California Watch: Articles http://californiawatch.org/articles/feed en Head of California’s troubled developmental services agency to retire http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/head-california-s-troubled-developmental-services-agency-retire-18870 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/ryan-gabrielson" title="View user profile." class="fn">Ryan Gabrielson</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Public Safety Broken Shield Thu, 29 Aug 2013 00:03:09 +0000 Ryan Gabrielson 18870 at http://californiawatch.org California auditor: Developmental center police failed to protect patients http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/california-auditor-developmental-center-police-failed-protect-patients-18869 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/ryan-gabrielson" title="View user profile." class="fn">Ryan Gabrielson</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Public Safety Broken Shield Tue, 09 Jul 2013 15:20:49 +0000 Ryan Gabrielson 18869 at http://californiawatch.org Hospital chain to pay $275,000 to settle federal patient-privacy case http://californiawatch.org/health-and-welfare/hospital-chain-pay-275000-settle-federal-patient-privacy-case-18868 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/lance-williams" title="View user profile." class="fn">Lance Williams</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Health and Welfare Prime Healthcare Decoding Prime Wed, 12 Jun 2013 18:05:57 +0000 Lance Williams 18868 at http://californiawatch.org CIR’s California Watch again named finalist for Pulitzer Prize http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/cir-s-california-watch-again-named-finalist-pulitzer-prize-18859 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/LarryIngraham_7_13_0.jpg" title="Larry Ingraham's mantle includes mementos of his brother, Van Ingraham, including an old family photograph with a young Van playing with Larry, a 1999 Polaroid of Van and a ceramic angel." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Photo by Nadia Borowski Scott</span> <span class="image-insert-description">Larry Ingraham&#39;s mantle includes mementos of his brother, Van Ingraham, including an old family photograph with a young Van playing with Larry, a 1999 Polaroid of Van and a ceramic angel.</span></p> <p>For the second year in a row, the Center for Investigative Reporting&rsquo;s California Watch today was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize &ndash; this time for uncovering systemic failures in protecting residents at the state&rsquo;s developmental centers.</p> <p>The California Watch series Broken Shield was a finalist in the public service category. The award went to the South Florida Sun Sentinel for its story on speeding police officers.</p> <p>&ldquo;This series truly gave a voice to the voiceless and held the government accountable,&rdquo; said CIR&rsquo;s Executive Director Robert J. Rosenthal. &ldquo;The results of the series have been extraordinary. Being recognized as a finalist is a terrific achievement. We are very proud of the newsroom.&rdquo;</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>Added Editorial Director Mark Katches: &ldquo;Our main objective for telling these stories is to draw attention to a problem &ndash; and that attention has already produced significant results for the residents of the state&rsquo;s developmental centers.&rdquo;</p> <p>The series &ndash; which had already won the George Polk Award, top honors from the Online News Association and two awards from Investigative Reporters &amp; Editors &ndash; &nbsp;has prompted far-reaching change, including a criminal investigation, staff retraining and new laws.&nbsp;</p> <p>Reporter Ryan Gabrielson&rsquo;s 18-month investigation about the Office of Protective Services snowballed over the course of 2012 &ndash; resulting in five major installments from February to November. The police force was set up specifically to protect the developmentally disabled living in the state&rsquo;s five remaining board-and-care centers. But Gabrielson found that the department&rsquo;s officers and detectives often fail to secure crime scenes and routinely delay interviews with key witnesses and suspects &ndash; leading to an alarming inability to solve crimes.&nbsp;</p> <p>Gabrielson detailed that dozens of women were sexually assaulted inside state centers, but police investigators didn&rsquo;t order &ldquo;rape kits&rdquo; to collect evidence, a standard law enforcement tool. Police waited so long to investigate one sexual assault that the staff janitor accused of rape fled the country. The police force&rsquo;s inaction also allowed abusive caregivers to continue molesting patients &ndash; even after the department had evidence that could have stopped future assaults.</p> <p>In one egregious physical abuse case, a caregiver was suspected of using a Taser to inflict burns on a dozen patients. Yet the internal police force waited at least nine days to interview the caregiver, who was never arrested or charged with abuse. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to Gabrielson, several staff members in the newsroom contributed to the project &ndash; most notably Agustin Armendariz, who provided data analysis; Carrie Ching, who produced two videos for the series; Monica Lam who produced a broadcast video distributed to TV partners; and Robert Salladay, who edited the project along with Katches.</p> <p>Last year, California Watch was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in the local reporting category for its series On Shaky Ground, about faulty seismic safety oversight at K-12 schools.</p> </div> </div> </div> Public Safety Department of Developmental Services Office of Protective Services patient abuse Pulitzer Prize Broken Shield Mon, 15 Apr 2013 19:05:21 +0000 California Watch 18859 at http://californiawatch.org Ex-officers often investigate police-involved shootings http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/ex-officers-often-investigate-police-involved-shootings-18852 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/shoshana-walter" title="View user profile." class="fn">Shoshana Walter</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-extra-credits"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> This story was edited by Robert Salladay and copy edited by Nikki Frick and Christine Lee. </p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <style type="text/css"> h2.subhed {font-size:13px;}</style><p class="image-full-width" style="width: 664px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-full-width" src="/files/imagecache/image-full-width/blueford01-1000px.jpg" title="Adam and Jeralynn Blueford’s son Alan, an 18-year-old Hayward resident, was shot to death by an Oakland police officer last May." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Noah Berger/The Bay Citizen</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Adam and Jeralynn Blueford&rsquo;s son Alan, an 18-year-old Hayward resident, was shot to death by an Oakland police officer last May.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After Oakland police Officer Miguel Masso shot and killed 18-year-old Alan Blueford last May, prosecutors quickly released their investigator&rsquo;s findings about the incident, amid a public outcry and a protest that shut down a City Council meeting.</p> <p>The shooting was justified, <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682616-oakland-police-department-blueford-press-release.html">according to the evidence</a> collected by Michael Foster &ndash; a former Oakland police officer.</p> <p>In a city seething with distrust of law enforcement, legal experts and residents are now questioning District Attorney Nancy O&rsquo;Malley&rsquo;s wisdom in assigning former Oakland police officers to the task.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>&ldquo;I would hope that they would look for somebody not for one side or the other &ndash; some impartial person that&rsquo;s not the police and not a community activist,&rdquo; said Blueford&rsquo;s father, Adam Blueford. &ldquo;The prosecutor just kind of rubber stamps what the police said.&rdquo;</p> <p>Foster&rsquo;s assignment was described as routine. It turns out that the practice of using former police officers to conduct investigations into shootings at their previous departments is widespread, according to a review of police prosecution records by the <a href="http://www.cironline.org" target="_blank">Center for Investigative Reporting</a>, parent organization of California Watch.</p> <p>The issue is all the more important now in Oakland, where the beleaguered police department is under court supervision. Last month, a federal judge appointed former Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier to oversee the completion of an almost decadelong civil rights reform effort.</p> <p>The city has seen two officer-involved shootings so far this month. After a witness mistakenly identified a 16-year-old boy as a robbery suspect, police said they perceived the boy as a threat and shot him in the jaw. Two days later, Oakland officers shot and wounded a burglary suspect who they said was brandishing a fake gun.</p> <p>Prosecutors said they use former police officers for the investigations because they are best suited for the job, coming with years of training and experience. Other prosecutors and investigators said prior police employment wouldn&#39;t necessarily bias the investigation or outcome of a case.</p> <p>O&rsquo;Malley, Alameda County&rsquo;s district attorney, said her office provides a separate but thorough investigation of each fatal officer-involved shooting and dispatches a team that includes an experienced attorney and investigator. The attorney, not the investigator, writes the final report, she said.