The Pima Community College soap opera continues as the current Board, despite demands to step down from students, business leaders and every teacher and employee group at PCC, has ignored all and named a new Chancellor. Lee D. Lambert (LDL) will swim away from Shoreline and plop down in the searing summer heat of the Sonoran Desert. According to reports, he is an expert in dealing with sexual harassment, a master of human resources. (Maybe he will turn his fine hand to turning out the Board That Will Not Go.)
As preparation for his new position, I invite LDL to read The Art of War by Sun-tzu. Only then will he truly understand the littered battlefield he is walking into – the shattered lives and careers, the paranoia and pain that is the legacy of Roy Flores, his band of groupies (many still in place) and a Board that sat mutely on the sidelines as Roy moved and manipulated his employees like toy soldiers.
I am one of the casualties of Roy’s war, hired and fired without cause, subjected to his grossly inappropriate sexual behavior. In between his bathtub phone calls and heartfelt readings to me, in his office, of Ode to a Beautiful Nude by Pablo Nerudia, he once confided that his favorite book, one he urged me to read, was The Art of War by Sun-tzu.
Hey, LDL, take a read. You will better understand what awaits you.
Flores viewed warfare as a sacred act; it oriented his world and guided his interactions with every employee. We were his enemy, and I imagined him at night with plastic toy soldiers spread before him on his bedspread, moving them strategically back and forth, commanding and in charge.
He brought these skills into the workplace each day, moving and manipulating employees to follow his whims. A quote from Sun-tzu that captures the charge Roy took seriously in dealing with employees:
Display profits to entice them. Create disorder and take them.
If they are substantial, prepare for them; if they are strong, avoid them.
If they are angry, perturb them; be deferential to foster their arrogance.
If they are rested, force them to exert themselves.
If they are united, cause them to be separated.
Attack where they are unprepared.
Go forth where they will not expect it.
These are the ways military strategists are victorious. (Sun-tzu, The Art of War)
“Create disorder, cause them to be separated, perturb them, attack where they are unprepared.” And so Roy did. He undermined, underused, rendered paranoid, seduced and abandoned so many of us.
Flores’ tactics were not isolated to the eight women who called him out for his sexual misconduct. He spread his tactics greedily, hungrily among all employees. In addition to sophomoric seductions, others, male and female, were subjected to warfare wrapped in rage, whimsy and ruthlessness.
Sun-tzu was Roy’s master; Roy’s employees were his pawns; the Board members were his witless accomplices, smiling rubber-stampers without ears or eyes. (When did ignorance and avoidance become valid defenses?)
I urge the lawyers, mediators and new chancellor to read The Art of War to fully understand the climate of distrust and paranoia that Roy wove, and that lives on today. A promise was included in Pima Community College’s response to the Higher Learning Commission to “make whole” the lives of the women who called him out on his sexual deviation. You will not understand what “make whole” means unless you grasp the enormity of dysfunction sown during Flores’ reign.
LDL needs to know Roy did not act alone but surrounded himself with a tight, inner circle. They bit into his apple of seduction and the bestowing of high-paying jobs, and lost their way. There are many working at the college who remain afraid of what this inner circle might still do to their lives and careers.
If LDL is to put Pima Community College back together again, and truly make all of us whole, he has to understand the depth of the holes Roy dug in so many lives. He has to get rid of the groupies and the blind and deaf Board. Only then, can PCC mediate, process and claw its way out of the chaos Roy created. Only then will we be able to truly believe PCC’s commitment to restoring wholeness for this community, for us all.