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By Brian Hews
Controversy surrounded the July 19 ABCUSD Board Meeting as Board Member Lynda Johnson attempted to block the appointment of long-time committee member and ABCFT Union Representative Gavin Riley, throwing the normally tranquil meeting into chaos.
The controversy began when Vice President Christopher Apodaca nominated Hugo Enciso as his representative to the ABCUSD Facilities Committee.
After Apodaca spoke, Johnson suddenly inquired about the appointment of Riley to the ABC Finance and Audit Committee based on his “employment status” with the ABC, and how it “deviated from Board bylaws.”
It was that move that threw the Board meeting into complete disarray.
Riley has been affiliated with the ABC for over 50 years, 38 years as a teacher, with the remaining as a part-time teacher while volunteering and serving on several un-paid ABC committees.
As the board was asked to vote to approve the list of appointees that included Enciso, Johnson stipulated an amendment to the agenda item in order to “review the status of Riley and postpone the appointment to a future date.”
But Johnson apparently was not aware of the Rules of Order.
After the move to amend, Board President Chen asked for public comment, a surprised Johnson vehemently objected.
“We can have public comment”? Johnson asked.
Chen indicated that it was proper to allow comment because Johnson added an amendment to the agenda item, a discussion ensued and it was ruled that public comment was allowed.
Richard Hathaway spoke first and confirmed the Board’s ruling that since Johnson made an amendment, public comment is allowed.
Speaking directly at Johnson, Hathaway said, “There is no way I could know about an amendment prior to the meeting, once the amendment is made I can submit a comment card, it only makes sense that comments are allowed.”
Hathaway then slammed Johnson for her singling our Riley and then the ABCFT Union.
Hathaway said, “This is disgusting. Board member Johnson has also attempted to have me thrown off the Facilities Committee. Riley has been on Finance and Audit Committee for years, he was a teacher for 38 years, long-time community member and volunteer, you question Gavin [Riley] you question the ABCFT. He is a good man; you [Johnson] do not want people on committees who do not agree with you, that’s wrong. ABCFT should be able to appoint people who best represent their members.
Riley then calmly took the podium and spoke about his 50 years of service to the ABCUSD, 38 years as a teacher, 11 years with the union in various positions.
“We are in a situation with the district where every dollar counts and you need people who are experienced. If you want community members who are well intentioned but less experienced that’s your call. But I do not think one board member should beat the board to make decisions simply for her own benefit.”
Board Member Sophie Tse then chimed in saying, “the ABCUSD needs to go by our bylaws, I am not ignoring your [Riley’s] ability or contributions, but I think we need to follow the bylaws.”
Tse then asked Superintendent Dr. Sieu to look into the matter. Sieu indicated the Board can deviate from bylaws but it must be voted on by the entire Board.
VP Apodaca then interjected with a “call to question” to appoint Enciso, which stops discussion on the current issue. Board Member Maynard Law, who was teleconferencing, seconded his motion.
The motion passed with Tse and Johnson voting no.
The Board was then forced to waste more time and go back to discuss and vote on Johnson’s original amendment to table Riley’s appointment.
A lighter moment ensued as Enciso, who had stood up when VP Apodaca nominated him at the beginning, was still standing. Apodaca told Enciso he could sit down with the entire room bursting out in laughter.
The ensuing discussion made it clear that Johnson did not want Riley to serve on the FA committee. Given that stance, her proposed amendment to table his appointment was voted down 4-3.
Apodaca, Chen, Law, Mendoza voted no to approve the amendment, with Tse, Johnson, and Yoo voting yes.
A confused Johnson then asked, “So are we going back to the original motion?”
Rules of Order allowed public comment once again with Hathaway immediately submitting a comment card.
Hathaway once again slammed Johnson, “I have never seen an appointee get refused in the 39 years I have been here. Hopefully the board will approve the list of appointees. Johnson has done a disservice to appointees. She pulls someone off the list and names him in public without talking to anybody? This is how it works, you are allowed to appoint from your area. Your [Johnson’s] actions set a dangerous precedent, it’s insulting… I am insulted. You can always come back and discuss the bylaw issue.”
Trying to calm the situation, Johnson then backtracked and thanked Riley and Hathaway for their service.
“We have bylaws in place, if we are deviating from the bylaws then a discussion needs to take place. I wanted to table the appointment, I am not attacking him [Riley].”
Tse then said, “we should construct meetings better and not name volunteers, they are very valuable to the district.”
Rebuking Johnson, Tse then wanted to nominate Riley as her FA member but was told that she had to wait.
An angry Apodaca was allowed to speak and talked about “what is like as a board member.”
“Our next meeting is September, between now and then we can straighten this out without having to strain the relations between the labor group and ABCUSD. Having to drag someone through mud, it is disrespectful and lacks class. At this time we have a motion to appoint Enciso, all this other stuff can be fixed at a later date.”
Tse then asked for a vote.
After all the chaos and administrative maneuvers, the Board voted to approve Enciso’s appointment, with Johnson voting yes along with the six other Board Members.
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