8 Washington Reflections and City College Update

Rafael Mandelman

Rafael Mandelman

The November election is finally done, but the reverberations from the sinking of Propositions B and C are surely just beginning to be felt. Certainly, the boosters for the proposed Warriors development could not have been particularly happy to see the 8 Washington project go down.

As former Mayor Art Agnos has been explaining to neighborhood groups and Democratic Clubs across the City, the Warriors project is not just a sports arena; it also includes a 175-foot condominium complex — which is, by the way, taller than 8 Washington would have been, two 105 feet hotel towers and more than 100,000-square-feet of retail space. As Agnos has said, “That’s not a basketball arena. That is a mega real estate project that threatens to build a much bigger wall that blocks the waterfront.”

Only time will tell whether San Franciscans will decide this is a deal they can live with. But by rejecting 8 Washington, the voters have all but ensured three things: 1) the Warriors deal will be put to a popular vote in the near future; 2) the Warriors and City Hall will have to sweeten the deal a good bit to win the votes they will need; and 3) if we do end up with a Warriors arena on the waterfront,
it will be a better project for thevoters having shown their continued willingness to kill a project at the ballot box.

Meanwhile, over at City College…Congresswoman Jackie Speier has been showing up big time. On November 7, she, along with co-hosts Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, San Jose State Senator Jim Beall, and our own Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, convened a town hall in the packed Diego Rivera auditorium at the main campus to shine a bright light on the growing concerns about the Accrediting Commission of Community or Junior Colleges (ACCJC). You may remember the ACCJC is the outfit that, back in July, decided it would be a good idea to announce its intention to terminate City College’s accreditation effective in one year. Most folks in the know seem to believe the College will avoid that fate, but the threat of it has already thrown the institution and its partners in the business and nonprofit communities into a tailspin.

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Speier’s panel included Alisa Messer, the president of the local faculty union, Josh Pechthalt, the head of the California Federation of Teachers, and several faculty leaders from other community colleges around the State. I offered my perspective as a close observer of and, since my election to the College Board last November, a participant in, the City College drama.

The most compelling speaker was the Chancellor of the College of San Mateo, Ron Galatolo, a longtime critic of the ACCJC who has marshaled an impressive set of facts and figures comparing the ACCJC to other national accreditors and showing the unequal and biased treatment it metes out to California community colleges.

“Before delving into this issue I was like everyone else, reading the newspaper, wringing my hands, concerned but not informed,” Speier observed. But after having taken a closer look, she had concluded, “The ACCJC is a travesty . . . an institution run amuck.” Speier pledged, along with Congresswoman Eshoo, to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to talk about what went wrong here, while Senator Beall and Assemblyman Ammiano pledged to pursue State legislation to reform community college accreditation in California. Lots for this suspended City College Trustee to be grateful for on Thanksgiving. Happy Holiday Friends!

Rafael Mandelman was elected to the San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees in 2012. He is a partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP.