Also mentioned was the unincorporated areas of ABUCSD, where exactly is this?

      • Not mentioned was the island sections of Cerritos, which are located in La Palma and share La Palma address. Tract uses multiple schools/districts in the same tract of home. This is going to be huge issue for voting, as not part of the district census and not included in national census.


      Looked the aboves on the ABCSD website under map boundaries, but was not clear.

      7/15, ABCUSD Bond Counsel could not give straight concise answer to the value of each bond, if the bond was to be cash in on each property dwelling. Vague reply was between $8K-$300K, which is wide spread.

      Photos tell many words and not misinformed communications. Look at the 2 faces of seated Counsel during 7/15 meeting: Mad, Outraged plus Confused facial remarks were aimed at most of the trustees Q/A.

      In closing, Water works by president Tse, trustee; speaks volumes of hate and anxiety towards both the pseudo MASTER PLAN/MELLO ROOS.

      Esq for many realtors MLS, states ABCUSD Teamster Union is guilty of falsely steering voters in to thinking that many or few realtor flyers, use ABCUSD as brand for steering buyers in to ABCUSD hoods.


  • M c M a h o n says:


    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 by 6 to 1. The president was so upset; many leaders, teachers, school families and the inner circle of Teacher Unions employees, in the School district, challenge her mental capability and are stating, was president Tse even mentally sound in bringing this motion to the floor & entering in to contract………..

    Seems very very odd. This very controversial Bond, which has a magnitude of aprox $650M, was presented to the board and debated at $235M, and this last minute resolution was passed at $190M without public debate.

    Closure of this resolution, speaks louder than words, as this bond which is not needed nor recognize by the Trustees and will never be approved by the public for the school district. Creditability of compromising this bond, for downward spin of $45M really advertises to the district voters, this elected Trustees, have not done due diligence in engineering both the Master Plan, or the Bond Economics.

    Now the board will orchestrate more wasteful PR $ for advertising this painful Mello Roos Bond, to proposed tune of $50K, which could be better spent on technology for the district at large. The $150K spent for R&D of this pseudo Mello Roos School Bond, could have been spent more frugal.

    My opine, trustees have taken the district to the cleaners and wasted valuable time and exposed the demons of the ABCUSD.