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Letters: Yes on AA, the Right Way

The proponents of Measure AA had the keys to the kingdom.  A well performing school district by most measures, labor peace, a well educated electorate, growing economy, and well stocked campaign treasury.

Almost everyone who spoke at the ABC school board meetings spoke in favor of the bond.  So how could it fail?

Was it the stupidity of the ABC voters listening to the purported lies of the Anti-bond group and hiding the truth from an educated majority?

Or perhaps we blame the consultants who led a community effort composed primarily of employees and took a biased survey.  A survey that made you seem like an idiot if you didn’t support a bond.

Maybe it was a cynical electorate who wanted payback for being ignored by a board after it was consulted at numerous community meetings about the redistricting – only for the district to vote on a map that had never been seen at those community meetings.

As Mr. Riley stated, we can analyze this to death but we must learn from this failure to find our way forward.

Do we need a bond?  Quite frankly, yes.  California will never fund schools sufficiently to meet the demands of the new economy our kids live in.  If we want our kids to keep up with the technology, like any business, we must invest.   To keep our kids safe, yes, we need to spend money to fix traffic issues surrounding our busy schools.

But we also must listen to the majority.

Democracy works—but our district is made up of more than just the narrow subgroup of people in Cerritos interested in property values and kids.  I have a Cerritos home and a daughter so that is my interest.

Selfishly, I had a big stake in its success because my 11 year old daughter would benefit from school monies.

But what about the limited income Senior in Lakewood whose taxes were going up?  Were they part of the group we listened to? Or a struggling business in Hawaiian Gardens.  Did they understand that this specific tax could benefit them with educated employees?   We need to listen to them.

I think this majority was telling us that the bond was too high.  I don’t care if we compared the cost of the bond to a cup of coffee at Starbucks—I don’t buy coffee at Starbucks because it is too expensive.  You can’t offer to paint the school new fancy colors if seniors are having a hard time painting their home or low income people are losing their homes because they can’t pay the mortgage.  You can say you are investing.  But what are you investing in?

It is hard to convince people to add to their expenses for some general idea of improvement.  You need to tell us how it will specifically improve their school.

A specific debt should fund a specific project because it comes out of MY specific pocket.  You shouldn’t create a huge wish list of projects—then tell us that we cannot build these projects because the bond isn’t big enough.   Instead of a list where every elementary school has a new theater (whether they renovated it or not in the last year) and new track and new paint we should have a principled needs analysis comparing needs across the schools.

We shouldn’t borrow for 30 years to paint the house or to fix a crack- particularly when the voter themselves can’t get a loan to fix their own home.  The problem of deferred maintenance took many years to accumulate and unfortunately it will take many years to fix.  A bond is not the appropriate way to fix this.

A business borrows money to invest in the future.  Lets treat our bond like an investment with a required rate of return.  The Return on Investment should include things which will affect student scores, safety, Technology, and other community concerns.

Everyone would love a new paint job—but does that improve the spirits of our children and results in a better score?  Does that paint job prepare our kids better than a science, technology, engineering and math center?   Inspire me with our financial partnerships with regional businesses seeking kids with these skills.   Are the computers out of date or the classrooms configured for the last Century—then address the issue of obsolescence by shortening the term of the bond. (which might increase short term cost and limit the other projects).

While we are at it address the fear exploited by the “liars” that the funds won’t be used for increased salaries.  No, don’t just tell us that the law prevents it—I’m a lawyer so I know these tricks.  List projects that would not normally be within the school’s annual capital maintenance budget- this way there is no substitution of bond monies for the annual maintenance budget thus providing extra room for inordinate raises.  (by the way, I think the wage increases protections on this bond are far greater than the wage increases Cerritos could experience after raising water rates over 100% in seven years—but I digress)

We need to learn from our past.  Some people hung on the rumor that previous bond funds were wasted and that the district was not disclosing everything.

Perhaps the new bond addresses the distrust of government by providing enhanced public procedures and document preservation so that future generations can see clearly what we did.  Instead of a bare-boned bond oversight committee-mandated by the State Law, perhaps we create a committee with more teeth to enforce the intent of the people.

Don’t cynically tell me that some people can never be satisfied.  I know that if we listen to the majority of the entire district and treat them with respect and information, I have faith that we can move forward with a good investment in our future.  We have two years to do this.  Let’s not waste another moment.

Ernie N.

  • E. Lakwood- E Long Beach Triangle says:

    COLLAPSE OF MEASURE AA……

    Mr. Riley & others in favor of a school bond tax must not live in the hoods of the district, as the general sentiment of a poss. bond, was like a showdown for KKK massacre.

    Bottom line, most of the people who spoke out in favorite measure AA; either employees at the school district, or parents children who would benefit. Many these demonstrators are not voters in the district, so the voters in the district said no, “Economy is just not strong enough”.

    All Cities in the district, have way too many vacant businesses; plus Boeing, largest employer in the district, is laying off more and more, plus there is a huge shadow inventory of foreclosed houses coming on to the market. Timing of this bond was in a poor economic slump! We have many vacant foerclosed homes in my tract too.

