Mt. SAC Bond Measure Approved For 2018 Ballot

Clerk+Jay+Chen%2C+left%2C+seconded+Board+Member+Laura+Santos%27+motion.+Robert+Hidalgo+speaks+against+the+motion+and+in+favor+of+pushing+the+bond+to+the+2018+ballot.+Photo+Credit%3A+Joshua+Sanchez%2FSAC.Media.

Clerk Jay Chen, left, seconded Board Member Laura Santos' motion. Robert Hidalgo speaks against the motion and in favor of pushing the bond to the 2018 ballot. Photo Credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

Students filled Founder’s Hall and demanded a new student life building be built during the public comment section of the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees’ Tuesday, July 24 meeting.

The board members later made the rounds arguing for and against this proposition.

During public comment, however, these students packed the chambers of Founder’s Hall advocating for the new bond measure to be authorized unanimously.

These students endorsed Action Item 11.01, further described as Resolution No. 18-01, to pay for the new student life building they wanted.

This item and resolution involved placing a $750 million bond on the 2018 ballot to pay for Mt. SAC’s many projects.

The student life building is not even the top priority of the plan for projects, and it has not been for a while.

The top priority is completing the stadium.

The stadium project is where the bulk of the money is going, and it is already $30 million over budget.

If the bond measure does not pass, the stadium is the only project that will be completed through the use of remaining funds.

If the bond passes, there are other things higher on the priority list than the building the students rallied for.

Building 26D has planned HVAC maintenance, and Parking Lots R and S need to be built and renovated.

Even when they get to the student’s building, several row classrooms must be destroyed in order to build the new student center.

The center was first proposed around 2003, and was at first delayed for designing purposes.

Once designed with student input, the next issue was relocating students. Students were in buildings that are in the way of the new building.

After Measure RR, a business building relocated students, and now the latest obstacle is getting enough money to demolish the buildings in the way of the center in order to build the student center.

Despite the hurdles, 14 students and one resident of Diamond Bar spoke in support of the new bond measure making it to the ballot.

Some students were alumni with personal stories of how Mt. SAC services changed their lives, and others just echoed that the building was needed.

One student rallied the crowd of other students to yell “yes” after he listed things and asked if they wanted them.

Following public comment, were the reports from each division.

After reports, the board skipped oral communications to have a lengthy debate on the issue.

The debate started with one fateful motion by board member Laura Santos.

She motioned for the action item to be moved to later, by motioning for the bond measure to be placed on the 2020 ballot, and alternative funding to be used in the medium.

The alternative funding she referenced, was the “Plan B” for the scenario in which the bond fails.

Her motion was seconded by clerk Jay Chen.

Other members of the board asked her to repeat her motion, because they did not hear it or did not understand it.

Her motion, to postpone authorizing the bond until 2020 instead of issuing it onto the 2018 ballot, was a result of three major concerns.

The prior litigation remaining unfinished, the year being a midterm election, and a lack of trust in the consultants.

There are cases that are not settled or dismissed, and $5 million has already been spent, Santos said during the meeting.

She also said she would be more comfortable with putting it on the ballot if there was not pending litigation.

She then asked Chen to go over the election year issue.

He was not as bothered by the litigation, but rather the anti-tax atmosphere.

This year is not a presidential election, which may result in lower turnout, and it has a repeal of SB 1, the gas tax, on the ballot. There also was a complete redoing of the tax code under this administration as well.

Chen summed it up by saying it is a “very unfavorable environment.”

Robert Hidalgo, another board member, said the blue wave argument could also be made and that putting it on the ballot is not a one year or the other initiative.

Unlike those before her, board member Judy Chen Haggerty read a statement that went over her issues with the proposal.

She said she would vote no and would continue to vote no if the strategy was the same.

Board Member Judy Chen Haggerty reads a prepared statement outlining her concerns. Photo Credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

The lack of strategy that led them into several lawsuits with Walnut, is what she was referencing.

She said she was disappointed with the lack of discussion on strategy, and worried that each bond will leave the voters unhappy.

She further went on to say that it might be “wishful thinking” that these plans get done with the contingency fund already being spent on the lawsuit.

She said she learned an important lesson during the lawsuits, and that it was to not just focus on passing the bond.

For whatever reason, her concerns went largely unaddressed.

President of the board, Manuel Baca, called the situation a dilemma and said it was likely that 2020 could be a downturn year.

Roseanne Bader, another board member, spoke favorably of the student participation and said, “I feel very strongly that this is the time.”

Gary Chow, the newly appointed member of the board, said, “I believe we will have these lawsuits resolved in less than two months.” He also said it would be difficult to say no to students.

Chen Haggerty said “I know we owe students” and followed it by saying she wants to make sure it comes through.

Student Trustee Gabriel Alfaro noted that no one from United Walnut Taxpayers showed up in opposition, and that it must be done now.

“Everyone agrees work should be done,” Chen said before explaining that it could be done at any year.

Santos and Chen both were unhappy with the consultant who only provided the positives and skipped over the negatives.

Chen said he asked her four times for the success rate in midterm elections before being told he won’t get that information.

President Bill Scroggins admitted the consultant should had done so, but said that he does not think their track record can be denied.

Despite Chen saying he was asking directly about the consultant’s track record.

Santos said they were obligated to do their due diligence, and Scroggins said something to the effect of “I wish you would.”

Santos’ motion failed, with only Chen and Santos voting yes.

This also marks the first time student trustee Alfaro voted with “I don’t concur” even though his vote does not impact whether the motion passes or not.

The real surprise was Chen Haggerty originally said she would say yes to the postponement, but said a definite no to the motion.

When there was a motion to pass it as originally intended for the 2018 ballot, she, as a swing vote, said yes.

Although it is unknown why she changed her vote, she was the needed fifth vote in order to authorize the bond by a two-thirds majority.

The motion’s passing was met with applause, and laughter followed as board communications was opened up.

Baca said, “I thought we had plenty of that” before starting it, and Chow said during it “I don’t have anything to say, I’m emotionally spent.”

Following the other board member’s reports on what they had done the meeting was adjourned.

The only item forgotten was the president’s report, and the board communications were barely remembered after the ballot measure debate.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees is on Wednesday, Aug. 8.