Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Maricopa Community College District Governing Board visiting Bizarro World

Edit on 3/27 to make a correction (thanks to Katie for the heads-up in her comment)...

My ongoing (and self-appointed) quest to focus some attention on some of the lower profile but still important elected offices and boards in Maricopa County took me to the March 24, 2009 meeting of the Governing Board of the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD).

In the big news of the meeting, the Board voted down a proposal to raise tuition (by $5/credit hour in-county and $27/credit hour out-of-county/state) by a 1 - 4 margin.

The bizarro part of this was the fact that while the board ended up opposing the tuition hike, students who spoke at the meeting actually spoke in *favor* of the hike (their support was reluctant, but it was support nonetheless). They understood the maxim "you get what you pay for."

Generally, students opposed tuition increases while governing boards absolutely love them (ask any ASU/UA/NAU what they think of the Board of Regents' record on tuition hikes at those institutions.)

The respective positions taken at the MCCCD meeting were weird, to say the least.

The board members who opposed the tuition increases gave some vague reasons about public opposition before voting against the proposal.

I admit, I was a little befuddled by the turn of events - the opponents of the proposal were the three Republican board members (normally anti-student) and one of the Democrats (Randolph Lumm) while the supporters were the students and another (I think) Democrat on the Board, Dr. Donald Campbell.

A more likely reason behind the apparent switch became clear later in the meeting.

The Board saw the proposed budget for FY2010. (Tonight was information only; consideration and probable final passage will take place in early June.)

One that has revenue from the tuition hike built in.

One that has 2% cuts in most operating costs built in, mostly because of a likely large cut in state aid to community colleges.

One that will now need to be changed, with greater cuts implemented, because of the reduction to projected revenues.

This move definitely fits in with the Republican theme of killing public education by cutting it to the point of ineffectiveness, then using that very ineffectiveness (that they caused!!) as an excuse to start funnelling public money to private businesses.

Other notes from the meeting -

...During the public comment portion of the agenda, Carmen Cornejo rose to speak in support of the student who was harassed by Board member Jerry Walker during a trip to D.C. in February. She also spoke in support of the DREAM Act, and then demanded Walker's resignation.

Walker later responded with an indignant "HOW DARE YOU!" before the Board's President, Colleen Clark, interceded to get the meeting back on track (Cutting Walker off before he could say something really bad).

...Debra Pearson (nee Brimhall) is evidence that one neither needs to be intelligent nor well-informed to hold elected office (as if the Presidency of George W. Bush didn't prove that already).
When she wasn't mispronouncing the names of the various college presidents or asking them outright "So...who are you?", she was asking questions that were so jaw-droppingly vague yet overwrought, they made the assembled crowd (mostly intelligent and educated professionals) sit up and go "Huh???"

...There was no sign of the previous meeting's move to censor campus newspapers. However, it can still come up at a later meeting, and I expect that it will.

More later...

Edit on 3/25 to add an apology to readers -

When I woke up this morning, I took a look at what I had written and realized that it was loaded with typos and writing that was simply lousy. I've corrected the typos and patched up the weak spots without noting each one as is my normal practice. There were just too many.

I apologize to readers of the earlier version of this post, and promise to try harder to avoid writing when I'm exhausted.

End edit...


Donna said...

I had the misfortune of meeting Walker last year at a Veteran's fair. That is one scary dude. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

katie said...

Randolph Lumm is a Democrat. I wouldn't assume that Campbell is just because he's from District 5. We couldn't elect a Dem to the Healthcare District (probably because there were too many running).

Eli Blake said...

To be honest the chancellors of the Maricopa system and also of Central Arizona College created some big problems for the rest of the community college system back during the January work on the revised budget when they said something to the effect of "we're doing OK, you can cut us."

Thanks a lot, guys.

cpmaz said...

Katie - Thanks for the info; I've updated the post. As for Campbell's affiliation (if any) that was a guess, mostly based on his long term presence as the SD5 representative (decades!) and his membership in the NAACP.

There aren't too many AZGOPers in that particular organization.

Eli - Yup. That was amazingly dumb for what are mostly intelligent and educated folks (Pearson/Brimhall notwithstanding).

Especially when you consider the fact of the cratering economy increasing demand for education in general and the devastation facing the state's unis increasing the workload for the state's community colleges.

BikerBob said...

cpmaz-I had to laugh when I read your comments regarding Ms Brimhall/Pearson/Xena; you were almost too kind in hitting the nail on the head. Truth be told, it's amazing how a group of uninformed citizens can Gump their way into the most screwed up box of chocolates every time-al they had to do was Google this loon to see what was coming their way. Lazy and stupid is a bad life combination; the only answer is to be active at all levels of elective seats to prevent train wrecks like this-as we can see how far up any one of these unstable and unethical individuals might climb.

Juan Mendez said...

Craig Do you know who is running against Jerry Walker?

I don't know where on the county recorder site to look.

Also Katie, I think Lumm isn't much help to the board. When I followed what was happening more closely he stood in the way to lots of things and had it out for the Chancellor

Here is a recent article about whats going on.