    Next time around, maybe more correct way in presenting any bonds, properties sold after a certain date, such as 2016, would be a subject to school bond / tax. This way the existing residents would not be burdened with additional taxes, set forth in the passing of Proposition 13 verbiage in 1978!!!!

    Cypress school district said no to school bonds also, and this school districts borders the SE sections of ABCUSD, so this should not be a surprise to supporters of Measure AA/ School Bond Mello Roos Tax, this entire area is still economically impaired. Just last week, congresswoman Linda Sanchez circulated a flyer for public opinion. Top liner of her circulation was Jobs and Job Growth and education was towards the lower sections of her questionaire. Residents in her district, are still concerned about jobs/money; not about installing new electronic machines in classrooms, which enrollment is on the decline in this district.

    http://email.capitolhillnewsonline.com/q/wm2HUCmuSi07KEqQXXb1APSeQHKwQquDSP5YQqbkvWWQJfdQK7wVQiVhL

    Time will tell, when the ABCUSD is run by districts, instead of the old cronies living inside of Cerritos Trustees, who have the mega $$$$ to run campaigns.

  • Glitz and Glamor says:

    Let’s take a moment and get real here…

    ABC district has a large population of students who do not live in the district. The distraction during the election was the small population who followed the rules and transferred in from other districts. The reality is that there is a much higher population who do not following the rules, nor live in the district and use the addresses of family and friends. Next you have those families who own or rent in the district on paper only. These families rent or sublease their home, but continue to use the address to keep their children enrolled in ABC schools. It’s an open secret at any ABC school.

    Next, what everyone is overlooking is that the end game in ABC is Whitney. You have your head in the sand if you choose to ignore this fact. Not much else matters. From kindergarten the goal is get into Whitney. For some reason the Asian community thinks Whitney holds the miracle power of feng shui. To get into Whitney parents will invest tens of thousands of dollars in after school tutoring programs as well as college test prep classes so, investing money in bonds that pay for infrastructure is worthless, in their eyes. Look around you, it’s no coincidence the number of after school tutoring businesses located in the area.

    In this community education assistance matters where as buildings do not. Teacher salaries also don’t matter when parents can afford after school tutoring.

    Wake up people! This is Cerritos. The only thing that matters is status.
    Whitney presents an image.
    It’s status.
    Why does Whitney get so much attention.
    It’s status.
    Look at the over priced and over budgeted city library.
    It’s status.
    Look at the money sucking Arts Center.
    It’s status.
    Look at the laughable open air art gallery at city hall.
    It’s status.
    Look at the farmer’s market. It ain’t much, but…
    It’s status.

    If the district wants a bond passed they need to demonstrate – STATUS.

    It’s as simple as that in a community where the residents drive nice cars and have beautifully maintained front yards and little to show on the inside of the home or in the back yard.

    Wake up people. The reality is that around here it’s all about flaunting STATUS (even if it’s not real). It’s as simple or should I say shallow as that.

    • CHER says:

      ABC Teachers union created the rust, which was the systemic poison, which killed the Bond.

      Long Beach’s McDonald Douglas/Boeing, was the number one employer, which help established the communities of Cypress- Cerritos, back in the 1960’s-1970’s. They were the number one employer. 1960’s Toyota and Datsun were not imported here.

      Boeing has since left the area. Many of the original owners of both cities, are jobless. Majority of the older residents are still voting. Yes the city maybe Chinese, but the city’s Chinese voters are not registered voters, or are not even citizens. Registered voters, not home owners or parents fueled this School Bond Fire. Neither Cerritos nor Cypress is blessed w/ employment diversity, compared to the 75% of statewide cities which passed bonds.

      If the Chinese want education, let them pay for private outside tutoring classes, at the expense to the parents, not to the registered voters.

      Both school districts in Cypress and Cerritos, said no to the school bond.

      Chinese are interested in driving their wealth, compared to personally spending money on their own child’s private education. Always spot Chinese family, Luxury cars parked in the driveway, dirt lawns of dead grass, and weather blasted paint holding the house boards together.

    • Ernie says:

      the district is comprised of several cities. Although Cerritos is probably a disproportionately large part of the district, it is not the only concern. It is a diverse district with diverse needs all of which must be addressed. Not everyone is Asian. There is a wealthy and not so wealthy sections. The not so wealthy sections get more public monies but much less private monies. Despite this they do pretty well which is a mark of good administration. The wealthier sections, which include Cerritos, does not have lots of excess public monies because of the funding formulas. Go look at the budget for Leal and you would be amazed at how far those principals can stretch their tiny budget. Yes we fundraise to keep things going, but it just isn’t enough.
      Yes, there is waste because they must do everything publicly. They cannot get the “sale” price because they must go through policies and procedures that ensure fairness, but that doesn’t mean that we punish the teachers and our own kids by denying them adequate facilities. It’s called balance and listening. Are beautiful facilities the most important? One writer said no. Are safe facilities important? Or is technology? I think we do our best to listen to all voices and then let the voters decide.

  • Jim says:

    The arguement about the Economy is just not strong enough, can’t be the whole issue. The vast majority of Bonds in the Sate passed and most of those districts were hit harder than ABC. Every district has their hardships. Why did all the other bonds pass?

