johndewey Feb. 21, 2013 @ 1:35 p.m.

It's beginning to appear that maybe we weren't duped by Prop 30 after all, but let down by the college administration's misplaced priorities and the mispending of the monies generated. Same problem in Sweetwater.


Southwestern College may trim faculty to reduce costs

Teachers’ group resolves to fight

The threat of pink slips has reared its head at Southwestern Community College District for the first time since l987. Only a few months ago, when voters passed Proposition 30, a tax to fund K-12 ...

Nickdanny Feb. 21, 2013 @ 1:11 p.m.

Eastlaker, it is a little bit more sinister than that. Administrators will take a cut but this is how it gets nasty: 1. Nish hires in at the highest salary ever given to a Southwestern College President--this is done in the middle of the worst budget crisis in the State of California (2012). Mind you she does not even have a day of experience as a college president. Amazing, this Board hires a person in the worst crisis the State has faced and she doesn't even have any experience. 2. Two months into the job Nish demands that the Board give all her VPs a $24,000 raise, in the middle of the worst budget crisis in the State (see the theme here). She explains that the pool for the VPs she is trying to hire for her "dream Team" is bad and as other colleges pay VPs better (this is how "data driven" decisions are made with this Board), she wants a $24,000 raise for each. This Board votes yes! Did I say it was the worst budget crisis...Then they hire the VPs and at least two out of three of the hires were applicants that had applied for the job before the raise was in place. 3. A month later Nish demands that all employees take a 5% cut, and the unions, particularly the SCEA guy (who is now a Dean at Mesa---hmmmm) press faculty to take the cut. Read Mahler's response to that action in this article. Nish justifies this by saying that her VPs will take a 5% cut too, so it is fair. Give me a $24,000 raise and I will take a 5% cut anyday. 4. Several months later, under an administration hiring freeze, Nish demands that the Board approve an administration position and receives a Board override of the freeze. 5. Nish has hired a number of "consultants" this past year (employees who serve at her whim, and who undergo no hiring committee process in place for employees at the campus). She hates having to negotiate with the employees so much, that she surrounds herself with consultants, and bribed VPs. 6. One of Nish's VP hires (Mr. Human Resources--what a laugh that is) has no community college experience (he comes from an elementary school District up north) but he has a history, through his "consulting" firm, of knuckle crunching on unions during District negotiations.

Are you getting the picture?


Nickdanny Feb. 21, 2013 @ 9:54 p.m.

Nish's rush to this is also an interesting tactic. For the past several years we have negotiated from a Big Table with all unions and associations at the table and all budget information on the table, close to transparent. This past year she and the Board have eliminated the Big Table, separated the unions and associations, and pitted them against one another. Faculty know this is another of her intimidation techniques, mastered by Ramon the VP of Inhuman Resources at the college. Faculty have refused to fall into this absolute backward move in negotiations. She is in a tizzy over this fact. She intends to knuckle fist the faculty into taking what other units have, and she is gritting her teeth over this process.

In her new budget missive sent out today, she even admits that we will be receiving a 1.6 cola increase (a conservative estimate) in the coming year, the biggest since 2007. She also knows she does not need to send her final budget forward until September, she is mean not stupid. She knows she can dismantle Otay Mesa Center over the summer and move those programs to National City or the main campus over those three months if the Center funding does not come through. Heck SWC has made bigger moves in shorter periods of time. Most people think the Otay Center should have been dismantled years ago, it is like a ghost town during the day. She is a real estate broker (for reals), for heaven's sake, ply your trade, rent the place out and plan to sell in the long run. There is a huge chunk of cash in that albatross. But no, we will give out pink slips, claim all else is impossible, while we cut classes and services to students so Otay can stay open. This is a value system that does not reflect the mission of an educational institution.

And she has still not given an accounting of what she did with the 5% of our salary she took this year. If 88% of our budget goes to salaries and she got a 5% cut of that, where did it go? VP salaries? New Admin? Consultants? Not to students, and not to the faculty and staff who serve them. No, to these folks she gives pink slips.


anniej Feb. 21, 2013 @ 11:21 p.m.

How is the Governors new decision regarding ADULT ED going to effect SWC?

No doubt Nish did not take kindly to being disrespected by Ed Brand of Sweetwater attempting to take SWC students away via Grand Canyon University.

The Adult Ed program was long touted as the best of the best - then Brand and 'the gandara' discovered the funds and began trimming, and trimming, and trimming.

Would be interested in all of your opinions on this.

I would think sooooo much more could be accomplished at SUHSD and SWC if ONLY those in power would take a different approach - I agree that all partners should share in the sacrifice, but it appears that teachers and other employees appear to be doing the only sacrificing.

Let us not forget Ed Brands new contract - extremely rich, yet we are constantly being told WE ARE BROKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Nickdanny Feb. 26, 2013 @ 7:13 p.m.

This just all seems like a look backward. A highly driven, self vested President of a college (Southwestern College in this case) circumvents all the processes on campus in order to achieve their agenda. The skills and talents of in-house staff, administrators and faculty are overlooked and tons of money that could be used for classes, student support programs and budget reductions is throw at these LLCs.

It is as if these administrators create little "camps" in these colleges and pat each other on the back with contracts and pay outs. Two of them, Brahmbhatt and Praham are even rejects from Nish's old college (Coast) and she hires them without ever thinking that people on this campus actually have the talents to do the work. She has no clue. Except of course for announcing "pink slips." When questioned about what she is saying she simply ignores people or answers with information that is completely off track. Nish is arrogant, and believes that she does not have to answer to anyone.

Watching the last Board meeting, it seemed that the Board takes whatever this little clump of "consultants," new hire administrators and a newbie President say without regard to the historical reality of the college; the reality that it is the students and employees who are the real truth tellers at Southwestern College.


Nickdanny Feb. 27, 2013 @ 9:51 p.m.

Looking over the original language for the ballot measure for Prop R and what is now happening to that money should be of great concern. The Educational Facilities Plan, which is driven by a document that lacks real data to justify its direction (The Educational Master Plan that Cambridge West has also developed), is grossly excessive and not in line with Prop R language. It calls for $600 million in "improvements," and calls for the destruction of the Student Center (which is only 12 years old), the Student Services bldg. (which was just completely remodeled a decade ago) to build a big amphitheatre in the center of campus--this is not "updating outdated facilities" it is wasting taxpayers money. Also, the parameter road, which we just finished on campus is now to be trashed and a new "ring road" that circles the campus is on the plan (justified by the statement "so students do not have to cross the street to get to campus")! Extraordinary!

Prop R language clearly includes funding for investment in "water recycling" facilities and "energy reduction projects (solar, etc.)." When asked about this by one of our students the Facilities Team (Cambridge) could not answer why this was not integrated into their planning. This is long term savings in terms of energy efficiency. Appalling! Then there is a discussion of building dormitories (for international students), and this is most certainly not an appropriate use of the Bond money--which is to improve existing facilities for home based student learners. And this Governing Board just lays back and acts like this is appropriate because someone like C. Brahmbhatt says so. This is Alioto and Chopra all over again.

Southwestern College under Nish and some members of this Board seem to be quite happy to create a construction industry version of "Extraordinary Desserts" with the community's money.

Improve our facilities, follow the original language (it is interesting how the original language of the ballot measure, which was voted on, has now morphed into this monster) that is what the taxpayers want. And where are they planning on getting the at least 250 billion in additional funds to execute this new Facilities Plan? Yet another Bond in a couple of years?


Nickdanny March 1, 2013 @ 10:56 p.m.

Now a governing board member, William Stewart, has resigned from the Board citing SWC administrations' failure to be transparent in their information to the Board and asking the Board to do pink slips without adequate time to analyze budget data.

Why does the college continue to conceal information from the public and why does the current Board act like they are Nish's employee instead of the other way around? Disgusting!


Nickdanny March 2, 2013 @ 4:53 p.m.

Mr. Stewart was one of the strongest advocates for Board transparency and administrative accountability at Southwestern College. One of our community's most admired Board member, Nick Aguilar, spent several years trying to combat these very issues and did so at the cost of his health and reputation. Who wants to put a good person through that?

Here we have 15 people on trial down the street for making decisions in just such an environment, we have people inside the campus on pins and needles (the way Nish likes them) because they do not know if they will even have a job in July, and the new Facilities Master Plan is just a fast track for Nish and her consultant/construction friends to fill their wallets with, how could Stewart remain in an environment where he cannot even challenge some of this because he cannot get good numbers?

I guess what will be interesting now is how the current Board and administration attempt to discredit former Trustee Stewart to gain political traction. From his own comments it is clear that deciding important issues concerning jobs (pink slips"), resource allocations and Prop R funding without adequate access to information was not something, under the current leadership, he could do for the folks that elected him.

And this Board? Take money from the community to elect them and then become the Board the community had to eject in 2010. Who are these people?

As a community member I hope that this Board does not even try to appoint one of their little click to the Board. This should go to a special election. There is going to be a special election in June anyway, for the 79th California Assembly District.


