Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Governing Board Rules Out Layoffs of College Faculty

*By Nickolas Furr and Enrique Raymundo

Following a tense four-and-a-half hour closed session, the Southwestern College Governing Board announced it would not send March 15 layoff notices to the college faculty. This elicited subdued reactions of relief from the faculty present at 11 p.m. and anger from Bruce MacNintch, the head of SWC’s classified employee union.

The decision to not send the notices came just 11 days before the district’s March 15 deadline required by the state to lay off faculty.

Corina Soto / Photo: Kristina Saunders

Board President Humberto Peraza read a statement into the record explaining why the board had chosen to remain in negotiations with the faculty union – the Southwestern College Educators’ Association (SCEA) – instead of initiating layoffs to help solve the campus budget crisis.

“The damage layoffs would cause the community would far outweigh any assistance it would provide to balancing the budget,” Peraza said.

MacNintch, president of the SWC chapter of the California State Employees’ Association (CSEA), reacted angrily to the decision.

“We negotiated, being told layoffs would occur if we didn’t agree to this deal, and now they won’t happen anyway,” MacNintch said.

CSEA had accepted a 5 percent pay cut under the threat of district layoffs.

SWC administration has been locked in budget negotiations with the three main constituency groups – SCEA, CSEA and the Southwestern Community College District Administrators’ Association (SCCDAA) – for several months. At the February board meeting Albert Roman, SWC’s vice president of human resources, outlined the process by which layoffs could take place.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Judge Change Delays Arraignment Hearing

*By Nickolas Furr and Lina Chankar

Following nearly six weeks of delays, Superior Court Judge Ana España pushed back the arraignment hearing of former Southwestern College administrators a third time, to April 12. España said she wanted to review the material and “understand what the issues are.” There are 60,000 different documents involved, according to San Diego County District Attorney estimates.

Arraignments were originally scheduled to begin Jan. 7 at the San Diego Central Courthouse. Judge Timothy Walsh pushed back the date of arraignments until Jan. 30 and moved the location of the court to the South County Courthouse in Chula Vista. Judge Stephanie Sontag was to preside. The District Attorney’s office filed a motion to move the case back to San Diego, but last week Walsh ordered it to remain in South County, citing the fact that since most defendants and the school districts were from this part of the county, the case should remain in Chula Vista. On Feb. 15, Sontag assigned the case to España.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis began issuing indictments in the South Bay Corruption Case in December 2010. Dumanis called it the largest corruption case of its kind in San Diego County history. So far the D.A.’s office has filed 232 criminal charges against 15 elected officials, school administrators and school contractors in three different school districts. There have been complaints about the size of the courtroom, which seats about 30 people. After defendants and members of the press are allowed inside, there are only seats for five or six members of the public. With the trial in Chula Vista, many members of the public who queue up outside the courtroom expressed concern that they might never be able to attend the trial.