King of the platinum parachute (10/13/08)
Double-dipper Ruiz is back.
Columnist, The Orange County Register
Three weeks from today, if history holds to form, a plurality of ill-informed voters in Area 3 of the Coast Community College District will re-elect Armando Ruiz to another four-year term.
I say uninformed because I do not believe most of the voters to be unintelligent – they are simply too busy to really pay attention to what they perceive as a relatively minor race. Were they informed, they would know Ruiz is a scoundrel of the most cynical ilk, a career bureaucrat and politician who systematically milks the system and, I presume, will continue to do so until he is too feeble of mind or body to put his signature to the re-election documents that election after election propel him back into office.
Ruiz first came to my attention during his last election, in 2004. In a series of deft moves, he created for himself a golden – nay, a platinum – parachute that would shame a bond-company CEO.
To paraphrase heavily from one of my own brilliant summations of this complex set of maneuvers, here’s how he did it:
In early 2004, Ruiz was an administrator in the South County Community College District. He also was a trustee of the Coast district; his term was up in November.
He wanted to officially “retire” from both jobs on the same day so he could take advantage of a loophole that allowed a person to pull the ultimate pension spike. He also wanted to run again for the Coast board, but if he “retired” from that part-time gig and ran again, he couldn’t be listed as an incumbent on the ballot and would risk losing.
Here’s how he accomplished both goals: Early in the year, he set his South County retirement for Oct. 31, the Sunday before the Nov. 2 election. Then on Friday, Oct. 29, at 4:32 p.m. – 28 minutes before the county education office closed and he would lose his opportunity – he faxed over a four-sentence letter in which he also retired from the Coast trusteeship, also effective Oct. 31. Read the rest of Part 1.
In Part II, Frank covers Ruiz’s retirement travel. (NOTE: TheLiberalOC broke the story about the New York trip last week here: Coastline College Trustee wasting money on NYC trip)
Part II. Yesterday: Coast Community College District Trustee Armando Ruiz is shamelessly running for re-election.
So after engineering one of the great double-dipping schemes of all time in 2004, what has Ruiz done for taxpayers and students since? Well, let’s just take the past year.
In June, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges – the preeminent accrediting body – sent the district’s Orange Coast College a letter saying it was in danger of losing its accreditation.
Among the problems was a purely administrative one, one within the trustees’ purview: It wasn’t clear what the differences were between the district office’s job and those of the administrations of the three colleges – Coastline, Golden West and Orange Coast. If the district didn’t fix all the deficiencies within a year, accreditation would be yanked.
The letter also stated that the letter must be given to the board of trustees. Ruiz was, and is, the chairman, and knew of the problem early. But at least two other trustees were not told, according to Trustee Jerry Patterson. He learned about it the next month – and not from the chairman or administration, but from a teacher who’d heard about it and dropped the bombshell at a public meeting.
“It’s going to be OK,” Patterson told me, referring to correcting the problems, “but it’s the process (that’s the problem). It was all behind the scenes.”