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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Cunningham’

OUSD School Bond Measure S Supporters Pulling Down Signs & Spending Taxpayer Dollars

Posted by Chris Nguyen on November 3, 2016

Cross-posted to OC Daily.

After three failed attempts to pass a school bond in the last 13 years, supporters of a school bond in the Orange Unified School District have taken some rather creative steps to try to pass Measure S, a property tax increase $288,000,000 bond for four schools.

In their campaign to raise property taxes, Yes on S supporters apparently have no problem abusing tax dollars, disregarding private property rights, and disrespecting the First Amendment right to free speech of the opponents.

As Matt Cunningham reported yesterday on OC Daily, the Anaheim Union High School District appears to have used public resources for political activity, namely the campaign of Jose Moreno for Anaheim City Council.  The Orange Unified School District has more aggressively used public resources to promote Measure S.

Taxpayer-Funded Measure S Mailer

Spending $22,949.45 of taxpayer money under the guise of an informational flyer, OUSD mailed 77,000 copies of a mailer entitled, “Measure S Would Provide The Funding Needed To Repair & Upgrade Our Classrooms” that featured photos of smiling teenagers.  A true informational flyer would simply have been a plain text, black and white sheet of paper, not a colorful mailer reminiscent of campaign mailers.  Here is the mailer:

OUSD Measure S Mailer, September 10 OUSD Measure S Mailer, September 10
Click on the images above for the PDF of the mailer.

Under the “Important Information About Measure S” heading, OUSD notes that Measure S is a $288,000 bond (rather than the actual amount of $288,000,000).  When asked whether this was an attempt to mislead the voters or just incompetence while spending taxpayer dollars, the district went with the latter.

Click here to view the $22,949.45 OUSD purchase order and the invoice from Marketink in Los Angeles County.  Ironically, OUSD couldn’t find a printer in Orange County despite the Measure S campaign touting that the funds would remain local.  The invoice also shows the district paid 9% sales tax.  Had they used an Orange County printer, sales tax would have only been 8%, with 0.5% of the 8% going to Orange County’s Measure M2 transportation projects.

OC Daily’s Matt Cunningham previously reported about this mailer here

Yes on Measure S Display at Nohl Canyon Elementary School

Yes on Measure S Display at Nohl Canyon Elementary School

Yes on Measure S Tables on School Campuses

In a further use of public resources, pro-Measure S tables have been erected on school campuses.

The photo at right was taken in the Learning Center at Nohl Canyon Elementary School in Anaheim Hills during the school’s book fair.

A similar table was reportedly at Villa Park High School during Back-to-School Night, where people were jumping around in “Yes on S” T-Shirts and handing out stickers, signs, and other collateral.  They were also trying to coerce parents to “sign up” for the “Yes on S” campaign.

Apparently, the Measure S proponents are unfamiliar with the separation of taxpayer resources and political campaigns.

Sign Theft & Banner Destruction

If the use of taxpayer resources was not enough, the Yes on S side is disregarding property rights and actively censoring the No on S side.  Apparently, the Yes on S side didn’t pay attention to their American Government classes during the discussion on the First and Fifth Amendments.

Here’s a video of a “No on S” sign being pulled out of a front yard on East Cumberland Road in Orange. The video was taken from the surveillance camera of the homeowner whose sign was taken.  The individual taking the sign appears to be a government employee though the video is too far away to determine which jurisdiction the sign-taker works for.

Here are some photos of someone else stealing “No on S” signs from a business in Orange on Chapman Avenue.  Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger version of the photo.

Here’s a photo of a “No on S” banner that got slashed.  Apparently, civility is no longer taught in schools.  Click on the photo below to see a larger version of it.No on Measure S Banner Slashed

Polling Data Used for Bond Measure Placement

ONN Founders Jim Bearns and Joe MelloThe Greater Orange News Service reported that the OUSD Board used polling data to have one bond taxing the whole district for four schools rather than two bonds, each taxing half the district for two schools.

As an aside: the pro-union, often-innuendo-laden Greater Orange News Service is an anonymous blog covering OUSD that was founded by Yorba Academy of the Arts Middle School Teacher Joe Mello (who sits on the board of the Orange Unified Education Association, the OUSD teacher’s union) and Los Alamitos Unified School District Teacher Jim Bearns.  Mello and Bearns are pro-bond, but as residents of Long Beach, they won’t have to pay for the property tax increase imposed by Measure S.

Pay to Play In School Bond Measures in the OC

For those of you who missed Craig Alexander’s post on OC Political yesterday, Craig reported about a California Policy Center study that found:

  • Law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Rudd & Romo donated $12,000 to Yes on Measure S (the law firm’s web site highlights legal services regarding school facilities construction)
  • Architecture firm LPA donated $10,000 to Yes on Measure S

As of the September 29 campaign finance report, the Yes on S campaign had raised $151,525, with 90% coming from its 15 largest donors, led by:

  • Orange Unified Education Association (Union) $25,885
  • HED (Architects) $20,000
  • Balfour Beatty Construction $20,000
  • Ameresco (Solar Energy) $15,000
  • Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (Attorneys) $12,000
  • LPA (Architects) $10,000
  • Parker & Covert (Attorneys) $10,000

The remaining 10% included no fewer than 45 employees of the school district.

They’ve raised thousands of dollars since that campaign finance report, but OC Political/OC Daily has not yet examined their October campaign finance reports.

A decidedly grassroots effort, the No on S side raised a tiny fraction of that.  However, the grassroots defeated three well-funded bond measure efforts in the last 13 years.

