If you are a parent in Hesperia with children who must now walk the two to three miles to school or a taxpayer wondering about the fiscal crisis California is in, you just need to attend the Hesperia school board meetings to get a glimpse of why we're in the mess we're in. It seems that politicians have now found out that school districts can be a lucrative source of income for their own ends.


The Hesperia school district is one of the largest employers in the high desert, and like other districts, it buys land, awards construction contracts, and spends millions on supplies for the classroom. School boards are supposed to be fiscally responsible, but this has not turned out to be true for Hesperia.


At the August 4 board meeting, Bruce Minton and Helen Rogers refused to vote for the payment of fees to the district's lawyer, Tristan Pelayes. At the direction of Robert Kirk, Mr. Pelayes had negotiated for parcels of land that were either more than their appraised value or more expensive than nearby available properties. To add insult to injury, Mr. Pelayes admitted that one of the sellers was a long time client of his. Considering that Mr. Pelayes' client benefited from the deal, shouldn't the client be responsible for the payment of his fees? Or did he receive payment from him as well? Why didn't the board majority consider this a conflict of interest? The school board, at least Robert Kirk, Lee Rogers, and Hardy Black, seem to be acquiring a history of paying out more than is necessary. The only reason someone pays more than they should is because they expect something in return.


Land negotiations aren't the only way the lawyer makes money. According to Mr. Minton, there are several ongoing "investigations" that seem to have no end. Mr. Pelayes is billing the district but the district does not know exactly what he is doing and when he will be finished. Mr. Minton asked for a report on these investigations for the next board meeting. I'm sure Mr. Pelayes will bill the district for his report. By the way, last year's attorney's fees were almost $300,000. That could pay for some buses.


Sadly, at this same meeting, Mr. Minton announced his resignation effective September 1. Partly for health reasons, and partly because of the board majority's abuse of their responsibilities, Mr. Minton will no longer be able to serve. Helen Rogers will be the only voice left on the board to call attention to their dealings.


With elections coming up, it is important that voters educate themselves about the candidates. Many are being sponsored by the the current board members, who care nothing about your children or how much of your tax money they waste for their own ends. We can't fix everything that's wrong in our state, but we could at least start in Hesperia.