December 2013
The Sun
Southwestern College

Dissident Group Wants to
Cut Ties with CTA

By: Sean Campbell
Oct. 5, 2007

Last spring 389 Southwestern
College professors and adjunct
instructors told the state Public
Employment Relations Board
they wanted to vote on who
represented them.

They got their wish. Ballots
were sent by PERB to about
1,300 faculty members and are
due Nov. 5.

With Pasadena City College
recently breaking from the
California Teachers
Association and Rio Hondo
Community College
marshaling to follow in its
footsteps, the CTA, which
ultimately oversees the
college's faculty union, has a
stake in keeping SWC under
its organization.

SWC professors and
instructors have three
choices on their ballots, to
stay with the Southwestern
College Education
Association, have no union
at all, or switch to an
independent union called
the Independent Faculty
Association (IFA). All
balloting will be conducted
by mail. Votes will be tallied
Nov. 6.

A second vote in the future will
ask SWC instructional staff if
union payments should be

SWC instructional staff pay
the Burlingame-based
association about $400,000 in
fees annually.
That is the
problem, for a group of
professors who call themselves
the Freedom Fighters. The
dissidents started organizing
more than a year ago when the
SCEA made union payments
mandatory. More than 80 percent
of that money is sent to the
SCEA's larger associations, most
of which goes to the CTA.

Freedom Fighters Frank
Paiano and Joan Stroh
said the CTA is loyal to
K-12 educators at the
expense of community
colleges. They said that
college faculty could get
more for less if it was
keeping its money local.
They are not anti-union,
they said, they are

That the CTA is primarily
focused on K-12 is not
contested by SCEA President
Janet Mazzarella. Almost 90
percent of the association is
made up of K-12 members, she
said. But, Mazzarella, along with
other SCEA members, said that
being second priority with the
CTA still gives the college
faculty better representation
than being first priority with an
independent union

Under current representation,
full-time faculty pay $97.30 a
month and the part-time faculty
pay $20.76 a month. The IFA
proposes to charge full-time
professors $45 and the
part-time instructors $5.

Paiano contends that an
independent union will create a
larger war chest for the college
because its dues will not leave
the district.

When the money goes to
Burlingame it does not
disappear, Mazzarella said, and
CTA gives the union support
that an independent union
could not. CTA provides
information that is "top notch,"
trained professionals who know
the ins and outs of the
community college system, and
a team of lawyers that can
protect faculty. She said she
recently had to call on the CTA
for help and has used its
assistance many times in the

CTA provides training for
negotiating, wrote SCEA
member and SWC English
Professor Andrew Rempt, in a
global e-mail. Rempt
questioned the representation
of the proposed independent

"What have any of the members
of the IFA done to prepare
themselves for stepping into the
enormous shoes of the SCEA?"
Rempt wrote.

Several SCEA negotiators have
attended interest-based
bargaining seminars, Rempt
said. He questioned how IFA
negotiators would compete.

Paiano said that the IFA has an
excellent legal firm that has
done well against the CTA and
has represented other faculty in
dealing with districts. The legal
firm is well versed in
Independent Faculty Unions,
which it has been working with
for 16 years, he said.

Paiano and Stroh have both
worked on at least one SCEA
negotiating team and both said
they believe they can do a
better job negotiating than
SCEA, Paiano said.

Rempt said an independent
union will not be a strong
lobbyist for education legislation
in Sacramento and that it was
irresponsible for SWC faculty to
have other people lobbying for
SWC at a state level without
SWC's support, said Rempt.

Joan Stroh, SWC chair for
computer information systems,
said the IFA would not be on its
own, but part of a larger
organization called the California
Community College Independents
(CCCI) which has 13 community
college districts under it,
including the neighboring
Community College District.

IFA supporters point out the
state's split of Proposition
98 to show CTA's loyalty to
K-12. Eleven percent of the
millions provided by
proposition are supposed to
go to community colleges,
Paiano said. He said that in
the last twenty years
community colleges have
received the proper 11
percent allocation only
once. He contends that the
CTA never agitated in the
college's favor.

"They're working against
us," he said.

The California Community
College Initiative, which is on
the February 2008 ballot
proposing to lower community
college tuition from $20 to $15
is another example of CTA's
overarching loyalty to K-12,
said Stroh.

But SCEA officials said the
initiative is not as clear-cut an
issue as IFA proponents
believe. They said that IFA's
dragging it into this vote is a
"red herring."

Part-time adjuncts at SWC
outnumber full-time faculty 3 to
1 and they have the power to
swing the vote. A flier found in
faculty mailboxes on Oct. 3
read, "We, the part-time faculty
of Southwestern College, know
that you need our votes in the
upcoming PERB election."