</p> <p>As for the Blueford investigation, O&rsquo;Malley said her office reviewed all available evidence and statements from more than 40 witnesses and determined that the case &ldquo;did not exist to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer involved committed a criminal offense.&rdquo; Foster declined to comment.</p> <p>But legal ethicists say the use of former police officers creates an appearance of a conflict of interest that can erode public trust. And those ethicists say many ex-officers still have ties to their former departments, including a sense of allegiance to the &ldquo;thin blue line&rdquo; that can influence the subjective process of an investigation.</p> <p>&ldquo;Even though he might not want to be a policeman again, he still has an allegiance to the brotherhood,&rdquo; said Cornell University law professor Charles Wolfram. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re from the same department, that could create obvious problems.&rdquo;</p> <p>Ten district attorney&rsquo;s offices in California contacted by the Center for Investigative Reporting said they use former officers for their police shooting inquiries. W. Scott Thorpe, chief executive officer of the California District Attorneys Association, called the practice &ldquo;very common.&rdquo;</p> <p>Some prosecutors, however, keep the identities of the investigators who work on police officer shootings secret &ndash; the public may never know about potential conflicts of interest in police shooting investigations, the CIR review found.</p> <p>For Oakland residents, prosecutors&rsquo; reports are one of the few sources of information about officer-involved shootings. Federal court-appointed monitors, in connection with the civil rights reform effort, have <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682615-robert-warshaw-officer-involved-shootings.html">criticized the department&rsquo;s own investigations</a> as biased and unquestioning. The department seldom releases copies of investigations and police reports on officer-involved shootings, even to the families of the individuals killed.</p> <p>In Oakland, some officers have faced more&nbsp;shooting&nbsp;investigations than others. According to&nbsp;police&nbsp;records, in the past 12 years, more than half of the department&rsquo;s officer-involved&nbsp;shootings&nbsp;involved the same 20 officers.</p> <p>In many cases, the investigations of some of the most shooting-prone officers showed potential conflicts of interest.</p> <p>Frank Moschetti, a former Oakland police officer for 23 years, <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682621-alameda-county-district-attorney-report-fred.html">investigated a shooting case</a> involving William Pappas, a SWAT team member responsible for three shootings, according to police records. In July 2010, he was among a group of officers who fatally shot a man wielding kitchen knives.</p> <p>Also in 2010, <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682622-alameda-county-district-attorney-report-derrick.html">Moschetti investigated</a> Officers Omar Daza-Quiroz and Eriberto Perez-Angeles. The two officers,&nbsp;who were involved in the shooting death of a man in 2008, were responsible for the&nbsp;fatal shooting of Derrick Jones, an unarmed domestic violence suspect whose death spurred protests and an FBI investigation.&nbsp;He had led the two officers on a foot chase before ditching a marijuana scale that police mistook for a gun. His case is under review by the Department of Justice.</p> <p>On April 1, both officers involved in the case were cleared of any wrongdoing in a federal civil trial filed by Jones&#39; widow. The city already had paid a $225,000 settlement in a separate civil suit filed by his parents and daughter.</p> <p>In 2011, three officers shot and killed a man wielding a fake firearm. After Foster completed his investigation, prosecutor John Creighton <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682623-alameda-county-district-attorney-report-matthew.html">cleared the officers</a> in Matthew Cicelski&rsquo;s death. Less than a year earlier, Creighton had <a href="http://www.smartvoter.org/2010/06/08/ca/alm/vote/creighton_j/endorse.html">received an endorsement</a> from the Oakland Police Officers&rsquo; Association during his unsuccessful run for superior court judge.</p> <p>Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick called Foster and the other investigators professional and unbiased. If there is bias, Drenick said, the prosecutors who work alongside the investigators would intervene.</p> <p>&ldquo;The district attorney is there throughout the entire thing, everything,&rdquo; Drenick said. &ldquo;They go as a pair to all of the interviews. And then the ultimate report that is done is written by the deputy district attorney.&rdquo;</p> <p>Foster also investigated the shooting deaths of two alleged gang members in May 2011, relying in part on investigative materials collected by the Oakland Police Department. The officers involved were Capt. Ersie Joyner, who has five officer-involved shootings on his record (the most of any member of the department), and Officer Cesar Garcia, who has two.</p> <p>To complete his investigation, Foster relied on evidence collected by Oakland police Sgt. Jim Rullamas, according to the prosecutor&rsquo;s report. Not mentioned was the fact that Joyner once oversaw Rullamas as head of the homicide division, praising the detective as hard working, according to one news report.</p> <p>After the prosecutor&rsquo;s office cleared the officers of wrongdoing, some of the cases resulted in hefty civil settlements. Robert Roche, a longtime member of the department&rsquo;s SWAT team, has been involved in three shootings, including one that resulted in a $500,000 civil suit settlement.</p> <p>Alameda County prosecutors provided the Center for Investigative Reporting with records on Oakland police officer shootings since 2000 that were proved justified and closed. Out of 23 fatal shooting cases, 10 were investigated by former Oakland police officers, the records show.</p> <h2 class="subhed">&lsquo;It&rsquo;s a specialized skill&rsquo;</h2> <p>Unlike Alameda County, not every prosecutor&rsquo;s office in California releases records of shooting investigations involving police officers, which are protected by law from public disclosure. Many prosecutors&rsquo; offices declined to provide the names and employment histories of those they assign to investigate the shootings.</p> <p>But some prosecutors acknowledged that their investigators are most often retired police officers. District attorneys in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Napa and San Mateo counties all said they employ former police officers and sheriff&rsquo;s deputies to investigate officer-involved shootings.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s pretty common,&rdquo; said Glenn McGovern, a senior investigator at the Santa Clara County district attorney&rsquo;s office who leads the training committee for the California District Attorney Investigators&rsquo; Association. &ldquo;In Santa Clara, we have a lot of San Jose police. It&rsquo;s a specialized skill. You have to go through advanced training for it.&rdquo;</p> <p>Some counties in other states have decided against using ex-officers to investigate their former departments. In Miami-Dade County in Florida, for example, only prosecutors with special training investigate officer-involved shootings. The agency does not use former police officers.</p> <p>In California, legal ethicists expressed concern that most prosecutors make no attempt to avoid the controversial assignments.</p> <p>&ldquo;It undermines the legitimacy of the investigation,&rdquo; said Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode. &ldquo;At the very least, they should try to find investigators hired by somebody else.&rdquo;</p> <p>Most counties in California follow the same procedure. When a police officer shoots and kills someone, the police department conducts two separate investigations. One determines whether the officer violated department policy; the other looks for evidence of criminal conduct. Then the county prosecutor&rsquo;s office either monitors the department&rsquo;s criminal investigation or conducts its own and decides whether to file charges. In Alameda County, investigators are assigned to officer-involved shootings on a rotating, on-call basis.&nbsp;</p> <p>Prior to 1985, most states legally allowed police officers to use their firearms to arrest anybody suspected of committing a felony, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report on police use of force. Some states even allowed police to shoot a fleeing suspect, including one suspected of a property crime such as forgery.</p> <p>Then the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that changed the landscape of police shooting investigations: An officer may not use deadly force unless he or she &ldquo;has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others&rdquo; &ndash; in other words, self-defense.</p> <p>Despite the ruling, it is still extremely rare for a police officer to be charged. While police need only probable cause to make an arrest, prosecutors must prove &ldquo;beyond a reasonable doubt&rdquo; that an officer acted criminally. Most fatal officer-involved shootings are deemed justifiable homicides.</p> <p>In 2011, according to the FBI, law enforcement officers nationwide committed 393 justifiable homicides. A review of news articles about on-duty officer-involved shootings in California shows that since 2005, only three officers have been prosecuted in a fatal or near-fatal shooting.</p> <p>The most prominent was the case of former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle. In 2010, a jury acquitted Mehserle of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter after he was captured on video shooting an unarmed man, Oscar Grant, in the back on a train platform in the early morning hours of New Year&rsquo;s Day 2009. The jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and he was sentenced to two years.