Before I started teaching at Sierra College almost 10 years ago, I was baffled by the choices on the November ballot. What was a Sierra College Trustee? I had never heard of the names and had no information on which to base a choice of candidates. (Full disclosure: I am writing this on my own time, not the college’s.) Many of you may be in the same situation, since most of the media coverage of the College centers on the main campus in Rocklin. You may recognize the name of Dave Ferrari who represents us here in the eastern end of the District and has been a tireless and committed advocate for the Truckee Campus.
With growing enrollment and the new Sierra College Truckee campus opening this month, there are some important things you should know about Sierra College politics, especially in light of recent press releases and local appearances by Aaron Klein who is running for reelection to the Board in November, touting his accomplishments in balancing the budget and restraining spending.
Four years ago a group spent nearly $100,000 to gain majority control of the Sierra College Board by electing two inexperienced and unqualified young partisans – Aaron Klein and Scott Leslie. The two newcomers launched a campaign of lies and distortions, invented a false issue of fiscal mismanagement, spent $600,000 to oust a college president they disliked, and added another $800,000 in debt service to the college’s already strained budget.
Despite claims from three members of the Sierra College Board of Trustees – including Aaron Klein – that they have brought ‘balanced budgets’ and increased solvency to the college, an exhaustive report by Trustee Bill Martin shows that the college is in significantly worse financial shape than when the current majority took over in 2004.
Titled ‘Fiscal Responsibility at Sierra College: A Broader Look,’ the report also debunks election-year claims by trustees Aaron Klein, Jerry Simmons, and Scott Leslie, that the college was plagued with unbalanced budgets and fiscal mismanagement prior to their election.
Another characteristic of this board majority is its habit of withholding information and stifling debate as evidenced by their stonewalling of the grand jury response; failing to perform the required annual board self-evaluation for four years until noted by the accreditation committee and then attempting to prevent public discussion of it; and stifling any public disclosure of the accreditation warning.
The November 2008 election is pivotal in determining the college’s direction for decades. Once again, the radical right is offering up two highly partisan candidates, Aaron Klein and Dennis Cota. If you care about higher education in our community, please help defeat them.
Candidates Elaine Rowen and John Vodonick are experienced, highly qualified candidates, and committed to the importance of public higher education. They deserve your vote, and will help tip the balance on the College Board of Trustees back to a governing body that is committed to making higher public education healthy and available to all segments of our community.