Protect local power and control


EDITORIAL There's a growing stench of political corruption — or, at the very least, hidden agendas aimed at subverting popular will in favor of entrenched corporate interests — emanating from the Mayor's Office these days. And it's undermining projects and institutions that are vital to the future of San Francisco.

In the last week, a pair of important developments illuminated the shady way business gets done in San Francisco. The first instance concerned City College of San Francisco, which had its accreditation rashly revoked last month, prompting Mayor Ed Lee to enthusiastically support the disbanding of the locally elected Board of Trustees and the takeover of City College by state-appointed outsiders bent on shutting down community-based facilities and classes.

While Lee and the San Francisco Chronicle have been cheerleading this loss of local control and the corporatist agenda behind it — CCSF was criticized for resisting the narrowing of its mission to focus on job training and college prep — we at the Guardian have questioned this process and the motives behind it.

In a cover story ("Who killed City College?" July 9), editorial ("Why democracy matters," July 23), and other coverage, we've highlighted how the attack on CCSF is part of national movement to focus schools on job training rather than broad-based education, and questioned the haste with which CCSF's local leadership was usurped.

Critics mocked these concerns, as they did those of the California Federation of Teachers, which formally challenged the actions by the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges, with Lee and others saying that we need to just accept the death threats against CCSF and do whatever these outsiders are asking.

So on Aug. 13, when the US Department of Education sustained the CFT appeal and found the ACCJC in violation of federal regulations and its own internal standards in its approach to City College, it validated our concerns and called into question Lee's hair-trigger abandonment of City College's local leaders.

Frankly, we're puzzled by Lee's approach to City College — from his appointment of right-wing ideologue Rodrigo Santos as a trustee last year (who subsequently got trounced in the election) to his resistance to helping the college before the state takeover — but we suspect it's connected to Lee's focus on "jobs, jobs, jobs" to the exclusion of other issues and values.

But Lee only counts private sector jobs, not those created to serve the public interest like the thousands of jobs that would be created by CleanPowerSF, a program that Lee opposes and that his appointees to the SF Public Utilities Commission are actively subverting.

As we report in this issue, CleanPowerSF is a renewable energy program approved last year by a veto-proof majority on the Board of Supervisors, but it's being blocked by the SFPUC's refusal to approve the rates and sign the contracts, with commissioners raising concerns that go well beyond their purview at this point.

It's time for Mayor Lee to start serving the people of San Francisco instead of the corporate titans and political benefactors who elevated this loyal career bureaucrat into the big chair in Room 200.



simply accepting a reality that you are in denial about. Most SF voters at this point are sick of throwing money at CCSF, and want the damn thing to go away. It's possible that a smaller college can be rescued but most of CCSF has to go - it's been failing for too long.

And the Clean Power thing is a red herring anyway. There is no reason to believe that Shell are any different from PG&E, and this green gimmick will cost more, as even it's advocates appear to understand.

Ed Lee is on the side of the majority, which is exactly what he should be having won with 60% of the vote in the runoff, and with an approval rating of 65% and rising.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:20 am

A smaller college would be desirable for SF.

Posted by AnotherGuest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:51 am

Then by your logic the voters of San Francisco think far more of CCSF than they do of mayor Lee. In as much as they voted by 72.9% to support a parcel tax and only 60% voted for the mayor.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:18 am

Typically they consider whether the bond will cost them anything. Since 2/3 of SF voters are tenants, they usually do not have to pay anything and so it's a free lunch for them.

You can get SF voters to approve almost any bond measure, but that doesn't mean they want irresponsible financial management, and that is what CCSF has been successfully accused of.

I feel sure that Lee isn't happy that CCSF will close, but he may well accept that it is for the best, and we elected him because we trust him to make those kinds of tough decisions.

Posted by Harry on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:24 am

"we elected him because we trust him to make those kinds of tough decisions"
cut to heroic video of a grinning mustachioed idiot in a hard hat illuminated by the setting sun....

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:36 am
Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:42 am

The ACCJC itself faces termination/decertification by the USDOE for violating 4 areas of federal rules for recognized regional accreditors in its review of SFCCD, if it doesn't immediately begin to address areas of non-compliance, and bring itself fully into compliance by 8/13/14.

