Orange County, CA-Coast Community College Board Trustee, Armando Ruiz, known for resigning just before the last election four years ago so he could double-dip on his retirement, is feeding from the trough once again. He has booked a trip to New York City the weekend before the election to attend a conference of the Association of Community College Trustees.
At a time of severe budget shortfalls, Ruiz has decided to extend his stay an extra night even though the conference ends at noon and there is plenty of time to catch a flight back the same day. I wonder if he is staying the extra night so he can watch the New York City Marathon?
“The fact that he’s going to the conference and that we’re paying for it is an issue,” says Trustee challenger Lorraine Prinsky, “the fact that Ruiz didn’t bother to consider the budget shortfalls and save a little money by leaving on the day the conference ends makes it even worse.”
According to fellow Trustee Jerry Patterson, Coast Community College Board exceeded its budget for travel by over $20,000 last year.Â Trustees Patterson, Hornbuckle, and Moreno have cancelled their participation in this years conference due to budget shortfalls. While community college classes are being cut due to lack of funding Ruiz continues to fund travel junkets and authorize extended stays.
Ruiz will fly home on November 2nd even though the conference will be over and flights were available November 1st (rooms are about $600/night that weekend because of the New York Marathon).Â
As Ruiz plans his trip to New York, Department chairs at OCC, Golden West and Coastline Colleges have been directed to cut hundreds of classes from the Spring ’09 schedule.
In the midst of a California and national financial crisis, instead of meeting with constituents or addressing concerns in the community prior to election day, Ruiz will be enjoying an extra day at taxpayer expense in New York City.Â
The Coast Federation of Educators (CFE), the union that represents full and some of the part-time faculty in the Coast District, has long-taken the position that the Board’s travel budget is out of control.Â “Trustees, per person, have more money than we have been able to negotiate for faculty for conferences and workshops. That’s backwards, and I don’t see how it best serves our students,” said Dean Mancina, CFE President.
Known as the travel junket king in the Coast Community College District, Ruiz has booked a $600/night hotel room on Times Square in order to attend the Association of Community College Trustees conference, costing taxpayers $3,000.
Ruiz is being challenged by 35 year Cal State Fullerton professor Lorraine Prinsky, who is running on a platform of integrity, leadership and accountability. Prinsky told TheLiberalOC.com “I hope that Mr. Ruiz has a sudden awakening and cancels his taxpayer funded trip. It is unconscionable that at a time when we are cutting classes he would blow money on unnecessary travel.”