An endorsement of Lynne Riddle, Coast Community College District Board candidate

Lorraine Prinsky, Jim Moreno, and Lynne Riddle

Of the three candidates running for Trustee Area 5 in the Coast Community College District, Dr. Lynne Riddle has distinguished herself as a top choice for voters throughout the District to consider. A retired Federal Judge, an educator who holds a Doctor of Education degree, a student activist, and a person who stands out as a paragon of integrity, high ethics, and a commitment for searching for the truth, Dr. Riddle will add a great deal of value as the newest member of the Board of Trustees.

The Orange Juice blog received this profile of Dr. Riddle from an anonymous source and are presenting it here so that voters and the community may seriously consider voting for Dr. Riddle to be their next Community College Trustee in Area 5 of Coast Community College District.  Art Pedroza, the publisher of the Orange Juice blog, has also endorsed Dr. Riddle.

Because of her commitment to ethics, transparency, and fight against pension abuse gives her such a broad appeal, Dr. Riddle has also received an unsolicited endorsement from the arch-conservative group Republicans for the National Interest – largely because of her commitment to protecting taxpayer dollars from pension abuse, mismanagement and waste. Thus, her proven ability to appeal to wide ranges of groups serves as a harbinger of what will be her great ability as a Trustee to work closely with the many complicated and challenging constituencies that make up a community college district.

Community Colleges face so many challenges today: they are flooded with students, are faced with declining apportionment dollars from Sacramento, and face greater oversight from accreditors and other regulatory bodies. Governing Boards, including the one at Coast, have to act with poise, diligence, and fairness in order to ensure the greatest learning outcomes and achievements for students.

As a Federal Judge, Dr. Riddle had to weigh many difficult options, and assess all of the facts, in order to make the best decisions. This kind of deductive reasoning, which Dr. Riddle’s training and experience as an Attorney have afforded her, give her a great advantage over others running for the Area 5 seat. She will weigh all of the facts when making budget decisions, supporting Academic Senates on Curriculum and governance issues, and when reviewing disciplinary issues for students and staff.

Dr. Riddle’s experience as a student also gives her a mission-critical ability to empathize with students themselves, the most precious resource in the entire District – an ability that will serve her well and give her advantages over her opponents in being able to comprehend student issues and concerns. Her ability to empathize with students will have a huge impact in working to address and meet student concerns, given the Board’s close ties to student leaders.

Along with her illustrious credentials and scholarly background, Dr. Riddle is the kind of person with the “thick skin” needed on the Coast Board with the departure of pension double-dipper Walter G. Howald. Even before Mr. Howald’s “retirement,” Dr. Riddle had filed papers to run against him, on a campaign of ethics, integrity, service to students, and in the name of stopping pension abuse.

It was Dr. Riddle who worked closely with Dr .Lorraine Prinsky in 2008 to help unseat Armando Ruiz from the Coast Board, bringing to light Ruiz’s pension issues, as well as his solicitation of District vendors for a corrupt campaign mailer involving a District Student leader.

Dr. Riddle has also worked hard to uncover questionable management practices at Orange Coast College, bringing to light the college’s coercive arrangements with student groups in requesting funds for various projects, including a Starbucks and “Gallery Cafe” where funds promised to students after a considerable investment were never received. Dr. Riddle’s efforts to bring these matters to light were ultimately brought to the attention of the Coast Board of Trustees, and then-Board President Jim Moreno rightly and appropriately ordered an audit of all Foundation and Management finance requests of student organizations, an audit which uncovered numerous wrongdoings and which forced the college’s management, and that of its Foundation, to change its business dealings with student leaders, organizations, and student funds.

Because of Dr. Riddle’s hard work on student funds, and effectiveness and showing financial irregularities in student funding issues, the Board of Trustees adopted a new policy concerning Associated Student Funds in 2010, advising management that it must be more transparent in all student budgeting matters, helping to put student interests first. Even more than helping rid the District of Armando Ruiz, Dr. Riddle’s efforts in bringing up the issue of student funds and helping to spearhead the subsequent policy being adopted by the Board, stands out as one of her most formidable accomplishments. Reliable sources indicate that she even spent time with Trustees and other officers of the Board to educate them on State and Federal rules concerning student funds, in advance of the policy being drafted and sent through a District task force.

Dr. Riddle is the kind of person that will work well with the current Board at Coast, one that has fueled major changes in the organization since Dr. Prinsky’s election in 2008: a Board that has sharply reduced travel costs, restructured and reduced executive salaries that were bloated by Armando Ruiz and Walter Howald, eliminated pension double dipping for Trustees and staff, eliminated backroom dealings and Brown Act violations by establishing committees to review important governing issues in public, a Board that has restructured all District contracts, making them legally compliant, a Board that has brought budget transparency to the District through a District Budget Advisory Committee, a Board that has reviewed all District Foundations, working to make them compliant with Brown Act and Education Code provisions, a Board that has hired a new executive team of seasoned community college leaders – not “friends” or “relatives” as had been done by previous Board leaders.

All of these measures, undertaken since 2008, have been put in place to restore transparency to the District, to protect the interest of students, and ensure compliance with all laws and regulations. Dr. Riddle strongly supports all of these changes, and as the newest Trustee on the Board, would work hard with her colleagues to continue to implement new policies, guidelines, and oversight to ensure the most transparent, and open governing board in the State of California. And, most importantly, in the spirit of an educator, Dr. Riddle will help her colleagues on the Board continue to search for the truth, not serving as a “rubber stamp” that merely approves the Administration’s recommendations. Dr. Riddle will help the current Board continue lead and “hold the reins” of the District, asking questions, conducting research and analysis, and hearing from a variety of constituents before making difficult decisions that are in the best interests of students, community and staff – while supporting District executives who administer and carry out Board policies and directives.

With all of the great attributes Dr. Riddle brings to the table, then, what about her main opponent, Mr. David Grant. What does Mr. Grant stand for, other than wishing to reduce bureaucracy? While no one knows for sure, many in the community suspect an a relationship between Mr. Howald, and Mr. Grant, a former college and foundation president at Coast. If Mr. Grant was so keen on reform, why wasn’t he running against Mr. Howald before the “retirement” was announced? No one will ever know for sure, but the mere fact that Mr. Grant only filed to run after Mr. Howald’s retirement, and given their strong ties and activities to Foundation activities, there could possibly be a connection between the two. Mr. Grant seemed to have no problem with Mr. Howald’s pension abuse, or his excessive travel, having spent in some years over $20,000 annually in trip charges. But, given the “retirement” of Mr. Howald, which was really a resignation given the serious ethical breaches of pension abuse that came to light, it seemed very convenient for Mr. Grant to go for the Howald seat only after Mr. Howald was no longer in the race. Given Mr. Howald’s previous experience as a Foundation Director at Bakersfield College, it would not be surprising if there was a tie between the two.

Previous posts on the Orange Juice Blog and other sources have demonstrated a tie between elements of Grant’s Orange Coast College Foundation and this current election, ties that beg serious ethical questions and concern. Mr. Grant talks about decentralizing District functions, but he and Shana Jenkins, another candidate with proven ties to elements of the Orange Coast College Foundation, ignore the millions of dollars in administrative costs that the current Board of Trustees has cut while fighting to keep summer school and categorical programs open to students, in spite of the millions in apportionment dollars that have been lost from Sacramento. Other Districts have shut down for summer, laid-off staff and faculty, and instituted furloughs. The Board has done none of those things and also kept the doors open for students in spite of losing millions from the State, a testament to its fiscal prudence.

With all of her great qualities, Dr. Riddle brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her candidacy that very few candidates for Trustee seats throughout California can dream of matching. Her many great experiences will give her to look at issues critically and to pose creative solutions that address student community concerns. Accordingly, the Orange Juice Blog has endorsed Dr. Riddle for her commitment to the highest ideals of professionalism, integrity, and openness – traits that will serve the students of the Coast Community College District very well, and which will make the current Board of Trustees even more effective in fulfilling its obligations to the students, taxpayers, and the community.

Vote for Dr. Lynne Riddle, Trustee Area 5, Coast Community College District!

About Art Pedroza