When it comes to bond money expenditures, GUSD is arrogantly hoodwinking the public and refusing to be accountable

DEAR EDITOR:
Lori Stuenkel’s article

Grand Jury: GUSD did not break the law with bonds

April 14) pointed out

State law requires that the committee follow certain procedures
to keep issues transparent and the public informed.

DEAR EDITOR:

Lori Stuenkel’s article “Grand Jury: GUSD did not break the law with bonds” April 14) pointed out “State law requires that the committee follow certain procedures to keep issues transparent and the public informed.”

The public being informed – only as it suits Measure I’s Citizens’ Oversight Committee (COC) and Gilroy Unified School District “leadership”! Perhaps it’s time the public is given open and honest answers to those specific questions:

1) This COC was supposedly formed under state law to oversee the expenditure of Measure I funds. But, says Stephen L. Brinkman, GUSD Assistant Superintendent Administrative Services, “We (GUSD) now have 13 active projects the Citizens Oversight Committee oversees. These involve approximately $170 million in projected expenses.” Measure I was a $69 million bond issue. Why is its COC overseeing $101 million in other school expenditures?

2) For the public to know if/how/where/when/why and to whom Measure I funds are being spent, it requires a detailed financial tabulation of those expenditures – listing each project as assigned, to whom it was assigned, that firm’s location, beginning and completion dates, the amount paid, and the diminishing cash balance. This is not being done. Says Mr. Brinkman, “Because of this scope ($170 million oversight) and the incredible number of transactions it is not practicable to provide a detail of each expenditure …”

That’s nonsense!

With the required GUSD Web site in operation, and with the Measure I COC overseeing only Measure I funds, establishing/maintaining a running transaction record of Measure I funds is easily accomplished. Why then does GUSD refuse to provide this information?

3) Perhaps what Brinkman, GUSD and the COC don’t want the public to know is where, geographically, Measure I money is being spent. Remember, a major Measure I selling point: “All Measure I money will remain in Gilroy.” That statement wasn’t true during the campaign and isn’t true today. Brinkman says: “… It was always impossible to guarantee that all Measure I money will remain in Gilroy. I doubt that commitment was made by the district because on the surface it is not possible.”

If the district “made no commitment” on the subject, why did it say nothing against that falsehood? Is this why spending of Measure I funds, if ever mentioned, are given without those specifics listed above?

4) The COC members were selected by GUSD “leadership”. Who are these people? In varied California school districts with COCs, Web sites list member names, e-mail addresses and photographs. Not Measure I’s COC. Why? Why not a Web page highlighting each member, their photograph, address/phone number, e-mail and perhaps a short message indicating their qualification to be on the COC?

5) Minutes of the March 17, 2004, meeting of the COC states: “(Member) Mr. (Gary) Sanchez noted that the committee’s responsibility is to the Board of Education and not to the public.” That is in direct conflict with the state-mandated rules for COCs. For what reason, then, does Mr. Sanchez promote such an erroneous and arrogant contempt for the public?

This COC, in refusing to provide ALL specifics of Measure I spending, reflects this indifference to the public. Its generalized information assures no Gilroy citizen saddled with Measure I’s tax burden will truly know where and how their tax dollars are being used – or abused!

James Brescoll, Gilroy

Submitted Friday, May 14

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