Adjunct instructors will vote for
that organization which creates
bylaws benefiting part-timers,
the flier read. It asked for
adjuncts to be included on the
executive board and negotiating
team and be placed on
representative councils "in
numbers proportionate to the
number of part-time faculty on
campus." The letter went on to
ask for adjuncts to have a piece
of shared governance on
campus committees.

SCEA currently has a place for
one part-time faculty member
on the union's executive board,
negotiation team and health
and welfare committee. SCEA
also allows one part-time
representative from each of
SWC's eight schools to sit on its
representative council.

Stroh said that the proposed
IFA constitution includes bylaws
that would give part-timers 49
percent of the seats on IFA's
representative assembly and
would allow at least one
representative to sit on the
negotiation team.

Stroh said the bylaws would
also include laws that would
push to allow for adjuncts to
recieve office space and paid
office hours.

Adjuncts have always
expressed concerns about
health benefits and not having
paid office-hours, Mazzarella
said. There are adjuncts that
want improvements in these
areas but the larger part of
adjuncts have expressed that
they will not use part-time office
hours or benefits, Mazzarella
said. Rather than focusing on
gains in those areas, the SCEA
has focused all its attention into
getting adjuncts the highest
wage per hour, Mazzarella said.

Phil Lopez, SCEA grievance
chairman and SWC English
professor, said that the SCEA's
numbers have shown that they
have successfully done this.

Since 1992 SCEA adjuncts
have enjoyed an 88 percent
increase in starting pay.
Long-time adjuncts have shown
a 96 percent increase,
compared to full-time faculty,
which have seen only a 72
percent increase, according to

One hurdle the IFA supporters
have to overcome for the PERB
vote is the SCEA's contract,
which was ratified last spring.
SCEA leaders said the contract
garnered an unprecedented
cost of living increase, 11.53
percent, from the district.

Stroh wrote in a global e-mail
that the raise was not
necessarily due to the SCEA
negotiating team but instead
due to the college's need to
keep up with a state regulation.
The law requires community
colleges to dedicate 50 percent
of its allocations to instructional
costs. This year college
allocations for instruction sit at
52.6 percent according to SWC
CCFS-311 report filed with the
state chancellors office on Oct.

Lopez also pointed out the
college's part-time standing
compared to a
Gossmont-Cuyamaca, a
comparable college to SWC that
is represented by an
independent union. He said the
SCEA created a step schedule
that Grossmont-Cuyamaca does
not have. It rewards adjuncts who
stay with the college. The
part-time starting hourly rate at
SWC is $17.08 higher than at
according to a flier written by
Lopez. SCEA receive pro-rated
paid benefits compared to
Grosmont-Cuyamaca's, which
has no part-time benefits,
according to Lopez.

SCEA also made a separate
salary schedule to benefit
part-timers, so that full-time
professors teaching overload
could not benefit from state
money that was allocated solely
for part-time use. Most other
schools do not have such a
system, Lopez said.

"We have these two groups of
people, part-time and full-time,"
said Lopez. "Our goal is to get
their salaries closer together,
not farther apart."

He said that from the numbers,
they have clearly met that goal
and that the numbers clearly
demonstrate SCEA's
commitment to part-time faculty.

Stroh said it is not accurate to use
Grossmont-Cuyamaca as a
benchmark for an independent
union because it is one of the
lowest paid independent unions in
the CCCI.

Three adjuncts interviewed for
this article said they had not yet
decided how they would vote.

Carol Stuardo, SCEA adjunct
faculty representative and SWC
Spanish and English as a
Second Language instructor,
said she was voting for the

Stuardo teaches at another
campus, which she chose not to
name, where part-time faculty
are represented by an
independent union. She said
she is much more satisfied with
the SCEA and that she likes
knowing there is proven
support, on a state and national
level, backing the current SWC

"It would be disconcerting to
lose their support," she said.

Stuardo said the independent
union at her other college
charges $5 a month, about one
fourth SCEA's part-time monthly
dues. SCEA has negotiated a
contract that pays faculty $15 to
20 more per hour compared to
her independent
representatives, she said.

"In one hour of teaching (at
SWC)," Stuardo said. "I've
already made back my monthly

Carole Ziegler, SWC geography
and geology adjunct, said she
planned to vote for the IFA to
represent her.

