Friday, July 28, 2017

The origins of our college district, Part 8c: twisty, unpredictable, curious and dubious, Part C [end]

     IN THIS POST: with the March 8, 1977, election, charter trustee Pat Backus, who supported the grumbling Tustinites, suffers a major upset; he's OUT and newbies Watts, McKnight, and Price are IN. What emerges is a "new board majority" of Brandt-Taylor-McKnight-Price, two of whom were backed by the faculty union, which seeks to be the sole legal rep of faculty on contract issues, which are going badly.
     Amazingly, this crew immediately REOPENS the supposedly settled subject of site selection for the district's second campus. Tustinites have a cow. The board minority seethes. WTFs all around.
     But the Irvine Co. won't sell the Jeffrey property unless it is first "condemned," thereby relieving the company (and the district) of a big tax payout. Does the new board majority have the five votes necessary for the condemnation move? Seemingly not. (Uh-oh.) 
     Meanwhile, trustee Greinke thinks Child Care Centers are immoral and, over in Irvine, lots of residents are pulling a NIMBY, college-wise, and some begin to suspect dastardly Irvine Co. "tricks." Former trustee Bartholomew weighs in on the crazy site selection issue, bellowing that he expects the district soon to rename itself the "Irvine Company Community College District."
     In May, the Irvine Co. decides to allow Saddleback to purchase the Jeffrey property without condemnation procedures, and so the sale goes forward, ending the matter once and for all. Upshot: the Board Majority has bulldozed the minority and Tustinites are now permanently pissed people. 
     With that, the negotiations logjam concerning the faculty contract is suddenly cleared and faculty get a nice raise and impressive benefits. Greinke calls the contract "excessive." The conservatives seethe.
     What does it all mean? —RB


APRIL 1977


     • The LA Times reports:
     “Despite protests from more than 50 residents here, Saddleback College trustees voted 4-3 this week to locate a campus in [Irvine] rather than in unincorporated county territory [essentially in Tustin].”
     “The vote reversed the trustees’ previous decision to start a small campus on 20-acres of Irvine Ranch land at Myford Road and Bryan Avenue, which is in county territory between Irvine and Tustin.”
     “The site trustees selected this week [on Jeffrey] is … owned by the Irvine Co.”
     “Although trustees have been debating location of a Tustin-Irvine area campus for over a year, they have been unable to make a final selection and stick to it.”
     “In September and again in February, they discussed several sites and voted for the Myford-Bryan site.”
     “However, three new trustees were elected in the March 8 election and subsequently requested that the issue be brought up again.”
     “It is possible that the board will have to condemn the land at the Jeffrey site—thus making it available for public use—and if a condemnation vote is taken at least one additional trustee will have to favor the new site to make up the two-thirds majority needed to carry a condemnation vote.”
     “If [Irvine Co.] officials agree to the deal without condemnation, only four votes would be necessary to approve the deal.”
     Price, McKnight, Brandt, and Taylor voted to switch to the Jeffrey/ICD site in Irvine. Greinke, Berry and Watts voted no (i.e., in favor of the earlier selection: the Myford/Bryan site next to Tustin).
     Many local residents complained about the board switcheroo because, they said, starting a college at the Jeffrey/ICD site would not be compatible with their neighborhood; it would cause parking and traffic issues.
     “Further protests are expected at the May 9 condemnation hearing—if it occurs.”
     Originally, the new “satellite” campus was to open in September. “But with the delays due to the continuing controversy, college officials have pushed that date back to September 1978.”
     (“Saddleback College Trustees Vote To Change Campus Site,” LA Times, 4-28-77)

     • In his editorial, Bill Moses explains that things are looking bad for the Saddleback board’s selection of the Myford/Bryan site for its second campus:
     “With the new board’s election, the teachers’ union majority is now apparently going to rescind the former board’s choice of Bryan-Myford 20 acres as the northern campus. This is by 4-3 vote.”
     “We hope the new trustees will think carefully before they put the Tustin and Irvine residents on the rack of the teachers’ union dictates in the choice of Jeffrey-Irvine Center Dr. site.”
     (“Wait and See if Tustin-Irvine Campus Site Lost,” Tustin News, 4-28-77)


