By CASEY MUSE JR.
The Pima Community College softball team (25-12, 19-9 conference) has been playing well in March and has found consistency in several aspects of the game.
March 4: PCC 4, Phoenix 10/ PCC 1, Phoenix 12
The No. 18 Aztecs fell behind 4-0 early in the first game against the No. 2 Bears. They cut into the lead by scoring three runs in the fourth inning.
Sophomore Bailey Critchlow took the loss as she pitched four and two-third innings, finishing with 10 hits and three walks.
Phoenix College jumped out early in the second game, scoring five runs in the first inning. Sophomore Luisa Silvain took the loss. She finished with four hits, one strikeout and one walk.
March 7: PCC 15, Ancilla 1/ PCC 21, Ancilla 2
Pima got back on track in a big way in a double-header against Ancilla College at the Tucson Invitational at Lincoln Park.
The first game saw the Aztecs score five runs in the first inning, then seven more in the fourth.
Freshman Mandy Lorenson earned the win, pitching all five innings. She finished with two hits and 12 strikeouts.
In the second game, the Aztecs scored four runs in the first inning and another 10 runs in the fourth.
Freshman Hannah Wood picked up the win, pitching all five innings. She finished with seven hits and two strikeouts.
March 9: PCC 5, Central Arizona 7
The Aztecs saw their late rally attempt fall short in a makeup game at home.
Pima struck first on a sacrificefly RBI in the first inning. Things got away from the Aztecs when the Vaqueras scored five unanswered runs for a 7-2 lead.
Critchlow took the loss, pitching three innings. She finished with 11 hits and two strikeouts.
March 11: PCC 4, Paradise Valley 8/ PCC 13, Paradise Valley 5
The first game was tight until the Pumas busted it open with seven runs in the sixth.
Silvain took the loss. She pitched four innings and finished with eight hits and one strikeout.
The Aztecs earned revenge in the second game, scoring four runs in the first inning, two in the second and four more in the sixth.
Lorenson got the win. She pitched two innings and finished with two strikeouts and six walks.
March 14: PCC 6, South Mountain 1/ PCC 8, South Mountain 0
Critchlow pitched one of her best performances of the year, so far, in the first game. She pitched the complete game, finishing with one run, five hits and two strikeouts. The offense put up six runs.
The second game was even more dominant as Aztecs scored eight runs.
Lorenson provided her best pitching performances of the season as well, finishing with no hits, three strikeouts and four walks.
March 16: PCC 14, Chandler-Gilbert 1/ PCC 20, Chandler-Gilbert 1
In the first game, Pima scored four runs in the second, fourth, and fifth for a mercy-rule win.
Critchlow earned her 10th win, pitching all five innings and finishing with seven hits.
In the second game, the Aztecs scored 10 runs in the first and eight in the second one. Lorenson tossed her second straight no-hitter for her fifth win.
March 18: PCC 10, AWC 7/ PCC 5, AWC 4
Pima took an early lead in the first game, scoring four runs in the first inning.
The Matadors scored three runs of their own in the fourth to cut the lead to one. The Aztecs put the game away with six runs in the fourth.
Critchlow earned another victory, finishing with nine hits. The second game was extremely close throughout.
Arizona Western battled to a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning, but Pima freshman Alysa Talamante hit a game-winning walk-off RBI.
Lorenson pitched all eight innings and finished with 12 strikeouts and three walks.
March 21: PCC 6 Glendale 1/ PCC 20 Glendale 0
The Aztecs continued their winning streak with a conference sweep over Glendale on the road.
Freshman Megan Flores got things started for the offense with an RBI single in the first inning of the first game to help Pima take control.
Sophomore Margarita Corona got in on the action with an RBI double of her own in the third.
Critchlow earned the win pitching the complete game and finishing with eight hits and four strikeouts. Her record sits at 12-5 for the season.
Game two was even more dominant as PCC scored seven runs in the third inning and another 11 in the fourth inning on their way to 20 total runs and a mercy rule victory.
March 25: Mesa CC, West Campus, doubleheader, noon, 2 p.m.
March 28: at Yavapai College, Prescott, doubleheader, 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
April 1: at GateWay CC, Phoenix, doubleheader, noon, 2 p.m.
April 4: at Central Arizona, Coolidge, doubleheader, 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
By: Rene Escobar
The Pima Community College baseball team (15-17, 6-14 conference) has shown a fire-and-ice trend as the team starts out hot but cools off as the game wears on.
“It’s a long season,” sophomore catcher Shawn Bracamontes said. “We’ll figure it out.”
March 4: PCC 8, Glendale 9/ PCC 2 Glendale CC 6
The Aztecs dropped their fourth straight game in a nail biter.
Sophomore Anthony Felix hit a two-run double to tie the game 4-4 in the bottom of the third.
Sophomore Manny Ramirez gave the Aztecs a short-lived lead in the fourth inning after he hit an RBI single.
The Aztecs fought back in the seventh inning to tie the game once more. Sophomore Oscar Larranaga hit an RBI double that scored pinch runner Jared Kromminga.
