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  Waste, Corruption and Lack of Results in the WCCUSD Construction Bond Program?
October 21, 2005

I received a few negative reactions to my E-FORUM “I SUPPORT MEASURE J.”  Whether or not to support any tax is a personal decision that each voter must make based on his or her own value system and ability to pay, and I respect that.


I was, however, a little surprised by some of the negative comments regarding the factual history and prospects of the program, itself. For example:


  • “If we were seeing improvement it might be a different story.”


  • …where oh where are the audits promised for the last bond issue?”


  • “The convincer for me is the level of oversight.”


  • (To the School Board) “…Tell the voters what you did with all the millions of past bond issued.  Where did the money go? Did the funds go for administrative cost? Show us the voters the improvements.”


  • “The chances of that money being used appropriately are slim to none. When was the last time a large scale government sponsored building project was NOT corrupt?”


In fact, there is an extensive website at http://www.wccusdbondprogram.com that answers all these questions and has more than you would ever want to know about the program, including status reports, financial reports, schedules, progress reports, individual school project plans and photos, audits, minutes of meetings of the Oversight Committees, etc. Before concluding that the previous projects have been wasteful, undocumented or mismanaged, take a look at the information.


Any governmental undertaking is, almost by definition, going to have some built-in inefficiencies, and this one was no exception. It got off to a slippery start but gained traction as it rolled along. However, each of these projects was ultimately competitively bid and constructed by private sector construction companies, and that is where most of the money went.


There are new and rehabilitated schools scattered throughout the District, and you can visit any one of them simply by walking into the Principal’s Office and making a request.


And, I can tell you from personal experience that no money was wasted on architectural fees. Unfortunately, we were the only local firm involved in the program, and we gave ‘til it hurt at the office. My firm, Interactive Resources, provided architectural services for two modernization projects, Stewart Elementary and Washington Elementary. I hate to admit it folks, but the Bond Program project managers squeezed us like a ripe juicy orange, and we lost big time on our fees. It cost us hundreds of thousands more to provide the services than we got paid. Bad news for us but good news for the taxpayers, I suppose.


I’ll still vote for Measure J. As a homeowner in Richmond, it’s probably the best investment I’ll ever make in my property.