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Are We Still A Nation of the Rule of Law? A Serious Question – Part II

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on February 9, 2018

Yesterday I published a post on the “FISA Gate” scandal with my take on the current situation and why it is so very serious to our Republic.  In today’s post I outline my opinion of what certain people involved in this matter should do to best serve the American people, put maximum light on this situation and restore the American people’s trust in their federal government’s law enforcement agencies.

President Trump:  Unfortunately while several people in this matter deserved to be fired (and maybe more), given the highly charged political environment, if the President fires anyone involved it will fairly or unfairly turn into a firestorm.  Even though he had every right to fire James Comey as FBI director, what he got was a Special Counsel to investigate him.  So the best thing for the President and his team to do is ride this out until all of the facts are on the table.   But speaking of facts, the President and his team should help in any way they can move along any requests for de-classification of information such as the Cater Page FISA application and its renewals.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:  He signed one of the applications for renewal for the FISA warrant on Carter Page. Plus he oversees the Robert Muller investigation.  To put it bluntly Mr. Rosenstein is on the hot seat.  He needs to move heaven and earth to show the American people that his actions in this matter were proper.  This includes getting de-classified whatever documents are necessary to explain his actions (the entire Carter Page FISA application and its renewals would be an ideal start) and he needs to do that now. He took an oath not to President Trump, President Obama or anyone else but to the Constitution, including upholding the 4th Amendment.  Since it appears he may have participated in a violation of the 4th Amendment, the burden is on him to explain himself.  If he is unable or unwilling to do this then he should resign from this position and allow someone else (preferably from the outside of the DOJ) to take his place.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions:  Due to his involvement in the Trump campaign, he has recused himself from the Russia investigation and any investigations of Hillary Clinton.  When he did these recusals they were the right thing to do.  Except for Civil Asset Forfeiture (I am against it and AG Sessions is for it) I am a Jeff Sessions fan.  However, with these revelations of likely illegal activity at the top of the FBI and the DOJ, the situation has changed.  If Mr. Rosenstein will not explain himself or resign, then Mr. Sessions needs to find a way to properly un-rescue himself and conduct his own investigation starting with suspending or firing Mr. Rosenstein.  If he cannot do this, then he needs to resign and allow the President to appoint a new Attorney General – preferably someone not connected to his campaign or the DOJ who will investigate and clean house. Perhaps a state Attorney General who had no connection to the Trump campaign.  After this scandal (plus the Fast and Furious, IRS and the Hillary Clinton scandals just to name a few where the DOJ apparently played politics) the American people deserve to know that their Federal government law enforcement agencies cannot and will not be used by one party in power to spy on the other parties’ campaign or other similar illegal actions.

FBI Director Christopher Wary:  He has been, to date, more in the camp of protecting top FBI brass and helping stonewall Congress on giving them documents.   He needs to restore the people’s confidence in the FBI.  Director Wray has the power to sideline many people inside the FBI who were apparently committing these acts.  It appears he has done that to some degree. Perhaps he is waiting until Inspector General Horowitz’ report is issued before he fires people like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.  But he should at the very least issue a statement that he is indeed waiting for the IG’s report.  Plus that he is personally reviewing not only the Carter Page FISA application and renewals but any FISA applications and renewals that Strzok, Page and some of the other actors inside the FBI worked on over the last two or three years.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller:  Mr. Mueller may be the straight shooter that people like Congressman Trey Goudy says he is but his hiring practices leave a lot to be desired.  Why did he hire so many anti-Trump and pro-Clinton persons from the DOJ and FBI?  Why are so many of them still on his team?  He should replace them now.  But if nothing else, he needs to view this whole “FISA Gate” scandal as a rising of the bar for his investigation and any decisions he may make to charge anyone and especially the President with wrongdoing.  I am not saying President Trump should have the same sweetheart deal Hillary Clinton got.  But if he is going to file charges for “collusion” (which is not a crime) or obstruction of justice, it needs to be an iron clad case.  Otherwise this will only look like a witch hunt.  As a prosecutor his job is not to get convictions but to serve justice. 

