Taxpayers Association President Lani Lutar blasted a move to restrict the role of the oversight committee on Proposition S, the $2.1 billion facilities bond for San Diego Unified schools, to a “rear view mirror” role, as advised by San Diego Unified attorney Mark Bresee, in an e-mail to the school board and Superintendent Terry Grier.

The debate centers on whether the oversight committee, which is required by state law, is limited to reviewing bond spending after it happens or can evaluate plans before they are unrolled. It has grown especially pressing as the committee weighs the controversial question of whether the school district should adopt a project labor agreement on its bond work, a question that Bresee argued was outside of its purview. Committee members have objected to that idea.

Lutar wrote that San Diego Unified was trying to “skirt the clear purpose of the oversight committee to serve as an independent body providing oversight of taxpayers’ dollars.” Bresee “could not be more incorrect,” she wrote. She also argued that it blatantly ignored the commitments that San Diego Unified made to snag the Taxpayers’ Association endorsement for Proposition S — a commitment that the Association originally looked unlikely to make.

“The imposition of a [labor agreement] on Prop. S funded projects was never contemplated in the drafting, campaign, or endorsement of Proposition S; changing the Prop. S expenditure plans at this time clearly should be considered by the Oversight Committee unless your Board wants to breach the conditions of our endorsement,” Lutar wrote, adding. “Ignoring these conditions now would constitute a ‘bait and switch’ breach of faith with voters who supported Prop. S.”

I missed a call earlier today from Stuart Markey, the Proposition S czar for San Diego Unified, while chasing down a story on deadline, but as soon as we connect, I’ll post an update.

Markey sent me an e-mail that compares the role of the oversight committee for the last bond and the oversight committee for this one. The last bond was passed before Proposition 39, which set new rules for school districts that want to pass facilities bonds with a lower voting threshold than in the past. The e-mail stated that the oversight committee for the last bond was supposed “to review scheduling, budgeting, and planning of projects to be funded by the bond measure before bond funds are committed.” No such duty is listed for the new committee.


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