Spending gone wild

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The Santa Monica College Board of Trustees demonstrates a disturbing level of cluelessness by asking the citizens of Santa Monica to assume $300 million of Measure AA debt at a time when the financial infrastructure of the United States is imploding on a weekly basis. Ordinary citizens concerned with their employment prospects, retirement prospects, property values, future taxes, insurance costs, etc. are being called upon by SMC’s Board to give, and give generously, for the sake of educating the mass of students from everywhere that they have spent millions soliciting to attend Santa Monica’s one and only community college.

How about if Santa Monicans give the SMC Board $300 so they can buy a clue? It would save a lot of time and money. The board tells Santa Monicans that this is a bond about education. In 2003, the SMC Board of Trustees axed nine vocational education programs, including architecture, geographic information systems, office information systems, respiratory therapy, and venerable automotive technology program. How many of these programs returned to SMC since 2003? Not one! The huge automotive shop on Pico remains idle. What is the board talking about? When did they suddenly become concerned with education?

The Board tells Santa Monicans that the college needs to repair its decaying infrastructure. Why didn’t they repair the buildings with the $295 million in bonds they passed already? Wasn’t the infrastructure decaying when the board took office? Did they just let it continue to decay on the supposition that the community would keep ponying up money for the college? And why do they operate the college and its four satellite campuses without a single plumber or painter on staff.?

What have decayed at SMC are the fiscal responsibility, intelligence, and dedication to public service that once characterized the college. You can’t repair that sort of decadence with money or public relations. It’s a lesson that George Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger are learning. Let’s help teach the SMC Board the same lesson.

You can save your rent money and save your city by saying uh-uh to AA. Perhaps the board will get the message that they are supposed to see to it that your money is spent wisely instead of wildly. Perhaps they’ll get the idea that they’re running a college, not a real estate development company.

Carl Gettleman

20-year employee of Santa Monica College

Academic Computing Department