Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Tensions arise at Peralta District meeting

    Board’s motion to censor fellow trustee abandoned in favor of mediation.

    by Robert Hinton

    Board president Meredith Brown addresses the Peralta community at the event organized to announce Peralta’s partnership with Facebook on Oct 31. (photo by Michelle Snider)

    A controversial motion to censure Peralta Trustee Nicky Gonzalez Yuen was withdrawn at the Nov. 29 board meeting when student Trustee Aisha Jordan moved to dismiss the vote against Yuen and seek mediation instead.

    Jordan’s recommendation seemed to confuse some board members but the matter was clarified by Peralta General Council Nitasha Sawhney. The result was Board President Meredith Brown adopting the motion as her own. “When the student speaks and when the student says, ‘I want all of you to work together,’ then the board should value the students opinion,” Brown said.

    Twenty-one members of the Peralta faculty and community spoke out against censure resolution 1819–40. Many gave statements supporting the work performed by Yuen.

    The motion to censure Yuen was filed by Trustee Bill Withrow, former mayor and councilmember of Alameda. The censure is an official public reprimand, but would not result in Yuen’s removal from the BOT.

    Yuen is a vocal opponent of PCCD Board decisions concerning Peralta Chancellor Jowel Laguerre’s handling of the operational and budget decisions.

    Yuen frequently speaks to Bay Area news outlets about the issues he sees with the PCCD. “There is an atmosphere of fear,” Yuen told San Francisco Chronicle reporter Nannette Asimov on Sept. 10. In the same article, Withrow objected to Yuen making that statement.

    Before the vote, board members commented on the motion to censure Yuen with Trustee President Meredith Brown, Vice President William Riley, Linda Handy, and Withrow supporting the censure of Yuen.

    Riley and Handy ran for reelection in the recent November midterm elections. Riley lost to challenger Cindi Reiss, while Handy retained her seat against Corean Todd.

    Yuen endorsed Reiss and Todd in the lead up to the election. Reiss takes over Riley’s seat on Dec. 11.

    Trustees Karen Weinstein, Julina Bonilla, and Yuen expressed their opposition to the motion to vote to censure Yuen.

    “I believe it’s a slap at democracy and a slap at free speech,” Weinstein said about the attempted censuring. “Democracy and the right to dissent cannot be taken for granted.”

    Questions about the quality of the district’s performance have come under scrutiny.

    “Enrollment dropped by more than 2,100 from 2012 to 2017, a four percent loss, while the number of administrators grew by 45 percent, to 74 from 51, Peralta reported to the state,” as cited in the same Sept. 10 Chronicle article.

    In March, the PCCD Executive Director of Public Information, Communication and Media, Jeffrey Heyman, retired after he filed a whistleblower complaint accusing Laguerre and the Board of Trustees of malfeasance that resulted in a 95-page report from Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation, which conducted an investigation on behalf of the PCCD. The report cleared the administration of all but one charge, that of not properly complying with a public records request for information.

    Heyman now works as a communication analyst for the city of Lafayette.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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