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On September 27, Southwestern College vice president Nicholas Alioto organized a golf tournament for the Southwestern College Foundation. The tournament raised a great deal of money while utilizing the resources and prestige of the college — which receives funding from state and local taxpayers. This raises the question as to the propriety of the foundation taking large donations and using them for undisclosed purposes.

Earlier this year, people were surprised to learn that the Southwestern College Foundation funds political activities as well as student scholarships. In 2008, the foundation donated $75,000 to pass Proposition R, a bond measure for college construction and reconstruction.

In response to a public-records request in July regarding the foundation’s income and expenditures, the college responded, “Southwestern College Foundation is an independently organized and operated non-profit corporation.” Unlike the district, it is not subject to Public Records Act requests. Though the college provided some audits, details in terms of expenditures were not disclosed.

The program for the September 27 golf tournament contained a personal letter from Southwestern’s Alioto in his capacity as vice president of the college. Other print matter included a registration form offering “sponsorship opportunities.” At the bottom of the form, it’s indicated that people should make the checks out to the foundation — and send them to Alioto at Southwestern College. The tournament was held on a weekday and, according to an insider, six golf carts owned by the college were commandeered off the campus to the San Diego Country Club.

The event was sponsored by many of the companies that attended Alioto’s fundraiser for incumbent boardmembers — companies that have received lucrative contracts from the college. Echo Pacific Construction paid $10,000 for the “Welcome Package”; Seville Construction paid $10,000 to be the shirt sponsor; BCA architecture paid $10,000 to put on the dinner; Swinerton Builders covered the beverages for $7500, and so on. Prior to commencing, the golf tournament had picked up $65,500 in support.

A curious awards sponsor of the golf tournament was MVE Institutional, which does “Architectural, Planning and Interiors for Educational and Institutional Facilities,” according to their website. An advisor to MVE, Serafin Zasueta, was fired as president of the college in 2003. Three years later, he was sentenced in a San Diego court to probation for using school funds in a political campaign.

Walt Justice, a professor of health and athletics at Southwestern College, has organized or been the master of ceremonies for past events. About the golf tournament, Justice said, “No one on campus even knew there was a tournament going on.” Employees and faculty were not invited to the tournament.

Justice is pleased, however, because it is his understanding that $10,000 will come back to the Southwestern Athletic Department in exchange for the athletes who donated their labor to the tournament.

Southwestern College VP Alioto did not respond to numerous phone calls.

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Comments

SouthbayCitizen Oct. 13, 2010 @ 4:14 a.m.

Chopra and Alioto--the two most descpicable carpetbaggers to ever shamelessly portray themselves as public officials in the history of San Diego County. They were invited in to destory Southwestern by board members Yolanda Salcido, Jean Roeche and Tere Valladolid. Godd Riddance to all. Let's vote them out and get our college' dignity restored!!

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a2zresource Oct. 13, 2010 @ 8:27 a.m.

Just in case anybody remembers about it, see if anybody has a copy of NELLIE G. ANDERSON v. SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT FOUNDATION from the 1980s? The SDCCD Foundation walked away with about $10 million in SDCCD income (siphoned from the District's US Navy teaching contracts involving Navy bases in Orlando, Great Lakes and Meridian?)... the lawsuit finally settled and SDCCD got repaid - after the ex-Foundation turned the original $10 million into $40 million and was allowed to keep the remainder...

I don't know if state laws were strengthened after the SDCCDF incident, but it appears that something not used to operating in sunshine has come home to roost at Southwestern College.

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Founder Oct. 13, 2010 @ 9 a.m.

  • $WC Board's Game -

$WC needs new Leadership To fix it's education $LIP

Why vote for more of the $AME Don't be fooled by their old "Game"

$WC's Board is "out of touch" All these stories show just how much

What's important is what Students learn Instead of what Board Members earn

When Voters decide, to kick out the old Guard They will get rid of, lots of $WC LARD

Before you vote, talk to $WC students you know I'm sure they will tell you, the Old Board has to Go

If you are not sure of just who is telling all the lies Why not visit $WC and then see with your own eyes

Why is their Board using the College funds To make money for private Foundations

from http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/np-star/2010/aug/26/rhyme-a-day/#c74457

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Susan Luzzaro Oct. 13, 2010 @ 9:05 a.m.

Interesting point a2zresource. There was a bill this year SB 330 (believe the number is correct) sponsored by California Senator Leland Yee. There have been a number of statewide problems with abuse. The purpose of the bill was to make foundations and "auxiliaries" (like libraries) open their books via the public records act. There was strong bipartisan support but the governor vetoed it.

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Susan Luzzaro Oct. 13, 2010 @ 10:13 a.m.

Pancho and South Bay Citizen, There appear to be many people who agree with you.

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Susan Luzzaro Oct. 13, 2010 @ 10:14 a.m.

Foundrer, surely you had that one in your pocket, ready for the occasion. you didn't just write it ?

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Founder Oct. 13, 2010 @ 10:17 a.m.

Reply #6 I guess he was concerned about protecting most of his Wealthy supporters from jail time!

No Public oversite = Public WA$TE

All large Public Programs should have a randomly chosen Board of Directors!

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Woodchuck Oct. 13, 2010 @ 11:41 a.m.

I guess it must be true that the more you dig, the more dirt you uncover. The line between publicly funded assets and this private, profit enabling foundation has not been blurred- it has been completely obliterated! Walt Justice's comment regarding the payoff of $10,000 to justify using college athlete labor is a good example of the mindset of those involved. The end justifies the means? I don't think so!

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Founder Oct. 13, 2010 @ 2 p.m.

Reply #9 Right On

GREED JU$TIFIES IT$ELF...

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a2zresource Oct. 13, 2010 @ 2:12 p.m.

RE "I guess it must be true that the more you dig, the more dirt you uncover. The line between publicly funded assets and this private, profit enabling foundation has not been blurred- it has been completely obliterated!":

This pretty much sums up a whole basket of examples of questionable public service. North of Southwestern College, we have one of those examples in the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation (SEDC). Nobody really knows what dirt there is to dig because darn near all of it is between the ears of Carolyn Smith, SEDC's deposed former president when she had the power to grant uncounted five-digit consulting contracts without informing the SEDC board of directors. Perhaps a lawsuit for her to get at her previously-denied executive's golden parachute on dismissal may yield valuable details in a future deposition...

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sezwho Oct. 13, 2010 @ 3:06 p.m.

So apparently Gordon Gekko, (of Greed is Good fame) is alive and well and living in a condo provided by SWC somewhere? Anywhere but Chula Vista I suppose!

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sezwho Oct. 13, 2010 @ 3:20 p.m.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a choice for trustee that ISN'T either influenced by the labor hacks or the developer - get rich quick and often crowd? But until one of you "normal" people decide to run I guess we are again to pick between Satan or the Devil? Maybe Charlie Danials would sing for us--(loosly based on the Devil Went Down to Georiga)

The Devil went down to Chula Vista He was looking for a school to steal He was in a bind, way behind, willing to make a deal ... The Devil jumped up on a lemon tree stump and said"I guess you didn't know it but I am an administr4ator too And if you'd care to take a dare I'll make a bet with you now you play a sleezy president pretty well but give the Devil his due I'll bet this condo of gold against your soul I think I'm better than you

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Founder Oct. 13, 2010 @ 4:55 p.m.

RE: #12 & #13 Welcome!

Your comments were music to my ears! Please invite your friends...

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longtimefacultydisgusted Oct. 14, 2010 @ 6:09 a.m.

For many years I had had money deducted for the Foundation from my paycheck every month, even was persuaded to increase it a few years ago, because I believed the money went to student scholarships. Earlier this year the Foundation held a Gala which I planned to attend as I have in the past, but they obviously did not want faculty there. When I asked about tickets, I was told they were all sold. A member of the Counseling faculty said she went to take pictures and was treated badly. Wondering if the true reason for the Gala was to foster relations between the administration/Governing Board and developers/vendors, I cancelled all contributions to the Foundation. If you are still contributing to them, you might want to reconsider.

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Celticmom Oct. 14, 2010 @ 7:53 a.m.

The District and Board feel they have the power to do anything they want, and they did for a long time. Fortunately, there was one person who decided to ask why and take the time to dig deep. Now is the time to see what is really happening at SWC and do something about it. Moral is the lowest that I have seen in the many years I have worked there. The family atmosphere that was present when I started is gone and replaced by a "watch your back" atmosphere instead. SAD!

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Founder Oct. 14, 2010 @ 8:23 a.m.

Reply #15 Your comment make great sense, nobody likes to be RIPPED OFF!

I bet you are not the only $WC employee that was given to believe that your deduction was for "educational" rather than $WC's "PR" purposes.

I also wonder how many others that are still making those monthly payroll deductions were, like you, shocked that the reason for the funds was actually being misrepresented by SWC.

Any idea how many are making deductions and or the estimated total amount given?

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andrewj Oct. 14, 2010 @ 8:41 a.m.

This was the headline of the student paper less than a year ago, sounds like more of the same...

"Students, staff, faculty protest a 'Culture of Fear'"

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Founder Oct. 14, 2010 @ 8:42 a.m.

Reply #16 When moral goes down, then the "Educational Freedom" that College Professors enjoy, gets crushed by the fear of being replaced if one speaks out "Truthfully" about what they believe.

This "Freedom of Speech" has been a long enjoyed benefit of teaching and to think the the $WC Board is the cause only serves to highlight the enormity of $WC's educational and administrative problems!

What a flawed message to instill to students, it's no wonder that $WC has not regained it's accreditation, under the current Board!

I hope you are not the only $WC employee to have the "guts" to speak out; the voters need to be told the truth instead of more "feel good fluff" produced by $WC Board's high paid Professional $PIN media consultants Focuscom!

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Founder Oct. 14, 2010 @ 9:14 a.m.

  • Culture of Fear -

Reply #18 To me that sound just mean

Promotion of a "Culture of Fear" Is against everything I hold Dear

A whole school year ago Tell me it is not so

What an huge educational waste $WC's Board leaves me with distaste

The question now is just what to do I wonder if anyone will sue

Now is the time for all of the Students to speak out And turn the Boards re-election plans into a rout

The Faculty and Staff need to get to out from under the College Boards yoke Educating students for the future should not be made into a joke

Tell every voter you all know This old College Board has to go

from http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/np-star/2010/aug/26/rhyme-a-day/#c74568

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joepublic Oct. 14, 2010 @ 9:23 a.m.

While some may be critical of organized labor, it is important to point out that a worker's fist line of defense of their rights such as freedom of speech and a workplace without fear of reprisal, is their union. Like with any organization, the leadership must be kept in check by its rank and file, but without unions, workers are subject to the whims of administrators like we have at Southwestern College.

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southbayresident Oct. 14, 2010 @ 11:45 a.m.

I am a faculty member and I used to contribute to the SWC Foundation as well (I hope they're not still deducting money from my check!) They were always generous in supporting student activities (we could apply for grants to help cover the cost of class trips, for example), and they also donated money to a scholarship board that I sit on (100% of the money raised went directly to student scholarships, we have no paid staff). I think it was 2 years ago (it was after Chopra arrived) that the Foundation stopped offering this support, we were told they had no money (the economy hit everyone hard of course), and it essentially disappeared. The next I heard was that they were approaching people to sit on the "new" board for the SWC Foundation trying to get it started agaig. Then there was a fundraising dinner last year that raised a lot of money (I think in the neighborhood of $300,000), and now this tournament.

I wish someone could investigate this: did this administration really disband a truly community-minded, philanthropic organization that was dedicated to the betterment of SWC students, only to reorganize it in a major election year -- after a huge bond was passed -- in order to solicit donations from companies bidding for construction money? And now The Reader tells us they are funding political ads?? For incumbent SWC Board members, I'm sure.... REALLY?!?!

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Founder Oct. 14, 2010 @ 12:40 p.m.

Reply #21 You are Right On.

Both Unions and Administrations can be flawed...

Greed is found everywhere!

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Founder Oct. 14, 2010 @ 12:45 p.m.

Reply #22 RE: "I am a faculty member and I used to contribute to the SWC Foundation as well (I hope they're not still deducting money from my check!)"

I think it's high time that you and your coworkers do some advanced research and find out what's up with your payroll deductions!

No one expects Faculty or Staff to work for free but everyone should know what is being "taken" from their paychecks and if there are questions about any of the deductions you should ask your tax person and or HR...

Please let us know what you discover!

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Founder Oct. 14, 2010 @ 12:51 p.m.

I really like to hear form some of the $WC students, I'm kind of surprised that large numbers of them are not up in arms and blogging about how the administration is treating their school newspaper and restricting who can attend what events!

Perhaps they have another venue; if that is the case, perhaps someone can post a link or tell those of us that are interested in Educational Freedom at $WC

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Susan Luzzaro Oct. 14, 2010 @ 4 p.m.

Celticmom, In a "watch your back atmosphere" it takes a brave woman to even comment.

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Founder Oct. 14, 2010 @ 4:40 p.m.

Reply #26 Ditto

History has other examples of brave women that have been HERO's and now serve as role models; I'm sure that there are many others at SWC that realize that now is the time to speak out and support change...

Encourage your peers to join you as there is safety in numbers and the public needs to hear from those involved about what is "really" happening at SWC.

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a2zresource Oct. 14, 2010 @ 10:27 p.m.

As a City College student president during AB 1725 implementation in the late 1980s, I was properly inculcated in shared governance, and I insured there were students seated at the College Executive Council along with the deans and faculty senate president, and on numerous college and district master planning, accreditation and other policy-setting committees. Through our participation in California's Students Association of Community Colleges, we even had access to policy-making in Sacramento, where it was a good year for me if I could save California community college students tens of million in fees not being passed by the legislature by getting an enrollment fee increase killed in a state education subcommittee.

My understanding of things now is that the Community College League of California has totally phased out student participation in college governance, in favor only of community college governing boards and campus faculty senates.

Not just students but all taxpayers should demand that our community colleges prepare students to fully participate in society, even to help make decisions relating to campus governance. Otherwise, we end up with institutions that do not obey the law because they ignore students who point out the law. This is a damn poor thing to be teaching community college students, especially at a campus like Southwestern College where so many students are the first in their families to go to college as an entry into the middle class.

If we don't train honest educated leaders in our own tax-funded community colleges, then we continue to get the kind of California governance as it exists now.

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emmitsmith Oct. 14, 2010 @ 11:01 p.m.

Wow! You've got to be kidding me! Who is Alioto working for? The college or the construction companies? There are such blurred lines here I am sure the payroll lists get blurred, too. How much of that money is landing in his pocket?

And how about Chopra? Tonight he is hosting a fundraiser for Salcido with even more money coming from the construction companies - $10K alone from Seville, the company overseeing the bond monies. So let me see if I have got this right, the board gives a raise to Chopra, a housing allowance, which no other Sup/pres has ever received, and let him live in a high rise downtown outside of the district, and give him a car allowance and pocket change to boot? Perhaps he is also involved in "pay-for-play" as he must give back to the master that feeds him. Word on the street is that the board is fixin' to give Chopra another raise if they lose the election so that the new board will be stuck with him or they will have to spend more money on getting rid of him rather than on the students.

Despicable! What a farce that the board passed a Code of Ethics policy last night!

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Founder Oct. 15, 2010 @ 7:43 a.m.

Reply #28 Great Post!

  1. You served your student body well and now you are able to "help" educate others; that is what good education is all about!

2 Students on all School Boards needs to be a State mandated requirement, and I'd suggest that one of them be randomly chosen to keep everyone on their toes...!

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Founder Oct. 15, 2010 @ 7:50 a.m.

Reply #29 Welcome to the ongoing story (public disclosure) of $WC's Board excesses!

Your statement says it all, very well:

"Despicable! What a farce that the board passed a Code of Ethics policy last night!"...

If the voters don't wake up before the election and get "educated" about how their tax money is being RIPPED OFF then it will be time for attorneys to get involved because of the "waste" of public money...

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Susan Luzzaro Oct. 15, 2010 @ 8:42 a.m.

EmmitSmith, I wonder if the code of ethics included ameliorating the kind of culture that is said to exist on campus?

I made a public records request on September 24...SWC tells me the bulk of it will be ready Nov 1. Coincidence?

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Founder Oct. 15, 2010 @ 10:21 a.m.

Reply #32 I think $WC is saying that if "they" win you'll get a very watered down version of what you wanted and if "they" lose, they'll then decide what to send you!

I think $WC needs huge amounts of "ameliorating*", if there is any hope of getting $WC back on track!

  • BTW: Perfect Word Choice (From my Mac) ameliorate |əˈmēlyəˌrāt; əˈmēlēə-| verb [ trans. ] make (something bad or unsatisfactory) better : the reform did much to ameliorate living standards.
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Susan Luzzaro Oct. 15, 2010 @ 11:41 a.m.

South Bay Resident, I didn't know about campus funding from the Foundation that had been discontinued. That's more than unfortunate. I think it is time to find out exactly who is on the Foundation Board. It's on the District website but it's unclear if it's been updated. Thanks, Susan

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Susan Luzzaro Oct. 16, 2010 @ 9:48 a.m.

A2aresource, Don't know if your still around. I don't know the level of student participation at the state level. The student newspaper, the Southwestern Sun, has been embattled lately, almost was not able to go to print this issue. I tried to send a link, but perhaps it's not on line yet. The lead article this issue is "Student leaders deny endorsing Salcido." The first sentence is worth typing out "Southwestern College's top two elected student leaders said governing board candidate Yolanda Salcido misled them into taking photos with her and then used them without their permission on a campaign mailer and her website."

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emmitsmith Oct. 17, 2010 @ 5:55 p.m.

31

I attended a forum in which Board President Salcido minimized the GB's duties to passing policies. It is clear that she doesn't understand that once passed, you must also follow them. Amazing that she has been in office for 8 years and still doesn't know her role as a Board member.

32

I'm not surprised that you have not received what you have requested in a timely fashion. The teacher's union pres asked for public records on Sept. 8. On the 24th he received a note from the VP of HR saying he had just gotten the request from the Truth Bender. I'm not sure if he has received what he requested yet.

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Founder Oct. 17, 2010 @ 7:46 p.m.

Reply #36 RE: #32

If these Board Members are not doing their job why has not someone or group called them to task? Is the reason that everyone is scared for their jobs and if so do they all think that by "knuckling under" that things will get better?

Wake Up all $WC employees, get active ASAP or get what you deserve by remaining silent (i.e. just like all those that "did not want to get involved" when Hitler started his rein or Terror...); now is the time to come to the aid of your College and promote for Educational Excellence & Freedom, not hide behind phony aloof arrogance!

Ask your Union Rep.'s what they are doing with all your "DUE$ and why have they also stood by while the Board has run amuck? What part are they playing in this mess?

Please let US know what going on and what each of you are doing to make SWC the College tit can be!

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swcfpresident Nov. 20, 2010 @ 8:06 p.m.

I have sent a response to the Editor but it has not been published. I felt it is important to make the truth known.

It is interesting that the principal source in the story, Adela Garcia, was the Foundation President in 2008 who voted for Prop R expenditures both times. As she knows, these were one-time, not annual costs.

In reality, the Southwestern College Foundation spends more on scholarships and student-related activities than construction. When taking the Prop R expenses into consideration, the ratio of scholarships, student programs and charitable giving to the 2008 budget is 76%.

On an annual basis, the Foundation supports the Student of Distinction Awards, the premier awards program to academically worthy students. It also supports the Athletics, Math, Science & Engineering, Literature, Dental Hygiene, Social Science departments as well as the Sun newspaper, among others.

As Ms. Garcia knows, the Foundation sees the College’s physical plan translating into more classes and better services to our community including valuable jobs and internships for our students. The corner lot project will also create hundreds of new jobs.

Moreover, Prop R is funding more than the corner lot. It includes more energy-efficient classrooms and science lab renovations, reducing the College’s utility bill.

We take our students and their accomplishments very seriously, and will continue to support their educational endeavors.

J.R. Chantengco President, Southwestern College Foundation

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 21, 2010 @ 9:21 a.m.

Mr. Chantengco, someone has brought to my attention the fact that you have belatedly commented on this article. While I thank you for your interest, you are responding to the wrong paper, wrong article and wrong author...I believe that should clear up for you why the editor of this paper did not print your letter. There is no Adela Garcia referenced in this article. The article to which you are referring was published in the UT on November 4 by Tanya Sierra. Sierra also wrote an excellent article about the Foundation spending money to send Vice President Alioto to Napa Valley for wine tasting and golf with some of the contractors who are working on Proposition R.

I hope this response was helpful. Sincerely, Susan Luzzaro

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