Steve Petzold | COC Bond Oversight Sorely Lacking

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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There are a myriad of problems with Proposition 39 bond oversight at College of the Canyons. The full extent is beyond my ability to address in a short letter to the editor.

Understand, Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook and the board of trustees do not want or encourage effective bond oversight of Proposition 39 bonds like Measure E (2016)in compliance with Proposition 39 (2000) and applicable sections of the California Education Code.

In the fall of 2022 the chancellor realized that the terms of six of the seven members had nearly expired and a legal quorum to accept the 2021-2022 audit did not exist. Chancellor Van Hook took extraordinary action to extend the terms of some members by one year. She also had the trustees approve an action to change the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee bylaws to allow three, three-year terms rather than three two-year terms. 

In early 2023 Chancellor Van Hook solicited applications from members of the public who desired to serve on the CBOC. The final date to apply was Feb. 15, 2023. 

In full disclosure , I completed an application and submitted it to the chancellor’s office. I stated my qualifications to serve in multiple capacities as an at large, senior citizen, or business representative in an effort to increase my chances for appointment.

Fast forward to the fall of 2023 and I learned that the chancellor did not select me for a nomination to the trustees, and the trustees failed to appoint me to any position. I can only presume that it was because I was a vocal critic of Measure E and the ineffective CBOC put in place following Measure E passage.

When the members were finally approved by the COC board of trustees in late fall 2023, the appointment of John Estrada as the business representative caught my interest and attention.

John Estrada’s application was notable for its brevity and the paucity of information provided. Mr. Estrada represented that he desired the at large position to represent community members. The box next to business representative was unchecked and he did not note the business organization of which he is an active member to represent local business.

In short, there is no reason to believe that John Estrada met the eligibility criterion to hold the business representative position on the Measure E CBOC at the time of application or appointment.

I attended the CBOC’s November organizational meeting in November 2023 and put the question of qualification to the chancellor, CBOC President Fred Arnold and John Estrada during public comment. There was no response from any of them.

I have attempted numerous times to get an answer from any of the board of trustees regarding my concern, without success.

Subject to the Education Code, I requested that an item be placed on the trustees’ January 2024 meeting agenda to remove John Estrada from the CBOC for lack of required qualification. In response I received a letter from the public information office saying that I had failed to adequately describe the reason he should be removed. This is gaslighting by the college, a good example of the passive aggressive indifference so often exhibited by COC leadership.

I recently attended the January meeting of the CBOC where they accepted, largely without question, the financial and performance audits for the expenditure of Measure E bond funds. To my dismay, John Estrada did not attend the most important committee meeting of the year.

Similar to the the City Council’s recent failure to perform due diligence on the appointment of a parks commissioner, the board of trustees at COC is failing to respond to serious concerns about the selection and appointment of members to the Measure E Citizens Bond Oversight Committee.

I believe the residents of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Community College District deserve much better.

What say you?

Steve Petzold

Santa Clarita

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