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City College of San Francisco urged by Califorina's CC system to stop paying trustees for missed board meetings

San Francisco Chronicle

City College of San Francisco board president John Rizzo

Officials who oversee the state's community college system are urging City College of San Francisco to stop paying trustees for the meetings they fail to attend - a practice the state authority says is illegal.

But the City College lawyer says the college has no plans to stop the payouts. The college is still reviewing the matter, City College attorney Scott Dickey said, but he believes such payments are allowed under the City Charter.

"As it stands right now, I do not believe that we are violating the law," Dickey said.

"Our understanding is that ... the stipends are for holding office, not for any actual activity in office," he said.

As The Chronicle reported in February, the college has long paid its elected officials their $500 monthly stipend whether they show up or not.

That practice has continued. In April, longtime Trustee Lawrence Wong missed all four meetings while on vacation in Brazil but still collected his full stipend, according to the college's payroll department.

Trustee Natalie Berg missed two meetings that month while out of the country. She also received her full stipend, according to the payroll department.

At the May board meeting, Wong said that from now on he and Berg will donate at least part of their stipend back to the college every month.

The California Community Colleges chancellor's office said trustees shouldn't be paid for such absences at all. Steve Bruckman, vice chancellor of legal affairs for the state office, rejected Dickey's assertion that the City Charter, which sets trustee pay but doesn't mention attendance, exempts the college from state law in this case.
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