To the relief of nervous bondholders, Moody's Investors Service said Friday that six agencies that invested in the county investment pool probably will be able to meet their March debt service payments.
Moody's made its evaluation after reviewing documents and having discussions with officials from Huntington Beach, Buena Park, the Fullerton Library Building Authority, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, the Yorba Linda Public Finance Authority and the Yorba Linda Co. Water District.
The surveys focused solely on each participant's ability to make its March payments, Moody's said.
The rating service is completing more comprehensive reviews of how each participant will be affected by losses from the investment pool. Those reviews are expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
CEO Gets Salute--and Check
County Chief Executive Officer William J. Popejoy's decision not to take a salary has won him admirers at the Covenant of the B'nai B'rith in Garden Grove.
The group saluted Popejoy in its newsletter. "Mr. Popejoy has pledged to lead the county out of its financial mess. And he started by promising to return his paychecks," the newsletter stated. "May his efforts be fruitful, his leadership idealistic and his promises a symbol for others to emulate."
One B'nai B'rith member, David Bromberg, went further by donating $100 to the county. In a letter to Popejoy, Bromberg said couldn't afford to donate his entire paycheck but wanted to do what he could to help out.
On Friday, the new CEO sent Bromberg a note thanking him for the donation. "Your willingness to be part of the solution is commendable and honorable," Popejoy said.
Schoolchildren on the Case
Toshiba American Entertainment Inc. is sponsoring an essay contest for students with creative solutions to Orange County's financial crisis.
Winners can receive cash, photocopiers and fax machines for their school.
Students in grades one through six are invited to draw pictures or write essays on "One Thousand and One Ways to Make More Money for Our Schools" on a roll of fax paper. Junior high and high school students are asked to write one-page letters to the Board of Supervisors describing how the bankruptcy is affecting their education and offering possible solutions.
Entries are due March 31. Irvine-based Toshiba will select one winner per grade and donate a copier and fax machine to those students' schools. Older students also will receive a $100 savings bond, while the elementary school winners will get $100 cash for their schools.
Schools Say 90% Gets an 'F'
A coalition of parents, students and teachers plans to attend Tuesday night's Board of Supervisors meeting wearing black ribbons to raise awareness about the problems schools are facing because of the county's financial crisis.
John Smith, who is helping organize the campaign, said ribbons are meant to show county officials that their plan to offer districts 90 cents on the dollar is unacceptable and would spell major cutbacks in school programs countywide.
"It's mourning for our 10% loss," said Smith, head of the Good News Coalition, a school advocacy group. "The goal is to tell the Board of Supervisors that 90% isn't going to do it for schools."
Fountain Valley School District Supt. Robert G. Sampica said a 10% loss on the district's $5.4 million in the county investment pool would mean a $550,000 loss for his district.
"We could use that money. If we lose it, it's a shame," Sampica said. "We could restore library programs for children and bring back custodial hours that were reduced."
Compiled by Shelby Grad with Jodi Wilgoren and Debra Cano.