College Board Chairman Outraged By Peers, Process

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Just when it seems Gila Community College is in remission from the legislative cancer that almost removed its provisional community college district status last month, new complications have set in.

Northern Gila County seems to be suffering from rejection -- this time not from the law, but from their own kind -- their southern Gila County neighbors in Globe.

In an attempt to settle a lawsuit among Gila Community College, Eastern Arizona College and Gila County, GCC governing board members from the south have been trying to strike a deal behind the backs of their northern counterparts.

In the letter below, GCC governing board chairman Ron Christensen rebuffed attempts by some board members to thwart the settlement process and circumvent the law.

Christensen's letter comes after board member Bob Ashford and his southern Gila County posse refused to attend an April 4 meeting in Payson to discuss the details of a lawsuit settlement between Gila Community College and Eastern Arizona College.

--Felicia Megdal, reporter

A public notice issued April 1 regarding the cancellation included the following text from Board Chairman Ron Christensen's letter to the Board of Governors:

Refusal on the part of Mr. Robert Ashford who is apparently speaking for Governing Board members (in violation of the Open Meeting Laws) that everyone will not come to Payson for the April 4th meeting is unacceptable. I have called the meeting in Payson, and Payson people will be heard! This back-door approach and secrecy of trying to do a contract with Eastern Arizona College that is blatantly unacceptable and not even being willing to justify your positions or seek further legal advice in regard to that contract is the worst possible way of resolving the issues.

We, as a Board of Governors representing the various five districts of the County are responsible to our constituency, and to deliberately try to exclude the voices of the Northern Gila County taxpayers and the Governing Board members who represent them is very wrong. We have offered you meeting alternatives ranging from any day in the week to any weekend, and it is obvious that your refusal has to do with your unwillingness to defend your position on the contract. Therefore, you are notified that the meeting date, at your convenience, will be in Payson, either this coming week, the following week, or next month. It's your choice; but, we will meet in Payson.

Let me know when it is convenient for you, and we will proceed.

--Ron Christensen, Chairman

Gila County Community College

Board of Governors

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