SAUSD Trustee John Palacio’s legacy is over a billion dollars of wasted tax money

John Palacio

SAUSD School Board Trustee John Palacio has been in office for 20 years and in that time he has personally raised our taxes by a whopping $720 million dollars. He wants to pass a third school bond measure this November, Measure I, putting us another $232 million dollars in debt.

Santa Ana voters approved Measure C in 1999, a year after Palacio was first elected. Measure C was a $145-million bond issue based on the promise of building 13 new schools. However, after C passed with 70.3% of the vote, district officials spent $450 million building five schools.[2]

Measure C, under Palacio’s leadership, was a complete disaster:

  • The SAUSD School Board wasted millions of dollars in construction bond money. They even sued the construction management company they hired, and then ended up having to pay them more in a settlement that went against SAUSD.
  • They built a warehouse with bond money, thereby losing state matching funds. That disaster cost the district over $20 million.
  • The SAUSD School Board passed a PLA (project labor agreement) that shut non-union contractors out of bidding on SAUSD construction projects. They they watched as the construction budgets ballooned and they had to cut back on their projects.
  • They borrowed the money from the Tustin marine base settlement and never paid it back.

In 2008 Palacio and company came back to the voters with outstretched hands yet again. This time they placed Measure G on the ballot which authorized the SAUSD to borrow $200 million.

Keep in mind that whenever a bond measure passes the school district has to pay back not just the amount of the bond but also an equal amount of interest. So if they borrow $200 million they pay $400 million. That is of course our tax money.

In less than 20 years Santa Ana Unified School District will have wasted more than a billion dollars but students still attend classes in portables that the majority of the school board promised to remove.

School bonds add to housing costs in Santa Ana, and lead to increased rents and property taxes.

Student enrollment has been falling for decades and just last year Santa Ana Unified School District threatened to lay off 287 teachers.

There’s clearly a problem at the Santa Ana Unified School District that more money just can’t fix.

You can assume that in another few years Palacio and company will be back with yet another bond measure. This will never end. And each time they will attach a union-only PLA to the bond measure ensuring that the trade unions will keep funding their campaigns.

Click here to read the entire ballot argument against Measure I.

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