Heading into the top of the 11th inning, the game was knotted at 8 to 8.
The Aztecs still had a shot heading into the bottom of the inning. However they left the tying run on third base in the bottom of the 11th inning.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Aztecs came out firing but lost momentum as the game played on.
March 7: PCC 2, GateWay 6/ PCC 1, GateWay 3
The first game was an offensive nightmare for the Aztecs, who scored two on four hits for the entire game.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the offensive struggles continued as the Aztecs managed one run on two hits. Aztec batters draw eight walks for the game.
March 11: PCC 2, Yavapai 4/ PCC 8, Yavapai 3
The Aztecs ended a sevengame free fall with a split in Prescott. Pima lost the first game of the doubleheader but won the second.
In game one, the Aztecs trailed early and were down by three in the third inning. They fought back in later innings but failed to take the lead, and managed just three hits for the game.
One swing broke the losing streak in game two.
With Pima trailing by two in the third, sophomore Erick Migueles hit a three-run homerun to spark his teammates.
“We needed it,” Echols said.
The Aztecs rode the energy given off by the homerun to add on another three runs in the fifth.
March 14: PCC 9, Monroe 2/ PCC 3, Monroe 7
The Aztecs drew first blood in the first inning, scoring three runs. They poured it on in the fourth to secure the lead for good.
The Aztecs drop the second game in a poor offensive performance, leaving 10 runners on base.
March 15: PCC 7, Mesa 3 The Aztecs took down No. 5
Mesa Community College in a makeup game from a rained-out exhibition on Feb. 18.
March 17: PCC 4, Madison 2
The Aztecs’ win streak continued as they defeated Madison at West Campus.
The team was down by two in the bottom of the sixth, but Migueles changed the complexion of the game with a triple to take the lead.
March 21: PCC 2, Scottsdale CC 6/ PCC 8, Scottsdale CC 4
The Artichokes took command in game one as they quickly amassed a 3-0 lead and widened it with three runs in the fifth.
Sophomore Miguel Figueroa took the loss, giving up six runs on seven hits, nine strike outs and two walks.
In game two, the Aztecs rallied to earn a split when Ramierz helped score three runs in the first inning and four more in the fourth.
Freshman Jose Contreras picked up the win giving up only four runs off seven hits, six strikeouts and two walks.
Photo by Rene Escobar
Redshirt freshman Austin Treadwell takes a pitch at West Campus against El Paso Community College
By Katelyn Roberts
After hosting their own indoor invitational, the Aztecs take to the road, with their next home meet on April 8.
NJCAA Indoor National Championships
The Aztecs headed to Pittsburg, Kansas, March 3 and 4, to compete in the NJCAA Indoor National Championships.
Sophomore Sam Shoultz placed first in high jump with 7 feet, 0.5 inches. Shoultz gained NJCAA All-American status.
Sophomore Hanna Bartz also earned NJCAA All-American honors and was the runner-up in the women’s long jump with 19 feet, 1.25 inches. The jump was Bartz’s personal best.
In the men’s distance relay, freshmen Victor Bustamante and Collin Dylla, and sophomores Alex Palacios and David Fernandez took seventh place with 10:30.96.
Sophomore Treyshon Malone took seventh in the long jump at 24 feet, 0.75 inches. Freshman Cam Duffy took eighth at 23 feet 7.25 inches.
Breaking Pima’s record in the 60-meter dash preliminary race, sophomore Amber McCroskey finished with a time of 7.72 second, beating her old record by 0.07 seconds.
Freshman Rhiannon Bearup also set a Pima record in the 60-meter hurdles preliminary race at 9.03 seconds.
McCrosey, Bearup, sophomore Melissa Cotsonas and freshman Tyra Yanez broke another their own PCC record in the 4×400 relay race with a time of 3:54.85, beating their old record by 6.65 seconds.
The men’s team finished in sixteenth place with 15 points, and the women’s team tied for twenty-first with eight points.
Willie Williams Invitational
Outdoor season began at the Willie Williams Invitational March 17 and 18. The UA hosted the meet at Roy P. Drachman Stadium.
Shoultz took first in the high jump with 5 feet 0.50 inches.
Malone took first in the long jump at 24 feet 0.50 inches, earning an outdoor national qualifier.
Duffy took second in long jump at 23 feet, 4.5 inches and third in triple jump with 46 feet, 4 inches.
The Yanez, Bartz, Bearup, McCroskey 4×100 relay team took fifth with a time of 47.88 seconds, earning a national qualifier.
With a jump of 5 feet, 5 inches, freshman Megan Shiffmacher took second in high jump and earned a national qualifier.
Pima only has two more meets before the ACCAC meet in Glendale on April 1.
Hannah Bartz & Samuel Shoultz
Photos courtesy of PCC Athletics
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
After a series of scrimmages, the Pima Community College tennis teams played conference meets against Mesa and Glendale to start their season.
“The team adapts really well to play styles they have never seen before,” head coach Ian Esquer said.