Explicitly, USDOE re-asserted that accreditors are recognized to ensure academic quality only, and that ACCJC was engaged in illegal mission drift in dictating administrative, governance, budget, planning, institutional mission, and Board policy. In a 2010 letter to the CCC Chancellor's Office in 2010, responding to a request for greater collaboration in ensuring on-going improvement on ACCJC Standards, rather than only focusing on minimum compliance every 6 years, ACCJC Pres. Barabara Beno asserted that she did not consider the Commission bound by any rules, state or federal laws, beyond USDOE rules.

Further, the SF City Attorney is suing the ACCJC, "Herrera’s suit alleges the ACCJC unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards, he said. “It is a matter of public record that the ACCJC has been an advocate to reshape the mission of California community colleges,” Herrera said." (SFBG 8/22/13)

SFCA "Herrera also filed an administrative action against the California Community College Board of Governors, saying they had abandoned their role as the check and balance on community colleges, and left it to a private institution that was unaccountable to the public". (SFBG 8/22/13)

The laws, regulations, policies, priorities, and mission of the CA community college system (CCCS) are define statutorily by the elected CA State Legislature (CCR, Ed. Code, Govt. Code, etc.), those statutes are translated into system-wide Board of Governors Board Policies (BOG BP) & CCC Chancellor's Office Administrative Policy (CCCCO AP). On the district/college level, locally elected Boards of Trustees & Chancellors/Superintendents/Presidents, hired by the elected district BOT, further to clarify or expand district BP/AP as it applies to their district, i.e. SFCCD BP & AP. It is not a legal action for districts to adopt policies or engage in actions that violate any state or federal laws, codes, or regulations, or to supercede the authority of the BOG & CCCCO in setting basic system policies.

In the past dozen years, the ACCJC has been engage in a political advocacy agenda to reshape the CCCS, coercing district BOTs & CEOs into various violations of state & federal law, good faith Collective Bargaining Agreements protected by both the NLRA & CA state law, redirecting policies & practices while bypassing the Legislature & BOG/CCCCO, forcing institutional restructuring, budget policies, and institutional priorities under threats of sanctions or closure, not only outside their USDOE mandate for academic quality, but obfuscating their illegal advocacy for a specific political agenda that is in no way widely accepted by 3rd-party researchers on community college policy & best practices, like the Community College Research Center at Teacher's College/Columbia University, or USDOE itself. California's elected officials and laws on the municipal, county, and state level, as well as US federal laws, must be observed, or you are engaged in criminal action, or are exposed to civil liability, full-stop.

Frankly, it's shocking to me how many people support the ACCJC, even after as increasing amounts of indisputable proof about irregularities, improprieties, political bias, and law-breaking they engaged in, effectively legislating City & State policy through illegal & politicized use of regulation as advocacy & policymaking. Sorry, I want my vote to count, and for CA & SF policies to be made by Californian & San Franciscan elected officials & legislators. If it wasn't clear that many commentors are trolls, esp. on The Chronicle's site, I'd be even more worried that SF's culture & values have shifted into something unrecognizable, if not antithetical, to a native.

Posted by saintlennybruce on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

CCSF is toast, and should be.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

We'll see. Facts & laws are hardly straws, and we'll see where we're at in 12 months. Not entirely sure that USDOE is an entity that an accreditor can ignore, if they want to remain certified. The fact that ACCJC adopted a new policy to shred documents in June 2013, while under investigation, surely looks guilty...

Posted by saintlennybruce on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

even though it has been found to be massively flawed?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 9:24 am
Posted by CCSFgraduate on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

Overpaid staff, unsustainable benefits, intransigent unions, poor management, bad financial management, poor quality education and a massive drain on the taxpayers.

Close the damn thing down already.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 9:30 am

"overpaid staff"--CCSF instructors teach in the most-expensive city in California, yet salaries are only in the mid-range. Compared to Laney College in Oakland and the other Peralta CCs, for example, CCSF salaries are lower, as are benefits.