"One of the reasons," she said.
"Is that I work at another
university and I have to pay two

She said she is looking forward
to the debate coming to an end
so teachers can get back to
what they are at SWC for-the
[Note: Southwestern faculty
members Paiano and Stroh
were proved right in the Feb.
5, 2008 election when CTA
campaigned against an
initiative to help community

"Freedom Fighters Frank
Paiano and Joan Stroh
said the CTA is loyal to
K-12 educators at the
expense of community
colleges. They said that
college faculty could get
more for less if it was
keeping its money local.
They are not anti-union,
they said, they are
Southwestern Board
Members still love
Stutz, Artiano
Shinoff & Holtz
Southwestern Community College
Vote may
decide future
of the SDCEA
faculty union
Freedom Fighters get a vote
on decertification

By: Sean Campbell

A faction of dissident professors and
instructors has claimed a first-round victory in
its effort to decertify Southwestern College's
faculty union.
No complaint was filed as of press time.

Union executives denied harassing Paiano. Mazzarella said two union executives confronted
him not for soliciting signatures but because he was speaking badly about the union's
executive team.

"They can do what they want," Mazzarella said. "But now they're making it personal. We
walked up to him and said we didn't appreciate that you're insulting your colleagues."

Fusako Yokotobi, vice president of SWC Human Resources, settled an earlier squabble
between the two groups over whether Freedom Fighters could solicit professors for their
signatures using faculty mail boxes or by approaching them on campus.

In the March 28 e-mail to Paiano, she cited a California government code stating that the
Freedom Fighters have the right to solicit employees at SWC and the right to "use institutional
bulletin boards, mailboxes, and other means of communication."

"Please be advised," she said in the e-mail, "that harassment of district employees or
disruption of district activities will not be permitted at any time."

SWC Professor of English Phil Lopez said that it was Paiano who was being erratic and
behaving inappropriately. The Freedom Fighters, if anyone, are the ones guilty of
harassment, Lopez said, citing two examples of when Freedom Fighters pushed social
boundaries while collecting signatures.

The Freedom Fighters are trying to dissolve the SCEA, which is affiliated with the California
Teachers Association. In March the Freedom Fighters filed a petition to call a vote for
independent representation with PERB. The petition was supported by what Paiano said he
thought was 30 percent of the college's faculty, but he said he was wrong.

SWC's Human Resources represntatives had told the Freedom Fighters that there were 970
faculty members working for the college, Paiano said. But when PERB asked the college for a
list of faculty, the HR list had grown to 1,091 names, making the Freedom Fighters short by 31

PERB notified the Freedom Fighters of this shortage April 27 and gave the dissident group 10
days to gather more signatures. While Paiano was scrambling for signatures, he said, the
incident with Mazzarella occurred.

Paiano said Freedom Fighters were able to add almost 50 signatures to their list in just two
days and sent the signatures back to PERB May 7. Three days later PERB notified Paiano
that the Freedom Fighters had attained enough signatures and a vote to decertify the union
and to rescind fair share would take place sometime in fall 2007.

"Let's hope for a positive, constructive and informative campaign by both sides," Paiano said.
"I got involved in this because of what CTA did to our adjunct instructors. I collected over 280
signatures because I felt that they were getting a really raw deal from CTA."

Paiano said that he had given the president of the union the opportunity to avoid this vote.

"I told Janet Mazzeralla that if CTA lowered dues for adjuncts from $20 to 5 that I wouldn't
collect a single signature," said Paiano. "She declined immediately."

Five days before the vote was called by PERB, Mazzarella rebutted a Freedom Fighter e-mail.

"The statements that were sent out in the IFA (Freedom Fighters) global e-mail are so
misguided that we felt compelled to set the record straight," wrote Mazzarella.

The Freedom Fighter e-mail accused the CTA of being a primarily K-12 union disinterested in
community colleges and lambasted the CTA for its mandatory union dues, known as fair
share. It told readers that an independent union could build a war chest just as strong as the
CTA, and build it up with less expensive dues.

Mazzarella said that every educational organization in the country, to her knowledge, has fair
share dues and that an independent union could not create a war chest comparable to the

"The cost to fight the firing of one tenured faculty member is approximately $250,000 to
300,000," said Mazzarella. "CTA spent nearly a million on three faculty members here at SWC.
It will take a local independent organization years to build a war chest that big."

In the e-mail Mazzarella said that the members of the current faculty negotiation team,
executive committee and recent officers agreed not to take part in an independent union.

"Who is going to run the new union?" she said.

Mazzarell compared SWC to Grossmont/Cuyamaca, one of California's 12 community college
districts with independent unions. Grossmont/Cuyamaca ranked worst on a number of
important measures.

"This is one of the reasons Grossmont's part-time faculty just left the IFA (independent union)
and joined the ranks of (the CTA)," she said.

