New Contract Guarantees College Serfdom

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For those who couldn't attend the Gila Community College board of governors special meeting Friday, it's important to know who's running the show because chances are, these will be the same people who will be in charge of teaching your college students.

There's vice chair Bob Ashford, an employee of the San Carlos Apache Tribe casino, who attempted to obscure the truth with lies and misinformation.

His best stab at arguing for the contract included a lengthy conversation on EAC's free enrichment classes to seniors, paid for by state aid, and the merits of basket weaving.

"I hear all the conversation about, ‘Oh they're getting credit for basket weaving,'" Ashford said. "I've actually tried basket weaving myself and it's hard. I don't like to hear people belittling basket weaving because basket weaving is a fine art."

Then, there's Mike Pastor who reverted to personal attacks to get his point across. Pastor criticized board chairman Ron Christensen for taking a cruise and missing a board meeting.

Christensen's wife, Clarice, said the cruise had been planned for more than a year, long before the chairman took his seat on the board.

And then, front and center, sat Shirley Dawson, District 3 county supervisor with her contingent from Globe. In a display unbefitting a public official, she orchestrated the whole meeting with hand gestures and vocal comments.

Let's leave the circus for minute to discuss what's really going on. Gila Community College's entire $2 million operating budget for the year is one-fourth of the money Eastern Arizona College receives from the state alone -- pocket change compared to EAC's entire budget. GCC is so small that nobody is going to think twice if the college is used to line the pockets of some legislators, state and local, and special interest groups in the southern half of the county.

In a parallel universe at the State Capitol, some legislators have been trying to neuter GCC's provisional community college district since it became legal in 2002. Now this contract comes along and basically, as the board chairman Christensen puts it, does what the legislation couldn't do.

We go back to paying EAC out-of-county tuition out of our general fund, and they get to keep all the state money. They don't have to account for how they spend any of it, and our college governing board, per the contract, is stripped of all its powers.

Although the house bill responsible for dissolving our community college district died in the Senate last week, lawmakers, like John Allen of District 11 in Paradise Valley, are passionate about killing our district, and they still have time to do it -- the legislative session is not over yet.

If legislation is reintroduced and passes, our college becomes a colony of EAC, and they can loot us without recourse.

And where's the budget for all this? There isn't one. Neither EAC nor the board of governors has produced any documentation regarding how much all this will cost you.

Your local tax levy funds our community college district. Your other taxes pay for the state aid that is kicked back to the rural colleges especially -- EAC, which receives around $8 million a year of taxpayer's cash to pay for basket weaving classes.

You are paying for them to do whatever they want with your money. You voted them in, maybe it's time to get them out.

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