Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

PCC should fire Flores

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” It looks like the administration of the Pima Community College District is in need of a lot of sunshine.

Interim Chancellor Suzanne Miles announced this week that she wants a $91,000 pay cut. Sounds noble, especially in these tough times. But Miles isn’t offering to reduce her pay out of nobility.

It’s a public relations move to quench a firestorm of controversy the PCC governing board ignited last month when it decided to pay then school Provost Miles $289,000 a year to run the district while it looked for a new chancellor to replace supposedly retiring Chancellor Roy Flores.

At the same time, it decided to pay Flores his full $289,000 salary to sit at home and convalesce from heart surgery through the end of his contract in June 2013.

Board members said they were forced into that decision when Flores reneged on his request to retire this month after the board failed to appoint Miles as his handpicked successor.

This type of public scrutiny is new to the PCC governing board. It has been going merrily along for nearly a decade mostly ignored by the local media and the public.

Its board meetings are sparsely attended and its elections unopposed. Four of the five board members ran unopposed in their last election.

So it’s no wonder the board thought it could do what it wants and no one would pay any attention.

Then last year the board decided to clamp down on its adult education admission standards and spurred a backlash in some liberal quarters.

That was followed by Flores’ announcement that he was retiring a week before an Arizona Daily Star story about Flores hiring a crony as a business coach who was sending lewd emails to district employees.

When the deal to appoint Miles was announced, numerous female district employees began posting on blogs and elsewhere stories of harassment by Flores and his acolytes.

On the night it was to vote on hiring Miles as Flores replacement, the board had to face hundreds of angry taxpayers and district employees.

It balked, voting instead to do a national search for a replacement and hiring Miles only as an interim chancellor. It also failed to accept Flores resignation. So Flores took his toys and went home, refusing to resign. But since he’s ill, he can’t do the job of chancellor.

The board’s decision to pay Flores nearly $300,000 to sit at home is an outrage. It should demand Flores return to work and send Miles back to her Provost’s office at her former salary. If Flores is unable to return to work due to his health, he should either take a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act or resign. If he can return to work and won’t, he should be fired and Miles hired as interim.

Miles proposed pay cut is not a solution to Flores sitting at home collecting $5,500 a week to do nothing.

The solution is to fire Flores.

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