Joan Stroh, a Freedom Fighter, said Mazzarella is comparing SWC to Grossmont, which is the
only independent union that has lower faculty salaries than SWC. The other 11 community
college districts that have independent unions all have higher salaries than SWC, she said.

"She keeps harping on Grossmont," said Stroh.

In an e-mail to SWC faculty Lopez said the SCEA offered Freedom Fighters a vote on
mandatory dues.

"We told Frank Paiano that if the IFA (Freedom Fighters) would agree to be bound by this
vote we would open the contract ratification election to all faculty members," Lopez wrote.
"Paiano said 'no.'"

The movement for an independent union spearheaded by the Freedom Fighters is not as
strong as it seems, said Lopez.

"They have sort of created this tempest in a tea pot, which is way out of proportion to the
number of people they represent," said Lopez. "In reality what we have is a very small number
of people, six or eight, who don't want to pay fair share union dues."
"They were trying to assassinate me," he
said. "I call it the five minute hate. You
ever read '1984'? It really upset me. I was
useless for the rest of the day. I wasn't
able to do anything else."
He said five SWC professors,
including SCEA President Janet
Mazzarella, confronted him in
front of the 400 building while
he was collecting signatures
for the decertification petition.
SCEA President
Janet Mazzarella
Frank Paiano
Professor of Business and Information Systems Frank Paiano said a
group that calls itself the Freedom Fighters has collected enough
signatures from faculty to force two votes in the fall.

Paiano said the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) would
oversee a ballot that would give faculty the choice to dissolve the
Southwestern College Education Association (SCEA) and discontinue the "fair
share" clause that requires faculty to pay union fees.
CTA mobbing of professor working to
decertify union
Maura Larkins note:  
This incident reminds me of the 60 minutes story about the Yusuf Bey family in Oakland,

"Over the years, the bakery had earned a reputation for intimidation.

"One incident, which they called a 'show of force,' was taped by San Francisco's CBS
station KPIX-TV. Members of the bakery could be seen outside an Oakland tow-yard,
demanding that a car be released."
Resignations and lawsuits,
including sexual
harrassment: See
December 2007 Board

7:00 PM Wednesday,
December 12, 2007



...Page 19...

Authorize Agreements
with law firms listed
below, for providing legal
advice to the District for
the period January 1 to
December 31, 2008,
inclusive, at various
hourly costs.

Best, Best & Krieger, LLP
Agreement Approval No.
A2281.07 At a cost of $235
per hour for work performed
by partners.

Atkinson, Adelson, Loya,
Ruud & Romo, APC –

Agreement Approval No.
A2282.07 at a cost of $225
per hour for work performed
by partners.

Stutz, Artiano,
Shinoff & Holtz
Agreement Approval
No. A2283.07 At a cost
of $225 per hour for
work performed by

Worley, Schwartz,
Garfield, & Prairie, LLP

Agreement Approval No.
A2284.07 At a cost of $170
per hour for work performed
by attorneys.

Rutan & Tucker, LLP –
Agreement Approval No.
A2285.07 At a cost of $265
per hour for work performed
by attorneys.

Garcia, Calderon & Ruiz –
Agreement Approval No.
A2286.07At a cost of $215
per hour for work performed
by Partners.

Parham & Rajcic –
Agreement Approval No.
A2287.07At a cost of $173
per hour for fact finding
performed by attorneys.

The District requires legal advice on
various administrative, personnel,
and business matters during the
year. All legal requests will be
approved through the Office of the
Superintendent/President prior to
requesting services.

SOURCE General Fund
Account No. 5730-664000-

[Blogger's note:
Taxpayers are paying
these lawyers. This
information shouldn't be
Why was this page
hacked?  The information
below was erased by
some unknown person,
and has been replaced.
2006 Election
Board Member
Community College

Seat 2
Terri Valladolid
42895 votes 63.65%
G. Michael German
24493 votes 36.35%

Seat 4

Yolanda Salcido
43733 votes 64.58%
Rebecca R.
23988 votes 35.42%

Seat 5
Jorge Dominguez
34961 votes 52.97%
Christine Aranda
31039 votes 47.03%
Ex-official at
college files
suit to return

By Chris Moran
San Diego Union-Tribune
January 31, 2009

Southwestern College
administrator who
resigned last year amid
allegations of sexual
harassment has filed a
lawsuit against the college
to get his job back.

Arthur Lopez resigned
in June as director of
financial aid.

A student services
assistant claimed in a
complaint to the state
Department of Fair
Employment and Housing
that she had sex with
Lopez to keep her job.
Martha Jimenez
alleges that Lopez would
tell her during their sexual
encounters to remember
who got her the job and
that she soon faced a
performance evaluation.

