Change that we need and the Issues:
Our nine community colleges serve over 140,000 students, and cover over 800 square miles of area, making this college district the largest in the nation with an annual budget of $800 Million Dollars.
The current board and the cronyism that has controlled it, has failed its solemn basic fiduciary duties to the tax payers of our district, the faculty, the students, and the administrators. I believe that with my background and experience, I can bring accountability and humility to this board. I want to include you the voters, the teachers, the students, and the administrators in sharing in the decision making process of the district without owing anything to special interests. If you are tired of business as usual, then you have the chance to send a message of positive change and to vote out the current incumbent. I pledge to you that I will be “a Trustee for All of Us.”
Taxpayers and voters:
The current board refuses to release the Capstone Report it commissioned and paid for with taxpayer money. The Report is supposedly shedding light on how the incumbents had been “asleep at the wheel” while billions of dollars in bond funds were allocated. In many cases there have been reports of abuse and mismanagement of how these contracts were awarded. I call upon this board to release the full Capstone Report findings.
Board of Trustees must stand for the taxpayer protections guaranteed by Proposition 13. We stand against the tax and waste policies at the expense of LA taxpayers.
With its current view on Prop.13, it is only natural to see the current board’s hunger for tax increases. According to The Daily News, The Board of Trustees passed Proposition AA without giving the property tax payers of the district a chance to read the pros and cons of that $980 million dollar “Stealth Tax”. Without any regards for truth in campaigning, they were successful in misleading the voters to approve $3,500,000,000 (3.5 billion dollars) by portraying it as a “no new taxes” proposition.
The Board of Trustees missed a great lesson in democratic governance when one of its own, the former LACCD President, resigned in February of 2007. Since the board is elected by the voters of the district, a special election could have been made part of the election (without any additional costs to the taxpayers) if the timing of resignation had been sensitive to the March 6th, Election of 2007. The board used every trick in the books to justify its filling by appointment rather than letting voters decide the fate of the vacancy. This is another blatant example on how this board sees itself above what it pretends to be teaching. This board takes us for fools. Who are they fooling?
This is coming from a board that routinely goes into closed sessions and routinely approves hundreds of millions of dollars by lumping dozens of projects in two different votes. Yet, the same board is seen to be instrumental in having caused delays in the bond A and AA construction money and wasted millions on bad planning, fees and late penalties paid to contractors and developers. This is our hard earned tax money at work. Delays in construction have spiraled out of control yet this board maintains that 18 month delays are normal for such great projects. Red tape, out of control bureaucracy, legal costs of settlements, special interests, and future political aspirations of some serving on the board has added to the fiasco. They ran out of money so they printed some more in the form of Proposition J, yet another nightmare property tax increase of $3.5 billion dollars. When is waste no longer acceptable?
LA Times called their latest push for elimination of “Run-Off” Elections, “Incumbent preservation Bill”. The Current Board, with exception of two trustees, voted in June 2013 to eliminate LACCD Run-off election in May, thus cementing their election chances in plurality wins election on March 3rd, 2015. The Board through its Sacramento Lobbyists spent undisclosed amount of taxpayer money to guarantee the success of future elections and which the CA Assembly, State Senate, and Governor approved just for Los Angeles Community Colleges.
As a trustee,
- I will ask for a thorough review of the finances of the district and stop midnight property tax increase schemes that are politically driven. Transparency and accountability need to be reintroduced in LACCD. I will not betray Prop 13.
- Taking politics out and introducing common sense reforms will break the hold of bureaucrats and special interests while increasing the input of taxpayers, teachers, students, and administrators directly.
- Open the committee structure and the decision making to the public and rotate trustee meetings between all of the nine campuses. (Oops, they have already adopted this idea.)
- I will also work hard to elevate Van de Kamps satellite site to a stand-alone campus.
- I will not be a rubberstamp for any special interest group rather my allegiance will be to the voters who sent me.
- I will support letting the voters decide on the issue of term limits for the trustees.
While the rate of enrollment has been increasing, many students drop out due to a lack of funds. Expensive textbooks and costs per unit in addition to parking fees and other related costs of attendance make education a luxurious endeavor for many of our students. A lack of availability of classes and their unsuitable schedules, prolong the two year education. We have to improve our academic student counseling departments in order to ensure timely graduation and transfer of students. We must give the highest quality advise to our students. Retraining the counseling staff with the latest transfer options and vocational curriculum will be one of my top priorities. I am glad that the State of California finally passed legislation that will make attaining these goals easier.
As a trustee I will work to:
- Reducing tuition fees, offering more classes.
- Expanding private/public partnerships to provide affordable books (digital textbooks) and more scholarships.
- Increasing and expanding vocational and on the job training programs to meet the needs of 21st Century educational realities.
- Include student advice in important district wide decision making. The Board of Trustees has done next to nothing in this regard. Student voices must be heard.
- Re-establish student newspapers on all nine campuses. Student voices must be heard.
- Expand the duties and effectiveness of the LACCD Student Trustee.
- Expand and improve transfer rates for students.
- Re-establish banished sports programs on all campuses and restore inner cities sports access and scholarship programs so that underprivileged students have a better shot at success just as the Ivy leaguers.
Students are the primary focus of our colleges and as such we have to treat them that way.
Faculty and teachers:
The current board has forgotten it’s true responsibility. This power and responsibility sharing agreement has suffered and lost its original meaning. Tenured professors are under the impression that they are adequately represented but I want to address power sharing agreements directly with them rather than with those who claim to represent them. The part time faculty has been shuttling between campuses to make a living while the true focus on students has greatly suffered. Slow pace in campus remodeling and expansions have simply left teachers helpless and ignored on important campus decisions. The slow pace of construction has added to chaos on the campuses.
As a trustee:
- I will introduce tenure for all qualified part time teachers and once and for all end the back and forth shuttling of teachers and turn our full focus on students rather than beating traffic.
- I will reestablish fair and full shared governance with the Faculty Senate of different campuses and open my doors to hear teachers and their concerns and suggestions directly taking into account their experiences and needs when renegotiating contracts.
- Help reduce class overcrowding by cutting from bureaucracy and relocating funds to classrooms and teachers.
- Fight for our fair share of funds from Sacramento and make sure that we do not replace the well being of students, teachers and administrators for that of special interests.
Meddling into the day to day operations of each campus has become the norm with the current board. It is unlikely that this board will change its micro-managing style even though it claims to be a part time board. Most of the decisions in regards to plucking away a popular East LA College President and placing him at Mission College and many other incidents were never dealt with publicly since the LACCD PR firm does not want bad publicity for its client LACCD.
As a trustee:
- I will introduce motions to limit the power of the LACCD Chancellor in making unilateral decisions which negatively affect the students, teachers, and administrators’ morale on the campuses.
- I Will give independence to all nine campuses to formulate their own local plans of success and will elevate the status of the Van De Kamps site to a regular campus making it our tenth LACCD campus.
- I will introduce bonus funds to any college that increases its vocational graduates as well as transferring graduates.
- I Will expand nursing, law enforcement, fire fighting, and other programs to meet the needs of our local hospitals and medical care providers and first responders.
Paid for Jozef Essavi for College Board, 2015.