City College race
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Gay attorney Rafael Mandelman has entered the race for the San Francisco Community College District Board of Trustees, amid concerns that its multi-campus City College of San Francisco may have to close.
City College is an important institution, "and it's under threat," Mandelman said when asked why he's running. "Many of the things I care about are at issue there," he said, including educational and job training opportunities.
The college's future as an accredited community college, the largest of all accredited community colleges in California with about 90,000 students, has been in question since early June, after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges issued a blistering report saying CCSF would need to "show cause why its accreditation should not be terminated" by October 15, according to a report sent to interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher in July, or lose its accreditation. That's a loss that many fear could close CCSF's doors for good.
The report, highlighting that City College is poorly run, aimed to have the school meet a few of the eligibility requirements for state accredited colleges. Among them, to document a funding base and plan for how to bring in future financial resources, conduct audits, and bring in an administrative staff with "appropriate experience to support necessary services for an institution of its size, mission, and purpose," the ACCJC report said.
Mandelman, 38, is one of 12 people listed on the potential local candidate roster as running for four seats on the board in the November 6 election. Incumbents Natalie Berg, Chris Jackson, Milton Marks, and Steve Ngo are also on the list. Lawrence Wong, the college board's only openly gay trustee, remains on the seven-member panel. His seat isn't up until 2014. Mandelman pulled papers last Tuesday, July 31. The filing deadline is Friday, August 10.
Mandelman, a past president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and current member of the local Democratic County Central Committee, already serves on the college district board's Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee, to which he was appointed earlier this year. He ran for the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors in 2010 but came in second to Scott Wiener.
Among other qualities, the college board needs someone "who can bring the various and sometimes opposing constituencies at the college together to try to get through the crisis," Mandelman said.
According to the ACCJC report, salaries and benefits remain above 92 percent of CCSF's unrestricted general fund expenditures. Mandelman said that figure "is too high," but school officials have been trying "to keep as much of the institution going as they can, and largely that means investing in the people running the institution."
Mandelman was one of many speakers at a town hall meeting held last month to discuss the problems at City College.