Trustees Forum: live and direct!
Well, here we are in the Ronald Reagan meeting room in beauteous Saddleback College, awaiting the start of the faculty union's trustees forum for Area 7 candidates: Tim Jemal, Jan Serrantino-Cox, John Williams, and Mike Moodian.
Aha! Faculty Association Prez Paula Jacobs has started the shebang! Lee Haggerty is here to moderate. (Ken Woodward seems to be sitting in for Mr. Moodian, who, last I heard, had a conflict and won't be able to attend the forum. Ken will read M's written responses.).
This event is not particularly well attended. There are perhaps 30 people in the audience--mostly, the usual suspects. The forum is not being recorded.
Candidates will now introduce themselves:
Each gives a minimalists self-introduction.
Says Paula: all candidates were given the questions ahead of time. Ken will be reading Moodian's responses. (Moodian had a scheduling conflict.)
There are five prepared questions. Each candidate will have five minutes to respond to each question (says Paula).
Haggerty: "Welcome," etc.
Order chosen at random.
Question 1: why run, etc.
Janet S-C: there's been a lack of leadership, seeking community input, re decisions. I am a product of the CC system. Have taught in all levels of K-12. My focus is in education (ed degrees). Believes in putting students first. My experience will lead to innovation in the district. Good at problem-solving. Want to move the district to a new level.
Mike Moodian: (Ken W reads): apologizes for being unable to attend. Had to go to conference, booked a month before heard about this forum.
I'm a product of Saddleback College. Went on to secure BA and MA at CSUF. Now at Brandman U. Also on Catholic High School board. This is how I can give back to south OC. I know how to balance budgets and engage in strategic planning. Etc.
|You were invited?|
Tim Jemal: I'm running because I love our community colleges. Students get a second chance. The crown jewel of our education system. Remarkable numbers. Need to provide the best education possible. One priority: training and retraining. Rep'd American Electronic Association. Have proven record of putting together public/private partnerships. (Gives examples.) (Jemal is sharply dressed; business suit. Expensive haircut. Articulate speaker.) We're destined to mediocrity unless we turn certain trends around. I'll bring energy. Bring to the next level.
2nd question: personal experience with CCs.
Mike Moodian: [Ken reads] graduated from CC years ago. Involved in European Union politics. Etc.
John Williams: served as board president three times, etc. I made the motion to build this very building. (Gives details of that. He's obviously an idiot. Goes on and on about the story of getting this building built, as though that proved anything of any consequence.) Years ago, the board occupied library building. Was involved in putting in 3rd floor. No bonds: no new taxes. Against any new taxes. Back in 1993, I was selected to replace Iris Swanson. First thing I did was tell the Chancellor that we should have both students government leaders at meetings. Very proud. Gave students a seat at the table.
Tim Jemal: I'm also a product of the CC system (in Michigan). I needed great teaching and I got it. I have two children who grew up in Mission Viejo. Talks about Emeritus Program--its importance to his father in law. Has monitored Sacramento talk of cutting this kind of program. I will fight for it. When I represented the American EA, I spoke with many leaders who told of importance of CCs. I've been involved in the Troops-to-Tech program. Our global leadership is under threat. Quality education is the key here.
Jan Serrantino-Cox: I'm a product of the CCs. Went to Golden West College. Brothers in my family were supported, but not me. Wanted a nursing degree. Worked at Hoag Hospital. Supporting myself and going to college full-time was something I couldn't manage. Years later, I tried community college again. Struggled with algebra. Instructor changed my life through mentoring. Had confidence to go on with education up through doctorate. My children have also attended. (S-C is pleasant, speaks well. Seems to be familiar with issues from faculty perspective.)
Question 3: what's your position on 30, 32, 38?
John Williams: absolutely opposed to 30 and 38. If Gov and legislature were really concerned, they'd reenstate Prop 98. That ended in 1991. These props are taking money from education. Just put 98 back. Don't support 30 or 38. They're funding their favorite programs with 30 and 38. Fundamentally opposed to "raising taxes." Prop 32: I've got some problems with that. One group taking away another group's voice--don't like that. I think this will be declared unconstitutional if it passes.
Tim Jemal: Prop 30: hate that Pub Ed is held hostage with this prop. The legislature has kicked the can down the road. There are going to be pressures from other community college districts (our abandoning basic aid?). Have not decided on 30. With regard to 32: again, haven't decided, but don't like the way it is written. Everyone is entitled to a voice in the political process. Silencing voices is wrong. Whoever wrote it, wrote it badly. Prop 38: can't support that. It focuses on K-12. Doesn't address higher ed. We need a holistic decision. One of my friends--actor James Olmos--will be disappointed that I'm opposed to it. (Jemal is not above a little name-dropping.)
"Ann," says Haggerty.
"Jan," responds Jan.
