Yesterday we attended the meeting of the the Bond Overview Advisory Committee, at which City staff presented a chart detailing the expenditures from the Quality of Life Bond, which was passed by the voters on November 6, 2012.

The City failed to post its chart in the backup to the meeting agenda, denying the media and public the opportunity to review the figures, but thankfully we obtained a copy from BOAC Chair Rick Bonart.

You see, the Quality of Life Bond appeared on the ballot in the form of two separate propositions: one for $245,000,000 and the other for $228,250,000, totaling $473,225,000.

The City then added to that cost by expanding the scope of work on several key projects, including the Children’s Museum and Mexican American Cultural Center, both of which ended up costing triple their budgets.

The “additional funding,” as it is labeled on the City’s chart, came mostly from certificates of obligation, which were authorized by City Council as needed.

Thus, the City engaged in a classic bait-and-switch, changing the price tag on the QOL Bond without voter permission.

If the bond indenture includes no provision for cost overruns–and we expect it does not–then we believe the City engaged in a series of ultra vires acts that would make for a very strong class-action lawsuit.

Our Chief Instigator, Max Grossman, was the only member of the public to speak at yesterday’s BOAC meeting. He bitterly complained about the cost overruns and the City’s effort to conceal them from the public yesterday.

In the course of his comments, he had a testy exchange with Assistant City Attorney Roberta Brito, who pushed back against his allegations but failed to counter them:

The good news is that under the leadership of Brian Kennedy, Joe Molinar, Art Fierro, and Oscar Leeser, the new City Council has recalibrated the City’s spending priorities and, in collaboration with Interim City Manager Cary Westin, put us on a better fiscal course.

We are hopeful that the City has overcome its addiction to unrestrained deficit spending, now that tax-and-spend politicians Cassandra Hernandez and Henry Rivera are outnumbered by City reps who know how to balance a checkbook.