March 9: PCC 0, Mesa CC 9
In their third match, the Aztecs (2-2, 1-2 conference) were swept at home by the No. 8 Mesa Community College Thunderbirds.
Aztec freshmen Emma Oropeza and Janine Fernando dropped the No. 1 doubles match 8-2.
Oropeza also dropped her No. 1 singles match, 6-2, 6-3.
Sophomore Ashley Ochoa played a close second set but fell 6-1, 7-5.
March 21: PCC 9, Glendale CC 0
Oropeza led a string of defeats against Glendale in singles, as she defeated her opponent 6-0, 6-2.
Freshmen Jayme Shafer and Elise Rodriguez dominated their No. 3 doubles 8-1.
March 9: PCC 0, Mesa CC 9
The No. 7 Mesa Community College Thunderbirds swept the Aztecs (2-1, 1-1 conference) in a home meet.
Pima sophomores Marc Avalos and Francisco Ton played a close doubles match but lost 9-8.
Avalos lost his No. 1 singles match, 6-0, 6-1. Ton lost his No. 2 singles match 6-0, 6-1.
March 21: PCC 8, Glendale CC 1
As the Aztecs dominate Glendale, Ton was able to come away with a big victory in his No. 2 singles in a three-set tie-breaker, 6-4, 5-7, 1-0.
March 23: Paradise Valley CC, West Campus, 1:30 p.m.
March 29: Mesa CC, 11 a.m.
March 23: Paradise Valley CC, Phoenix, 1:30 p.m.
March 28: Eastern Arizona, West Campus, 1:30 p.m.
March 29: Mesa CC, 1:30 p.m.
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
The No. 2 Pima Community College women’s basketball team (23-8, 16-6 conference) closed out their season on an early note after losing to No. 1 Mesa CC Thunderbirds.
Last season, the Aztecs overcame the Thunderbirds and made their way to third place in the NJCAA championship tournament. Last season, the Aztecs were also the No. 1 seed and Mesa was the No. 2 seed.
PCC played catch up for most of the game but didn’t rally in the second half.
March 7: PCC 86, Scottsdale CC 76
The Aztecs began play with an eightpoint deficit against the Artichokes. A shot from sophomore Sydni Stallworth relieved the playoff tension.
The first quarter ended with a 19-19 draw.
The second quarter saw freshman Izzy Spruit shoot four-for-four beyond the arc to give the Aztecs a double-digit lead that turned into a 52-38 lead at halftime.
After the break, the Artichokes came out of the locker room with a spark and outscored the Aztecs 23-17 in the third quarter.
The Aztecs responded with an 11-1 run in the fourth to secure their double-digit lead.
“Anytime you can win a playoff game you should always be excited,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “No matter what happens in the regular season, the post season is always tough.”
Stallworth lead the Aztecs with 31 points, while Spruit had 12 points. Sophomore Erin Peterson finished with six points and a team high of nine rebounds.
“We had some rocky moments, we got too much in our frustrations when our shots weren’t falling,” Stallworth said.
March 11: PCC 72, Mesa CC 74
After charging to the championships for Region I Division II, the Aztecs faced defeat against the Thunderbirds.
After tip off, Mesa went on a 17-2 run to put themselves above PCC by 21-10.
The lead increased by halftime when the Thunderbirds outscored the Aztecs 46-29.
In the third quarter, the Aztecs were on fire going on a 16-6 run to cut the lead down to 60-52. Freshman Alliyah Bryant contributed a couple of threes, while Stallworth shot six-for-six from the free-throw line.
The fourth quarter saw sophomore Moana Hala’ufia hit a pair of free throws. A forced turnover lead to Smith hitting a three and Stallworth scoring off an offensive rebound.
The Aztecs made their way to a 72-70 lead, their first of the game, with 2:05 left.
Pima fouled Mesa with 3.7 seconds remaining, and Mesa hit just the first of the two free throws. Stallworth grabbed the missed shot, and was immediately guarded by three Mesa defenders.
Stallworth tossed the ball to Bryant, who passed the ball to Smith.
Smith found Hala’ufia for an open shot but the ball missed as the buzzer sounded, leaving Mesa the Region I Division II champion.
Stallworth finished with a game-high 22 points, while sophomore Bree Cates contributed 15 points.
“We had a tough game, we played hard but lost by two,” Stallworth said. “Second half we really came to play but they had a little bit more momentum than we did.”
In nine years, this is the eighth time Mesa and PCC have met in the finals. Each time, the home team has won.
This season marked the sixth season of 20-plus wins for Holthaus in his 10 years at Pima.
With the season over, NJCAA All-American Stallworth will move to Alaska to play for University of Alaska Anchorage, an NCAA Division I school.
Photo by Nicholas Trujillo
Sophomore Sydni Stallworth passes in the ball to her teammates against No.3 Scottsdale CC, during the NJCAA playoff game on March 7
By CASEY MUSE JR.
I am always talking about how lucky I have been to have had an opportunity to be a part of the Aztec Press.
