Last week I announced my candidacy for the Rancho Santiago Community College District Area 7 seat.

Several friends and community members who were unaware of my plans asked my reasoning.

Frankly, it’s simple.

I’m embarrassed.

My community means a great deal to me. I raised my family in Orange and worked four decades for the county. Other than watching the entire Orange Unified board indicted for malfeasance nearly three decades ago, nothing has brought more shame on our community’s public schools than the Rancho District’s chancellor and the seven trustees who hired him.

Six years ago the trustees hired Dr. Raul Rodriguez from San Joaquin Delta College to lead our two community colleges – Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon. Under Rodriguez’ tenure there has been one controversy after another. I did a quick internet search and found the following issues covered in four different newspaper articles:

  • the faculty accused Rodriguez and his administration of not giving raises that had been negotiated; (1)
  • Rodriguez disbursed $94,000 in public funds without board approval; (2)
  • Under Rodriguez’ leadership open meeting laws (Brown Act) were violated (3)
  • Under Rodriguez’ leadership bond money was wasted on public-private partnerships (4)

The irony is that these articles covered stories during the time Rodriguez was president of San Joaquin Delta College.

The controversies followed Rodriguez to the Rancho District like his own shadow, but our elected trustees continue to look the other way. Instead, what we have today is a community college district that is listing like a sinking ship. There is no direction and no vision.

Anyone who has lived in our community as long as I have should be equally embarrassed.

It is indeed time for a change.

(1) Lodi News-Sentinel, March 20, 2008

(2) Lodi, January 20, 2010

(3) Tracy Press, June 18, 2008

(4) Tracy Press, June 18, 2008

 Rudolph “Rudy” Diaz is a retired county of Orange engineer. A taxpayer advocate, Diaz is involved with the Concerned Orange Taxpayers group and is a former Governor George Deukmejian appointee to the California Library Services Board.

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