Grand Jury Blasts Solano College Over $348 Million Measure Q

The Solano County Grand Jury issued a scathing report about the Solano Community College bond that was approved by the voters in 2012.
The report claims the wording of Measure Q on the November 2012 ballot was deliberately misleading and violated state laws and the California Constitution. The grand jury report also accuses the college’s board of trustees of neglecting the public interest.
Grand jurors reported that “. . . A lack of engagement and oversight by the board of trustees, coupled with a cavalier attitude on the part of some of its members is an issue of great concern.”
The Grand Jury states that college staff fabricated the existence of project master plans that detailed how Measure Q funds would be spent when they reported “The master plans are on file and available for review at the Solano College president’s office and include the types of projects listed below.”
“The cart was put before the horse – rather than identifying the specific needs of the college, and figuring out the costs of those needs, the district sought first to identify the amount of money it could obtain through the public through a bond measure.”
The Grand Jury report said a facilities master plan was not finalized until nearly two years after the election.
Solano College Superintendent-President Jowel Laguerre was blasted in the report for ignoring the law and claiming that the college “deliberately elected not to tie its hands with an exact list of Measure Q projects. Instead, we have taken the time to carefully research how we will best spend your tax dollars and have kept in mind the potential for projects that were ‘on the horizon’ but not finalized as we worked to pass the bond.”
Grand Jury members interviewed each of the seven elected college board members who told them they never saw any type of project list or any projected spending plan before the 2012 election and “nothing at all with numbers” until 2014. One trustee, unnamed in the report, claimed to have “all relevant documents” prior to the election. The trustee later retracted the claim and referred grand jurors to the college’s website.
The ballot pamphlet referred to Measure Q as the Solano Community College District Student/Veterans’ Affordable Education, Job Training measure, which the report said was misleading because state law precludes bond funds from being used for any of those purposes.
The Grand Jury report says voters were misled by simple deceptive techniques such as using bold typefaces and capitalization in the Measure Q bond measure to reference various purposes of Measure Q such as to provide essential job training and workforce preparation, improve access to disabled students and war veterans, expand high-quality affordable college options for students transferring to four-year colleges and offer middle college options to high school students.
“Job training is not allowed under (state law), nor are job placement programs. Any relationship between offering high school students college courses or ‘high-quality affordable college options’ and buildings, facilities or land purchases is difficult to understand,” the report said, adding “Measure Q is presented as much more than bricks and mortar.”
“It is difficult to ascertain how a physical building or land acquisition relates to ‘affordable education,’ ” the report states pointedly.
“The casual attitude of some of the college administration coupled with its assumption that voters would positively respond to buzz words like ‘veterans,’ ‘disabled’ and ‘job training’ ” without investigating the bond measure resulted in “a bond that was not properly presented, and was arguably misleading at best.”
The Grand Jury report notes in closing: “Forty years is too long for a bond measure! Serious consideration should be given to shorter bond measure obligation time for future projects.”
You can read the report at http://solano.courts.ca.gov/materials/Measure%20Q.pdf

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