The FISA Court Judges:  As an attorney myself (I do not practice criminal law) I know that if any attorney submits to a court a document that is false, especially if it is submitted under penalty of perjury, and the court finds out it is false, that attorney is, to say the least, in trouble.  My hope is that the FISA Court Judges are looking over the FISA applications on Carter Page and any others submitted by the people involved in this scandal to see if the allegations being made are true or not.  If true and the Court was deceived, the Judges should be issuing orders to those involved to come and explain themselves to them under pain of being found in contempt of court or guilty of perjury.  If any of the DOJ attorneys mislead the Court, I would hope the Court would take strong action.  In addition, I would hope the FISA Court Judges would find a way to communicate to the American people that they recognize the serious issues that have been given light as a result of this scandal and are taking steps to address that.

A hallmark of our system of government is liberty and freedom from government coercion and control. The 4th Amendment exists to protect American citizens from “wiretapping”, surveillance, spying on their activities, etc. unless the authorities have presented a Judge with proper and verified evidence of likely criminal wrongdoing by that citizen to justify issuing a warrant.  This includes when foreign nationals may be involved.

The critical issue here is one party then in power using law enforcement tools to spy on its political opponents (and maybe beyond them as well) on the basis of evidence that was false and paid for by their favored candidate’s political campaign.  If as we are told by Mr. Nunes and his fellow Republicans, this occurred, this is not just an injustice to President Trump and his supporters, but to all citizens.  Americans deserve to know all of the facts and not via the lens of partisans on either side.

Release the FISA court applications and renewal applications – all of them!  And now! 

Craig P. Alexander is an attorney and principal of the Law Offices of Craig P. Alexander in Dana Point, California.  A large part of his legal practice is regarding the California Public Records Act to obtain documents from state and local governments (the state version of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents from the Federal government).

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Are We Still A Nation of the Rule of Law? A Serious Question – Part I

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on February 8, 2018

Is our country still a nation of the rule of law or are we now under the rule of men? This is now a very serious question facing the American people. At the beginning of our Republic the Founders instituted the U.S. Constitution with the original 10 amendments. One of them is the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. It states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue,     but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

One of the main reasons the Founders insisted on the inclusion of the 4th Amendment was to be rid of the British practice of issuing “general warrants” that allowed British officials to invade and search randomly vast numbers of homes and farms on no evidence of wrongdoing by those being searched.  Of course the Founders did not have “telecommunications” where our conversations, plans, information gathering, etc. is done over the telephone and the Internet.  However the Courts and Congress have recognized and applied 4th Amendment protections to those methods of communication and information gathering.

Today we are faced with a very serious challenge to our rights as Citizens of this Republic regarding our 4th Amendment rights with the recent revelation of abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (or FISA) laws being used against US Citizens by the FBI and the Dept. of Justice.

As you know the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have released the “Nunes Memo” which, if accurate, details serious misuse and maybe outright fraud upon the FISA court on at least one application – to surveil Carter Page, a onetime volunteer adviser to the Trump campaign.  Here is a link to the Nunes Memo.  It is important that people read this short three and one half page document.  Another important thing to read and understand is the timeline of these events.  Thomas Del Baccaro has put together that timeline in his article which appeared in Political Vanguard. Here is the link. One thing important to note from the timeline – the 2016 FISA warrant application and order were after Carter Page left the Trump campaign.  Also importantly Senator Charles Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham have released a letter to the DOJ (with some redactions) for potential criminal prosecution of Christopher Steele.  That letter confirms much of the Nunes Memo. Here is the link to that letter.

At the time of my writing this post the White House is reviewing the Democratic memo by Congressman Adam Schiff for release, release with redactions, etc.  I suspect it will be out soon.  Both the Nunes and Schiff memos claim to be accurate and based upon the underlying documents including the FISA application and renewal applications.   Reportedly the Schiff memo rebuts statements made in the Nunes memo.  As an aside, given that many things Adam Schiff has said have been proven to be untrue, in my opinion he is not to be trusted.