</p> <p>In 2007, a jury swiftly acquitted former San Bernardino County sheriff&rsquo;s Deputy Ivory Webb of attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm.&nbsp; A cellphone video had shown Webb opening fire on Iraq War veteran Elio Carrion, a passenger in a car that had led Webb on a high-speed chase.</p> <p>And in 2005, a San Jose jury acquitted state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agent Mike Walker of voluntary manslaughter charges. He&rsquo;d shot and killed Rudy Cardenas, a father of five whom he&rsquo;d mistaken for a wanted parole violator, after Cardenas led him on a car and foot chase.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s unclear if former police officers investigated the three cases that led to a prosecution &ndash; those records are kept secret.</p> <h2 class="subhed">Policies vary across counties</h2> <p>Prosecutors are not legally required to conduct investigations into police shootings.</p> <p>After budget cuts in 2010, Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan halted her office&rsquo;s investigations of officer-involved shootings, a practice that had been in place since 1984. After widespread complaints &ndash; including from the Fresno police chief &ndash; a Fresno County grand jury recommended Egan reverse her decision. She declined.</p> <p>Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully made a similar decision in 2011. A slew of shootings has since prompted furor over Scully&rsquo;s decision, including urgent requests from Sacramento County law enforcement to resume the investigations.</p> <p>&ldquo;We would like to do them, if we were given the resources,&rdquo; said Assistant District Attorney Albert Locher, who once supervised the unit.</p> <p>The Kern County district attorney&rsquo;s office investigates shootings at the county&rsquo;s small police agencies but has never investigated officer-involved shootings at the county&rsquo;s two largest agencies, the Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff&rsquo;s Office.</p> <p>After a high-profile police shooting several years ago, District Attorney Lisa Green said she saw no need to investigate because &ldquo;the public might view the district attorney&rsquo;s office as a rubber stamp.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Although I would never approach it that way, the community may view it otherwise,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>But in many cities, officials said, the investigations serve as assurance to the public that the death is being treated seriously. Police officials say the investigations can restore confidence in a department. Without them, only the police are left to investigate their own.</p> <p>&ldquo;It allows the public to sleep better at night,&rdquo; said former police officer Mike Donovan, chief investigator at the Napa County district attorney&rsquo;s office and treasurer of the California District Attorney Investigators&rsquo; Association. &ldquo;Knowing that if there is an officer-involved shooting, there&rsquo;s some other level than just the agency itself that gets to make the decision.&rdquo;</p> <p>In Los Angeles, law enforcement agencies and the areas they cover are so large that the 256 former police officers at the Los Angeles County district attorney&rsquo;s office are unlikely to know anyone they are assigned to investigate, spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.</p> <p>Still, some prosecutors have decided to avoid the appearance of a conflict by assigning others to the task.</p> <p>San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis assigned a single investigator to work on officer-involved shootings. Although a former police officer, the investigator has never worked for a San Diego County law enforcement agency, spokesman Steve Walker said.</p> <p class="image-insert-right-align" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert-right-align" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert-right-align/blueford09-1000px.jpg" title="Oakland officers stopped Alan Blueford and two other teens on suspicion that they were hiding a gun." /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Noah Berger/The Bay Citizen</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Oakland officers stopped Alan Blueford and two other teens on suspicion that they were hiding a gun.&nbsp;</span></p> <h2 class="subhed">Oakland shooting sparks protest</h2> <p>In Oakland, several police shootings have galvanized the community. But instead of instilling confidence in the system, the report from the Alameda County district attorney&rsquo;s office has provoked suspicion.</p> <p>After Officer Miguel Masso fatally shot Alan Blueford in May, activists and residents shut down a City Council meeting in protest, and Blueford&rsquo;s family filed a civil suit.</p> <p>In District Attorney Nancy O&rsquo;Malley&rsquo;s office, several investigators, mainly former law enforcement officers from the Oakland Police Department and a few other county agencies, are assigned to a rotating on-call team.</p> <p>When an officer-involved shooting occurs, an on-call inspector and prosecutor report to the scene, sit in on witness and officer interviews, and review evidence collected by each police department and coroner&rsquo;s office. In Blueford&rsquo;s case, Foster and Senior District Attorney Ken Mifsud were on call.</p> <p>After O&rsquo;Malley released a report on Foster&rsquo;s investigation, Blueford&rsquo;s supporters released their own, in which they said the prosecutor&rsquo;s report lacked &ldquo;professionalism and objectivity, and appears to be directed at swaying public opinion.&rdquo;</p> <p>The report writer, Darrell Whitman, a regional investigator for the U.S. Department of Labor, analyzed the heavily redacted police and coroner&rsquo;s reports released to the public. He said the evidence made it seem more likely that Blueford was unarmed on the ground when Masso shot him.</p> <p>Masso and his partner had stopped Blueford and two other teens just before midnight on suspicion that they were hiding a gun. Moments later, Blueford broke away. There was a brief foot chase before Masso said Blueford pointed a gun at him, and the officer reacted with gunfire, according to police reports.</p> <p>At first, Masso said Blueford had shot him. Police later determined that Masso had accidentally shot himself in the foot. The gun Masso said Blueford possessed was found 20 feet from Blueford&rsquo;s body, and investigators determined it had not been fired. Investigators found one of Blueford&rsquo;s fingerprints on the gun.</p> <p>In his report, Whitman pointed to discrepancies in the evidence that he said Foster and Mifsud should have examined. Instead, he said, they unquestioningly accepted Masso&rsquo;s account. Mifsud declined to comment.</p> <div id="caw-inset-2-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>For example, according to the redacted police reports, of the 16 people who witnessed the shooting, only three said they saw Blueford with a gun. Another witness said he had not seen a gun but had seen Blueford grabbing his waistband. A fifth witness said he had overheard another woman saying Blueford was armed.</p> <p>Masso told investigators that his first shot caused Blueford to fall into a gate and onto the ground, but according to the redacted reports, most witnesses said Blueford already was on the ground when he was shot.</p> <p>Eight witnesses said they heard Blueford say, &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t do anything!&rdquo; right before the gunfire. Mifsud and Foster&rsquo;s report detailed Masso&rsquo;s accidental shooting of his own foot but otherwise repeated Masso&rsquo;s account of the shooting and did not mention Blueford&rsquo;s alleged statement.</p> <p>Whitman also said Foster and Mifsud didn&rsquo;t appear to question some of the police department&rsquo;s actions. Although investigators found one of Blueford&rsquo;s fingerprints on the gun, Whitman noted that at least two officers handled the gun before it was secured.</p> <p>By the time it was photographed, the magazine already had been removed, &ldquo;possibly contaminating DNA and biological evidence,&rdquo; he wrote. In addition, per department policy, Masso had never turned on his lapel camera. Whitman said the camera footage might have captured the entire incident.</p> <p>&ldquo;If you have nothing else, you want to fight for your kid,&rdquo; said Blueford&rsquo;s father, Adam Blueford. &ldquo;My son was on the ground screaming, pleading for his life.&rdquo;</p> <p>O&rsquo;Malley declined to comment on the report.</p> <p>Others said they would not be so quick to dismiss the activists&rsquo; concerns.</p> <p>&ldquo;From a public point of view, (using former officers) might not be the best course of action,&rdquo; said Tony Monheim, a retired Miami-Dade police officer who now leads training on officer-involved shooting investigations.</p> <p>&ldquo;The public has its own perception of what is going on,&rdquo; Monheim said. &ldquo;Maybe it&rsquo;s a better thing to try to ease the tension a little bit and not have someone investigate themselves.&rdquo;</p> <p><em>This story was edited by Robert Salladay and copy edited by Nikki Frick and Christine Lee.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> From <a href="http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Ex-Officers-Often-Investigate-Police-Involved-Shootings-202416701.html" target="_blank">NBC Bay Area</a>:<br /> <embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" flashvars="v=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcbayarea.com%2Fi%2Fembed_new%2F%3Fcid%3D202442521%26path=%2F%2Fnews%2Flocal" height="324" src="http://media.nbcbayarea.com/assets/pdk449/pdk/swf/flvPlayer.swf?pid=ULqjUBNcfTZK" width="576"></embed></p> <p style="font-size:small">View more videos at: <a href="http://nbcbayarea.com/?__source=embedCode">http://nbcbayarea.com</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> Public Safety Oakland Oakland Police Department police police shootings Thu, 11 Apr 2013 01:05:04 +0000 Shoshana Walter 18852 at http://californiawatch.org Find out who investigates police-involved shootings in your area http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/find-out-who-investigates-police-involved-shootings-your-area-18853 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/shoshana-walter" title="View user profile." class="fn">Shoshana Walter</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For the public, how prosecutors respond to police shootings can prompt just as much distrust of government as the shooting itself. That&rsquo;s especially true when ex-police officers are hired to investigate shootings in their former departments, a common practice in California.</p> <p>In today&rsquo;s story, the Center for Investigative Reporting focused on the practices of a few California district attorney&rsquo;s offices, but it&rsquo;s easy to replicate the story in your town, city or county.</p> <p>Start by asking basic questions about officer-involved shootings:</p> <ul> <li>When a police officer shoots and kills someone, how does the agency respond?</li> <li>Who at your district attorney&rsquo;s office investigates?</li> </ul> <p>Across the country, protocol varies county to county. If your prosecutor&rsquo;s office conducts an investigation, chances are high that it employs investigators from nearby law enforcement agencies.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>Because this is a common practice, your prosecutor should be able to tell you whether the office&rsquo;s investigators were formerly employed by law enforcement agencies. If not, you can find out by requesting certain documents and public information using the <a href="http://californiawatch.org/resource/general-assignment/public-recordslegal-resources">California Public Records Act</a>.</p> <p>Some prosecutors compile and release reports on officer-involved shootings. In Alameda County, for example, these reports contain the names of the investigators assigned to each case. Ask for their employment histories or confirm their previous employment with the law enforcement agency or the state. Other documents, such as agency newsletters, may contain announcements about new hires that reveal an investigator&rsquo;s employment history.</p> <p>If your prosecutor does not release reports on officer-involved shooting investigations, ask your prosecutor for a list of those who are assigned to investigate officer-involved shootings.</p> <p>Some prosecutors, such as in Alameda or San Francisco, may not be willing to disclose an investigator&rsquo;s specific assignment. In this case, you can ask for a general list of investigators and check their employment histories. The likelihood that they are all former law enforcement is high.</p> <p>Finally, this is a common practice nationwide. Many prosecutors do not believe there is a conflict of interest in assigning former officers to investigate police shootings at their former departments. Ask your prosecutor whether this is the case in your county.</p> <p>Here is <a href="http://californiawatch.org/resource/general-assignment/public-recordslegal-resources">how to file a public records request</a>, as well as a primer on the law and your rights as a citizen, and a <a href="http://www.cdaa.org/district-attorney-roster">list of every district attorney in California</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> Public Safety Oakland Oakland Police Department police police shootings Thu, 11 Apr 2013 01:05:03 +0000 Shoshana Walter 18853 at http://californiawatch.org Map: Where have Oakland police officer-involved shootings occurred? http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/map-where-have-oakland-police-officer-involved-shootings-occurred-18854 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/cole-goins" title="View user profile." class="fn">Cole Goins</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><strong>UPDATE, April 11, 2013:</strong> This map updates to include address information for a January 2001 shooting.</span></em></p> <p>Between 2000 and 2012, officers in the Oakland Police Department discharged their weapons in at least 103 separate incidents, shooting at least 67 suspects, according to department data.</p> <p>Using information from the police department, we created a map of each police-involved shooting, fatal and nonfatal, which you can view below. Included in each data point are the time of the shooting, the name of the officer or officers involved, and the name of the person shot (if anyone).</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>This data is the result of a public records request by the Center for Investigative Reporting for all Oakland police officer-involved shooting incidents since 2000. The department provided three versions of the data, some of which were missing information. Two spreadsheets omitted data before 2003 and lacked details on at least 23 shooting incidents since that year through 2012. A third version provided by the department omitted the 2008 officer-involved shooting death of Leslie Allen. The Center for Investigative Reporting entered address information on Allen&#39;s case based on the district attorney&rsquo;s report, but CIR has not independently verified the accuracy of the remaining department records.</p> <p>As reporter Shoshana Walter reveals <a href="https://www.baycitizen.org/news/policing/ex-officers-often-investigate-police-involved-shoo/">in a review of police prosecution records</a>, prosecutors often use former police officers to conduct investigations of officer-involved shootings at their previous departments. Out of 23 cases that Alameda County prosecutors proved justified and closed since 2000, 10 were investigated by former Oakland police officers, the records show.</p> <p>Use the map to toggle between different years and see information on each shooting. Six shootings did not include location data from the Oakland Police Department<strong>,</strong> so information on those incidents is listed below the map. Also listed are shootings that involved Oakland officers outside city limits.</p> <p>All data in the map was provided by the Oakland Police Department unless otherwise noted. If you see any errors, please email me at <a href="&#109;&#97;&#105;&#108;&#116;&#111;&#58;&#99;&#103;&#111;&#105;&#110;&#115;&#64;&#99;&#105;&#114;&#111;&#110;&#108;&#105;&#110;&#101;&#46;&#111;&#114;&#103;">&#99;&#103;&#111;&#105;&#110;&#115;&#64;&#99;&#105;&#114;&#111;&#110;&#108;&#105;&#110;&#101;&#46;&#111;&#114;&#103;</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="550" src="http://batchgeo.com/map/44dfd3332af6ad0729c5b15d35ccdcc9" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><small>View <a href="http://batchgeo.com/map/44dfd3332af6ad0729c5b15d35ccdcc9">Mapping Oakland&#39;s police-involved shootings</a> in a full screen map</small></p> <p><em>* Officer-involved shooting information provided by the Oakland Police Department. In some cases, the Center for Investigative Reporting consulted news reports and police records to complete missing fields of information.</em></p> <h6>Shootings without address information</h6> <p><strong>July 4, 2000 &ndash; 7:49 p.m.</strong></p> <p>Name of person shot: Esters, Maurice</p> <p>Name of officer(s): M. Yoell, A. Centeno</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Jan. 16, 2002 &ndash; 7:27 p.m. </strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Subject not shot</p> <p>Name of officer(s): M. Hackenberg</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Dec. 4, 2003 &ndash; 3:55 p.m.</strong></p> <p>Subject not shot</p> <p>Name of officer(s): R. Gill</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-top: 1em; padding-left: 0px;"><strong>April 23, 2004 &ndash; 10:05 p.m</strong><strong>.</strong></p> <p>Subject not shot</p> <p>Name of officer(s): M. Healy</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-top: 1em; padding-left: 0px;"><strong>June 20, 2007 &ndash; 11:10 p.m.</strong></p> <p>Subject not shot</p> <p>Name of officer(s): W. Pappas</p> <h6>Shootings outside Oakland</h6> <p><strong>July 25, 2003 &ndash; 11:37 a.m., 2232 Haste St., Berkeley</strong></p> <p>Name of person shot:&nbsp;Glennel Givens&nbsp;Jr.</p> <p>Name of officer(s): Information not provided</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Jan. 17, 2004 &ndash;&nbsp;11:00 a.m., 1221 Tara Hills Drive</strong><strong>, Pinole </strong></p> <p>Subject not shot</p> <p>Name of officer(s): J. Albert</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>June 5, 2004 &ndash; 3:14 a.m., Sacramento</strong></p> <p>Name of person shot: Hernton, Cassius</p> <p>Name of officer(s): O. Crum, R. Holmgren, A. Alcantar</p> </div> </div> </div> Public Safety Oakland Oakland Police Department police police shootings Thu, 11 Apr 2013 01:05:03 +0000 Cole Goins 18854 at http://californiawatch.org Community college boards lose power, stature as system changes http://californiawatch.org/higher-ed/community-college-boards-lose-power-stature-system-changes-18835 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/erica-perez" title="View user profile." class="fn">Erica Perez</a></span> and <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/kendall-taggart" title="View user profile." class="fn">Kendall Taggart</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="image-insert" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert/4022CAW 00934 crop.jpeg" title="Copper Mountain is the second-smallest district in the state, with 3,000 students enrolled last year. " /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Carlos Puma/California Watch</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Copper Mountain is the second-smallest district in the state, with 3,000 students enrolled last year.