January 25, 2008

Prop C - Part 2: The Developers are Cheering For It

         ADCS building in the Poway Industrial Park

In my last post, I noted that Proposition C is an entirely new bond proposal for $179 million that will  increase taxes for the next 35-40 yrs for property owners living in the PSID part of PUSD.  And even if Prop C passes, your kids might still be stuck in portable classrooms.

In this post I want to talk a bit about who is pushing  Prop C and what they have to gain from it.  Let's start with the San Diego County Taxpayer Association (SDCTA), a group that enthusiastically endorsed Prop C.  On SDCTA's webpage  they define themselves as a  "nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting accountable, cost-effective government, yadda, yadda, yadda..." But check out their board of directors. They are a bunch of real-estate moguls, developers, industry folks and partisan hacks.   Tom Shepard is a major political consultant.  And there is Eric G. Stenman who works for Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc- who just happens to be the builder  who is building and renovating all of our Poway schools. No conflict of interest there. No siree. 

And let's see, there's Alan Zieghaus from Southwest Strategies. Southwest Strategies is a consulting agency hired by Poway Redevelopment Agency to get Powegians to like  affordable housing.  And then there's a couple of people from The Corky McMillan Cos and Burnham Real Estate, two big companies that are heavily involved in developing our industrial park. And George W. Hawkins. He is  on the Prop U oversight committee (you know the one that didn't oversee Prop U too well).  Hawkins also happens to be president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego.  So when SDCTA gave their endorsement, you just know they are very concerned about the Poway taxpayers and not thinking at all about how much money will be flowing to their  back pockets if this bond passes.

SDCTA is not the only group pushing the proposition. Friends of Poway Unified Schools- Yes on C , the group that is sending us flyers falsely claiming that Prop C will not raise our existing tax rate, is being funded by the usual suspects- the bond underwriter (Stone & Youngberg), subcontractors and  project management companies. 

The Barnhart Group won the contract for the Prop U renovations. Barnhart also built the Poway Performing Arts Center and the new city hall. Our old city hall wasn't very old, and it had been recently renovated, but the city said it would be cheaper to build a new city hall. And maybe it would have, if construction costs hadn't skyrocketed. Who could have predicted it? Hmmmm....sound familiar?

Douglas E. Barnhart is well known in both construction and political circles. He is a major GOP donor who gave $140,900 to Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2003 campaign.  Schwarzenegger rewarded Barnhart and another generous donor, Brent Wilkes with appointments to the Del Mar Fair Board. Douglas Barnhart and Brent Wilkes' wife Regina were both also appointed to PUSD Foundation Board.  In 2003, Barnhart and Wilkes were also gifting Poway mayor Mickey Cafagna.
Cafagna reported receiving gifts, such as greens fees and tickets for games and performances, from donors including Douglas Barnhart, a San Diego-based contractor; ADCS Inc., a software company in the South Poway Business Park; and the San Diego Chargers.
ADCS is the company owned by Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor who is currently awaiting sentencing for bribing Duke Cunningham.  Last February, when Wilkes was facing a foreclosure sale on his ADCS building, he tried to transfer it to PUSD in a swap involving district land in Rancho Bernardo.  The PUSD board voted to allow district officials to negotiate the deal, but it fell through. Although Wilkes has sold the property,  there is still a possibility that PUSD might be interested. I asked PUSD school board member Todd Gutshow if the district could use Prop C funds to pay for building or leasing new district offices. Mr. Gutshow told me that Prop C money was only to be used for the schools that were listed in the bond measure.  But the measure states that the money can be used for  "school facilities" including the schools on the list.  The independent counsel analysis says
the money can be used for "construction, reconstruction and/or rehabilitation of school facilities that benefit the District, including the furnishing and equipping of school facilities, acquision or lease of real property for school facilities and construction management by personnel of the Poway Unified School District.
Mr. Gutshow told me he would go back to the district and ask them about whether or not PUSD could legally use the bond money for new district offices or to lease the ADCS building.  Our conversation was about 10 days ago. I am still waiting to hear from him. 

I have no way of knowing what Brent Wilkes or Douglas Barnhart or  Mickey Cafagna talk about when they are on the links together or cozying up to each other at a sporting event. But I can guess.


1 comment:


PROP C is a $179million “gravy train”.

We were all warned by John Ramirez, a former PUSD School Board candidate, about large campaign contributions to other School Board candidates from the same business interests who made huge profits from PROP U funds.

Now, as indicated on THE POWAY BLOG, PROP C’s campaign is endorsed and bankrolled (over $300K according to YES ON PROP C campaign’s projected budget) mostly from the same building contractors and consultants. These are the same folks who couldn’t get the job done with $198million in PROP U funds plus approximately $150million in matching funds. Now these business interests want another round on this hugely profitable “gravy train”.

How can we possibly justify approval of an additional $179million of our hard-earned tax dollars? I urge voters to vote "NO" on PROP C. Let’s bring this “gravy train” to a halt.