_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK


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.

  • arthur says:

    My grandaddy used to say, “Don’t pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

    Sound advice, but no matter how much ink one buys, the message is limited by the reach and the messenger.

    Messenger Hews’ Op-Ed diatribe focuses on a handful of people willing to take a public stand against a $195.2 million taxpayer-funded construction project that has a lot of questionable details. Nice to see he chooses to nitpick about someone’s grammar (personal attack) rather than focus on the issues.

    As far as any “secret” meeting(s) Hews comments on, I would like to think he understands the difference between “secret” and “private” meetings. Maybe his ego was bruised because he wasn’t invited. Based on the information Hews provides above, the meeting was held on private property and he wasn’t invited. Maybe Hews has a sense of entitlement that he can just walk into any private meeting and participate (maybe its a “media” thing).

    Maybe it’s time for Messenger Hews to ask some relevant questions to ABCUSD administrators, such as, “how was the last $59 million spent?” “Why didn’t the District reach out to the segment of the population with no connection to the District for input?” “How can a Citizen’s Oversight Committee do its job with such a poorly-created plan?”

    The No on AA side understands the need for quality schools. It understands that voters are starved for more points of view other than the District’s. It understands that lawyers, bankers, construction/architecture firms, and financial advisors are all kicking in tens of thousands of dollars to ensure they will make a profit off this public works project. At some point they will whether Measure AA passes or not. It will come back, because it is needed, but it will be a better plan because of legitimate public input. There won’t be any opposition, and there won’t be a need to request political contributions from firms hired to conduct the project.

    Additionally, there won’t be a need for Messenger Hews to accuse anyone of “greed” or of being “anti-student’ or “anti-schools” because everyone will be in support, and Messenger Hews can cut back on his ink purchasing budget.

    Vote November 4th.

    • Robert says:

      I like how people always like to shoot the messenger, Hews. Art (Bruce Barrows), the NO people are personally attacking the Yes people, Hews just pointed out their bad grammar.
      The meeting in Hews’ paper was attended by L Johnson and Soo Yoo both recipients of money from Carol Chen and ABCUSD Board Members. They did not let in a former Assemblywoman Sally Havice. Ask yourself this Art, why DIDN’T they let in the media, that’s all Hews and Economy asked.

      Interesting to note that the No on AA have no children in the system, so how the heck are they going to provide input?

      Its maximum $150 per year Art, what a cheapskate you are…Cerritos has the lowest property tax rate in LA County and ABCUSD is the lowest District Tax Rate in LA. SO you are not paying nearly as much as other school districts while you enjoy high property values because of the ABCUSD.

      Why don’t you smell what you are shoveling and vote yes.

      • arthur says:

        Thanks Robert. I would presume the private meeting you & Messenger Hews was being held to strategize on how to defeat a bad plan. I don’t think the Home team allows the Visiting team into the coaches offices during game planning before the big game. Look at it like that, and Viola, you get it.

        You correctly point out the obvious about “the No on AA have no children in the system”. I guess only those who have “children in the system” are the only ones qualified to provide public input. Those who are going to pay for the cost of Measure AA, without having the benefit, should certainly have input.

        “…maximum $150 per year…” is correct if one resides in a home with an assessed valuation of approximately $285,000. For most residents in Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, and Lakewood this isn’t the reality. If one’s residential property is valued at $500,000 the will pay double the $150.

        “..what a cheapskate you are…” may be a fair assessment, but I certainly leave 20% tip at the Sizzler for the wait staff every time I dine.

        The No on AA side likely understands the need for a bond measure to modernize the great ABCUSD schools, its the details of the plan that are very fuzzy. Our school facilities need to keep up with today’s teaching methods, curriculum standards, and technology.

        Let’s get a wider voice from the community for input to a better plan, have it stand up to the test of public scrutiny, and put this thing back on the ballot in 2015 so we can start the modernization.

        Measure AA, as it stands today, lacks transparency, lacks prioritization, lacks fiscal control, lacks a clear mission for any Citizens Oversight Committee.

        “We’re the government, and we are here to help” just doesn’t cut it anymore, Robert.

        Vote November 4th

        • Robert says:

          Art you espouse inclusion, so why exclude people who are against the bond in a meeting? Viola you have a meeting that the LA District Atty called suspicious.

          Then in the next paragraph you call for inclusion of people who have no skin in the game, where in Chen’s private meeting all had skin in the game. Hypocrite?

          You are woefully misinformed, the tax is on ASSESSED VALUE not market value. The average is 300K in cerritos, the highest values in ABC. Are you saying Artesia, Haw Gardens would pay as much…not…they would pay 49 per year and are more than willing to pay unlike you.

          You give your age away when you say you go to Sizzler.

          Another talking point from the no on AA, the plans are fuzzy, go to ABC web site and look at the 186 page plan!

          That is 184 pages longer than what Hank Paulson gave George Bush (who I am sure you are a fan of) to rescue the economy back in 2007.

          Pay it forward Art, sacrifice a few Sizzler dinners and help kids out who live down the street from you.

  • Virginia Johnson says:

    As someone on Social Security I take umbrage that $150 to $200 (dollars) more every year over and above all the school and other bonds that keep passing will not put my home in foreclosure. Let’s stop doing so many Bonds and start working on all the retirement and other PERS benefits with the money that was supposed to go towards these infrastructure and Public needs. I have trouble making ends meet as it is. No more taxes.

  • George Medina says:

    Thank you for reporting the truth end exposing the political lies and corruption for personal gain.

    Ms.Chen and her cohorts need to go back to school for a refresher course in TRUTH, HONESTY AND INTEGRITY.