Southwestern College issued a statement on December 22 that calls for “procedures and protocols…to ensure the integrity of the contract selection process.” The statement continued, “No employee associated with construction or general acquisition shall accept any form of gifts or meals as this may be perceived as a ‘pay for play.’”
Trustees and employees of Southwestern College and the Sweetwater Union High School District became the subjects of a criminal probe by the district attorney’s office this week. The homes of contractors as well as trustees and former trustees were searched.
Though the statement appears to be in response to the raids, the district initiated an “internal audit” last April and former interim superintendent Denise Whittaker put the new protocol in place administratively.
In a December 22 email, boardmember Tim Nader said, “I am confident there will be additional review by our new administrative team to assure appropriate transparency in college contracting.”
When asked if any construction contracts had been cancelled as a result of the audit, Nader answered that the internal audit is not completed and the college plans to release it when it is finished. Regarding the contracts, Nader stated, “No contracts have been rescinded on account of the concerns uncovered thus far. The termination of Echo Pacific contract was for other reasons.…”
Echo Pacific Construction CEO Christopher Rowe was involved in a much-publicized Napa Valley wine-and-golf trip along with Southwestern’s former vice president Nicholas Alioto and former Proposition R program manager Henry Amigable.