      • “Reconsideration of the Jeffrey-Irvine Center Drive site as the best site for a northern satellite campus was approved 4-3 by the Saddleback Community College District board of trustees Monday night in spite of protests of over 60 Irvine residents attending.”
     New trustee McKnight made the motion.
     Greinke, Berry, and new trustee, Bill Watts voted against the motion. The four others—McKnight, Taylor, Brandt, and Price—voted for it.
     Next step: a hearing for the owner, the Irvine Co. Next, a resolution condemning the property.
     “Some board members asked if the negotiations could be conducted without condeming [sic] the property. Roy Barletta, business manager, replied, ‘The Irvine Co. will not sell unless under threat of condemnation.’”
     If the property is “under threat of condemnation,” then “the Irvine Co. would not have to pay taxes on the land. Neither would the school district.”
     Local residents complained about increased traffic and parking issues. The parking issue was easily addressed (enough parking would be provided on campus).
     Mel Roop of the Irvine City Planning staff “noted that plans were underway to have Jeffrey widened to six lanes and Irvine Center Drive to four lanes.”
     “Roop also stated that the Irvine City Council unanimously endorsed the Jeffrey-Irvine Center Drive [site] for the Saddleback campus site.”
     Nick Alles of the Meadows Homeowners Assn. board spoke.
     “Alles … referred to letters from the city and the Irvine Co. favorable to the Bryan-Myford site up to Dec. 10, 1976. ‘The people were not aware of the tricks that would be sprung upon them. At a meeting Jan. 6, without consultation of city residents, the council voted unanimously to support the change….’ ”
     “A resident of The Ranch said that in a survey, the homeowners group found that 85 to 90 per cent of the residents did not want the college at the Jeffrey site.”
     Other homeowners associations seemed to favor the Jeffrey site.
     Greinke explained the financial advantages of choosing the Jeffrey site. Residents’ taxes would be lower with the Jeffrey site, he said.
     “According to Dr. Ed Hart, assistant superintendent at Saddleback, present plans are to have a satellite campus in the northern area operatin by September 1978 with approximately 2000 full and part-time students, a full-time faculty of 25-30, within 30 to 40,000 gross square ft. of space.”
     (“Saddleback 2nd Site to be Reconsidered,” Tustin News, 4-28-77)

MAY 1977

      • “Twenty-nine new full-time teaching positions were approved March 28 by the Saddleback College Board of Trustees….”
     (“Saddleback Adds 29 Full-Time Teachers,” Tustin News, 5-5-77)

      • “The unknown of whether or not the Irvine Company will sell land at Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive without a resolution to condemn the land is the reason the public hearing on the northern campus at that site is being postponed until May 23 the Saddleback … board was told Monday night.”
     “This was the reply by Superintendent … Lombardi to Trustee Donna Berry’s question, ‘What are we waiting for? What information don’t we have?’ ”
     “The vote to postpone the public hearing on the site to May 23 was approved by the board 6-1 with Trustee Frank Greinke voting against.”
     “If a resolution to condemn … is necessary, a 2/3 vote or five votes is needed by the board.”
Does the majority (of 4) have the five votes?
     Greinke wondered if the board were prepared should it be forced to go back to Site #1 (the Myford/Bryan site).
     “ ‘My concern is that we do not burn our bridges that we built before behind us,’ said Greinke.”
     “ ‘Maybe we should start building a new bridge,’ replied Trustee Norrisa Brandt.”
     (“Hearing Postponed on 2nd Site,” Tustin News, 5-12-77)

