By the October board meeting, Walker was also feeling heat from board member Tim Caruthers, a local chiropractor. Walker felt strongly enough about it to send Caruthers an e-mail complaining of his "rude" behavior in saying, "I don't have time for you." In a return e-mail Caruthers told Walker that "all you've done is alienate yourself from everyone at this district."
Caruthers then put in a California Public Records Act request for all the messages Walker had sent using the district's e-mail. When Walker learned of it he made a similar request for Caruthers's e-mails. In doing so he discovered, and brought to the attention of the board, that Caruthers had been using the district's e-mail system to advertise his chiropractic services.
Walker tells me of another e-mail exchange last fall, one between Caruthers and geography instructor Tim Cliffe over the way low pay for part-timers makes it difficult for the geography department to staff its classes. The e-mails escalated in inflammatory language and eventually circulated in the computers of the whole Grossmont community. At one point in the exchange, Caruthers wrote of the difference between his being a businessman and Cliffe's role as a publicly paid teacher. "I pay more taxes in six weeks," wrote Caruthers, "than you do in an entire year. You will always be a larger pig slurping off the public trough."
Throughout 2005 Walker, a computer science major, had a part-time job as a Web analyst for Grossmont College. A week before Christmas his boss called him in to explain that district policy forbids someone from being both a board trustee and a college employee. Since Walker needed his job, he resigned from the board. Then the other shoe dropped. Grossmont fired him anyway.
In January, when the Grossmont College community learned what happened to Walker, many members linked it to President Martinez's fate. In some eyes the two have taken on an aspect of martyrdom that is contributing to the ongoing struggle against Suarez and the district board.
Although his perspective may have become skewed by now, Walker does represent a third point of view on the conflict between the faculty and the district administration over Martinez's treatment. Since people at Grossmont think Martinez did a good job during his tenure, I ask Walker why he thinks the district released Martinez. "They wanted the president to stand the faculty down," he says. "Instead he fought for their concerns."
Meanwhile, Walker and Caruthers continued their electronic feuding. The student notified the board member in a February 18 e-mail that he'd discovered yet another website where Caruthers cited his district e-mail in a chiropractic advertisement. In response Caruthers addressed an e-mail back to "Little Ricky," saying, "Your obsession with me is rather endearing. It's as if you have a school girl's crush which is flattering. Let me ask you something. Are you gay?" In his next message, Caruthers writes, "I've grown tiresome of your games. They match your stature." The e-mail is addressed "Little Man." Walker is five foot two.
Now Walker has filed a sexual harassment complaint against Caruthers with the chancellor for California Community Colleges. Walker is also charging that Caruthers retaliated against him by helping to get him fired from his Grossmont College job.
A friend told Walker recently that he should become a board trustee from the community after he graduates next year. "That's too early," he says. "I want to run against Tim Caruthers, whose term expires in 2008."