Trustee Ron Oden Said ‘Broken Synapse’ Led to His Silence in February When Trustee Pérez Issued Warning


Rubén AríAztlán Pérez

PALM DESERT — One month after the College of the Desert Board of Trustees voted 4-2 to issue Rubén AríAztlán Pérez a verbal warning for violating the Board’s Ethics Policy, Trustee Ron Oden on Friday said he had a “broken synapse” that day and failed to speak.

Chair Bonnie Stefan and Oden made the recommendation to issue Pérez a warning after reviewing an investigator’s findings as a subcommittee. No one spoke after the except Pérez who said he did not agree with a formal warning.

Oden made his heartfelt remarks at Friday’s regular monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees. Oden said he had shared his thoughts with Pérez privately but wanted to make his comments publicly as well.

Pérez was reportedly ill on Friday and did not attend the meeting.

“I suffered a broken synapse, and I didn’t respond,” Oden said during Trustee comments. “There were things that I wanted to say, and even though (Pérez) is not here today, it’s OK because I’ve already expressed these thoughts to him personally. “I don’t know, I blanked out. But I spoke with Ruben face-to-face and expressed my thoughts and feelings afterward, and I felt like I had done him a disservice by not making my expressions public because of the public perception of the outcome of the report.”

The violations occurred before Oden came on the board, so he did not witness them firsthand, he said.

He did, however, review the transcripts and the video to make sure that the findings were unbiased.

“I’d like to say that the finding did not reflect the person that I know,” Oden said. “I worked with him. I find him to be kind, courteous, cooperative and professional. I’ve known Ruben for a long time. When he was very young, his father used to bring him to Democratic Club meetings, so we go way back.

“I’m proud of the man that he has become. His very presence speaks to an underserved population within the Coachella Valley and at this institution. Whether he opens his mouth or not, he speaks to an underserved population that are young men, not just Latino men, but young men in general. Because when I was in college, the majority of the people in college were men.”

That script has been flipped, so we need his presence and his voice, Oden said. “I want you to know that it’s valued, not just for men of color, but for all young men.”

Oden went on to say that he has been in public service most of his adult life and has done some things and said some things along the way that were not necessarily in his best interest or anyone else’s.

“I’ve learned from those,” Oen said. “To Ruben, I said, “You are young, you are talented, and I believe that you have a very promising political career ahead of you. Protect yourself, even if it means protecting yourself from yourself.”

We all need to be mindful of the trust that we have been given, careful how we handle it, and treat and speak to one another with decorum that honors the trust that the public has bestowed upon us, Oden said.

“When you reach a certain level of success, you’re going to generate haters, and there are people that would love to see him crash and burn,” Oden said. “I certainly don’t want to see that, but the only person who can protect that is Ruben. Good luck, my friend. I wish you the best.”




Image Sources

  • ruben-perez: COD
  • Ron Oden: Ron Oden