      • “Contract for the Child Care Center at Saddleback College was awarded to the low bidder….”
     “Vote was 5-2 with Trustees Frank Greinke and Donny Berry voting against.”
     “Greinke said he felt child care is the responsibility of the parents adding ‘I think this is a misuse of community college funds. I think the children belong at home, not at college.’ ”
     (“Board Awards JC Child Care Center Contract,” Tustin News, 5-12-77)

The new "board majority," 1977
      • “Dear Bill [Moses],”
     “…I have been keeping abreast of what was transpiring through your paper…. After all, there were two excellent members (Frank Greinke and Donna Berry), to keep common-sense thinking and reasoning before the rest of the board….”
     “It is now obvious that I was mistaken. About the only thing that the ‘fuzzybrained’ members, which form the majority of the board—have not done is to rename the district [ ] the ‘Irvine Company Community College District,’ since it is quite apparent that they feel said Company owns the district….”
     Bob Bartholomew [former trustee]
     (Letters to the Editor, Tustin News, 5-19-77)

      • The LA Times reports:
     “The Saddleback Community College District has decided to purchase property at Jeffrey Road and Irvine Center Drive in the City of Irvine for its planned second campus.”
     “Trustees of the college district voted Monday night to accept an offer from the Irvine Co. to purchase 20 acres at the site for $45,000 an acre, or a total purchase price of $900,000.”
     “The property currently is appraised at $75.000 an acre, and is conservatively expected to be valued at $120,000 an acre within five years.”
     “The board … decision apparently ends a long-standing controversy over where the district intends to locate its second campus. Last September, the board had decided to buy a site at Myford Road and Bryan Ave in unincorporated territory near Tustin. The Irvine Co., however, subsequently decided that the Myford site was beneficial to its agricultural interests….”
     It was a 4-3 vote with Greinke, Watts, and Berry “casting negative ballots.”
     (“Saddleback College District to Buy Jeffrey Road Site,” LA Times, 5-25-77)

      • “With the Irvine Co. removing the last obstacle, The [sic] Saddleback Community College District board of trustees Monday night by majority 4-3 vote approved purchase of 20 acres … at Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive.”
      “…Last Tuesday the Irvine Co. board of directors voted to allow Saddleback to purchase the site without condemnation procedures. Only a majority vote is needed in that case. Voting against purchase were” Greinke, Watts, and Berry. Taylor, Brandt, Price, and McKnight voted in favor.
      “…The News has received reports that The Ranch [a homeowners association] has hired a lawyer to look into suing the Irvine Co. over the site issue.”
     (“New Site Purchase Approved by Board,” Tustin News, 5-26-77)

      • “A three year contract increasing faculty salary 29.5 per cent, including automatic step increases, was approved 5-2 Monday night by the Saddleback … board…. Trustees Frank Greinke and Donna Berry voted against the increase.”
     “Greinke stated he thought the salary hike was excessive[:] ‘I think that is excessive … in that we gave 12/5 per cent last year. That destroys the integrity of the cost of living increase. We are giving twice as much to the rich than to the poor. We are going to separate the faculty that much more.’ ” [The latter is a reference to part-timer pay, which is considerably below full-timer pay.]
     “…Mrs. Berry [said], ‘I want to point out to Saddleback College employees that we are all very well covered. We have one of the finest fringe benefit packages in the area. I think that sometimes is taken for granted.’ ”
     “Commenting on the agreement, [Superintendent] Lombardi stated, ‘Both the district and the faculty enjoyed major gains in the negotiations. The district made a necessary change in the summer school pay formula [reducing the rate for full-timers, bring it closer to that of part-timers], and the faculty gained the long-term contract it was seeking. There is a good feeling of compromise on both sides.’ ”
     Added Lombardi: “the district recognizes that these figures to [sic] not reflect the current cost of living increase but they do reflect a substantial commitment to maintain competitive salaries….”
     (“JC Faculty Receives 3 Year 29.5% Pay Hike,” Tustin News, 5-26-77)

So, what does it all mean?

