Friday, May 27, 2011

Chief Chartier is the Wrong Man to Lead Campus Police

Winds of change have buffeted Southwestern College and show no signs of abating. With the governing board elections of 2010 tipping the power balance to a pro-education stance, and the resignations of Superintendent Dr. Raj K. Chopra and Nick Alioto, fiscal services vice president, it is clear that no position is exempt from change and any college leader might need to justify the job they do to those who matter most: the public.

Given the inconsistent, secretive and often questionable actions the campus police have taken recently, one must ask whether campus Chief of Police Brent Chartier should continue.

In March, a campus police officer stopped a female adjunct instructor to cite her for driving while talking on a cell phone. He handcuffed and arrested her for allegedly resisting arrest. It is still not clear what crime she had committed to be handcuffed in the first place.

Rob Unger, the SCEA grievance chair who was involved in the early stages of the incident, said the woman’s story is that she was handcuffed and had her head slammed into the hood of her car. When the officer pinned her to the car he became sexually aggressive, she reported, pressing his crotch to her rear. She asked him to change positions and he pushed harder against her. She then yelled for him to stop.

“He may have taken that to be resistance,” Unger said.

Delays, Controversy Again Stagger Corner Lot Project

For 50 years, the 2.6 acre patch at the northeast of Southwestern College has laid fallow, a vestige from the lima bean and horse ranch it once was. For the past decade it has become a killing field for SWC administrators and board members who get too wrapped in the often murky worlds of construction, politics and money.

And still the land sits empty as a new set of players settles in to try to make sense of the stalled project that led to so much upheaval at SWC last year.

Pasadena-based Seville Construction Services, chosen by a previous SWC administration and board to manage an ambitious new incarnation of the highly-visible “corner lot,” has pushed back the start date several times. Seville has become entangled in governing board politics, SWC contract troubles, love affairs, investigations, and was caught playing a personnel shell game as detailed in a Los Angeles Times investigative series.

In October 2009, Seville was awarded a $2.7 million contract – or 2.7 percent of the initial $100 million Phase I project costs – to provide program management and as-needed construction management services for the college’s Proposition R construction, projects funded by a voter-approved $389 million construction and modernization bond in 2008. Projected to be spread out over 23 years and five phases, the Prop. R work would be largest college building project in about 35 years. Of the $100 million slated for Phase I, the corner lot project was budgeted at $74 million.