Wednesday, July 19, 2017

6B: more on Saddleback's "bookie trustee"

Mr. Brannon, long ago
The Happy Bookmaker
     As it turns out, Alyn Brannon, one of our district’s original board trustees (1967-1974), pursued his career as bookie kingpin long after his arrest and sentencing in 1972-1974. (He resigned from the board in January of 1974, a month after pleading guilty as part of a plea bargain.)
     Evidently, he's the incorrigible type.
     I describe all of that below.
     Immediately below, however, I provide the most interesting of the newspaper stories about Brannon’s sometimes colorful bookmakery. ("The Case of the Unfriendly Bettors," LA Times, April 1981. Check it out, it's good!)
     Tearful public apologies notwithstanding, Brannon was serious about his bookie gig. His various operations are often described as the most significant ("top operator") in OC. Brannon is usually described as the “kingpin” of a sophisticated illegal enterprise, involving secret apartments in Tustin, secret offices in Laguna Hills, dark tables at restaurants, flamboyant underlings with sleek, silver Porsches.
     But why? According to one article, Brannon explained that he  risked his good name, family, etc.—because of the "excitement."
     His saga is sometimes funny. At one point, while awaiting a hearing regarding the appeal of a judge's ruling, Brannon is arrested on a new charge. One of his "bookmaking agents," a court bailiff, calls on the phone to arrange a bet. The conversation is recorded by cops. Brannon is thrown back into prison.
     Reading about Brannon’s post-trustee career was sometimes sobering. I learned that, among Brannon’s colleagues in his 1979 arrest was his son, Donald. (His other son, Barry, would appear to have taken that other, higher road; he's had a successful career as an Air Force pilot.) Son Donald, however, died in a plane crash in Lake Tahoe in 1994. (In the mid-90s, Brannon's bookie operation had an office in Lake Tahoe.)
     Brannon has been a parole violator and a repeat offender. He was arrested again for bookmaking—the "biggest bookmaking operation" yet uncovered in OC—in 1997, twenty-five years after his first arrest, when he was President of the Saddleback board and a young Republican star.
     SOCCCD. We're special, ain't we?
     In 2008, he was convicted of failing to pay his taxes. He was confined to his home and was made to pay $30,000 in restitution. He didn't like that much.
     I believe he's still alive, in his mid-80s, and living in OC. Or maybe Arizona. Or Texas.

(Click on graphics to make them larger.)

Brannon’s post-trustee career: "excitement"

     Note: Alyn Brannon resigned from the Saddleback Community College District board of trustees in January of 1974. He had been arrested and charged for bookmaking and extortion in September of 1972. He was eventually convicted, fifteen months later, on one count of bookmaking in December 1973 thanks to a generous plea bargain.

     • Brannon's first arrest didn't reach sentencing until December of 1973. According to the Times (“Former College Trustee gets 90 days in jail,” 4-9-74), “When Brannon appeared before [the judge], his attorney, John M. Downer, asked the court to consider that the bookmaking operation was among 'seven friends' and had no connection with organized crime.”

     • According to the Times (“Police Break Up Bookmaking Ring—Four arrested,” 3-8-79), “A six-month police undercover investigation has broken up bookmaking operations that were reportedly grossing $185,000 a week in Santa Ana and Seal Beach.” The arrests were made by Garden Grove police. Three people were arrested, including Brannon’s son, Donald, of Tustin. (Another person in Scottsdale, AR, was sought by police.) “Investigators said the bookmaking operations were run out of the Rum-runner’s Inn in Seal Beach and Reuben’s restaurant on Tustin Ave., in Santa Ana….”

Mr. Brannon with shovel
     • According to the Times (“Arraignment set for bookmaking suspects,” 3-4-81), “Two men suspected of being Orange County’s top bookmaking operators for professional football games and other sports will be arraigned in Superior Court March 16.”
     Alyn M. Brannon and Salvatore Charles Consalvo were “charged with 20 counts involving felony bookmaking and conspiracy.”
     The two were indicted “last week” by a grand jury following a six month investigation. Bookmaking equipment was found in an apartment in Tustin and an office in Laguna Hills.

     • LA Times, April 10, 1981: "The case of the unfriendly bettor "(See graphics) —This offers some delicious details concerning Brannon's operation.

     • According to the Times (“Court Asked to Oust DA in Bookie Case,” 4-29-81), “[T]wo men are accused of running a $50,000-a-week bookmaking and football card operation in several bars in the Mission Viejo area. “District Attorney’s investigators said they believe [Hyman] Wolenski and [John] Lombardi were bookmaking agents for Alyn M. Brannon of Santa Ana, who was indicted by the OC Grand Jury in February for bookmaking. At the time, Brannon, 50, was on parole from a previous bookmaking conviction….”

     • According to the Times (“Two enter guilty pleas to bookmaking charges,” 6-20-81), “Two men who authorities say ran the biggest sports gambling operation in OC have pleaded guilty in Santa Ana Municipal Court to one count each of bookmaking. Alyn M. Brannon, 50, of Santa Ana and Salvatore Consalvo, 56, of Mission Viejo will be free on their own recognizance until Friday, when they must appear in OC Superior court to reenter their pleas to felony charges.”
     Brannon is also pleading guilty to “violating probation from a previous bookmaking conviction.”

     • According to the Times (“Two men plead guilty in county bookmaking case,” 6-27-81), “Two men [viz., Brannon and Consalvo] who authorities say ran the biggest sports gambling operation in OC pleaded guilty…one count each of felony bookmaking.” “Law enforcement officials said Brannon, who had previously been convicted of bookmaking, was the kingpin of a ring that handled about $200,000 a week in sports bets.”

     • According to the Times (“Man gets 2-year prison term in bookmaking case,” 8-20-81), “Alyn M. Brannon, 50, a former president of the Saddleback College board of trustees, was sentenced to two years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to one count of felony bookmaking. Orange County Superior Court Judge William Murray also gave Brannon a concurrent two-year term for a count of parole violation after an earlier bookmaking conviction.”

     • “Bookie May Serve Just One-Sixth of Sentence,” LA Times, 1-21-82:
     Brannon receives a two-year sentence, but he later claims that his lawyer told him that, after his 120-day review (in prison), the judge would release him. But the judge regards Brannon as a hard case who has managed to avoid serious jail time and he means to make sure Brannon finally gets it. Brannon is released after 120 days (Vacaville on Dec 16, 1981) because of a death in the family, and the judge allows him to stay out of prison until the hearing—when Brannon learns that he’s heading back in to serve out the rest of his 2-year term. Lots of legal maneuvering follows, but it comes to nothing.
     While out, Brannon works at a Santa Ana hotel.
     “His attorney, William Stewart, is expected to argue that Brannon should be allowed to remain free. But the OC district attorney’s office is particularly interested in seeing that Brannon serves his full two-year sentence because of his lengthy history of involvement in gambling.”
     “If Brannon is released after just four months, [Deputy DA Rick] Toohey said, there is no reason to believe he won’t go back into the sports betting business.”
     “He has a history gambling activity that goes back almost a decade,” Toohey said. “This is not a man who should be free.”
     “According to court records, Brannon told a probation officer that he was willing to risk his good name in the community to get into sports bookmaking because of the ‘excitement’ involved.”

     • According to the Tustin News (“Commissioned,” 6-24-82), “Barry D. Brannon, son of Mr. and Mrs. Alyn M. Brannon of North Tustin, has been commissioned a second lieutenant through the Air Force ROTC program, and earned a bachelor’s degree at the U of Colorado, Boulder….”

     • According to the Times (“Bailiff was bookmaker, police say,” 6-24-1982), “A tip Newport Beach police received earlier this month has led them, officers said, to an unusual bookmaker – the bailiff in the courtroom of the presiding judge of Orange County’s Harbor Municipal Court.” … “And the bailiff in turn has reportedly helped set up the arrest of a former Saddleback Community College trustee, who was free pending an appeal relating to a bookmaking conviction, police said. After hearing a police tape recording of the undercover bet Wednesday, a judge ordered the former trustee back behind bars.”
     “Police identified the bailiff as Darrell Strobele, a deputy Orange County marshal for 17½ years….”
     Strobele didn’t take bets in court, but he did take them while at the courthouse in Newport Beach. There are indications that he occasionally used the judge’s chambers when the judge wasn’t there.
     “A bettor working with the police placed a bet with Strobele on June 14, making the case against him, [investigator Milt] Geiger said.”
     “At investigators’ request, Strobele agreed a week later to telephone Alyn Brannon, former community college trustee, convicted bookmaker and longtime friend of Strobele since the two men met as high school sports referees, Geiger said. Police tape-recorded the conversation as Strobele placed a bet, Geiger said.
     “The tape recording enabled the district attorney’s office Wednesday to have Brannon sent back to jail.”
     “Superior Court Judge Leonard McBride, who had allowed Brannon to remain free without bail while Brannon appealed McBride’s refusal of a new trial, was in no mood to offer Brannon a second chance.”
     Evidently Brannon’s attorney, Dennis LaBarbera listened to the tape during court and “had nothing to say.”
     “The judge was so angry I could have asked for a change of clothes for Brannon and he would have turned us down,” LaBarbera said later. “There really was no point in arguing this thing any further.”
     “Law enforcement officials have complained in the past that Brannon, who has a 10-year history of bookmaking arrests, has spent little time in jail.”

     • According to Tustin News (“Silver Wings,” 1-19-84), second Lt. Barry D. Brannon has graduated from US Air Force pilot training and has received his silver wings.

     • According to the Tustin News (“Donald Brannon,” 2-17-94), Alyn Brannon’s son, Donald Brannon, was killed Feb 13 just after takeoff from South Lake Tahoe Airport. (Alyn Brannon was known to have a part of his bookie operation in Lake Tahoe.)

     • According to the Times (“Authorities Arrest 10 in Bookmaking Case,” 4-2-97)”
     Authorities announced Tuesday what they described as the biggest bookmaking operation uncovered by Orange County investigators and the arrests of 10 California and Nevada residents suspected of illegally taking in about $1 million per month.
. . .
     …[P]olice from Seal Beach, Anaheim and Newport Beach and the district attorney's office served 11 search warrants, including one at a Cerritos commercial building where they believe the operation was housed. While searching the building, in the 11100 block of Artesia Boulevard, officers also took bets from callers, Anaheim Lt. James Flammini said.
. . .
     Investigators alleged that those arrested, who range in age from 22 to 65, were taking at least 100,000 bets per month at the Cerritos location and another in Lake Tahoe [note: Lake Tahoe is where the aforementioned plane crash occurred].
     Arrested in California were Alyn Murdoff Brannon, 65, of Costa Mesa; Mark Kiyo Snyder, 30, of Trabuco Canyon; Sushma Gohil, 22, of Orange; Spencer Haruo Okuno, 32, of Pasadena; and Decourcy Wright Graham, 55, of Corona del Mar. Brannon recently spent two years in state prison for bookmaking, Flammini said.
     Arrested in Nevada were Michael Franklin Reeder, 35, of Zephyr Cove; Michael Reid Harvin, 30, of Stateline; Damien Leroux, 30, of Ontario, Canada; Shannon Ione Dolan, 23, of South Lake Tahoe, and Nicole Suzanne Berlandier, 24, of South Lake Tahoe.
     • From Find-a-Case: February 5, 2010

     On November 12, 2008, the Court sentenced the Defendant Alyn M. Brannon to three years probation after he pled guilty to a misdemeanor information charging him with failure to file an income tax return in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7203. The Court also ordered the Defendant to serve six months in home confinement and to pay restitution in the amount of $30,000.00…. On November 30, 2009, the Defendant filed a Combined Motion for Early Termination of Probation and Brief in Support…. The Court set the motion for hearing … and heard evidence from the Defendant on February 5, 2010…. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendant's Motion for Early Termination of Probation is hereby DENIED.
. . .
     [U]nlike the defendant in McNeill, the Defendant in this case has a prior criminal history and violated the conditions of his pretrial release while awaiting sentencing in this case.... Such demerits notwithstanding, the Court granted a departure from the sentencing guidelines (at the government's request) to avoid incarcerating the Defendant and placed him on probation for well less than the maximum term possible. There is no indication that the defendant in McNeill received such merciful consideration prior to being released from probation early. These dissimilarities from McNeill all relate to one or more of the factors set forth in Section 3553(a), and they far outweigh any factors favoring early release.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The origins of our college district, Part 6: It's true. One of our founding trustees was both a Republican and a bookie

Alyn M. Brannon
     Alyn Brannon was a founding trustee of our district. I’ve read through countless accounts of his and his colleagues’ decisions and deliberations back in the day. I’ve tried to imagine that small crew of right-wing, government-hating Republicans, including the Little-League officiating Brannon, attempting to nurture the South County district to greatness. It's an odd picture.
     The formation of the first board of trustees was curious, you know. In February of 1967, when all the dust settled, the Times (“Last-Minute Push Elects 5 in New JC District,” Feb. 16, 1967) reported,
     Five men backed as a slate have been elected to the board of trustees of the new South Coast Junior College District.
     They will take office by March 6….

     Top vote-getters in the field of 31 candidates were Louis J. Zitnik, Alyn M. Brannon, Michael T. Collins, Hans William Vogel and Patrick John Backus.
     All five had the endorsement of the conservative Committee to Elect Competent Trustees, which made a last-minute, house-to-house distribution of a pamphlet in populous areas throughout the huge district.
     The local Republicans had their ducks in a row, I guess. The anointed ones were duly elected.
     In that article, Brannon is described as a young, Republican go-getter:
     Brannon … is owner of the friendly Quality Dairy in Tustin. Holder of a master’s degree in industrial relations, he has been an instructor at Santa Ana College in business organization and labor relations. A past president of the Orange County Young Republicans, he is a member of the Tustin Area Republican Assembly.
Mr. B
     Only two weeks earlier, the Tustin News reported his candidacy (“Brannon another Tustin JC Candidate,” Feb. 2), laying out unsurprisingly staunch facts about the fellow. He worked with the Little League. He was a member of “Orange County Sports Officials Association and Tustin Area Republican Assembly.”
     The News offers his “statement,” which is pretty unremarkable:
     “I…believe in ‘home rule’ – that the closer the governing body is to the people the better – provided the size is economically large enough to be efficient.
     “The organization and staffing of this college must be studied with great care and using sound business principles…. I think it time that the harassed taxpayer started getting more for his money.
. . .
     “I will perform the job to the best of my ability, judging each decision by the following standards: a) Is it fair? b) Is it honest? c) Is it best for the benefit of all concerned?
. . .
     “I do not feel that the reception given to those who attend some public meetings has been as cordial as it should be. Some so-called public servants seem to have a superior attitude and treat any questions asked by the citizenry with ridicule….”

