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VCCCD records: Promised East Campus, SP voters strongly supported Measure S

February 15, 2006
Santa Paula News

Santa Paulans approved a bond measure in numbers far above the county average, just one tidbit contained in the approximately 1,500 pages of documents that were finally received by the city after threatened court action to acquire the paperwork related to the Ventura County Community College Districtís Measure S.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesSanta Paulans approved a bond measure in numbers far above the county average, just one tidbit contained in the approximately 1,500 pages of documents that were finally received by the city after threatened court action to acquire the paperwork related to the Ventura County Community College Districtís Measure S. The documents also reveal that the districtís initial projected funding for a new educational center in Santa Paula was pared considerably when pre-election surveys showed that voters were not excited by the concept of such satellite campuses.City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz noted that when the city picked up the two boxes of documents they had to have a check in hand for $371, the cost of copying the copious amount of paperwork. The documents will be sorted prior to being handed over to Attorney Karl Berger for review, Bobkiewicz said last week.The documents were sought after discussions behind closed doors by the City Council started in October. The Council has become increasingly angry over the districtís statements that it might abandon plans to use Measure S money to build a new Ventura College East Campus in Santa Paula. In October, the council began discussing, in closed session, the possibility of suing the College District.Berger had asked the district for a long list of records related to the bond measure, which kicked off a correspondence with VCCCD attorneys who claimed that the request was vague and confusing. Last month the Council voted to sue to get the documents, finally provided after almost a three-month wait.
The city now has records related to Measure S, the $356 million bond measure approved by county voters in 2002, as well as the records relating to the districtís plans for Santa Paulaís East Campus. The city must now sift through an array of Board of Trustee meeting agendas and minutes, letters from the districtís lawyers and e-mails Ė including some marked confidential Ė that passed between trustees and district staff. The full text and ballot description of Measure S and records of how the bond money has been spent so far are also included, the latter often buried in page after page of general financial reports.The district has signaled that it might not tackle the $25 million Santa Paula East Campus due to rising construction costs that have depleted the bondís purchasing power by about one-third, a crushing blow to Santa Paula, that had almost the highest number of voters who favored the measure.According to a chart contained in VCCCD records, 60.5 percent of Ventura County voters approved Measure S, which required 55 percent to pass. Santa Paula voters Ė who for months had heard VCCCD administratorsí and board membersí promises for the new area campus Ė approved the measure by 66.9 percent. Only Oxnard, with 67 percent, exceeded Santa Paulaís support.One letter in the file, written in October 2001 by then VCCCD Chancellor Philip Westin, refers to the Santa Paula campus as a projected $34 million project.