     It does seem clear that the deal for the Jeffrey/ICD property was a good one, better than the Myford deal. Brandt was probably right when she suggested that the district had the Irvine Co over a barrel—if, that is, it was willing to ignore the clamor from Tustin for selection of the Myford site.

     What was up with the Irvine Co.? The company behaved as though something had come up—around December of 1976—that suddenly made continued ownership of the Myford property highly attractive
     It sure wasn’t the price of soy beans.
     It seems clear that, despite the Irvine Co.’s public protests to the contrary, in keeping the Myford property, it was pursuing profit in the form of the development of commercial (not residential or agricultural) enterprises (i.e., leased properties). And, in fact, about ten years later, the Irvine Co. did create the (Tustin) Market Place exactly where the satellite campus would have stood; and that venture has been very profitable, as I understand it. 
     Yes, where Saddleback’s second campus might have stood now stands lots of Market Place parking—plus Dick’s Sporting Goods.

     Is it true that the board had promised Tustinites to put a college in the City of Tustin? Was the Great Switcheroo of April, 1977, a depraved act, the breaking of a promise to the long-suffering and earnest Tustin community?
     I need to look into the details, but the language that is usually used to refer to that promise is that the district planned to build a campus “in the Tustin area.” Now, obviously, there is a perspective, a genuine one, from which the Jeffrey campus IS in the Tustin area, if not in Tustin; it certainly is so relative to South County.
     But maybe the promise was more specific, more Tustinian. I’ll try to find out.
     There’s evidence that, under more normal circumstances (i.e., absent the switcheroos), the Tustin crowd would have been satisfied learning that the northern campus would be built just a few miles south in beauteous Irvine. After all, the Tustin City Council at one point communicated a happiness with either site—Myford or Jeffrey. I suspect that things went badly, Tustinwise, because of those infernal switcheroos. The Myford site was first chosen, then unchosen, then chosen again, only to be unchosen for good. No wonder they’re pissed. They’re still pissed. (Remember how the endless negotiations between the City of Tustin and the district regarding the Tustin [ATEP] site went so badly for years? No doubt, our district’s miserable history with that city had something to do with it.)

     In 1977, it was already clear that there would be more growth in the Irvine/El Toro area than in Tustin, and that conviction has been born out. In terms of population changes since 1977, the selection of the Jeffrey site (as compared to the Myford site) seems fortunate (to me, for what that’s worth, but what do I know about such things?).


     Having been through the horrors of the 1996 trustee election—and the stunning continued creepitude and misconduct of the union Old Guard for years thereafter—I naturally wonder if the 1977 faculty union and (some of) the board majority made an explicit bargain: a quid pro quo.
     That’s what happened in 1996: the Board Majority that emerged, thanks to the Faculty Association’s sleazy efforts (appealing to homophobia, turning a blind eye to Holocaust denial, etc.), from that election, soon granted precisely the kinds of salary increases (etc.) that the union leadership had sought. And the Board Four was thereafter assured easy reelection (which indeed occurred, not only for Williams, Frogue, and Fortune [Lorch resigned, with designs on the district HR job, which she ultimately secured via lawsuit/settlement], but for newcomers Wagner and Padberg, both archconservatives, in 1998, and then the Prince of Freakin’ Darkness, Tom Fuentes, in 2000).
     Of course, it’s one thing for a union to support candidates who hold values similar to their own (which might have happened in 1977), and it’s quite another thing to pursue an explicit quid pro quo concerning salary hikes and the like.
     What went on in the election of early 1977?
     I just don’t know.
     I will simply observe that things were going badly for the union in its contract negotiations prior to the election of 1977; and they went very well thereafter.
     Golly. —RB 

JUNE 1977

     • “Funeral mass was celebrated June 7 for the wife of Saddleback College Superintendent Robert Lombardi, Marilyn Lombardi, 41, who passed away June 4 after a lengthy illness….”
     (“Saddleback JC Superintendent’s Wife Passes,” Tustin News, 6-9-77)

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