Falvey responded by saying, "The City supports all of our public education institutions in some capacity. Each public education institution also pays the city for some of the required services it is provided."
Other Prop. A supporters say they are hopeful that Lee may still come around. Alisa Messer, president of American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, which represents City College faculty, told us, "The mayor says he supports City College and we're hoping he will support the measure soon."
Gabriel Haaland, who has been working on the measure for SEIU Local 1021, also told us as we were going to press on Sept. 10, that Lee seems to be coming around: "From what I understand, the mayor is about to endorse it."
PROMISE OF SUPPORT
When Lee appointed Santos — who has raised an unprecedented amount of money for his race, $113,153 as for July 1, mostly from the real estate and development interests he represents as president of Coalition for Responsible Growth — some argued that it would bring needed financial support for the district and the Prop. A campaign.
"He is expected to bring his allies in these fields into the fight to save City College, which faces a critical 2/3 vote on a parcel tax this November," Tenderloin Housing Clinic Director Randy Shaw wrote on his Beyond Chron blog on Aug. 22, a day after telling the Guardian how the parcel tax was essential to City College's future and Santos was uniquely positioned to support it.
But Santos, whose campaign didn't return Guardian calls on the issue, hasn't appeared at any Yes on A campaign events or offered any discernible support for the measure, whose supporters had only raised a little over $20,000 as of July 1. While there is little organized opposition to Prop. A, the fact that it needs approval by two-thirds of voters is a challenge that requires strong support.
Rizzo said Shaw's argument doesn't hold up. "It's a nice theory," he said, "but I haven't seen evidence of that, and I haven't seen Rodrigo at any Prop. A events."
Santos hadn't been involved with City College or educational issues before deciding to run for trustee, and he's widely perceived as an ambitious politico setting himself up to run for the Board of Supervisors. At his press conference, Santos pledged to aggressively fight for City College.
"I join an institution that must be saved, and I'm absolutely committed to that goal," Santos said.
Lee assembled a variety of representatives from "the city family" at his press conference, including trustees Natalie Berg and Anita Grier, Interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher, representatives from the Controller's Office, Board of Education, Department of Children Youth and their Families, and the Mayor's Budget Office.
"They, after all, need our help, need our support and they will not be able to accomplish it all by themselves," said Lee, who pointedly didn't say anything about the parcel tax at the event, even though he sang the praises of the district. "It empowers those economic sectors that we consider most valuable to our future, especially in the area of health care, hospitality, biotech, and now technology in general. We have become dependent on City College for their ability to prepare future workforces."
Lee also sounded a tough love theme, saying "any improvement means a change from the status quo" and praising Santos as "someone who shares my vision of reform and will support the tough decisions ahead."
Indeed, the board members face a number of tough decisions in the coming weeks, from whether to abdicate some of their authority to a special trustee empowered to make unilateral decisions about what programs to cut or campuses to close. The college is responding to a threat from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to live within its means or lose its accreditation.