Education Matters/Opinion: Campaign contributions received for local bond measures

Marsha Sutton

By Marsha Sutton

The second filing period for disclosure of campaign contributions to November ballot measures closed Oct. 25. Of those donors contributing $1,000 or more to Propositions AA and CC, the local school bond measures, most came from organizations and businesses locally and statewide.

For the San Dieguito Union High School District’s bond measure, Proposition AA, $11,000 was received during the first reporting period (through Sept. 30). Half, $5,500, was given by Brad Shoen, a Torrey Pines High School parent involved in the Yes on AA campaign. The rest came from firms and individuals who each donated $500 or less.

For the Oct. 1 through Oct. 20 reporting period, $191,100 was received and $180,000 came from the following firms:

•$25,000 from Gilbane Building Co., headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island

•$25,000 from Lionakis of Sacramento, an architectural and engineering firm

•$25,000 from De La Rosa & Co., investment bankers in Los Angeles

•$25,000 from Westberg & White Architects of San Diego

•$25,000 from MVE Institutional architectural firm in Santa Ana

•$15,000 from Erickson-Hall Construction Co. of Escondido

•$11,000 from Balfour Beatty Construction Co. of San Diego

•$7,500 from Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke & Associates, an architecture and design firm based in Riverside

•$5,000 from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, a San Francisco law firm

•$3,000 from Pardee Homes

•$2,500 from HMC Architects of Ontario, Calif.

•$2,000 from Kilroy Services, a Los Angeles realty corp.

•$2,000 from Gould Electric Co. of Poway

•$1,500 from Pecoraro, a painting contractor in San Diego

•$1,500 from Brady Co. of La Mesa, subcontractors in metal framing and drywall installation

•$1,000 from Masson & Associates, a land development and surveying firm based in Escondido

•$1,000 from Berg Electric of Escondido

•$1,000 from Dynalectric of San Diego

•$1,000 from Ralph Roesling of San Diego’s Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects

Of the $10,500 donated to the Del Mar Union School District’s Proposition CC campaign reported through Sept. 30, $9,000 came from three companies outside San Diego County: $5,000 from Jones Hall, a San Francisco municipal bond law firm; $2,500 from the Newport Beach law firm of Bowie Arneson Wiles & Giannone; and $1,500 from Royce Printing, a printer in Mill Valley.

For the Oct. 1 through Oct. 20 reporting cycle for donations to Del Mar’s Yes on CC campaign, $21,000 of the $21,900 came from six companies:

•$7,500 from the Dolinka Group, Irvine-based financial consultants for the bond

•$5,000 from Stone & Youngberg, a municipal finance company based in San Francisco that has a contract with the Del Mar district to provide underwriting services for the bond should it pass

•$5,000 from San Diego’s Balfour Beatty Construction Co.

•$1,500 from Eric Hall & Associates, a school facilities funding and planning firm located in Carlsbad

•$1,000 from Atkinson Andelson Loya Ruud & Romo, a law firm with offices throughout California

•$1,000 from Borrego Solar of San Diego

The Dolinka Group, the financial advisory firm that achieved local and national notoriety by assisting the Poway Unified School District in structuring its much-criticized Capital Appreciation Bonds, donated $7,500 to the Yes on CC campaign. Dolinka will receive hourly fees to “evaluate need for a general obligation bond measure” if Del Mar’s bond passes, according to its contract.

This service to survey the community has already been provided, but the firm will only be paid if the bond measure passes. Fees run $250 per hour for the president, Benjamin Dolinka, $200 per hour for directors, down to $85 per hour for research assistants.

If voters approve the bond, Dolinka will further assist the district with the issuance of the bonds at a rate of $75,000 for the first bond issuance and $65,000 for each subsequent issuance.

Dolinka also has a contract with San Dieguito for similar services, although to date the county shows no contribution to the Yes on AA campaign from Dolinka.

According to San Dieguito’s contract, Dolinka was compensated $29,500 plus expenses for initial polling of the community to determine the level of interest in a bond. In addition, Dolinka will receive, should Prop. AA pass, an additional $20,000 for preliminary work and $65,000 for each bond issuance under Dolinka’s involvement.

San Dieguito is using the legal services of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, which donated $5,000 to the Prop. AA campaign. But Eric Dill, SDUHSD’s assistant superintendent of business services, said the district has no contract with the law firm and pays for its bond services on an hourly basis.

De La Rosa and Co., which donated $25,000 to SDUHSD’s bond campaign, will be paid, based on its contract with the district, under the following terms for “Fees”: “Our underwriting discount will be not-to-exceed $7 per $1,000 of par amount, subject to negotiation prior to each bond issue, plus reimbursement of our reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.”

Bowie Arneson Wiles & Giannone, which donated $2,500 to the Yes on CC Del Mar bond campaign, has a contract with the DMUSD that depends upon passage of the measure.

According to its contract with Del Mar, for the initial series of bonds, the law firm will receive 1 percent of the first $2 million issued ($20,000) and .5 percent of the next $6 million issued ($30,000), plus expenses up to $3,000.

For each subsequent series of bonds, Bowie Arneson will receive another 1 percent of the first $2 million ($20,000) and .5 percent of the next $5 million ($25,000), plus expenses not to exceed $3,000.

There are expected to be five issuances of Del Mar bonds and four to five for San Dieguito.

All contracts are available to the public through the school districts.

Campaign contributions for these and other ballot measures can found at the County Registrar of Voters Website at: