By Fleur Bailey
Former City College Chancellor Philip Day appeared in state court July 14 on charges filed by district attorney Kamala D. Harris of alleged misuse of public funds and illegal campaign contributions.
Also facing charges in the case are Associate Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Stephen Herman and Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities James Blomquist.
“All three defendants turned themselves in to the authorities,” said Erica Derryck, communications director at the district attorney’s office. “They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.”
According to a press release from the district attorney’s office, Day, chancellor at City College from 1998 to 2008, and Herman, who has been at City College since 1972, are each being charged with one count of conspiracy, misappropriation of public funds, concealing an account of public money, grand theft, making a political contribution in the name of another and three counts of using college funds to support a political campaign.
Day is also charged with a fourth count of using City College funds to support a political campaign.
“Phil Day has been a public servant in education for years,” said Cristina Arguedas, Day’s attorney. “There is no evidence that one dollar went into his pocket as a result of the mistakes. To call this criminal is highly inappropriate.”
Blomquist is charged with one count of using City College funds to support a political campaign, and making a political contribution in the name of another.
The alleged crimes took place between 1999 and 2006.
The district attorney’s press release revealed that in 1999, Day used City College funds to make a $500 contribution to the campaign of Sarah Reyes, who was running for a seat in the state assembly.
To raise money for campus construction projects, the City College board of trustees put a $195 million bond measure on the San Francisco ballot in 2001. Pepsi had negotiated a vending contract with City College to sell its products throughout the campus, committing to paying the college a $75,000 signing bonus.
Without the knowledge of the board of trustees, Day and Herman directed Pepsi to pay $50,000 of this bonus to the 2001 San Francisco bond campaign committee, according to the press release.
The board of trustees initiated another bond measure on the San Francisco ballot in 2005 to raise $246.3 million for campus construction projects. This time, another City College vendor, the Bean Scene, was awarded a contract to operate a cafe at the college.
The Bean Scene was to pay a $20,000 signing bonus to the college. Instead, the office of Kamala D. Harris alleges Day and Herman directed the Bean Scene to pay the $20,000 to the 2005 San Francisco bond campaign committee.
During the 2005 San Francisco bond campaign, Blomquist negotiated a lease agreement with the Bay Area Motorcycle Training Inc. which holds its training on campus. Blomquist is accused of directing the company to pay $10,000 of its City College lease payments to the 2005 San Francisco bond campaign.
Day and Herman are also accused of diverting money that Pepsi owed to City College again in 2006 to a statewide bond measure on the ballot which sought to raise money for the California Community College system.
Using a private charity as an intermediary, Day and Herman took approximately $28,000 which should have been paid to City College by Pepsi and sent it to the bond campaign, according to the district attorney’s office.
In addition, Day and Herman are charged with diverting funds to a hidden account Day maintained at the Foundation of City College of San Francisco, a private non-profit charity that raises money for student scholarships at City College. An apparent $45,000 was diverted from Pepsi into the account to pay for expenses such as a City Club membership for Day, parking tickets and alcoholic beverages at functions.
District Attorney Kamala Harris launched the Public Integrity Unit in 2004 to prosecute those who abuse a public trust or influence. The investigation into misuse of City College funds was instigated by a San Francisco Chronicle article from April 6, 2007. Assistant District Attorney Evan Ackiron is prosecuting this case.
On the day of their court appearance, presiding Judge Paul Alvarado agreed to lower the bail amounts of $75,000 for Day and $65,000 for Herman.
After posting bail of $10,000 each, Day, Herman and Blomquist were released from custody and are due to appear in court again on September 1.
Current City College Chancellor Dr. Don Q. Griffin declined to comment.