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The local community college district structure is in some ways a vestige of a different California.</p> <p>The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, noted in a February 2012 report that the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 transferred control over revenues from local elected community college boards of trustees to the state, stripping governing boards of what some say was their essential power.</p> <p>Local districts don&rsquo;t set student fees; the Legislature does.</p> <p>And while students used to need a permit to attend a community college in another district, since 1988, they&rsquo;ve been free to attend any college in the state they choose, raising questions about the need for district boundaries at all.</p> <p>A quarter of community college students attended colleges outside of their district in fall 2010, and more than 100,000 &ndash; about 7 percent &ndash; attended classes in multiple districts at the same time, according to state data.</p> <p>Community college trustees are entrusted with making sure the districts meet the needs of the community. They help shape the district&rsquo;s goals, and they review policies, sometimes updating or changing them &ndash; all in consultation with stakeholders such as faculty, staff and students.</p> <p>Perhaps the most significant power local trustees hold is to hire &ndash; or fire &ndash; the district chancellor, who in turn is entrusted with recommending district policies. Trustees have the authority to approve or reject these proposed policies.</p> <p>Most districts hold elections every two years for contested trustee positions. They also ask local voters to approve bond measures for construction or parcel taxes for additional services or classes. The districts must reimburse counties for the cost of these races. From 2006 to 2011, districts paid more than $30 million to reimburse counties for the cost of trustee elections alone.</p> <p>Election results show voters care less about community college board races than they do about other contests. In November 2010, the Contra Costa Community College District&rsquo;s Governing Board had two contested seats. But in both races, more than a quarter of eligible voters &ndash; nearly 35,000 &ndash; who cast ballots in the election chose not to vote at all on a trustee.</p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>In September, the Field Poll surveyed 1,183 registered voters at the request of California Watch and found that 78 percent had little or no knowledge about district board elections. And while 46 percent of respondents said they think there is some value in having locally elected boards overseeing college districts, 63 percent said the districts should be consolidated if it saves money.</p> <p>Pomona resident Dane Griffith, 48, one of the respondents to the Field Poll, said the number of districts should be reduced. He wondered what power boards have to help someone like his 18-year-old daughter, who couldn&rsquo;t get into a single class this fall at Mt. San Antonio College.</p> <p>&ldquo;If you (have) more boards, is it going to be more effective, or is it going to add more gridlock or more expense?&rdquo; Griffith said.</p> <p>In all but a handful of districts, governing board members receive a small stipend for their service, ranging from $100 per month at the Mendocino-Lake Community College District to $2,000 per month at the Los Angeles Community College District.</p> <p>The better perks are the district-paid health and welfare benefits offered to trustees. In some cases, just the trustees are covered; in other cases, they get coverage for dependents.</p> <p>All but two of the state&rsquo;s 72 community college districts &ndash; Cabrillo and Feather River &ndash; offer such benefits, and 84 percent of eligible trustees accept them. And it adds up. In 2011, districts paid more than $7 million in stipends and benefits for trustees.</p> <p>In some cases, trustees opt in to the district-paid benefits even though they have jobs in the private sector. California Watch reviewed 16 community college districts and found that 41 of the 88 trustees receiving district-paid benefits in 2011 had jobs elsewhere.</p> <p>The Mt. San Antonio Community College District paid $30,000 for board member Fred Chyr&rsquo;s benefits in 2011, even though he has a full-time job as an associate vice president and chief marketing officer at the University of La Verne, a private four-year university. Chyr declined to comment for this story.</p> <p>In Gary L. Woods&rsquo; case, the professor at Pasadena City College doubles as a board member for the Citrus Community College District. Woods gets health benefits from both districts. Pasadena paid about $16,000 last year, and Citrus paid about $17,000.</p> <p>People with two health benefits policies can coordinate them so they pay less for their co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. Both college districts pay 100 percent of premiums, so the extra coverage does not cost Woods anything.</p> <p>Woods, who earned $148,000 at Pasadena City College last year, could have turned down one of the policies to save one of the districts money, but he didn&rsquo;t consider that.</p> <p>&ldquo;Why would I?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We put a lot of time in. I don&rsquo;t see what&rsquo;s wrong with the practice.&rdquo;</p> <p>An orientation guide for new trustees published by the Community College League of California estimates that trustees spend between two and 10 hours per week on trustee duties, such as reading materials and attending meetings. The league is a nonprofit advocacy organization whose members include district trustees and CEOs.</p> <p>At Pasadena City College, board members and employees who opt out of the district-paid benefits can receive cash instead. Trustees Linda Wah and Anthony Fellow received $3,500 and $5,500 in cash, respectively, on top of their stipends in 2011 instead of certain health insurance benefits.</p> <p>The district&rsquo;s general counsel, Gail S. Cooper, said the district has to offer the same benefits to all participants. And all district employees have the option to receive cash instead of benefits if they show proof of insurance elsewhere.</p> <p>She said district officials do not believe, however, that they have to offer health benefits to attract qualified trustees.</p> <p>&ldquo;Our trustees serve because they are dedicated to public higher education and student success,&rdquo; she said in an email. &ldquo;The dedication of the members of our Board of Trustees is not motivated by receipt of this modest benefit.&rdquo;</p> <p>Until the 1990s, community college board members could receive lifetime district-paid benefits after they left the board. California law now prohibits this for board members elected after January 1995, but some districts still are paying benefits to a few retired board members who were grandfathered in.</p> <p>In its February 2012 report, the Little Hoover Commission said it ultimately saw great value in the role of local boards to advocate for their communities, despite the erosion of local control over the years.</p> <p>The commission advocated keeping local boards while creating a stronger, more independent California Community Colleges Chancellor&rsquo;s Office to set priorities for the system. However, the commission also said college districts &ndash; especially small ones &ndash; could be more efficient if they combined administrative functions and coordinated more class offerings.</p> <p>Advocates of local governing boards say the amount spent on trustee elections and salaries represents a tiny line item in the system&rsquo;s $10 billion budget. They also question whether a district could cater to its local communities as aptly without a board of trustees in that area.</p> <p>Bill Elliott, president of the board of trustees for the Feather River Community College District in Quincy, wondered whether a Sacramento-based board of trustees would have seen the value in establishing the college&rsquo;s equine studies program.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easier for us, I think, for us to do it and say this program makes sense for the mountain area. We have the right person, let&rsquo;s do it,&rdquo; Elliott said.</p> <p>But Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, said it&rsquo;s possible to have local decision-making even in a large area with diverse communities. He cited his local district, the Ventura County Community College District, as an example.</p> <p>That district serves the majority of Ventura County &ndash; roughly 1,900 square miles &ndash; and includes very different communities, from Oxnard to Moorpark.</p> <p>&ldquo;Even though that&rsquo;s a very populous district, with three campuses and a couple satellite campuses, it is still very local decision-making,&rdquo; Williams said.</p> <p>Jack Scott, former chancellor of the California Community Colleges, said it&rsquo;s unlikely the Legislature would ever eliminate locally elected boards. People would believe they were losing their right to elect local officials.</p> <p>&ldquo;Politically, if you were starting from scratch, how you would organize the governance of community colleges might be an open question,&rdquo; Scott said. &ldquo;But to completely uproot the present system seems unlikely.&rdquo;</p> <p><em>This story was edited by Mark Katches. It was copy edited by Nikki Frick and Christine Lee.