College Board Chairman Blasts 'One-Sided' Eac Deal And Alleged Board Collusion

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By LeiLani Dawn
Special to the Roundup

Gila Community College Board Chairman Ron Christensen had nothing good to say about the revised contract from Eastern Arizona College. The document was modified earlier this week during a phone conference between Gila County Manager John Nelson, Eastern Arizona College, and attorneys in Phoenix.

But Christensen called the pact "the worst contract I've ever seen in all my years of public service," saying it was "one-sided" and "unacceptable." He vowed not to sign the document.

Christensen also blasted fellow board members who he said are "trying to circumvent" appropriate processes, saying that they are operating in secrecy to hide "what this contract contains and how bad it is for Gila County and for the college." He added, "What the legislature was unable to do, this contract does."

Christensen said he will hold the board meeting in Payson and permit residents there to be heard on the issue. In a letter to fellow board members, Christensen accused Vice Chair Bob Ashford of violating the Open Meeting Law in speaking for other board members when he claimed that none of the southern membership could come to Payson for a meeting on April 4, 2005.

Christensen said he offered alternative dates, including weekends. He charged that the refusal to attend was based on board members' unwillingness to defend their position on a contract and unwillingness to seek further legal advice in regard to the contract. In his letter, Christensen said given that fact, there will be a meeting and it will be held in Payson.

And Christensen's views weren't limited to members of the college governing board. He addressed Gila County Supervisor Shirley Dawson, saying it's "unfortunate" that she has chosen to try and "manipulate this board." Christensen said he doesn't know if Dawson's views represent all of Globe or not.

Globe radio station Kiss FM received a copy of an email from Mr. Ashford, in which the vice chairman said that he pooled all board members prior to scheduling a meeting in Globe. He said that he was informed that some members could only attend if the meeting was held in Globe due to job requirements. Ashford concluded that "Some elected board members don't have the luxury of either being retired or having jobs that don't penalize (deduct dollars from pay) for time missed from work. Others have jobs that limit the amount of time they can be away from their jobs."

It was Ashford who the previous week refused to postpone last Monday's meeting so that both of the representatives from Payson could attend.

The meeting initially scheduled for Monday, April 4, 2005 was canceled due to lack of quorum, per notices from the college. As of 4:30pm Friday it had not been rescheduled.

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