In the face of protest, City College moves forward with tough decisions

|
(11)
PHOTO BY PETER MENCHINI

The City College Board of Trustees passed the college’s budget and new mission statement yesterday, as well as a proposal to request a special trustee to work with the board as they face an accreditation process and dire financial situation.

The special trustee will advise the board on decision making. But they also have the power to overrule board decisions, something opponents called an undemocratic process.

About 40 of those opponents stormed the meeting. The activists, from the Save CCSF coalition, surrounded the trustees and, when several walked out of the room, sat down at their meeting table.

“I propose that we convene the People’s Board of Trustees. All in favor, say aye,” CCSF journalism student Alex Schmaus declared with a bang of the board's gavel.

The “People’s Board of Trustees” then passed a few proposals. They passed a proposal that “students appoint ourselves special trustee and oppose any other kind of special trustee,” and that “we stand in solidarity with the teachers’ strike in Chicago.”

The dissenters left the table voluntarily, but were briefly confronted by campus police when they continued to march, chant and hold banners inside the meeting room.

Afterwards, the Board of Trustees resumed their meeting. Trustees William Walker and Chris Jackson voted against calling the question to vote on the special trustee, citing a lack of sufficient information about the powers of the special trustee, such as details about how and when their vote would supersede board decisions and the process for firing the special trustee.

The proposal to invite a special trustee passed 6-1, with Chris Jackson voting no.

“This is a monumental step for the lack of information we have in this process,” Jackson told the board concerning his vote.

Video by Joe Fitzgerald

Tension and passion at the meeting underlined the community's commitment to CCSF and dismay at the situation it faces. As SEIU 1021 representative Angela Thomas said during public comment, “None of us are happy. None of us.”

Save CCSF certainly isn’t happy. Many students involved had already been fighting the Student Success Act, which prioritizes those students who get through school in two years rather than those who take longer, as well as those in non-credit classes, ESL classes, and lifelong learners. Now, they fear that the accreditation process will cause City College to make cuts along similar lines.

“We are not a junior college. We are a community college,” said Shanell Williams, Associated Students president at Ocean campus.

Teachers and staff are also hurting. The 2012-2013 budget, passed at last night’s meeting, includes reductions in pay for both groups of college employees. During public comment at the board meeting, American Federation of Teachers 2121 Alisa Messer engaged the protesters in dialogue.

“Difficult decisions are coming down on us. We need to fight against them when appropriate and work with them when appropriate,” said Messer.

“The faculty of this college has voted for the pay cut at 89 percent. We did it because we love this college and we want to turn it around,” she later added.

Thomas also made comments directed at the protesters. “I see the same things you guys see,” she said. But she added that the trustees were forced into difficult decisions, and called protesters' anger towards the board misplaced.

“I don’t have time for fighting folk that ain’t my enemy,” said Thomas.

At the meeting, the board also approved a revised mission statement. The new mission statement does not mention lifelong learning as a goal of the college, a concern for some of the public present at the meeting.

“I’m a senior who found City College towards the end of my career. We have a lot of seniors who are lifelong learners. And the mission statement just got rid of them,” said Al Yates, Vice President of the Associated Students at the Southeast campus.

One of the disagreement that permeated the meeting was the choice between working together to meet the accreditation requirements or coming together to protest and somehow resist those requirements, which many in Save CCSF say could lead to austerity measures and privatization.

Board members delayed the vote on the issue of requesting a special trustee at their last meeting after a smaller protest. They were provided with a packet of documents with information about the special trustee, but some critical questions remained unanswered.

The special trustee will advise the board on decision making. But they also have the power to overrule board decisions--to “stay and/or rescind board actions where such actions are inconsistent with the developed recovery plan, accreditation standards, and the fiscal health of the district,” according to a letter from Executive Vice Chancellor for Programs Erik Skinner.

What process and criteria define that “inconsistency” remain unclear.

“We can only go on the language that we have in the letter. We don’t have any additional or special knowledge other than what the state chancellor has told us,” said City College spokesperson Larry Kamer.

Those questions may come to the forefront as the board selects and begins to work with a special trustee.

“Now that the vote passed, its important to have an open and transparent process to select the trustee,” said Jackson after the meeting.

Comments

Always ready to make sure they can continue to act as vampires - sucking the blood of the body politic.

Posted by Troll II on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

SEIU takes up 20% of the payroll, AFT takes 75%. Might want to point the finger at someone else...

Posted by Troll III on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

“I propose that we convene the People’s Board of Trustees. All in favor, say aye,” CCSF journalism student Alex Schmaus declared with a bang of the board's gavel."

Listen children Crusaders, "progressive" newspeak does not represent "the people"'s will.

These people represent "the people" as much as John Avalos did last election.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

it's hard to believe the incumbent trustees are running for re-election after running City College into the ground. Why candidate Santos would want to attach 'incumbent' to his ballot designation is mystifying. And it takes real brass to seek voter approval for a tax increase when the trustees are so clearly incapable, so wholly irresponsible, and so utterly incompetent.

Replace the board. Put forward a plan addressing the accreditation deficiencies. Then put forward a parcel tax proposal.

Until then, No on A and No on all the incumbents.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

and don't most elected officials support it?? Absurd.

The gall to ask for a tax increase...

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

surprisingly, SF rarely passes parcel taxes, unlike in Oakland and Berkeley where they routinely pass.

And most voters don't give a crap about a two-bit college like City.

Posted by Anonymous on Sep. 14, 2012 @ 4:22 am

What idiocy. The problems in City College were decades in the making. The Board DID change over the past ten years and has worked to root out corruption at the CCSF. People were convicted of felonies for money laundering, heads rolled, the culture began to change. But there remained in upper and middle management elements of corruption that were difficult to dislodge.

To claim that Santos is part of the problem individually given that he's been on the board for a few weeks is even stupider. Santos is part of the problem ongoing because he gives the Berg corruption faction a working majority.

I agree, NO on A until Santos is defeated and a reform board finishes what Milton Marks III started.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 14, 2012 @ 6:20 am

The combination of high costs, a smaller job market, and decreasing financial assistance has made postsecondary education a less-likely choice for many capable potential students. This is not an accident. Neither are the attacks on education by politicians bought and paid for by the wealthiest of the human race. After all, this latter bunch can always get a quality education for their offspring, just like they can get enough of the rest of us to fight their wars and work in their minimum wage jobs.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/09/07/back-to-school-in-the-twilight-of...

Posted by Guest on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 5:16 am

The state's Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team's report on CCSF is just in (front pg. of Chron today).

"Growing retirement obligations..generous benefits...and no discernible means to pay for them..." have brought the college to the verge of bankruptcy

"City Family"? Are you listening? You're next.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 10:19 am

What applies to CCSF - the revelations in Chron article today are stunning- applies to the City. Like CCSF, the City has no means to pay health and pension benefits promised, but of course the Chron won't report that. Any audit of the City's finances would reveal the same thing.

The electorate is so gullible they swallow the union and City Family bs whole.

Gotta hand it to these unions, they've been pulling this stuff off for quite some time - only running out of money is stopping them now.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 10:50 am

Hello! Close Topic, a not delete!
Thanks! :)

Posted by Lacosten on Nov. 09, 2012 @ 5:35 am

Also from this author

  • Privatization of public housing

    Many residents feel they're moving from the frying pan of Housing Authority control into the fire of developer and nonprofit management

  • Homeless for the holidays

    Changing demographics in the Bayview complicate city efforts to open a shelter there

  • Betting on Graton

    Newest casino targeting Bay Area residents promises to share the wealth with workers and people of color