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Trustees Set a Good Example

The Times missed the point in its Dec. 20 editorial (“Officials’ Costly Actions Set Bad Example”) concerning Rancho Santiago College’s new policy banning alcohol consumption by elected officials.

The editorial compared our entire board with (some) Dana Point water district directors who attended a Monterey conference at public expense ($4,000) after losing their reelection bids.

The implication was that our entire board condoned a $2,545 dinner and bar tab at Antonello’s and that we were all “poor role models.”

Another point made was that the Board of Trustees adopted its new policy banning alcohol consumption “as a result of criticism . . . “

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The Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees is a seven-member governing board. We are elected to four-year terms and are charged with safeguarding the community’s interests. A minimum of four votes are required to set policy or approve any action taken by the district.

Over the last four years, a concerted effort has gone into taking control away from the “old board,” which included members who had served since 1971.

With the recent election, we were able to finalize the process by gaining a four-vote majority.

The new board majority brought the district its first code of ethics for trustees. We updated board policy allowing more public discussion at our meetings. We improved employee relations and, with the leadership of our new chancellor, completely reorganized the district’s antiquated management structure. We also cut administrative positions, saving the taxpayers more than $550,000 per year.

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The most recent action by the new board majority exposed (and ended) the past practice of conducting meetings at pricey restaurants at taxpayers’ expense.

Also exposed was the practice of disguising the bar tabs as “special foods” in order to get the tabs paid, a practice that I believe amounted to fraud. Along with exposing this situation to the public, we wrote a new board policy banning the use of alcohol by trustees during business meetings and prohibiting the cost of any alcohol from being billed to the taxpayers “for any reason.”

The Times editorial states that our policy banning alcohol is “a good policy that ought to be in place for all public agencies.” I agree. And I believe that, by writing this policy, members of the new board majority at Rancho Santiago Community College District have set a good example.

CHARLES W. MADDOX

Vice President, Board of Trustees

Rancho Santiago Community, College District


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