Mangum, Vaus clash at Poway forum over PUSD bonds
By Steve Dreyer
Poway City Council candidates Steve Vaus and Jeff Mangum clashed briefly during Monday night’s candidate forum on the question of Mangum’s role in the Poway Unified School District bond controversy.
Mangum restated his position that he was not on the school board in May 2011 when the board voted to proceed with the issuance of $105 million in school construction bonds.
“I did not vote for the bond, period,” Mangum told about 75 people attending a forum in Old Poway Park. “Anyone who tells you otherwise is not telling the truth.”
Vaus said Mangum voted to issue the bonds at the Oct. 11, 2010 PUSD board meeting, two months before his final term ended.
“He helped light the stick of dynamite,” Vaus said of Mangum.
The exchange took place in response to a question from the audience asking whether candidates felt the bond issue, along with the demise of the city’s redevelopment agency, would strain relationships between the city and the school district.
The capital appreciation bonds, authorized by PUSD voters in February 2008, were sold in 2011 at interest rates of around 7 percent. Since interest was deferred and no payments will be made for 20 years, the bonds will cost taxpayers about $1 billion when paid off. That’s a ratio of about 9:1.
Mangum on Monday night said that non-Mello-Roos taxpayers in the district are paying on average about $165 per year to repay school bonds. At the end of the 40-year period, they will be paying about $500 per year, he said, “not a crushing blow.” Meanwhile, property owners on the west side of the district, in Mello-Roos districts, are currently paying three-to-four times as much for their newer schools, he noted.
Asking on Tuesday to explain his November 2010 vote to proceed with the bonds, Mangum said that at the time, the district was anticipating getting a rate of about 3 percent. However, not long after the vote “the bond market tanked” and the district did not proceed with the issuance.
Mangum said that in November 2010 he and the board knew that the second issuance (“Series B”) of Proposition C bonds would be expensive, along that lines of 6:1. But the money was needed to repay bridge loans the district had made to speed up the school construction work in light of rising costs, he said.
Asked Tuesday to respond to Mangum’s explanation, Vaus said that “He (Mangum) approved the blueprint that led to the billion dollar bond.”
Monday night’s outdoor forum was sponsored by the Friends of the Poway Library and the Poway Woman’s Club.
Among other topics covered during the 90-minute forum were:
• Loss of redevelopment tax revenue – Cunningham criticized the “dysfunctional (state) Legislature” for taking “tens of millions” of tax dollars from the city, even though the Poway redevelopment program was using the money “properly and efficiently.” He called for new private-public partnerships to further advance the city’s redevelopment goals. Mangum noted the loss of redevelopment money also included a $2.5 million hit to the city’s general fund, or about 8 percent of that budget. Vaus said the state “robbed our piggy bank” and that the city will need to some up with creative ways to move forward on redevelopment. Vineyard quipped that “Governor Moonbeam has done it to us again.”
• Water rates – All four candidates expressed satisfaction with the city’s current two-tiered water rate schedule. Cunningham said he’d like to see the city eventually move to an “allocation method” where rates would be based on factors such as lot size and number of people living in a home.
• City employees – All four candidates said they felt the level of city services have not been affected by the 20 percent reduction in city employees in recent years. Vineyard added he felt that perhaps City Hall had been overstaffed prior to the cuts.
• Public safety – None of the four candidates support the creation of a separate police department for Poway. Vineyard said he would like to see local calls to the sheriff’s department handled by a Poway-based dispatcher. Regarding the fact that Poway station captains rotate out every couple of years, Vaus said that Poway is a “step up the ladder” and that the city gets the “best and brightest” of the department’s leadership.
• Trash collection – Vaus, Cunningham and Mangum endorsed an open, competitive bid process for future trash contracts. Vineyard said he was satisfied with the current service.
• Traffic on Espola Road – Vaus, Cunningham and Mangum said they opposed construction of a roundabout near Poway High School.
• “South Poway” issues – Vineyard said there is a perception that “South Poway” is not treated fairly by the City Council. “Whether it’s the truth or not doesn’t matter,” he said. Vineyard noted he is the only candidate living in that part of town. Vaus, Cunningham and Mangum disagreed with Vineyard. “I’ve looked all around and I can’t find the line,” Vaus said. “In my 16 years on the school board, I never made a decision based on geography,” added Mangum.
The four candidates also agreed:
• They oppose the city extending water lines east toward Highway 67;
• Education is an effective tool against drug use by Poway teens. Vaus noted that he organized a Town Hall on the subject after receiving no support for the idea during a presentation before the City Council.
• Providing services to senior citizens should be a high city priority.
• The city’s branch of the county library system is important and should be kept technologically up to date.
• They all get along with their neighbors.
City votes on Nov 6 will elect two candidates to the City Council. Cunningham is seeking a second, four-year term. Two-term Councilwoman Merrilee Boyack is stepping down.
- Four are early entrants to Poway City Council election
- City Council forum works around no-bond ruling
- Committee formed to study controversial PUSD bonds
- Vaus leads Poway City Council candidates in raising cash, spending
- Poway City Council candidate forum is Thursday night
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