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> Higher Ed budget cuts California schools community colleges school administration Mon, 18 Mar 2013 07:05:03 +0000 Erica Perez Kendall Taggart 18835 at http://californiawatch.org Infographic: A look at administrative costs across community colleges http://californiawatch.org/higher-ed/infographic-look-administrative-costs-across-community-colleges-18837 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/lauren-rabaino" title="View user profile." class="fn">Lauren Rabaino</a></span>, <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/erica-perez" title="View user profile." class="fn">Erica Perez</a></span> and <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/agustin-armendariz" title="View user profile." class="fn">Agustin Armendariz</a></span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-full-width" src="/files/imagecache/image-full-width/localcontrol_graphic-640px.jpg" style="font-size: 0.813em; line-height: 1.385em;" title="" /></p> </div> </div> </div> Higher Ed budget cuts California schools community colleges school administration Mon, 18 Mar 2013 07:05:03 +0000 Lauren Rabaino Erica Perez Agustin Armendariz 18837 at http://californiawatch.org State’s community colleges spend millions on duplicative administrators http://californiawatch.org/higher-ed/state-s-community-colleges-spend-millions-duplicative-administrators-18830 <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-credits"><div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-authors"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/erica-perez" title="View user profile." class="fn">Erica Perez</a></span> and <span class="author vcard"><a href="/user/agustin-armendariz" title="View user profile." class="fn">Agustin Armendariz</a></span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-extra-credits"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> California Watch reporter Kendall Taggart contributed to this story. This story was edited by Mark Katches. It was copy edited by Nikki Frick and Christine Lee. </p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="image-full-width" style="width: 640px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-full-width" src="/files/CommC_Copper_00666-1000px.jpg" style="width: 640px;" title="Richard Raasueld studies at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree. The district broke from the Desert Community College Dis +++" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Carlos Puma/California Watch</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Richard Raasueld studies at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree.The district broke from the Desert Community College District in 1999. The region&rsquo;s two districts, with one college each, are among the state&rsquo;s smallest.&nbsp;</span></p> <div id="caw-inset-1-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>The state&rsquo;s 72 community college districts spend tens of millions of dollars on administrative positions that could be consolidated or shared by districts a short drive away, a California Watch analysis has found.</p> <p>In the wake of huge budget shortfalls, California&rsquo;s vast community college system has reduced its core academic functions &ndash; slashing millions of dollars by eliminating nearly a quarter of class sections, cutting services and laying off employees. At the start of the fall 2012 semester, more than 470,000 students <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/618107-press-release.html" target="_blank">had been waitlisted for classes</a> at community colleges statewide. But millions of dollars still are spent on duplicative administrative costs.</p> <p>More than half of the state&rsquo;s community college districts are within 20 miles of another district. And the vast majority of those districts have a single college. If these districts shared administrators, they potentially could shave millions off their expenses.</p> <p>Take the Riverside, Mt. San Jacinto and Desert community college districts, all in Riverside County. Together, they operate five colleges with three chancellor&rsquo;s offices, three human resources departments, three finance offices, three facilities departments and three academic affairs offices, not to mention three boards of trustees.</p> <p>The cost of employing the 15 executives who lead these departments, plus one or two support staff for each, totals nearly $6 million. The cost of running the three boards, including elections, legal support, stipends, benefits, support staff and travel expenses, equals nearly $1.7 million, records show.</p> <p>The three districts employed more than 130 executives in total in 2010.</p> <p>If the three districts could consolidate and whittle their bureaucracies down to one chancellor, one board and one head of each big administrative office, the savings would total $4.9 million &ndash; money that could, for example, pay for 960 additional class sections.</p> <p>Riverside Community College District Chancellor Gregory Gray believes the savings could be even bigger.</p> <p>&ldquo;In this one district alone, you could easily save $5, $6, $7 million,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Multiply that up and down the state and you get a big number.&rdquo;</p> <p>Asked whether the system should consider merging some districts to save money, Gray didn&rsquo;t hesitate. &ldquo;Without a doubt and unquestionably, the answer to that is we should do that,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>You could look at those facts, take note of the state&rsquo;s revenue challenges and wonder why lawmakers aren&rsquo;t already ordering cuts, mergers and cost savings.</p> <p>But first you&rsquo;d need a lesson on the way things operate in Sacramento.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is extremely difficult for a local chancellor like myself to try and initiate this type of discussion unless it&rsquo;s really starting from the top,&rdquo; said Gray, noting that no one in the state Capitol is championing consolidation.</p> <p class="image-insert-right-align" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert-right-align" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert-right-align/CommC_Gray_477-1000px.jpg" title="Riverside Community College District Chancellor Gregory Gray said he thinks the state community college system should consid +++" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Carlos Puma/California Watch</span> <span class="image-insert-description">Riverside Community College District Chancellor Gregory Gray said he thinks the state community college system should consider merging some districts to save money.</span></p> <p>For many of the community college districts, the potential savings may never be realized because the system of local districts is so deeply entrenched. In fact, obscure statutes in the California Education Code make it all but impossible to save money through merging districts &ndash; at least in the short run.</p> <p>Students have borne the brunt of cuts to the system. They have been slapped with fees that have risen 130 percent in the past five years and have been unable to get into the classes they need. But the status quo has been protected.</p> <p>The state&rsquo;s community college system isn&rsquo;t the only place in California&rsquo;s $92 billion budget where excess can be found. California Watch chose to zero in on the college system because of its sheer size and because it touches so many lives. Some 2.4 million students attend community college classes.</p> <p>California&rsquo;s community college system is the largest in the nation and the backbone of higher education in the state, serving the vast majority of the state&rsquo;s college students at the lowest price with the greatest number of locations. The system is especially essential now, as President Barack Obama has pushed for greater resources for community colleges to shore up the country&rsquo;s workforce through job training and education.</p> <p>California Watch reporters examined parts of the state community college system&rsquo;s bureaucracy to identify spending patterns and understand why reforms may prove elusive.</p> <p>The 72 districts keep payroll and other data in different formats, which makes comparison difficult. So California Watch drilled down on 16 districts, taking into consideration the availability of detailed payroll data, geographic proximity and district size.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The group of 16 districts had duplicative executives or managers in 21 positions, not including chancellors and presidents. A total of 253 individuals cost the districts $30 million in salaries and at least $7.9 million in benefits in 2011.</p> <p>A broader analysis of the system revealed:</p> <ul> <li>The state Education Code prevents districts from laying off any administrators for the first two years after merging, making it more difficult for districts to save money by consolidating.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>The public appears open to change. California Watch commissioned a Field Poll that found an overwhelming majority favors consolidating community college administrative functions to save money.</li> <li>As the ranks of elected community college trustees have swollen, their power and profile have diminished. The state pays for 442 community college district trustees, including an average annual cost of $5 million for elections. But the authority of these elected board members weakened significantly 35 years ago when voters approved Proposition 13, which transferred control over revenues from the boards of trustees to the state.&nbsp;</li> <li>The Field Poll conducted in the fall for California Watch found that the majority of respondents had little or no knowledge about district board elections.</li> </ul> <p>Unlike the centrally managed systems for the California State University and University of California, community colleges sprouted up largely as extensions of high school districts. That helps explain why they&rsquo;re organized into 72 locally governed bodies dotting the California terrain &ndash; each with its own bureaucracy.</p> <p>In 2010, community colleges reported spending at least $1.7 billion on top-level administration, including pay for district executives and the cost of the 72 separate governing boards, according to a California Watch analysis of U.S. Department of Education data. The total cost of the system that year topped $10 billion.</p> <p>But the 72 districts don&rsquo;t all report administrative spending to the federal government in the same way. That makes it difficult to compare how much each district spends on bureaucracy or to compare the community college system to other higher education systems.</p> <p>The Riverside Community College District, for example, included $3.5 million in state money it spent on enterprises such as parking and student activities. The Long Beach Community College District did not include that category of expenses.</p> <p>The chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, said the state should consider district consolidation.</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no question that there (are) more individual districts than is efficient and, in many cases, the efficiencies that can be gained would mean more classes for students,&rdquo; Williams said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s really the tragedy of the system, is the lack of funding and the lack of reform.&rdquo;</p> <p>However, while lawmakers can encourage a statewide examination into the costs and benefits of district unification &ndash; through studies and hearings &ndash; Williams said local leaders ultimately need to sign on to make such a move successful.</p> <p><strong>Creating a new district</strong></p> <p>To see how much cost a district structure can add, consider how much California paid when it built one from scratch.</p> <p>The seeds of Copper Mountain College in the High Desert took root in 1967, when the Desert Community College District in Palm Desert began offering college classes at local schools in the Morongo Basin.</p> <p>Community leaders in the area began to envision having their own full-fledged college. In 1970, the district bought land on the side of Copper Mountain in Joshua Tree with the idea of eventually building a campus there. And in 1977, voters elected the first Morongo Basin resident to the district board of trustees. Virnita McDonald advocated for a college at Copper Mountain.</p> <p>A new foundation, the Friends of Copper Mountain College, began raising money for a building campaign. Its success <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/618112-cmc-master-plan-2007-2011.html" target="_blank">led to the opening of the Copper Mountain campus</a> in 1984.</p> <p>Still, college leaders wanted independence from the Palm Desert district. They argued that their campus wasn&rsquo;t getting its fair share of resources. They believed the district should have built the Copper Mountain campus sooner.</p> <p>&ldquo;We felt that we were significantly different from the Palm Desert community,&rdquo; said Owen Gillick, who has been involved with Copper Mountain College since 1975 and recently retired from the district&rsquo;s board of trustees. &ldquo;We felt that even having one of five trustees residing here did not give &hellip; us the control over our destiny that we felt we deserved to have.&rdquo;</p> <p>Frustrated by what it saw as a lack of action by district leaders, the Friends of Copper Mountain College <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/618118-feb-1998-dccd-meeting.html" target="_blank">met with Republican state Sen. Jim Brulte</a> in 1998, hoping for a political solution.</p> <p>Brulte agreed to tackle the issue. <a href="http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/97-98/bill/sen/sb_1651-1700/sb_1665_bill_19980217_introduced.html" target="_blank">A bill he introduced</a> authorized a new, separately funded district &ndash; without needing the approval of voters in Palm Desert.</p> <p>David Wolf, then the executive director of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, said in an interview that he was uncomfortable with the creation of a district of that size in that location because of obvious fiscal limitations.</p> <p>Thomas Nussbaum, chancellor of the community college system at the time, also said he had concerns &ndash; not only about the extra cost, but also about the circumvention of the standard process for forming a district.</p> <p>But the involvement of a powerful legislator made the move inevitable, they said.</p> <p>Brulte &ldquo;had already made up his mind on the subject and probably had the ability to pass whatever legislation he wanted to pass,&rdquo; Nussbaum said.</p> <p>In 1999, the bill became law. Almost overnight, the region went from having one college and one district to two colleges and two districts. &nbsp;</p> <p>With the new designation came new trappings. The district created two new jobs that mirrored positions at Palm Desert&rsquo;s College of the Desert: a chief human resources officer and a chief business officer. Copper Mountain also hired a director of fiscal services, promoted the provost to CEO and promoted a professor to a position as chief instructional officer. A new local board was elected. State budgets provided $3 million in the first two years to foot the bill for the transition.</p> <p>From 1998, before the secession, to 2002, four years after the split, the cost of top-level administration for College of the Desert and Copper Mountain College doubled, growing at twice the rate of the system as a whole. Copper Mountain currently has nine administrators and faculty who make more than $100,000 per year.</p> <p>Both districts are among California&rsquo;s smallest. The Desert Community College District enrolls roughly 13,000 students. Copper Mountain, the spinoff, is the second-tiniest district in the state, with 3,000 students enrolled last year.</p> <p>Tiny districts are, by nature, inefficient. In fact, their fixed costs are so high that the state funding formula adds on extra money for them. As a result, per-student funding at Copper Mountain in 2010 was about $8,200 &ndash; more than 40 percent higher than the state average of $5,700.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve got to have a board, they&rsquo;ve got to have a basic campus, they&rsquo;ve got to have a basic administration, they&rsquo;ve got to have a basic faculty even if their class size is very small,&rdquo; Wolf said. &ldquo;So why would you create something like this &hellip; when there&rsquo;s 55 miles away a great big campus that provides everything?&rdquo;</p> <p>Gillick did not dispute that forming a new small district entailed significant costs. But he said consolidating Copper Mountain with a neighboring district would be an &ldquo;unsuccessful implant.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;These small things (districts) are costly, but they have a value that can&rsquo;t be measured in bucks,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>Brulte, now the California Republican Party chairman, said there was no requirement in the law that the new district add more administrators. The move had a positive impact in the area, he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;At the end of the day, additional resources went to Copper Mountain, and it eliminated a tremendous source of conflict within the Morongo Basin,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The people of the Morongo Basin got to have control of the college district in their community.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Overlapping roles</strong></p> <p>When you look at a map of California&rsquo;s community college districts, the dots tend to cluster. More than half of the districts are within 20 miles of at least one other community college district.</p> <p>Each district comes with a cadre of highly compensated executives who do the same thing as their counterpart with the same title at a district 10 or 15 miles away. In theory, geographically close districts could share a vice president of human resources or a chief business officer.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s unclear how much could be cut, but the community college system spends at least 17 cents of every dollar on top-level administrative costs. &nbsp;</p> <p>California Watch analyzed payroll data for 16 districts. Combined, the districts &ndash; a mix of small and larger ones &ndash; had 18 directors of public relations, 21 directors of campus facilities and 12 institutional research chiefs. Not including the district superintendents or college presidents, the districts had some level of overlap in 21 executive or management positions.</p> <p>Meanwhile, colleges have dealt with budget cuts by cutting classes. Before last year&rsquo;s passage of Proposition 30, which temporarily increases income and sales taxes to fund education, funding for community colleges had decreased by $809 million, or 12 percent, since 2008-09.</p> <p>In that time period, the number of students served sunk by nearly half a million.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/618124-pr-budgetimpactsurveyquestions-082812-final.html" target="_blank">an August 2012 survey</a> conducted by the California Community Colleges Chancellor&rsquo;s Office, 66 of 78 colleges that responded reported having waitlists for fall classes. On average, there were 7,157 students waitlisted per college.</p> <p class="image-insert-right-align" style="width: 304px;"><img alt="" class="imagecache-image-insert-right-align" src="/files/imagecache/image-insert-right-align/CommC_Smith_DSC5151-1000px.jpg" title="Community colleges have cut classes to deal with budget cuts. Berkeley City College student Clay Smith said last semester was+++" /> <span class="image-insert-photo-credit">Michael Short/California Watch</span> <span class="image-insert-description"> Community colleges have cut classes to deal with budget cuts. Berkeley City College student Clay Smith said last semester was the most hectic he&rsquo;d seen. &ldquo;There were at least 10 kids standing in every class,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Berkeley City College student Clay Smith, 22, witnessed the effects of reduced class offerings firsthand. Last semester was the most hectic he&rsquo;d ever seen.