Alex Lamp/The Guardsman
Pressed against the glass frame of City College’s Chinatown North Beach center on the morning of Jan. 6, faculty, staff and students listened attentively for updated accreditation information and supporting words from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.
The press conference was held overlooking Kearny Street. Half of the lobby was sectioned off for the conference that was attended by approximately 100 people, forcing some attendees to stand wherever there was room, including the main staircase.
Pelosi expressed her full support for City College through the end of the press conference. Her address did not deliver solutions to the problem, however, she reproved the actions of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
“It’s very exciting and I’m very disappointed that we have to go through this,” Pelosi said. “The fact is we have to come out of this stronger. Still strong, still committed, still City College.”
Standing beside Pelosi, Board of Trustees member Rafael Mandelman assured that City College will continue to remain open due to the injunction placed on the commission’s review process in alignment with City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s recent lawsuit against the commission.
“It is critically important that people understand that City College is open, and though you may have heard it’s closing in July, it’s not,” Mandelman said. “City College is going to be open for years and decades to come.”
Pelosi recognized City College as a key player to the sustainability of the local economy of San Francisco and the overall US economy.
“Nothing brings more money to the [public] treasury than the education of the American people,” Pelosi said.
According to a September study released by San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, the annual estimated economic benefit of City College to the city of San Francisco was $306 million in the fiscal year 2011-2012.
Mar projected this figure by combining City College’s state and federal revenue of $188 million with the local generated revenue of $118 million from students attending and have attended City College. The study also stated that the “closure of CCSF would result in the layoff of up to 2,457 positions and loss of salaries and benefits of $169 million.”
Pelosi’s vocalized support of City College was unquestionable. However, her presence following the recent public appearances of Congressperson’s Jackie Speier, Anna Eshoo and George Miller left the audience questioning her motives.
The Guardsman directly asked Pelosi, “What brought you out today and why is this your first time speaking in front of us?” Pelosi attributed her attendance to the opportune timing of the meeting that fell on a congressional holiday.
“We chose this day because of the timing and because Congress was not in session,” Pelosi said. “It gave us an opportunity to hear from me and more importantly to hear from our elected officials, the leadership of the [San Francisco] community college Board of Trustees.”
Chairman of City College’s ESL Department Gregory Keech is among the dissatisfied City College faculty who have actively attempted to reach out to Congresswoman Pelosi for her support.
“People have been contacting her office for years and we haven’t heard anything official from her,” Keech said.
Keech said Pelosi has been waiting for the opportune timing to publicize her support for City College.
“They have been trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing,” Keech said. “Now with the injunction it’s clear which way the wind is blowing.”
In the Summer of 2013, Democratic supporters Lisa Jaicks and Peter Gabel, attended an event at San Francisco Democratic County Committee member Agar Jaicks’ home. Their goal was to gain the support of Pelosi for City College.
“Last summer we had a [Democratic] fundraiser and we talked about the importance of this issue,” Gabel said. “We began facilitating interactions between her and the community.”
Agar Jaicks is the father of Lisa Jaicks and a long time Democratic supporter and friend of Congresswoman Pelosi.
“It was at Agar Jaicks’ house, he was doing a fundraiser for the Democratic Party, she was the guest of honor. We asked her if she would speak about City College and she said ‘of course,’” Lisa Jaicks said.
Overall, Lisa Jaicks was satisfied with Pelosi’s delivery. “I thought she did exactly what she said she was going to do, which is to bring her moral authority to the issue and make it clear to the accreditors and everyone else where she stands,” Lisa Jaicks said. “I think it has a great deal of value.”
Gabel also content, commented on the effectiveness of Pelosi’s political presence to the community.
“She came out solidly in support of City College’s permanent existence and helping to create an expectation among the community of San Francisco that the leadership of the country and this city is determined to be a successful outcome,” Gabel said.