San Joaquin Delta trustees vote down penalty for serial meeting infraction

The San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees decided a grand jury’s finding that three of its members held a serial meeting to dismiss the former college district president was not detailed enough to warrant censuring the three. -db
September 9, 2010
By Alex Breitler

STOCKTON – The San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees declined to censure three of its members for an alleged serial meeting to oust former President Raul Rodriguez.

In June, a civil grand jury report recommended that three trustees – not named in the jury’s report but later identified as Mary Ann Cox, Taj Khan and Ted Simas – be censured.

In its formal response Tuesday, the board agreed that the grand jury’s complaint was not specific enough to merit such a penalty. Delta’s interim president, Susan Cota, asked the board to approve the response and “put this behind us.”

The board voted 5-1 in support, with Trustee Janet Rivera in opposition. She said she wanted the trustees held accountable.

“People admitted there was a serial meeting,” she said.

Trustee Steve Castellanos said he understood Rivera’s frustrations, but the grand jury report was not specific enough. “I wish the report would have given us more information to go on,” he said.

The response approved Tuesday says Cox contacted Trustee Jennet Stebbins to solicit her support in removing Rodriguez, who has since left for a chancellorship in Southern California.

Cox had also met with Khan and Simas, though they say the purpose of that meeting was to orient Khan, who was new to the board.

The meetings and individual contacts in early 2009 “were ill-advised and could have resulted in violations” of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the board’s response says. The Brown Act is California’s open-meetings law.

The board also said it cannot adopt the grand jury’s recommendation that board President Teresa Brown require Brown Act training at least quarterly for fellow trustees, because she lacks that authority. Instead, trustees should assume individual responsibility for training, the response says.

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