"poor quality education"--excuse me, but CCSF is considered one of the best community colleges in the country, and it has been a model for others to follow. Departments as far-ranging as speech, x-ray imaging, nursing, and child development have won national awards for their quality of instruction. The accreditation committee did not is any way criticize the quality of education in their reports. That is, indeed, one of the main reasons why so many organizations have banded around to try to save City College from the chopping block.

"drain on the taxpayers"--City College trains many of the employees that you deal with every day, from accountants to chefs. I hope you don't wind up at a hospital and say that--everyone from your lab techs to your nursing staff are likely products of that very "drain"!

Honestly, I really don't think you know much about the college. I was a student and instructor there, and I now teach in another county. You should be proud to have an institution like City College available to your city, which is why so many SF and state officials are supporting the college in its fight to retain accreditation.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

whether they have enough to live in SF, as they have made the choice to live here and must accept the constraints that come with that.

It only matters if we can hire teachers at a lower rate, and I believe that we can, or at least with less generous healthcare and pension benefits.

Community colleges are the lowest rung on the educational ladder and so being one of the "best" is a highly relative term. I'd prefer focus on higher level institutions. And without a taxpayer subsidy.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

It is real what you said about the x-ray, I am a radiology technician and that is my opinion, too!

Posted by radiology technician on Jan. 22, 2014 @ 5:53 am

No one should make a decision without listening to this npr radio show two days ago. Your Call Radio aired a debate about how we get electricity and gas and who controls it. Confusing issues! This is like an intro class:

Did you know that PG&E spent SIX BILLION to force smart meters on us??

PS - here's the articles cited

PENN State: Effects of Deregulation on the Power Distribution and Generation Industry

LA Times: San Onofre closure likely to take 10 years or less, panel is told

LA Times: California to get $750 million in energy crisis settlement

WSJ: J.P. Morgan Settles Electricity-Market Case

Posted by Fay on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:23 am

readings to be taken remotely.

PG&E is now over 60% sustainable energy anyway, and that proportion is increasing. I see no reason to pay more for something not obviously greener and certainly not cheaper.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:34 am

Consumer bills continue to rise while PG&e profits increase and innocent people are incinerated by lack of maintenance and safety.
Yeah, those smart meters are really great.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

My water bill sure hasn't gone down.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

Real smart meters and smart grids are great. They enable customers to remotely control their energy use at peak daily demand so that they can lower electricity use at those key times.

The problem is that PG&E's meters are not nearly that sophisticated and are even designed to discourage solar panel installation.

PG&E's simple meters which are designed only for remote reading to save labor costs (in other words to allow PG&E fire its meter readers) don't accomplish the high end objectives that smart metering is supposed to achieve.

Worse even than this, PG&E's 'smart' meters don't run backwards. Customers attempting to install solar on their rooftops have been told by PG&E that they need to spend several hundred dollars to replace their 'smart' meter with a different meter.

But of course, if PG&E wanted to, it could have simply bought smart meters that were set to run backwards, which is a very easy function to include in an electronic meter.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Aug. 23, 2013 @ 8:41 am

CCSF needs to focus on certifications and transfer of young students to four year colleges.

Posted by Sammy the Elder on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:37 am

CCSF needs to focus on certifications and transfer of young students to four year colleges.

Posted by Sammy the Elder on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:38 am

That's their problem.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:43 am

For the trolls: CCSF has and continues to focus on its students and their success.
statistically, CCSF AA graduates are (and have been) more prepared and successful
at UC school (Berkeley, riverside, Davis, SF, etc.) then their fellow student who start at these desirable institutions.
But that, in my understanding is only part of the underhanded agenda of the AACJC ( whic trolls flock to). The really nefarious stuff is trying to cut off access for students to lifelines, such as vocational training (cooks, iremen, nurses, policemen, x-ray technicians, anyone?) and to free ESL classes (40% of Sficans are natively English speakers) and enrichment and life-long learning classes - such as painting, music appreciation and PE (some of these are accessible to retirees that would not be able to replace then).
Suck it neo-cons! Get out of SF. Go screw up the world and profit from it elsewhere or better yet, change your minds. Nobody can that much of a asocial bastard.

