Political flier angers RCCD faculty

Jeremy Fuerte / News Editor

A 2005 issue of Viewpoints and a letter signed by Janet Green and Virginia Blumenthal, president and member of the Board of Trustees respectively, are being used by prospective Congressman John Tavaglione in fliers as ammunition against his opponent Mark Takano, vice president of Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees.

The first flier endorsed by Tavaglione alleges that Takano suppressed harassment charges at RCCD and states that Takano “let discrimination run rampant” by using a 2005 article in Viewpoints titled “discrimination pervades Riverside Community College.”

Michael Diggin, the journalist who wrote the article calls the attack “bombastic” but agrees that there is more that should have been done.

“I can certainly agree that some responsibility for not taking further action can be placed at Takano’s feet,” Diggin said. “In my personal opinion the lion’s share of the blame should be directed toward Salvatore Rotella, the Chancellor at the time.”

In an email correspondence, Takano called the allegations made by the Tavaglione campaign false.

“That’s absolutely untrue,” Takano said. “Once the Board was presented with the allegations and evidence, we took immediate action to correct the situation and make sure that it wouldn’t happen again, even appointing an independent counsel to investigate all of the claims and changing school and Board policy to ensure that complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation would be promptly investigated; supervisor Tavaglione needs to get his facts straight.”

A second flier features a letter signed by Green and Blumenthal highlighting the practices Takano employed in order to pass the Project Labor Agreements on the board.

In the letter, Green and Blumenthal state that “Mark Takano jammed through a 52-page proposal eliminating true competitive bidding on over $500 million in construction spending–to keep the public in the dark, he jammed through this proposal through so fast that fellow board members like us never had the opportunity to read it.”

Green stands by the letter that she and Blumenthal wrote signed.

“I support our statement in that letter when we wrote it,” Green said.

She clarified stating that neither she nor Blumenthal were given the agreement in advanced and weren’t allowed to read it over before voting on it but that she now supports the agreement.

“It was a matter of working with your peers,” she said. “(The project labor agreement is) working, and thank God it’s working.”

A large number of RCC faculty have received the fliers and are raising concerns. In response Dariush Haghighat, president of the RCCD faculty association, sent out a district wide email addressing the situation and clarifying the position of the faculty.

“While we understand the competitive nature of politics, we feel the reputation of our District is being threatened by the very disreputable tactics employed by the Tavaglione team,” the letter stated. “Those two fliers are not just attacks on Trustee Takano; they are an assault and the integrity and well being of every stakeholder at RCCD; Tavaglione’s campaign might very well undermine and jeopardize RCCD’s appeal to members of our community for their support and approval of Proposition 30.”

Haghighat’s position is also reciprocated by Chancellor Gregory Gray who believes that politics shouldn’t affect the operation of the district.

“I am quite bothered that trustees of the RCC district allow politics to creep in to the business of the district,” he said. “If Greg Gray wants to vote for Mitt Romney, that’s fine, it has nothing to do with the District and what has happened with that propaganda is it’s been comingled with the district. Most people I talk to will say the same thing, people are very upset about it.”

The Tavaglione campaign could not be reached for comment.