</p> <p>&ldquo;There were at least 10 kids standing in every class,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s people on the floor and in the hall. &hellip; I made sure to get to class 20 minutes early so I knew I had a seat.&rdquo;</p> <p>Smith needs one more business class to meet the requirements to transfer to a UC school. But he never thought it would take him three years to get here.</p> <p>&ldquo;I had no clue,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t think it was going to take this long of a journey.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Obstacles to consolidation</strong></p> <p>The state Education Code makes it all but impossible for districts to achieve cost savings right away by merging operations.</p> <p>Take the Napa Valley, Solano and Contra Costa community college districts, which together oversee five colleges. The district offices are within 15 to 25 miles of each other.</p> <p>Combined, they serve about 81,000 students &ndash; fewer than at City College of San Francisco.</p> <p>When you look at them together, Napa Valley, Solano and Contra Costa had three chief business officers, five directors of campus facilities, three athletic directors and three public relations chiefs in 2011. They also had two directors of information technology, chief financial aid officers and vice presidents of student success.</p> <p>There were 12 key executive or administrative positions that clearly overlapped across all three districts and two other positions duplicated in 2 out of 3 districts.</p> <p>Salaries and benefits for these 43 people totaled roughly $6.4 million. The districts employed more than 150 executives in total in 2010.</p> <p>Some district officials questioned whether a district spanning three counties would reduce colleges&rsquo; ability to respond to local business needs.</p> <p>Timothy Leong, spokesman for the Contra Costa Community College District, said that while his district sees jobs in the energy sector, Napa may see more in the agricultural or wine industries.</p> <p>&ldquo;Community colleges in those respective areas work closely with the businesses in order to meet those educational needs for their future workforce,&rdquo; Leong said. &ldquo;The question becomes, by proposed consolidation &hellip; will you be able to still meet the business needs and training needs for your students in the same way?&rdquo;</p> <p>Yulian Ligioso, vice president of finance and administration for Solano Community College, said a merger would entail many additional costs. For example, the districts would have to standardize their curriculums.</p> <p>&ldquo;While on the surface, I think it&rsquo;s certainly not something you cannot do, there are many obstacles you&rsquo;d have to address in trying to merge the institutions,&rdquo; Ligioso said.</p> <p>The districts have not discussed merging, but even if they did, they wouldn&rsquo;t be able to immediately reduce duplicative positions. California&rsquo;s Education Code <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/618120-california-education-code-sec-88018.html" target="_blank">prohibits districts from laying off nonacademic employees</a> for two years following a merger.</p> <p>That protection originates from a 1961 bill sponsored by the California School Employees Association, which ensured a year of job security for nonacademic employees after a merger. The union sponsored another bill in 1970 that pushed the protection to two years.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even before a merger could be approved, a litany of other financial, legal and political hurdles would stand in the way.</p> <p>Several groups must sign off on the deal, including the community college system&rsquo;s Board of Governors, a committee of K-12 school officials in every affected county and the merging districts&rsquo; boards of trustees &ndash; who which would be voting on whether to eliminate their own positions.</p> <p>Voters in every affected county would have to approve the merger at the polls, too.</p> <p>The colleges, meanwhile, would have to get approval from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. They would have to show that they could maintain the same quality of instruction and student support. The process entails legal review and a fee of $20,000.</p> <p>The new district also would have to sort out multiple collective bargaining agreements, each with its own salary schedule.</p> <p>Bill McGinnis, a trustee at the Butte-Glenn Community College District in Oroville, <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/618122-mcginnis-report.html" target="_blank">took a deeper look</a> at these laws and regulations in 2011.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very complicated process and a very costly process,&rdquo; McGinnis said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no cost savings for at least two years. In order to make it work, you&rsquo;d definitely need to have changes in the law.&rdquo;</p> <p>That&rsquo;s not to say districts that currently operate multiple colleges are more efficient than single-college districts.</p> <p>California Watch looked at three years of administrator-to-student ratios for each district. While the ratios varied, no clear pattern emerged that would explain why some districts had lots of administrators per student and others had very few. Districts with multiple colleges, for example, were no more likely than single-college districts to have a low administrator-to-student ratio.</p> <p>Many community college officials point to this fact when they caution against merging districts. They often cite the state&rsquo;s largest district, the nine-college, 230,000-student Los Angeles Community College District, as a highly bureaucratic organization they do not want to emulate.</p> <p>&ldquo;Mergers would be rather complicated legally, and we would have to be convinced that such mergers would bring about savings,&rdquo; said Jack Scott, former chancellor of the California Community Colleges. &ldquo;Unfortunately, there&rsquo;s not evidence that (multicollege districts) operate more efficiently than some of the surrounding districts that are one-college districts.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Small districts consider collaboration</strong></p> <p>Many of the state&rsquo;s small districts are in precarious financial straits because budget cuts are making it increasingly difficult to support the administrative costs of running a district.</p> <p>When statewide budget cuts hit, community colleges get lower enrollment targets &ndash; meaning fewer classes and student services.</p> <p>But districts can scale down instructional and support services more easily than they can adjust the cost of administrative services such as payroll, accounting, information technology and institutional research, said Yuba Community College District Chancellor Doug Houston. That means courses and educational services end up on the chopping block first.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re making the cuts by reducing our core academic functions, and we&rsquo;re kind of chipping away at the margins of being more efficient with those noncore functions,&rdquo; Houston said.</p> <p>The legal and political obstacles involved in merging districts have stopped districts from getting past the most preliminary discussions about consolidating.</p> <p>Houston stops short of advocating that small districts should merge to save money. He&rsquo;s concerned that moving a district administration farther away would take something away from those communities.</p> <div id="caw-inset-2-placeholder">&nbsp;</div> <p>But he has been working with a group of mostly small rural college districts to explore ways to share some of these administrative services, such as payroll services or server farms.</p> <p>The group includes the Mendocino-Lake, Siskiyou Joint, Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint, Lassen, Feather River, Lake Tahoe, Monterey Peninsula<strong>,</strong> Butte-Glenn and Yuba districts in Northern California, plus the Copper Mountain, Barstow and Palo Verde college districts in the south.</p> <p>&ldquo;My fear is that for these smaller colleges that they&rsquo;re already on the precipice, and that another round of cuts will put them in extreme jeopardy,&rdquo; Houston said.</p> <p>The group does not yet have an estimate of the potential savings districts could achieve. At Houston&rsquo;s former district, the 5,000-student Lassen Community College District in Susanville, he estimated administrative costs made up 21 percent of the budget. He figures at least a quarter of that could be shaved through collaboration.&nbsp;</p> <p>Houston and Kindred Murillo, president of the Lake Tahoe Community College District, are talking about sharing one or more senior administrators in the future, even though the two district offices are 145 miles apart.</p> <p>The districts&rsquo; immediate financial woes are only the short-term context for the push toward collaboration, however.</p> <p>&ldquo;The bigger context is that the paying public, quite legitimately, is skeptical as to how efficient we have been in public services and is demanding greater efficiency,&rdquo; Houston said. &ldquo;And I think legitimately so.&rdquo;</p> </div> </div> </div> Higher Ed budget cuts California schools community colleges school administration Mon, 18 Mar 2013 07:05:03 +0000 Erica Perez Agustin Armendariz 18830 at http://californiawatch.org