VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 46   |  NOVEMBER 16 – 22, 2011


Barto did it again

Burdick’s interpretation of law appears flawed

PHOENIX – Senate Bill 1263 was passed during the last legislative session. SB 1263 blended multiple enactments relating to the administration of school districts and charter schools, including new legislation to allow school districts to divert voter-approved bonds to other projects by taking the bond measure back to the voters.

NANCY BARTOIn reviewing who was behind this law, it was no big surprise to see District 7 Sen. Nancy Barto’s (l) name as a co-sponsor.

The roster of Republican Senators who sponsored the bill included Rich Crandall, Dist. 19; Adam Driggs, Dist. 11; John McComish, Dist. 20; John Nelson, Dist. 12; and Steve Yarborough, Dist. 12.

If those names look familiar, they were also among the Republicans in the Senate who voted against several anti-illegal immigration bills in March.

As it turned out, the 60 or so presidents, vice presidents, chairmen, CEOs, managing partners and directors of numerous Arizona corporations that are advocates of illegal immigration, signed an Arizona Chamber of Commerce letter written by Glenn Hamer, urging legislators to vote against the bills.

The companies represented in the letter, was a veritable who’s who of campaign contributors to those same senators, which some have labeled RINO (Republican In Name Only) Republicans.

Following the district’s loss of the lawsuit brought by the Goldwater Institute over Barto’s last attempt to usurp the will of the voters with a special unconstitutional law, Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD93) Superintendent Debbi Burdick commented during the September 26, 2011 Superintendent’s Advisory Council meeting about the lawsuit and the options the administration needed to take to the board.

According to the meeting minutes, Burdick told the advisory council, “Yes the lawsuit is appealable but we don’t have the money for that now. Second, we can pay down debt, of which we hardly have any. If we did that, everyone would get a few dollars off their tax bill only one time. We could have done a lot with fixing our facilities with the $14 million. Three, we can let it sit in the bank and hope something changes or four, we could take it back to the voters to change it. This option was not available until this last legislative session.”

Burdick said the law was changed so districts can take the question of bond expenditures back to the voters and ask them to allow the district to spend the money another way.
Burdick is referring to SB 1263.

Prior to passage of SB 1263, the law stated, “If the voters approve the issuance of school district class B bonds or impact aid revenue bonds, the school district shall not use the bond proceeds for any purposes other than the proposed capital improvements listed in the publicity pamphlet, except up to 10 percent of the bond proceeds may be used for general capital expenses, including cost overruns of proposed capital improvements.”

SB 1263 added language to that section, which reads: “The proposed capital improvements may be changed by a subsequent election as provided by this section.”

Despite Burdick’s claim, nowhere in the language does it imply this can be done after bonds have been issued.

In fact, there is a section addressing calling for an election to extend the time to issue bonds, which clearly indicates the law would apply to bonds approved by voters that have not yet been issued.

Burdick ignores the fact that the publicity pamphlet for the 2000 bond election also mandated unused bond proceeds be used toward paying down the bond debt, meaning three out of four of her suggested options to take to the board would appear to be unlawful.

And, Burdick’s claim that paying down the debt would result in just getting a few dollars off our property tax bills only one time is disingenuous, as the Goldwater Institute noted there are still thirteen years or so left to pay on the bonds.

There are several other issues with the 2000 bonds.

For starters, voters authorized CCUSD93 to “issue and sell general obligation bonds in the principal amount of not to exceed $41,600,000 …”

The district issued $44 million in bonds as per the official bond statements.

CCUSD93 is still in violation of IRS regulations and on Dec. 9, 2010 a “Notice of Material Event” was posted on the bond underwriter’s website noting correspondence between the IRS and CCUSD93 on three separate occasions in an ongoing investigation.

According to IRS regulations, CCUSD93’s violations could render the 2000 bonds taxable to investors who believed they had invested in tax-free school improvement bonds.

There’s also the matter of the district owing the Goldwater Institute $31,867.60 in attorney fees and costs in its attempt to utilize Barto’s last stab at unconstitutionality.