Galatzan raises new concerns about LA Unified bond committee
Vanessa Romo | July 3, 2014
For the second time in recent weeks, Tamar Galatzan has turned a critical eye toward LA Unified’s Bond Oversight Committee and the role it plays in monitoring district spending on bond-funded projects.
At the board meeting on Tuesday, she objected to the BOC’s wholesale approval of a library project that earmarked $116,000 to move library equipment and materials from one school to another. Using Measure R bond money to pay for it would have been a misappropriation of funds because it does not involve construction of a new building or modernizing an existing one.
In May, she led an effort to block the reappointment of Stuart Magruder to the 15-member panel.
Her concern on the library project arose from an error caught by Galatzan’s staff and apparently, overlooked by everyone else, including the Integrated Library and Textbook Support Services office, which mistakenly sent it to the BOC for review.
“I am very frustrated that it went to the BOC,” Galatzan told her colleagues on the board. “I am also very disappointed that the BOC exercised absolutely no oversight — did not ask one question about this project — because it wasn’t appropriate to be there in the first place.”
She continued, “This is a perfect example of, sometimes, the total lack of oversight by the Bond Oversight Committee when they are reviewing projects because this one should never have gone to them and should never have been approved.”
In defense of the committee’s judgment, Tom Rubin, a consultant for the BOC, said the set of proposals submitted for review that included the library project was “not in good shape.” The library project was a small part of a $10 million plan that, itself, was part of a larger package of proposals presented to the BOC. The committee sent the entire set of proposals back to Facilities for revision.
Although, Rubin declined to speak on the $116,000 project that was approved, he said, “One of the other unfortunate things was that the people who prepared the report were not in town after we had been given the report. So we were limited in who we could ask.”
But the bigger problem, he said, is that “it is simply just not possible for the BOC to be able to go into hundreds, even thousands of different recommendations that come to us, and go into detail with each one.”
Galatzan’s latest objection echoed her expressions of concern in May, when she first called into question the BOC’s efficacy.
She had persuaded the board not to reappoint Magruder, an architect, who has aggressively opposed the use of tax-payer dollars to buy iPads. The decision was overturned in a subsequent board vote, and he was reappointed after a fight involving lawyers for the district and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
She had accused Magruder of “overstepping his bounds” as a member of the review panel, often expounding on curriculum and instruction issues and the use of iPads in the classroom.
Similarly in this case, Galatzan said the BOC disregarded a thorough discussion of the library plan at its most recent meeting because its members got caught up in an hour-long discussion over a multi-million dollar iPad expenditure request from earlier in the year.
Galatzan has asked Superintendent John Deasy to begin an annual audit of the BOC, a term stipulated in the district’s Memorandum of Understanding with the committee but has never been done.