Tuesday, May 15, 2012

College Files Suit Against Contractors

*By Nickolas Furr and Mary York

Citing legal questions, monetary compensation and issues of principle, the Southwestern College Governing Board voted unanimously to file lawsuits against three California construction and architecture firms that had been awarded contracts from the college during the administration of former Superintendent Raj K. Chopra. Following charges of bribery and corruption by the San Diego County District Attorney, the college severed ties with the firms, and none of them have worked on campus since January.

A board statement said litigation would “include challenges to the procurement of contracts related to the Corner Lot project,” and the conduct of the firms that were involved: Seville Construction Services (SCS), Echo Pacific Construction and architects Bunton Clifford Associates (BCA).

The $55 million project, the showpiece of SWC’s $389 million Proposition R construction bond, has been a lightning rod of controversy since its groundbreaking ceremony in October 2010. In the year and a half since then, no actual construction has occurred on the seven-acre lot. The empty parcel of bare ground has continued to garner unwanted attention from the citizens of South Bay, the media and the district attorney.

Lost Boys

*By Nickolas Furr and Paola Gonzalez

Alephonsion Deng was living joys of childhood. Life was simple for a boy from a large family in the village of Duou, Sudan.

“It was a huge family,” he said. “I was a happy kid, just like any other kid. I’d wake up in the morning, play with my friends and come back later in the evening, exhausted. My mother would bathe me and feed me. There was no education. The education that I had was my father telling me stories or my mother telling me stories.”

Harmony was destroyed one fateful day in 1989 when fire poured in from the sky and his village was engulfed in the Second Sudanese Civil War.

“All that I knew one day fell apart when the army came to our village and started shooting everybody,” he said. “Shooting animals, killing people. They set houses on fire. Some people died. I ran for my life. We ran for our lives. I thought I was going to see my family again, but I never did.”

Writing Center Mourns Loss of Talented Tutor Crystal Veytia

Crystal Veytia

Crystal Veytia was living the life she wanted when she boarded a Moscow train to her teaching job one final time. Happy and upbeat as she headed to work, Veytia, 28, experienced a sudden cardiac arrest and died. The Moscow Metro operator stopped the train to let paramedics board, but it was too late.

From 2005 until 2011 Veytia was an institution at the SWC Writing Center and a tutor known for her easy rapport with fellow students, her big laugh and her insistence on spending as much time with each student as she could. After the Chula Vista resident earned her bachelor’s degree in English at SDSU, she decided to go abroad to teach.

Andrew Rempt, professor of English and director of the Academic Success Center, said she had not originally planned to teach in Russia.

“She was going to teach English in Japan, which is a lovely idea,” he said. “Then she got to LAX the day of the March 2011 earthquake. She was ready to get on the plane but was told, ‘No. The flight’s canceled. There’s a massive earthquake and tsunami there.’”

It could have been much worse, said Laura Brooks, Veytia’s close friend and fellow SWC tutor. It might have been, had she not had a history of being chronically tardy.

College for Kids a Gateway to Higher Education

Photo: Serina Duarte
Most kids make up their minds about going to college while they are in elementary school, research shows. College for Kids has been convincing youngsters for 38 years.

For many Southwestern College students, employees, administrators and faculty members, the first step they took on the road to higher education was with SWC’s summer College for Kids program. Now in its 38th year, it has given at least two generations of South County residents their first taste of classes on a college campus. Steve Tadlock, director of College for Kids, said the parents of students attending this summer were often students who attended in previous years.

“Darnell Cherry, the College for Kids coordinator and the SWC women’s basketball coach, and I were outside talking about CFK,” Tadlock said. “A father standing in line to register his son said, ‘I took a photography class through CFK years ago. It really helped me. I went on, took more classes, and now I’ve won several awards for my photographs. I think what helped me the most is when I took that class in College for Kids way back when’.”