Last week, the Oxnard Union High School District board of trustees — in a 3-2 vote — tentatively approved a Project Labor Agreement, or PLA, for its $45 million Rancho Campana High School project in Camarillo.
The packed board meeting was charged and divided all because three trustees (Wayne Edmonds, Socorro Lopez Hanson and Steve Hall) put Big Labor special interests before taxpayers, reason and workers’ rights.
This PLA will raise costs substantially while all but guaranteeing that the 85 percent of the local construction workforce who are union-free will be unable to work on a project paid for by their tax dollars.
When it comes time to expand the Solano Community College Vallejo satellite campus, construction workers will be operating under a controversial project labor agreement.
Plans for Vallejo Center include building a second building, and establishing a variety of services, including more student programs and a cafeteria.
All that work, plus much more at the Fairfield and Vacaville campuses, will be paid for through the $348 million voter-approved Measure Q bonds.
A federal oversight board has turned down a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority for conditional permission to build the Fresno-Bakersfield section of the proposed statewide bullet-train line.
In a decision announced Wednesday, the three-member Surface Transportation Board denied the state's request for an expedited decision on the 114-mile Fresno-Bakersfield route before environmental work is completed on the section.
Attorneys for the rail authority indicated that the decision could force a delay in designing and building a five-mile stretch of the route between downtown Fresno and the south edge of Fresno, for which a contract has already been awarded. But a spokeswoman for the agency said no delays are anticipated.
A controversial labor agreement goes before the Solano Community College board of trustees tonight.
The labor agreement for projects funded through voter-approved Measure Q bonds has generated considerable interest among contractors and union groups.
The agreement applies to all projects within Measure Q guidelines that exceed $4.5 million in construction value. It does not apply to maintenance and operations projects.
Rep. Jeff Denham wants a government watchdog agency to take a second look at grant agreements for more than $3 billion in federal stimulus and transportation funds for California’s high-speed rail project.
In a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Comptroller General, Denham, R-Turlock, joined with Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, to ask the Government Accountability Office to review the agreements. The letter came a day after a Sacramento County Superior Court judge denied a request by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to validate the sale of about $8 billion in bonds from Proposition 1A, a high-speed rail bond measure approved by California voters in 2008.
Under the grant agreements, California is obligated to put up about $2.7 billion to match the federal contributions for the initial construction of the high-speed rail project from Madera to just north of Bakersfield. That money is expected to come from the Proposition 1A bonds.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A Sacramento judge on Monday tore up California's funding plans for its bullet train project in separate orders that could force the state to spend months or years redrawing its plans for the $68 billion rail line.
Judge Michael Kenny rejected a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in bonds approved by voters in 2008, saying there was no evidence it was "necessary and desirable" to start selling the bonds when a committee of state officials met last March.
He said the committee was supposed to act as "the ultimate 'keeper of the checkbook'" for taxpayers, but instead relied on a request from the high-speed rail authority to start selling bonds as sufficient evidence to proceed.
Last night (November 20, 2013), the board of trustees for the Oxnard Union School District in Ventura County bickered with the school district administration and each other over the terms and conditions of a proposed Project Labor Agreement for a $40 million new school (Rancho Campana High School).
News Coverage: Tension Marks School Building Plans - Ventura County Star – November 22, 2013
Certain members of the school board have been pushing for a Project Labor Agreement at the behest of union lobbyists since their October 9, 2013 meeting. The school district awarded a lease-leaseback contract on October 23, 2013.
After eight hours of discussion and public comment, the California Coastal Commission decided Wednesday to put off a vote on an application to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach.
The commissioners voted unanimously to hold off a final decision on the controversial proposal. Shortly after, the company seeking to build the plant, Poseidon Water, withdrew its application.
The commission staff wants Poseidon to do a study of the ocean floor off Huntington Beach to determine the feasibility of using subsurface intakes to bring water into the proposed plant.
As Chris Nguyen reported in the two previous posts, I have the honor of representing Rancho Santiago Community College Board of Trustee member Phillip Yarbrough on the issue of the use of “closed sessions” by the Board of Trustees to discuss Project Labor Agreements. As I reviewed the Brown Act including the Appeals Court decisions and the Attorney General opinions on this subject, it became very clear to me that a public entity that is subject to the Brown Act, is not allowed to hold “closed sessions” of the Board meetings to discuss Project Labor Agreements. This issue is complicated in its legal explanation and Chris attached a copy of the letter I sent to the Chancellor and the Board President last week explaining my conclusions to them.
For those of you not familiar with the Brown Act – the Ralph M. Brown Act makes it a requirement that a local public entity must hold its meetings in open sessions where members of the public may attend and address the board on subjects the Board is dealing with in that meeting. There are some expressly stated exceptions to that rule that authorize the board to have “closed sessions” where the public may not listen to the board’s discussions on those topics. In short, the topic of Project Labor Agreements is not one of the authorized subjects for discussion in closed session. Thus any discussions on PLAs must be held in open session. The Board of Trustees did the right thing tonight by voting to hold all future meetings on this topic in open session.
Craig P. Alexander
At its November 12, 2013 meeting, the board of trustees for Rancho Santiago Community College District voted unanimously to continue a practice adopted in August 2013 not to discuss its Measure Q Project Labor Agreement negotiations in closed session until the college chancellor gets legal clarification from California Attorney General Kamala Harris. An opinion from the Attorney General is not likely to be produced for several months.
Speaking in support of having the discussions in open session was Dave Everett, Government Affairs Director for the Southern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, and Craig Alexander of the Pacific Justice Institute. On behalf of trustee Phil Yarbrough, Alexander wrote a November 5, 2013 memo to the board explaining why discussing Project Labor Agreement negotiations in closed session was not legal.
The head of the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council was at the meeting but didn't speak. Also silent was board member José Solorio, who is running for California State Senate in 2014 and appears to be the impetus for the Project Labor Agreement.