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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 14, 1994
Once again the Legislature failed its responsibility by adjourning without passage of a school bond measure for the November ballot (Sept. 1). With the failure of Proposition 1B on the June ballot, this means that funding of desperately needed new schools and modernization of old ones will not be available for at least two years. Apparently a small contingent in the Assembly held school bonds hostage for a new prison bond measure. This is Draconian politics to hold the state's schoolchildren hostage.
ARTICLES BY DATE
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 14, 2014 | By Stephen Ceasar
A new bill introduced Friday would prohibit California school districts from using voter-approved construction bonds for non-facility related items  -- a move spurred by the Los Angeles Unified School District's $1-billion plan to purchase iPads for every student, teacher and administrator. L.A. Unified's iPad project, launched last year, is funded with one-time, school construction bonds paid back over about 25 years.  The plan, which includes network upgrades at schools, is expected to consume all the technology funds available though the bonds.
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NEWS
October 2, 2013 | By Karin Klein
Judging from the comments coming in to The Times regarding the various problems with the iPads supplied to students at L.A. Unified schools, the public is plenty mad about this $1-billion plan. Students hacking their iPads, some of the devices going missing, no clear policy on who pays if and when students lose or damage their tablets. As Times staff writer Howard Blume most recently reported,  the district now is collecting the tablets from at least some of the schools where they have been distributed.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 2, 2013 | By Dan Weikel
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed legislation cracking down on a risky method of financing that hundreds of school districts and community colleges in the state have relied on to pay for new construction. The measure, authored by Democratic state Sen. Ben Hueso of San Diego and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo, will rein in the use of long-term capital appreciation bonds that can carry debt payments many times the amount borrowed. Fiscal watchdogs, including county treasurers and California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, have warned repeatedly that the bonds -- which let districts postpone the start of payments for decades -- are reminiscent of the lending and Wall Street excesses that contributed to the Great Recession.
OPINION
September 28, 2013
Leveling the technological playing field by giving all students - rich and poor alike - in the Los Angeles Unified School District an Apple iPad is a good thing, right? It isn't so simple, readers are saying. This week, The Times reported that some of the 47,000 who have received iPads so far have figured out how to disable their tablets' Internet firewall, allowing them to roam the Web for less-than-educational content. It was also reported that the district hadn't decided if parents or taxpayers would pay for accidentally lost or damaged iPads.
OPINION
August 28, 2013
When voters passed Proposition 39 in 2000, they surely had no idea of the headaches it would cause Los Angeles schools. Most Californians probably never even noticed the wording about providing space for charter schools, and if they did, they had little idea of what a charter school was. The chief purpose of the measure was to allow school bonds to pass with 55% of the vote rather than the two-thirds supermajority required up to that point. Schools were falling apart and classrooms were so tightly packed that many campuses operated on year-round, multitrack schedules.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 6, 2013 | By Dan Weikel
Financial underwriters who want to do business with the County of Los Angeles must agree not to give political donations to school bond campaigns under new rules adopted this month by government finance officials. Because Los Angeles County is by far the largest municipal bond issuer in California, the move is likely to have statewide implications. Mark J. Saladino, the Los Angeles County treasurer-tax collector, said Tuesday that his office set the policy to prevent campaign donations from influencing the hiring of securities brokers by school districts and to increase competition among dealers, who often charge millions of dollars in fees.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 6, 2013 | By Dan Weikel
In an action that could influence government finance officials statewide, the Los Angeles County treasurer announced Tuesday that his office will no longer do business with securities brokers that make political contributions to school bond campaigns. Mark J. Saladino, whose agency is one of the largest issuers of municipal bonds in California, said he adopted the policy to prevent campaign donations from influencing the hiring of underwriters by school districts, and to increase competition between dealers who often charge millions of dollars for their services.
OPINION
June 7, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Many Californians have helped their schools in recent years by voting for bonds to build and refurbish campuses. For the most part, the investment in schools has been necessary and right, but that doesn't mean voters always got their full money's worth. As Times staff writer Dan Weikel reported this week, many school districts have gotten around the state's prohibitions on spending public money for bond campaigns by forging relationships with companies that stand to benefit when the bond is issued - underwriters or building contractors.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 3, 2013 | Dan Weikel
When the Garden Grove Unified School District was preparing to seek voter approval for a $250-million bond measure, it hired a securities broker to play a key role in the campaign. State law bars school districts from spending money to influence the outcome of elections, but not brokers such as George K. Baum & Co. The firm gave $35,000 in political contributions and, in accordance with its contract, polled voters, wrote the ballot language and provided campaign services. The 2010 bond measure passed, and Baum -- hired without competitive bidding -- earned $1.43 million for selling the initial $130 million in Garden Grove notes.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 25, 2013 | By Dan Weikel
California Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Monday expanded his request for a legal opinion to determine if some local education officials and the financial underwriters they hire are violating state law by campaigning for school bond measures. In a second letter to California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, Lockyer asked her office to also consider financial advisors and bond counsel that are employed as consultants to help school districts prepare bond issues. Lockyer first contacted Harris a week ago when he requested that she render a formal opinion on the conduct of school officials and underwriters as it relates to political campaigns for school bonds.   The state treasurer said a legal opinion is needed because some arrangements between school districts and firms that sell bonds “raise substantive questions” about whether the officials are using public money to conduct campaigns advocating the passage of bond measures - an action banned by state law. Under some agreements, Lockyer said, underwriters who stand to profit from selling bonds conduct voter opinion surveys or help prepare ballot arguments.
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