Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Hermosa Beach Residents Slams City Council Cover-Ups on Public Records

October 11, 2021

Paula Montalbo

Business Manager

Hermosa Beach City School District

1645 Valley Drive

Hermosa Beach, CA 90254


Dear Paula Montalbo,


It is illegal for the Hermosa Beach City School District to charge me $893.20 (invoice PR #00001, dated August 31, 2021) for a public records request under the California Public Records Act.  (CPRA Section 6253(b).   It is also illegal for HBCSD to take two months (from July 9, 2021 to August 31, 2021) to provide me with the public records I had requested. (CPRA Section 6253(c)).


On June 16, 2021, I had requested copies of invoices and payments made to GKK Works and payments made to former HBCSD Superintendent Pat Escalante from July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2018.  You charged me $169.60 for public records and I had to wait longer than the maximum 14 days period specified in the California Public Records Act (CPRA Section 6253(c)) for my public records request to be fulfilled.   I paid the $169.60 invoice and patiently waited for more than 14 days as a good faith measure with HBCSD to provide me the public records.   I was wrong to have believed that by working in good faith with HBCSD, HBCSD would work in good faith with me to provide public records. 


I have requested public records before, and I know of others in our community who have also requested public records under the CPRA from HBCSD.   At no time in the past have I or others been charged for our legal right to obtain those records. 


I have also worked with multiple accounting software systems since the late 1980s.  I know that even the most unsophisticated accounting software allows for easy record searches by date, vendor, payment account, and employee.   I have also had to search through archived warrants or documents to respond to clients document requests.  It is ridiculous for you to claim that it took 12.5 hours to research whether the district ever finished paying on more than $16,000.00 of unneeded/unused invoiced charges from GKK Works from 2014 or to provide me with Pat Escalante’s monthly pay information from June 2011 to November 2013 and from December 2018 to December 2020 per my record request.   It seems obvious to me that the school district is trying to hide information from the public.


I noticed that your letters to me regarding my records request CC’d the school district’s attorney, Mr. Terry Tao.  I believe that the school district’s attorney has advised you to illegally charge me and purposely delay producing my public records requests as a way of discouraging me from requesting documents.   I doubt that either you or Superintendent Jason Johnson would decide to break the law on your own without being prompted to do so by the school district’s attorney, Terry Tao.   Although Mr. Tao has a proven track record of being unethical and corrupt, I would have hoped, however, that Superintendent Jason Johnson would be familiar enough with the CPRA to know that what you and he are doing by charging me and delaying the production of public records is illegal, unethical, and corrupt.   I am disappointed that Superintendent Johnson (and school board members) seem to be hiding behind the school district’s attorney and colluding with an action that at least Superintendent Johnson should know is illegal.


In 2017 I had sent an affidavit and proof of Mr. Tao unethical behavior in collusion with HBCSD Superintendent Pat Escalante to purposely provide the voters of Hermosa Beach misinformation during a public meeting one week before the HBCSD $59 million dollar facilities bond vote to the Los Angeles District Attorney for Public Integrity.   Although it is not illegal for Mr. Tao to have purposely lied throughout his one-hour presentation to the public, shortly after I reported Mr. Tao to the D.A., I believe that Mr. Tao was released from his partner position at the prestigious law firm of AALRR.    After being released from AALRR, Mr. Tao then started his own firm, Tao Firm, and subsequently Tao Rossini, APC.  


I had sent detailed information to School Board members with proof of Mr. Tao and Superintendent Pat Escalante’s collusion to provide the public with misinformation prior to the bond vote.   I have attached proof of the misinformation in my email with this letter.  


Despite proof that Mr. Tao had provided the voters of Hermosa Beach with one hour worth of misinformation and misleading information regarding the district use of the Community Center and North School for students, HBCSD School Board members choose to keep Mr. Tao as the school district’s attorney at taxpayer expense.   This action proves that HBCSD School Board members actively disregard providing the community with true and impartial information or creating the highest standards of integrity within the district.


I plan to pick up the records that I requested this week.  I will not pay $893.20 for the right to request public records.  I will pay your charge of $18.20 for copies of my requested documents.   If my request is not honored, I will go on record at a School Board meeting with my complaint regarding the district’s illegally charging me for my public records request.


Miyo Prassas

30-year resident of Hermosa Beach

cc: a lot of residents of Hermosa Beach.

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