Alejo urges Gavilan to rescind president’s $42K pay hike

Steve Kinsella

Assemblyman Luis Alejo has requested that the Gavilan College board re-agendize its October approval of the president’s $42,000 pay hike in light of allegations trustees violated the state open meetings law in their decision.

Alejo’s Chief of Staff Marva Diaz released a copy of the letter from the assemblyman to Gavilan trustees.

The letter reads: “I strongly urge you and your fellow Board Members to reagendize this item as soon as possible and to reconsider your decision. I highly encourage you to listen to members of our community and reverse this action taken.”

The request from Alejo, D-Watsonville, is responding to a request for investigation from Hollister’s chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. LULAC alleged that Gavilan’s board broke the Brown Act in a special October closed session meeting because its agenda did not specify discussion or action on President Steve Kinsella’s contract. LULAC’s allegations noted that state law also disallows consideration of salary increases in closed session, where trustees made the decision to increase Kinsella’s pay.

At that special closed session meeting Oct. 26 – which required just a 24-hour notice to the public – the board approved the contract extension in light of Kinsella being named a finalist for the chancellor post at West Valley-Mission Community College District. The new contract increased Kinsella’s salary on Jan. 1 from $234,090 to $255,090. It is set to reach $276,090 by 2015 – with no apparent cap – when he would also receive a $31,500 lump sum if he stays with the college until that point. Kinsella’s prior contract awarded him 3 percent annual increases until 2015.

Alejo, who represents local citizens in the Assembly, urged the college board to reconsider the item despite a lapsed deadline to legally challenge the approval if a Brown Act violation did occur.

It could have been rescinded if a “cure and correct” letter came to the board within 90 days of the approval. The public’s legal remedy remaining is “declaratory relief” – which acts more like a censure from the courts, but allows increased, potential enforcement if there is evidence pointing to a pattern of violations.

Gavilan spokeswoman Jan Bernstein-Chargin said she would check to see if the college received Alejo’s letter.

Check back later for more details.

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