But this scandal raises serious questions: Are highly placed members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice actively misleading the FISA court to spy on American citizens?  If Carter Page was “surveilled” (spied upon), did the FBI follow others who spoke to Mr. Page such as persons in the Trump campaign separate and apart from any conversations Mr. Page had with them?  What part did the Fusion GPS “dossier” play in the FISA application?  Even if it was only a small part of the application, if the dossier was “salacious and unverified” as Former FBI Director Comey stated, why was it used in the application at all?  Did the FBI and Department of Justice attorneys withhold from the FISA court that the dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC (via an illegal concealed payment to Fusion GPS by the campaign’s attorneys)?  If so, did the Court ask any questions about this either at the time of the original application or on one of the renewals of the warrant? If the origin of the dossier was disclosed to the FISA court why did it issue the warrant?  Were any other warrant applications to the FISA court by these same individuals made with tainted evidence?  Etc., Etc., Etc….There are SO MANY MORE QUESTIONS that the Nunes Memo and other information in the news regarding this scandal bring up.

One thing is certain – the American people deserve to have the entire FISA application and renewal documents (with only sparse redactions for true national security purposes) released and very soon.  Let the American people decide for themselves if the application and its renewals were done properly or not.

The fact that the FISA process, applications and courts are designed to operate in secret is no excuse for withholding this application and its renewals.  There is just too much independent evidence (such as the infamous texts between disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page) of bias investigations and abuse of the FISA process to keep this “under wraps” for any reason.  The American people have a legitimate reason to demand and receive these documents.  If it proves that Mr. Nunes is correct, then massive changes need to be made to the FISA process and certain people need, at the very least, to lose their jobs.  If the evidence is that the Nunes memo is false, the American people need to know that too.

In Part II – My Thoughts on What People Involved in this Scandal Should Do Now.

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U.S. Senate Democrat Hypocrisy In Full Display Joined by Two Republicans!

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on January 30, 2018

Sometimes satire is very very funny. The Babylon Bee (http://babylonbee.com/) is a Christian satire site similar to the Onion but with a religious theme to it.  It’s “articles” are usually funny with lots of humor often poking fun at popular culture and at the Church itself.

But sometimes its satire is bitingly and strikingly to the point.  The vote by most of the U.S. Senate Democrats and two Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a case in point – actually two cases on point.  First is the Bee’s article entitled:

Senate Democrats Refuse To Grant Legal Status To Children Dreaming Of Being Born (Link)

The article begins: “WASHINGTON, DC—Voting down a measure that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks gestation, Senate Democrats on Monday refused to grant legal status to millions of unborn children dreaming of one day being born.”

Later in the article it states: “Frankly, I’m tired of the Republicans’ sob stories about these so-called ‘dreamers’ who are deliberately hiding inside a womb, hoping for government protection without going through the proper channels,” a DNC spokesperson told reporters. “Maybe it’s not their fault their parents brought them into this world, but that does not give them the same Constitutional right to life that hardworking, natural-born Americans have earned.”

For the rest of this bitingly true article go to the link above – its satire but it is strikingly on point.

The the Babylon Bee followed up with this excellent piece:

After Killing 20-Week Abortion Ban, Democrats Resume Lecturing People About Compassion (Link)

This one begins: “WASHINGTON, D.C.—According to sources within the Senate, Democratic legislators took a short break from their tireless schedule of lecturing the nation about compassion Monday in order to vote against a ban on the barbaric practice of ripping helpless 20-week-old babies limb from limb and pulling them from the wombs of their mothers.”

Later the article “reported”: “We had to hit pause on our monologues about immigrant children for a quick minute so we could ensure that women’s rights to kill their babies at any time, for any reason are preserved,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “But rest assured, we are back on our moral high horse and will proceed to posture as champions of the oppressed and the only virtuous human beings on earth, now that that task is complete.”

Finally this satire piece noted that “At publishing time, sources confirmed that the two Republicans who sided with the Democrats to shoot down the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine—had resumed acting as though they represented the values of their constituents.”

I highly recommend you go to the link above for this full article too.

While these two reports are truly “satire,” they are based on true events that occurred this week (the week of January 29th).  And both point to the absolute hypocrisy of most U.S. Senate Democrats (including our own Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein).

Both articles are very short and worth your time.

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So what did taxpayers get from CUSD’s financing of Former Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson’s Financial Conflict of Interest defense? Nothing! Part Two of Two.

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on August 28, 2017

In Part One we outlined how the taxpayers came to pay for Former CUSD Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson’s conflict of interest non-disclosure legal defense. In Part Two we find CUSD is blocking the public’s access to what the taxpayer dollars were spent for and a long list of serious unanswered questions.

