“I truly believe that (Joel Kinnamon) will have no hesitation in exposing what backroom deals have been made and where the bodies are buried.  No public entity should need to be sued to find out how decisions have been made and who made them.” — Ginny Foat

RANCHO MIRAGE — Former College of the Desert Superintendent/President Joel Kinnamon has an impressive list of at least four dozen endorsements on his website from individuals and organizations. Among those endorsing him are business leaders, government officials, college dignitaries and faculty, community leaders and organizations.

A handful of people were chosen to explain why they are supporting this accomplished and revered educator, but for the most part, they are names on a screen. Uken Report set out to see why so many Coachella Valley leaders are supporting Kinnamon for the Desert Community College District Board of Trustees — Area 4.

Kinnamon served as Superintendent/President of College of the Desert from July 2012 to March 2021.  He was honored by the Board of Trustees with the distinction as “President Emeritus” for his outstanding service. Some of those same trustees are now supporting his opposition and attacking Kinnamon.

On Aug. 14, 2020, the College of the Desert Board of Trustees voted unanimously, 5-0, to extend the employment contract for Kinnamon until September 2024. Kinnamon has been working in community colleges for more than 30 years.

Those Endorsing Joel Kinnamon Speak Out Loudly

John Aguilar

Former Cathedral City Mayor John Aguilar, who is now a Coachella Valley Water District Board Member, has long been a big advocate for finding ways to empower underserved populations in the Coachella Valley.  That has always been a key part of any platform that he’s run on.

“When COD, under Joel’s leadership, initiated free tuition thru the plEDGE program several years ago, it opened doors for many students and families who could not afford even the basic college fees, tuition, and transportation costs, particularly from the East Valley and our disadvantaged neighborhoods in our other communities. This program which Joel championed, increased enrollment, which was declining at the College, and increased the number of students who could go to college and develop a skill and improve their economic well-being.   Joel has always been an advocate for seeking ways to fund these programs. I credit him a great deal for the program’s success and funding and getting the Board to support this effort.”

Aguilar said the other reason he for supporting Joel is that he will ensure that the Automotive Training Center will get built in Cathedral City. The current Board, Aguilar told Uken Report, has delayed, stymied, and procrastinated finalizing a decision on the Road Runner Training Center that has created a huge increase in the design and construction budget due to unnecessary delays.

“The Board’s attempt to divert the Center to the East Valley after significant costs were incurred buying a site in Cathedral City and planning for construction has been troubling,” Aguilar said. “Their claim that they are now moving forward with the project does not provide much of a comfort level because the community has lost complete trust in the majority of the board to keep its commitments to our families and deserving students.”

Aguilar added, “We have worked, and are still, working with the car dealerships who continue to tell us they have a shortage of qualified and trained mechanics. Joel was always a steadfast proponent of the Road Runner Training Center and I believe will ensure the facility is built and operated in the manner in which Cathedral City local officials and our residents were promised. He will bring badly needed transparency back to the Board which the public is seeking in order to restore its faith in our leaders at COD.  It is way overdue.”

Those Endorsing Joel Kinnamon Speak Out Loudly

Cathedral City Councilmember Nancy Ross

Nancy Ross, a Cathedral City Councilmember, said residents have an opportunity to elect an “award-winning,” President Emiratis of the College of the Desert, to be the next trustee for College of the Desert.

“This alone should be enough as his successes are without question, but it is important to remember why he was so successful as a leader, Ross said. “For me it was his foresight to bring free tuition, free bus rides to and from school, a free food bank for those students who are food insecure all while expanding the development of the college. For those of us in Cathedral City we won’t forget that it was Dr. Kinnamon who brought forth the inception for Road Runner Motors.

This automotive technology facility, when built, will bring good-paying jobs for the students while bolstering the No. 1 industry in Cathedral City, the Auto Center.

“He saw the need for the East Valley campus, Early Childhood Education programs, a veterans resource center, a gender and sexual diversity center,” Ross said. “I could go on. We are so fortunate that Dr. Kinnamon wants to continue to support our college and with his tried and proven leadership. I support him!”

Oh, what a night

Ginny Foat

Former Palm Springs City Councilmember Ginny Foat told Uken Report that she has been “very involved” in the ongoing battle to build a Campus in Palm Springs. She said she has experienced firsthand the lack of transparency, the lies, the bait and switch and the race baiting that have been put forward by the majority of the current Board of Trustees.

“I have been a political animal for many years and see the obvious influence certain politicians from the East Valley have on some of the Trustees and the controversial and might I add, out-of-her-league president that they hired,” Foat said. “They have given us so many changes in plans, excuses and fabrications that it is hard to understand if they are just disorganized, in over their head or downright deceitful.”

Foat said she is supporting Kinnamon for many reasons but mainly because he is a professional who came to COD at one of the lowest times in its history.  During his tenure he turned the college around to where it became an award-winning institution, she said.

“He has the capability and willingness to do just that at this time where unfortunately those that stand to make a lot of money or save their political career are using the COD controversy to move their interests forward,” Foat said.  “Palm Springs fought for the passage of both Bond measures and were promised a campus where the students of the West Valley could advance their education.  Joel has committed to building that campus not just giving us a tiny building while in the same breath accusing us of racism.   Joel has more experience than any of the current Trustees and no allegiance to any politicians.  I truly believe that he will have no hesitation in exposing what backroom deals have been made and where the bodies are buried.  No public entity should need to be sued to find out how decisions have been made and who made them.”

Cathedral City Councilmember Raymond Gregory is also among the dozens of people endorsing Kinnamon.

Those Endorsing Joel Kinnamon Speak Out Loudly

Cathedral City Councilmember Raymond Gregory

The College of the Desert governing board has demonstrated a real lack of professional leadership these past two years, ignoring the collaborative process and setting aside the district’s traditional focus on meeting the needs of students and communities in favor of exercising political muscle to push a divisive narrative pitting neighboring communities against each other, Gregory told Uken Report.

“I have known Dr. Joel Kinnamon since back when he was President of College of the Desert and am familiar with the leadership he provided during that period,” Gregory said. “Dr. Kinnamon has consistently demonstrated a knack for working with everyone to grow the college in the direction it needs to go to serve every resident of the Coachella Valley, using data, partnerships and true equity to reach team decisions that leave no one – or community – behind. If we are going to get the college back on a growth trajectory and fulfill its promises, we need professional leaders like Joel Kinnamon steering that effort.”








Image Sources

  • Nancy Ross: Nancy Ross
  • Raymond Gregory: Raymond Gregory
  • Joel Kinnamon: College of the Desert