Two more allegations of wrongdoing have surfaced regarding the Sulphur Springs Union School District’s bond measure, joining the already proven incident of a city councilmember breaking a rule.
And yet, one of the people making the claims believes the alleged actions will make no difference in whether the voters approve or defeat Measure US on March 3rd.
“It’s a mess,” said Richard Michael, who runs the Big Bad Bonds website.
So far, the following chain of events has occurred:
First, City Councilmember Bob Kellar violated the council’s norms and procedures when he signed on to the measure using his office. He later requested the district change the designation from “Santa Clarita City Council” to “Santa Clarita Citizen.”
So, district Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi sent an email on January 3rd at 8:06 a.m. using her district email address to the county registrar-recorder requesting Kellar’s designation change. This apparently violates the Government and Elections codes forbidding an employee from using public resources urging support or defeat of a measure.
Stephen Petzold, principal officer of the Center for Truth in School Bond Measures and author of the argument on the measure, provided the Gazette with the email. On it, he wrote a note to Assistant District Attorney Alan Yochelson, head of the Public Integrity Division, indicating it’s a supporting document to show the violation. Petzold said he has filed a formal complaint. The Gazette called the division and was referred to the media relation’s department.
In a voicemail statement, Kawaguchi said the district may use resources to prepare bond documents and that it is her responsibility to ensure the documents are prepared correctly. “This was done, and Robert Kellar did request for the documents to be corrected, and that was confirmed and submitted to the registrar’s office for correction,” she said.
By making the change, the county likely violated the state Elections Code because it made the change after the December 13th deadline it set to submit arguments. County spokesman Mike Sanchez didn’t return numerous calls for comment.
And yet, Michael said, “In the whole scheme of things, none of these things are going to affect the outcome of the election.”
The reason, he explained, is twofold. First, people have to know the wrongdoings are happening. “Then, they’d have to care that these people are doing things illegally.”
Petzold and Michael clearly care. Petzold said he agrees that Kawaguchi can prepare the documents, “but the argument in favor of it is not a required element of the document.”
Furthermore, state law allows school board members to write and submit arguments, but a superintendent is not a board member.
Michael said the county is violating equal-protection tenets of the law because it could, and did, make a change after a deadline when an individual would have to get a court order to do the same.
“If one side can get their way, why can’t the other side get their way?” he said. “The law shall be applied to all people of the same class equally. Both proponents and opponents should be limited to the deadline. One side got a special exemption; a private party could not. If Petzold said, ‘I demand you make this change,’ do you think the registrar would?”
“The government does not prosecute its own corruption.”