In charge ... sort of - Page 2

New CCSF chancellor has steered troubled districts before, but how much authority will he have here?
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Arthur Q. Tyler is City College of San Francisco's new chancellor
SF EXAMINER PHOTO BY MIKE KOOZMIN

Even after Day was gone, the legacy of bitter divisions among trustees and lack of proper fiscal checks-and-balances that Day fostered contributed to CCSF's downward spiral — and now, the hiring of a hobbled new chancellor to try to pick up the pieces.

Tyler may not have the chance to enact his own City College vision for awhile, and when asked at his introduction to the school "What can and will you do here?" he said "I'll make recommendations to the board, in this case to Dr. Agrella, on the things we believe... will heal and fix this institution."

Former City College administrator Stephen Herman, who shared a criminal conviction with Day over the misuse of district funds, told us that Tyler will have few powers until Agrella steps aside.

"Dr. Tyler is going to be a little hamstrung to begin with," Herman said. "Ultimately, if the college gets its accreditation and is able to survive, then (Tyler) can spread his wings and take over some policy decisions."

But the history around Tyler's policy decisions are equal parts heartening and worrisome.

 

TYLER'S HISTORY

Tyler was charming and self-effacing at his press conference, saying "I'm privileged to stand before you as your new chancellor," building on what he called "the legacy" that the interim-chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman will leave for him: "I know I'm filling a large pair of lady shoes."

Tyler's resume seems to glow. He's an anti-terrorism expert who served in the US Air Force, was vice president at Los Angeles City College, and was in charge at Sacramento City College. He also speaks Farsi.

But it was his time as deputy chancellor of Houston Community College where he walked through fire, allegedly resisting bribes and sexual advances from contractors in the corruption-plagued district. Dave Wilson, 66, runs the investigative website "Inside HCCS" in Texas that's a tell-all about alleged dirty dealings at Houston Community College.

One gold mine of documents he obtained came when the Harris County District Attorney's Office was investigating alleged corruption at HCC. Family members and friends allegedly helped questionable construction contracts get approved by the HCC Board of Trustees, according to the Houston Chronicle's stories at the time.

Ultimately, those accused had to take ethics training courses, but it's the investigation itself that's really revealing.

Law Firm Smyser Kaplan & Veselka interviewed college officials at the behest of HCC's board in 2010. Its goal was to get to the bottom of who had anything to do with getting the dirty contracts passed. Houston Community College's attorney turned investigator, Larry Veselka, interviewed Tyler as part of this investigation and Wilson obtained Veselka's notes.

When looking into a construction project, Tyler told Veselka he found about $14 million in questionable spending. The interview details allegations that Tyler was receiving vague promises of sexual favors and bribes from a pair of would-be contractors, which he refused.

Veselka would not return phone calls from the Guardian, but the Harris County District Attorney's Office, which was involved in the investigation of Houston Community College, confirmed that it had documents regarding the college from Veselka's law firm but would not release them to the Guardian.

The documents paint a rosy picture of Tyler, who cleaned house, and even claimed to have shrugged off shady dealers at Houston Community College.