     Years ago, I did a little digging into our “founding fathers.” Mr. Brannon stood out a bit. (See Charter trustees: the curious Mr. Alyn Brannon.)
     I wrote:
     1. I Googled "Alyn M. Brannon" and found a recent federal court case record the upshot of which is that someone by that very name pleaded guilty to failing to file his taxes (ten years ago), received probation, and requested a shortening of his probation. Evidently, that person has a prior criminal history ("the Defendant in this case has a prior criminal history and violated the conditions of his pretrial release while awaiting sentencing in this case"). For some reason, the feds took this case very seriously.But is this our “Alyn M. Brannon”?
     Incidentally, this tax-evading Brannon often finds/found it necessary to travel to Mexico, which, he argued, made his continuing probation burdensome. The court was unmoved.
     This Brannon (age 77 in 2008, hence about age 37 in 1968) had lived in Oklahoma—remember that—but had moved to Arizona by the time of sentencing/appeal.
     2. One Alyn M. Brannon, with apparent ties to a business in Tustin (recall that "our" Brannon lived in Tustin), was the operator of a Cessna that crashed in Louisiana, having departed from Oklahoma, in 2002 (See):
     On June 15, 2002, approximately 2150 central daylight time, a Cessna P210N airplane, N4720P, was substantially damaged after the right main landing gear collapsed during landing roll at the Shreveport Downtown Airport (DTN), Shreveport, Louisiana. The private pilot and his passenger were not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Tower Systems Inc., of Tustin, California. [Tower Systems is a computer software firm that sells a very widely used “methadone clinic” software.] Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight departed the Shawnee Municipal Airport, Shawnee, Oklahoma, approximately 2030, and was destined for Shreveport.
     According to the pilot, while on approach to DTN, he lowered the landing gear, and the landing gear extended. However, the landing gear annunciator light (green), confirming the landing gear had extended and locked into position, failed to illuminate. By a visual check, the pilot confirmed the left main landing gear was extended, and the passenger confirmed the right main landing gear was extended. During a low approach over the runway, the tower controller performed a visual check of the nose landing gear, and the controller stated he was 90 percent positive the nose gear was extended. While landing on runway 32, the right main landing gear collapsed, the airplane veered to the right and came to rest upright off the right side of the runway.
     I found another record that indicates that there were no injuries in this incident and that the operator (Brannon) was not also the owner of the aircraft. The operator’s (i.e., Brannon’s) street address was 13422 Wheeler, Santa Ana.
Cessna P210
     Again, the departure city was Shawnee, Oklahoma. —So this is likely the tax evader above (how many Alyn M. Brannon's could Oklahoma have?)
     Now get this: there’s a record of an Alyn M. Brannon, a resident of Stateline, NV, owning a 1967 Piper. According to a FindTheData record of a report, in February of 1994, while operating that plane in the Lake Tahoe area, Mr. Brannon crashed, totaling the plane.
     There was one fatality. [Note: more recent research indicates that Alyn's son, Donald, was alone on the plane when it crashed.]
     I have found another FindTheData report according to which one Alyn M. Brannon owns/owned a 1974 Grumman aircraft. Evidently, that Brannon lives/lived in Phoenix, AZ. I have also found a record of an Alyn M. Brannon, owning a Grumman, living in Zephyr Cover, NV.
     3. Other records indicate that there is an 80-year-old Alyn M. Brannon (hence, 36 in 1968) who is possibly associated with addresses in Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Tustin, and Arizona.
    You do the math. I think it is likely that these records concern one Alyn M. Brannon, and he's our Alyn M. Brannon.
     Gosh, such a guy.
     An anonymous reader left a comment on the above post: “Just to let you know ... yes, this is definitely the same Alyn M. Brannon. He did all the things you mentioned and a whole, WHOLE lot more.”
     I was intrigued.
     Lately, I’ve been perusing old newspaper articles, especially concerning the town of Tustin in the early days of our district, and I happened upon the "WHOLE lot more." It turns out that, while serving on the board, Brannon was charged with bookmaking and extortion.
     We’ll get to that.
     Before that, in July of 1971, he was voted president of the Saddleback Community College District Board of Trustees, succeeding the venerable and respected Hans Vogel, also of Tustin.
     That must’ve been swell for him.
     Then, a year later, there’s this:
     Alyn M. Brannon, a Saddleback Community College District trustee, will appear Wednesday in Harbor Municipal court for a preliminary hearing on charges of conspiracy to commit bookmaking and extortion.
     Brannon…was being held…in Orange County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.
     District attorney aids said Brannon, a part-time teacher at an Anaheim business school, is suspected of operating a $25,000-a-week gambling operation, booking bets on football, basketball and other sports. He was arrested, officials said, after one bettor was threatened in a dispute over a $2,800 gambling debt. (“Preliminary Hearing Set for Trustee,” LA Times, September 1, 1972.)
Mr. Brannon, 1967
     They threatened a guy? What kind of cordiality is that?
     And I do believe, my dear fellow, that extortion counts as harassment.
     A week later, the Tustin News was on the case:
     Tustinite Alyn Brannon today awaited an Oct. 4 preliminary hearing on charges of bookmaking and conspiracy growing out of his arrest August 28 by Newport Beach police at the harbor.
. . .
     The college trustee appeared at yesterday’s hearing in the harbor [sic] municipal court where the continuance to 9 a.m., Oct. 4 was granted.
     It was understood Brannon advised the college board and administration that on advice of counsel he is making no public statements at this time on the arrest and allegations connected with it. (“Al Brannon Due for Bookie Rap Hearing Oct. 4,” Tustin News, September 7, 1972.)
     Two days later, the Times reports:
     Forty-three additional counts, including taking bets on football and baseball games and even tennis matches, have been filed against Alyn Brannon, Saddleback College trustee accused of running a gambling business.
. . .
     Don Carroll, senior district attorney’s investigator, said the counts against Brannon now include extortion, conspiracy to extort, and numerous charges of bookmaking and conspiracy to make book…. (“College Trustee to Face New Charges in Gambling Case,” LA Times, Sept. 9, 1972)
     Gosh, I hope that, when they decided to break guys’ legs, they were at least fair about it!
     A few months later, in December, the Tustin News reports that
     Superior Court Nov. 28 continued the hearing against Tustinite Alyn Brannon to 2 p.m. Dec. 12….
     According to Superior Court records, the Saddleback College trustee is faced with a Grand Jury indictment that includes 19 counts of accepting a bet, seven counts of bookmaking, two cunts of conspiracy, one count of receiving, holding or forwarding bets and one count of obtaining money for extortion.
     However, according to [Brannon’s attorney John] Downer, the counts have been reduced to 26….
     Charges of conspiracy and bookmaking brought against Brannon…were dismissed Nov. 30…. (“Grand Jury Raps Against Brannon,” December 7, 1972.)
     Nearly a year later, we hear from the Times:
     Voice prints, ruled as acceptable evidence in California courts only seven months ago, may figure in the trial of Alyn Brannon and Robert E. Kelly, charged with conspiracy, bookmaking and extortion.
. . .
     The prints were taken from a tape which allegedly involve Kelly in an extortion threat over collection of a gambling debt.
. . .
     His codefendant, Brannon, … was president of the Saddleback College Board of Trustees in 1971-72.
     They were indicted Nov. 12, 1971, after being arrested…. (“Voice prints may be used in County bookmaking trial,” October 25, 1973.)
     Voice prints? Go figure.

