LANEY CUTS BACK

  • 1. last night’s board meeting
  • 2. the district is illegal
  • 3. cycles of struggle
  • 4. cut the cops
  • 5. to those who lose it

  • 1. last night’s board meeting

    After years of mismanagement and blatantly illegal and wasteful spending, the District and the Board of Trustees want to solve their budget crisis on the backs of students and the workers who advise us, teach us, take care of us and clean up after us.

    Last week, word spread that the Board planned to eliminate the positions at Laney of 1.5 Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) workers and cut 21 other positions at Laney from 12 to 11 or 10 months per year. Management approached individual classified workers to tell them about the cuts, in violation of SEIU 1021′s contract. We hear that the reason only Laney workers are being targeted is because Laney’s President volunteered to begin cuts at our school, even though Laney is structurally underfunded by the District to begin with.

    On Monday morning, the Chancellor’s office announced that the Chancellor planned to remove the cuts from the following night’s Board agenda, the result of a deal struck with the leadership of SEIU 1021. All three unions (PFT, SEIU, IUOE) recently started negotiations with the District on their contracts that expire on June 30. Historically, the District has “negotiated” with SEIU and IUOE by laying off their members. The unions’ staff and leadership then try to stop the layoffs by filing charges as they explain to members the need for concessions, that they are doing everything they can behind closed doors and in court, there’s only so much money to go around, how we need to take the fight to Sacramento, etc. etc.


    2. the district is illegal

    As there is “little resistance” to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to raise community college fees from $26 to $36, it’s worth remembering how the District has wasted funds and broken the law, all while blaming “Sacramento” for its problems.

    • In 2009, the administration illegally gave itself a pay raise.  The Board refused to act, and later made the pay raise official.
    • In 2009, the Peralta Board of Trustees approved a no-bid contract with Chevron to install solar panels, “despite indications a bidding process could have saved the district $1.5 million.”
    • The District administration failed to file a federal IRS tax return in 2008-09, leading to a $228,520 fine. (Former Chief Financial Officer Tom Smith was finally fired and escorted out of a Board meeting by a Sheriff in Jan. 2010.)
    • District mismanagement and lack of Board oversight led to Peralta being placed on probation by the State Accreditation Commission. In 2010 the Board hired an audit team to put together its first budget in about 1 ½ years. The audit team has cost at least $750,000 so far, probably much more.
    • In July 2010 the Alameda County Grand Jury wrote that “The board as a whole has failed to provide the leadership for the district to which they were elected.” They also cited Board members’ repeated violation of District policies, like Trustee Marcie Hodge’s shopping sprees with a District credit card.

    Cuts are redefining the purpose of community college after previous waves of struggle by independent, militant social movements led by disabled people, single moms and Black working-class youth opened access to community colleges. They also used political demands to decide for themselves what they learn in class and how the school relates to their community.


    3. cycles of struggle

    DSPS workers say that cuts targeting their program are illegal as well. A federal mandate says that community colleges have to provide equal access for students with disabilities. This comes from the militant struggle of disabled people to force the federal government to pass Section 504, regulations that force any institution that receives federal funding to remove obstacles and provide equal access, regardless of cost, to people with disabilities:

    No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

    In 1977, coordinated sit-ins across the U.S. took place to demand that the federal government create regulations to enforce the Rehabilitation Act passed in 1973. The San Francisco sit-in of as many as 200 people with disabilities lasted over a month, making it the longest sit-in at a federal building in U.S. history. Without caregivers or equipment, some risked death, but they were supported and cared for by broader circles of movements; Panthers served them meals.

    During the 1977 San Francisco sit-in for Section 504.

    This is the history that the District, Laney administration and Board of Trustees are trying to erase. When the threat of a civil rights complaint was raised at a  recent Peralta Board meeting, PFT-endorsed Trustee Linda Handy told people with disabilities and their advocates to “bring it on.”

    We need to be equally brave in our defense of movement victories, especially in a time of austerity. It’s expensive for the state to continue to expropriate surplus value as the rate of capital accumulation declines. We refuse debt, we refuse schools that exist solely to make us good workers and governable subjects, and we refuse to allow capital to “cut” the lives of single moms, disabled folks and poor people when it runs out of ways for us to produce value for our masters. And to do all this we need to recompose ourselves to defend each other, take control of our schools, win the social wage we need to take care of ourselves and ultimately to destroy the state: Laney cuts back.