  • TomG says:

    “I think this majority was telling us that the bond was too high.”

    Absolutely and too long. They need to have a bond that is half as costly and half as long. The increase in my property taxes was too much.

    I have never seen the proposals to improve the schools with new infrastructure, which is key. Adding new computers is not value added since they get outdated every 3 years. Computer labs are passe. The future is BYOD (bring your own device). We need new classrooms with wifi. We need updated sporting facilities, cafeterias with seating for the elementary schools, new playgrounds.

    I am unconvinced these improvements will cost $400 million. That’s why I voted against Prop. AA.

  • Gavin Riley says:

    CHER,
    Putting aside the racist tone of your posting, you are wrong on the facts as well. Cypress which is a part of the Anaheim Union High School District passed its bond in November which will result in $10 to $18 million in upgrades and capital improvements to each of its secondary schools. Only a few teachers in ABC have their children enrolled in our schools because they are taking advantage of bonds already passed in the districts where they live. Only our kids and eventually local homeowners burdened with a dated school system are going to suffer if we continue to listen to the uninformed.

    • Chardonnay says:

      Riley : More rust flowing out of your galvanized old mouth. Every campus in the ABC district, teachers would stand in the parking lots, hounding the parents can you vote, if that isn’t racism!

      Union Teachers never once addressed the Whites nor Black parents in the district. Unions practiced racism with: Chinese / Indias / Latinos, when they were trying to market their school bond. Racism stole poss. voters rite in the parking lot, which red flagged the bond as being marketable towards racism.

      Then when the nitwit Nurse – Chairperson discounted the bond money, after she was drowning in flood waters and feared for loosing election to the Cerritos City Council, voters all said, you can fool the voters once in the 90’s, but not the 2nd time around!!

      Hurray for city of Orange, for not passing school bond either, as they unions have tried many times, wasting money down the sewer drains.

      Let the status seekers turn to off-school private tutoring vendors at the expense of those parents, not all voters in the district.

      Chardonnay

  • arthur says:

    Those continuing to perpetuate the myth that those who orchestrated the defeat of Measure AA were “liars” or their arguments against the bond were based upon some fabrication just don’t get it.

    There was no vast conspiracy, there was no racist undertone, there were only the facts, and the district’s inability to respond to questions about its plan from “everyday folks”, not just the “inside baseball players of Cerritos”.

    Oh ya, there was that matter of a San Francisco Financial Advisor/Political Consultant not understanding the community.

    • OMG says:

      Arthur there was lies and deceit. Carol Chen and her ilk said that the increase would be $600 per year when 3/4 of Cerritos would have paid $150. There was a lot of dark money, just wait until the campaign statements are filed. And yes the reason it did not pass is because Cerritos if full of old people who don’t care about children who live in Cerritos. Shameful, when NLMUSD passed a bond and the venerable ABCUSD does not.

    • Funny Money says:

      To quote Glitz and Glamor below
      “Wake up people! This is Cerritos. The only thing that matters is status.
      Look at the over priced and over budgeted city library.
      It’s status.
      Look at the money sucking Arts Center.
      It’s status.
      Look at the laughable open air art gallery at city hall.
      It’s status.”

      Jim Edwards, Grace Hu and Mark Pulido have wasted your tax dollars by the millions for years and you people are arguing and grumbling among each other about a few hundred dollars and why the AA bond didn’t pass?

  • Gavin Riley says:

    Arthur,
    Just one example of the many false statements from this crowd during the election is the price of the bond being $400 million. It is most unusual to cost out the entire payback amount of the of the $198 million bond over thirty years but even that number is wrong. Any competent accountant will actuarially put the payback at less than $325 million using the historically low interest rates we would have been using to borrow. Also, there is no mention that the payback would be in inflated dollars so if there is just a moderate inflation rate of say 2-3% for the next thirty years the real cost in today’s dollars is reduced by another $60-80 million. Also, never mentioned is the cost of paying off the bonds is fully state and federally tax deductible. If you are in the average tax bracket for people living in this community this reduces the cost of the bond by still another $50-60 million. Finally, how do you calculate the value added for students learning in state of the art classroom facilities or the increased value of your home with a superior school system.
    This is the real “inside baseball” stuff that most voters do not have time to research but is exactly what these slick operators are counting on. They want the voters to just be their water carriers and not ask questions.

    • Good House Keeping Seal says:

      Gavin Riley: ABC Parent Voters, will not be supporting: Grace Hu, C.Vo, nor Solanksi-Tse; as they fed in to many forms for No on AA.

      Our RED flag, when Trustees/Chairpersons discounted the AA on 23:59 Hr, before vote; plus no discussion on table for huge discount for AA Bond Money!

      AA will be played out in vying on Mar 3; plus both public Forums. Wonder if the moderators of both forums, will bleep AA comments from reaching the 10 candidates vying for council election?

      Gavin Riley, will you be there at both forums with your questions? Unfortunately, city is once again, deeply divided from bad politics. Let us know, if the ABC Union is having an Open Candidates forum too?