Zitnik, Brannon, and Reagan
     In January of 1974, the long-suffering Tustin News—the conscience of Tustin, if, that is, it has a conscience—offers an editorial:
     One candidate for the seat vacated by Mike Collins’ resignation from Saddleback College board of trustees has announced her filing for the post with a demand that Trustee Al Brannon resign. She feels his pleading guilty to one count of bookmaking is enough and that whether the judge who passes sentence makes it less or more than a year…that Trustee Brannon should step down.
     …[Through this move,] Brandt…forces the other trustee candidates to take a position on the Brannon bookmaking count. And the governing board will, no doubt, be looking into the matter with their colleague Brannon.
     The fact Brannon and counsel apparently “plea bargained” with the District Attorney’s office…does not mitigate the situation. The original mass of counts was about 36, later reduced to 27 charges. And after “aging” in the court continuances for over a year the matter evolves into a mere one plea of guilty on bookmaking.
     Mrs. Brandt rightly puts the moral issue into focus for all to see. We will await with interest the outcome. (“Mrs. Brandt forces Brannon issue focus,” Tustin News editorial, January 10, 1974.)
     I love the (likely unintended) understatement: the governing board will, no doubt, be looking into the matter [i.e., Brannon's running a bookmaking racket, engaging in extortion, etc.] with their colleague.
     D'ya think?
Tustin, 1965
     And note the disdain for "plea-bargaining." It ain't honest and it ain't fair. As Gary Cooper would say, it isn't "square."
     A week later, Brannon resigns and apologizes. According to the Times,
     Voters in the saddleback [sic] Community College District will select two new trustees this spring as a result of board member Alyn Brannon’s resignation.
     The 43-year-old Brannon quit the board of trustees Monday after pleading guilty last month…to a charge of bookmaking. His resignation had been expected.
     …Brannon said he will remain in office until an election in June….
     “I want to publicly apologize to my family for the embarrassment and shame I have caused them for the actions I may have done in the past,” Brannon said.
     Brannon explained in a five-minute speech at the board meeting that he was resigning after talking with friends and fellow trustees. (“College Trustees Resigns Post,” January 16, 1974.)
     Gosh, you’d think being found out as a bookie would be enough to resign right there—i.e., back in 1972.
     In April, we learn that Brannon the Bookie was at long last sentenced to 90 days in the poky:
     Resigning Saddleback College Trustee Alyn M. Brannon of Tustin was sentenced to 90 days in Orange County Jail Monday in Superior Court after Judge Robert L. Corfman reduced a felony bookmaking count to a misdemeanor.
     Corfman denied probation, but agreed to a stay of execution on jail until 5 p.m. April 22….
     Case was continued to various dates over two years, until, through plea bargaining, Brannon pleaded guilty to one count of bookmaking last December. (“Brannon Draws 90-day Bookie Rap Sentence,” Tustin News, April 11, 1974)
     I guess he took up plane-crashing later.
     So, there you have it.
     (See Part 6b for more about Alyn Brannon.)

     See also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

The origins of our college district, Part 5: Tustinites revolt!

     The July 18, 1973, LA Times reported that “a group of Tustin residents has organized to promote the transfer of the Tustin Unified School District into the Rancho Santiago Community College District”—and out of the Saddleback Community College District.
     The primary issue: the distance to Saddleback College for Tustinites. 20 miles. The group’s leader, Shepard Kanarek, a relatively new member of the community, was circulating a petition.

* * *

     A day later, the Tustin News ("Unified board hears request on local district transfer") reported that Kanarek had formally requested support for his endeavor from the Tustin Unified School District. He noted that, at that point, Saddleback College was mostly just a group of portable buildings, not an established college with permanent facilities. Further, transferring Tustin Unified out of Saddleback would provide significant tax advantages to Tustin residents.
     “Were you a member of the community when the district was formed” asked the Tustin Unified board president.
     “No,” said Kanarek, “but I have been informed that the location of the school was not apparent at that time to the voters….”
     Various officials poked at Kanarek’s alleged factoids.
     Kanarek said he was pursuing a petition, which, if successful, could force a vote in the community. He had looked it up the Ed Code.

* * *

     An August 30 article in the Tustin News explained that Kanarek’s group was actively pursuing the petition, aiming at the required 8000 signatures. Kanarek asserted that Tustin taxpayers would save about $437,000 by moving the TUHS out of the Saddleback district.
     “When the Saddleback District was established…, the location of the college site was not yet chosen….,” he said.
     Superintendent Fred Bremer defended Saddleback College, saying that it was doing quite well “for an embryo College.” He noted the successful construction of the college’s first permanent building, the Library. He explained that, when Saddleback does not offer a particular course, students can go to other colleges in the area where the course is offered. He noted, too, that if a large number of students were to transfer to Santa Ana College, that would increase the taxes of Rancho Santiago area residents who would need to construct buildings to accommodate them.

* * *

     On Sept. 20 ("Bremer Sets Record Straight," Tustin News), Bremer was reported as asserting that Kanarek’s group was promulgating false statements and he wished to set the record straight. He made a presentation at the recent meeting of the Tustin Unified District board meeting, where he explained that Saddleback’s student-teacher ratio was in fact much better than Kanarek and his group had claimed. Also, contrary to Kanarek, the district was perfectly willing to issue inter-district permits to students in need of them. In fact, Kanarek himself had been granted two such permits.
     Saddleback College trustee and Tustin resident, Hans Vogel, raised various questions; they led to this key query: “even though the students were transferred out of the Saddleback District…would not prior bond commitments voted by the citizens still have to be honored”?
     Bremer wasn’t sure about that but said he’d find out.

* * *

     On November 15, the Tustin News reported on the latest meeting of the Saddleback Community College District, where Kanarek had come to explain the purpose of his petition. He reported that his group had thus far collected 7000 signatures. Only 8000 were needed, he said. He added that he had a supportive “resolution” from the Rancho Santiago (Santa Ana College) board.
     Kanarek again argued the distance issue, the availability of courses issue, and the relative quality of facilities issue. “I came to the impression…that Rancho Santiago would be more responsive to the needs of the Tustin community….”
     But Saddleback trustees were prepared:
     Saddleback trustee Mike Collins noted that the district “was formed 6½ years ago by an overwhelming vote including the people of Tustin.”
     Collins noted that the Mission Viejo site [where Saddleback College now sits] was selected because it was in the center of the district, with Tustin and San Clemente being at each extreme. He added that the district had an extensive financial commitment to the site and that the last bond issue of $25 million, which included plans or a site nearer to Tustin, was defeated. “Until taxpayers are so inclined for a new campus, we have to further develop the present site,” said he. He also called the petition action, “Choosing to repudiate the mandate of the people in midstream.”
     Trustee Donna Berry asked a zinger:
since Kanarek had been in contact with Rancho Santiago board to get support and with Tustin Unified board, why had he not been in touch with the Saddleback board [?]
     Ms. Berry further noted that Saddleback had “received several letters from residents of Rancho Santiago District stating the school is already overcrowded.”
     “I do not think you have done anything to see if we could work together,” she declared.
     After the meeting, Berry speculated that Kanarek had been “promised some political favors in [the Rancho Santiago] district.”
     Board President John Lund had another zinger:
     Lund…noted that of 454 inter-district permits given to Tustin students, 278 chose [relatively distant] Orange Coast and only 141 chose [nearby] SAC. “It does not seem to me that the distance factor adds up.”
     Trustee Vogel, who had only a few years ago been key to Saddleback’s birth, was more conciliatory:
     “I cannot dispute your argument,” [he said]. I have had very good friends of mine who have signed the petition. But looking from a legal standpoint, I think there are going to be roadblocks.” One such roadblock would be the state board of education, said Vogel. He thought that [that] board would be more inclined to ask Rancho Santiago to take care of Garden Grove first which at present is in no community college district. … Vogel said he also saw a constitutional problem arising since a 2/3 vote of the people created the district and only a majority vote was needed to pull out….
     Petition manager Bill Patterson stated, “What do you say to people…when you tell them that the nearest community college is 4 miles away, but they have to go over 20 miles the other way?”

