Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trying to Set the Records Straight

Some of the real problems that need to be dealt with in the issues at Point Fermin Elementary School involve misstatements, errors, and untruths.

The great bulk of the errors, misstatements and untruths come from the Facilities Division of LAUSD and have been used as propaganda on those less informed about the situations.

A derogatory letter, filled with misinformation was sent to Congresswoman Jane Harmon by someone at Point Fermin Elementary School and I am going to use parts of it to illustrate the misinformation given to that person by a person or persons representing LAUSD.

I am also then going to include factual comments, now known to be true by the letter writer, once they were finally presented the real facts.

"Last Week a meeting was held with L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, District 15, other stakeholders, and 2 parents of children who attend Point Fermin Elementary. The meeting was in regards to the removal of a power pole that is supporting the transformer which powers the air conditioning unit for the school. The removal request was brought to the Councilwoman's attention by Mr. Campeau, a citizen from San Pedro who lives directly behind the school and also a member of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council. The request is stating the transformer and pole is obstructing his view. The meeting was called because Mr. Campeau stated it was a safety issue. But during the meeting both Councilwoman Hahn and Mr. Campeau stated it was a view issue and there was no mention of a safety issue concerning the pole. A stipulation of the meeting was only two parents from Point Fermin were to attend. But when the meeting commenced, Mr. Campeau was allowed twelve of his supporters to attend and many concerned parents were not there to support our representatives."

Now here are some true facts:

Mr. Campeau's view is of the stucco wall of a condominium building and he has no real view of the school site.

Mr. Campeau brought the issues forward on behalf of other stakeholders and not on his own behalf.

The meeting was called because LAUSD needs to have a revocable permit issues to allow DWP to energize the new cables, transformer, and power grid and it was the first meeting LAUSD was willing to sit down with others in the community regarding the issues.

Having climbed up and down hundreds if not thousands of utility poles during my work with ATT, I brought up the potential safety issues at Point Fermin Elementary School that are not found at any of the other 11 regular elementary schools in the San Pedro area.

I never heard of any stipulation as to who could attend the meeting which I and the letter writer attended. It would have been better if the interested parents had ignored the stipulation and attended the meeting which was really open to the public, as it turned out.

The power poles, transformer, and power cabinet were placed where they were because of errors made by the Facilities Division of LAUSD.

Many of us the letter writer claimed were "supporters" of Mr. Campeaus strongly support education and educational facilities within the community. To suggest we were all there to support Mr. Campeau, is an error.

Many stakeholders do believe however, that LAUSD must be held to standards which the rest of the community is held to. Many stakeholders believe that if an entity breaks the rules, continues to ignore their blunders, and attempts to circumvent the rules without regard to the entire community, they must be held accountable and their errors must be dealt with.

"The air conditioning unit was put in during 2006, but has yet to be run because of Mr. Campeau's complaint."

That was a misstatement of facts. The installation done in 2006 was to provide power to air conditioning units, bring more power for new technology applications and more power for general uses at the campus.

The grid has not be provided power because LAUSD must have a revocable permit issued and it has not fixed the problems it originally began creating in 1991 when it placed a covered lunch shelter in an area it was never supposed to be located.

Mr. Campeau is representing other stakeholders whose names have not been included because they feared becoming vilified by LAUSD and others, just like what has happened to Mr. Campeau.

"It is our understanding that if the Revocable Permit is not renewed, then the lunch shelter which is located beneath the pole will have to be relocate(d) somewhere else on the already limited school ground."

Here again we find that LAUSD has muddied the waters with misinformation and misunderstanding.

There is nobody I know that wants or insists that the shelter be removed; not Mr. Campeau, not others attending the recent PTO meeting, and not the vast majority of persons with any knowledge of the situation.

Currently Mr. Campeau's request involves undergrounding the cables that would provide power to the new cabinet and POSSIBLY having the city of Los Angeles finally provide a sidewalk along Carolina Street all the way to 32nd Street. That does NOT mean removing the shelter.

"The unit put into our school was exceptionally expensive due to the concern of preserving the historical character of our school."

It really doesn't matter why the units was put where it was put other than it was put in the wrong place in the first place, and LAUSD knew that when it did it.

Also, is the letter writer feeling that historical preservation is more important than providing for the students using proper guidelines without the potential for safety factors to come into play?

If historic preservation is more important than following modern rules and guidelines, perhaps the letter writer would prefer to have the school turned back to what it was like when it was first constructed.

"Councilwoman Hahn and Mr. Campeau suggested that the LAUSD spend $200- $400K to fix this view or Councilwoman Hahn would not approve the permit the school needs to keep the lunch shelter and air conditioning (which has been ready to go months ago and it has been hot!) electrical equipment. The school said they don't have the money and if they did, should they spend in on one person's view?"

