Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees members have been thrust into the spotlight in the past week by an L.A. Times 6-part investigative series exposing waste, fraud and general misuse of tens of millions of dollars in voter approved construction bonds that total $5.7 billion.
Yesterday, in light of the Times expose, County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich - who served on this very board of trustees from 1969-1972 -- announced that he calls upon Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley for an investigation into the Los Angeles Community Colleges and the allegations contained in the (L.A. Times) series.
Will the voters hold long time president of the community college board, Mona Field, accountable at the polls?
Of those caught red-handed, Field is the woman who has been there through it all. She is widely blamed for having the largest role in the construction bond abuse:
Field, who collected $9,000 for her campaign from bond program contractors, has been on the board since 1999, president of the board since 2003 -- the first bonds were approved in 2001.
Since then, construction contractors hired to work on the campuses have contributed heavily to the campaigns of board members.
As reported by the L.A Times:
The board relies heavily on guidance from contractors that stand to profit from its spending decisions. A management consultant urged the trustees last year to hire an independent construction advisor to identify the public's best interests; they rebuffed the idea.
How has she answered this negative attention? She ducks it, or, at least she's trying to. Her response is silence - an inappropriate response.
However, in an internal email discovered by the Times, her voice is heard.
As reported by the Times:
After Times reporters began asking questions about waste, construction errors and other problems, the trustees in November 2009 commissioned a special audit of the program by a management consulting firm, Capstone Advisory Group LLC.
Mona Field, then president of the Board of Trustees, worried about potential fallout from hiring an investigator as well-qualified as Capstone's chief auditor.
"The resume looks like overkill," Field wrote in an October 2009 e-mail to the district's interim chancellor. "Won't people believe that we suspect MAJOR fraud if we hire someone like her?"
That speaks loudly on her view of transparent government.
How has she survived this long? Being a Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees member is an elusive political seat - even though it is the largest community college district in the country.
And compared to her opponents: she is incomparably financially backed. Very glossy campaign mailers here.
Field does show signs of being a bit worried that people are looking at things nobody used to know about:
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Though on the board since 1999, and president of it since 2003, Field does not list her position on the board of trustees on the ballot -- She calls herself a "professor". She switched from her long time spot on Board Seat 3 to run for Seat 1.
Field has no background to be overseeing multi-million dollar contracts. Her background is that of a political science professor - not a trace of economy in it.
We will let you know as things start getting interesting: are voters angry? Will they vote in a new slate of reformers?