* * *

     In the Times ("Petitioners claim enough signatures," 12/15), Kanarek claimed that his group, College Committee of Tustin, had collected over 8000 signatures from Tustin residents, “fulfilling the goal of 25% of the registered voters in the Tustin Unified School District.” If, now, the “State Board of Education goes along with the proposal…, an election would be called.”

* * *

     In January (“District Plan Updating Asked at Saddleback,” Tustin News, January 24), “when the campus master plan for Saddleback College was brought to trustees…for updating approval, the district board also requested updating of the District Master Plan with the Tustin situation given as a major reason for doing so.”
     So, clearly, the board was treating the “Tustin Problem,” as it was called, seriously.
     Trustee Al Brannon—who had just announced his resignation [owing to bookmaking and extortion charges!]—reported that
he had received a feeler from Rancho Santiago Community College District. [Maybe somebody wanted to place a bet.] He said the feeler mentioned Rancho Santiago’s problems with the Orange community which felt it was not being served in conjunction with Saddleback’s problems in Tustin. The feeler suggested a possible merger of the two districts.
     Brannon seemed to warm to the idea.
     Hans Vogel, however, was not impressed. “I’m beginning to feel like I’m at a wake…,” he said.
     “I’m not about to give any part of this district to Rancho Santiago.”
     He added that he did not think Saddleback College District had been as responsive to portions of the district as it could have been [an impressive admission], but he felt that even the state would object to such a merger. He said he also objected to the Tustin petition stating that taxes would be lower if Tustin joined Rancho Santiago stating this would not be the case by next year. “I am not interested in what Rancho Santiago has to say. I am interested in what Tustin people have to say.”
     Superintendent Fred Bremer agreed. He also said he thought that the district master plan should be redone “by professionals.”
     In Vogel’s mind, the Tustin problem could be ameliorated by bringing “the classrooms to the people.” That is, bring more Saddleback instructors up to Tustin.
     Bremer noted that pursuit of Kanarek’s plan might jeopardize existing funding for the new music-arts building.

* * *

     In February (see “Kanarek Reports on progress of JC Petition,” Tustin News, Feb. 21), Kanarek reported that the Board of Governors (in Sacramento) had received his group’s petition and that the County “Voter’s Registration Department” had verified the petition’s signatures. Despite Hans Vogel’s articulate pleas, on Jan. 28, the Rancho Santiago board unanimously voted “to grant Tustin unconditional acceptance into their district.”
     Kanarek speculated that Vogel’s recently announced resignation [!] was caused by widespread support of the petition in the Tustin community. Kanarek hoped the state would “expedite this transfer.”
     Kanarek also announced his run for Tustin City Council.

* * *

     In March, it was announced that the local hearing of Orange County officials would be held on March 27. Their opinion would be advisory. (See “Hearing Slated on Saddleback JC Local Withdrawal,” Tustin News.)

* * *

     In April (See “Tustin ‘Deannexation,’” Tustin News, April 11), Bremer, Kanarek, and Vogel submitted position statements about the transfer issue to the Tustin News. Bremer argued that a consistent application of the “distance” argument across the state would result in “chaos.”

* * *

     On the 18th of April, the Times (“Tustin Bid for College Shift Suffers Setback”) reported that
     The Orange County Committee on School District Organization has recommended [on a vote of 4 to 3] that Tustin remain in the Saddleback College attendance area and not be switched to the Santa Ana College attendance area….
     The issue of whether to hold an election on the transfer question now will be decided by the board of governors of the California Community Colleges, meeting in Long Beach June 19 and 20.
. . .
     Officials of Saddleback Community College District argued against succession of Tustin from the district. No presentation was made by officials of Rancho Santiago Community College District….
. . .
     [Kanarek] said he was shocked that a public committee would so disregard the desires of a large number of persons….
. . .
     Meanwhile, the Coast Community College District board met Tuesday night … to hear residents’ comments on proposed annexation of the Garden Grove Unified School District area, not now part of any community college district, to Coast Community College District.
     Not one person, other than newsmen and board members, showed up.
* * *

     The CCC Board of Governors’ public hearing on the proposed transfer was scheduled for June 20.
     According to the Tustin News (“De-Annexation Hearing June 20,” June 13, 1974),
     The Board of Governors will hear arguments for and against the deannexation proposal and then either accept of deny the petition. Denial would end the matter, but if the board accepts the petition, it must then call for an election to be held in either the entire Saddleback District or only in the Tustin Unified area.
* * *

     On June 21st, the LA Times (“Tustin Loses, Garden Grove Wins….”) reports that:
     The governors voted against setting an election on deannexing of Tustin from the Saddleback Community College District. But they approved an election on annexing the Garden Grove Unified School District to Coast Community College District….
     Tustin residents had requested the deannexation…But deannexation would have left taxpayers in the remainder of the Saddleback district with a higher tax rate and also would have set a precedent of a community reneging on long-term bond obligations.
     The board of governors voted 9 to 4 to deny the election petitioned for by 8000 Tustin voters.
. . .
     Dr. Sidney Brossman, state chancellor of community colleges, recommended that the Tustin issue be put to a vote. He noted that one-fourth of the city’s registered voters signed a petition….
     His suggestion to the governors was that they not be concerned about deciding deannexation on the merits of the case but support the democratic process….
     But William Dillard apparently spoke for the majority on the state board when he said he still saw deannexation as a decision for the board to endorse or not endorse.
     Had the election been called, it is probable that Tustin would have lost anyway. Brossman recommended the vote to deannex be held throughout the entire Saddleback Community College District and not in Tustin alone, as Tustin spokesmen wanted.
     In such an election, Tustin voters would be outnumbered 3 to 1. And 73% would be faced with a projected tax rate increase of 17 cents next school year and 19 cents the following school year if Tustin pulled out.
. . .
     After the vote to deny, board member Mrs. Joan King proposed that the panel recommend to the Saddleback trustees that they consider a policy of open enrollment to allow Tustin students to attend the college of their choice.
     Several other board members agreed…but would not vote to intrude in what they saw as a matter of local prerogative….
* * *