Jimenez filed a lawsuit
against the college, Lopez
and two other
administrators last

Lopez's attorney said at
the time that the
allegations were false.

Lopez, who filed his
lawsuit last month, seeks
to be reinstated to his job,
with its annual salary of
$118,704. He also seeks
an unspecified amount for

The most recent lawsuit
paints a different picture of
the relationship between
Lopez and Jimenez. It
describes their eight-
month relationship as

In 2007, a year and a half
after the relationship
ended, the college
launched two
investigations – one to
determine whether
Jimenez had received
favorable treatment as a
result of the relationship,
and another to determine
whether she had been
sexually harassed.

Both investigations
cleared Lopez, according
to his lawsuit. The college
would not comment on the

Last April, college
President Raj Chopra sent
Lopez a letter informing
him that he was being
placed on administrative
leave and being
recommended for
termination, according to
the suit. The letter was
sent a week after the
college's governing board
renewed Lopez's contract
for the 2008-09 academic
Letter to Raj Chopra from ACLU
Raj Chopra | President,
Southwestern College
The San Diego Union -
Tribune - San Diego,
Author:         Don
Date:         Mar 28,
Section:         OPINION
Raj Chopra arrived as
the new president of
Southwestern College in
August 2007 with an
unusual background. He
was from Pakistan  and
India and had spent his
career in educational
administration but never
at the community college
level. At age 70, he
vowed that this would be
his final career stop and
welcomed an initial
23-month contract. Since
then, Chopra has
cleaned house in an
administration ravaged
by turmoil, has guided
the opening or
renovation of campuses
in Otay Mesa and San
Ysidro, and won public
support for a $389
million bond issue.
Chopra proposes to
reorganize the
20,000-student college
for a second time. He
was interviewed by
Union-Tribune editorial
writer Don Sevrens.

Are you contemplating
some major changes
at Southwestern
College to take it to
the next level?

Yes. The changes are
really coming from two
situations. One is to
meet the challenge
presented by the
state's budget crisis
and the very extensive
cut for community
college budgets. The
other situation is that
our enrollment is
increasing. We have
an 8 percent
enrollment increase
compared with last
year at this time. We
cannot do business as
ACLU Demand Letter: 8 Months Is Long Enough!
July 14, 2010

Since last November, the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties has
been working with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to convince Southwestern
College to fix constitutional problems with its so-called "Freedom of Expression" policy. The
policy illegally restricts speech, expression and assembly by students and faculty. Chief
among the ACLU’s objections is the college’s declaration that most of the campus is not a
public forum, and that assembly and expression would be confined to a small "free speech

Over the course of the ensuing eight months, the ACLU and FIRE have exchanged
correspondence with SWC, which formed a committee to review the school’s free speech
policy. "We’ve seen some forward progress," said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the San
Diego ACLU. "But we remain concerned that Southwestern just isn’t getting it. We still have
serious concerns that the college is scared of free expression on its campus. I look forward to
discussing this matter with the college’s counsel to see if imminent litigation can be averted."

In a letter sent to SWC’s counsel today, the ACLU cited continuing concerns with the SWC
policy requiring the use of permits as a prior restraint on free speech and with the college's
recalcitrant communications. Both the ACLU and FIRE have sent several letters to the
college, but have not received a written response from SWC since a letter dated May 25,
2010, in which the school’s counsel indicated the school was continuing to revise its free
speech policies and would consider suggestions offered by the ACLU and FIRE.

As always, the ACLU strives to resolve matters without litigation. "For the past several months
I have been hoping to resolve these issues without litigation if possible," Blair-Loy wrote in the
letter. "If the relevant policies have been formally revised, please let me know as soon as
possible. But if SWC has not taken and does not immediately take sufficient action to comply
with the relevant law protecting freedom of speech on campus…I have no alternative but to
initiate litigation."

The ACLU's demand letter offered continuing discussions on how to resolve the issues and
protect freedom of speech on campus, but noted that after eight months and little to show for
it, litigation is likely to result if the problem is not solved soon.

Letter to Southwestern College
San Diego ACLU's David Blair-Loy on prior restraints
PO Box 87131   San Diego, CA 92138-7131
T/ 619-232-2121   F/ 619-232-0036

November 9, 2009
Dr. Raj K. Chopra, President
Southwestern College
900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Re: Southwestern College Actions and Policies Infringing Free Speech

Dear President Chopra:

...“A prior restraint exists when the enjoyment of protected expression is contingent upon the approval of
government officials.” Baby Tam & Co., Inc. v. City of Las Vegas, 154 F.3d 1097, 1100 (9th Cir.1998). A
requirement to obtain a permit before engaging in speech is a prior restraint. Forsyth County v. The
Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123, 130 (1992). Because prior restraints on college students’ speech are
not authorized, the college may not require a permit before a demonstration may occur.

3. The First Amendment narrowly circumscribes the college’s right to
require an advance permit for speech or assembly.
Even if the statute did authorize a permit requirement, the First Amendment
disfavors prior restraints, and the government bears a heavy burden to justify them. NAACP Western Region
v. City of Richmond, 743 F.2d 1346, 1355 (9th Cir. 1984); Rosen v. Port of Portland, 641 F.2d 1243, 1247,
1249 (9th Cir. 1981)...
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Southwestern College's Proper Snack Bar
By Susan Luzzaro
July 22, 2010
San Diego Reader

Like many community colleges, Southwestern College, located in Chula Vista, had to severely cut course
offerings in the spring and summer of this year. At a June 2010 press conference, California Community
College chancellor Jack Scott said, “Over the past year, about 140,000 students came to community
colleges to take classes but were not able to enroll because those classes were not available.”

Despite budget problems, Southwestern’s superintendent/president Raj Chopra
hired Trilogy PR using general fund monies for an unknown reason. According to
Trilogy’s website, “Southwestern College called on Trilogy PR group’s expertise
and contacts to ease media and community pressure during a critical period with a
successful crisis management plan implemented by Scott Alevy.”

According to Southwestern College’s April 2010 purchase order, Alevy was paid $2491 for communication
services. The purchase order names Chopra as the initiator of the agreement. Aside from being a principal
at Trilogy, Alevy serves alongside Chopra on the South County Economic Development Council.

In a March 2009 Union-Tribune Q&A piece, Chopra identified wasteful practices that he was correcting at
Southwestern. Among those practices, he mentioned, “Work was being outsourced when personnel from
the college could have performed the services.”

Chris Bender is Southwestern’s "chief marketing, communications, and community and government
relations officer." When contacted on July 19 to inquire what crisis Southwestern College was experiencing
when Trilogy PR was hired and what services were performed, Bender was unable to answer. Bender said
he was newly hired during the period in question and was unfamiliar with the situation. When asked in a
follow-up email why the college could not handle the matter in-house, he said he would send an update
later in the day. That didn’t happen. (On July 21, Southwestern College’s communications VP called to say
he was still searching for the requested information.) Bender was hired in March 2010. His salary for the
fiscal year 2011 is $95,772.

In an editorial last May, Southwestern College’s student newspaper, the Sun,
suggested that money spent on consultants might have been better spent on
classes. The editorial stated that the college had spent $99,468 on a pension
consultant, $11,500 on a snack-bar consultant, and $122,000 on a technology
Regarding the “snack-bar consultant” and “technology consultant,” the editorial stated, “Both
of these consultants seem strange to spend money on since the
college already pays a hefty
salary to a Director of Food Services and a Director of Computer Systems and
Freedom of Speech
Attacks on Free Speech
Don Siegelman Trial
Lawsuit Grijalva
Question to David Blair-Loy: Do you discuss freedom of speech with
Southwestern College lawyer Daniel Shinoff (right column)?
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San Diego Education
Report Blog
Southwestern College pays $18K to investigate a $22K
Garcia Calderon Ruiz law firm concludes investigation
[Compare to
$3 million spent by MiraCosta College for Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
investigation of $305 in stolen water]
By Wendy Fry
July 1, 2011

CHULA VISTA — Southwestern College paid $18,531 for an investigation into a November
mailer that some critics said was an illegal political expense. Others question why the college
chose the law firm of Garcia Calderon Ruiz LLP to conduct the review.

Final purchase orders were approved in mid-June for Garcia Calderon Ruiz’s investigation. The
review concluded the newsletter was an improper expense. Interim Superintendent Denise
Whittaker said she is implementing safeguards to assure the mistake is not repeated.

Just before the November election, voters received a mailer that touted Southwestern College’s
accomplishments and its attempts to resolve accreditation issues. It repeatedly referred to the
then-board of directors as being responsible for the college’s achievements.

Though the mailer did not identify board members by name, community members complained
at the time that it was a political mailer because three of the board members were up for re-

New board members asked in December for a review of what had been sent to South County
residents. Some complained the mailer − costing $22,603 − was a failed ploy to get incumbents
re-elected. The board hired Garcia Calderon Ruiz to investigate.

