Gcc President Insults Voters


Just when you think the Gila Community College Board can’t get any more petty, they up and surprise you. On Monday, President Bob Ashford used highhanded, rude and arrogant tactics to secure another one-year term as president.

Alas, we’ve grown almost accustomed to watching Ashford railroad other board members. Even so, it still came as a shock to see him apply the same treatment to taxpayers.

The whole spectacle offered another dispiriting illustration of the disarray on the GCC board — at one of the most crucial moments in the college’s history.

Here’s how it went down.

A couple of weeks ago, the GCC board voted 2-1 to repeal all of its rules and bylaws. This peculiar action was apparently intended to make it possible for Ashford to serve another term as president, despite the term limits clearly set forth in the bylaws. The sweeping action validated complaints Ashford runs the board like his private fiefdom — a point raised repeatedly by board members Larry Stephenson and Tom Loeffler.

Loeffler complained unsuccessfully to the state attorney general’s office that this repeal of all the rules violated the open meeting law — admittedly a stretch.

Loeffler publicized Monday’s meeting locally, which took place in Globe, but was also beamed into a meeting room at the Payson campus on a two-way video feed.

Now, we had our doubts about Loeffler’s confrontational tactic. It seemed unlikely to deter Ashford and his back-pocket majority, but it could make the board look bad, just when Sen. Sylvia Allen has introduced a bill that would give the GCC board more responsibility and autonomy.

But goaded by months of Ashford’s highhanded refusal to even allow board members to put things on the agenda, Loeffler set up the confrontation.

Now, any reasonable board faced with a roomful of voters would let the voters have their say. The board owes citizens at least that much courtesy.

What did Ashford do? First, he refused to move the public comment period to the start of the meeting where it belongs — so people can speak before the vote. That alone displayed a breathtaking contempt for the voter.

Second, Ashford effectively gaveled down even Loeffler and Stephenson, when the issue came up for discussion. Clearly, Ashford can no longer lead the board. We do not doubt his passionate devotion to the district — but that’s precisely why he should resign for the good of the district.

Exercise exorcises a threat to children

So, let’s say you found out that your kid’s favorite restaurant sometimes sprinkled powdered lead on the food. Would you go back?

How about if you discovered their classroom had crumbling asbestos ceiling tiles. Would you insist they change classes? So how come so many parents let their kids lead a lethal lifestyle?

Currently, 35 percent of the kids in the Payson Unified School District are overweight. A shocking 18 percent are actually obese — which means they weigh in at least 20 percent above their ideal body weight.

If Payson’s like the rest of the country, that percentage has doubled in recent decades.

Study after study has shown that getting fat and sedentary will cut years off your lifespan, especially if you got too heavy as a child. Being overweight contributes to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

So we were heartened to learn that some dedicated and creative faculty and administrators at Payson Unified School District have snagged an innovative $1.4 million, three-year federal grant to do something about it.

They started by outfitting elementary school students with pedometers, so they can accurately measure how much exercise the little dears are getting — and perhaps educate kids and parents in the process.

The grant will provide all sorts of sports equipment, exercise programs and the resources to carefully track the results of a variety of exercise, nutrition and sports programs.

We’ll also admit that it seems odd to shell out money on P.E. and nutrition education just when the district must make agonizing cuts that will eliminate treasured electives, significantly increase class sizes and add to teachers’ burdens. Alas, the board can’t use the federal grant money to offset cuts in those core programs. We can either take the money — or give it back, and make the same cuts anyhow. Furthermore, we admit to a certain intellectual schizophrenia in simultaneously lamenting the federal deficit and celebrating the grant.

But then, if you found powdered lead sprinkled on the cereal or asbestos flakes in the crib, you probably wouldn’t spend too long pondering life’s ironies.

You’d get your kid the heck out of there — and set them down some place healthy.

Fortunately, the district seems resolved to do the same.


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