Two college students were injured after getting pepper sprayed while rallying at a Board of Trustees meeting at Santa Monica College.
Officials at Santa Monica College are investigating an incident in which campus police used pepper spray on dozens of students Tuesday night as they disrupted a Board of Trustees meeting to protest a new plan to offer a second tier of higher-cost classes.
More than 100 students disrupted the 7 p.m. meeting when they "stormed into the board room and started shouting" to protest the plan, said Bruce Smith, a spokesman for Santa Monica College.
"Our police made a judgement call that this is a safety issue," Smith said. "They evacuated the board room, they did use pepper spray, and eventually things calmed down and they resumed the meeting...We'll be investigating this and have a statement out as soon as possible."
Firefighters reported to the scene at 7:24 p.m. and "decontaminated" about 30 people affected by pepper spray, said Santa Monica Fire Department Division Chief Jose Torres. Three people were transported to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries, Torres said.
Tami Abdollah / KPCC
California public officials had to file potential economic conflict of interest forms this week. More than 4,000 L.A. Unified employees filed the state form required by the Fair Political Practices Commission. Form 700 is a public document.
"The purpose was to let the public know, and also to let the official know what conflicts of interest there might be," Bob Stern said. Almost 40 years ago, the longtime California ethics watchdog Stern helped draft the law that created the form, "and to make sure that the public official did not engage in those conflict of interests, and if the public official did, the public would know because they had disclosed those assets on their statement of economic interest, which would be on file with the agency and also with the state."
The form doesn’t list a person’s entire income and assets — just what might cause potential conflicts of interest. In the case of a public school official, that might be money from textbook companies, but Stern said that’s not the only lapse.
Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his 2012 proposed budget plan. The budget has dropped by about $1 billion since 2007 while undergraduate tuition has nearly doubled.
The California State University system has been hit with about $1 billion in state funding cuts since 2007-8. At that time, state funding accounted for about 67 percent of the overall $4.5 billion operating budget, said CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp. Fast forward to 2011-12, and the state provides about 50 percent of the nearly $4 billion budget.
The system has tried to compensate for that loss by nearly doubling tuition, bringing it up from the $2,772 per year for a full-time undergraduate in 2007-8 to $5,472 in 2011-12. Along with such tuition increases the system cut programs and instituted other cost-saving measures such as leaving positions unfilled, Uhlenkamp said. That has allowed it to recoop about half, or $500 million of those cuts, he said.
Tuition is set to go up again for the 2012-13 school year. It will cost undergraduate students $5,970 per year, Uhlenkamp said. The system's officials also announced last month it will shut the door on nearly all of its spring 2013 applicants because of drastic cuts to state funding.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Teachers participate in an education budget cut rally and protest at Pershing Square on May 13, 2011 in downtown Los Angeles, California.
California State University spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp gave a bit of background on the executive compensation issue this afternoon after California's Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent his fellow Board of Trustees members a letter today calling for a freeze on more raises for incoming campus presidents.
Torlakson, who is also a trustee, was not at the January meeting in which the trustees established a policy to limit the amount of pay for presidents and established an acceptable range. Torlakson was also absent at last month's meeting where the board voted to approve the maximum salary increase for incoming presidents at CSU's Fullerton and East Bay campuses.
This was at the same meeting where university officials presented trustees with their plan, which will shut the door on nearly all of its spring 2013 applicants in order to offset drastic cuts to state funding.
Protesters smashed one of the large glass doors leading into the CSU Board of Trustees' headquarters on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011.
In a strongly-worded letter to the California State University Board of Trustees today, the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, derided recent pay raises for two incoming campus presidents and called for a freeze on executive compensation when hiring for five other open campus president positions.
Last month, the CSU Board of Trustees approved the maximum allowable pay increases for incoming presidents at the system's Fullerton and East Bay campuses. The system will also be conducting president searches for at least five campuses including San Bernardino, California Maritime, San Francisco, Stanislaus and Monterey Bay.
"As I understand it, the executive compensation policy adopted recently by this board states that incoming campus presidents are to receive no more than a 10 percent increase above the pay level of the predecessor," Torlakson wrote in his letter. "This policy was designed to create a ceiling for compensation during a time of crisis. Instead, it appears that it is also being used as a floor."