Teachers Union, Potential Contractors Pour More Than $250,000 Into Garden Grove School Bond Campaign

Same story, different school district: as in Capistrano Unified, the campaign for adoption of a large school facilities bond in Garden Grove is being funded by the businesses and school unions which stand to benefit financially from its passage.

Next month, voters in the Garden Grove Unified School District will decide the fate a of Measure P, a $311 million school facilities bond; double that amount and you’ll have a true picture of the bond’s total cost to taxpayers is passed.

While there appears to be no organized campaign to defeat Measure P, the local teachers union and potential contractors for projects funded by the bond are pouring money into the “Friends of GGUSD Schools 2016 – Yes on P” campaign committee.

The Garden Grove Education Association and a raft of businesses – construction companies, engineering firms, architects, constructions management, law firms, electrical and plumbing contractors – have together contributed more than a quarter of a million dollars to the “Yes on Measure P” campaign.

Among the top donors:

Neff Construction – $40,000
Paul C. Miller Construction – $35,000
WLC Architects – $30,000
Ghataode Bannon Architects LLP – $20,000
Westgroup Designs, Inc. – $15,000
Garden Grove Education Association – $15,000

This mirrors the fundraising dynamic in other school bind campaigns, such for the $884 million Measure M school bond in the Capistrano Unified School District. In fact, there is considerable overlap among their donor bases, with a number of the same companies giving to both campaigns. For example, Neff Construction and WLC Architects have given $20,000 and $10,000, respectively, to the Measure M bond campaign.

A number of these firms are members of CASHNET: California’s Coalition for Adequate School Housing. CASHNET is an association of school districts and businesses that promote the passage of school facilities bonds.

A review of the “Yes on Measure P” committee’s campaign disclosures shows multiple failures to comply with the legal requirement to report donations of more than a $1,000 within 24 hours of receiving them.

For example, the following companies made these donations on October 2:

P2S Engineering – $6,000
ROH Enterprises – $1,800
Westgroup Designs, Inc. – $15,000

Despite the 24-hour reporting requirement, these contributions weren’t reported until October 13 – 11 days later.

It’s a reflection of the one-sided nature of this particular campaign that no complaint has been filed: there’s nobody paying attention.

Who Is Hitting Up District Vendors To Give To Bond Campaign?
There’s also a curious omission from both the Measure P and Measure M campaign finance disclosures: no payments to a fundraising, which raises the question of who is on the phone calling all of these businesses and flogging them to donate, donate, donate? Furthermore, a number of these donors have contracts with GGUSD. Here are the minutes of the January 19, 2016 GGUSD Board of Education meeting; of the 13 vendors for whom the Board approved contracts, at least nine have been tapped to donate to Yes on Measure P:

Ben’s Asphalt
JL Cobb Painting
Paul C. Miller Construction
Verne’s Plumbing
Wallace Electric
American Electric
Franklin Mechanical Systems
RC Masonry
Southern California Landscape

Unless we’re to believe all these GGUSD vendors magically know to write substantial checks to the “Yes on Measure P” campaign, it’s reasonable to they were hit up by an individual or individuals who know they need or want to continue doing business with GGUSD.

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