** Blogger's notes:
In the months ahead, court rulings such as the one highlighted
below may become common place in the City of Los Angeles. The reason lies in the fact that the multi-billion dollars bonds approved for LACCD and LAUSD, saw tens of millions misspent or just given away to dubious special interests. Looking back on Mayor Villar's AB 1381 campaign, the intuitive political observer saw the mayor's attempt to control LAUSD as not a crusade to save children from a dysfunctional education machine, but a blatant attempt to gain access and control over construction money. Likewise here with the Van De Kamp Scandal, you see a mayor who has acted inappropriately in steering projects to his connected friends, which has caught the attention of "formal entities"
. More on that in the future---Scott Johnson.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
COURT RULES LA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT VIOLATED ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS IN TURNING VAN DE KAMPS CAMPUS OVER TO CHARTER SCHOOL AND THE MAYOR’S WORKFORCE PROGRAMS
Adverse Ruling Immediately Follows Scathing State Controller’s Office Audit That
Reported LACCD Officials Refused To Turn Over Van de Kamps Construction Records
In a hard fought victory for the Van de Kamps Coalition, Superior Court Judge Ann I.
Jones issued a tentative ruling today that the Los Angeles Community College District
(LACCD) failed to do necessary environmental studies in its conversion of the $86 million
taxpayer bond-funded community college campus at the former Van de Kamps Bakery site
to a lease by a 9-12 charter high school. The charter high school, the Alliance for CollegeReady Public Schools, is politically connected having former Board of Directors members
Eli Broad and Richard Riordan, and another Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, David
Cunningham III, on its current Board. Today’s ruling has negative implications for the lease
of another part of the campus to unemployment programs funded and championed by
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
In sometimes heated argument, Judge Jones admonished attorneys for the LACCD
that " You stood before your Board and lied when you said no environmental documents
were needed." A visibly irritated Judge Jones characterized some of the LACCD's attorney's
arguments as "intellectually insulting".
The Court’s final ruling, likely to remain the same as the tentative ruling today,
normally would result in an immediate nullification of the LACCD’s lease with the Alliance
Charter School and an order commanding the LACCD to comply with the environmental
laws. However, given that the Alliance School has just started another year occupying
Northeast community college campus, all of the parties and the judge acknowledged that
the Court’s order must be sensitive to avoid a negative impact upon the innocent high
school students occupying the community’s college campus. Daniel Wright, the attorney
who represented the Van de Kamps Coalition in the successful litigation, has offered to
meet and confer with attorneys for the LACCD and the Alliance Charter School to try to
resolve the case now that LACCD has lost on the merits. A future hearing on how to bring
the District into compliance with the environmental laws may be the subject of a future
The Steering Committee of the Van de Kamps Coalition was pleased with the
outcome. "This is a vindication of the facts we have spent over two years trying to get the
LACCD Board of Trustees to accept,” said Laura Gutierrez. “Now something must be done
to relieve the harm done to our community by what, even the Judge, called ‘lies’ of Districtpersonnel. The substantial relief we sought in the lawsuit must be granted now that Court
found in our favor on the merits. We should never have had to go through this just to get
the LACCD to obey basic laws. There is a cancer of corruption growing on our community
college and today, the Superior Court made a grave diagnosis that cannot be ignored by the
District Attorney, the California Attorney General, and the Civil Grand Jury.”
"We could never have won this without the expertise and tireless dedication of our
attorney, Dan Wright,” said Steering Committee member Miki Jackson. “He believed in this
cause and has stuck with us through years of thankless effort. We are not done yet. We still
have an appeal on our second lawsuit regarding the same issues over the leasing of the
historic bakery building to the City for the Mayor's pet unemployment projects, but today’s
ruling should shake up the bureaucrats in the Mayor’s Office that they are next for
Today’s dramatic court hearing comes on the heels of the State Controller's scathing
audit of LACCD - an audit triggered by information provided by the Van de Kamps Coalition
and its attorney. That audit reported that LACCD officials were withholding Van de Kamps
construction records to impede State Controller Chiang’s investigation and that LACCD
improperly awarded a contract to an unqualified firm to be the District’s Inspector General.
“We will never give up until we have set this right, and our community has the
promised satellite college campus that we all are paying for on our tax bills. Score a couple
victories for the little guys," said Ms. Jackson.
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Labels: Van De Kamp Coalition