Saturday, December 5, 2009

Why a Recall?

As you may have heard, we are currently mounting an effort to recall three of the sitting board members. The letter below explains why:

Greetings Friends of Southwestern College,

Some community members may be questioning why there is a recall effort for Jean Roesch, Terri Valladolid, and Yolanda Salcido when an election is coming in Nov. 2010. There would reasonably be talk of cost.

Here are some of the reasons:

1. Work conditions are so bad at SWC and deteriorating so rapidly that this action is our only hope for change by summer 2010. We can’t wait for November.
2. There is too much at risk to wait until a summer/fall election.
3. The cost of the recall on the June ballot is a fraction of what these Governing Board members have cost our college to date in litigation and will cost us in future litigation. We need to stop the fiscal mismanagement ASAP.
4. We have more total administrators per faculty than any other college in our region, and we are hiring more. (*See table below.)
5. It costs less for the June recall than one year of Dr. Chopra’s exorbitant salary with benefits.
6. These board members have shown that they will not help us. Terri Valladolid’s offer of a forum to bring concerns is disingenuous at this very late date. For over a year the board has been hearing all the different and increasing problems at every meeting. (**See explanation below.)
7. Too much damage to our college infrastructure is happening now to wait, i.e. computing systems, budget, reorganizations, and morale.
8. We must get the truth out now to our community so that critical voter awareness is raised.

The community taxpayers deserve to know the truth about Southwestern College’s Governing Board majority. They deserve to hear all sides and voices so they can make an informed decision at the ballot box in June. All we want is a chance for democratic process.





Community College

Number Students Enrolled

Number of Vice Presidents

Number of Deans









San Diego Mesa







6/1 Senior Dean

San Diego City




Mira Costa




San Diego Miramar







5/1 Executive Dean

Imperial Valley





On Thursday, 03 Dec., SWC faculty received the following email:

On Behalf of Terri Valladolid
Governing Board Member

To: Faculty
Southwestern College
Board Member Terri Valladolid will host a forum for faculty and invites you to share your thoughts and concerns.
Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Room: 214
All faculty members are welcome to attend and participate in dialogues on issues important to Southwestern College.
Thank you.

Apparently, another email, announcing a separate forum went to classified staff. Faculty and staff were as puzzled by the separate forums and involvement of a single board member as they were about this very late invitation to "dialogue."

Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra notified the other board members of the forums, and then board member Nick Aguilar sent the following email in response:

Date: Thu, 03 Dec 2009 14:04:15 -0800
To: Raj Chopra <>, 'Pick Nick Aguilar' <>, Jorge Dominguez <>, Jean Roesch <>, Yolanda Salcido <>, "'Salcido, Yolanda'" <>
From: Pick Nick Aguilar <>
Subject: Re: Terri Valladolid Forums
Cc: Terri Valladolid <>, "'Valladolid, Teresa'" <>, SWC Academic Senate President <>,

Dear SWC Governing Board Colleagues,

While Trustee Valladolid's outreach efforts are commendable, the appropriate forum for discussions of the SWC Governing Board Free Speech Policy is at a regular or special meeting of the Governing Board. With all due respect to Trustee Valladolid, the SWC Free Speech Policy is a matter totally within the purview and responsibility of the entire Governing Board, these forums are not an appropriate or acceptable substitute for the failure or refusal of the SWC Superintendent and SWC Governing Board President Roesch to respond to the request I submitted to both of them several weeks ago to place the SWC Free Speech Policy on the agenda of the November 2009 Governing Board meeting. In fact, this message will serve to notify both Superintendent Chopra and Board President Roesch of my standing request for the inclusion of the an item on the December 9, 2009 Board agenda for the Board to direct the immediate review and update of the SWC Free Speech Policy. Best regards to all. Nick Aguilar

At 02:35 PM 12/2/2009 -0800, Raj Chopra wrote:

For your information, Terri will be holding forums on campus to provide opportunities to hear from constituent groups on their thoughts and concerns regarding issues important to Southwestern College.

Thank you.

Raj K. Chopra, Ph.D.
Southwestern College


  1. Thank you, SWC employees and powers that be at this blog, for pursuing this recall of the board members.

    The recent e-mail from Vallodolid reeks of "too little, too late." Sorry, sister! Where was she last month? A couple of weeks ago? Did the recall petition scare her? Sure looks like it!

    I do applaud Mr. Aguilar for having the cojones to speak up, esp. at our rally.

    Keep up the good work, all!

  2. Can anyone comment on how the Dec. 8th "forum" with Valladolid went?

  3. Yolanda Salcido was there, too. Michael Kerns served as a kind of moderator.

    A grand total of maybe five faculty members showed up. We began by pointing out that this lack of attendance probably means that faculty have simply given up on Board members' ever listening to anything we have to say.

    And that's pretty much how the meeting went: Tere and Yolanda wanted to talk, explain, justify, but they--especially Yolanda--didn't want to listen, even though we gave them an earful.

    My (very strong) sense of things is whatever we say to the Board goes in one ear and out the other. Two examples: Tere and Yolanda handed out a four-page "Q & A." Among other things, it mentions a "deficit of nearly $6 million" at SWC.

    At Wednesday's Board meeting, I directed the Board's attention to the "General Fund Cash Analysis for Period Ending October 31, 2009." This document shows that our reserves now total $13,607,485. We began the fiscal year with reserves of $13,467,393.

    In other words, the District has actually made $140,000 so far this year. It's hard to understand how anyone could claim that we're hemorrhaging money. It's hard to understand how we are facing a $6 million "defecit" when we're 1/3 of the way through this fiscal year and we're actually generating a surplus. But the Board made no comment and had no questions for our VP of Finance during his report at the end of the meeting.

    Next, the Q & A also had this to say about GASB: "SWC has contractual commitments to provide employees with post-retirement benefits. We owe about (approximately) $9 million more than we have (possess). . . ."

    The first sentence is true. But why words like "about" or "have" need to be explained in the second sentence is just plain weird. And we simply do not "owe" anyone $9 million in post-retirement medical benefits. If x retirees live long enough, we'll eventually have to pay them $9 million, but a pay-as-you-go system has worked just fine for the past 40 years at SWC.

    Of course, this is something we've told the Board over and over and over. But, bottom line, they either don't listen or they can't understand. I'm not sure which is worse.

    P. Lopez

  4. That's a scary comment about GASB. They just don't get it, do they?

  5. It is best to choose the evil you know, than the evil you do not know. Watch who is put into a position of power, they may be worse than those already on the board.