Eight short years after taxpayers in the Saugus Union School District generously approved Measure EE for $148 million, the district trustees are setting the table for borrowing even more money, stacking debt on top of debt.
The funds for Measure EE are not fully exhausted or encumbered. The board wants to fool you into believing that we will borrow more money without raising tax rates.
At the March 22 meeting, the governing board authorized the expenditure of $33,000 for a notorious bond survey heavyweight, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, affectionately referred to as FM3, to call and email “likely voters” to test a 75-word ballot question and perform a public opinion survey about the Saugus district.
FM3 has a rather sketchy record in performing independent surveys. The firm has had a close relationship with the city of Long Beach, which was recently ordered to repay millions of dollars from Measure M to their local water agency.
The Hews Media Group article identified FM3 in an article as part of a “Megataxers” group that “schmoozes school districts.”
While the contract forbids direct advocacy in support of a new bond, make no mistake, the questions asked will be weighted in supporting the placement of a new bond on the November ballot.
One might think that the governing board would want to review the proposed ballot question for advocacy language, and the relevance of survey questions before authorizing the expenditure of funds.
You would be wrong.
The trustees and citizens of the Saugus district should be allowed to review the ballot question proposed as well as the survey questions before it is conducted.
We should not blindly trust FM3 to perform this project without strict scrutiny for compliance with the Constitution, education code and law.
We call upon district staff and the trustees to bring this item back for approval, allowing for an appropriate review of the proposed ballot question and underlying survey.
The stewardship of taxpayer dollars demands no less than suitable vigilance.
Stephen C. Petzold