Monday, July 12, 2010

Measure C Committee Applications Due Friday

Don't forget, if you are the type of person who wants to help shape the way Measure C funds are spent, applications for the oversight committee are due on Friday.

See the DISTRICT Measure C Oversight Committee information page.

One thing I noticed is related to an email I got from a concerned citizen about the Solar Projects.

The committee information sheet says:

"The committee does not have authority to select, or participate, in the negotiation or bid process for contractors or consultants for bond projects."

This concerned person wrote after reading an article in the Times:

No bids necessary for big solar projects, and that can cost you

They wrote the following (in part):

". . . I guess I would like to know what the value of a no bid contract is in these economic times. It just seems like we are opening up ourselves for waste. From what the papers say, Solar companies are having a hard time making it today, so why wouldn't we want to see who could give the MDUSD the best deal?"

The article has a few keys quotes to consider, then feel free to discuss:

"Schools and cities up and down the state have taken advantage of the 1983 law to bypass bidding in order to move quickly on solar projects. Among them, the Oakland-based Peralta Community College District, which has been criticized for signing an $8.1 million contract with Chevron Energy Solutions despite indications that seeking bids could have saved as much as $1.5 million."

"A Chevron spokeswoman said the company supports bidding when it is appropriate, but also said the firm sometimes drops out of contract negotiations if an agency decides to solicit bids. Chevron Energy Solutions, a San Francisco-based subsidiary of the San Ramon oil giant, hires subcontractors to install solar panels.

"We're bringing other things to the table," said the spokeswoman, Juliet Don, explaining that smaller companies are often able to offer lower prices than Chevron. "If it's purely based on price, it's not always an optimal situation.""

If it is purely based on price? I will admit up front I don't know what else it could be for a public entity such as a school district. If bids open it up to lower price for similar/same quality of product, workmanship, solar savings and more - what more could there be? It has to come down to price for a school district doesn't it? I am ready to be educated on this topic, but I'm getting sick of the put downs , so can we keep it civil and have a reasonable discussion?


  1. If the committee is to determine how the Measure C money is spent, but cannot determine who the solar panel contractor is, then why bother? That's where all the money is going to be spent. Besides, the district still hasn't named the people on the School Closure Committee.

  2. Dr. Lawrence informed the parents at the PAC meeting in June that they will be choosing the School Closure Committee in September.

    There is going to be more done than just solar with the Measure C funds. In the article, it says the solar project is going to be $68M, but the district got ~$348M for the bond.

    In the article that talked about the no bid solar projects, there was also this information and quote:
    "The Mt. Diablo Unified School District, fresh off a June 8
    bond-measure victory, is working toward a $68 million solar project it says would be the nation's largest at a K-12 district. District trustees have yet to decide whether they will seek competitive bids on the work.

    'We are doing our due diligence, whether we seek bids or not,' said Gary Eberhart, a Mt. Diablo trustee. 'People desire to be on this project and to have their name on it. I think we can be very demanding on the price we get on this deal.'"

    It is not always advantageous to go for the lowest bid. One of the problems that MDUSD has had in the past is with contractors who underbid and then put in change orders.

    Still, a bid process will let us compare apples to apples and help with the oversight when the Measure C committee is selected.

    It seems to me that if a company knows that they have to bid on something we will get a better price and service.

  3. It seems to me that a competitive bid would insure a lower price. Good work and fewer change orders would insure that that contractor remain on the bid list for the next project. Since the solar financing is already outrageously expensive it would be nice if the construction costs were competitive.

  4. 1/7 of the bond money to be spent on solar but the committee has no say in who the contractor is? Sounds fishy. That's a lot of money that will have no public oversight. Who's going to choose the contractor - the same group of people who chose the principal for Mt. Diablo Elementary?

  5. Anon 9:16pm- I don't think an oversight committee ever gets to decide on which bid to pick.

    They may get to review the process to make sure it is fair, but they wouldn't have the authority to say who the contractor should be.

    Just because someone gets picked to be on an oversight committee doesn't necessarily mean that they know about the competitive bidding process.

  6. And just to be clear (even though I'm not anon 9:16). I wasn't suggesting the oversight committee pick the contractors, I merely was surprised they essentially have no say in the "process" by which a contractor is chosen.

  7. MDUSDParents- Which part of the process do you think they should be involved in? The decision to go out to bid or the actual selection of the contractor?

    I found the link on MDUSD's website about the duties and functions of the committee. You can read it by clicking on this link:

    The bid process is not addressed.

  8. I'm just wondering why the committee would have no say over how bids are handled. No bid, vs. bid. And I'm curious then who does determine that. Do you know? Does the board decide if it will go out to bid?

  9. I don't know, but I don't see why it can't be discussed.

    It seems like that would be the first step of oversight.

    Perhaps a letter writing campaign to the Supe and the board?

  10. MDUSD Parents.

    Were solar incentives included in the overall "Plan" with measure C. Now that these are going away I would imagine that there could be a financial impact with these going away.

  11. 8:11- The article in the Times didn't say they were going away for good. It said that they were being temporarily suspended until they review how to make the incentives last longer.

    It would appear that this could definitely have an effect on the financing of solar panels for our district. I look forward to hearing what the Board/Superintendent has to say about it.

    MDUSDParents- Did you see the last paragraph of the article that mentions that the CA constitution does not require non-profits to go out and get bids? The article ends by saying that because of the suspension of incentives, that bid might be in order.

  12. I would like to know if the district has already applied. They requested funds for the application at the June 22 board meeting. There is a good chance they have applied since there was a rush to submit before the rebates dropped another step. If this is the case, and based on the information in the article, MDUSD should still receive the rebates.

  13. I wonder what effect this will have on solar projects under Measure C?

    Halt on California solar incentives stuns schools, nonprofits - By Matt Krupnick, Contra Costa Times

    The California Public Utilities Commission has stunned public officials and the solar industry by suspending lucrative rebates to school districts, cities and other government agencies that install solar panels on public buildings.

    Full article at

  14. What do you expect when the Board hires a secretary to be the chief accountant? Usually accountants have real degrees from real universities. At MDUSD, one only has to be a secretary who attended some workshops. The Board seemed real proud of itself back then.

    Does anyone remember where Richards came from? John Swett!
    He was the CFO there and look how he left the place. They are in dire straights according to the county. Good job Board.