Dear Media and Friends,

The City’s Bond Overview Advisory Committee (BOAC) has not convened since January 13 even though they are required to convene every two months.

BOAC is a nine-member group appointed by the Mayor and City Council. According to the City’s website, it is supposed to “review information from applicable City Departments regarding the voter approved 2012 Bond Issue Projects (2012 Bond Projects) for the purpose of reporting periodically, in conjunction with City staff, but not less than twice a year, to the Mayor and Council on the status of progress of the 2012 Bond Projects.”

Chaired by Bernie Sargent since 2012, BOAC not only monitors progress on the Quality of Life bond projects, but it has also documented cost overruns totaling tens of millions of dollars. The committee admits public comment as well as guest speakers and is often attended by the media.

In theory, BOAC is a critically important group since it is supposed to advise against overspending and serve as a watchdog against financial malfeasance.

Yet, BOAC meetings have been repeatedly postponed, allegedly because of the pandemic. Its members recently received an email stating that “Unless required by State law, all City boards and commission meetings are suspended while this [COVID-19 emergency] ordinance is in effect” unless required to meet by State law. Well, I checked and there is no State law mandating BOAC meetings.

Here is the bottom line: The City is proceeding with expending hundreds of millions of dollars on the QOL bond projects, whose planning and construction is ongoing in spite of this crisis, but there has been no citizen oversight of the expenditures in well over four months.

There is absolutely no reason why BOAC cannot meet via Zoom like other City committees.

This seems like a strategy to hide from the media and public how the City is spending bond money and issuing new debt in the form of certificates of obligation.

This is totally unacceptable.