SF Green Party Community College Board Endorsement Questionnaire 2014
Candidate Name: John Rizzo
Phone Number: 415-751-1615
Web site: www.johnrizzoforcollegeboard.com
Signed voluntary spending limit: Yes
Campaign Manager: David Looman
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano
Assemblyman Phil Ting
Former State Senator Carol Migden
Former Mayor Art Agnos
Public Defender Jeff Adachi
Supervisor David Campos
Supervisor Eric Mar
Louise Renne, former City Attorney
Police Commissioner Petra De Jesus
Former Trustee Chris Jackson
President, SF Public Utilities Commission Vince Courtney Jr.
President, Environment Commission Joshua Arce
Jeanine Cotter, CEO Luminalt Solar Energy
Laborers Union Local 261
District 5 Democratic Club
Favorite Incumbent College Board Member:
1. Could the current accreditation crisis have been foreseen and
potentially averted? How could the board have done better?
I am running to finish the job of full accreditation for City College.
Under the plan that I and the Board of Trustees approved, City College
has completed 95% of the required accreditation tasks.
With 95% of the tasks complete, the College should be on probation
instead of the current extension. Jackie Speier said the accrediting
agency "has run amok."
I first ran to fix financial problems that were in place for 20 years,
and I have been successful. I brought in auditors and implemented
dozens of policy and operations changes that reformed management,
saving tens of millions of dollars. And the accreditation plan I
approved is working.
But the State Auditor has said that the accrediting agency is
inconsistent in how it operates, confirming the accusations in City of
San Francisco's lawsuit against the accrediting agency. That's why I
have been working with Tom Ammiano and other state legislators to
reign in this agency.
I aim to make sure the remaining 5% of the fixes are completed, and
see that the College doesn't go backwards. But I am also working to
ensure fair treatment of City College.
2. What is your stance on public and private partnerships within the
I have not sought them out. I have sought to partner with non-profits
and governmental entities.
The administration has gone to a private operator for the City College
Bookstore, along the lines of how the UC's operate their
bookstores. This is more of a straight contractor relationship rather
than a public-private partnership. But it should be evaluated to see
if it really is saving money.
As a Sierra Club activist, I have seen the negative affects of
privatization in San Francisco Parks, and it has not worked well for
the public. Our first obligation is to the students.
3. What is your position on tuition and fees, for in-state students
and for international/out-of-state students? Will you actively campaign
against tuition increases on the state level?
As a Board member, I have been actively campaigning against tuition
increases. I wrote and passed a resolution opposing the raise to $46
per credit, and my resolution became the official position of the
I also participated in rallies in Sacramento and San Francisco that
protested tuition increases (the March in March and several Occupy
The cost of public education should not be shifted the backs of
4. What is your position on getting the CCSF Foundation to divest from
harmful corporate stocks (GMO, tobacco, oil) and into
socially-responsible firms located in San Francisco? How will they
ensure that the Foundation provide transparency concerning their
I led the Board in the reform of the Foundation, which was notoriously
un- transparent, as reported in the Bay Guardian, had been used by a
Chancellor to launder public funds. After the reforms passed, the
Foundation went through a clean and transparent audit. It is up to the
Board of Trustees to be diligent in asking for reports from the
Foundation. Of course, without Board meetings, this isn't happening.
I cosponsored a resolution (with the late Milton Marks) asking for
such a divestiture. At this point, before we ask the Foundation to
divest, City College must divest. As a Trustee, I cosponsored a
measure to stop using one of major banks that caused the recession and
participated in fraudulent foreclosures, and would have required the
College to put the Colleges banking services out to bid. The measure
asked to college to look for cost savings in small local banks.
Unfortunately, the special trustee overturned this, and nothing is
happening. It will be up to the reinstated Board to take it up again.
5. If elected to the Board, how would you ensure that you and the
public would receive the college's draft budget with a sufficient time
to review it thoroughly before adopting it?
Once the Board is reseated, I will work towards a return to a practice
that Milton Marks and I began, which was to have hearings on the
budget in Committee well in advance of the June adoption
date. Previously, there was no Budget Committee. But with the
Committee established, the budget was getting public disclosure not
just in its final form, but in various stages of development. At each
stage, there was public input.
