Board of Trustees meeting canceled without explanation
The College of the Desert’s Board of Trustees meeting originally planned for Friday, March 17 has been canceled due to a lack of a quorum, COD officials have confirmed. They cited “unforeseen circumstances, but did not identify the circumstances.
The abrupt cancellation caught the attention of Promises Made, Promises Broken, a group of concerned residents of the Coachella Valley that believes Valley students don’t have the education resources they deserve.
“This is nothing more than a blatant and underhanded political maneuver to block a discussion and vote on whether to appoint a replacement for Fred Jandt’s seat or leave his seat vacant until the next regularly scheduled election in March 2024,” Bruce Hoban, a spokesperson for the group told Uken Report. “Palm Springs and Cathedral City residents deserve to be represented. There are several highly qualified residents who live in the district and could be appointed to immediately fill this vacant seat.
“We have been continuously asking, ‘Where is our money?” Now we have to demand ‘Where is our representation?’ ” Hoban said.
The unexpected cancellation of the meeting also caught the attention of Palm Springs Mayor Grace Garner.
“It is extremely disappointing that College of the Desert officials canceled Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting due to lack of quorum; especially since our Palm Springs representative Dr. Fred Jandt promised to make himself available if he could participate remotely,” Garner told Uken Report. “The law requires that requests for reasonable accommodations by individuals with a disability be swiftly resolved in favor of accessibility. It is unfortunate that COD has chosen to ignore that legal requirement when one of their own appears to have a need for reasonable accommodation. In the interest of democracy, I urge COD officials to immediately reschedule this meeting.”
Trustees Rubén Pérez and Bea Gonzalez reportedly could not be at the meeting, though no reason was given. Trustee Fred Jandt has been attending via Zoom, which would leave only Bonnie Stefan and Joel Kinnamon in the room. Assembly Bill 2449, passed in October 2022, regarding the continuation of remote meetings states that for a quorum to be established members who are being counted as part of the quorum must be physically present. You cannot establish quorum by counting someone that is remotely attending the meeting.
The cancellation of the meeting comes as Jandt was prepared to submit his resignation effective March 31.
“It is most unfortunate that at least three of the five board members are unable to attend in-person at a regularly scheduled board meeting and canceled their appearances at the very last minute,” Trustee Joel Kinnamon told Uken Report. “I was ready to attend and do the work our constituents elected us to perform.”
“This would have been Trustee Fred Jandt’s last meeting based on his resignation letter and an opportunity for his fellow board members to thank him for his dedicated service not only to his constituents, but also to the community college community at large. I personally want to extend my heartfelt gratitude towards Trustee Jandt for putting his constituents first and representing them to his very best ability.
“Knowing that under his current health status, he could only attend Friday’s board meeting via Zoom, it is a shame that this opportunity has been taken from him.”
Pérez did not respond to two requests for comment as to why he is unable to attend the Friday meeting. Some are questioning whether his behavior is part of a growing pattern of questionable behavior for a public official.
Pérez was arrested on Feb. 10 for drunken driving and booked into the John Benoit Detention Center.
Pérez is employed as a field representative for Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia,
“Ruben is a valued member of our team and we are fully confident in his continued ability to fulfill the responsibilities of his job,” Garcia told Uken Report after Pérez’s arrest.
On March 13, Pérez showed up late to a special Board of Trustees meeting on ethics.
Gonzalez is the target of reported recall. She could not be reached at her home Thursday morning for comment.
The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be in April.
- Joel Kinnamon: Joel Kinnamon
- College of the Desert: College of the Desert