Oversight panel chairman outlines facts Heins chose ‘to ignore’

To the editors:

After reading Mike Heins’ responses to your candidates’ survey, I feel compelled to respond.

I served as the chairman of the Mehlville School District Proposition P Oversight Committee for several years. In his responses to your survey, Mr. Heins blames me, individually, for the cost overruns on the building projects financed by Proposition P. Here are the facts that Mr. Heins is choosing to ignore:

• The Oversight Committee had no authority to commit funds. Our role was advisory only.

• The Oversight Committee reviewed projects to determine if they were in keeping with the spirit of Proposition P.

• Mr. Heins was a member of the board that voted to spend the money.

• Mr. Heins was a member of the board that voted several times to increase the budget for construction.

• Mr. Heins, as a board member, was responsible for managing the construction projects.

• Mr. Heins, as a board member, was responsible for managing the performance of the McCarthy Construction Co. as project manager.

• Mr. Heins attended less than a handful of Oversight Committee meetings during the course of the entire project.

• Most of the recommendations were brought to the board as “recommended with reservations.” Most often, the committee’s reservations were over the budget and costs.

• I personally voted against many of the projects and cited concerns over cost overruns.

• The administration provided the committee misleading budget estimates containing the code “Non Prop P Funds,” which they misrepresented as general operating budget funds, essentially hiding additional funds generated by the favorable bond offering results.

• The committee voted to allow members of the board and members of the administrative team to vote on projects brought before the committee. I voiced concern about the conflict of interest and voted against it.

Proposition P was the right thing to do. The facts are that the administration concealed the additional revenue generated by Proposition P and the board voted to authorize $20 million in additional expenditures. The board should have said no and it didn’t. The board could have managed the project, but it didn’t.

I voiced my concerns repeatedly in Oversight Committee meetings and in my reports to the board. Mr. Heins was on that board, had the responsibility for protecting the taxpayers’ funds and voted to spend the money in a way that he now thinks is a problem — a problem caused by an advisory board and me in particular.

The facts don’t support that claim and Mr. Heins has damaged my credibility and reputation by trying to deflect his personal responsibility as a board member. Shame on him.

Chuck VanGronigen

south county