August 5, 1997
Honorable William L. Gordon, Presiding Judge
Santa Barbara County Superior Court
1100 Anacapa Street
PO Box 21107
Santa Barbara, California 93121-1107
Board of Supervisors' Response to the 1996-97 Grand Jury Interim Final Report on the Buellton Union School District
Dear Judge Gordon:
At its regular meeting of August 5, 1997, the Board of Supervisors adopted the following response as the Board's response to the relevant finding and recommendations in their 1996-97 Grand Jury's interim final report on the Buellton Union School District.
FINDING 1: The issuance and posting of the Summons, giving minimum public notice of the Validation Hearing, used summarizing and technical language. The effect was that neither interested parties nor the public were able to realize what subject was being Noticed. The interested parties and the public were not given adequate opportunity to understand, question or contest the justification for changing the use of the voter approved Bond Funds.
RESPONSE: The Board agrees with the finding.
RECOMMENDATION 1a: The Santa Barbara Grand Jury requests that the elected state representatives introduce legislation to change the language of the Validation Act in the following manner:
(i). The Public Agency bringing validation proceedings shall give notice of the pendency of the proceedings by mail to all registered voters within it boundaries and to the County District Attorney.
(ii). A Validation Action cannot be imposed when the action is a substantial change to an issue previously passed by the required majority of the voting public.
(iii). The District Attorney or a designated representative of that office shall represent the voters at the hearing of the "Validation Action By Public Agency".
(iv). Any substantial change in the use of Bond Funds must be voted on by the voting public.
RESPONSE: The Board is not required to respond to the above Recommendation; it is presented here as reference relative to Recommendation 1b which follows.
RECOMMENDATION 1b: The Board of Supervisors should:
A. direct its lobbyist to elicit support in the legislature for the above recommendation numbers one through four.
B. direct it California State Association of Counties (CSAC) representative to obtain CSAC support for the proposed changes in the legislation.
C. request that local representatives to the legislature support the changes one through four.
RESPONSE: The Board of Supervisors commends the 1996-97 Grand Jury for its valuable work in identifying and tenaciously pursuing investigation of the anomalous activities of the Buellton School Board in connection with its validation action. After considering the matter, the Board will implement the recommendations by supporting state legislation that would address the Grand Jury's concerns regarding validation proceedings and by requesting our legislative delegation to author/support such legislation.
In addition, the Board has adopted the following policy regarding validation noticing:
When the Board considers authorizing the filing of a validation complaint, it will hold a public hearing on the matter. If a validation action will affect relatively few voters, the County will notify those voters by personal mail. In those instances where mail notice would be prohibitively expensive, the County will provide enhanced distribution of the agenda and notice of the proposed action which describes the nature of the matter in plain language.
Finally, the Board has directed staff to send a letter to the cities, school districts and other special districts within the County indicating the Board's action and enlisting support.
Chair, Board of Supervisors
cc: Patricia Fillippini, l996-97 Grand Jury Foreperson