The law firm was formerly the district’s counsel but left in 2008 amid concerns about conflicts of
interest with several other South Bay governmental agencies it also represented, including the
Otay Water District and Sweetwater schools. It has since provided legal consulting services to
Southwestern Community College as needed.

Yuri Calderon, an attorney for Garcia Calderon Ruiz, issued a legal opinion in March that cited
former board member Yolanda Salcido, who lost her seat in November, as one of the people
responsible for the “illegal political expense.” The opinion stated that two district employees
who helped Salcido draft and distribute the newsletter were working on her campaign team at
the same time.

The law firm also concluded that those two employees knew or should have known that it was
an improper use of taxpayer funds.

Salcido said the newsletter was a legitimate expense addressing community questions about
the college’s accreditation problems. She said she is being targeted because of her attempt to
stop the law firm’s meddling in the college’s affairs. She added she would have been a strong
opponent to what she said will be a future endeavor to reinstate former Vice President Greg
Sandoval, who lost his job amid allegations of sexual harassment.

“The law firm of Garcia Calderon Ruiz left in disgrace from our district when I was there
because of their meddling in board business,” she said.

Salcido said it was the investigation − not the mailer − that was the waste of taxpayer’s money
and much-needed college funds.

“It’s irresponsible, specifically given the recent serious cut backs to higher education,” she said.
“It’s in essence political grandstanding on taxpayer’s dollars and on the backs of students’

The college was placed on probation with the Western Association of School and Colleges in
February 2010. It announced its re-accreditation last week.

Tim Nader, who replaced Salcido as board president, said the actions were found to be illegal,
but not criminal. He said the Fair Political Practices Commission, a state watchdog agency,
should look at it “but it really has not been at the top of my agenda to file a complaint.”

Nader said he wanted a neutral, third party to review the reasoning behind sending out the
document because he thought it “showed poor judgment to send out a mass mailer two weeks
before an election at the public’s expense.”

Not everybody regards the Garcia Calderon Ruiz law firm as a neutral third party. The legal
team has drawn widespread community criticism in recent months after reports by The San
Diego Union-Tribune’s Watchdog team concerning the Sweetwater school district. The most
recent issues include a Garcia Calderon Ruiz legal opinion for Sweetwater schools that said
food-service director Nancy Stewart’s use of campus food courts to sell brands she markets
from a side business did not constitute a conflict of interest, and the firm’s practice of
submitting thousands of dollars worth of public-relations consultant bills that are now under
criminal review.

Nader said it is unfortunate that more taxpayer dollars had to be spent on the investigation, but
“it is a worthwhile expense because one result, the most important result, is Interim
Superintendent Denise Whittaker has put new procedures in place that make it highly unlikely
that anything like this could ever happen again.”

Whittaker said she is going to initiate district-wide training and an amendment to board policies
to ensure such mailers are not sent out in the future.
San Diego Education Report
San Diego
Education Report
Updates: see all SDER blog posts on SWC
2013-15 agreements with law firms
2013-15 agreements with
law firms
South Bay Indictments
South Bay Indictments
Raj Chopra
The following story is ironic considering the dangerous actions of the police chief (see story
College Police: Rifles Needed to Keep the Peace
Rifles would help law enforcement keep the campus safe by being able to shoot at long-range
targets instead of being limited to handguns, officers from the community college's police force
Posted by Khari Johnson (Editor)
Imperial Beach Patch
November 28, 2012

Southwestern College Police Department Chief Michael Cash has requested that law
enforcement at the community college receive rifles in order to respond in the event of a
shooting or other potential threats at the campus, The SWC Sun reported Wednesday.

“If I’m going to put my life on the line, I want to make sure that our people have the best
equipment to stop whatever is going to come across, because if we don’t, we’re not of service
to anyone here,” Cash told the newspaper.

Cash was hired as the college's new police chief in August.

Southwestern is the only college in the county that does not have rifles or Tasers, Sergeant
Robert Sanchez told The Sun.

Some college employees believe the community's opinions should be sought before rifles come
to the Chula Vista campus, and that other more likely public safety threats like earthquakes or
fires should be addressed first.
Southwestern College police
chief who fired gun at head
level in his headquarters is
back on the job without
Two employees who escaped his
bullet are out on stress leave

The law firm of Liebert, Cassidy, Whitmore,
which represents school districts,
apparently advised Southwestern College
to keep its police chief on the job after he
pulled out his gun and let a bullet fly in
police headquarters at Southwestern

"After his reinstatement, Cash dropped in on the office of The Sun and said he would be
willing to talk to student journalists about the episode and subsequent events. During a
two-and-a-half hour interview Cash again apologized for the gunfire and said the campus
community did not need to worry. He refused to say why he was holding his gun that
morning, why it was pointed at head level or why he pulled the trigger, citing 'personal

"Personal confidentiality"?"  It is NOT a confidential matter when a public employee fires a gun
in his office, even if it didn't hit anybody. The C
hula Vista Police Department, by not
investigating, is failing to fulfill its duty to protect the public.