Another practice I put into place was two have the full Board take up
the budget twice, once for a vote, and another time at the previous
month in order to sunshine it.
The Special Trustee abolished the committees and the two-Board
hearings. Once the Board is reseated, I will push to reinstate these
6. How will you work with the state to protect Proposition 98 funds
for community colleges?
Trustees must work with state legislators to convey idea that Prop 98
funds must not be diverted. I have spent time in San Francisco and in
Sacramento meeting with our local and other legislators on a variety
The time is also ripe for another statewide ballot measure that would
take away the ability of the governor and legislator to divert Prop 98
funds. I would work to get the support of our Board and that of other
colleges for such a measure.
7. Do you feel there is enough transparency or public disclosure of
the Board and the college? How would you change things?
Currently, without an elected Board, there is very little transparency
of any sort. This is one reason why I have been working with
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano to help him pass AB 2087, which would make
it more difficult to suspend a community college board.
When I was first elected, I created and pass the College's first
Sunshine Policy, which gave the public greater access to meetings not
only of the Board Trustees, but to meetings of the non-Board
governance entities. I worked with members of the City's Sunshine Task
Force to help craft the policy.
The Special Trustee in power has rolled this back, and the policy has
been greatly weakened. I will work to restore the College's Sunshine
Policy, and to expand it in the areas of public access to documents.
8. Have you attended the Community College Board meeting? Would you
change public comment policy at the meetings? If so, how?
When the Special Trustee came on board with veto power of the Board of
Trustees, the administration was asking for a limit of 15 minutes of
pubic comment. They want me, as President, to cut off all speakers
after that time limit. I refused, and let everyone speak who wanted
When the Special Trustee abolished the Board Committees, he eliminated
an important venue for the public to speak at. These smaller meetings
gave members of the public more time to speak in a less formal
atmosphere, and there was more of ability for a dialog with the
public. As one of the creators of the board committees, I will push
for their reinstatement.
Not all Board members are in favor of these committees. The represent
extra meeting to got to, and subject them to more public comment. My
response is that it is part of the job.
9. How will you improve outreach and increase access to San Francisco
Community College to low-income people, people of color, people with
disabilities and students with prior drug felony convictions who are
not eligible for financial aid?
For some programs such as the second-chance program for formerly
incarcerated people and for workforce training, partnering with
non-profits has proven successful in outreach to people of special
needs. Non-profits have been good at identifying and recruiting
potential students. The path from a short-term program by a nonprofit
to a full-length college or workforce program at City College is a
But City College significantly boost it's own recruitment efforts not
only for the sake of the populations mentioned here, but for the
long-term health of the institution. It needs to hire staff with
expertise in these areas. There is some existing expertise of that we
should build upon, such as the Colleges' program for at-risk foster
10. How would you eliminate the barriers to full access to noncitizens
to all classes offered by City College?
The group of non-citizen students who face the most challenges are the
so- called "AB 540 students," face many challenges. These are student
who are not citizens but have attended three years of high school in
California. Although they are pay in-state tuition, they are not
eligible for financial aid.
We need to beef up the scholarships available to AB 540 students by
seeking more sources of funding.
Counseling is also of key importance. The College's AB 540 counseling
services are offered in different languages and locations, but as with
other counseling, have been cut back. The Board will need to
reevaluate this once reinstated.
11. What is your position on expanding the Local Activism, Community
Service, Labor, Ethnic, Women's, Disability Rights and GLBT courses
and departments? If supportive, how do you intend to do it?
I support of these course programs; they are part of what makes City
College unique. Funding is key to expansion of any program, but
recruiting new students will bring in more funding. This is another
reason I support aggressive new recruiting techniques. These programs
can also be strengthened by keeping up the related services and
12. What is your stance on gender inequity and how would you ensure
that transgendered students feel safe and supported on campus? How
will you make positive changes to serve this growing community?
As chair of the Board's Facilities and Technologies committee, I
successfully pushed for the creation of gender-neutral restrooms in
new buildings. Gender segregated bathrooms can be spaces where gender
minorities are met with intimidation and harassment, which makes
gender- neutral restrooms important in creating a safe space.
