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Contractors contribute $75,000 to bond measure campaign for community college district

Original post made on Oct 18, 2011

UPDATE: The campaign for Measure H, a $564 million bond measure on the Nov. 8 ballot for the San Mateo County Community College District, received contributions totaling $251,641, including $75,000 from two construction companies that have done $134 million in work for the district, according to a campaign finance report.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 9:45 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Corruption, handouts, and self-dealings - par for the course in American government circa 2011.


Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Public construction projects are awarded via a very highly regulated bid process. While both of these construction firms will, no doubt, bid on projects, there is not guarantee that they will we awarded those projects as they will be in competition with other contractors.

Perhaps, as the article quotations suggest, they are trying to create opportunities to bid. That is not the same as "corruption", that is acting in their own self-interest.

I am voting 'yes' on Measure H because I think that having quality educational facilities in my county is in my self-interest. Is that corrupt?


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Taxpayer--very well said, and ditto here. J.E.D. -just because its the other side of an issue doesn't equate to it being corrupt for supporters to contribute time, money or energy to support the issue. Its called democracy!


Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Corruption, as Jefferson defined it, meant voting or acting in your self interest regardless of what was best for the nation or group as a whole.

If you think that borrowing half a billion dollars for infrastructure improvements to community colleges makes sense and is the best use of that money, you are obviously on a different wavelength than I am.


Posted by smart voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Everything I've read about this measure sounds like corruption. This is a trend that's happening throughout the state -- educational institutions ask for more tax dollars, assuming the voters will approve, because voting against schools is tantamount to being un-American! But you don't have to dig very far to find out who the beneficiaries will be: construction firms, and only tangentially students and teachers.

People are catching on. We have smart voters here, and I hope they will take the time to educate themselves on this measure and realize it has almost no merit.


Posted by new guy, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 19, 2011 at 7:06 am

There is no oversight. Please vote no. What is the money going to be used for this time? Last time it was a private gym.

Remember measure A:

Despite a state law requiring bond money to be spent only on voter-approved construction projects, a grand jury has found that the San Mateo County Community College District did not abuse public funds when it surprised voters last year with a members-only fitness club at the College of San Mateo.

By law, bond money may be spent only on projects listed in a ballot measure. But no fitness club was listed on Measure A, the college district's $468 million bond approved by voters in 2005, the grand jury acknowledged.


Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2011 at 11:15 am

New Guy:

You are incorrect - there is substantial oversight. I think if you dig a little deeper, you will find that a gymnasium is not the only project and that the gym was not found to be a violation of the bond provisions (and was intended to provide a service to students AND raise revenue for the District.)

Please dig deeper, learn more about the process and take a less superficial look.

Students and teachers do not "only tangentially" benefit from construction projects. I have a student at Canada and they are benefitting from safer, more modernized and efficient facilities.

And, yes, of course contractors, engineers, construction workers gain jobs from these projects. They get those jobs doing seismic retrofits of bridges. Some folks seems to consider all public works projects to be "boondoggles." If those folks had their way, we'd never build anything.

Others, fortunately, feel differently. Yes of Measure H.


Posted by Shawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I Have a hunch this money was spent with the hopes of cashing in on the jobs this measure will create and not because they have a true interest in public improvements for the community. this is a real insult to the voters, maybe they could give us all Tee shirts with their company Logo. Wow! The Vultures are circling.


Posted by Garden volunteer, a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I take classes at the College of San Mateo and see, first-hand, how many buildings have been torn down and continue to be torn down rather than "modernized" as the ballot measure suggests.

The Horticulture classrooms, greenhouses and gardens are next up to be razed to make space for a staff/visitor/client parking lot.

The Bond Oversight Committee, per a Grand Jury investigation of the College District, clearly says the committee has no oversight, at least not in the way the general public understands.

