Government / Politics

OPINION: Could Gavilan College Pass Their Own Course in Social Justice?

Considering how they chased the big money in Santa Clara County at the expense of San Benito County, Gavilan gets an F in Social Justice.

This opinion was contributed by Marty Richman.

According to a March news release, Gavilan College now offers its students a new degree transfer program: Social Justice Studies. The definition of social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

How does that square with the actions of Gavilan when it comes to diverting millions of dollars in capital funding and promised matching funds to build a new Coyote Valley Campus and failing to build anything in San Benito County? To add insult to injury, the new campus is only 12 miles from an existing Community College while our students are taking a terrible commute.

More than a decade after promising San Benito an Education Center as the priority after the main campus, Gavilan dropped San Benito County to last place admitting that the Ed Center was not going happen in the foreseeable future. Their reasoning? We don’t provide enough local matching funds compared to Santa Clara County.

This is actually part of a shakedown for additional funding; you see we already supplied those matching funds, but Gavilan spent or obligated at least an extra $21 million to the Coyote Valley Campus which was the last priority at the time.

County residents have long known that Gavilan failed to fulfill their promises to build an Education Center in San Benito County with the $108 million in 2004 Measure E bond funds, although they had been happy to get our yes vote in a squeaker of an election.

In June of 2017, Gavilan submitted its new 2019-2023 Five Year Capital Construction Plan. According to the Board minutes, they “identified a change in the priorities on the capital planning list. The plan will list the San Benito County Center as priority 3. This is an annual submission and state priority is based on a percentage of local funding.” [my emphasis]. You see our money can flow to Santa Clara, but none may flow back.

The funding they were referring to was the money spent in Coyote Valley in violation of the Measure E ballot text and Gavilan’s approved Master Facilities Plan. That change received unanimous approval including from the trustees representing San Benito County; where are their priorities?

San Benito County paid its fair share of Measure E bond only to have much of the promised funding diverted to Santa Clara County, one of the wealthiest in the state.

Now Gavilan is preparing to ask you to pay again in November for what you already bought, but did not get and they will offer no iron-clad guarantees that they will not do a repeat performance and also return our share of those diverted funds.

“A fool and his money are soon parted.” Vote for the Gavilan Bond in November without an iron-clad guarantee and you’re the Class A Fool.

Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.