Even More Taxpayer Education Dollars to The Olson Law Firm and the Blocked Entries of the Descriptions of Services

In December the Board authorized a $10,000 increase in the allowed cost for the Olson firm (for total legal fees of $25,000.00).  [12-6-16 More Money for Olson Authorization]. Then in February 2017 the FPPC closed its file.  The Olson firm did not submit another invoice to CUSD until April 30, 2017 for $937.50.  When CUSD finally disclosed this invoice in late July (after several requests by CPC) it contained the similar redactions as in the 10/31/16 invoice. [4-30-17 Olson Invoice]

As an attorney myself I understand and value the need for the attorney client communication privilege.  However in this case we have taxpayer funds being spent for the legal defense of a  financial disclosure filing which is normally privately funded by the politician themselves.  Therefore it would be proper for the taxpayers to know what they received for their money.  CUSD could waive the Attorney Client Privilege and give us un-redacted invoices.  But it has refused to do so.

Just What Did the Olson Firm Do For The Money?

With all of the Olson’s firm’s billing activity as of October 31, 2016 we would expect there to be letters and e-mails going back and forth between the Olson firm and the FPPC.

But in the responses to CPC by CUSD and the FPPC not one letter or e-mail was apparently exchanged between the Olson firm and the FPPC.  Not. One. Letter. Or. E-mail. Nothing!  And none between the FPPC and the Orbach or Werksman firms either. The FPPC advised me that if they had “phone notes” of any conversations with the Olson firm, those would have been turned over in response to our Public Records Act request.  None were disclosed.

Serious Questions Remain

So after obtaining everything in writing from CUSD (and the FPPC) that they would disclose, many serious questions remain:

Why are there be no written communications or telephone notes of conversations between the Olson law firm and the FPPC?

Why would the Olson firm not bill the District for the time put into the case between Nov. 1st and Feb. 28th until April 30, 2017?

Just what did this Olson firm do for the $16,274.50 taxpayer’s dollars it was paid?

Are there other matters the Olson firm is being paid taxpayer money for by CUSD?   There is an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office into this same matter involving Ms. Hatton-Hodson.  That District Attorney investigation is not mentioned in the 9/26/16 Olson retainer agreement with CUSD.

Is the Orbach firm working for CUSD / Hatton-Hodson on the District Attorney’s investigation?  Why else would they hire the $750 per hour Werksman firm which advertises itself as “Tenacious. Proven. Criminal Trial Attorneys“?  The Werksman firm’s total invoicing (per the records CUSD disclosed) on this matter is $13,972.50 to date.  $2,175.00 for work done in March 2017 AFTER the FPPC closed its file in February 2017.

Why would the Olson law firm retained to assist the former trustee by the District not list Trustee Hatton-Hodson as the Client rather than the District? After all the District did not fail to file the Disclosure form correctly – Lynn Hatton-Hodson apparently failed to do this.  Why were there no written waivers of the obvious potential conflict of interest in the file disclosed to CPC?

What did the Orbach firm do for CUSD that the Olson firm was not already doing after the Board of Trustees hired Olson in late September 2016?

Here is the breakdown of the taxpayer dollars spent on lawyers in the Lynn Hatton-Hodson matter to date:

Olson              $16,274.50

Orbach           $11,728.00

Werksman     $13,972.50

Total              $41,975.00

Who Received What Benefits For The Public’s $41,975.00 Tax Dollars?

What did the taxpayers get for this expenditure of public funds?  Apparently absolutely nothing except dollars that could have been used in the class room are now in the possession of attorneys.  In fact, three sets of attorneys!

What did CUSD and the children it is supposed to service get for this expense?  Nothing.

What did former Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson receive? A free taxpayer funded legal defense before the FPPC (and maybe for the District Attorney’s investigation as well).

Perhaps the real question here is what did the other Trustees get for this expenditure of their constituents’ money!  Apparently the comfort of knowing that if in the future they are caught with their proverbial hands in the financial cookie jar they will have taxpayer dollars to defend their actions and mistakes as political candidates.

Craig Alexander is an attorney who represents requestors of information under the California Public Records Act. He is also volunteer General Counsel for the California Policy Center, Inc. a policy think tank that advocates for transparency in government. He is a former candidate for CUSD’s Board of Trustees. Craig can be reached at craig@craigalexanderlaw.com.

Posted in Capistrano Unified School District, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

So what did taxpayers get from CUSD’s financing of Former Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson’s Financial Conflict of Interest defense? Nothing! Part One of Two

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on August 24, 2017

Former CUSD Trustee Hatton-Hodson’s Undisclosed Financial Conflicts Of Interest And The FPPC

Last fall it was discovered that elected CUSD Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson had an undisclosed financial conflict of interest due to her ownership interest in a vendor to Capistrano Unified School District. She apparently did not disclose this conflict in her required filing with the County known as a Form 700 (Statement of Economic Interest). A citizen made a complaint to the FPPC (the Fair Political Practices Commission) about Ms. Hatton-Hodson’s failure to disclose the obvious conflict.

Normally the filling out and defending of a Form 700 is completely on the shoulders of the person who files it – whether a successful candidate for office like Ms. Hatton-Hudson or the losing candidate who is not elected to office.  In this case the CUSD Board of Trustees had an attorney opine that filling out a Form 700 was an official act of a Trustee and any challenge regarding the form entitles the Trustee to a taxpayer funded defense by attorneys who specialize in this field.

Trustee Hatton-Hodson’s Undisclosed Financial Conflicts of Interest and the FPPC

In September 2016, the Board of Trustees voted 6 to 0 (Ms. Hatton-Hodson did not vote) to retain the law firm of Olson, Hagel & Fishburn, LLP of Sacramento to defend their colleague before the FPPC.  The Board of Trustees authorized the District to spend $15,000.00 of taxpayer money to defend her.

The Olson firm was specifically requested by Ms. Hatton-Hodson in a letter addressed to CUSD’s general counsel Mr. David Huff of the law firm of Orbach, Huff, Saurez & Henderson, LLP. [Hatton-Hodson ltr to Huff].  Interestingly the fee agreement between the Olson firm and the District identified the District as the Client not Ms. Hatton-Hodson. [9-28-16 Professional Services Agreement]. Yet they apparently defended Ms. Hatton-Hodson, not the District, before the FPPC.

Conflict of Interest – What Conflict of Interest!

The California Policy Center, Inc. sent Public Records Act requests to CUSD and the FPPC after the FPPC closed its file in this matter in late February 2017.

Most of the time a contract between a client and an attorney firm is required under Business and Professions Code section 6148.  CUSD disclosed to CPC the agreement between itself and the Olson firm. Again, oddly, this agreement identifies the District not Trustee Hatton-Hodson as the Client of the firm.  The FPPC complaint was the sole scope of work listed for the Olson firm.

In addition, an attorney is not allowed to represent clients with conflicting interests. Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-310.  The attorney may represent two clients where the conflict of interest between them is only a potential one.  But the attorney should obtain a written Waiver of the Potential Conflict of Interest.  Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-310 (c).

A potential conflict of interest is something that is very foreseeable in this situation and where the interests if the District and Ms. Hatton-Hodson could become adverse requiring the attorney to withdraw from the representation at any time.  However when we received the documents from CUSD, while the 9/26/17 Agreement was produced, no signed off letters or notices to either the District or Ms. Hatton-Hodson of the Potential Conflict of Interest for the Olson firm were disclosed.  Thus it appears no written waiver was obtained even though one Trustee apparently understood this and brought it to the attention to the Superintendent. [9-26-16 E-mail].

Public Records Act requests by CPC to CUSD and the FPPC – Surprise: Three Law Firms for One Matter!

When CPC sought records under the Public Records Act the requests included attorney fee invoices related to the FPPC matter from CUSD.  In documents disclosed by CUSD we received invoices from not one but three law firms.  Importantly there was one invoice from the Olson firm dated October 31, 2016 for just over $15,000 – the entire amount authorized by the Board of Trustees just one half of one month earlier. [10-31-16 Olson Invoice].

