Board chair appoints second member of subcommittee to Review Charges about Trustee Pérez Violating Code of Ethics

Panel Named to Study Charges About Trustee Pérez

Trustee Ron Oden

PALM DESERT — Ron Oden, who was appointed with unanimous support in May to the College of the Desert Board of Trustees, will join Board Chair Bonnie Stefan on a subcommittee to review allegations that Trustee Rubén Pérez violated the College’s Code of Ethics.

The Board Chair had earlier appointed herself and former trustee Fred Jandt to the subcommittee.  In light of Trustee Jandt’s resignation in March a second member was needed.

The subcommittee was formed in response to written complaints against Trustee Pérez. Its task is to review the charges and make a report and recommendation back to the Board of Trustees in an open meeting, regarding the charges.

Pam Hunter, the former public information officer for COD, on Friday resubmitted complaints she had made earlier. For more than 20 years, Hunter said she was a member of a dedicated team that served students and community proudly.

“Now however, based on Trustee Perez’s comments, we are all apparently just a cesspool,” she wrote. “I am here today on behalf of my colleagues, the more than 600 that work here now, the hundreds that came before and the many more that will come after. All who gave their blood, sweat and tears every day but are just callously disrespected and dismissed. Maybe that’s why your current leadership team is full of empty positions and a revolving door of interims.” You may read her comments in full here.

She and others based their calls for an ethics probe based largely on the following statements he made in December.

Since then, he has been arrested for DUI and has spoken publicly in favor of a cannabis retailer in Indio on behalf of the College, when, in fact, COD has taken no official position.

During public comments, Alan Carvalho of Cathedral City said he wanted to remind everybody that there is a lot to be proud of at COD.

Panel Named to Study Charges About Trustee Pérez

Alan Carvalho

“I want us to work harder, to be (prouder.) I want us to work harder to stop smearing the image of this beautiful campus. I think it’s important for us to remember, your job is to serve the students and the public. And that any type of smearing of your personal life that affects this campus and affects this college is truly something to think twice about. Because when we badmouth each other, when we create scandal on ourselves by drinking and driving, we’re not good representatives of the student body. We have to try harder.”

Carvalho continued, “… So, thank you for the chance to speak. Continue to do your job. And remember, let’s be the adults in the room.”

Panel Named to Study Charges About Trustee Pérez

Lynne O’Neill

Lynne O’Neill, a retired attorney from Thousand Palms, who has spoken before the board multiple times, recounted Perez’ alleged missteps and that of another trustee she did not name but implied it to be Trustee Bea Gonzalez. O’Neill ticked through them one by one.

“The next, we have this cannabis letter going out,” O’Neill said of Perez’s letter in support of a cannabis retailer in Indio. “You are a governmental educational institution bound by all of the rules concerning endorsements. It’s not right to infer that this governmental board goes along with this cannabis group, where you are also on the board, young man. And in terms of your personal problems, I sincerely wish you good luck. I really do. This is Southern California, where people love comeback stories.”

As Perez continues to come under attack and appears to misstep, Uken Report reached out to his employer Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia with numerous questions. He was reportedly traveling with the Latino Caucus on Thursday and Friday and was unavailable to talk.

But he sent this message through a staff member via text. Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia reaffirms, “Ruben is a valued member of our team who continues to fulfill the responsibilities of his job.”



Image Sources

  • Ron Oden: Ron Oden
  • Alan Carvalho: Alan Carvalho
  • Code of ethics: Shutterstock