Community Commentary: Where’s the ‘trust’ with trustees?

In the Dec. 11, 2009, edition of The Coast News, Bill Arballo reported on the headache that MiraCosta College is experiencing because of decision the board of trustees made in July 2007. If he thinks it’s only the college that has a headache, he needs to hear the rest of the story.
In his piece, Bill teased the reader with the information that the gift of public funds given to the past president was “challenged in court as being in excess.” Boy, was it ever in excess!
The Appellate Court for the Fourth District, Division One, answered a local citizen’s lawsuit and challenge with a resounding victory for the taxpayers of the community college district. It ruled that the lower court judge made an error in his finding that the egregious amount of money given away was legal. The Appellate Court said that when a person leaves the public’s employment, the amount which can be paid legally is 18 months’ salary. Taxpayers may remember that the trustees signed a settlement which gifted the past president with about $l.6 million of taxpayers’ dollars.
A victory for the people, right? A group of elected “trustees” who have the important job of stewarding the public funds, should rejoice at returning money to the general fund from which they spent it. You’d think so, but so far the MiraCosta board of trustees is dragging its feet and going back into court and asking for a “clarification” of the Appellate Court’s decision. This action of sending it back to the court is, once more, at the taxpayers’ expense as the fees the lawyers are getting probably equals the amount given away to the former president. As I see it, the court’s decision is the law, and to keep giving away our money is unlawful. What will be next? The District Attorney indicting the college officials for illegal behavior?
I spent 27 years as the taxpayers’ representative on the MiraCosta College board of trustees. Never did the board act in such a reckless, disrespectful way. We didn’t always do what the public asked — for example, keep a sports program that we deemed to be too expensive — but we listened and we acted ethically and with transparency.
It’s time to let the college trustees know that the citizens have had enough of wasteful use of their tax dollars — money meant to educate students. Each time a trustee asks to be elected, he or she says he or she will be accountable, trustworthy, and transparent and will act in the public’s best interest. They have a moral duty to not let lawyers run the college as the lawyers are not voted into office.
The elected trustees are Charles Adams, William Fisher, George McNeil, Gloria Carranza, Jacqueline Simon, Gregory Post and Rodolfo Fernandez. Write or call them in care of the college and tell them to act in our interest and stop going to court to spend our money. The college’s address is One Barnard Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.
It’s time to end the story!

Jean Moreno was the elected trustee for area 3, Encinitas and south Carlsbad, for 27 years.

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