Please visit Web Link for information on campaign contributions, the Bond Oversight Committee, and why so many students, faculty and community members feel they can no longer trust the SMCCD Board of Trustees and are voting NO on Measure H.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:05 am

SMCCCD spokesperson, Barbara Christiansen, said: "The cost of the athletic facilities worked out to $24.5 million and came not from bond funds but from the coffers of redevelopment districts that the colleges serve, Ms. Christiansen said in a telephone interview." Do we need more reasons to support Governor Brown's efforts to shut down Redevelopment Agencies? The Grand jury should take a close look at this.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:13 am

Voter's should reject Measure H, a $564 Million Bond for the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD ). When added to past Bond Measures of $675 Million, the total not including interest would exceed $1.2 Billion! The owner of a $500,000 property would pay more than $6,000 to service this debt over it's lifetime.
SMCCCD can't find money to give "students the classes they need." Yet they found money to build (in their words) first class faculty housing ... with stunning views ... and rents at half the market average. One cluster of housing was built on Canada College property, formerly the home of a Checkerspot Butterfly colony. See: Web Link The new faculty housing is also tax exempt, meaning they won't pay their new tax on us!
The District should sell the faculty housing and get out of the real-estate business. If they want to subsidize staff housing it should show in their budget as part of the compensation package. They should also sell their property in Half Moon Bay.
The District has used past Bond money to create a luxurious private athletic club which competes with taxpaying health clubs. And, don't think that salaries won't go up. New money for buildings frees up old money for salary increases.


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:27 am

The next campaign statement isn't due until October 27. The San Mateo Community College Foundation headed by Stephanie Scott(on the District payroll at $148,000/yr.), plunked down $64,260 to support Measure G, the parcel tax. See: Web Link
They have contributed $40,000 for past Bond campaigns. Will they do it again? Does anyone know if they have already done so?


Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 20, 2011 at 10:19 am

It is outrageous that the text of the measure on the ballot does not state the taxes that are increased to fund the measure. The text lists a number of benefits but it doesn't say what the cost is - namely $130 per year for a million dollar property,

I simply cannot believe that this text summary for the ballot was approved.


> Measure H: "To prepare College of San Mateo, Caņada College and Skyline College students for universities and high-demand jobs; modernize math and science classrooms and labs; upgrade classroom technology, computer and job training labs; increase earthquake, fire and accessibility safety; and replace aging systems with energy efficient models, shall San Mateo County Community College District issue $564,000,000 in bonds at interest rates within legal limits, with annual independent audits, local control over proceeds and a Citizens' Committee providing oversight?"


Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm

My current tax bill for the existing SMCCCD Bonds (total $675 Million) shows a rate of .0199% which is $199/year for a million dollar property. If the proposed Bond produces an equivalent tax rate, it would add $166.28/year to a million dollar property, making the tax $365.28/year.
Over 30 years that would be $10,958.27.

Those who wish to contribute, should consider cutting a check to the Foundation. I received the following in response to an inquiry:

"The Foundation has not contributed to Measure H."

Stephani F. Scott, Executive Director


Posted by Oh Boy!, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Nothing like a bond measure to bring out the wild-eyed libertarians. Shouldn't you guys be working on Ron Paul's campaign, though?


Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

Sometimes it costs more to modernize a building than replace it. Again, please educate yourselves. Since many of these buildings were built, building codes have changed substantially, and the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed - so any building that is going to be modernized also has to be brought up to code regarding ADA access, life safety and seismic.

And a bond measure oversight committee is not the same as the board. This is a common misconception. Their job is to review the expenditures and determine if the funds were spent in accordance with the measure. They are not a "building committee" - they don't decide how to spend the funds - that's the board's job.

I have to say that "Oh Boy!" does have a point. I recently read the sign at the SF end of the Golden Gate Bridge, describing the history of getting that bridge built. There were folks who were against the project, and felt it was a boondoggle. Try to imagine the Bay Area today without the Golden Gate Bridge! If it was up to the Libertarians, we wouldn't build or fix anything.

I'm voting 'yes' on Measure H. Thank you Jack Hickey and Michael Stogner for reminding why.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Oct 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Taxpayer,

You sound much more like a consultant than a taxpayer, either way....

You're welcome

PS what authority does the oversight committee have?


Posted by garden volunteer, a resident of another community
on Oct 24, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I just got a big flier in the mail with a picture of the Science Building at the College of San Mateo. They didn't show the west side of the building where scaffolds have been erected. This brand new building by McCarthy has been leaking since it was built. And McCarthy is a big financial supporter of this bond measure.


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