But there were two other firms sending CUSD invoices for this matter: The Orbach firm apparently to give legal advice that the Board could spend taxpayer funds to defend Trustee Hatton-Hodson and presumably to watch over the Olson firm.  Also billing on this matter was the law firm of Werksman, Jackson, Hathaway & Quinn acting as an expert to the Orbach firm.  The hourly rate for the Werksman firm’s senior partner is $750 per hour!  [Werksman Invoices]. All three law firm’s invoices were heavily redacted (blocked out) so that we could not read what these law firms did for Ms. Hatton-Hodson’s defense.  We asked CUSD to give us un-redacted versions of these invoices and it refused.

In Part Two of Two – More Public Money for Attorneys, And for What?  Plus Serious Questions Remain from this Episode. 

Craig Alexander is an attorney who represents requestors of information under the California Public Records Act. He is also volunteer General Counsel for the California Policy Center, Inc. a policy think tank that advocates for transparency in government. He is a former candidate for CUSD’s Board of Trustees. Craig can be reached at craig@craigalexanderlaw.com.

Posted in Capistrano Unified School District, Orange County District Attorney's Office, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

March 2, 2017 – A Very Important Day for Californians

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 18, 2017

While not getting front page news status – on March 2, 2017 two very important decisions were handed down by the Courts affecting Californian’s right to obtain documents from their government.

Two California courts on a single day broadened the public’s access to government documents via a California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) request.

In one case (City of San Jose v. Superior Court (Smith)), the California Supreme Court unanimously declared on March 2 that public officials’ e-mails and texts are in fact public documents, even when they are sent over personal devices.

In a related case on that same day, a state appeals court in Los Angeles declared that the public is allowed to seek “discovery” in lawsuits filed by requestors of public documents to enforce their rights in Court under the CPRA statute.

Both cases are widely seen as a victory for transparency, and a reaffirmation of the state’s Watergate-era California Public Records Act.

To read the rest of my post on this go to this link: One One Day in Two Decisions…

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Speaking Truth To Power – Teacher Union Power

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 12, 2017

In Sunday’s OC Register  (Unions to Blame) is a powerful opinion piece by Cecilia Iglesias, one of the five Trustees for the Santa Ana Unified School District.  Recently the Board of Trustees voted 4 to 1 (with Trustee Iglesias as the sole dissenting vote) to send layoff notices to 287 teachers.  Why?  As Trustee Iglesias points out, the District has had declining enrollment since 2002 and is continued to have this for years to come.  What did the teachers’ union and their paid for board majority do in response to this situation: raise teacher pay and ignore basic mathematics.  Over the last four years teacher pay in SAUSD has risen over 16% while the projected enrollment figures continued to slide.

Remember – schools receive their money from the state (and the federal) government based on enrollment.  So even using Common Core math could not save the teachers’ union and their paid for Trustees from fiscal reality – they don’t have enough money to pay all of their teachers (and other staff too) at the current levels.  So they voted to lay off 287 teachers (the actual figure may be less come this fall – but still a significant number).  What will happen from this lay off?

First there will be fewer teachers to staff the classrooms.  Result: pack the children into more crowded classrooms putting more pressure and responsibility on those teachers that remain.  So for example a class with 25 students will grow in size to 30 or 35 students with one teacher.  And which teachers will be laid off?  The union contract with the school has a “last in, first out” clause – meaning the younger teachers will lose their jobs while older ones keep theirs.  And there is absolutely no ability for the District, under this contract, to take into account a teacher’s performance (or lack thereof) in choosing which teachers to lay off.

So who wins in this situation?  Obviously union bosses who keep their positions. Older teachers who may be great teachers but there is still no way to judge if all of them are the best performers or not.  The four union elected (paid for) Trustees who owe their seats to unions who underwrote their election efforts.

Do parents and students win – Not by any reasonable measure.  In fact it can be correctly argued that the District and the union are balancing the books on the backs of the children.  The teachers who are laid off?  The only way they “win” in this situation is if they find a job in another District that has Trustees that look out after students and parents more than teacher union bosses.  Only if that District cares more about teacher performance than seniority.  I wish all those teachers who are laid off well and that they find better replacement employment quickly.

How will the parents win in this situation?  Very simple – put better Trustees on the board to join Ms. Iglesias to form a pro-student, parent and teacher majority that returns the focus of the District to the best education possible rather than catering to the desires of union bosses.