I was one of those people who had no idea what they wanted to do with their life after graduating from high school. After working full time for a couple of years, I decided that I needed to ease my way back into school but I still had no idea what I wanted to study.
One of my biggest hobbies outside of work and school has always been sports. I am always trying to keep up with relevant headlines across various leagues.
Early in my time back at school, I was excited when I was offered a chance to contribute to the sports section of the Aztec Press.
The first sports that I ever covered at Pima were track and field and women’s golf, and I loved every minute of each.
I learned so much about the specific steps it takes to produce a news story. This included meeting the right people, conducting interviews, creating the stories, editing the stories and designing the pages in the computer programs.
I developed a new respect for all of my favorite journalists.
Sports at Pima have definitely been on the come-up since I have been covering them.
The football program behind the leadership of head coach Jim Monaco has seen a recent playoff appearance. Improvements in recruiting every season have resulted in a better product on the field.
It has been an honor to cover Pima sports during Sydni Stallworth’s basketball career. She is a BEAST and one of my favorite Aztec athletes of all time.
I have been on staff to see head softball coach Armando Quiroz win his 400th career game and continue to sustain a consistency throughout his program. I have also seen the steady improvement made in our baseball program through a revamped recruiting effort.
I was lucky enough to cover the men’s basketball team this season as it won the Region I Division II championship for the first time in seven years. There has been an upward trend in the program behind the leadership of head coach Brian Peabody.
I would be remiss not to express a small piece of gratitude to Raymond Suarez. Suarez serves as the sports information director at Pima and is excellent at his job. He is always there for advice and extra information regarding Pima athletics. Great guy.
I am extremely proud to be a part of the Aztec family. I cannot thank my classmates, members of the athletics department and adviser Cynthia Lancaster enough for the opportunity to make something of myself.
Mental illness remains the taboo of our society.
When someone says they have a mental illness, many people automatically believe the individual is crazy or unstable.
As a society and as a community, we must understand that mental illnesses are not as bad as they’re made out to be. Some people live their daily lives without others knowing they have been diagnosed as mentally ill.
We should grow in ways that help those with mental illnesses and find ways to make them feel comfortable in society, instead of viewing them as outsiders.
One in five adults in the United States will experience a mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illnesses. That’s about 43.8 million people.
An additional one in 25 U.S. adults will experience a serious mental illness that interferes with or limits major life activities. That’s about 10 million people.
With such high numbers, one would hope society is doing more to normalize mental illness. Unfortunately, it seems we are not.
I didn’t think much about mental illness until I enrolled in an abnormal psychology class. Everything changed when we learned about mental illnesses. My studies provided insight, which started making me more passionate about the subject.
As part of our curriculum, NAMI individuals diagnosed with a mental illness visited the class.
They told us stories about their “dark days,” when they first began to experience a mental illness. They moved on to telling us how they grew from that and were able to continue their lives. One visitor shared his hopes for the future: an end to the stigma that mental illness incapacitates an individual.
He hopes for a day when those with mental illnesses can have checkups with a doctor in the same way in which one would have a physical examination.
His point is worth repeating. People do not become their illness. They are still human beings.
By DAVID W. SKINNER
The Pima Community College women’s golf team locked up two second place finishes at the Chandler- Gilbert Invitation and South Mountain Invitational.
The men’s team finished fifth at the Estrella Mountain Invitational in Feb., nine strokes behind fourth place.
March 7-8: Estrella Mountain Invitational. PCC 584
Freshman Cooper Cordova carried the Aztecs as he tied for fifth place after a three-under par 141 score at the tournament.
Sophomore Colton Gage also claimed a top ten finish as he shot a three-under par the first round and finished the weekend with a two-under par performance.
Freshman Johnny Fiore finished with a five-over par 149 and Sophomore Nick St. Clair rounded out the scoring for the men by shooting a 153.
March 12-13: Chandler-Gilbert Invitational. PCC 682
All-American sophomore Desiree Hong continued her early season dominance as she finished three strokes ahead of second place and finished with a two day total of three-over par 147.
With that score Hong also took home a medalist honors, winning her first tournament.
Freshman Abby Miller and sophomore Samantha Hacker continued to impress by both earning top ten finishes with Miller shooting 161 while Hacker was right on her heels shooting a 164 over the two days.
Freshman Juliana Perez shot a two-day score of 210.
March 14-15: South Mountain Invitational. PCC 714
Hong fought off a tough first round, by recovering and tying for first place with a two day score of 155.
Hacker collected another top ten finish for herself by shooting a 169 while freshman duo and Juliana Perez finished by placing eleventh and seventeenth respectively.
By Eddie Celaya
Donald Trump is back at it with the spying. Kellyanne Conway is worried about your microwaves Go-Go-Gadgeting into G-men. And all the while, Vladimir Putin has done a decent job infiltrating and running the country.
Let’s recap the month. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned for lying about meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any Trump- Russia investigations because he did the exact same thing.
The two men join the list of Trump surrogates with confirmed ties to Russia, beginning with former campaign manager Paul Manafort. He’s been in the news lately due to documents released in the Ukraine revealing his dealings with Putin’s Russia.
