The public school children of Los Angeles just took another one in the chops from the big guys. Will the Mayor and his bunch of school yard bullies, LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia, trusty sidekick Yolie Flores Augilar along with Superintendent Ray Cortines ever stop picking on the little kids? Guess it’s just too easy and too profitable.

When the Mayor’s majority bought and paid for LAUSD Board voted to lease out those brand new schools to Antonio’s pet CHARTER Schools, they robbed our public school kids. A nod to  Board member Marguerite LaMotte for voting no on to Chef Antonio’s little Bond $ spiced stew.

How’s that, you may say. We love CHARTER schools and we can’t get enough of them. Love who you want, but voters voted those billions in bond dollars to take our kids out of over crowded and run down campuses, not to rent them out, no matter how much people may love CHARTER schools. I say fine, love CHARTER schools, send your kids to them, have wet dreams about them, just don’t kick our public school kids to the curb. Move the deserving public school kids and teachers to the new facilities and rent out the old ones to the CHARTERS. CHARTERS are always saying they can do a great job in almost any facility

When bonds are put on the ballot they have some very specific language in them, to say nothing of the promises made to get voters to vote for them. If these campuses are rented out without giving the public school kids first shot at them, LAUSD will be on shaky legal ground. Of course that’s a favorite place for Mayor Antonio and his cronies.

Why, we have to ask ourselves, would they want to rent these new schools out? Well it goes like this. LAUSD used to be very overcrowded with students, and new kids were pouring in every day. LAUSD began putting bonds on the ballot for the voters to approve so they could build more schools. As the District built and built they discovered they liked this building stuff. There seemed to be no end to the bond money voters would approve and there was no end to the contracts the LAUSD brass could pass out to their pals. Everyone seemed pretty happy.

Then some odd things happened. That flow of new students slowed down, then it began to go the other way and there were fewer and fewer students. There were not enough students to fill the new schools. Worse, the economy kept getting worse and there was less and less money to operate the schools.

Of course there were still hundreds of millions left in all those building bonds. Now, no self respecting bureaucrat or politico lets a taxpayer dollar that can be funneled to a crony go unspent, so the building just kept going. It’s illegal - and worse, easy to get caught - to spend building bond money on any operating expenses, yet that is just the money that LAUSD is starving for.

A brilliant (well it looks like that to the people who came up with it) - if questionably legal - strategy is hatched at the Mayor’s little chicken coop. They will build these schools and rent them out. They will use the income for all sorts of expenses the bond funds can’t be used for. Not only that, they can give their favorite tenants sweetheart rents and still have money to play with. It’s a form of political bureaucratic money laundering - a bad brew by any measure. Problem is, it may not be legal.

Now I leave it to all the lawyers and judges and wheeler dealers to sort this out, and believe me, there will be money made in that sorting machine. I just say, give the public school kids a fair shake, give them those new schools that were built for them. If they want bathrooms that work, let them attend the CHARTERS and eat some of that cake, you say. Well that would be okay, but a lot of CHARTERS pick and choose, they only take the kids that will make them look good and not be much trouble. If a kid doesn’t live up to expectations, in many cases, they’re not kept around to drag down test scores - they are sent back to our public schools.

Is this starting to sound like creating school ghettos? Kids who are not seen as a premium to CHARTERS kept in old run down schools? What great leadership on education from our EDUCATION MAYOR. The LA Times thinks so. They ran an editorial praising the Downtown Prince for finally stepping up and taking leadership in his job. Problem is, schools are not really his job. He mostly avoids doing his job in favor of photo ops - see the LA weekly story

“The All About Me Mayor”, but he can’t seem to stay out of those juicy school bond funds.

That takes us over to the very troubled L.A. Community College District. They are low on operating funds and rolling in building bond dough as well. Mayor Antonio is central to a brewing LACCD scandal over the Van de Kamps Northeast Campus.

Starting back in 1999 the historic bakery building was saved by a local group, the Coalition to Save Van de Kamps and then Senator Richard Polanco. Polanco went on to secure seed money to help buy the site for a Los Angeles City College Satellite Campus. Eight years, vicious internal politics and five presidents later LACC handed the campus and it’s close to completed buildings off to the Los Angeles Community College District, saying they did not have funds to open a satellite campus.

The exact machinations of the hand off, the conflicting reports on why and how it happened are swirling around a building scandal. The Community group is pressing forward, now called the Van de Kamps Coalition they are pushing a foot dragging LACCD on fulfilling a California Public Records Act to find out the particulars of the deal and protesting the hand off and now renting out of the facility, (Disclosure here, I am a very active part of that Coalition - wouldn’t you just know it).

The same legal questions arise about the use of bond money. Those bonds were passed for a Community College facility, the language is very specific. It doesn’t say they can be come a “tenant based facility” (LACCD’s own language) anywhere in them. In fact LACCD is actively submitting plans for changes to the buildings to suit tenants. Bond money for tenant’s requirements. That is getting pretty nervy. But I digress.

One guess as to who is central to all this renting out - yep - it’s our special guy - Mayor Antonio again. The tenants for the building are a collection of his pet projects. the first tenant to take occupancy in a dangerously unfinished site is ... an Antonio supported CHARTER school. LACCD has calculated the numbers and figures to take in $100,000. plus in rental profits. According to their own documents they plan to use this money for the District. Get that, not for students, but for the District, which is a purely administrative unit. Bond funds going for District expenses of any kind is expressly forbidden by the bond language.

So here we have it again, bureaucratic money laundering.  Bond funds build buildings for schools which, under questionable legal maneuvers, are turned into rentals which generate  income for operations, salaries and bureaucrats, all of which is forbidden by the bonds. The Downtown Prince rides high again., but for how long?

Mayor Antonio, +LAUSD Board + Cortines = School Yard Bullies Picking On Our Public School and Community College Students with Bonds for Profit Hijinks.
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