College ‘Travesty' Leads To Resignation

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The following letter of resignation was submitted by Dick Wolfe to Robert Ashford, acting chairman of the Gila Community College Board of Governors:

Dear Mr. Ashford,

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Dick Wolfe

I sought appointment to the Gila Community College Board of Governors in the hope that I could make a difference. I have failed. I assumed that reason and fair play would ultimately prevail. It has not.

The latest travesty occurred at the board meeting of Dec. 15, 2005. On the agenda was a proposal to hire a Phoenix lobbyist to represent the Board at a cost of $36,000 plus expenses. The cost will be paid by Eastern Arizona College (EAC).

When the issue was discussed, it was pointed out that this lobbyist also represents and is paid by EAC. Conflict of interest? We were assured that on most issues we, the board, and EAC will be in agreement. Then why pay him twice and use up valuable funding that is needed for education funding? Despite the issues raised, the motion passed 3-2 with Dr. Stephenson and me dissenting. This is but one of the many concerns that the minority has raised and was "swept away."

It is no secret, although much was withheld under the guise of "lawyer-client confidentiality," that the board has violated the Open Meeting Law on numerous occasions. These violations all led up to the adoption of the controversial contract with EAC.

The Arizona Office of the Attorney General is responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Open Meeting Law. In the past they have been very aggressive in that role. In this case of violations by the Board of Governors, the penalty can only be viewed as a "slap on the wrist." The statute provides for a penalty of $500 per violation and removal from office. Despite the numerous violations, the Attorney General has asked Acting Chairman Ashford to pay a single $500 fine. In addition, the entire board must adhere to seven other conditions (see attached letter). This brings me to my final indignity. I was not part of the Open Meeting Law violations, but as a current member of the board, I would need to sign the Consent Agreement, take classes and adhere to all provisions of the agreement.

By agreeing to the Consent Agreement, there is an implication that I was part of the problem, when I was not remotely involved. I have worked hard to build a reputation of honesty and integrity in this community (not all will agree), and I don't wish that reputation to be tainted by the actions of some members of this board.

My regrets to the community, Dean Swanson, the staff of Gila Community College and Gila County Superintendent of Schools Linda O'Dell. Please accept my resignation effective immediately.

Sincerely, Dick Wolfe

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