And there’s Rex Tillerson, the nation’s reluctant secretary of state. Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, hasn’t done anything wrong (yet) but is one of just a few Americans to hold the Russian Order of Friendship. Yes, that’s a real award.
Oh, and I meant reluctant. “I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” he told the Independent Journal Review in an interview. “I was supposed to retire in March, this month. I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids.”
With each layer being slowly peeled back, the American public was getting close to the center of this political Russian Matryoshka doll. Then Trump seemingly went off the deep end.
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump tweeted at 6:30 a.m. on March 4 from Mar-a-Lago, Florida. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
The tweet was a bombshell of an allegation. A sitting president accusing his predecessor of wire-tapping is indeed Nixonian.
Reactions from both sides were swift and predictable. Democrats and their allies gave the old “there you go again” head shake you give to a puppy who won’t stop pissing on the couch.
After all, Trump disobeyed the first law of high school English teachers: thou shall always cite your source.
Forget that he misspelled “tap.” Trump accolytes and apologists either took The Donald’s assertion as The Word handed down from on high, or pointed to a March 3 Breitbart article that seemed to be the genesis for Trump’s claim.
The article, which may require visiting Breitbart without being within a five-minute drive of a shower, is basically a lazy timeline linking to actual reporting done by credible news organizations.
It is easily the best piece of writing I’ve come across on Breitbart.
The most interesting link redirects to an article by former British politician Louise Mensch on her website HeatStreet.
Citing two unnamed sources, Mensch claims that on two separate occasions, the FBI requested a warrant be issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to “examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”
Note that the warrant does not focus on Trump, but “U.S. persons” within his campaign. Note also it is not technically a “wire-tap,” but instead permission to electronically track and survey activity on a server.
Of course, if you haven’t been living under a rock lately, FBI Director James Comey put all speculation of any of the U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Trump Tower to rest on March 20 during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
“With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey said.
Would that stop Trump? Hell na. Here is what he live-tweeted as Comey was testifying to the existence of an FBI probe into links between Russia and the Trump 2016 campaign:
“James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!”
Clapper was the former national intelligence director under Obama.
Trump was referencing Clapper’s appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd a few months ago in which he suggests that there were no known personal contacts between Trump and the Russian government.
Not Trump associates mind you, Trump himself.
Clapper made one other important distinction. He had not seen any evidence in his time as director. However, he left his position in January. “I could not account for intelligence or evidence that may have been gathered since the inauguration on Jan. 20,” he said.
Is Trump’s tweet just a sloppy attempt to deflect attention from the Comey testimony?
Or does he really believe Obama has implemented a “deep-state shadow government” that is so entrenched in the everyday works of government that they make it impossible for Trump to govern?
Who knows anymore?
I’m beginning to doubt Trump cares if he is impeached. He acts like a kid on chemo living on borrowed time. But instead of doing Make-A-Wish and going to Disneyland, he’s decided to rob every 7-11 in town.
You almost forget that Trump should be preparing for mid-season sweeps and firing Nick Cannon, not presiding over a cabinet of creeps led by Steve Bannon. Sad.
By MELINA CASILLAS
After five years of being on probation and notice, the Higher Learning Commission has recognized Pima Community College’s improvement and has removed the college from “notice.”
PCC began facing scrutiny after the summer of 2012 when allegations of sexual misconduct against ex-Chancellor Ray Flores became public.
The college was first placed on probation in January of 2013 after an HLC visit found Pima was not in compliance with standards of function in financial, academic and personnel integrity and other issues according to the HLC website.
More frequent visits from the HLC to inspect Pima followed, with a peer review team visiting Pima campuses in September 2016.
After that visits, the HLC Executive Board met on Feb. 23 and notified PCC March 9 of its decision to lift the “notice” sanction.
“The Board determined that the removal of the sanction was warranted based on evidence provided by the College, including the Notice Report,” wrote HLC President Gellman-Danley.
Removal from sanctions means PCC is fully accredited and is meeting the standards of the HLC, including in “student outcome assessment,” an issue that had kept the college back for quite some time.
Chancellor Lee Lambert put out an email to all PCC staff and students. “Removal from “notice” is a crystal-clear indication that we are operating and will continue to operate at a high level,” he said.
Vice Chancellor of Accreditation Bruce Moses made sure to thank the HLC for recognizing the college’s hard work. “I am very appreciative of…their recognition of the efforts undertaken by everyone at PCC to satisfactorily resolve all concerns identified in March 2015,” Moses said.
Pima Community College will now prepare for the next HLC visit in 2018 or 2019. That visit will be part of a 10-year accreditation cycle.
To read the HLC’s full report on Pima’s removal of notice, visit hlcommission.org.
By EDDIE CELAYA
The March 8 Pima Community College Governing Board meeting will be remembered for two reasons: its nearly intolerable length and its bombshell accusations. A scheduled vote on the college’s most important issue, tuition rates, was postponed.
