By Fleur Bailey and Alex Emslie
NEWS EDITOR AND OPINIONS AND EDITORIALS EDITOR
Former City College Chancellor Philip Day and current administrators James Blomquist and Stephen Herman were due to attend San Francisco Superior Court Tuesday, Sept. 1 for charges filed by District Attorney Kamala Harris of alleged misuse of public funds and making illegal campaign contributions.
Their team of three defense attorneys attended court to ask for a continuance in order to give more time for discovery and investigation into the 40,000 pages of documentation concerning the case. Another hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 5. The three defendants themselves were not present in court, as they had filed a 977 waiver, which excused their presence for the re-scheduling.
Two other City College affiliates however, were present at the court; retired City College librarians Julia Bergman and Margaret Brickner, who were showing their support for the defendants, recently named “The City College Three.”
“I admire and respect all of them,” Bergman said. “The big picture here is for the reputation of CCSF, the students, and the future of the college. It is bigger than the individuals. Seventy-five years of the most important institution of higher education in San Francisco. I wanted to stand up and support them.”
Bergman has written a letter in support of Day, Blomquist and Herman, which has been endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 and more than 250 others. The letter has been posted on a blog which has received over 4,000 hits and 300 comments of support, Bergman said. The letter outlines some of the improvements to City College completed or initiated during Day’s tenure as chancellor.
“I’m very honored by the support from my colleagues at the college,” said Herman, who is currently on administrative leave. “To me, that is a tremendous testament to the accomplishment of myself, Phil Day and James Blomquist.”
Bergman’s letter states that, “The three administrators received no personal benefit or gain from their alleged wrongdoings, and the funds that had been allegedly misused were repaid.”
“All the records were completely public,” Bergman said. “Not one cent was used for personal gain.”
“This is political, it isn’t legal,” said Doron Weinberg, Stephen Herman’s attorney. “For Steve, the support he has seen from the campus is so uplifting. He has seen people rising to his support and making a difference.”
At a fundraiser held for District Attorney Harris on Aug. 30, a small group of City College faculty and AFT 2121 representatives distributed literature in support of the defendants.
While those attending the fundraiser for Harris’ stayed inside the home of Agar Jaicks and those on the sidewalk were cordial and respectful to each other, there was obvious disagreement about the prosecution of Day, Blomquist and Herman.
“I give [Day] an A for motivation and an F for understanding the law,” Jaicks said. “There is no ambiguity in the law and Kamala Harris has no choice but to prosecute, in my eyes.”
Ed Murray, vice president of AFT 2121, delivered a letter to Harris endorsed by the union’s delegate assembly. In the letter, AFT 2121 urged Harris to ensure due process for the three current and former City College administrators and criticized “sensationalist headlines” that assault presumption of innocence. Rodger Scott, a teachers union executive board member, disagreed with the leafleting that took place Aug. 30.
“I drafted the official letter and I stand by the points made in the letter,” Scott said. “I oppose the leafleting at this function because I don’t think it’s the appropriate form to do it.”
“The other side of the story is all the good that Dr. Day did while he was chancellor,” Murray said. “Our name keeps getting dragged through the mud every time something comes up in the papers — as The Chronicle has done for the past two years.”
Addressing the crowd from Jaicks’ porch, Harris said although she wasn’t able to talk about the case, she appreciated all the work that has been done.Ace Smith, Harris’ campaign consultant, said that Ed Murray was invited inside to speak to the district attorney.
“The reality is, anyone who knows her record knows that she does an incredibly professional job,” Smith said of Harris. “No matter what you do, you’re always going to be criticized in doing a professional job as prosecutor, but it’s a free country, and we have freedom of speech.”
Bergman’s letter in support of Day, Blomquist and Herman is available at http://ccsfsupport.wordpress.com/