By G.W. Schulz
It must suck to be a celebrity reporter for the Chronicle and have your stories buried on page B9. The Chron’s BALCO star Lance Williams has quietly moved into new territory, most recently with a pretty good little scoop on campaign-corruption problems at San Francisco’s City College.
Williams reported first on April 6 that a top official at the school had diverted a $10,000 lease payment belonging to City College (taxpayers, in other words) to the campaign coffers of a committee formed in 2005 to convince voters they should authorize a quarter-of-a-billion dollars in bonds for the school so it could build some new stuff. Follow-ups in the Chron haven’t been immediately easy to find, but they’re nonetheless interesting.
City College has been building new stuff since 1997, and 2005 was the third time they returned to you asking for more money. Spending money on community colleges is good. Spending your money to bankroll a campaign committee formed solely to convince you to spend more money on community colleges is probably illegal.
The first story noted that administrators had also directed a $20,000 lease payment made by a contractor doing very recent business with City College into the same committee’s bank account, but that money was returned several months later. The businesses making the payments were told to just fill their checks out to the campaign fund and bypass the school entirely, even though the school was where the money was supposed to go. When Williams started making calls to City College administrators asking about the remaining $10,000, that money was returned, too.
Williams also identified several businesses that made contributions of $10,000 or more to the campaign committee “within days of negotiating contracts with the community college.”