    4. cut the cops

    Students and cops have nothing in common. We mourn the life of Guy Jarreau, Jr., a member of the Napa Valley College Black Student Union and childcare worker who was recently murdered by a cop while shooting a music video.

    Later in the agenda on Tuesday, the Board approved a new contract with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department to patrol our campuses. This is the same agency that arrested and beat us during the Oscar Grant protests, that surrounded Wheeler Hall in riot gear during our friends’ occupation, that patrols our neighborhoods and runs immigration status checks as part of the “Secure Communities” program. We want these armed men to stay away from us and stay off of our campus.

    Instead, the cops are a typically wasteful arm of the District. The Sheriffs are one of the few areas of the budget that come from the discretionary unrestricted general fund, meaning that the Board has the freedom to replace the pigs or remove them altogether. Instead, the Sheriffs went $1 million over-budget in 2008, a fact that was only discovered when outside auditors dug through the District’s records over a year later.

    On Tuesday, the Board approved $2.67 million for Alameda County Sheriffs, $415,920 for Securitas thugs and $354,000 for student safety aides. Here’s a breakdown of where the Sheriffs budget is going:

    Position Number of Employees Salary Benefits Total
    Lieutenant 1 $139,035 $82,617 $221,652
    Sergeant 1 $114,562 $69,053 $183,615
    Deputy 7 $671,880 $426,319 $1,098,199
    Sheriff’s Technicians 5 $279,869 $29,349 $309,218
    Secretary 1 $50,004 $154,319 $204,323
    Total 15 $1,225,350 $761,657 $2,017,007

    Other costs:

    Overtime $158,077
    Indirect costs $284,579
    Insurance $83,481
    Supplies $124,374

    One man, this Lieutenant, makes more than any worker at Peralta, including faculty, classified staff and custodians. And while the Sheriffs’ secretary may need therapy to cope with taking orders from uniformed men with clubs, over $150,000 in benefits for a single person seems excessive as the District demands health care givebacks from classified workers at the bargaining table.

    Kids from the Laney Child Care Center walk out on Oct. 7, 2010.


    5. to those who lose it

    District-wide, there were 1,992 fewer students on January 23, 2011 than there were on January 20, 2010. Every semester, we watch Laney deteriorate: fewer class sections, fewer students, overworked custodians struggle to pick up all the discarded plates, papers, cigarette butts. And it’s sad to watch the organizations that are supposed to represent our interests manage their own decline. But we fight for ourselves, our friends who have already been pushed out, and the single moms, disabled students and custodians in struggle.

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    4 responses to “LANEY CUTS BACK

    1. It took the U.S. Department of Education, five months after I submitted it, to get Laney College Financial Aid Department to process my application. Not the 12 weeks the application receipt from financial aid said it would take to receive funds. As you can image this caused many problems, including getting an eviction notice next week. I had to petition for my aid this spring after getting reduced aid for last semester because I ran out of money and couldn’t finish some of my classes because the Laney College Financial Aid Department didn’t process my application. Is this a tactic to discourage students and decrease enrollment? Has anyone gotten documents through the Public Records Act about this? Peace.

      • This is my Daughters second semester at Laney- she never got her financial aid last semester, nor has she for this semester (which began Jan 23) either. I am livid- we are on calworks and everything was approved at FAFSA’s end prior to that first semester. I too would like to know who she should contact at this point to take it farther. This is ridiculous mismanagement of funds, seeing as how the gov approved all paperwork long ago.

    2. Thanks for keeping up this blog so folks outside of Oakland can learn/see/watch what y’all are up to. Its struggles like this where links are built b/w students, workers and community members, that prepare us against the union bureaucrats and Democratic party’s monopoly over labor, and challenge the liberalism/non-confrontational politics around police brutality issues.

    3. U.S. Congressman Garamendi is looking into the mismanagement in the Laney College Financial Aid Department. His point person is Karen Tedford. Karen.Tedford@mail.house.gov Email her with your concerns.
      I met with Vice Chancellor of Student Services Jacob Ng today and the Districts financial aid department is responding to “Congressman Garamendi’s Report”. I can’t wait to read what has been said.

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