Posted by GuestSFLocal on Aug. 24, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

right there. And the last time I looked at their class syllabus, I was struck with how uneconomic the class fees were.

We need to cut the bloated pay and benefits package of the teachers, perhaps by putting them on zero-hours short-term independent contracts so that we don't have to pay for their healthcare and pensions. But we also need to up the fees to cover 100% of the cost.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 24, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

Then lobby legislators for a change in the numerous California state laws that govern these various policies you find ideologically unpalatable. Or move. The CCCS was created in the Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960 as a statutorily tuition-free system, which is why CCC's cost per unit to students is always referred to as "fees" and never tuition.

The thought of cutting the contractually-guaranteed pension & health benefits of retired teachers is so morally repugnant, it's impossible to refute on ethical grounds without resorting to ad hominems. Thankfully, under numerous state and federal laws, good-faith CBAs for public sector employees are legally protected in multiple ways in California.

Over-reliance on adjunct (temporary contract) faculty has been empirically demonstrated to produce problems in three major areas integral to a college's function: Student Learning, Equity, and Risk Management. CCSF's adherence to the 75/25 rule for the CCCS, while many other districts have been out of compliance for years using your precise logic, is foundational in its superior academic quality, persistence, and graduation/transfer rates. Over-reliance on adjuncts causes lower grades, graduation, transfer, retention, and persistence rates, as well as major liabilities in numerous areas that can easily backfire into raising the cost to the institution in multi-million dollar suits versus having traditional, full-time, tenure-track faculty to begin with.

Subsidized undergraduate education for academically eligible students has been a standard feature of public higher education policy in *every* other advanced developed democracy since the mid-20th century, as well as New York and other US states for a time, as it is essential to preserving the meritocracy the American Dream is predicated upon, to on-going optimization of a state/country's labor force to an internationally competitive level, and to ensure adequate household prosperity so that a population can support both a public sector through tax revenue, and a private sector through spending. Subsidized undergraduate education, and single-payer comprehensive health care's preventative savings to both families & taxpayers, are primary causes for Canada's recent eclipse of the US in terms of social mobility and average household wealth.

Posted by saintlennybruce on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 12:36 am

overdo this free this and free that bullshit, because they then cease to be financially viable?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 9:23 am

Why should ESL classes be free? Vocational training I can see, but ESL?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 24, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

People that live in the US tend to earn more in their lifetime, have greater educational achievement, better chances of employment, more career options, provide employers with much needed bilingual employees, depend less on government services like ER care, have more successful children, contribute more to the city & state in various taxes, spend more in the private sector, are more likely to be naturalized to US society, and engage in civic participation like voting & public/community service, if they speak English well.

Also, "Basic Skills & ESL" are statutory missions of the CA community college system, and if either the individual or program is eligible for financial aid or other subsidies, they can't be faulted for accessing them. Further, it is in the public interest of the state and city, as referenced in an CAL. EDC. CODE citation below. Lobby the CA State Senate and Assembly if you are unhappy with California state law, as the ACCJC has done. Or move.

"CAL. EDC. CODE § 66010.4(a)(2) In addition to the primary mission of academic and vocational instruction, the community colleges shall offer instruction and courses to achieve all of the following:

"CAL. EDC. CODE § 66010.4(a)(2)(A)The provision of remedial instruction for those in need of it and, in conjunction with the school districts, instruction in English as a second language, adult noncredit instruction, and support services which help students succeed at the postsecondary level are reaffirmed and supported as essential and important functions of the community colleges.

"CAL. EDC. CODE § 66010.4(a)(2)(B) The provision of adult noncredit education curricula in areas defined as being in the state's interest is an essential and important function of the community colleges."

"CAL. EDC. CODE § 66010.4(a)(3) A primary mission of the California Community Colleges is to advance California's economic growth and global competitiveness through education, training, and services that contribute to continuous work force improvement."

Posted by saintlennybruce on Aug. 24, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

might do better in America than illegals? And so we should give free tuition to illegals to compensate for that?

Hey, here's an idea, if you're not doing well, then make sacrifices to improve yourself, but do not expect handouts from the rest of us.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 9:22 am

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