I was reading the BEX Oversight Committee meeting minutes for June 13, 2008 and came upon this:
"The State is hiring a consultant to conduct a performance audit on the capital program."
This, of course, comes as no surprise to me. For a long time, I have felt this program had serious oversight problems. However, I haven't been able to verify through the Auditor's office if this will also include fraud, waste or abuse within its scope.
One issue is the lack of credibility within the department. For example, despite the fact that even on the BEX III campaign materials it says that most projects were on-time and on-budget (which in itself is a change because there was a stubborn insistence that ALL BEX projects had been on-time and on-budget), in the May minutes of the Hale BDT it says "There are no current anticipated budget overruns on any BEX II or III projects." That statement (by Don Gilmore) begs the question of how Facilities would explain the budget on Garfield's project. Is anyone within your department seriously going to make the claim that Garfield had no budget overruns? I'm sure the people at Secondary BOC would be interested in the answer.
Another issue that I found recently is in the BEX Committee meeting minutes of Jan '08 where there is discussion about Denny/Sealth. There was a discussion of the 3 options for Denny/Sealth with discussion comments; here is the last one. It states:
"There is no guarantee that Sealth would benefit from BEX IV, if the work in BEX III was delayed. Other schools are older and needier and will be renovated first."
I read that sentence to mean that there are older and needier schools than Sealth. What else could it possibly mean?
Really? Because you see when I came out against the BEX III list, my point was that the buildings on the list were NOT the oldest and neediest buildings. And I was told, by staff, yes, these are the buildings that need it most. But looking at that statement it is clear that the district is playing fast and loose. It is what I have always believed, namely, that Facilities has its own goals and will say anything in order to justify their plans even it it means later contradicting themselves.
Also, I attended that meeting and it is reflected in the minutes. However, I raised some concerns during that meeting that generated some discussion. Absolutely none of it is reflected in the minutes. Meeting minutes are not supposed to be verbatim and there is generally not public discussion at BEX Committee meetings (but I was encouraged to speak up by a member) but if there is discussion within the Committee over an issue it should be reflected in the minutes.
Again, playing fast and loose with fact is not going to help this department.
I feel for Dr. Goodloe-Johnson because she is making a huge effort to move this district forward and yet, we stay mired in the past because of issues like this where a department stubbornly refuses - for whatever reason - to be transparent, clear and honest in its dealings with the public.