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Dymally has also had a similar contract with the Compton Community College District, although state and Compton College officials said last week they could not produce the records on the contract. In addition, Drummond’s wife at the time, Marcy, made small contributions to Dymally campaigns in 2001 and 2003, according to state records.
“It’s a good relationship,” Dymally said. “I’m getting [Compton College $31] million dollars. Without me, they’re fucked. There’s a lot of denial here. Not a single person in Compton has ever criticized the behavior of the trustees, not one.”
After the initial flurry of activity over the takeover, an otherwise weird situation became the status quo at the college.
Public meetings continued with the board of trustees running the proceedings, but with the “special trustee” retaining veto power. The trustees were in the room basically for show. The state asked a Fiscal Crises Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) to come and start helping the college on its road to “fiscal recovery.” Administrators were replaced, while improvement projects on the campus under the $100 million bond measure continued, despite declining enrollment. The campus, a collection of low-slung postwar-style academic buildings and wide lawns, is awash with construction of gleaming new buildings, such as a child-development center.
A year after the takeover, the season of attrition began. Since Williams’ departure, there have been two new college presidents, hand picked by the chancellor. The current president, Jamillah Moore, is also head of the chancellor’s governmental-affairs division. In other words, Moore is Drummond’s chief lobbyist in the Legislature.
Tyler, the first “special trustee,” left the post last June and took a job as president of Sacramento City College. He was replaced by Charles Ratliff, a respected higher-education policy expert in Sacramento who had recently retired before being contacted by the chancellor’s office.
In March, Ratliff was replaced by Thomas Henry, a former CEO of FCMAT, the financial-recovery group the state initially hired to look at Compton. State officials said Ratliff had fulfilled his duties, but his loss puzzled and angered people in Compton because he had been seen as a true ally who had built rapport with stakeholders on campus.
Reached by telephone, Ratliff, carefully measuring his words, said he was still unclear as to why Drummond recalled him to Sacramento. “That’s part of the best question. I know his formal statement was he wanted me to come to Sacramento to work on legislation on behalf of the Compton Community College District.”
Has he been doing that?
“No . . . I absolutely would have stayed longer. I was both surprised and disappointed to leave at a time that I would refer to as premature.”
Compton City Council officials have gradually entered the fray, appearing at public meetings and attending rallies.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that the district would lose its accreditation and its local control that it’s had for several decades, and the motives behind how it happened I don’t necessarily support,” said Compton City Councilman Isadore Hall III. “But I thank God the people of the community still have a place where they can receive a reasonable level of education and instruction.”
Bruce Boyden, a former student at Compton College and an active member of the citizens’ committee, said there is a nasty undercurrent to the political drama of Compton College, a sentiment echoed by others in private discussions. Compton, a city where residents uphold a proud, if sometimes tainted, tradition of civic engagement, suffers from paternalistic attitudes on the part of outsiders, he said.
Boyden referred to it as “the posture of ‘We can’t make good decisions, we know we can get them fighting amongst themselves.’ In other words, we’re all crooks, we’re all incapable of making sound decisions — and, of course, it’s asinine.”
Dymally’s savior bill, A.B. 318, is still moving forward through the state Legislature. One local representative whose district overlaps with the Compton Community College district, Assemblyman Hector de la Torre, says he is unsure how he will vote on it. Early on, there was talk that the “partnering district” referred to in the bill that might take over Compton College would be Peralta Community College District — almost 400 miles away.
“I just thought that was ridiculous on its face,” de la Torre says. “It’s up in Oakland.”
The assemblyman says he had no idea that one of the provisions of the accreditation commission would be that the college be under local control, the double-jeopardy scenario. “That’s something that I will be looking at. The alternative here is that they lose accreditation, and there isn’t a Plan B in place, and the school shuts down.”
There’s an undeniable financial imperative too, de la Torre says. If Compton College closes, the $100 million bond measure will still have to be paid.
“That’s what the [special] trustee is for, to manage the bond money,” he says. “If the school would close, that would be a complete shame, because the bond money would still be owed, because Wall Street, they’re going to want their money back. It’s a situation which we’re trying to make the best of.”