Guest View: Auditor ruling on Gavilan spending disappoints

Gavilan College President Steve Kinsella speaks during the grand opening for the Gavilan College Veterans Resource Center Nov. 4, 2014.

I was disappointed but not surprised to read that the auditors that performed the Measure E performance audit concluded that Gavilan College was in compliance with Prop. 39 for the Fiscal Year 2014/2015.
The auditors should have been able to see that illegally spending bond funds on the police academy at the satellite site in Coyote Valley was a clear violation of Prop. 39. The police academy in Coyote Valley was never on the list of authorized and specific projects contained in the full text ballot proposition that was presented to voters on March 2, 2004. However, the auditors that performed the audit were not the same auditors that performed the audit over the last four years. Why? The project list that was provided to the new auditors was quite different than the list provided to the auditor from 2011-2014. The NEW project list included the planning of the Coyote Valley Education Center. The words “police academy” were never used, yet bonds funds are already being used to build a police academy. This change in the project list led the new auditors to think that spending bond funds to build a police academy at the satellite site at Coyote Valley was justified.
In a Free Lance article, dated June, 19,2014, the use of Measure E bonds for the satellite sites was questioned. Mr. Kinsella told the reporter, ”the money that we had from the bond wasn’t to do anything more than buy the land.” T​his indicates the college would need to find another source of funding to complete construction at the satellite sites. ​I believe this information alone should have been enough for anyone to conclude that spending bond funds on the police academy at the satellite site at Coyote Valley is a clear violation of Prop 39.
What this article did not reveal was that Mr. Kinsella and the trustees were already planning to disregard the Prop 39 law and expend bond funds on the police academy at the satellite site in Coyote Valley, for a project that was n​ot​ on the list of specific projects approved by the voters. I believe this is called deception.
Four months prior to the June Free Lance article, at a February, 24, 2014 Oversite Committee meeting, Mr. Kinsella attempts to justify spending bond funds for the police academy at the satellite site at Coyote Valley. He tells the members that because they are not getting matching money for the library and the theatre, they cannot wait long enough for the library to get funded by the state and can’t justify holding the money because they would be too far out from the date the bond was funded. He told them, “so we’ve taken that money and the unexpended money to set up the South Bay Public Safety Training Consortium at Coyote Valley.”
As with the previous article, Mr.Kinsella left out some very important information. He failed to inform the Oversite Committee members that because the police academy was not on the list of specific projects approved by the voters, spending bond funds on this project was a violation of Prop 39. This is also called deception.
Why did Mr.Kinsella and the trustees persist to use bond funds illegally on the police academy in Coyote Valley?
The police academy was a very important program to Gavilan College. According to Mr.Kinsella and other trustees the academy would provide 2.4 million in added revenue that was about 10% of Gavilan’s annual income. Losing this revenue was a legitimate concern, however other options to fund the academy were available.
Instead, Mr. Kinsella and the trustees chose n​ot​to abide by the law and violate Prop 39 by illegally using bond funds on the police academy at the satellite site in Coyote Valley.
When you have a college President and elected officials that refuse to abide by the law, the voters/taxpayers are the losers. In the end, voters are left to wonder, what good is Prop 39? Will there be consequences? If not, why should voters/taxpayers support Prop 39 bonds in the future?
Aurelio Zuniga, Hollister

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