It’s all about the Money
All the money is on the ironically-named ‘Measure BH.’ It would pick the pockets of Beverly Hills taxpayers to the tune of close to $400 million and give the Beverly Hills School District more construction funds to do what they were supposed to with the $334 million from Measure E, which Beverly Hills voters passed less than ten years ago.
All the money is on Measure BH because the BHUSD is cynically counting on feel-good propaganda to dupe 55% of the voters this June into voting for the tax. (Most tax increases require a 2/3 majority, but because the entire school board drank the Kool-Aid this time, Measure BH only requires the lower threshold.)
Literally, all the money is on Measure BH because this feel-good and deceptive campaign is being financed and supported by those who would directly profit from its passage: bond sales companies, school consultants, construction interests and more. In other words, all the money is on Measure BH because the special interests have stacked the deck against Beverly Hills taxpayers.
Scare tactics and institutional blackmail
Door hangers and other ads attempt to paint the following horror scenario in the event that Measure BH doesn’t pass:
- Students will remain in portables at boarded-up schools.
- School auditoriums will remain closed and in disrepair.
- Critical security infrastructure will not be implemented.
Let’s ask ourselves: Who put our kids in portables at boarded-up schools? Who closed the auditoriums and kept them in disrepair? Who neglected to build “critical security infrastructure”? It was the School Board, including a majority of current board members, who did all of these things.
And now they want an additional $400 million?
Are they kidding?
Boardmembers are holding our children hostage and saying, “Show us the money or the kids won’t be safe and will be in boarded-up schools.” What they are not saying is that the School Board is responsible for the boarded-up schools because they did not spend the hundreds of millions of Measure E funds wisely. Through Measure E and other past bonds, the residents of Beverly Hills have already given close to a half billion dollars to our schools.
The threats and blackmail are shameful. The fact that the District is sponsoring such deceptive propaganda is outrageous. And the fact that they are selling us the exact same bill of goods they sold us in 2008 with Measure E an insult.
Definition of insanity:
Repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.
The propaganda about Measure BH would have us believe that this is the purpose for the proposed bond issue:
To provide safe and modernized school facilities, make necessary structural seismic safety repairs, upgrade, repair, and reconstruct aging classrooms, infrastructure, multiuse, gyms, libraries, science, technology & labs; roofing, plumbing, heating, ventilation and electrical systems; renovate Beverly Hills Unified School District schools to better protect student/staff from unauthorized entry, security risks and natural disasters.
But the above description isn’t about Measure BH. Those are promises the BHUSD made us ten years ago for Measure E. The residents of Beverly Hills believed those promises and gave the School Board $344 million to fulfill them.
But those promises were not kept and the BHUSD is now effectively asking us to again pay for the same things yet expect different results despite their track record of failure.
And then there is the deception. During the Measure E campaign in 2008, the School Board promised us that the bonds could be financed “without raising the current level of property taxes.” They lied; not once but multiple times as the bond raised our taxes several times in succession.
And now they want an additional $400 million?
And then there is the disingenuous promise of “stringent oversight.” Remember when Measure E promised a “Citizens’ Oversight Committee”? Lest we forget, that body had no power and could not serve as a check on inefficient and wasteful spending. Likewise the “stringent oversight” promised by the Measure BH oversight committee would have no additional authority to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. We would yet again be handing the BHUSD an unaccountable blank check with yet another feel-good rubber-stamp committee meant to convince voters that there is real and meaningful oversight.
Are they kidding?
Unfortunately, these rubber-stamp bodies provide after-sight, not oversight. Frustration with the lack of real oversight was underlined by a recent resignation of one of the Measure E committee’s prominent members.
Our school district was once a Lighthouse District. Our High School was once among the top public high schools in the nation. No more. Sadly, the education we are offering our children is far from where it should be. And the District is losing students as a result of our under-performing schools.
Now the BHUSD is seriously talking about reconfiguration and perhaps eliminating the K-8 model which we have had for decades. Yet the District also says that potential reconfiguration will have “no impact” on plans to spend close to $400 million on facilities. As if potential reconfiguration would not necessarily inform the best way to spend our money. This ridiculous assertion is simply another insult to our collective intelligence.
Don’t Be Fooled by the “Rah-Rah” Groupthink
We should not be giving this District another dime until BHUSD can right the ship; until it can prove it deserves our trust to spend an additional $400 million on top of the $344 million from Measure E; until it provides our kids with the kind of education they deserve; and until it stops breaking promises to parents and voters.
It is my hope that Beverly Hills voters will not be fooled by the glossy door-hangers and “do it for the kids” rhetoric. Campaign cheerleading and slick social media messaging can’t paper over the institutional blackmail and deception that has been peddled to get yet another $300+ million bond past the voters of Beverly Hills.
A more appropriate designation for the Measure BH campaign would be ‘Measure BS.’ I urge you to vote NO on this ill-advised money-grab to send a message to our School Board that it should refocus its efforts on what must be its core mission: namely, giving our children a world-class education.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like to talk personally.
Vice Mayor, City of Beverly Hills