Jan S-C: I am opposed to 38. Most definitely in favor of 30. I am distressed by the lack of funding in our state for education. I know that this basic aid district is not directly impacted. Impacts every child that goes to CCs. Impacts all of our colleges. Our public education system has gone from first to the bottom since the Jarvis property tax measure in the 70s.
Mike Moodian: yes on 30, no on the other two.
Tim Jemal: yes, we're in crisis in the state. We do not get funding from the state for operational, except for categorical, as I understand it. (Reference to basic aid?) I understand that there is an allocation model that funds.... (He seemed to have a definite reform in mind re allocation of basic aid funds. Give money directly to colleges?) ...We have to be innovative with business partnerships. But must maintain our academic integrity. Refers to 50% law: I would favor exceeding that (spending more in classroom, less elsewhere).
Jan S-C: understands the question differently. Always ask: how will it affect the students. We need to have our students engaged with the world of work. Partnerships, etc., will help students. Blah blah blah. (S-C seems to be a good candidate, as is Jemal.)
Mike Moodian: will lead by example. Reject all health benefits for trustees. Need to make serious cuts to all non-essential travel. Will initiate fund raising plan that reaches out to alumni, etc. Can tap into alumni base.
John Williams: the DRAC model is still working. It's a team effort: colleges funded on state apportionment model. Board set up this model, it works. All things in place now are fine. Colleges on same funding model (imposed by board) as nearby colleges. That's tough. Colleges appeal to board on case by case basis. Make their case, trustees decide. The district is sound; no danger of floundering. We've set things up just in case we lose basic aid. IF we lose basic aid, we'll be OK, though will have to tighten belts. If reelected, will continue what we're doing.
Question 5: What is your position on shared governance, role of faculty?
Jan S-C: shared governance works. It works when everyone understands the contribution employees make. Trustees need a positive relationship with faculty. Concerned about top-down approach, not consulting people who actually do the work. Yes, trustees need to set out guidelines, policies, but faculty perspective needs to be listened to. Without staff, the colleges would not operate. Need their input too. We need to listen to students. Shared governance means listening to all constituents, etc.
Mike Moodian: faculty are the life's blood of every institution. Faculty will be valued, will fight efforts to limit faculty power.
John Williams: on my first 18 years, we had two instances when we had problems with shared governance. 99.9% of time, groups agreed. Few instances when groups didn't agree. All in favor of open government, consulting collegialy. (I guess he forget about his egregious Brown Act violations.) We're policy makers. The Chancellor runs things. We're not the experts. We need to rely on the experts. (This is ridiculous. Williams will say anything, evidently.) Shared governance has been going on for 30 years now, has gone well. I would be a proponent of what we've done: shared governance.
Tim Jemal: critical that we trustees have good relationship with faculty, et al. Faculty are the primary deciders about .... Need to have transparent processes. Don't want to foment distrust. Processes must be transparent to all stake-holders. I will be entirely accessible to all. I want to set a goal: be in the top 5 grad (transfer?) rates in the state. Given the quality of education, employers in the area, etc., no reason we can't be in the top 5. Recently, Leon Pinetta said biggest threat to country is failure to graduate enough .... Need to invest in education.
A familiar faculty member asks: controversy about vouchers, charter schools. Have any opinions about that?
Jemal: I don't think that vouchers are a good idea. Some charter schools have been successful. Case by case basis, some successful.
Serrantino-Cox: never been in favor of vouchers. Public education can do the job.
Williams: not that familiar about vouchers. I'm a product of public schools.
Another question: what steps will you take to represent the community, not just yourself
S-C: I have no agenda beyond the district's colleges doing better, etc. Favors forums to get input from community, etc.
Jemal: believe strongly in transparency. Will avail myself... even office hours. Want to gather input. Very active in business community, have been soliciting input there, also among residents, etc.
There was a question regarding ATEP....
At this point, my notes become sketchy in part owing to my participation in the Q & A.
I eventually asked Williams some questions: how he squares his expressed fidelity to "open government" and to "shared governance" with his history as a violator of the Brown Act and, for instance, his actions, along with other trustees, of violating faculty rights with regard to a unilateral change in the hiring policy, contrary to state statute, etc.
Williams seemed to claim that the district won the Brown Act suits (huh?). He didn't even address my point about the hiring policy. I noted that. He refused to say more. Lee H moved us along.
I also asked about candidates' familiarity with the district's accreditation history. Got some good answers from Jemal and S-C. Williams seemed to say that "others" on the board made some bad decisions, not him. What can you do?, he shrugged. I looked him square in the eye. The old stink eye.
Someone raised problems in the past with choice of chancellor, the process of hiring, residual issues from those bad old days. Got good answers from Jemal, S-C. These people tended to be very articulate, exhibited good values.
Williams proved himself to be a bold liar and idiot. He spoke of his fidelity to process, etc. In fact, he was a chief violator of process, especially with regard to rounds of Mathur-hiring.
At 4:30, the forum came to an end. More later.