District approves fiscal agent despite faculty concerns

Measure X bonds spark discord

Melissa Maria Martinez, Times Staff

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The San Jose Evergreen Community College District voted to approve a one-year contract with the Ann Kennedy Group — a fiscal agent the district selected to manage Measure X bond funds.

During a district meeting in November Academic Senate presidents from SJCC and EVC raised concerns regarding the districts process in selecting the Kennedy Group.

“We have asked that the expenditure of $700 million be more inclusive, more transparent, more accountable. That has not happened,” Dr. Philip Crawford said at the district meeting in November. “We want to make sure we have diversity in the people applying for the millions of dollars, the other thing is the ethics of this.”

According to Crawford, the Kennedy Group contributed $8,000 to see Measure X — a $748 million bond measure — pass in November 2016 and Gilbane contributed $24,000.

Crawford said the faculty has a big interest in the fiscal management of the bond funds because it is the faculty who is going to have to live with whatever happens over the next century in terms of buildings.

Crawford is not saying that the Kennedy Group should not be hired.

“What I am saying is that there is a serious issue about the smell test here,” Crawford said. “It doesn’t pass the smell test, it looks like pay to play.”

At the district meeting in November, Chancellor Debbie Budd said the process is a contract for services and although it was inclusive when faculty asked, it is not a process that normally includes faculty.

“This is not part of a typical hiring procedure for human resources,” Chancellor Budd said. “This process was to have experts engaged in financial matters.”

Chancellor Budd said, voters passed Measure X a year ago and the district has an interest in ensuring voters see that the facilities are being built for students.

“We will be going out for bond rating this spring as well as selling the bonds,” Chancellor Budd said. “So we need to have someone (a fiscal agent) in place.”