Posted in Orange Unified School District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

OCTA Board Members Discuss State Lobbyist Contract

Posted by OC Insider on March 4, 2014

Yesterday, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Executive Committee discussed the state lobbying contract that the agency has with Sloat, Higgins Jensen and Associates (SHJA) because of recent FPPC violations by the firm.

If you are unfamiliar with the FPPC violations against Kevin Sloat, who is the principal at SHJA, this article will help fill you in. Sloat was fined a record $133,500 by the FPPC for hosting numerous political fundraisers that counted as “prohibited campaign contributions, and arranging and giving gifts to California lawmakers.” Some of the lawmakers warned by the FPPC for holding events at Sloat’s house include Governor Jerry Brown, Senator Lou Correa (SD-34), Senator Bob Huff (SD-29), and former Assemblyman and current SD-34 candidate Jose Solorio.

OCTA has contracted with SHJA since 2002 for state lobbying and consulting services. Unlike the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ lobbying contracts, this particular contract was approved by the full OCTA board and extended on multiple occasions by the full Board. According to the staff report, SHJA’s services to OCTA include “representation with the Legislature, Governor’s Office, various state departments, agencies, boards, committees, commissions, and staff; advising on state legislation, proposed regulations, and state budget proposals which could have an impact on OCTA; assisting with the preparation of and advocating for OCTA’s legislative program; reporting on state transportation and related developments of importance to OCTA; and updating the Board as specified. SHJA also provides a monthly verbal update on its Sacramento advocacy to the Legislative and Communications Committee.” OCTA’s contract with SHJA lists Kevin Sloat as the contract manager, with several lobbyists that work for SHJA as the legislative advocates.

During their presentation, OCTA staff made it clear that there were many initiatives OCTA was trying to accomplish, and that an interruption in service, i.e. a new lobbyist, may disrupt those initiatives. The staff recommendation was to issue an RFP for the state lobbying services, with a new condition that any FPPC issues be disclosed in the proposals.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer, referencing his time in the state legislature, stated that Sloat is well-respected in the capitol but that this was not a one-time violation.  Spitzer noted that it was likely that SHJA would lose credibility as a result of this finding, and that it could have a negative impact on OCTA.

Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway, who is also the OCTA Vice-Chairman, noted that the situation is similar to the recent one involving Matt Cunningham. Cunningham held two contracts with OCTA, which were suspended after some poorly thought out photos of a teddy bear were published on the Anaheim Blog page that received national coverage. Lalloway attempted to connect the Sloat and Cunningham incident, and thought if one deserved to be suspended (Cunningham), that the other (Sloat) should be suspended as well to preserve the integrity of the agency.

Michael Hennessey, who serves as a public member on the Board, stated that the comparing the Cunningham and Sloat situations was “weighing morality against need.” He stated that “if Cunningham is bigoted toward Latinos, he’s the strangest bigot I’ve met since he is married to a Latina, his children are half Latina, and if you go to a Christmas party at his house, it is largely Latinos.” He went on to note that if Cunningham’s services were absolutely critical (like OCTA staff was attempting to convey with Sloat), his contracts would have not have been suspended as quickly, and the matter would have been brought to the Board, similar to the current situation with Sloat.

After some other comments by the committee members, Supervisor Spitzer motioned to remove Kevin Sloat’s name from the contract entirely, and replace it with OCTA’s primary legislative advocate Moira Topp as the contract manager. Topp is still an employee of SHJA, but the committee felt that the perception of corruption lays with Sloat as opposed to the rest of the firm. Additionally, the motion included a provision that Sloat could not do any kind of advocacy on behalf of OCTA at any level. Finally, the motion called for an expedited RFP for the lobbying services, to be brought to the Board in April. The motion eventually passed with Lalloway voting no. The full OCTA Board will vote on this issue next Monday, March 10th.

Posted in Orange County Transportation Authority | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Still Waiting For An Answer, Cynthia

Posted by OC Insider on September 25, 2012

Catch this exchange between Anaheim blogger Cynthia Ward and former RedCounty blogger Matt Cunningham, who has an issue with ballot-box policymaking like an initiative in Anaheim Ward supports. True to form, Ward turns it into a personality conflict and accuses everyone of having ulterior motives.

Speaking of ulterior, Cynthia is still staying mum on who is paying her legal fees on her failed attempt to have “Chavez” struck from Anaheim Council candidate Steve Chavez Lodge’s ballot name.  Strange silence from someone who describes her self this way:

“I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources.”

Ward, as a director of the OC Cemetery District, is a “steward of public resources.” She votes to approve or disapprove budgets, contracts, etc. Gifts are reportable. She still needs to clear  up this question mark hovering over her about whether she has violated TIN CUP.

Posted in Anaheim | Tagged: , , , | 14 Comments »

Red County Appears To Be Going Away

Posted by Former Blogger Chris Emami on August 3, 2012

The rumor that I have just been made aware of is that today i the last day that Red County (Orange County) will be up online. One of the reasons that we started this blog was because we believe that they lost sight over there as to what it meant to be a local blog. As many of you know I got my first real start in blogging at Red County and it is actually really sad to see it go away.

I am actually sort of sad to see it go because it used to be a really good blog back in the days when Matt Cunningham, Chip Hanlon, etc… were running the show over there. Once they started censoring posts that writers were trying to put up and also leaving a 3 day delay between when posts were submitted and posted I realized that things were just not the same.

As we approach 100,000 hits here at OC Political we (Erik Brown, Chris Nguyen, and myself) want to thank the readership and hopefully welcome in some new readership from those that used to read Red County.

Posted in Orange County | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »