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    Lavender Sweep at City College

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

    City College’s governing board has a queer majority. All four of the Trustees sworn in at our January 4 inauguration ceremony—newly elected Trustees Tom Temprano and Shanell Williams, as well as re-elected Trustee Alex Randolph and myself—identify as LGBT. At a time when some have worried that our community’s political power is in decline locally, having lost what had been thought of as a queer Assembly seat and reduced to only one (appointed) gay member on the Board of Supervisors, City College’s Board is bucking that trend in a big way.

    For me, our inauguration was an opportunity to reflect back on the tumult of my first term, but also on all that we were able to accomplish. It’s not a small thing to be able to say you saved a community college, but we did. We pushed back on an out-of-control accreditor and, led by the California Federation of Teachers and with lots of help from elected leaders like City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Jackie Speier, we fought a statewide campaign for fair accreditation. Today, although the future of accreditation in California remains uncertain and the subject of much discussion, the ACCJC itself appears to be undergoing an internal housecleaning, with longtime leader Barbara Beno now serving in an advisory role until her announced retirement later this year.  Meanwhile, City College remains open and accredited.

    We restored local control after the Board’s suspension by the State Chancellor during the height of the accreditation crisis, and we demonstrated that a democratically elected Board could govern City College effectively and responsibly, implementing necessary reforms while still reflecting the values of our City. We labored hard to restore financial and administrative stability to a College in dire need of both, negotiating labor agreements that provided our employees their first real raises in nearly a decade while ensuring the long-term solvency of the institution. We passed an extension and increase to the College’s parcel tax to provide an added measure of financial security going forward, and we worked with the State Chancellor and our State legislators to pass special legislation guaranteeing the College adequate State funding over a five year period to support the recovery of enrollment lost during the accreditation crisis. Thank you Mark Leno, Phil Ting and David Chiu! And, of course, we fought alongside Supervisor Jane Kim and our faculty to pass Proposition W to fund Free City College for all San Franciscans.

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    As this Board begins our new term, I feel more confident about City College’s future than I have in many years. There is much difficult work still to do, and significant unresolved challenges; indeed, I suspect we will be struggling with the impacts of the accreditation crisis and the mismanagement at the College that helped precipitate it for years to come.  But I also believe we have turned the page that, as I said in my inauguration remarks, our worst days are behind us and our best days are ahead.

    A New Supe for District 8

    Congratulations to Mayor Lee’s pick for District 8 Supervisor. Jeff Sheehy has a long history of political activism and has shown great leadership on HIV-related issues. My College Board colleague Alex Randolph had also been rumored to be under consideration, but the Mayor and his advisers may have decided they wanted someone with sharper elbows. Sheehy is certainly not one to shy away from a fight. Only time will tell if he is a good fit for the neighborhoods of District 8, but Sheehy’s appointment is a big moment for the HIV community, and I wish him all the best in this new adventure.

    New Leadership for the Clubs

    Congratulations also to the new leadership of the City’s two LGBT Democratic Clubs. Eric Lukoff will be taking over from Brian Leubitz as the male co-chair of the Alice B. Toklas Club, and will serve with returning female co-chair Lou Fischer. I do not always love Alice’s endorsements, but I am a big fan of both Eric and Lou and wish them well in the coming year. Over at the Harvey Milk Club, folks are excited about the incoming leadership team of Kimberly Alvarenga and Carolina Morales. Expected to be elected as Co-Presidents of the Club later this month, Alvarenga and Morales both have deep roots in community activism and are ideally suited to lead the queer resistance to creeping Trumpism.

    Happy New Year to all!

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