     The corresponding Tustin News report (“Withdrawal by Tustin,” June 27) noted that
     [The] Key question concerning most of the board was how could Tustin pull out of a bonded indebtedness on a simple majority vote when they voted for the bonds on a two-thirds vote….
     All the spokesmen for the petition referred mainly to the distance problem, and the hazards of freeway driving….
     Shepard Kanarek, chairman of the College Committee of Tustin, [said] “I feel it was a mistake from the very start. The voters did not know of the location of the school until over a year after the election. I feel the location of the school, from the Tustin viewpoint, is a total absurdity.”
. . .
     Dr. Fred Bremer, president of Saddleback College, noted that there are many community college districts in the state that have similar distance problems. He added, “Our construction program has always been predicated on the inclusion of Tustin Unified School District. We have had a second campus near Tustin in our 10 year Master plan, but were told last year by the state to stop putting it in.”
. . .
     In answer to the state board Member Thomas Jones’ question on whether the Saddleback board had discussed a site near Tustin, [Saddleback trustee Hans] Vogel stated a site at Jeffrey Rd. and Santa Ana Freeway had been tentatively set aside by the Irvine Co and was still being held open….
. . .
     Mrs. [Elizabeth] Deedy [of the state board] said she felt that the petitioners should have gone directly to the [Saddleback] board in public meeting to air their views before going the route they did.
     State Board Member Tom Jones…[said] “I think it is precipitous to transfer. I think new directions can be taken within the next six months. I think the Tustin residents should work with the new board and with the new superintendent.”
. . .
     Another board member, Myrtle Weems, said, “I feel the Tustin people have made a strong point for their petition. On the other hand I can not see that Tustin has the right to withdraw from their bonded indebtedness.”
* * *

     That’s pretty much the end of that miserable chapter of the district’s history. Tustin remained in the Saddleback (South County) district, where it remains today.
     In fact, however, a Saddleback “north” campus, near but not in Tustin, would be completed in 1979. In 1985, it became the autonomous "Irvine Valley College."
     It should be said that Mr. Kanarek’s disgruntlement was not shared by many of the people who initially founded our district. The latter—e.g., Mr. Vogel, who has impressed me as I’ve reviewed these old stories—seems always to have understood that, when they set up the district, they could not also control where the first campus would be built and that it might well be built someplace other than in or near Tustin. (As it turned out, Tustin was soon surrounded by two community colleges: Santiago Canyon [in Orange] and Irvine Valley [in Irvine].) Kanarek, I think, represented the less enlightened and more self-seeking crowd among Tustinites, of which there were many, evidently.
     Oh, and, Mr. Kanarek’s bid to join the Tustin City Council? It went down in flames.
     The next chapter in our story, of course, is also a dismal one for the City of Tustin. For a time, it seemed that the district’s second campus would indeed be built in Tustin. Hooray!
     But no.

     See also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The origins of our college district, Part 4: Tustin buffoonery? Hubris? Hayseedery?

1967: running for "new
district" trustee in
Tustin; rumors flyin'
     (See Part 1 and Part 2, and Part 3)
     Oh, Tustin, Tustin, Tustin. Always lookin’ for a deal.
     A May 4, 1961, editorial in the Tustin News presents a city and community that is in no hurry to throw in with one merger plan or another. “Let’s see who offers the best deal,” they seem to say:
     We have continued to study aspects of junior college districts [proposals] since our last report on the meeting at which Santa Ana College officials addressed themselves to the subject of a merging Santa Ana, Orange and Tustin high school districts into one.     Our latest intelligence is that it is still possible for TUHS [Tustin Union High School] district to discuss the possibility and advisability of joining Orange Coast College [instead].
     That the Allen-Briscoe planners recommended Tustin’s merging with Santa Ana and Orange—and for good reason—doesn’t seem to bother this writer at all (probably Bill Moses).
     The writer seems impressed with Orange Coast’s finances:
Instead of bond issues, we hear OCC board is considering an over ride tax, to save bond issue interest and to undertake a “pay as you go” construction policy. This is refreshing news…. The override tax being discussed, we understand, is in the range of 15 to 20 cents per $100 assessed valuation. This is not a bad tab, when you look at other schools’ financial projections.
     Again, the writer opines that Tustin should be in no hurry to decide:
We believe a few months of study of the junior college districting situation is a program no one could argue with in light of the fact no good will come from TUHS district going the wrong direction. IF we go into any junior college district we should now why we are going there, how much the tax cost will be and future plans for the educational construction facilities.
Tustin's Hans
Vogel (1922-2015)
     I guess they're in the catbird seat. They sure think they are.
     The Tustin writer, hayseeds clinging to his trousers, evinces some skepticism toward the out of town “experts” who have been brought in, like freakin' outside agitators:
The new JC districting of the county was instigated by one JC administrator who foresaw crushing student population in the years ahead. And this county authorized some out of town education experts to draft a report. It shows Santa Ana, Orange and Tustin as a possibly merged JC district. But this is not mandatory at all, SAC [Santa Ana College] officials have stated in public meetings in Tustin.
     This next part is interesting, if I understand it:
They pointed out such a merger would have to be a “happy marriage” if the union was to endure, particularly with a multi-million dollar bond issue a necessity to erect a new junior college on a new 100-acre site in North Tustin.
Typical news item,
Tustin News 1965
     A college in Tustin? Is that what they’re hoping for?
     The writer reminds readers that their city need not bend to the will of nasty brainiacs and outsiders; Tustinites have a choice:
     It’s obvious TUHS district has a choice. From latest reports, Laguna Beach and Capistrano Beach high schools do not wish to merge into Orange Coast [again, contrary to Allen-Briscoe recommendations]. That would indicate TUHS district would be considered with interest, possibly by the OCC board of trustees.  
   SAC officials have shown their interest in TUHS. We imagine as much interest exists at OCCC official levels. No reason our local folk cannot find out how OCC officialdom feels about this high school district. Last we heard they like us fine.
     That’s too folksy for me to understand. WTF.

     That was the, or a, Tustinite perspective as of May, 1961. Somehow, by April of 1963, Tustinites are discussing another “JC district” idea entirely, one even more alien to Allen-Briscoe recommendations. They’re contemplating merging with Laguna Beach and Capistrano high school districts!
     Tustin’s merging with Orange and Santa Ana makes sense: the city is, after all, only a few miles from Santa Ana College, which is well-established. If a new campus is built for that district, Tustinites would have every right to assume that it would be located in or at least near Tustin. But if Tustin merges with the likes of way-distant Laguna and Capistrano—well by what logic would Tustinites assume that that district would locate its first (or second) campus in or near Tustin?
     Things really haven’t turned out well for Tustin. We’ve gone over some of this ground before. But it will be interesting to consider “the Commission’s” account. (I’m referring to the California State Postsecondary Education Commission and its 1977 report, which I discussed yesterday.)
     Here, then, are relevant excerpts from the Commission’s Community College Education in Orange County, California: The Challenge of Growth in an Era of Limits. It spells out the trials and tribulations of the City of Tustin from a state bureaucrat's perspective:

Celebration premature: Tustin News, March 3, 1977
     A final effort to conform with the Allen-Briscoe report came in 1974 when Tustin attempted to leave the Saddleback District and join Rancho Santiago. [Allen and Briscoe’s] master plan had placed Tustin within Santa Ana's junior college boundaries because of the two communities' proximity and socio-economic similarities. Tustin, however, had voted itself into Saddleback in 1967, believing that the district's new campus would be nearby. When Saddleback College was placed far to the south of Tustin, its residents began agitating for more convenient facilities. Almost 8,000 of Tustin's 31,000 qualified electors in 1974 asked the Board of Governors to approve their separation:
     We respectfully request that you consider the burden imposed upon Tustin residents by assignment to Saddleback Community College located approximately 20 miles south of Tustin when the Rancho Santiago Community College District, with better facilities and curricula and a lower tax rate, is located less than 4 miles west of Tustin.
     The Community Colleges Chancellor's staff supported de-annexation even though this would reduce the Saddleback District's assessed valuation by 23 percent and its average daily attendance by 18 percent. The staff, however, recommended that the de-annexation vote be district-wide, virtually insuring its defeat because non-Tustin voters faced a hefty tax increase if Tustin joined Rancho Santiago. An impassioned plea from Saddleback, though, convinced the Board of Governors to disapprove the transfer altogether on June 20, 1974.
. . .
     Although the Allen-Briscoe report had recommended that the Coast District reach south to include the older communities of Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, these residents were not anxious to join a district which meandered from Seal Beach to southern Orange County. Two developments, however, forced them into a decision. 
     First, in the early 1960s, the Irvine Company began to gradually develop parcels within its 83,000 acres, thus reversing a 60-year policy, which reserved the land for crops and livestock. The land around UC, Irvine, was certain to become residential and form a solid urban corridor from Tustin south along the Santa Ana freeway and from Costa Mesa to El Toro along the San Diego freeway. 
     Second, California's Master Plan for Higher Education, whose prestige increased steadily during the 1960s, had recommended that all territory “be brought into junior college districts as rapidly as possible." The Legislature then set September 15, 1967, as the decision deadline. Therefore, some action had to be taken to accommodate the growing numbers of students in the older communities of southern Orange County and in the fledgling suburbs of Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, and Irvine.

Whimsical board: July 11, 1977
     Despite a vigorous campaign to annex the southern territory to existing districts, the voters in nondistrict territories voted in 1967 to form the Saddleback Community College District. The new district would be at once the largest and the smallest in the county: it would cover 48 percent of Orange County's square miles but would have fewer residents than the northern districts. Although population projections in the Irvine area were higher than those in the rest of the district, the older communities pressed to have the first campus near San Juan Capistrano. The Mission Viejo Company's low price for 199 acres in the rolling hills along the San Diego freeway clinched the decision, and the first college classes at Saddleback opened during the fall of 1968 in temporary facilities.
     Since that time, enrollment growth has been dramatic and, at times, overwhelming. … Ultimately, the Saddleback site could support a campus of 12,000 ADA students if enrollment continues to expand.
     Since 1967, Saddleback has experienced the striking successes and frustrations characteristic of an extensive district with an influx of relatively affluent, education-minded people....
     Likewise, program development could not be comprehensive at Saddleback. Each program has been phased in order to concentrate resources and to bring each division of the college to maturity in sequence. Transfer programs and vocational courses, which do not require elaborate equipment or much space, have been developed first. Indeed, two vocational programs—gerontology and recreation—have received much support because of the special circumstances in the district. Alternately, specialized technical-vocational facilities have been de-emphasized and, if a second campus in the District at Irvine becomes a reality, the bulk of such education will be there.
From official Tustin website. I guess they
think they dominate the County
     Finally, many students, who live northwest of the campus, prefer to attend closer colleges, which offer more programs. Although the Irvine and Tustin areas contained 46.2 percent of the District's population, in fall, 1975, only 27.7 percent of Saddleback's day students attended from these areas. In 1975, over 3,000 students (900 ADA) attended Community Colleges outside Saddleback District, roughly 60 percent going to Orange Coast and 30 percent to Santa Ana. This number has been cut drastically in 1976-77 by the Trustees' refusal to grant out-of-district transfers liberally, but the administration recognizes that a positive solution must be found for the problem of educational expatriation. All these "growing pains” and the geographical size of the District have held Saddleback's enrollment to 5.1 percent of the District's adult population while the statewide average exceeds 7 percent. To increase this ratio is the foremost goal of the administration and Trustees.
. . .
     The Tustin petition … and the projected growth of the City of Irvine … made a major new facility in the north a compelling item on the Saddleback Trustees' agenda. Furthermore, they believed that enrollment estimates fully justified planning for a second campus. In November 1975 the District selected nine sites in the northern area to be considered for the new campus.... In June 1976, the Trustees narrowed these sites down to 1, 2, and 5, and finally selected Site 1 [in Tustin] after receiving an Environmental Impact Report.
     The District is now embroiled in negotiations over these potential sites. Site 1 (the Myford-Bryan site) is the nearest to Tustin and therefore has political appeal. Unfortunately, the site is in an undeveloped flood plain, without sewers, water, or electricity. Site 1 is also under Williamson Act contract. [It is somewhat encumbered.] Notice has been given on much land surrounding the site, and this land will be released from Williamson Act "agricultural preserves" in the early 1980s. 
     Despite these drawbacks, the Saddleback Board approved Site 1 in September 1976, and approached the Irvine Company, owner of all the acceptable sites. For several reasons internal to its policy-making, the Irvine Company has been reluctant to sell Site 1 and, in January 1977, proposed a counter-offer to the Saddleback Trustees. The Irvine Company would sell Site 6 [on Jeffrey/Irvine Center, in Irvine] substantially below market value. Obviously, the District could initiate condemnation proceedings and ultimately obtain Site 1, but the Irvine Company has made such an attractive offer on Site 6 that condemnation would cost the District thousands of extra dollars.
     Regardless of this, the Board considered the alternatives in February, 1977 and voted 3-2 to press ahead with Site 1 [in Tustin]. On March 8,1977,a new Board was elected after a campaign which highlighted the second campus issue and, therefore, the negotiations with the Irvine Company are uncertain….
     The rigors of selecting a site have slowed the District's planning for the kind of campus, which would be established in the north.... [END of excerpt]

     See also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

Above is an old graphic (badly reproduced), an artifact of the district's selection process of the "north campus" in 1976-7. I have added a contemporary map of the same area, showing sites 1 and 6 (i.e., Bryan/Myford at today's Tustin Marketplace and IVC @ Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive).
More later.
* * *

The origins of our college district, Part 3: turns out, we're an unruly county and an unruly part of that unruly county

Tustin, 1960s
     (See Part 1 and Part 2)
     It’s time we had a look at what is often referred to as the “Allen-Briscoe report” of 1960.
     I’ve not been able to secure a copy of the report, but I did run across an apparently reliable 1977 document that is loaded with valuable info about Allen and Briscoe’s work and much else. It is entitled
Community College Education in Orange County, California: The Challenge of Growth in an Era of Limits
I’ll call it “CC in OC,” for short. It was produced in March of 1977 by the California State Postsecondary Education Commission, Sacramento. I’ll call that agency “the Commission.”
     The 1977 document, itself a report, was a response, from the state, to a request for funding for new JCs in Orange County. It explains itself as follows:
This report presents the findings and conclusions of the Commission's review of proposals for new campuses brought by four community college districts in Orange County, California. … The four community college districts are described, and their proposals for new campuses are analyzed.
     I won’t go into the Commission's conclusions (which were positive). (Click on the link above to read the details.) I should mention, however, that, upon noting their conclusions near the beginning of their report, the Commission ads:
[I]t is recommended that consolidation or restructuring of district boundaries be seriously considered as a permanent arrangement….
     More about that in a moment.


     According to the Commission, which wishes to put its analysis and conclusions in historical context,
Hollis Allen wrote this important work
in the early 1950s
In 1959, the Orange County Committee on School District Organization [OCCSDO] became concerned over the lack of a systematic plan for education. The Committee retained Hollis P. Allen [of Claremont Graduate School] and William Briscoe [of UCLA], two prominent educators, to study the needs of the junior colleges and to prepare a master plan for 20 years of development.
     So, the first thing to notice about the Allen-Briscoe “report” is that it was supposed to be, and was accepted as, the County’s 20-year “master plan” for development of JCs (CCs). The "report" was in fact a guide to planning and action.

     The Commission explains that
[Various] realities faced Allen and Briscoe from the outset. They were certain, as were the members of the California Master Plan Study team, which met at this same time, that the entire State stood on the threshold of surging enrollments in higher education. Only comprehensive planning could provide quality education during the expansion without bankrupting the public by proliferating colleges. ... Finally, less than half of Orange County's population lived within existing junior college districts. Given the proclivities of Orange County's residents, it appeared likely that the nondistrict territories would insist on their own districts and fragment the county into inefficient and expensive educational units. These realities made the master plan all the more important to Allen, Briscoe, and the school committee.
     Yep, proclivities. Organizing the County behind some coherent and efficient plan is like herding cats. It's like planning an outing with the Bickersons.
     Allen and Briscoe presented their work in December of 1960. It was pretty impressive and pretty striking. People endlessly referred to it.
     As the Commission explains, the plan attempted to determine the likely number of JCs that would have to be built in the coming twenty years, the optimal approximate locations of these JCs, the optimal JC district organization/configuration, and the likely cost of all this.
     The Commission, writing in 1977, praises Allen and Briscoe’s work. It was, they write, “a careful and balanced appraisal of Orange County's educational situation….” “Much of their work,” they add, “was based on projections, which have proven remarkably accurate…,” which they demonstrate with graphs and charts. Their work “reflects a tough-mindedness about resources and costs, which was rare in 1960. It also included concerns about regional coordination, administrative efficiency, and tax equity, which have only recently entered the debate over school finance.”


     Allen and Briscoe’s key recommendation focused on overcoming Orange County’s unfortunate proclivities, i.e., its fragmentation, its "balkanization." It was a county that, for historical reasons, had no center. They noted that, in Orange County, “no strong intergovernmental organization [exists] through which local governments can consider county-wide issues and arrive at general agreements”; “few official mechanisms [exist] to make visible the long-term implications of local decisions”; and “needless, self-defeating competition [prevails] among local authorities.”
     (In a section of their report entitled, “Postsecondary education in Orange County,” the Commission, in attempting to explain the forces that have shaped OC education, note that
[A] militant localism has divided the county into educational districts that have developed a resolute self-consciousness. Over the years, this fragmentation has hindered county-wide or regional responses to the challenges of growth….
     (OK, so we don't get along. The farmers and ranchers resent the city-folk; the city-folk don't understand the rural crowd. Nobody can make sense of the weirdos on the coast.
     (To make things worse, Orange County had embraced and internalized an “unrestrained growth ethic,” something that never really died away, despite the increasing chaos and crowding. The Commission suggests that A&B, too, uncritically embraced "naive" values about the intrinsic goodness of growth.)
     A&B's recommendation? "Considering all factors," they wrote, "the Study Committee recommends that serious consideration be given to one junior college district for the entire County." (My emphasis.)
     One organizing and deciding entity for the whole County? That went over like a lead balloon.

     A&B knew their advice would be hard to take. According to the Commission,
Allen and Briscoe anticipated the potential resistance to this single district recommendation [Plan I], so they suggested a second plan [Plan II], which would divide Orange County into the three new districts,”
—namely, a “north OC” district, a “central OC” district, and a oddly-shaped “coast” district that would include the existing Orange Coast district and the rest of OC’s coastal areas all the way down to San Juan Capistrano. (See graphic above.) In Allen and Briscoe’s judgment,
…either plan will permit a much more orderly development to meet the junior college needs of the County than would the creation of new junior college districts in areas not now having such districts (p. 40).
And so part of the reason for those peculiar plans to combine districts and to annex unattached high school districts to which I have referred in these posts was, well, the MASTER PLAN.
     But, really, there can be no master plan for the doings of cats. Just lots of incompatible minor ones.

Tustin News editorial, April 6, 1961

     OC officials did embrace A&B's master plan for the County's approach to JC build-out. But, as we've already seen, the plan to overcome fragmentation just couldn't be implemented. Fragmentation has essentially prevailed.
     Could be worse.
     The Commission describes some of the unity-defying problems that arose in the years after 1960. And that's where WE come in:
     The Orange County Committee on School District Organization [OCCSDO] accepted the Allen-Briscoe report and set out to implement the three-district concept. In 1964, the residents of the Anaheim Union District, the Brea-Olinda Unified District and the Placentia Unified District voted to join the Fullerton Junior College District, which then became North Orange Community College District. Two years later, Cypress College opened as the second campus in the District and immediately enrolled 1,966 students. Both of these developments followed the general outline of the Allen-Briscoe report. The areas remaining outside junior college districts—Garden Grove, the Orange Unified District, and most of southern Orange County—posed major problems in conforming to the Plan. In 1966, voters in Orange and Garden Grove voted overwhelmingly to join the Santa Ana District, but the necessary bond initiative failed to achieve the required two-thirds approval. One year later, Garden Grove again approved annexation but defeated the bonds.

     Although these votes undermined the Allen-Briscoe plan, the most flagrant breach of the report's guidelines was the effort of the San Joaquin [El Toro and Mission Viejo], Laguna Beach, and Capistrano School Districts to form a fourth junior college district in Orange County. The separation movement began in 1965 and drew on the resentments of semi-rural residents in southern Orange toward the urban residents to the north.
     By a four to three vote, the School District Organization Committee adopted a resolution in 1966 which contained the classic arguments for district decentralization: the southern committees wanted a junior college and could finance it; the curriculum would suit the unique needs of the students there; colleges should not exceed 5,000 enrollment; community pride would be increased by a separate district; the faculty would be drawn from local residents….
     Several voices were raised against the new district and in support of the master plan. "There is considerable evidence indicating that another method of meeting southern Orange County's junior college needs would be more economical," stated an editorial in the local Daily Pilot. "Highly respected authorities on junior college education … lean heavily in favor of large multi-campus junior college districts. Their reasons, based largely on economic factors, make sense." The junior college staff of the State Board of Education reviewed the proposal and recommended against the separate district. The staff's memorandum agreed that the proposed district met the legislative requirement for size, that it satisfied the requirement of $150,000 assessed valuation per ADA, and that the area was growing and justified the establishment of a separate campus. Nevertheless, the staff concluded that "the formation of a new administrative unit [i.e., a separate district] does not seem to be necessary.” Despite the master plan and these doubts, the voters in southern Orange County approved the new district in 1967, and the State Board of Education approved the proposal shortly thereafter.
     Sheesh. But wait a minute! Where was the City of Tustin in all this?
     More, later. Especially about Tustin.

     See also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

LA Times, January 21, 1961

6B: more on Saddleback's "bookie trustee"

Mr. Brannon, long ago The Happy Bookmaker      As it turns out, Alyn Brannon, one of our district’s original board trustees (1967-1...