Jack Weir has been a taxpayer advocate for over 40 years. He founded the Pleasant Hill Taxpayers Association in the early 1980s, and became a member of the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers. Later, he became a member of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association (CoCoTax) serving as president and executive director. CoCoTax was established in 1937 and is the only recognized taxpayer organization in Contra Costa County. Therefore the required Taxpayer position on a Citizens Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) in Contra Costa County needs to be a member of CoCoTax.
Jack is a retired Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, Pacific Telesis Group executive. In 2010 Jack was elected to the Pleasant Hill City Council with a priority to restore fiscal solvency and prudent management.
Advocacy for Citizens Bond Oversight Committees (CBOCs)
The purpose of the citizens’ oversight committee shall be to inform the public concerning the expenditure of bond revenues. The citizens’ oversight committee shall actively review and report on the proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money for school construction.*
Jack currently serves on three CBOCs and has served on six Prop 39 CBOCs. For over 20 years he has served on CBOCs, monitoring and reporting to the public on over $1 billion in school bonds.
He served on the board of directors for the now-defunct California League of Bond Oversight Committees (CaLBOC). It was started with a primary mission to promote school district accountability by improving the training and resources available to California’s Proposition 39 CBOCs. He wrote an ambitious business plan to revitalize it’s mission and outreach. That effort was not successful. He then co-founded and served as Chairperson of its successor, the California Association of Bond Oversight Committees (CABOC). CABOC’s mission is to provide resources to support CBOCs. Additionally, CABOC lobbies in Sacramento for strengthened legislation to support better training of CBOC members and school district staff.
Jack’s experience has shown him that Californians have always supported high-quality public education, and have traditionally voted to build and upgrade school facilities, especially after WW II brought a massive influx of new residents. At the end of the last century, however, voter support for school bonds slackened, and school bond ballot measures began to fail the 2/3 approval threshold. Various groups lobbied to place Prop 39 School Bonds on the state ballot and it passed. This lowered the approval threshold to 55%. Prop 39 requires that school districts establish an independent CBOC, whose primary duty is to monitoring school bond program management and report their findings to the public.
Unfortunately, Jack has often experienced significant misuse of school bond funds, either by diverting bond funds to operational budgets, or wasteful management practices. These abuses typically occur in the larger school districts where there may not be close familiarity and communications between residents and district officials seen in smaller districts. Residential property owners must pay back bond obligations, usually over a 20-30 year payback period, and frequently at a total of twice the face value of the bonds.
Jack sees that the most serious hurdle to effective bond oversight stems from new CBOC members need to fully understand the critical importance of them being independent and to not subservient to district leaders. CBOC members need proper training and resources to be effective. All too often, the bond ballot language and the initial training of new CBOC members are provided by the bond firms seeking to sell the school bonds. These bond firms’ primary responsibility is to their investors, not the taxpayers who will pay for the bonds, or the families whose children will attend the schools and use the facilities constructed with bond funds.