Posted in Santa Ana Unified School District, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Pay to Play – Turns Out To Be A Very Good Return On Investment

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on December 7, 2016

A few weeks ago, just prior to the election, I posted about California Policy Center’s study of some local Orange County school bond tax measures and who is financing the yes campaigns (Pay to Play in School Bond Measures in the OC).   Of the 10 school bond tax measures on the ballot in Orange County, 8 passed.  Only 2 failed.  That means the organizations (architectural, engineering and construction firms that build projects for the Districts) and the attorneys who support those efforts will be awash in bond tax money as they get contracts from these local districts.

But Orange County is not unique in voters giving mismanaged school boards bail outs in the form of bond tax measures. Californian’s have just voted overwhelmingly to place themselves, their children and grandchildren in debt for many years to come.  The amount: approximately $5 Billion additional taxes per year.  All. Voter. Approved.

In California Policy Center’s Union Watch web site’s latest article Californians Approve $5.0 Billion per Year in New Taxes, Ed Ring notes that:

“With only a couple of measures still too close to call (TCTC), as can be seen, 94% of the 193 proposed local bonds passed, and 71% of the proposed local taxes passed. Two years ago, 81% of the local bond proposals passed, and 68% of the local tax proposals passed.”

I am sure on election day in the offices of these yes on bond tax measure supporters (as well as on Wall Street for bond issuers) the champaign bottles were being uncorked to celebrate the passage of billions of dollars in bond tax measures.  They will reap the benefits in the form of millions of dollars of contracts from their small $1,000 and $1o,000 yes campaign investments for many years to come – all at the expense of the citizens who will be paying these bond taxes for 30 or 40 years to come.

Mr. Ring goes on to note that this is a house of cards and financial reality will set in when market corrections eventually occur.

“Despite the increase in consumer confidence since the surprising victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election, the stock and asset bubble that has been engineered through thirty years of expanding credit and lowering rates of interest is going to pop.”

When that happens who will be left holding the bag of debt?  Naturally the taxpayers who must foot the bill for this debt spending spree.  The school board politicians who passed these taxes?  Since they will have moved on by that time, probably not.  The bond issuers / holders?  Only if the school board is not able to pay its debts and files Chapter 9 bankruptcy – that is what happened to most of the bond issuers / holders in the City of Stockton bankruptcy.  They received much less than 100 cents on the dollar owed them. I have no sympathy for them.

But the entities that financed the yes campaigns – the architects, engineers and attorneys who made huge profits from these projects?  Nope – they will be happily counting their profits from their multimillion dollar contracts for these projects.  All from their small yes campaign investments.

Not a bad return on your investment!

I commend this article to you and suggest you subscribe to Union Watch’s e-mail list.

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Pay to Play In School Bond Measures in the OC

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on November 2, 2016

Ever wonder who finances the campaigns to pass school bond measures in Orange County? A study performed by the California Policy Center of five school districts has shown that many of the same attorneys, construction contractors and design firms have contributed to the campaigns to pass these measures.  In Construction Firms Fund Orange County School Bond Campaigns CPC reviewed the funders of school districts in Anaheim, Orange, Ocean View, Brea and Fountain Valley school districts.  Of course this pay to play campaign contributions is not confined to these five districts.  In Capistrano Unified School District’s Measure M (the Billion Dollar Bond Tax), many of the same players have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the yes on M campaign.  Who is heading up the Yes campaign?  CUSD Trustee Gary Pritchard.

As the report found (partial quote):

“Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Rudd & Romo (AALRR) is a law firm with eight offices across California. AALRR has donated $2000 to Anaheim Elementary School District’s bond measure, $12,000 to Orange Unified School District and $1000 to Fountain Valley School District. AALRR claims to represent nearly half the school districts in California and has previously represented both districts.

Bernards Builders Management Services is a general contractor located in San Fernando. Bernards has donated $2000 to Anaheim Elementary’s bond measure and $5000 to Brea-Olinda Unified School District’s measure. Bernards has worked with Brea-Olinda before on the Brea-Olinda High School and Olinda Elementary School. The subcontracted architecture firm for the Brea projects, LPA, has donated $10,000 this election cycle to Orange’s bond measure.”

