Sep 21 2018

OPINION: Why I Will Vote for Hari Titan

“Hari Titan will be the School Board watchdog.”

Dear Editor,

Two School Board positions are open for election.  In addition to Julie Caskey, I will vote for Hari Titan.  Hari is a Ph.D. computer scientist who has worked in the financial industry.  Since moving to Piedmont ten years ago, Hari has deeply researched the bond financing methods our School Board used to pay for voter-approved seismic repairs and building construction.

Burrowing in, he discovered that the School Board refinanced the 2006 Seismic Bond from a CIB (Current Interest Bond) to a CAB (Capital Appreciation Bond) in 2013.  The CIB’s simple interest on the $12 million spent retrofitting Havens school would have cost a total of $19.8 million.  The refinanced CAB deferred payment, resulting in compound interest costing a total of $64 million.  Why did the School Board refinance with a bond that cost more than three times the original bond?

Hari asked that question and dug deep into documents.  He calculated that the refinanced CAB would cost us $44.2 million more than necessary, and he shared that finding with other Piedmont taxpayers.  Finally, in 2017 concerned Piedmont citizens convinced the School Board to refinance again, back to a CIB bond.  This current CIB bond saves us $26 million compared with the CAB bond.  It didn’t save us the entire $44.2 million because the CAB had a 10-year no-refinance provision.  The CAB investor gets to keep $18.8 million of our tax money with no discernible benefit to Piedmont.   But thanks to Hari, our loss has been minimized.

We need Hari Titan on the School Board to make sure the Board doesn’t try some other bonehead financing scheme with the recently-approved $60 million H1 Bonds.  We need transparency in school bond finance decision-making.  Board members should commit to NOT using the CAB bond financing method without public disclosure, input and approval.  With our votes Hari Titan will be the School Board watchdog.

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

One Response to “OPINION: Why I Will Vote for Hari Titan”

  1. Candidates for the School Board, current Board members and those sitting on the Board at the time the 2006 CAB bonds were initiated must disclose whether they were holders of these bonds. CABs are high profit for those that invest in them. Eventually, as would have occurred with Piedmont’s 2006 Series E bonds, taxpayers would have paid about ten times more than the funds received.

    Without Hari Titan we would still be using CABs. Vote for Hari.

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