The nearly five and a half hour long meeting tested the patience of the board members, who openly sniped at each other verbally. Right off the bat, the public comment portion set the tone for the adversarial (and long) evening.
ISSUES IN HUMAN RESOURCES
Frank Velasquez Jr. delivered the night’s most serious charge. Velazquez, who is the program manager for a West Campus’ STEM grant, informed the board of his impending contract termination and his frustrations in applying for another position.
“Yesterday I found out the reason why I wasn’t moved forward for the last position I was in the running for,” he said. “The feedback given to me by HR was that the campus VP was concerned about my ‘going around regulations’ based on something I said in the interview.”
Because Velasquez’s current position is tied to a federal grant, “going around regulations” would mean Velasquez misappropriated federal funds. “He has questioned my integrity, and therefore I cannot stay silent,” Velasquez said.
“There is an inherent fallacy in his allegation,” he said. “In layman’s terms, no grant project director can ever ‘go around regulations’ when it comes to redirecting federal grant money.”
At the end of Velasquez’s statement, board members Sylvia Lee and Demion Clinco asked Chancellor Lee Lambert to look into Velasquez’s allegations.
Board member Luis Gonzales made a more forceful request.
“If anyone, any department needs to follow rules and protocol, it is HR,” Gonzales said. “I would ask today for the Chancellor, to undertake a complete and thorough investigation of the HR department to determine what is going on.”
Board Chairman Mark Hanna made note to move the issue onto a future board agenda.
Coalition For Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility President Mario Gonzales kept the tone fiery.
“As chairman of C-FAIRR I urge the new board majority to recognize that Mr. Hanna and Mrs. Lee have failed in their duties and have not undertaken the task of seriously assessing the chancellor’s leadership,” Mario Gonzales said.
Gonzales statement laid out C-FAIRR’s reasoning for wanting to assess Lambert. Recent lawsuits, and the Higher Learning Commission were among the culprits.
The chancellor’s decision to send a letter and envoy on behalf of former Tucson Unified School District H.T. Sanchez representing the college was also cited.
The problem, Mario Gonzales said, was that Lambert issued the letter on official PCC letterhead and claimed to speak for the board.
“By supporting one political faction against another, he jeopardized PCC’s credibility in the community,” Mario Gonzales said. “What’s more, his actions demonstrate Mr. Lambert’s total ignorance and lack of awareness of the community.”
Board member Lee sternly addressed Mario Gonzales after his statement. “I really urge C-FAIRR, rather than bring back issues again and again that are not based on fact, in my opinion, to work with us and not sabotage the college,” Lee said.
“I challenge all of the board members to tell us what issues we have brought to the table that have not been documented publicly,” Gonzales said.
“Ok, we’re not in discussion Mr. Gonzales so you can please return to your seat” Hanna said, interrupting Gonzales.
SUMMER SCHEDULE FIGHT
The tense night continued with faculty representative David Morales’ report to the board. He focused heavily on the implementation of the upcoming Summer Session schedule.
“The past month was filled with the focus on the summer scheduling decision that has undermined our efforts to innovate and move forward,” Morales said.
For instructors, the main concern was “what is the ultimate goal of the summer scheduling decision?” Morales said.
When Morales ended his report, Lee immediately spoke. “Whenever you roll something out there’s got to be a communication plan,” she said. “It can’t be done unilaterally, which it sounds like it was.”
Board member Luis Gonzales was more blunt.
“What are we going do about this?” he said. “Do we say ‘administration, you made a little bit of an effort and it was ok, but since we already screwed it up, let’s move forward with it anyway?”
Referencing Higher Learning Commission recommendations, he addressed Lambert. “To be honest with you Mr. Chancellor, I’m not sure how the hell we passed the HLC test,” Gonzales said.
“Ok Mr. Gonzales,” Hanna said, quickly. “We need to be careful we are not in discussion.”
After remaining mostly quiet throughout the night, a defiant Lambert spoke out during the Chancellor’s Report. The letter to TUSD was first on the agenda.
“I will own that, but I will say this,” he said. “My statement was not about what was going on at TUSD, it was simply to point out that we have a great relationship, and we want that relationship to continue.”
Summer session issues came next. Lambert said PCC had seen a decline of 22 percent in summer enrollment since 2012. He added a majority of students taking classes in the summer do so online.
“How do we justify to our taxpayers that we are running six facilities at full staffing levels in the face of this fiscal reality?” Lambert said. “That’s what’s driving the need to examine what we are doing on the summer.”
Lambert then went into a timeline detailing various meetings he held with important constituencies. He claimed it highlighted how open the summer scheduling process had been.
“I just want you to know,” Lambert said. “Extensive input was sought from employees over the course of a few months.”
Luis Gonzales was unimpressed by Lamberts litany of meetings and forums.
“Yeah, you can have all kinds of meetings, but if you don’t listen and don’t take it into account, what’s the result?” he said. “What we get is this argument here.”
He chastised Lambert further. “It certainly sounds like somebody isn’t listening.”