Sun Editorial Board: Letter to Superintendent/ President Dr. Nish
Written by: Sun Staff

The letter was given to the superintendent’s office on 11/20/13 and we request the report be given to us within
24 hours, by 4:30pm on 11/21/13.

Dear Dr. Nish,

As you certainly know, the recent events surrounding Southwestern College Police Chief Michael Cash are of
great interest to the students, employees and community of Southwestern College.  The incident involving his
discharge of a weapon on campus, suspension, investigation and reinstatement are matters of public
interest.  Members of this community have the right to know what happened that morning at campus police
headquarters, information leading to his suspension, the findings of the college-ordered investigation and the
circumstances leading to the college’s decision to restore Chief Cash to his position. Our numerous requests
for information from you, campus administrators and governing board members have been declined or
ignored, including, most recently, a formal request made to the governing board of the college at its November
6 meeting.

It is our firm belief that Southwestern College is now in violation of California Public
Access and Media Law by refusing to divulge basic, routine information about the
Cash incident and by covering up evidence, applying a gag order on employees and
refusing to share reports paid for with public funds with the public that paid for them.
It is our position that the college is misinterpreting the “Personnel, medical and similar files”
clause of the Government Code section 6254(c) as justification for hiding the investigators
report from public view. The law does not support the college’s position. “This exemption,
known as the ‘personnel exemption,’ is routinely invoked when the public agency believes a
request seeks information pertaining to identifiable public officials or employees that is private
or controversial. However, this exemption was developed to protect intimate details of personal
and family life, not official business judgments and relationships.” (Bakersfield City School Dist.
V. Superior Court, 118 Cal App. 4th 1041, 1045) (2004).
Click to download/view original PDF

Personnel exemption has been soundly rejected by California courts in matters of
investigations of employee misconduct.  In fact, the California Courts have established a liberal
standard for disclosure of public records relating to complaints or investigations of misconduct
by public employees. Courts have held that “there is a public policy against disclosure of trivial
or groundless charges,” but that “where the charges are found true, or discipline is imposed,
the strong public policy against disclosure vanishes.”  This is true even where the sanction is a
private reproval. “In such cases a member of the public is entitled to information about the
complaint, the discipline, and the information upon which it is based.” (American Federation of
State, County and Municipal Employees v. Regents of the University of California, 80 Cal. App.
3rd 913, 918) (1978).

Courts have also held that “where there is reasonable cause to believe the
complaint to be well founded, the right of public access to related public records
exists.”(American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees v. Regents of
the University of California, 80 Cal. App. 3rd 913, 918 (1978).

With respect to high-level public servants, disclosure of an investigation into misconduct is
required even if the charges are found not to be reliable and the official is exonerated.
“In this
circumstance, the public’s interest in understanding why (the official) was
exonerated and how the (agency) treated the accusations outweighs (the official’s)
interest in keeping the allegations confidential.” (BRV, Inc. v. Superior Court, 143 Cal.
App. 4th 742, 759) (2006).

California’s State Constitution is clear about this issue and comes down firmly on the side of
our request. Article (b)(1) reads: “The people have the right of access to information
concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies
and writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.” Furthermore,
these rights
“shall be broadly construed if it furthers the people’s right to access, and
narrowly construed if it limits the right of access.”

The law is very clear on this matter.  The Southwestern College community has the
right to access the Kelepecz Report pertaining to Chief Cash as well as any
information generated by college officials about the decision-making process related
to the investigation of Chief Cash and his exoneration.

We, therefore, with all due respect, ask once again for a full, unedited copy of the Kelepecz report and all other
college documents related to Chief Cash’s firing of his weapon, his suspension, the related investigation and
the administration’s decision-making process leading to his reinstatement.  As this information has been
requested multiple times already over the period of a month, we respectfully ask for this information in print
format within 24 hours or no later than 4:30 p.m. Thursday, November 21, 2013.

David McVicker, Editor in Chief
The Southwestern College Sun
and the members of the Southwestern College Sun Editorial Board

See the following story for more on gun safety at Southwestern College.
Updates: see all
SDER blog posts on
Leslie Devaney:
Southwestern Community
College District. Special
Counsel (2010 – present)
From Stutz law firm website
Mar. 12, 2014