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The topic of a future bond has driven me to attend the last two Napa Valley College Board meetings.

Unfortunately, in January, Trustee Amy Martenson’s proposal to have legal counsel present at board meetings was voted down 3-4. Martenson, Baker and Baldini voted for the proposal, while Mancuso, Iverson, Rios and Segura voted against it. The student trustee, Manveer Sandhu, saw the wisdom of having an attorney present at board meetings. He voted for it. Too bad his vote is only advisory.

Without legal oversight, the college board must foster an “open government" climate with the community and follow its policies and procedures. The board needs to be more inclusive and more transparent.

To start, the board needs to learn Robert’s Rules. Luckily for our community, the student trustee was able to stop Board Chair Mancuso and Trustee Iverson from running wild during the January meeting when the pair tried to avoid voting on an amendment to a motion. Sandhu stopped the pair, educated them on Robert’s Rules, and was able to get the meeting on course.

Chair Mancuso needs to adhere to the requests of community members and do like the rest of our government agencies in Napa by allowing for public comment after college presentations, instead of requiring the public to comment beforehand. In response to a few board members expressing support for this simple community request, Mancuso made the following comment, “Anybody who speaks to the Board, we are listening and hearing your comments. I also want to say to my colleagues on the Board that this is our board meeting.”

I’d like to refer Mancuso to the Brown Act, which says, “Public agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the PEOPLE’S business.” Her job is to represent the community.

The Board needs to make sure that board members’ motions are recorded in the minutes, so the public knows what took place at board meetings.

Chair Mancuso needs to follow the law and allow board members to agendize issues in a timely fashion.

Finally, the board should insist that President Kraft work with community stakeholders on any future bond. His high-paid consultants have done a horrible job communicating with the public. He needs to do a better job of explaining why a highly rated community college needs more than a quarter billion dollar bond.

Power to the People.

James Hinton

Napa

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