Southwestern College trustee resigns in protest

“Another of many sad days”

The latest at Southwestern College is the sudden resignation of trustee William Stewart, who gave an exclusive interview to the student newspaper, the Sun, on March 1. He told news editor Thomas Baker that he ...

Nickdanny March 2, 2013 @ 5:06 p.m.

Someone just sent this to me, it is Nish's dissertation abstract (from December 2012). Goodness I guess her administrative "leadership" is not an accidental process. She spent several years researching how to isolate opposition and force them out of an institution. And her use of the term "organizational values" are really nothing more than "her values."

Realigning: A grounded theory of academic workplace conflict (posted Dec. 13, 2012). Melinda Nish Ed.D

This is a grounded theory that explains conflict in the academic workplace. The core variable is realigning, which is a basic social process that individuals experience in social organizations, such as workplaces. Realigning is the process by which certain behaviors are employed to bring individuals back in alignment with the system’s core values or to realign individuals to a change in the organization’s core values. The aim of realigning behaviors is to diminish the impact of the individual who is perceived as not being in alignment and include actions to erode, isolate, and separate that individual. Therefore, realigning may include removing an individual from the organization. The theory explains the conditions, stages, and processes in which realigning occurs. The primary condition of social organizations is existence of core values at the organizational level. Organizational core values determine the context in which conflict arises. Conflict in terms of core values leads to the stages of the realigning process. The four primary stages and processes are presented here as changing tides, countering, justifying, and, resolving. The significance of this theory is that it is centered in the concept of organizational values, which provides a holistic understanding of workplace conflict rather than looking only at individual behaviors. The theory presents a framework within which to understand how conflict arises, the purpose of conflict, the forms conflict takes, and the consequences of conflict.

P.S. I am stunned. This is the President at Southwestern College, oh my.


johndewey March 2, 2013 @ 5:34 p.m.

Nickdanny writes: "She (Nish) spent several years researching how to isolate opposition and force them out of an institution." Hmmm, this sounds very familiar.


oskidoll March 2, 2013 @ 6:16 p.m.

It appears that Ms. Nish is afflicted with what some call the 'first-time president's syndrome' wherein he/she loses sight that they are new at the job and think they rule by fiat. These first-time presidents believe they must control all or be seen as incompetent. However, if they were wiser, they would understand that they should seek wise counsel in order to survive.

Another first-time president who failed to understand this was Serafin Zasueta, who came into the job and immediately became King. He trashed any semblance of humility and ordered everyone about. We know what became of him after he authorized spending public (college) funds illegally on a bond campaign. The really telling point is that he lost it all for a mere $6,000, when he might have personally come up with that amount to settle the debt and not put the college at risk. So goes it!!!!!

Now Ms. Nish forgets that she does not know everything, and should not expect that of herself. Instead, she should humbly and politely seek assistance from those in her employ who have some useful skills. It is regrettable that she does not 'get it'.

Further, the Board of Trustees should insist that she provide ample and verified documentation for actions she proposes. They are ultimatley responsible to the public.


anniej March 2, 2013 @ 5:08 p.m.

Many believed Ms. Nish was the answer to turning things around for the better.

Wow, what a disappointment. Surely if she TRULY cared this would NOT be the story we are reading.

Ms. Nish, those that fought so hard to bring about change are not liking what we are hearing. You were charged with fixing what was broken, not making matters worse. You did NOT fix the alleged corruption, the community along with the DA did.

So let me ask you WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR THE STUDENTS, EMPLOYEES, and TAXPAYERS? We know what you have done for some - give them raises - but what about those that feed the pocket books of the few, what are you doing for them? It appears FIRING THEM, and that is not acceptable!!!!!


anniej March 2, 2013 @ 5:15 p.m.

Nickdanny- time for CAMPAIGN DONATION LIMITATIONS, Your by laws regarding this issue are as bad as Sweetwaters.

THE TIME IS NOW, do what Maty Adato is fighting to do, bring respectability back to the voting process of the South Bay. CHANGE THE BY LAWS.

Ms. Nish, is poking a tiger - it is time for the tiger to roar and bring about change. It is important to comment, but words are simply that, until and unless action accompanies the words.


eastlaker March 2, 2013 @ 4:06 p.m.

The resignation of William Stewart should send a clear message to everyone that there are systemic and pervasive problems--still--at SWC.

How to solve the problems, or at least begin to solve the problems? Get accurate financial data out to the board members and the public.

Stop hiring expensive consultants whose only ideas are utterly bizarre and extremely wasteful. Tearing down all the buildings in the center of campus in order to build an amphitheater? Are you joking? What sort of delusions are these people operating under?

I know that reasonable people exist. I know that there are reasonable people who care about Southwestern College. I know that those reasonable people would do a far better job at managing, administrating and planning for the future than what is being done now.

It is just that reasonable people are not getting a chance to do their job.

As a community, we need to rise up and give a strong message that we will not tolerate fevered schemes where public funds and education are concerned.

Fevered schemes are entertaining in a screenplay, but we need meaningful allottment of funds in a reasonable and orderly fashion in order to build for the future.

All those who wish to continue their delusions, whether they are of grandeur or of any other sort, should do so on their own time and dime, not the public's.

What was Ms. Nish thinking when she hired consultants for outrageous fees?

Just in case anyone is in doubt--public education in Chula Vista and its surrounding area is in trouble, and it won't get any better until those "in charge" come clean about all the financials...and the public's input is valued and listened to. We care about our schools, we care about the taxes and bond monies that we pay. We care about good people such as Mr. Stewart who want to do a good job and carry out the public trust, but who are saboutaged.

Ms. Nish, you are a disgrace.


johndewey March 3, 2013 @ 11:46 a.m.

Sjtorres: Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions. An important link between working conditions and productivity has long been established. Let's hope the teachers' union continues to work hard for both working conditions and thus student achievement. By the way,  instead of attaching negative labels to people, why not comment on Ms Nish's dissertation abstract? Also, your name calling diminishes any chance you might have to convince anyone of your ideas or positions. 


eastlaker March 3, 2013 @ 11:11 a.m.

The type of 'leadership' described and delineated in Nish's thesis seems rather similar to the Nazi seizure of power to me. Separation, marginalization, elimination...

I really don't think that those tactics are warranted, ethical or appropriate. So was she hired with this sort of thing in mind? Rather omenous, if so.

It is time to take a stand against the marauders who come dressed as educators, yet for whom education is only a means to line their pockets. Or a means to power. Sickening.


cvres March 3, 2013 @ 10:20 a.m.

...The aim of realigning behaviors is to diminish the impact of the individual who is perceived as not being in alignment and include actions to erode, isolate, and separate that individual. Therefore, realigning may include removing an individual from the organization."

I am very surprised to hear this language was in Nish's thesis. Many of us hoped she would bring campus peace. This excerpt sounds like someone who was brought in intentionally to impose order and austerity.

Do hiring committees or boards look at dissertations?


Nickdanny March 4, 2013 @ 11:47 a.m.

WTFEd, I had the same questions. So, I did a little research. Stewart is a father of two children, who will be graduating from high school in the near future, and he has a home in Bonita. He pays taxes, has been successfull as a businessman (in real estate) and is an respected college professor at City College. He developed the Honors Program at City College, which has sent a number of students forward to prestiges universities. He is not a career politician nor has he been particularly involved in teacher union politics. He and his wife developed an arts outreach program for students in the San Diego area. This guy is the real deal!

On the other hand, the other Board members seem much less attractive. Peraza is a politician, who has run in previous campaigns and lost. He does consulting work on various contracts, including construction consulting work (yikes). He was an assistant to Filner but somehow that went nowhere. Community members mentioned that they had helped him get the appointment in August 2011, including heavy coaching on his interview questions.

Hernandez has a degree in counseling, was a Dean at the college, then a VP in student support. She applied for the college presidency in 2003 but the campus wide hiring committee listed her below the top ten candidates. However,the Board at the time ignored the hiring committee and rejected over a dozen other better qualified candidates and gave it to Hernandez, over the protest of campus continents. In 2006, she resigned in protest, supposedly because the then Board hired a VP, who was one of the top three candidates selected by the hiring committee but not Hernandez's choice, and she felt that they were usurping her power. How ironic! She is selected over the head of the official hiring committee to be president, and resigns when the Board selects a top VP candidate that is not her pick. Seems that her fight for the Board was a grudge match against the previous mess, Salcido. After Hernandez's win she just sides with the president and still identifies with that position. This I learned from a number sources and they were all consistent.

One of the other Board members has been on the Board since the late 1990s, and the Board has undergone three grand jury investigations on her watch. Community members say that she mouths the same stuff she has for ten years; "We must just support what the President says" (zasueta, chopra, nish--fill in the blank). Two of the three Presidents listed have been indicted in the past decade. Seems a Board like that could just phone it in.

Stewart actually looks like the best candidate among them and took his task seriously.


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