Vice president of Board of Trustees under fire after hostile tweets

By Laura M. Tapia

A Board of Trustees member resigned from his position with the state Board of Equalization on Aug. 4, after tweeting out an image of a hangman with the words “I’m Ready for Hillary” from the official Twitter account of Riverside’s Republican Party.

Nathan Miller, who is vice president of the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees, sent two tweets which were in response to another user who asked where she could find “Republicans for Hillary” signs. The second tweet included the caption “sorry they never arrived but this is pretty popular,” according to the Riverside Press Enterprise.

After multiple requests for comment, Miller sent a statement to Viewpoints on Aug.16, the day of the first Board meeting since the incident.

“I write today so proud of the accomplishments of the students, faculty, staff and administrators of our district,” Miller stated addressing the RCCD community. “I am sorry that my recent actions have taken away from telling that important story.” 

“The social media posts I made were wrong,” he continued. “I apologize to all of you for my actions and I regret if they have in any way impacted your role at RCCD. I ask for your forgiveness and hope we can move forward together continuing to make RCCD the beacon of opportunity for all in our region.” 

In an email to Viewpoints, RCCD Board of Trustees President Virginia Blumenthal made the following statement on behalf of the Board: 

“The Board of Trustees of the Riverside Community College District abhors the statement and behavior of Trustee Nathan Miller regarding his political views on one of the candidates in the upcoming Presidential election. His statement does not represent the ethics, opinion and views of the individual board members. It does not represent the ethics, opinion and views of the faculty. It does not represent the ethics, opinion and views of the management nor support staff of the district. It does not represent the ethics, opinion and views of the students. It was offensive and inappropriate and not supported by any of the groups I have mentioned here, regardless of their political leanings. We are a non-partisan board and our primary concern is the education and safety of the students in our community.”

Prior to the statement from Blumenthal, Mark Sellick, president of the District Academic Senate, sent an email to faculty which stated he had received numerous complaints from faculty members, many of them calling for Miller’s resignation.

“Although I can understand their consternation, I informed them that my duty was to represent the faculty in this district and take this matter up in the appropriate forum,” Sellick stated.

The RCCD Faculty Association namely issued a statement calling for Miller’s immediate resignation; stating they read with alarm, dismay and sorrow of Miller’s inappropriate tweets, though they were “not surprised by the descent into such crude incivility given the broader political culture.”

“We are determined to shield our great public institution of higher learning from this infection,” the statement continued. “Mr. Miller’s behavior is not acceptable in our community – we wouldn’t tolerate it from our students.”

The Faculty Association continued by stating Miller’s actions forced him to resign as he could no longer represent Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey in good judgment.

“In similar fashion,” the statement read. “Out of respect to the voters, students, faculty, his fellow board members, and for the sake of the integrity of the Riverside Community College District, Nathan Miller should resign from the Board of Trustees immediately and withdraw his candidacy from the November election.”

The association is not alone in criticizing Miller’s tweets.

“As the representatives of students at the district we expect our leadership to be held to the highest standard at this institution,” the statement from the Associated Students of RCCD read. “We vehemently demand a public apology from Mr. Miller to all students at the district including his resignation from the Board of Trustees.”

It is unclear if Miller was on work hours when he sent the tweets as Governmental code section 3206 states “no officer or employee of a local agency shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform.” 

Below is the photo featured in the tweets Miller sent out and a photo of Miller’s Twitter bio which reads in part “Making Twitter Great Again.”

Updated 8/5/16 11:45 a.m : With statements from the RCCD Faculty Association and the Associated Students of RCCD.

Updated 8/16/16 10:16 a.m. : With Nathan Miller’s comments on the incident.

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