​​OUSD starting early on 2016 bond

By Tina Richards

The Orange Unified Board of Trustees agreed to hire three consulting groups to assist with the preparation, creation and execution of a bond measure targeted for 2016.

OUSD will pay election consultants Clifford Moss and Associates $78,000; polling consultants True North Research, $50,000; and bond counsel Orick, Herrington and Sutcliffe a fee contingent upon the passage of the measure. That is, bond counsel gets paid when the bonds sell.

The consultants were recommended to the board by a subcommittee – Tim Surridge, Kathy Moffat, Rick Ledesma – that interviewed, analyzed and weighed the merits of a number of candidates.  Clifford Moss, a strategic communications firm with a 95.4 percent “win” rate, was the unanimous choice. They were, Rick Ledesma said, “relatable.”

Ears to the ground
Communications consultants Bonnie Moss and Lynn Davis will help frame a future bond measure by talking and listening to district constituents.  “Listening is a lost art,” Moss told the board.  “We listen to stakeholders, we understand their uniqueness. People support what they help create.”

“These people have studied our community,” Moffat noted, referring to a Clifford Moss presentation chart that broke down the myriad subgroups within the OUSD demographic, and their relationship to each other.  “That chart convinced me.”

Bonnie Moss, who does not live locally, and Lynn Davis, who does, apparently recognize that voters representing four different high schools may have four different opinions about what their schools need -- and those opinions will likely differ from those of senior citizens, voters without children, fiscal conservatives or occasional liberals.  

Their job, they say, is to find out what facility improvements those subgroups believe the schools need, and what level of support they are willing to provide.  The goal is to synthesize diverse wish lists and checkbooks into a palatable bond measure that a majority of voters will support.  

Eyes on the prize
Trustee Mark Wayland questioned their ability to do that.  “How can you win when those before you couldn’t?” he asked.  During the last bond measure, “the OC Register wrote that we did everything right, but they just didn’t want a bond.”

Moss reported that her firm had a 100 percent success rate with similar bond measures in the last two election cycles.  She cited her statewide experience, the benefits of “active listening,” and the need to align the community early on.

Lynn Davis also has bond experience.  The Tustin resident is a member of that city’s school board and as a trustee (not a Clifford Moss consultant), he helped get two bond measures passed in that district.

The board vote to hire all three consulting groups was 5-2, with Alexia Deligianni-Brydges and Diane Singer opposed.