Lambert shot back. “I just gave you an example of how we listened,” he said. “Because of the feedback I received from the employee groups, we decided not to adjust contracts for the summer.”
Human Resources will also up be up for review, Lambert said. The college will go over contracts and hiring practices in place.
The issue Velazquez testified to earlier in the meeting seemed to take the chancellor by surprise. “I didn’t know that was what he was told by HR,” Lambert said. “But I also have to give the benefit of doubt to the other person.”
TUITION DECISION DELAYED
A presentation on the college’s new (and first) diversity plan had been scheduled to last 30 minutes, but ended up lasting three times that long. That last item on the board’s agenda for the evening was a vote on finalizing tuition rates.
College Executive Vice Chancellor David Bea laid out the financial benefits and drawbacks of three scenarios. Two scenario’s called for a $3 increase and another a $7 increase.
“What we know is, unless there is a significant enrollment turnaround, we are facing a pretty significant decrease in our expenditure limit capacity,” Bea said. The expenditure limit dictates how much of the college’s funds raised through taxes it can spend in a given year.
A severe decrease in expenditure limit spending would be catastrophic, Bea said.
Lee asked Bea if there could be salary increases without an increase in tuition rates.
“No, it would be very difficult to give salary increase of any significant type,” Bea said.
In response, Luis Gonzales asked if Bea had done any studies on how no increase or a 1% increase in tuition would affect the average instructor.
Hanna reminded Luis Gonzales that the topic at hand was tuition rates. “So it’s ok to go until midnight when the topic is tuition, but we can’t go a little longer on diversity?” Gonzales said, clearly perturbed.
Hanna, in an attempt to defuse some of the tension, said he agreed with Gonzales’ position that increasing tuition to balance the college’s ledger was wrong-headed.
“Write this down Mr. Gonzales,” said Hanna. “I absolutely agree with you that to vote on a tuition increase at this point, before we know what we are going to cut is something I don’t feel comfortable about.”
Bea attempted to explain that voting on tuition rates would not be out of the normal, even before the college had set a budget. However, citing the absence of Meredith Hay, Clinco made a motion to table the decision.
Gonzales asked if Clinco wanted more information on the topic. “No, I mean I think we are missing a board member, and I think it’s important that everybody be here for this decision.”
With that, Hanna adjourned the meeting.
Editor’s note: In this ongoing feature, we ask a Pima Community College student some not-so-serious questions.
Compiled by Nicholas Trujillo
Ashley Goode is a student at PCC and a mother at home. She’s studying behavioral health at Desert Vista Campus and loves to have “Goode” days.
Question 1: What classes are you enjoying most, and why?
Ashley: I like the substance abuse classes. I like learning about why things happen, I like learning about theories. So far, we’re doing the Black Hand. He’s an FBI agent and he basically started the drug war. It talks about how he built a lot of stigmas because of the drug war. I like learning the truth.
Question 2: What color socks are you wearing?
Ashley: I’ve got mismatched on. They’re still the same, but one’s brighter than the other. I like bright color socks. My socks never match but I have to make sure my kid’s socks match.
Question 3: What’s your favorite movie, and why?
Ashley: One of my favorite movies is “Forest Gump.” When I was younger I would watch it every day. I think it’s because people titled him but he overcame a lot of things that they say a person with special needs can’t overcome. It’s kind of inspirational.
Question 4: What is the last song you listened to?
Ashley: “We Know How to Party” by Chris Brown. It keeps me going on the treadmill.
Question 5: What did you eat for breakfast?
Ashley: I had this gross sandwich from downtown that was kind of expensive. It was a Jimmy Dean sausage sandwich but it didn’t taste like that. It just tasted like it was frozen, in my grandma’s refrigerator. For six months.
By RENE ESCOBAR
Baseball has not been played in Tucson since April of 2012 the last baseball club to call Tucson home were the Tucson Padres, Triple-A affiliate for Major League Baseball club San Diego Padres.
But will Kino Stadium remain empty through the baseball season? Not for long I say.
Tucson has always had a love affair with baseball from the Sidewinders to the Padres, so Tucsonans say.
But low attendance plagued the Padres throughout their 3 seasons at Kino Sports Stadium. According to Baseballrefrences.com the Padres attendance record for the 2013 season was only 4000 people the stadium holds 11,500 people.
The padres were a decent team there last year in Tucson (2013) they were Division Champions with a 77-67 record and playing for a Triple-A championship. Yet had little support from the people of Tucson.
MLB also gave Tucson Baseball fans a gut punch by pulling The Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies and relocating them to Phoenix.
Due to logistic problems stating that the drive to Phoenix from Tucson was too long they want to be in the same general area.
These players and coaches don’t have an hour and a half bus ride segment in their multi-hundred million dollar contracts so they just moved to a city where they can walk to the stadiums. While leaving a city, who loves them behind with nothing but a newly renovated stadium.
None the less a baseball affiliate could see Tucson as legitimate location for their team with Major League Soccer preseason here and American Hockey League showcasing that Tucson has a love for sports.
Also, Tucson seems to be growing more and more companies are putting money into the economy making Tucson more likeable.
