Showing posts with label Prop R. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prop R. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stop the Presses! (says SWC admin)

Previously, we've discussed the ongoing harassment of reporters and the faculty advisor for The Sun, Southwestern College's award-winning student newspaper (for example, Muzzle, Muzzle and Censorship and The Sun).

Well, the administration is at it again.

Excerpted from an email sent globally to SWC full- and part-time faculty by Janet Mazzarella, SCEA Vice-President:

We want to inform the faculty of some recent actions that have taken place regarding the Southwestern Sun, its advisor, Max Branscomb, and the SWC students that work on college newspaper staff. First, a couple of the students were stopped by campus police when they were moving a journalism computer off campus. Even though this has occurred before when the students participate in competitions or students are pressed to complete a story after business hours, now the students are being threatened with criminal charges by our administration.

Second, we learned today that the administration filed a cease and desist order to stop the newspaper from printing. Apparently, there is a policy that says that the contract for printing has to be approved by the Governing Board. Even though this has never happened in the past, now all of sudden this administration feels compelled to stop the Sun from printing.

There are many other forms of retaliation that the Sun, its advisor, and our students have been forced to endure. While the district may try to claim that it is doing its due diligence in following all regulations, it seems to us like an opportune moment to shut out this important (and legally protected) voice.

Some are wondering if this recent article from The Sun has something to do with this latest act of retaliation. . . .

In the meantime, please also see "A Diagram of Big Construction Payoffs at Southwestern College" at This post links to a Reader article providing background on the conflicts of interest that drive administrative decision-making at SWC.

Stay tuned. . . .

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

SWC Faculty Union President Requests Records on Focuscom

Under the California Public Records Act, SCEA President Andrew MacNeill has requested from SWC any and all documents related to Focuscom compensation.

(For background on Focuscom, see our posts Money In, Money Out and Community Group Responds.)

Given the district's typical response to such requests, we're guessing this issue will escalate to the next level.

In the meantime, here's the actual request in full:
From: Andrew MacNeill On Behalf Of SCEA
Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2010 2:16 PM
To: Chris Bender
Cc: Michael Kerns; Nicholas Alioto; SCEA; Andrew MacNeill
Subject: Information Request

Dear Mr. Bender,

I am sending this request while bccing all faculty. It is important for the campus community to know how their SWC funds, Prop R or Prop AA funds, or any other funds are being spent. This email will let them know I have formally requested the records contained within the attached memorandum (see below) on their behalf.


To: Chris Bender, Community and Media Relations, Southwestern College

CC: Michael Kerns, Vice President of Human Resources, Southwestern College
Nicolas Alioto, Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs, Southwestern College

From: Andrew J. MacNeill, President, Southwestern College Education Association

Date: 9/8/2010

Re: California Public Records Act-Any and All Forms of Compensation Given to FOCUSCOM Inc., Dan Hom, Danny Hom

I am requesting all records and documents, which contain the following information: Any and all forms of compensation to FOCUSCOM Inc., Dan Hom, Danny Hom, paid or supplied by the Southwestern Community College District or its Prop R Project Management Contractor, Seville Construction Services, between November 1, 2009, and September 8, 2010. This request is legally made under the California Public Records Act (6250 ETSEQ-Government Code).

I am specifically asking for any and all forms of compensation including but not limited to the following: Consulting fees, Contract fees, health and welfare benefits, travel expenses, office
expenses, hospitality and entertainment reimbursements, car and mileage compensation, and any and all other forms of financial or in-kind compensation to FOCUSCOM Inc., Dan Hom, and Danny Hom, paid or supplied by the Southwestern Community College District or its Prop R Project Management Contractor, Seville Construction Services, between November 1, 2009, and September 8, 2010. I request the material to be made available in a timely fashion (within ten days) in accordance with Governmental Code 6257.

If the District claims that any requested records or documents are exempt from the California Public Records Act it is requested that the District provide the specific statutory information that supports its claim in this matter in order that I be able to attend to legal action in this matter.

You can contact me at 619-421-6700 x5567 and/or when the above materials are available for pick-up.

Thanking you in advance.


Andrew J. MacNeill
President, Southwestern College Education Association (SCEA)

Stay tuned!

Board Meeting Tonight! 7 pm on Main Campus

It promises to be lively one, as community group Crossroads II speaks out on the agreement with Focuscom.

Crossroads president Peter Watry sent the following email to supporters:

Date: September 7, 2010 2:55:34 PM PDT


We have heard from many of you that you are outraged that Southwestern College has signed a $100,000 contract with a company called Focuscom, Inc. to mount a PR campaign to convince the public that the College is spending Prop R funds appropriately. As far as we are aware, no one doubted that the funds were being spent appropriately. Ironically, we are now convinced that they are not being spent appropriately.

