Board of trustees

Dear Editor:Since Cerritos College was founded there have been eight Latino members on the Board of Trustees giving 40 years of service to the college and public. Three Latinos have served on the Board since the California Voters Rights Act (CVRA) was signed into law in 2003. Mr. Zuniga's claim and inference that something is wrong with the College Board is an insult to all those who have served so effectively on this Board of Trustees representing all of our local communities. Mr. Zuniga joined two friends to sue the college district to change trustee area elections from at-large to districts. The plaintiff's attorneys were informed that the Board of Trustees was likely to support the proposed voting change under CVRA. I want to state very clearly, the plaintiff's attorneys were informed in the negotiations before they filed their lawsuit that the Board was likely to vote in favor of the change. The lawsuit was not necessary. The Board did vote in favor of changing the elections from at-large to districts. But the plaintiffs chose not to wait a few days for the Board decision and filed their lawsuit anyway with no regard for the college, our students and the taxpayers. The lawsuit was settled for $55,000. The plaintiff's law firm wanted several hundred thousand dollars to settle the suit and College District had to pay for its defense of the lawsuit. The three plaintiffs acting with no faith and little communication with the college district cost the taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees and staff time for a nonissue. Plaintiff's attorneys were guaranteed to be paid by the College District under the CVRA once they filed their lawsuit. Mr. Zuniga has demonstrated that he would rather win an election in the legal process than earn the trust of voters. He has no interest in fairness. And it must be noted that one of the plaintiffs, Carmen Avalos, who should be an expert on elections as city clerk for South Gate, served as a member of the Board of Trustees since the CVRA became law and never brought the local election issue to the board table for discussion. Mr. Zuniga has no faith in the voters and a very weak understanding of how public college boards work. And he certainly doesn't understand how much he and his plaintiff friends cost the taxpayers and students in a frivolous lawsuit. Cerritos College has a long, excellent history of serving our communities and students and for being a well-managed college district. Let's keep it that way. Robert "Bob" Arthur President, Board of Trustees Cerritos College

Dear Editor: Bob Arthur, at the Sept. 18 candidates debate with his opponent Leonard Zuniga, left the impression that a lawsuit was not needed to bring about changing the Board elections from at-large to trustee areas. The impression was that there was no need for a lawsuit as they were aware of the California Voting Rights Act and they intended to implement it without a lawsuit. However, the issue of changing the election method was brought up at the April 6, 2011 Board of Trustees meeting. The minutes of that meeting state the following: "The board agreed that there is currently no interest in moving toward conducting trustee area elections." That statement should speak for itself. As no action was taken even for a study of the issue, I appeared before the College Board on June 8, 2011 and asked that a study of district-based elections be placed on the agenda of the next Board meeting. There was no signal that this would happen and legal action was the alternative. As an aside, on the agenda for that meeting was appointing a replacement for the late Bob Epple. As a Latina was one of the three finalists to replace Mr. Epple, this would have been a perfect opportunity for the Board to act in compliance with the CVRA. However, when I arrived at the meeting, I noted a well-qualified Caucasian sitting in the front row. That person was one of 10 candidates to fill the ABC Unified School District vacancy left by Mark Pulido's election to the Cerritos City Council. This candidate did not get the four votes needed for appointment to the ABC Board. I am of the opinion that she was then encouraged to go after the vacant seat on the Cerritos College board. She would have enough votes among her circle of friends on the college board. Whether her appointment was assured in advance or not is a matter of conjecture. Yet the fact remains that a lawsuit could have been avoided if Mr. Arthur and his fellow board members had not resisted changing to trustee area elections. Charlie Ara Cerritos

********** Published: September 27, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 24