And when thinking about it what baseball club doesn’t want a newly renovated barley used stadium for their location of play.
To all baseball fans keep your heads high and keep the hope alive that one day we will have Tucson baseball alive again.
By EDDIE CELAYA
A Pima Community College board member suggested Chancellor Lee Lambert may have abused his authority when Lambert sent an envoy to represent the college and governing board at a Tucson Unified School District meeting.
The affair was set in motion by a Feb. 27 email sent by TUSD Governing Board member Kristel Ann Foster to Lambert soliciting community support for thensuperintendent H.T. Sanchez.
“Please write the board and come to the meeting Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 5:30 p.m.,” Foster wrote. Sanchez, who had been embattled for weeks up to that point, resigned before the start of the meeting.
In an email interview with the Aztec Press, Lambert said PCC representatives “learned of Dr. Sanchez’s resignation when the TUSD Board meeting began.”
During that meeting, Special Assistant to the Chancellor Esperanza Duarte spoke during the public comment period of the meeting.
“I’m here on behalf of and at the request of Chancellor Lee Lambert,” Duarte said. “As well as the governing board of Pima Community College in support of Dr. Sanchez.”
Duarte continued, reading from a prepared letter. She said Sanchez had been integral in working together with PCC in furthering both institutions’ aims.
Contacted by the Aztec Press, Duarte refused to confirm who authorized her to speak on behalf of the board.
“I can’t get into that, all I can tell you is there was a miscommunication,” Duarte said by phone. “You’ll need to speak with the college spokesperson.”
It was also unclear why Duarte was asked to deliver the message at the Feb. 28 meeting since TUSD board members were already in possession of the letter.
On Feb. 28, PCC Board member Sylvia Lee received a forwarded email from Assistant to the Chancellor Gaby Echavarri containing Lambert’s letter. Lee in turn forwarded that email on to the TUSD board at 1:57 p.m.
PCC board member Luis Gonzales said in a March 1 email to Lambert that the board never agreed to send a letter of solidarity regarding Sanchez, or to have a college representative invoke the support of the board.
“You need to know that I am disturbed by you taking the liberty to send this letter out on behalf of PCC on PCC letterhead that gives the impression that the entire board is in agreement,” Gonzales wrote.
Gonzales also voiced his displeasure about being perceived as politically interjecting on the college’s part.
“To get involved in a political dog fight where we have no jurisdiction is not only shortsighted but fraught with all kinds of political fall-out against the college and our governing body,” he wrote.
THE CHANCELLOR’S DEFENSE
Lambert responded, defending his decision to issue the letter by citing Board Policy, Section 1, part F. The policy states that the chancellor “serves as the primary spokesperson for the college to the students, employees, government authorities.”
On March 1, governing board Chairman Mark Hanna confirmed in an email to Gonzales that he had spoken with the chancellor regarding Sanchez, with a caveat.
“I asked the chancellor if he would consider a letter of support (explicitly not a board endorsement),” Hannah wrote. “If indeed Ms. Duarte voiced support for the superintendent from our board, that was not authorized by me.”
While Hanna did not view his conversation as authorizing the letter from Lambert to TUSD, an email exchange between Lambert and college vice chancellor Lisa Brosky shows Lambert viewed the conversation differently.
“The board chair ask (sic) me to consider this,” Lambert wrote. “He did not direct me to do this on behalf of the college or in my own personal capacity. I let him know I would do this on behalf of the college.”
During the PCC board of governors meeting on March 8, Lambert offered another defense of his actions. “Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication that happened between myself, and I’ll own that.”
It was unclear with whom the “miscommunication” he referenced happened between.
However, Lambert insisted his motives were not political. “My statement was not about what was going on at TUSD, it was simply to point out we have a great relationship and we want to make sure that continues,” he said.
AN INVALUABLE PARTNER
The letter itself and internal PCC emails tell a different story. While the letter does make mention of the relationship between the two institutions, each reference is in the context of how beneficial Sanchez was to the relationship.
In regards to PCC’s Career and Technical Education program, Lambert wrote that Sanchez has helped build the pipeline of students from high school to college.
“Dr. Sanchez’s support has strengthened PCC’s efforts to expand access to students seeking careers,” Lambert wrote.
In her email to the TUSD board, Lee referenced the chancellor’s letter. “I hope you will take what our chancellor said to heart,” Lee wrote. “Which is to keep Dr. Sanchez as your superintendent.”
The letter ends with Lambert calling Sanchez an “invaluable partner,” to the college.
“I look forward to future collaborations with him as we work together in service to our students and community,” he wrote.
COPY OF LETTER
Interviews and photos by Elise Stahl at Northwest Campus
“Usually on either crafts or on the kids I babysit.”
“Sometimes I spend it on clothes or something, but mostly I’ve been saving it to get gas and stuff like that.”
“Smoothies and Starbucks.”
Major: Anatomy and physiology
“Probably fast food.”
“I usually just give it to my siblings, whenever they go out with friends.”
Major: Environmental biology