Laura Ferguson, San Clemente
On behalf of Talega Residents for Fair Taxation, we would like to demonstrate the lengths that the Capistrano Unified School District goes to in order to avoid public involvement and accountability. The Orange County Grand Jury presented findings/recommendations to improve accountability and transparency of Mello-Roos for the benefit of taxpayers residing in Community Facilities Districts and CUSD disagreed. We learned Oct. 6 that CUSD’s response to the Grand Jury report on Mello-Roos was discussed by the school board at its Sept. 23 meeting after 11 p.m., unbeknownst to us. Our group attended this meeting, but left earlier after hearing incorrectly that all agenda items after a controversial item, which drew a crowd, would be continued to their next meeting. We misunderstood that although multiple agenda items were continued, the Grand Jury item was not one of them. When the item came up for discussion for public comment, we were long gone. The usual CUSD confusion, that our group could not follow the meeting, is telling on its own.
Regardless of this surprise, by burying the Grand Jury item in its meeting agendas after items that drew countless speakers at both September meetings, and sitting in these meetings for hours hours and three hours respectively, we would have liked to remind the school board for the record how many times CUSD has misspent, wrongfully kept and failed to account for CFD Mello-Roos funds it collects for the CFDs district-wide, and stress the importance of implementing the Grand Jury’s recommendations for an audit and oversight committee and reporting of Mello-Roos expenditures by CFD on a website.
CUSD’s response to the Grand Jury is a disappointment and they should be embarrassed. The school board’s actions and response further exemplify how those at CUSD with control over our Mello-Roos taxes do not want scrutiny, oversight or accountability.