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    City College Accredited, Resisting Trump, and Maintaining Progressive Values

    1-Photo-Columnist-Mandelman_Rafael_housesZ (1)By Rafael Mandelman

    Open and Accredited, For Seven Years!

    City College is accredited for the next seven years! After a four-year battle with the Accrediting Commission for Junior and Community Colleges that brought both institutions to the brink of extinction, the Commission announced on January 13 that it would be re-accrediting City College for seven years, the longest possible term.

    At a press conference in the Diego Rivera auditorium on the afternoon of the announcement, I thanked a litany of people who had championed City College’s cause, but the greatest applause from the audience came for our City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who early on recognized the injustice and insanity of the ACCJC’s decision to terminate the College’s accreditation and set a team of extraordinary lawyers in his office to work on a lawsuit to prevent that from happening.

    Herrera was criticized by the Chronicle and others when he first filed the suit, but in retrospect it is clear that Herrera understood a basic truth that too many missed: when a bully in a position of power is trying to do unreasonable and harmful things, the appropriate response is not acquiescence, but resistance.

    The Resistance

    Speaking of bullies in power, how on earth are we going to survive another four (or heaven forefend, eight) years of Donald Trump? The great Jon Stewart, appearing recently on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, observed that Trump is “exhausting. The presidency, quipped Stewart, is supposed to age the president, not the American people.

    But Trump is exhausting, and we blue-leaning Americans are angry, depressed and just plain stressed out. Only time will tell whether our marching, protesting and other expressions of resistance will help save the Republic, but I am pretty certain they are helping save our sanity.

    My spirits were particularly buoyed by the Women’s Marches on January 21, and the semi-spontaneous turn-out at SFO and other airports across the country the weekend following Trump’s awful executive orders on immigration. Those moments when great masses of decent people have turned out to stand up for our American values have been inspiring, and even hopeful.

    Of Unity and Progressive Change

    The Examiner’s Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez had some interesting ruminations in a recent column on Mayor Lee’s calls for unity in his January 26 State of the City speech. We need to ask ourselves, the Mayor said, “if division at home makes us more vulnerable to attacks from outside.” To Rodriguez, “it sounded like the same old call to stifle any disagreements, but on steroids.” I was at the same event, and the Mayor’s call for unity rang oddly aggressively in my ears as well. During the same speech, the Mayor singled out a number of Supervisors by name for praise, but those Supervisors invariably hailed from the more conservative wing of the Board, with whom the Mayor has allied himself.  So much for unity.

    The election of Donald J. Trump has not erased the real differences among Democrats locally, any more than it has erased the differences among Democrats nationally. And the notion that it is in the public interest for San Franciscans to stop pushing for Free City College, Airbnb reform, a fairer system of local taxation or more affordable housing is spurious. To the contrary, from Healthy San Francisco to paid sick leave to inclusionary housing, many of the policy innovations that are now broadly accepted across our local political spectrum were initiated by progressives in the face of opposition, or at least skepticism, from the so-called “moderates.”

    Now, more than ever, San Francisco must lead, and that won’t happen if we all simply fall in line behind a corporate consensus that tolerates excessive inequality and hardship for the most vulnerable, and that resists coughing up the new revenue that we need to pay for public services that actually work. It seems to me that we liberals and progressives are perfectly capable of marching down Market Street chanting against Trump on a given Saturday arm in arm with friends in the real estate and tech industries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to buy into those industries’ agendas the following Tuesday at a Board of Supervisors meeting.

    Mayor Lee said during the same address, “Come see what the future of America looks like.” But if we San Franciscans are indeed to lead the opposition to Trump’s vision of the future, we are going to need to up our game. That means more than holding hands and congratulating ourselves on how superior we are to those red-leaning Americans who voted for the orange dude.

    Rafael Mandelman is an attorney for the City of Oakland. He is also President of the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees.