Bid to recall Yuba College trustee begins
Supporters of a try to recall Jim Buchan, president of the Yuba Community College District board, will begin their effort today with a kickoff campaign in Marysville that cites his support for a $30,000 raise for the college chancellor.
"We're ready to start pounding the pavement," Teresa Dorantes-Basile, president of the California School Employees Association at the college district, said Monday. "We need a board that will hold the administration accountable instead of giving out $30,000 raises while cutting classes, cutting faculty and cutting classified, solely adding to our unemployment."
Dorantes-Basile said her union presidency is secondary to her concerns about the impact Buchan is having on the college district.
"I was born and raised here," she said. "I feel like he's depleting the Yuba Community College District as we know it."
Yuba City resident Buchan began as a trustee in 1999. His current term expires in 2012.
"Sometimes on the board," Buchan said Monday, "we have to make unpleasant decisions. We have to, unfortunately, vote to lay off people — classified as well as faculty. And it's not an easy thing."
"I don't like doing it," he continued. "But we have to maintain a fiscally solvent operation. That's probably what people are upset about because we have to do that. But that's how we have to run the college."
"I'm sorry that they're trying to recall me but that's the way it goes," said Buchan, 76. " I feel confident that I'm going to win."
Yuba City resident Ken Calhoun, a retired regional manager for Hunt-Wesson foods, opposes Buchan's recall, praised the trustee and cited Buchan's commitment to the Yuba-Sutter area.
"It's unbelievable what he does for this community," Calhoun said Monday. "He volunteers for anything at any time."
"I could go on for an hour telling you what he does," he said.
Dorantes-Basile, asked about an earlier Buchan statement that the recall election will cost $100,000 if it qualifies for the ballot, said that Buchan can save the six-figure election costs by stepping down.
In any event, she added, the expense "would be the best $100,000" the college district could ever spend.
Recall supporters filed a notice in February with the Sutter County Elections Office of plans to circulate petitions. The four-month period to collect 7,051 valid signatures began March 24, the elections office said.
That recall bid followed college district trustees announcing in January a controversial $29,282 pay increase for Chancellor Nicki Harrington. They rescinded the higher salary last month in a vote preceded by trustee George Nicholau apologizing to the chancellor. Nicholau said that Harrington had not sought the pay increase, which put "you in an environment you never asked for," Nicholau said.
Terms of three other trustees — Alan Flory, Nicholau and Leela Rai — expire this year. Terms of Brent Hastey, Ben Pearson and Xavier Tafoya expire in 2012.
Dorantes-Basile in announcing today's recall event cited Buchan's statement that it was "unfortunate" he couldn't increase the chancellor's pay and that Buchan "made it clear that he will give her that raise given the chance."
"What's 'unfortunate' is that we have a board president that thinks this way," Dorantes-Basile said in a statement Monday. "The board's agenda should be the community's agenda, not the chancellor's."
She said poor fiscal mismanagement and poor planning have meant students driving to Butte and Sierra colleges for classes.
"When students have to drive 40 miles to get a class because Jim Buchan believes that having an abundance of over-paid managers is more important than having teachers to teach classes, we have a problem," Dorantes-Basile added.
The recall kickoff will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Round Table Pizza in Marysville, 202 9th St.
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at 749-4707 or rmccarthy@ appealdemocrat.com.