City College's Queer Resource Center is a good place to focus efforts
to improve safety. Also, more could be done to enforce a zero
tolerance for harassment among the staff and the students themselves.
13. How will you increase quality child care at ALL campuses?
As a Trustee, I have fought for adequate funding for our childcare
facilities. I successfully restored funding to the childcare that had
been proposed to be cut from the budget. Childcare has some dedicated
sources of funding that can only be used for childcare. It would help
to identify more such grant sources.
14. How will you create more campus work opportunities for students?
What is your position on having the college provide health insurance
Health insurance for students is an idea worth pursuing. The best way
to start is to look at what other community colleges are doing and to
see if there is a model, or if there is a possible for colleges to
work together. Another thing we can do is to council students to make
sure they are taking advantage of all that is available from the
Affordable Care Act.
15. What will you do to create more venues for student activities and
community meeting centers on all campuses?
I would like to see joint meetings with the Associate Students
(student government) and the Board of Trustees. There are venues and
community meeting centers at almost every campus, but we need to hear
from the students themselves as to what they need.
16. How will you work to counter and prevent profiling and police
harassment on campus? What is your position on police firearms on
As a Trustee, I have opposed having guns on campus. At one point, the
campus police chief resigned because we (the Board) refused to approve
guns for the police department.
17. What is your position on allowing noncitizens the right to vote in
College Board and School Board elections?
18. What is your position on giving the student trustee full Board
Membership and voice?
I worked for full student participation throughout my tenure on the
Board. Unfortunately, state law prevents student trustees from
participating in closed sessions and voting on financial matters. I
support changing this.
In lieu of this change, I have worked to involve student trustees in
Board decision-making. As president of the Board, I have appointed
student trustees to Board Committees and encouraged their
participation. I have co- authored measures with student trustees,
including policy and positions on legislation.
19. What are your views of transportation and pedestrian safety to,
from and around City College campuses? What, if anything, would you
change, and how would you go about making those changes?
While I was chair of the Board's Facilities and Technology Committee,
I oversaw the implementation of a multi-million-dollar ADA
upgrade. This included many improvements in pedestrian safety in
I have also worked to incentivize cycling to school. I successfully
pushed to include shower facilities for cyclist commuters on the main
campus, in the new Multi-Use Building. I pushed for increased bike
parking as well.
The 43 route bus connects the main campus with the John Adams campus,
but is one of the most crowded and slowest buses in the city. We need
to engage the City about this and other routes that services City
College. The City is most concerned about getting people downtown.
I have worked with Muni to try to develop a program for Muni passes
for students, and advocated with the Board of Supervisors to
help. This hasn't happened yet for various technical reasons with
Muni. But I want to keep pursuing it.
I have been a transit activist with the Sierra Club, and am a firm
supporter and booster of public transportation.
20. How will you ensure that the administration and faculty reflect
the diversity of the San Francisco Community College's student
The College District's hiring policy is due for review and update in a
year. This is the most direct way the Board can influence I will work
to strengthen the hiring policy. There is underrepresentation of
people with disabilities in general, and particular, among
administrators. Diversity is important at all levels, including higher
levels of management, where it is often the weakest.
21. What is your position of recruiting for the military on campus?
I oppose military recruitment on Campus. I am am a big supporter of
the College's Veterans Center, which I helped create a few years
ago. It provides services for returning veteran students and a space
to gather and work together.
22. What criteria will you use in deciding whether new cell phone
antennas will be installed on top of City College buildings?
As a trustee, I have opposed cell phone antennas being added to
buildings. I helped stop a proposed installation on the Mission
I also authored and passed a resolution calling for increased public
participation in any future discussion of antennas on College
23. Please describe how you make your political decisions. What is
the main basis for your decision making (e.g., consultation with your
constituents, political consultants, colleagues, unions, businesses,
donors, or your gut feelings)?
As a Trustee, I have regularly met with the constituent groups and the
public to get input. These include AFT and SEIU, various student
government groups, members of the faculty's Academic Senate,
department chairs, and administrators. I have met with neighbors of
the District's campuses to resolve issues.