Supervisor Overstepped Her Authority


There are plenty of problems Gila County District 3 Supervisor Shirley Dawson should be working to solve.

What she shouldn't be worried about is the fate of Gila Community College's proposed contract with Eastern Arizona College and GCC's relationship with Pima Community College.

Those issues are better left to the members of GCC's governing board, who were elected for the specific purpose of guiding GCC through the issues of growth, college affiliation and a settlement of a lawsuit with EAC.

Dawson is quoted as telling Globe radio station KISS-FM last week that she feared the three-member GCC negotiating team, made up of GCC President Barbara Ganz, Gila County Manger John Nelson and Deputy County Manager Steve Besich, is dragging their feet as they attempt to settle the lawsuit.

There are those who would argue that EAC is dragging its feet. GCC's board didn't receive an answer from EAC on their proposal for "seven points of discussion" for 18 days after it was sent.

When EAC did respond, it asked for 32 points of discussion, which would make an agreement even tougher to hammer out.

Dawson also said GCC will have to continue its contract with Pima "by default" if no solution is agreed upon before April 1. She worried that a continuing partnership with Pima and declining enrollment at the Gila Pueblo campus could result in a shutdown.

Dawson maintained that Pima Community College's higher tuition costs are too steep for GCC students.

Dawson's interview with the radio station can be considered meddling in the affairs of the governing board and the three-person negotiating team of GCC.

Her statements also showed a lack of respect for what those on the team and the board are trying to accomplish.

Dawson should have known that the ongoing settlement negotiations for academic services between EAC and GCC are not the public business of a member of the board of supervisors. Rather they are the responsibilities of the negotiating team and the governing board.

The county supervisor should have avoided interfering publicly in the argument over which community college district GCC eventually aligns itself.

Those decisions are not part of her job description.

Her speculations did more damage by fanning the flames of controversy among Eastern Arizona, Gila and Pima community college districts.

It behooves Dawson to refrain from using her political clout to influence decisions outside her purview.

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