Prop R was a $389,000,000 bond measure that asked voters to raise their own property taxes to enable the college to upgrade its facilities. Prop R was passed in November 2008. The Crossroads II Board of Directors supported Prop R, and urged CII members to vote in favor of it. And we now know by reading the contract with Focuscom that our own property tax money is being spent to manipulate our views!

In response to the concerns of our members, I wrote a letter to the college president and board members requesting that an item be put on the agenda of the September 8 Board meeting to discuss this $100,000 contract. We have since reviewed the agenda of the September 8 Board meeting, and the item we requested be put on the agenda is not there. The college has not even afforded us the courtesy of a reply to our letter. So we urge you to attend the College Board meeting on Wednesday, September 8 at 7 pm and inform the Board members how you feel about this waste of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars. The details are below:

Southwestern College Governing Board Meeting

Wednesday September 8 at 7 PM

Room 214 at the College

Speak under Agenda item No. 10 - Oral Communication

To speak to the Board you must fill out a yellow request card after you arrive at the meeting. Then you can speak when Agenda Item 10 comes up.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Peter Watry
Acting President

For more commentary on this latest development, please see the blog SWC Board Must Go!

Also, please consider attending this Friday's fundraiser for alternative Governing Board candidate Tim Nader. We can make a difference!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Community group responds to revelations of fishy dealings between SWC and PR firm

In a
previous post, we referenced Susan Luzzaro's piece in the San Diego Reader, "Isolate, Expose, Avoid."
That article described SWC's $100,000 agreement with San Diego marketing firm Focuscom, Inc. for public relations services related to Prop R construction. Many of these "services" are designed to keep the public in line and quell debate.

Now, you can read the full agreement and plan, signed by SWC Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs Nicholas Alioto.

Community group Crossroads II did, and they are understandably shocked
. President Peter Watry sent the email below to group supporters:

From: Crossroads II>
Subject: Feel Dizzy? If Not, You Soon Will...
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 11:02 PM

...because you are about to be spun. We learned from an article recently published in the San Diego Reader ( ) that in March Southwestern College approved a $100,000 contract with Focuscom Inc., for a "Proposition R Public Affairs Plan." The actual Plan approved by the College administration is now available on the Reader website, and we have attached it to this message. The key objectives of the Public Affairs Plan are to: Maintain momentum that led to approval of Prop R; Isolate and expose extremists; Identify, cultivate and engage supporters; and Manage the media. After reading this Plan, we are stunned. We are stunned to read that "All public affairs tactics will be geared toward driving target audiences to information sources controlled by the College." We are stunned to read that "Names culled from supporters lists will be used to draft and submit letters to the Editors and blog entries that support the land use efforts of the College." We are stunned to read that Crossroads II is a key target of this initiative. And we were most stunned to learn that Southwestern College is using our own money to spin us.

So exactly who is Focuscom Inc? According to the Focuscom website, " Our highly experienced team implements customized decisive planning in order to influence the media and impact the right audiences." Turns out that the President of Focuscom is Dan Hom. A former Chula Vista City Planning Commissioner, Dan Hom was a consultant for the Yes on Prop R campaign as well as the former Vice President of the Southwestern College Foundation. Talk about insider dealing....

SWC is expected to more than double in enrollment by 2020, up to 50,000 students, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office. In 2008 the voters in the district served by Southwestern College voted to increase their own property taxes to the tune of $389 million to help the college accommodate this new growth. And now Southwestern College is using $100,000 of our property tax money to spin us about the projects our money is financing. A few questions: Was this expenditure approved by the Prop R Citizens Bond Oversight Committee? According to the Bylaws of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, one of its duties is to inform the public and the Board concerning the District's expenditure of bond proceeds. The Committee met last month, after the contract with Focuscom was approved. Was the Oversight Committee informed about the contract? Was the Board of Governors informed? How was Focuscom chosen for this contract? Were other firms considered? Was there a competitive bidding process? Exactly who are the "extremists" that the Public Affairs Plan will cause to be isolated and exposed? Shouldn't the Southwestern College Board demand that this contract be rescinded?

If you wish to express your views on this issue you can reach members of the Southwestern College Board as follows:

Yolanda Salcido, Board President

Terri Valladolid

Jean Roesch

Jorge Dominguez

Nick Aguilar

Thanks for caring about our community,
Peter Watry, Acting President,
Crossroads II, and
Professor Emeritus, Southwestern College

By the way, the next regularly scheduled meeting of the SWC Governing Board is Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 7:00 pm on the main campus, Board Room 214. See you there--it should be a good one!