These attorneys, contractors and others stand to make millions of taxpayer funded bond tax money if these measures pass.  The same is true of Proposition 51 – the $9 Billion school facilities bond tax before the voters next week.  The report notes:

“The California Building Industry Association has donated over $1,500,000 to Proposition 51, a statewide measure that would allow the state of California to issue $9 million in bonds for the State School Facilities Fund. The builders are the second-largest contributor in support of the proposition.”

 There are ten school bond measures on the November 8th ballot in Orange County alone.  If only a few pass, these firms stand to make millions on contracts to build these projects.  Not a bad return on their campaign contribution investments – at taxpayers’ expense.

Posted in Anaheim City School District, Anaheim Union High School District, Brea Olinda Unified School District, Capistrano Unified School District, Fountain Valley School District, Ocean View School District, Orange Unified School District, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Free Voter Guides Available at Robynnordell.com

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on October 21, 2016

Are you looking for voter recommendations from people that do not get paid from politics (i.e. consultants and slate cards)?

Are you looking for voter recommendations from people that do not accept money to give a proposition, a ballot measure or a candidate the thumbs up (or down)?

Are you looking for advice on national, state wide and local races that include all of the state wide and local ballot propositions / measures?

Then you should go over to Robyn Nordell’s web site for Voter Recommendations from Robyn and some of her friends like myself.

Her general web site is: Robyn Nordell.

Her Orange County page is: Robyn Nordell Orange County.

Finally my favorite page at her site is Craig’s Pics my voter recommendations which Robyn kindly allows to be published there.

She also has information on some other counties in California.

Who is Robyn Nordell?  She is an Orange County homeschool mother and advocate, a pastor’s wife, a tireless advocate for open and transparent government, a social and fiscal conservative and one of the most talented, honest, brightest and kind persons I know.  Robyn does not get paid one penny for her work in researching candidates and ballot propositions / measures, putting together her voter recommendations and publishing them on her web site.  Plus she is gracious to publish others voter recommendation lists (like my own) even when we make recommendations different from her own. She is a Patriot!

Posted in 38th Congressional District, 39th Congressional District, 45th Congressional District, 46th Congressional District, 47th Congressional District, 48th Congressional District, 49th Congressional District, 55th Assembly District, 65th Assembly District, 68th Assembly District, 69th Assembly District, 72nd Assembly District, 73rd Assembly District, 74th Assembly District, Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Anaheim City School District, Anaheim Union High School District, Board of Equalization, Brea, Brea Olinda Unified School District, Buena Park, Buena Park Library District, Buena Park School District, California, Capistrano Bay Community Services District, Capistrano Unified School District, Centralia School District, Coast Community College District, Costa Mesa, Costa Mesa Sanitary District, Cypress, Cypress School District, Dana Point, East Orange County Water District, El Toro Water District, Emerald Bay Service District, Fountain Valley, Fountain Valley School District, Fullerton, Fullerton Joint Union High School District, Fullerton School District, Garden Grove, Garden Grove Unified School District, Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach City School District, Huntington Beach Union High School District, Irvine, Irvine Ranch Water District, Irvine Unified School District, La Habra, La Habra City School District, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Unified School District, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Los Alamitos Unified School District, Lowell Joint School District, Magnolia School District, Mesa Consolidated Water District, Midway City Sanitary District, Mission Viejo, Moulton-Niguel Water District, Municipal Water District of Orange County, Newport Beach, Newport-Mesa Unified School District, North Orange County Community College District, Ocean View School District, Orange, Orange County, Orange County Cemetery District, Orange County Sanitation District, Orange County Water District, Orange Unified School District, Placentia, Placentia Library District, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, Rancho Santa Margarita, Rancho Santiago Community College District, Rossmoor, Rossmoor Community Services District, Rossmoor/Los Alamitos Area Sewer District, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Santa Ana Unified School District, Santa Margarita Water District, Savanna School District, Seal Beach, Serrano Water District, Silverado-Modjeska Recreation and Park District, South Coast Water District, South Orange County Community College District, Stanton, State Assembly, State Senate, Sunset Beach Sanitary District, Surfside Colony Community Services District, Surfside Colony Storm Water Protection District, Three Arch Bay Community Services District, Trabuco Canyon Water District, Tustin, Tustin Unified School District, Uncategorized, Villa Park, Westminster, Westminster School District, Yorba Linda, Yorba Linda Water District | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »