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Monthly board meeting goes long, gets personal

Monthly board meeting goes long, gets personal

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 Velazquez 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 Velazquez’s current position is tied to a federal grant, “going around regulations” would mean Velazquez misappropriated federal funds. “He has questioned my integrity, and therefore I cannot stay silent,” Velazquez 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 Velazquez’s statement, board members Sylvia Lee and Demion Clinco asked Chancellor Lee Lambert to look into Velazquez’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.

 

C-FAIRR RETURNS

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.”

 

LAMBERT ANSWERS

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.

 

THE WORD: How do you spend your extra money?

THE WORD: How do you spend your extra money?

Interviews and photos by Elise Stahl at Northwest Campus

 

“Usually on either crafts or on the kids I babysit.”

Caleb Kern

Major: Nursing

 

“Sometimes I spend it on clothes or something, but mostly I’ve been saving it to get gas and stuff like that.”

Ashley Dixon

Major: Business

 

“Smoothies and Starbucks.”

Amy Alonso

Major: Anatomy and physiology

 

“Probably fast food.”

Jacob Crow

Major: Business

 

“I usually just give it to my siblings, whenever they go out with friends.”

Alex Molteni

Major: Environmental biology

AZTEC CALENDAR: March 23 - April 5

AZTEC CALENDAR: March 23 – April 5

CAMPUS EVENTS

April 5: Poetry literary slam, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Stop by the Student Center to show off your poetry skills and share them with other students.

Details: Student Life, 206-2121

April 5: Traciana Graves, “Don’t Call Me a Bitch,” 11:25 a.m.-noon, East Campus center courtyard. Interactive event for men and women will advocate for equality on campus and in the world. Details: Student Life, 206-7616

April 5: Traciana Graves, “Understanding What Yes means in Sex,” 2-3 p.m., East Campus student mall. Interactive program in recognition of sexual assault awareness month. Attendees can engage in activities and discussions that encourage awareness of the effect of words and actions. Details: Student Life, 206-7616

  

PIMA HOME SPORTS

March 23: Baseball vs. Toros de Tijuana, Kino Memorial Stadium, 11 a.m.

March 23: Men’s tennis vs. Paradise Valley CC, West Campus tennis courts, 1:30 p.m.

March 25: Softball vs. Mesa CC, West Campus, doubleheader – noon, 2 p.m.

March 28: Women’s tennis vs. Eastern Arizona, West Campus tennis courts, 1:30 p.m.

March 28: Baseball vs. Eastern Arizona, West Campus, doubleheader – noon, 2:30 p.m.

April 3-4: Women’s golf, Pima Community College Invitational, Randolph Golf Course, noon start each day

April 4: Baseball vs. Central Arizona, Kino Memorial Stadium, doubleheader – 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m.

  

TUCSON EVENTS

Through March 26: Tucson Cine Mexico festival showcasing contemporary Mexican movies at varied venues. Free, but reserve seats at thethinyellowline.brownpapertickets.com. Details: tucsoncinemexico.org

Through April 1: Tucson Invitational Games: college baseball, Kino Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, game times and days vary. Single day tickets: adults $6, kids 12 and under free; weekly pass: $25. Details: tigsports.net

March 24-26: Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair, 10 a.m.-dusk each day, free to public. Details: fourthavenue.org

March 25: Marana Founders’ Day Festival, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Ora Mae Horn Park, 13250 N. Lon Adams Road. Live entertainment, vintage tractor-car show, heritage village. Free. Parade along Marana Main Street begins at 10 a.m. Details: maranaaz.gov, calendar tab

March 25-26: Africa Night Dance Fusion live music and dance performances, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. each day. $20 in advance, $25 at door. Details: diasporashowcase.com

April 1: Cruise, BBQ & Blues Festival and Car Show, Oro Valley Marketplace, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $5. Details: saaca.org/classiccarshow

April 2: Cyclovia Tucson car-free neighborhood stroll, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., free. Details: cycloviatucson.org

 

LIVE MUSIC 

March 23: Kate Mo$$, 191 Toole, 191 E. Toole Ave., 7 p.m., $5. Details: rialtotheatre.com

March 25: Gabriel Ayala, Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., 7 p.m., $10-$15. Details: hotelcongress.com

March 25: Joey Fatts, D Savage: At Your Neck Tour, 191 Toole, 7 p.m., $15-$17. Details: rialtotheatre.com

March 25: Zeparella, Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., 7 p.m., $10-$17. Details: rialtotheatre.com

March 26: LIE, Club Congress, 21+, 8 p.m. Free. Details: hotelcongress.com

March 26: KFMA Day, Kino Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, noon-10 p.m. $40. Details: kfma.com

April 1: Why?, 191 Toole, 7 p.m., $15-$18. Details: rialtotheatre.com

April 1: Miranda Sings with Special Guest Colleen Ballinger, Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., 8 p.m. $39.50. Details: foxtucson.com

 

TOP MOVIE RELEASES

Theater releases

March 24

“Life”

“Power Rangers”

“CHIPS”

March 31

“The Boss Baby”

“Ghost in the Shell”

“The Zookeeper’s Wife”

 

DVD releases

March 28

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

“Why Him?”

“Patriots Day”

“A Monster Calls”

“A Tale of Love and Darkness”

April 4

“Office Christmas Party”

“Rogue One”

James happy to put team on his back

James happy to put team on his back

By CASEY MUSE JR. 

Sophomore big man Deion James has sparked the Pima Community College men’s basketball program this season with both his play on the court and his swagger off it.

No, not his “swag.” Swagger in the sense that James keeps things professional while remaining approachable and light-hearted.

The kid carries himself in a way that is unique but respectful. His personality and demeanor reflect those who raised him.

“My dad has been my biggest influence,” James said. “He has always been a coach on the sideline and throughout life. He has helped me a lot, not only in the game of basketball but in life as well.”

James developed an ealry love for basketball.

Sophomore Deion James pushes past an opponent on his way to a layup.
Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics.

“I got my first basketball for Christmas when I was like 3 years old,” he said. “I carried it with me everywhere.”

A year later, James played his first competitive game. “At the age of 4, my dad put me in my first YMCA league,” he said. “I was a goofy kid who was just running around trying to play defense and steal the ball the whole time.”

James grew up in Vail and received his first opportunity to be a student-athlete at Rincon-Vista Middle School. “My middle school years really served as a transition into my high school years,” he said.

“My middle school coach ended up being my high school coach. I also knew a majority of my teammates from playing with them in middle school.”

The seamless transition helped James make the varsity team his freshman year at Empire High School.

“I actually played a good amount of time my freshman year,” he said. “I think I even started a couple games.” James became the face of the basketball program at Empire, which enjoyed a good reputation for academics and technology but had never really been known for its athletics.

“It was exciting for me to say that I helped a team and school achieve so many goals like that,” he said. “During my time there, the students were a lot more involved. The environment and energy were always great.”

James also helped Empire establish a respectful but heated cross-town rivalry with Cienega High School.

“All of us have bought into

what coach says, and that’s what

makes … us a family.”  Teammate Jacob Anastasi

“All of the Vail kids grew up together,” he said. “We were the little brother of Vail and Cienega was the big brother. They had been there before and established their athletics programs while we were still new to being so relevant.”

The rivalry culminated during his senior year. “The two games we played against them were probably the two biggest basketball games ever played in Vail,” he said. “It was really great for the community.”

By graduation, James had become one of Tucson’s most sought-after Class of 2015 prospects. He commited to play basketball at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“That was a good experience overall,” he said. “No complaints.”

However, James left North Carolina A&T after his freshman season. “I just knew that to be the player I wanted to be, I had a better chance somewhere else,” he said.

PCC head coach Brian Peabody recruited James right away, and James accepted Peabody’s offer.

“I had a few options at that time but I really felt like he could help me the most and our team here had the best opportunity to win,” James said. “It was also great to come back home and be so close to my family again,” he said. “Everyone on the team was really cool and inviting to me as well.”

Teammate Jacob Anastasi called James a great player. “It’s nice having him out there because you know that he’s going to go grab 10 rebounds,” Anastasi said. “All of us have bought into what coach says and that’s what makes a program, that’s what makes us a family.”

James has proven to be an absolute monster at the community college level. He took on a leadership role early, and has averaged 20.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He also has a knack for picking up double-doubles, posting a team-high 17 double-doubles.

“It just comes to me,” he said. “It helps me to get into the flow of the game when I am active, crashing the glass and getting put-backs.”

Aztecs to face Glendale in playoff game.

Aztecs to face Glendale in playoff game.

 By CASEY MUSE JR.

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Region I, Division II tournament.

PCC will host No. 3 seed Glendale Com munity College on March 8. During their final five games of the sea son, Pima won two games and lost three.

Feb. 15: PCC 110, Cochise 102

The Aztecs earned one of their best wins of the season at home against Cochise College. The game was back and forth to start until Pima took charge halfway through the first half. A 7-0 run gave the Aztecs their first double-digit lead of the game at 32-21  with just over eight minutes left in the half.

PCC strengthened its lead to as much as 14 before settling for a 50-39 halftime lead.  Cochise did all it could to close the gap in the second half and came as close as a seven-point deficit but it was never enough.

Sophomore Emilio Acedo had another good game as he tied for the team high in scoring with 26 points. He shot 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. Freshman Isiah Murphy had one of his best games of the year as he also scored 26 points. He shot 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the process.

Sophomore Damon Dubots contributed 19 points and seven rebounds. Fellow sophomore Deion James secured his 15th double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. The result meant a split in the season head to head with Cochise.

The Aztecs fell 96-83 to the Apaches in Douglas in January. The win also meant Pima had won seven of its last eight games.

Feb. 18: PCC 67, Phoenix College 72

The Aztecs fell in a close game on the road against Phoenix College. The No. 20 Aztecs and No. 11 Bears went back and forth for the entire game. The first half produced nine lead changes and seven ties as the teams went in to halftime tied at 32.

The Aztecs came out strong in the second half, using an 8-0 run with about 12 minutes left in the game to take a 52-46 advantage.

Pima couldn’t maintain, however, and Phoenix College reclaimed the lead with just over five minutes left.

The Aztecs managed to tie the game two more times but could never take back the lead.

Acedo led the way with 20 points. He shot 3-for-6 from the 3-point line. James earned his 16th double-double on the year with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Dubots added 11 points.

Feb. 22: PCC 84, Central Arizona 79

Pima earned a close victory at home against Central Arizona College. The first half was closely contested and the teams entered halftime tied at 33-33. The Aztecs played a strong second half

but Central Arizona was able to keep things close.

Up two points with 27 seconds left, Acedo iced the game on a clutch 3-point shot. James scored a team-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds. Acedo finished the game with 13 points

and seven rebounds.

Pima also earned 34 bench points. The win earned head coach Brian Peabody the most wins he has ever had in a season at Pima, with 19. The win also offered revenge for a 103-97 loss the Aztecs took from Central Arizona in January.

Feb. 25: PCC 93, Mesa 94

The Aztecs played such a close game on the road against Mesa that regulation just was not enough.

Pima had a hot start to the game and broke out to an early 23-16 lead. The lead grew to as many as nine points but Mesa came back to regain the lead by halftime. Pima entered the second half down 41-40.

Mesa was in control for most of the second half until a late Aztec run forced overtime. Mesa owned the overtime period and scored the game’s final five points to win it. James earned his 17th double-double of the season with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Three other players scored 17 points

each.

Mesa earned its revenge as Pima defeated the Thunderbirds 115-78 at home in January.

Feb. 28: PCC 71, Arizona Western 98

It was a rough night for the Aztecs in their final home game of the season. Pima fell behind early to Division I opponent Arizona Western and could never chip their way back into it. James scored a team-high 15 points, while Acedo contributed 14 points.

All of the sophomores were honored during halftime.

 

Athletics audit suggests changes in record-keeping

Athletics audit suggests changes in record-keeping

By EDDIE CELAYA

An internal audit of Pima Community College athletics department business practices found late deposits, lax internal controls and improperly stored athletes’ documents.

The audit said current studentathlete’s files are properly secured at the Downtown Campus, but older records dating to the 1980s are kept in two separate broom closets in the West Campus gymnasium.

In an on-site interview at the gym, PCC Athletics Director Edgar Soto acknowledged the issues contained in the report.

“All of these things are issues we asked to be addressed,” he said. “We asked for this audit.”

A Finance and Audit Committee composed of college employees and community members conducted the audit last year, and issued its final report on Dec. 2. The newest audit was a follow-up to a larger November 2015 audit.

The report notes that since the initial audit, Soto and other high-ranking administrators have “updated management corrective action plans to address issues identified” within the audit.

The recent audit found problems with the athletics department’s timeliness in depositing donation checks. Eight of the 68 donation deposits reviewed by the audit took 30 days or longer to deposit.

Soto said new controls are being put in place to avoid such long delays, and offered an explanation for some deposits seeming to take more than a month.

“Sometimes when a parent is donating, they write a check in their checkbook and they don’t get it to the coach for a week or two,” he said. “They might date it today, but don’t get around to actually donating for a little bit.”

Similarly, “sometimes coaches throw checks into their games bags and don’t get around to checking it all in for a few days,” he said.

The audit also cited delays in processing receipts from game concessions. On two occasions, “game cash receipts deposits were not processed within three business days per cash handling procedures,” it notes.

Athletics Director Edgar Soto displays archived awards and articles
dating back to the 1970s. The archives were stored with student records.
Eddie Celaya / Aztec Press

Soto said one evening of men’s and women’s basketball games lead to both violations. “I believe that was over Thanksgiving,” he said.

The audit section discussing records for former student-athletes said files were kept in an area where “unauthorized” persons had access to them.

During the on-site interview, Soto allowed the Aztec Press to examine the two storage rooms. Both were locked at the time of the interview and required a key to enter. One room required two doors to be unlocked.

Soto said only athletic department staff have access to the rooms.

“A lot of this stuff is archival materials and trophies,” he said. “All the student info, we are in the process of moving to Downtown Campus.”

Chancellor Lee Lambert, writing in an email sent to PCC employees, said Soto requested the audit “in the spirit of continuous improvement and to address issues revealed in a 2012 audit, prior to Edgar’s leadership role.”

Lambert said the athletics department has made progress on issues identified in both audits, and has developed a timeline for implementing remaining changes.

“Frankly, this demonstrates the importance of having multiple layers of assurance,” Lambert wrote. “While the process does not always work as quickly as we might like, our detailed system of checks and balances worked as it should.”

With the spring athletic season in full swing and both basketball programs closing out historic seasons, Soto hopes the audit and its findings help improve the department.

“We’re just trying to provide the community with an idea of what’s going on in athletics,” he said. “We are just trying to stay accountable.”

Track: More PCC qualifiers for indoor nationals

Track: More PCC qualifiers for indoor nationals

 By KATELYN ROBERTS

With the Aztecs’ last meet before nationals under their belts, every national qualifier earned is being counted.

On Feb. 17, Pima Community College’s track and field teams competed in the NAU Tune-Up Meet in Flagstaff.

Freshman Colin Dylla qualified nationally for the 800-meter race with a time of 1 minute and 58.17 seconds, taking fifth place  Freshman Filimone Tu-avao qualified in the weight throw with a throw of 51 feet and 7 inches.

He earned ninth place. Freshman Jymil Toney improved his national qualifier in the high jump with a new mark of 6 feet, 8.75 inches.

Sophomore Sam Shoultz took second place in high jump, matching his season-best mark with a mark of 6 feet, 10.75 inches.

In the long jump, freshman Cam Duffy earned second place at 22 feet and 0.75 inches, and  Treyshon Malone earned third with a jump at 22 feet and 10 inches.

Next up, PCC track and field will head to Pittsburg, Kansas, to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Indoor National Championships.

Eddie Celaya./ Aztec Press Hannah Bartz takes flight during her first attempt in the long jump at the Aztec Indoor Invitational,

New coach surprises at preseason tourney

New coach surprises at preseason tourney

By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO

After a sweep against Imperial College, the Pima Community College men’s and women’s teams played in a preseason tournament in Mesa.

“It went really well,” head coach Ian Esquer said.

Other schools such as Eastern Arizona and Arizona Christian University weren’t expecting the new coach and his team to get as far as they did, Esquer said.

“I was happy everyone played and had fun,” he said.

MEN’S TEAM

ACCAC preseason tournament

For doubles, the men’s team got to the finals of the main draw and the semifinals of the back draw.

“Arizona Christian University played and we beat them in the finals, so they were pretty impressed, as was I,” Esquer said.

WOMEN’S TEAM

ACCAC preseason tournament

In singles, freshman Emma Oropeza made her way to the semifinals of the main draw, while freshmen Janine Fernando and Lien Nguyen reached the back draw finals.

In doubles Oropeza and Nguyen made it to the semi’s of the back draw.

Feb. 23: Eastern 8, PCC 1

PCC’s game in Thatcher resulted in just one win, from freshman Elise Rodriguez. She won her No. 6 singles 7-6. The Aztecs lost every other match on the road.

GOLF: Men’s team seeks improvement, women’s team stays consistent

GOLF: Men’s team seeks improvement, women’s team stays consistent

By DAVID W. SKINNER

Both teams are keeping pace after the Pima Community College men’s golf team placed sixth in the Mesa Community College invitational on Feb. 6 and the women’s team placed second.

The women’s team took second place for the second time in a row while the men’s team improved to place fourth at Scottsdale.

MEN’S TEAM

The men’s team placed fourth at the Scottsdale Invitational at Hillcrest Golf Course, which took place on Feb. 20-21.

The Aztecs finished just two strokes behind third place Mesa Community College, with sophomore Colton Gage coming alive on the final day of the competition and earning a top-five finish.

Freshman Cooper Cordova continued an impressive start to his Aztec career by shooting one under par on the opening day. He finished the tournament with a top-20 finish overall.

Sophomores Noah St. Clair and Josh Daniels both tied for 30th to round out the weekend.

The men’s team will be teeing off next at the Estrella Mountain Invitational in Litchfield Park on March 7-8.

The team will be looking to secure its first top-three team finish of the season.

WOMEN’S TEAM

At the Estrella Mountain Invitational, the Aztecs were unable to score as they played with three of their four players.

Sophomore Desiree Hong was absent during the invitational, but it didn’t stop the Aztecs from finishing in the top half of the bracket.

Sophomore Samantha Hacker tied for fourth with a two-day score of 173 (90-83). Freshman Abby Miller finished in tenth place with a two-day total of 191 (94-97). Freshman Juliana Perez shot a two-day score of 204 (108- 96), tying for 13 place.

Samantha Hacker takes a look at the field before she swings. (Photo Courtesy of PCC Athletics)

Artist’s difficult life won’t define her

Artist’s difficult life won’t define her

By ERIK MEDINA

Call Pima Community College student Montessa White an artistic Cinderella. “I’m a creative, ambitious person — I like to think at least,” White said. “I think I’m pretty smart and I want to do what I want to do. I have a lot of dreams and passions and I’m trying to pursue that. I’m a dreamer.”

Montessa White puts finishing touches on a sketch at the West Campus Library.
Erik Medina / Aztec Press

White was born on June 14, which makes her a Gemini. Although White does not pay much attention to astrology, she believes Gemini actually does describe who she is.

“I can be two different people,” she said. “I can be smart and nice Montessa or really mean Montessa.”

White is originally from southern California, mainly the Yorba Linda and Placentia areas.

White didn’t grow up in an average family. She was raised by her mother after her mother and father separated. White’s mother left for California and her father stayed in Arizona.

“It’s complicated, I know,” she said.

White didn’t have a “happy-go-lucky” life as a child. She constantly movedaround and was homeless at one point.

“I was sleeping next to mailboxes with my mom’s jean jacket wrapped around me,” she said.

However, White said she doesn’t let that define her. She strives for the best, despite her struggles in life.

White can recall one moment she classifies as happy: the moment she met her stepfather.

“My life flipped upside down, like the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’” she said. “We were in a really bad situation and then we moved into a nice household.”

“Goddess” by Montessa White

Eventually White moved to Oro Valley to live with her father, and attended Ironwood Ridge High School.

White’s years of moving around meant she missed a lot of high school between her freshman and sophomore years.

She had to scramble to make up missing credits needed to graduate.

“Everyone was bitching about their classes,” she said. “I had a full schedule, plus online classes. Twice as many classes.

It was hell.”

White completed high school with top grades, and graduated on time.

At PCC, White is majoring in digital art with a concentration in illustration. She is also looking into animation classes.

Besides attending school, White works as a student aide at the West Campus library. She works along Christine Seliga,

a library service specialist who has known White since August.

Seliga describes White as a creative and conscientious person.

“She’s got amazing skills with drawing and coming up with concepts for her design class,” Seliga said. “Montessa has

some visions that other people don’t have. She’s got some talents.”

Like many artists, White started drawing at a young age.

“My mom actually told me she would find my sketches on the toilet paper while using the bathroom,” she said.

Her go-to supply is a pencil. She does have other instruments for drawing but likes to stick to the basics.

White doesn’t draw inspiration from any famous artists.

“Inner Beauty” by Montessa White

“I actually don’t look towards famous artists,” she said. “I think their work is cool. I like looking at it sometimes, but I don’t care.”

White does relate to animator Tim Burton. They do not draw or create similar pieces, but she thinks they share similar art styles.

White can’t put a name to her style. She mainly draws people but tweaks them.

She also creates feminist art, which she defines as women drawing women.

Her post-Pima plans include finding a good school with digital art and animation programs, possibly in California.

She would enjoy any job related to full-length or short films, but would especially like to work on storyboards by helping with characters or background art.

Her dream job would be working as a storyboard artist at Disney.

In fact, Disney has been a very important part of White’s difficult life. Disney movies taught her life lessons such as to have courage and to follow her dreams.

If she could be in any Disney movie, White said she’d be in either “Beauty and the Beast” or “Cinderella.”

“Cinderella is my life,” she said. “I feel like I’m like Belle and a little like Jasmine because Jasmine is fierce and fire. I can actually see myself in any movie.”

SOFTBALL: Pima trying to find batting consistency

SOFTBALL: Pima trying to find batting consistency

By CASEY MUSE JR.

The Pima Community College softball team has entered the full swing of the regular season. Players are looking to establish some consistency with their bats as they look to reach their full potential.

Feb. 16: PCC 10, Colorado Northwestern 13 / PCC 6, Colorado Northwestern 3

The Aztecs split a non-conference home match-up with Colorado Northwestern. Both offenses were on fire in the first game.

Freshman Megan Flores finished with one run scored, sophomore Bailey Critchlow finished the game three for five, with two RBIs and three runs scored.

Freshman Mandy Lorenson took the loss in the game after pitching two relief innings. She finished with three hits, three strikeouts and seven walks.

The Aztecs learned their lesson and did not let the lead slip in the second game.

In the first inning, sophomore Amy Pacheco drove in fellow sophomore Margarita Corona and Flores. Pima added two more in the fourth inning to make the score 5-0.

Critchlow earned the win as she shutout the Spartans for the entire game, finishing with three earned runs, six hits, four strikeouts and four walks.

Feb. 18: PCC 6, Central Arizona CC 5

Pima was able to win one conference game before the rain in a home meeting.

Things started out slow for the Aztecs as they fell to an early 5-0 deficit. However, PCC rallied and scored six unanswered runs, to give Central Arizona their first ACCAC conference loss.

Critchlow hit the game winning RBI single to score freshman Edith Prieto. Pima didn’t have any runs on the board until the fifth inning.

Critchlow took the win, pitching the entire game. She finished with five runs earned, 10 hits, one strikeout, and five walks.

The second game of the doubleheader was postponed for March 9, due to the weather.

Feb. 21: PCC 10, Eastern 9 / PCC 6, Eastern 8

Pima split a conference meeting with Eastern Arizona at home.

Pima took the lead early on back-to-back RBIs from Sophomores Courtney Brown and Critchlow. Eastern Arizona began their comeback in fifth inning and by the seventh, the Gila Monsters had a one run lead of their own.

Critchlow clutched a walkoff two run RBI single to win the game. Critchlow also earned the win as she pitched the entire game finishing with 10 hits, one strikeout and two walks.

Eastern Arizona was surely out for revenge in the second game. The game remained close throughout as the Gila Monsters were able to score the tying run in the seventh to send the game to extra innings. Pima just could not find any offense in the eighth and Eastern Arizona was able to score two runs to steal the win.

Sophomore Luisa Silvain took the loss as she pitched the entire game and finished with 12 hits, three strikeouts and three walks.

Feb. 25: PCC 8, Scottsdale 0 / PCC 11, Scottsdale 0

The Aztecs dominated the conference double header with Scottsdale Community College.

The first game was busted open by the Aztecs in the third inning, scoring seven runs. They did not look back from there and carried the momentum over into the second game.

The team was able to score nine runs in the fourth inning of game two and never let the Artichokes score any runs of their own. Both games ended in a shutout.

Sophomore Luisa Silvain earned the win in the first game finishing with five hits and three strikeouts. Freshman Megan Lorenson got the win in the second game, finishing with two hits, seven strikeouts and two walks.

Nicholas Trujillo./Aztec Press Margarita Corona goes for swings against GateWay Community College, on Valentines Day.

 

STOMPING GROUNDS: Old West awaits, practically in your backyard

STOMPING GROUNDS: Old West awaits, practically in your backyard

By DALE VILLEBURN OLD COYOTE

Polish your boots, straighten your bolo and bust out those Wranglers, because this is Trail Dust Town and you’re re-entering the wild west. Well, about as close as you can get without leaving the Tucson metropolitan area.

Trail Dust Town is located on Tucson’s east side at 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road. Start off with the train ride around town. A haunted cemetery, Polly Anna Park, a Native village and a decrepit mine shaft are just a few of the sights along the track.

Stop by Polly Anna Park. You’ll find a carousel and a Ferris wheel for all ages. Rides cost a wooden nickel ($2.50) for tykes over 3 years old.

A Trail Dust Town sign greets visitors at the Polly Anna Park entrance on the southwest side.
The Old West destination offers activities ranging from a stunt show to a haunted tour.
Dale Villeburn Old Coyote / Aztec Press

A dozen different activities can entertain all types of folk. Catch the Pinnacle Peak Pistoleroes Wild West Stunt Show, full of daring feats and booming pyrotechnics, for just two wooden nickels ($5).

Visit the shooting range if you have an itchy trigger finger afterwards. It takes quarters, and the rifles need to be sighted, but you might enjoy a jaunty tune while you work on your aim.

Pop into the general store for some novelty trinkets and toys. Or, you can stroll the street and take old-timey photos with outfits and props throughout the town.

HORSE SOLDIER MUSEUM

The Museum of the Horse Soldier is the newest addition to the property and truly is one of Tucson’s hidden gems.

Featuring more than 2,000 pieces of genuine American military history, it has everything from uniforms to swords to cannons.

According to museum director Rae Whitely, “Everything behind glass is authentic.”

The gallery also displays the only surviving uniform from Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. The rest were destroyed on an official burn order.

Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children. Ages 6 and under are free.

FRIGHTFUL FUN

is it time to put some fright into your night? Bill Delfs, the proprietor of Ravenhearse productions, recounts more than 40 instances in their less-than-two-year stretch in which adult patrons have been scared enough to lose control of certain bodily functions.

Don’t be shy. Ravenhearse is a family haunt that operates year round and offers tour choices that can accommodate a variety of health issues. The green tour, yellow tour and red tour get increasingly frightening.

The green tour is acceptable for all ages, while the red tour is for the utterly fearless.

A tour can run 15-45 minutes, depending on how long you can last. They’re available Thursday-Sunday, and cost $5.

Youngsters can enjoy an old-fashioned carousal ride for $2.50 in Polly Anna Park.
Dale Villeburn Old Coyote / Aztec Press

GETTING HUNGRY?

If you swing by the Dakota Café, you might run into general manager Juan Figueroa.

The restaurant has strong customer loyalty, and Figueroa will try his best to make you feel at home.

“It’s mostly regulars, people who have been coming here for 30 years,” he said. “I like to treat everyone like family.”

Pay attention, Pima students. If you whisper the secret code “dakota cats” to your server, you’ll get 20 percent off your bill.

If you have a serious hunger, head into Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse and fill your belly with its 30-ounce T-bone steak, “The Big Cowboy.”

Don’t come in your best dress, however. Pinnacle Peak has a strictly enforced “no ties allowed” policy. You can see what others have lost, with hundreds of ties cut from the necks of patrons hanging from the rafters.

Save room for dessert and stop by the Chocolate Depot to pick up some homestyle fudge and pastries. Stock up on oldfashioned candy, or a three-foot gummy snake for the week.

There’s plenty more to discover at Trail Dust Town, and it’s a great way to support small, local businesses.

A farmers’ market is open each Friday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. There’s a banquet hall available to rent, an art gallery to visit and plenty of interesting characters.

For more information, visit traildusttown. com or call 296-4551.

Former PCC Instructor faces protest charges

Former PCC Instructor faces protest charges

By EDDIE CELAYA

Jenni Monette, who writes under the name Jenni Monet, has a mug shot taken after her arrest at Standing Rock. (Photo courtesy of Jenni Monette)

No one can accuse former Pima Community College journalism instructor Jenni Monet of staying on the sidelines.

Monet, a native of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo tribe, recently added a new line to her resume: misdemeanor riot charges.

The charges came while Monet was covering environmental/native-rights protests in Standing Rock, North Dakota, at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Monet has reported from inside the protesters’ camp since last September. She was arrested Feb. 1 while taking pictures and conducting interviews with protesters who were attempting to establish a new camp on private land.

“It was just another demonstration at what was known as the Last Child camp,” she said in a telephone interview. “I was with a group of water protectors to go cover their resistance campaign, like I did in all the other work that I do.

She is facing charges of criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot. Both are Class B misdemeanors and carry a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

Police accounts depict Monet as uncooperative.

“If she’s claiming she wasn’t warned, that’s absolutely not true,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Iverson told the Bismarck Tribune.

Iverson told the Tribune he warned Monet, saying, “I understand you’re a journalist, but you’re on private property and need to leave.”

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement saying, “After repeated warnings to vacate a camp being illegally set up on private property in southern Morton County, approximately 76 members of a rogue group of protesters were arrested.”

Monet asserts she readily identified herself.

“When asked to show my press credentials, I did,” she said. “When asked to step back from the police line, I did. And when asked to leave, I complied and I was still arrested.”

Authorities have previously arrested at least eight journalists at Standing Rock.

Ironically, the arrest last year of Amy Goodman first shed a national spotlight on the protests. Goodman, a well-known, white, liberal journalist, hosts the syndicated radio program “Democracy Now.”

Media outlets quickly took up Goodman’s plight, with publications such as the New York Times, Salon and Variety criticizing governmental overreach.

Monet’s struggle with local authorities has not piqued the same interest. “And we’re both charged with the same thing,” she noted.

“I think it’s indicative of how big media has handled the story out here at Standing Rock,” Monet said. “It’s on the reservation, it’s one of those stories that I think is generalized a lot.”

Stories supporting Monet have appeared in Yes! Magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review, but the mainstream press has been slow to champion her story.

When the Los Angeles Times ran a story about Monet by freelance reporter Sandy Tolan, it published a photo of Goodman.

“Showing a white women in a profile piece about me, where I am completely absent, that’s not OK,” Monet said. “It’s wrong and would be the case for any profile piece. You just don’t. It’s 101 stuff.”

Web publications such as the Center for Investigative Reporting and Native-media outlets like High Country News and Native News Online have all stepped up for Monet, making it clear they find her charges unacceptable.

For her part, Monet has not let her arrest and pending court date affect her work.

“I’ve worked very diligently to build strong relationships here at the tribal, state, county level,” she said. “I will continue to maintain these relationships to report at a very critical time.”

The tenor of the protests began shifting after Donald Trump became president, Monet said

“I think there is a small sense of defeat among the water protectors,” she said.

It changed again when authorities began the process of removing protesters from their camps.

“People are feeling a little bit of loss, but also some last-minute attempts to kind of stand ground,” Monet said.

With all the uncertainty, Monet remains focused on reporting.

“I’m hoping that the charges get dropped and I can get back to work,” she said.

 

Jenni Monet Bio:

Jenni Monet is a freelance journalist who specializes in covering indigenous peoples, both in the United States and internationally. Before becoming a freelancer, Monet worked as a TV news anchor for a CBS affiliate, and as a reporter for Al Jazeera. She also taught Journalism 101 and 102 at West Campus last semester.

HOWS THAT MINIMUM WAGE LAW WORKING?: Spike may actually limit number of jobs

HOWS THAT MINIMUM WAGE LAW WORKING?: Spike may actually limit number of jobs

By DAVID W. SKINNER

The minimum wage rate in Arizona has risen from $8.50 to $10 since Jan. 1 and will continue to rise 50 cents each year until the minimum wage reaches $12 by the year 2020.

This isn’t going to work. Raising the minimum wage will put people out of work.

Before voters approved the Proposition 206 wage increase, businesses kept many people on staff at $8.50 an hour. Employees worked shifts throughout the week, whether they were a student, a working mother or a father with a second job trying to pay the bills.

With the pay raise, companies that already could barely afford their overhead are looking at layoffs or reduced hours.

I wish state voters had been more diligent before approving this plan.

We all know businesses are going to do what’s best for their bottom line. As an employee, I hear all the time how my company cares about its employees and all that nonsense.

But now is when we get to see a business’ true intentions.

Surprisingly enough, it’s to make money.

If making money takes firing people in order for those corporate suits to cash their quarterly bonus, they won’t even think twice.

To the everyday working man or woman who depends on part-time jobs to pay the

bills, having to replace those lost hours with another part-time job is going to be much harder due to a company’s requirement to hire an entry-level employee at $10 compared to $8.50.

The company will hire fewer people for those part-time jobs and some workers will be left out in the cold.

As a state, Arizona needs more companies to want to move here. Occupants of this beautiful state must be able to work and live in comfort.

The minimum wage increase adds another roadblock for companies planning to move their business operation to the Tucson area.

Bringing new jobs to the Tucson community shows other companies that Arizona is a great home base. I just don’t think raising the minimum wage was a step in that direction.

Making sudden, drastic changes without any real adjustment period or plan has left employers all over Arizona having to make hard decisions.

Arizona should want its working people to make money, not lose their jobs entirely.

 

David Skinner is a journalist major whose opinions are just as bad as his writing style. He loves long walks on the beach but hates getting sand in his shoes. Do not follow him on twitter @daveyskins_.

HOWS THAT MINIMUM WAGE LAW WORKING?: Increase sets social Darwinism in motion

HOWS THAT MINIMUM WAGE LAW WORKING?: Increase sets social Darwinism in motion

By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO

For minimum-wage earners who’ve had a taste of the $1.95 per hour pay raise, I can relate if you are feeling both happy and scared by the change.

My eyes light up when I see the significant increase in my paychecks. However, my face turns gray when I hear that another store has closed or raised prices because it can’t keep up.

In Tucson, the owner of Shlomo and Vito’s Deli blamed the minimum wage when it closed. The move threw 43 employees out of work.

I’m not an economist, but I would argue the closing represents free market principles. It’s not great a local deli closed, but it allows other entrepreneurs an opportunity to open another food store that might be economically stronger.

The ability to adapt and overcome obstacles shows the strength of a business. This life-and-death business cycle is healthy for an area’s economy.

The Metro Chamber of Commerce recently sent an anonymous survey to businesses across Tucson.

About 40 percent of businesses that responded said they are increasing prices to keep up.

Thirty-two percent are reducing employee hours.
I see this happening at my own job, at Frys. Many of my fellow employees are seeing their hours cut because they don’t have seniority and the store has to save money.

The chamber survey said 13 percent of businesses are considering closing for good. This is without a doubt bad for the individual businesses that close. However, a growing customer base will greet those that ride the wave of uncertainty and stay open.

Another 11 percent of the business owners said they would move to automation.

We won’t be having much human interaction at those stores. They’ll be based on machines with one or two people keeping up day-to-day maintenance.

Again, this process eliminates the weak businesses and allows others to come up with fresh ideas to keep their business going. This is good for everyone in the long run.

I understand that finding a new job is scary in the short run, especially when you have a family to feed. It’s also scary to see businesses close.

Focusing on that, however, will only make you close-minded to that fact that other businesses may perform better.

Opportunities are driven by the free market and its ability to make and break businesses.

This is the circle of life in the world of economics. We shouldn’t be afraid to take it on.

 
Nick Trujillo isn’t a conservative, but he likes a free-functioning market.