Besieged Pima College board to get new training

$30K program to address issues of harassment, purchasing, more
2013-07-29T00:00:00Z 2014-08-05T11:04:09Z Besieged Pima College board to get new trainingCarol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Longtime Governing Board members of Pima Community College will be schooled on how to do their jobs properly after a recent investigation cast doubt on their ethics and competence.

The members, most of whom have held office for more than a decade, will be taught the basics of public governance in a bid to blunt criticism from PCC's accreditor, which recently placed the college on probation.

A $30,000 "board development plan" drafted by a consultant last month calls for an array of workshops and retreats over the next two years.

Topics include procurement, sexual harassment, shared governance, how to conduct a proper chancellor evaluation and "how to engage with the public/surrounding community."

A recent investigation by PCC's accreditor, the Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission, found sweeping problems at the school, including corrupt hiring and contracting practices and mishandling of sexual harassment claims. It blamed board ineptitude for much of what went wrong.

The accreditor said the board was "dysfunctional," and ethically challenged, and that its members had a "symbiotic relationship" with former PCC Chancellor Roy Flores, who resigned last year after eight women accused him of sexual harassment.

Four Flores-era board members - Brenda Even, David Longoria, Marty Cortez and Scott Stewart - are under pressure to resign from business and taxpayer groups, student leaders, and PCC faculty and staff member.

In a recent poll of the faculty, the four each received single-digit approval ratings, ranging from a low of 3 percent for Stewart to a high of 7 percent for Cortez.

Some of the college's critics see the board training as a waste of public money.

Mario Gonzales, head of a citizens group that pushed for the accreditor's investigation, questions how much good such training will do for board members who, in his view, are still in denial about their role in PCC's problems.

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks," he said.

Meanwhile, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, an influential business group, is continuing efforts to get longtime board members to leave - "willingly or unwillingly," spokesman Larry Aldrich said.

He said the council hopes to announce next month a candidate to run in District 1 against Even, who's been on the PCC board since 2001 and is up for re-election next year.

A recall effort also is possible, with a final decision to be made by fall.

"My guess is we will work to recall at least one other member," Aldrich said.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.

On StarNet: View the PCC board action plan at azstarnet.com/pdf

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