Whatever the Facilities Division of LAUSD needs to come up with to fix the problem and allow the revocable permit to be granted is something they should do. They created the problems in the first place, they have been stonewalling every attempt to have them fix their problem, they have pitted sides against each other and are doing a great disservice to everyone involved, including holding children 'hostage'.

Without the new power grid coming online shortly, two classrooms will not have safe, reliable, and legal heating for students and teachers. Winter is coming.

The 'school' should not have to pay for the blunders done by the Facilities Division. There have already been four bond measures passed totaling billions of dollars going into the coffers of the Facilities Division.

If the Facilities Division continues to claim that there is not money, then they are indicating they have poor fiscal management, or probably worse.

The "unit" was "exceptionally expensive" yet the Facilities Division still put it in the wrong place.

It is already been acknowledged that "one person's view" is not being considered, especially by that person! This is another example of the management of the Facilities Division continuing to create misinformation so they won't be held responsible for their errors and intransigence.

"The parents of Point Fermin Elementary do not feel that our children should endure any hardship because Mr. Campeau lost his view from his house."

That statement is a perfect example of how the Facilities Division is manipulating individuals and groups with a clearly untrue statement that was made to incite too many people into misunderstanding the issues.

"The amount of money being requested for one man's luxury and the amount of money and time being requested to plan, remove, rebuild a new lunch shelter is preposterous."

This is another great example of LAUSD trying to escape really clearing their errors and using suffering parents and kids as bait in their fishing for the revocable permit.

The lunch shelter can stay for generations to come if the cables are placed underground AND even if a sidewalk were to be placed along the eastern side of Carolina Street.

LAUSD has some grounds to prevent a sidewalk from ever being placed all the way to 32nd Street because the city has not chosen to use its easement since before 1931.

There is precedent for the 'use it or lose it' rules in the city of L.A. and 78 years is a long time.

But that is another fight that isn't really involved in the issues currently being dealt with at the school and it is a matter for the future, anyway.

There MAY be a sidewalk continuing to 32nd Street, but the shelter need not be removed to provide a 3-foot sidewalk as it goes past the shelter.

" We understand Mr. Campeau's dilemma and agree everyone is afforded their right to express their opinion. We have heard his opinion, but think for the greater good not one person's gain that this issue needs to be resolved and Councilwoman Hahn should also support Point Fermin Elementary in this matter."

First and foremost concerning the statement above is that Councilwoman Hahn fully supports Point Fermin Elementary, it students, parents, faculty, staff, and others!!!!!

It was Councilwoman Hahn that brought the groups together representing all sides and concerns, for the FIRST TIME, even with LAUSD's reluctance to be involved with parents and others.

The letter writer not only did not understand Mr. Campeau's dilemma, they had never heard directly from Mr. Campeau about all of his issues regarding Point Fermin Elementary School.

Mr. Campeau can be recognized as an expert in the issues surrounding Point Fermin Elementary and he has vastly greater knowledge of the issues than any parent, PTO member, faculty member, or even the Principal at the school.

Again we find the Facilities Division and their propaganda has influenced too many people who either haven't been provided the true facts or are not willing to accept the facts as they are.

"Councilwoman Harmon (sic), I genuinely thank you for your time and consideration. Hopefully you understand that the only people that will really suffer are the children of Point Fermin Elementary."

Whenever LAUSD is allowed to circumvent rules and guidelines, everyone suffers, even the children.

How many of us have spent 13 years attending LAUSD schools that were never air conditioned?

Even the letter writer is attempting to use children as the particular 'victims' to the opposition to having the revocable permit granted.

We all should have a stake in demonstrating to everyone that LAUSD must be held accountable for their misdeeds. It provides a lesson to the entire community when we stand up against an uncaring bureaucracy that believes it can continue errors, ignore rules, and not be willing to fix the problems they created in the first place.

If the cables are placed underground, I strongly suggest the remaining problems will be fixed almost immediately after the undergrounding is complete, Point Fermin will grow even greater than it already is, and be a shining star in elementary education.


Now here is even more news about individuals within the Facilities that have an impact on continuing the problems faced at Point Fermin.

Mr. Gamble is paid $164,215.20 per year to get it right as Director of Maintenance & Operations, along with Mr.Finstad who is paid $128,980.00 as Local District Facilities Director. Perhaps their boss Mr.Guy Mehula who is paid $232,572.00 as Chief Facilities Executive might use a little from their paychecks to get some money for an easy solution to this problem.

Mr. James Campeau also wrote the following:

"Unhinged by what I read for the first time yesterday in the chain letter petition (as evidence of Mr. Gamble's doing) from the current PTO president to Congresswoman Harman, it would not be fair for me to single out the PTO president or the school Principal responsible for the wrong information to the Congresswoman.

I would hope as they understand all the information and what we are trying to accomplish for a WIN- WIN solution for all, that they would kindly take the time to write a letter and retract the original statements against me."

No comments: