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Troubled past spurs endorsements

In recent years, part of a Sierra College trustee’s job has been responding to Placer County Grand Jury complaints.

The four-county district has been named in the 1999-2000, the 2000 2001, and the 2001-2002 Placer County Grand Jury reports for complaints, starting with an investigation into the college district’s construction contracts for its four-story learning resource center, and the causes of a lawsuit that ended with a half-million-dollar payout to a high-ranking female librarian who sued the district for gender discrimination.

The board of trustees was named in some complaints over the years, which ranged from not enforcing liquidated damage provisions in construction contracts (trustees said they did not get good advice) to not being polite enough.



The trustees’ next task might be to ask the community to pass a bond to pay for the expansion of their colleges to accommodate burgeoning enrollment. This is why the college’s faculty association decided for the first time in decades to endorse candidates for trustee, Don Cosper, president of the association, said.

The association endorses the three incumbents running for re-election, including Grass Valley’s Nancy Palmer.




“The district is at a real crossroads,” said Don Cosper, a sociology professor who has taught at the college for 32 years and is president of the Sierra College Faculty Association. “With the growth we’re having, we’ll have to go to the community and gain support.”

Enrollment at Sierra Joint Community College District, one of 72 community college districts in California, jumped beyond an anticipated 3 percent to upwards of 10 percent.

People often seek retraining when the economy slumps, trustee Nancy Palmer noted. Also, “A lot of families just can’t afford to send their kids to a university,” but most can afford Sierra College’s $11-per-unit cost, Palmer said.

Students who complete some programs, such as associate of arts or science degrees, are entitled to a spot on a University of California campus, allowing students to bypass what many consider a politically charged admissions process.

That makes Sierra College a popular place these days.

The college will likely seek to pass a bond, and the board needs members who are strong, capable and connected to community, said Cosper, who is also one of the association’s two representatives on the joint labor management council.

The college needs a bond “but we can’t go to the public and ask for a bond unless we do it right,” Cosper said Thursday morning before the association had interviewed all candidates for the board. “We’ll only endorse someone who has the chutzpa to stand up for the constituency.”

Cosper said that faculty association members were “pretty satisfied that incumbents responded adequately” to one Grand Jury complaint that $93,000 was taken from the Post Retirement Medical Fund, a college employee fund.

“They got their act together pretty quickly to set things right,” Cosper said about the trustees.


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