Vote NO on Measure " H "
Oxnard Needs to Listen to its Neighbor --- CAMARILLO --- "Just Connect the Dots!"
By Roger L. Lund
of the Law Offices of Gose, Lechman & Lund - Camarillo, Calif.
|Connecting the dots -
that's a term being used today to put information together to reach the
truth behind an action or event. In this case, I have used it to determine
the true situation involving Measure H, the school bond proposed by the
Oxnard Union High School District. Measure H is being sold to voters via
glossy political mailers in each community as a bond that, if you take
seriously the language in the flyers, they would have you believe that there
will be three new high schools built - one in Camarillo, one in Oxnard and
one in Port Hueneme. Yet, the ballot measure language provides funding for
only two new High Schools. Why the difference? One only needs to look at the
district's past actions and connect the dots to determine the truth.
The text of Measure H provides for immediately building one new high school (previously announced by the OUHSD as being in Oxnard), and further that OUHSD will "begin the process" to build a second high school "when student enrollment exceeds existing capacity by an amount sufficient to justify the construction of an additional school facility." To me, that means one new high school now, perhaps another later, but in any event not three as the flyers suggest.
OUHSD's political mailer to Oxnard and Hueneme residents states that "Local high schools in Oxnard and Hueneme are overcrowded due to increasing numbers of students entering each year." It goes on to list the problems associated with overcrowded high schools in those communities and concludes by promising to "... relieve overcrowding by building two new high schools," presumably in both Oxnard and Port Hueneme.
OUHSD's glossy mailer to Camarillo residents flatly promises that "Measure H will add a new high school right here in Camarillo". That makes sense, especially since at least 600 of Camarillo's high school students are required to attend Rio Mesa, located several miles out of the Camarillo city limits. However, as pointed out previously, the official language of the bond issue does not mention when the second high school is to built or more importantly, where it is to be located. A strange way to make a promise to voters, don't you think?
Just connect the dots. In August 2003, OUHSD trustees met in closed session with their attorney under the guise of pending litigation to discuss purchasing land for a new high school in Camarillo. At that time, they determined not to purchase the land largely because projected enrollment did not justify a second high school. In October, 2003, in a OUHSD publication, Superintendent Davis announced the board's decision "to follow legal counsel's advice and cease activities related to the purchase of property until after the issue of unification is resolved." On October 29, 2003, after a study session on unification with their attorney, Trustee Hanson "asked that the purchase of property for the construction of a new high school in Camarillo be included as an action item for the November 19th meeting," Trustee Stocks stated he was not in favor. For the next 11 meetings, from November, 2003 to April, 2004, no report on Camarillo land acquisition was presented.
In May, 2004, in a report to the OUHSD board on facilities needs, Superintendent Davis indicates that "because of the unification issue, the district will not be buying property or planning a new school in Camarillo at this time," with which all trustees agreed. On June 8, 2004, in a letter to Supervisor Kathy Long, Superintendent Davis asks for her support to approve, as required by state law, the creation of a Special Facilities Improvement District (SFID). His letter states that the district is building its next high school in Oxnard and that Camarillo voters will not be asked to pay for it. On June 15, 2004, OUHSD board conducts a study session with its bond advisor, and passes a resolution establishing a SFID for the purpose of building a high school in Oxnard. Subsequently, that item was quietly pulled from the Board of Supervisors agenda, ostensibly due to a lack of support by the Board.
One June 17, 2004 at a special meeting, OUHSD trustees vote to begin negotiations for land for a new high school in Camarillo. On June 22, 2004, the California Senate Education Committee unanimously approves AB780, a bill that will increase local control over unification petitions. Recently made aware of the bill, OUHSD sends their lobbyist to testify in opposition to the bill. On June 30, 2004, OUHSD trustees approve placing a district wide General Obligation Bond on the November ballot for two new high schools. Just by looking at the recent actions of OUHSD trustees, one wonders what kind of plan they really have for a new Camarillo high school, or new Oxnard and Hueneme high schools, how soon it will change, and who will pay for it.
So, by connecting the dots, it appears that OUHSD Board attempted to construct a high school in Oxnard without involving Camarillo voters, fearing the strong support in this City for unification. Failing that, they then decided to go for a District wide bond issue. In order to gain support, they have resorted to running a deceptive campaign trying to convince the voters in Camarillo, Oxnard and Hueneme that each city will get a new high school. However, as noted, even if the bond passes, someone isn't getting a new high school very soon. Based on their record, will you trust OUHSD to look after your community's best interest?
Another few dots.
Look again at the slick ads for Measure H, which also promise to modernize all remaining high schools. Now look at the bond language in your ballot pamphlet and notice how the modernization items are identical and appear to be "cut and pasted" into sections for each school. Not much specificity, and likely a waste of more of your money.
Now, connect another dot by taking a walk through Camarillo High School since "modernization" at Camarillo High School is complete. Someone who have taught there recently called it a downgrading. Frankly, Camarillo High looks worse now than when I attended 20 years ago. And how was this modernization paid for? First, by using developer fees generated by Camarillo development, and later, when unification looked like it had community-wide support, switched to bond funds that ultimately need to be repaid by taxpayers if unification was approved. This "bait and switch" tactic results in sticking Camarillo taxpayers with a bill that should have been paid for by developer fees generated in this community. The mismanagement of the so-called "modernization", gives me no reason to support OUHSD in its quest to spend more of our money while not being honest about where new high schools are to be built.
One final dot and another question - I noticed the slick flyers were sent by "Yes on H", a political committee. I called the County Elections Office and found that the committee's Fair Political Practices Commission Report registering the committee lists Randy Winton as its treasurer. Randy Winton also just happens to be the Chief Financial Officer for OUHSD. Who is really funding this measure and controlling the information? To date, no "Yes on H" funding sources have been disclosed.
Stop the deception and waste of
/s/ Roger L. Lund