A recent OC Register report by Teri Sforza shared the very full-time benefits offered to some part-time community leaders.
The Register combined a report on compensation packages for Councils, Boards, and Trustees of Community College Districts compiled for Mike Moodian, with a Grand Jury report on that information for Directors of water and waste districts. (Mike Moodian is a candidate for the South Orange County Community College District.) Between the college districts and water and waste, it seems our County directors are pulling in some nice perks for part time policy-making, while staff does the work. Today we will cover Community College Boards, and then we will come back for Water and Waste boards.
Community College Districts Get In on the Good Stuff
Teri Sforza’s column caught my attention because I had tripped across the NOCCCD recently. I noticed them while researching an article on the ACLU lawsuit against Anaheim, as I looked into City Councils and/or School Districts that had already redistricted or were considering it.
The table shows compensation levels for the Boards of Orange County’s Community Colleges.
While the North Orange County Community College District board paid nearly twice as much as the South Orange County CCD for Trustee stipends, the Rancho Santiago College District beat them all, offering Trustees Medical and Dental coverage, over $2,000 per month in pay, for an annual cost of just under $24,000 per Trustee per year! On average these Trustees might work one or two meetings per month, many are capped at 4 meetings per month. Recent law prohibits raising stipends per meeting, so many Boards are now backfilling compensation, offering benefits like medical and dental insurance for their part time trustees, who attend a few meetings to set policy, while full time staff does the day to day work.
One might note that a message left on the OCRegister’s comment board linked to this story reports that 80% of community college instructors work part time and receive no insurance benefits. But all of the Community College Boards monitored (Coast District was not surveyed prior to the Register article) reported offering medical insurance to their Board members who serve far less time than an instructor, and 3 of the 4 also offered dental insurance to their Boards!
In their defense, one district told the Register,
“The public deserves to know that our board members put in many hours every month beyond board meetings,” said Tere Fluegeman, spokesperson for the South Orange County Community College District, by email.
“Trustees attend nearly every college event as well as educational forums on a wide variety of subjects and issues that affect the community, students and staff. They involve themselves in community, business and governmental organizations and routinely conduct speaking engagements and interviews. They actively assist the college foundations with fundraising for student scholarships. All of these efforts provide opportunities to stay highly connected with both internal and external constituencies.”
News flash, your average PTA Mom fits that description, without pay, and they pay for their own trips to the annual PTA Conference!
This is a pretty nice deal. The insurance is especially plush, as Trustees generally have full time careers with insurance coverage, and the additional coverage from the College Boards picks up the tab for any expenses not covered by primary policies, meaning free health care for the Trustee. This would be a mighty nice incentive to stay on a Board….even is one may no longer qualify to serve.
Now back to that article I was writing on the Anaheim/ACLU redistricting lawsuit. I was surprised that the North Orange County Community College District chose to voluntarily undergo the expense of changing from a board elected At-Large, to elections by district. The NOCCCD website claims they are the first in California to voluntarily make the shift. Redistricting is expensive, involving outside contractors and consultants, to do population counts, propose District boundaries, and shop the whole thing to the public. Undergoing that expense, without a hint of lawsuit or even any public demand I can find, is not my idea of stewardship. To do so while cutting resources to students is alarming. But if one of your own might lose their seat…and if you can lock in your incumbents seats….
M. Tony Ontiveros (known in Anaheim as “Manny”) was appointed to the NOCCCD Board in 1999 to finish the remaining 10 months of Cynthia Coad’s term representing the citizens of central Anaheim, when she was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. At the time Manny lived in Central Anaheim, representing Area 1 in a District where Trustees were (at the time) elected at-large but lived in the Trustee Area they represented. In 2000, Manny was elected to a 4-year term in his own right, and he was re-elected again in 2004 and 2008. All elections were unopposed, Manny has never faced a challenger.
Following his election in 2008, he and his family moved to Anaheim Hills, placing him in what was Trustee Area 3, in the tiniest sliver of Anaheim Hills that is still in the NOCCCD, most of Anaheim Hills is in the Rancho Santiago Community College District. I was surprised to see him living that far east when I looked at the redistricting maps, I recall him living off Rommeya as a candidate for Anaheim City Council in 2002-and then realized that in moving he would be disqualified from running for re-election in Trustee Area 1. In fact, in one map he appeared to infringe on the Trustee already serving in what was the old Area 3!
Lo and behold, it appears that right after Manny moved, the Board of Trustees determined that they needed to change the way they elected leaders The Board changed their policy from At Large elections, to District representation, the first in the State of California to voluntarily transition to that system rather than being forced by a lawsuit from the ACLU. They also added 3 more areas, so that each of the 7 member Board would represent a separate area, in which they resided. The Districts were then oddly drawn, resulting in a map where not a single incumbent lost their seat. Manny Ontiveros, previously living outside of the District for which he was elected, suddenly found himself in his own unchallenged Trustee Area. What a surprise.
I admit I did not make the connection of why the NOCCCD seemed to be doing an odd gerrymandering, in what I believed was a low-power low-pay District. Thanks to the Register for letting us know how much these guys make, and what an incentive it might be to jump through the hoops to ensure one remains on a Board. If your home no longer works in the District, change the District.
All this, while my kid and the children of my friends cannot get a single class, because they are full before their registration dates comes up? Even the wait lists are full, due to budget cuts of our teachers and front line staff! Yeah, we have a problem. To be precise, the NOCCCD trustees have a problem, because this Mama Bear sees how they are spending money to protect their own bennies and perks, instead of educating our next generation.