“Joint use,” “design-build” all complex financial arrangements used to obfuscate the rip off of precious school funds by greedy developers. This series of interviews reveals the dark corruption that cost LAUSD almost a billion dollars to build one high school.
Former LAUSD Inspector General Don Mullinax explains how he first got involved in discovering what became the biggest high school construction scandal in the nation.
Part I: Toxic High School
This series of interviews identify who was responsible for the massive financial disaster that was initially called the Belmont Learning Center.
David Cartwright, Senior Partner in the Law Firm of O’Melveny & Myers was directly involved in selecting and purchasing the Belmont site for LAUSD. He claims everyone in charge knew about the environmental factors and insists these concerns were not serious issues. He insists they could have been easily remediated but were blown out of proportion by media-inspired hysteria.
Attorney David Cartwright claims that the lawsuits that followed the Belmont debacle were groundless. He claims that the report by DA Cooley exonerated everyone who had been suggested as culpable in what was called monumental "waste, fraud, and abuse."
Petroleum expert Ed Scott refutes the safety claims of the California Department of Toxic Substance Control. The DTSC has quietly begun a public relations campaign on behalf and in conjunction with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in order to win public support for completing the controversial $1/2 billion dollar Belmont Learning Complex.
Petroleum expert Ed Scott explains the dangers of hydrogen sulfide and the disturbing amount that he discovered was present on a Belmont site survey.
Dr. Kaye Kilburn of the USC Keck School of Medicine explains how continued exposure to small amounts of hydrogen sulfide causes irreparable brain damage. He shares the fact that you can smell it on the Belmont site means the danger is continuously there.
Ddr. Kilburn cites from his book entitled Chemical Brain Damage how an entire community in Lovington New Mexico has been poisoned by hydrogen sulfide. Referring to the Belmont site, he suggests "the experiment was conclusive. There is no need to do it again."
Part II: School Finance Fraud
"Joint use," "design-build" all complex financial arrangements used to obfuscate the rip off of precious school funds by greedy developers. This series of interviews reveals the dark corruption that cost LAUSD almost a billion dollars to build one high school.
Former California State Controller Kathleen Connell explains how school districts could skirt the legal requirement to get voter approval of school bonds by issuing "Certificates of Participation" or COP's.
Scott Wildman served as Chairman of the State Legislative Audit Committee, which investigated the Belmont Learning Center disaster. His report "identified literally tens of millions of dollars in waste," He explains that LAUSD management was not prepared to deal with unscrupulous developers.
Scott Wildman points out that LAUSD management was seduced by developers who promised the District could make money in a joint-use venture. The developers were not interested in building a school but rather enriching themselves with the District funds.
Dominic Shambra was directly responsible for managing the Belmont Learning Center project for LAUSD. He had little experience in the complex field of joint-use ventures, and design-build contracts with developers and so he headed up a team of experts to help him create the development.
Dominic Shambra claims the Belmont project was sabotaged by "union politics, environmental politics, and electoral politics." All of these factors combined to stop what he claimed would have been a top-rated learning academy.
Part III: Dirty School Cover-up
Two LA DA's both failed to file criminal charges against the developers, contractors, and the law firms that represented them for the apparent and obvious fraud that resulted in almost a billion dollars of precious school funding being wasted on one school construction project.
Inspector General of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Don Mullinax produced volumes of reports and audits of the LAUSD and made a number of referrals to District Attorney for prosecution on the waste, fraud, and abuse found on the Belmont project.
According to Anthony Pachett who served as LAUSD Belmont Task Force, non-voter approved public indebtedness known as Certificates of Participation were used to finance the Belmont Learning Center.
Special Assistant DA Anthony Patchett claims that investors were not advised of the environmental problems or costs of remediation.
Roger Carrick was a member of the District Attorney’s Ad Hoc Task Force on the Belmont corruption investigation. He responds to video clips of D. A. Steve Cooley where he denies that investigators presented a “draft indictment” or named names or presented any evidence of a crime. Carrick accuses Cooley of making false statements
Roger Carrick claims that pressure from powerful interests and a “lack of courage” on the part of the top managers in the L. A. County District Attorney’s office are blamed for preventing prosecutions in the Belmont High School corruption investigation.
According to Dominic Shambra, former Director of Planning and Development for the Los Angeles Unified School District, there was no competitive bidding for the Belmont Learning Center contract. “It was a request for proposal and it wasn’t one that asked for a bid.”
Dominic Shambra identified the Internal Revenue Service” taxability letter” as being the same smear promoted by David Koff of the Hotel & Restaurant workers union and Scott Wildman, Chair of the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee as having used “the same type of propaganda.”
Part IV: Bonus Footage
While investigating the LAUSD Belmont Learning Center fiasco, FDN discovered a secret public financing operation whereby the District quietly issue non-voter approved, tax-exempt bonds, mounting billions in public debt, and which is passed on to unsuspecting taxpayers for undefined projects.
This video blog reveals how, big law firms, political connections and $Billions in state and local bond funds persuaded the IRS to back down from their scathing indictment of the LAUSD for illegal use of non-voter approved, tax-exempt bonds call Certificates of Participation (COPs).
Former Special Assistant L. A. County D. A. Anthony Patchett headed the Belmont Learning Center investigation, He has attacked the FDN video blog citing certain statements which he says indicate there was an “intent” by the LAUSD to violate federal and/or state laws governing the finance and construction of public schools.
LAUSD Inspector General Don Mullinax appears in this short video covering his going away party when he retired from LAUSD.
LAUSD Board member David Tokofsky disclosed the existence of an unknown school financing operation that has been concealed from the public eye apparently to avoid scrutiny.
Major players in LA are supporting the break-up of the School District and are calling for an outside independent audit by L. A. City Controller Laura Chick. This video shows the battle brewing between Mayor Antonio Villargiarosa and LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer.
The multi-billion-dollar budget of LAUSD attracts power-hungry politicians on this FDN special Video News Blog
An exclusive video report on how California Taxpayers pay matching funds every time voters in Los Angeles approve billions in school bonds for what is described as “the Beast”.
Don Mullinax explains the existence of a draft indictment that was suppressed by DA Cooley. This document names specific people and specific charges that could have been brought against those individuals who perpetrated the fraud that was the Belmont Learning Center scandal.