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OP/ED: No on Measure AA Campaign Leaders Concoct Bald-Faced Lies


By HMG-CN Publisher Brian Hews

Some people will lie to get what they want, no matter how it will hurt other organizations or people.

Such is the case with a few people here in Cerritos who are against ABCUSD’s Measure AA, the ABCUSD Improvement Bond.

Secret Carol Chen Meeting

On July 2 of this year, HMG-CN learned of a secret meeting, one that the L.A. District Attorney cited impropriety on, that was taking place to fight measure AA.

The meeting was called and conducted by Cerritos Mayor pro tem Carol Chen, one of the biggest property owners in the ABCUSD. Also in attendance were ABCUSD Board Members Lynda Johnson and Soo Yoo, former Cerritos Mayor Grace Hu (another property owner), Cerritos Public Safety Committee Member Matt Kauble, Cerritos Republican Club Member Gordon Hom, Joan Plyman, and former ABC School Board Member Cecy Groom.

Battery Bruce Barrows was playing bouncer and was ready to “go all Jay Gray” on anyone who tried entering the meeting, including HMG-CN reporter Randy Economy and former Assemblywoman Sally Havice.

In the email Chen said, “given the facts I know, if the bond passes it will increase your property tax bill hundreds of dollars annually.

Big lie Cerritos Mayor pro tem Carol Chen.

The average assessed value of property in the ABCUSD is under $300,000; AA would charge one-half of one percent or $150 per year.

In some areas the assessed value is much less, around $200,000 or $100 per year for the AA bond.

As revealed by HMG-CN, Ms. Chen spent that at one dinner meeting ordering $75 halibut and $30 desserts with her buddy Bruce Barrows.

Then a mail piece was delivered last week that must have been authored at the Secret Carol Chen meeting.

The piece cited six reasons (lies) to vote no on AA.

BIG LIE #1. Broken Promises of 1997- The same promises (in Measure AA) of school modernization were made but never delivered.

I am guessing the authors of the mailer did not have children attending ABCUSD or they would know this is a lie….which begs the question why they are fighting AA.

Truth is in 1997 the voters did approve a bond measure of $59 million. ABCUSD leveraged the $59 million (through great management) into a $135 million modernization program that benefited all ABCUSD students.

The improvements included, among many other items, abating asbestos, replacing heating ventilation and air-conditioning units, replace drinking fountains, and replacing intrusion detection systems.

I guess the No on AA people want cancer-causing asbestos, hot classrooms, dirty drinking water, and ease of entry by intruders in ABCUSD schools.

One other note, the No on AA people tell HMG-CN that the money was mis-managed. During the modernization project, Cecy Groom was an ABCUSD Board member. Curious Ms. Groom claims mis-management now, yet  did not point it out when she was a board member.

BIG LIE #2. Hastily made plan of 2014 – A $635 million facilities plan was made in just three months, with no public input, no peer review, and no project detail. Ask your child’s school what capital improvements will be made, when, for how much, and if they have been approved by the School Board for funding.

Truth is a 186 page Facilities Master Plan, outlining work to be performed at every ABCUSD school, was formulated using the input from over 300 parents, students, administrators, and professionals.

It was started in November 2013 and took 9 months to complete. Nine months.

Click here to see reports.

The FMP was discussed at the June 24, 2014 Board meeting and approved by the Board at the July 8, 2014 meeting.

BIG LIE #3. Disregard of taxpayers – If Measure AA passes, your property tax will increase by $50 per $100,000 assessed value per year for decades to come. We taxpayers will be paying for the bulk of this new bond, yet they didn’t even bother to inform us of the plan, let alone consulting with us. This is outrageous.

Let’s not talk about the grammar of that statement. Maybe if the authors had gone to ABCUSD schools the sentence would have been grammatically correct.

People in the ABCUSD enjoy the lowest tax rate among school districts in the County of Los Angeles.

Yet ABCUSD is one of the highest achieving Districts in the area.

That is a tribute to everyone affiliated with the district and why the FMP and ABCUSD personnel should be trusted to manage AA funds to improve the district.

BIG LIE #4.  School enrollment decline – Student enrollment has declined by the thousands. Reliable demographic studies predict this trend will continue. ABC School District recruits more and more out-of-district students to fill up the surplus school capacity. This is alright, but residents of this district should not be forced to invest millions of dollars in school facilities they no longer need.

So the grammatically challenged No on AA proponents are claiming declining enrollment and that schools should be closed.

Truth is ABCUSD enrollment information for the last five years show declines of 34 and 23 students in 2010 and 2011. Enrollment increased by 300, then by 50 in ’13 and ’14, a net increase of 293 students since 2010.

BIG LIE #5. Possibility of future bonds – Measure AA will only fund 30% of the $635 million FMP. The law does not prohibit the school district from issuing additional bonds in the future. Even if you don’t own properties, won’t your rent go up big time?

I am guessing the No on AA proponents missed their government and math classes.

Since the average increase would be $150 per year, rents would increase by $12.50 per month, or the cost of a small appetizer ordered by mayor pro tem Chen.

Truth is, by law, the District cannot issue any bonds without approval from the voters.

Blinded by Greed

Further, the No on AA proponents, blinded by their greed, are also completely missing the fact that a good school system raises property values and that the passage of AA is an investment in the future, both in property values and education.

It is no secret that people will pay more for houses in highly rated school districts compared with homes in neighborhoods where the schools have lower ratings and test results. One word, Whitney.

Dr. and Mrs. Moskowitz know that. Many intelligent prominent people in the community know that too.

It is time for Mayor pro tem Chen and her grammatically challenged cohorts to stop fighting the measure, rein in their short-term greed and look at the larger picture.

The cost will be less than one of Mayor pro tem Chen’s dinners on Cerritos taxpayer’s dime.

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