Student government potentially shut down

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Administration and ASCOCC debate budget, student council members dismiss financial coordinator

Editors Note: This story is still unfolding, but there was not enough time before print for further updates. Everything in this story is accurate as of Monday night, May 14. Stay tured to www.thebroadsideonline.com for new info.

Tobey Veenstra
Kirsteen Wolf
The Broadside

The Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College’s will have to shut its doors due to lack of funds on May 21, 2011. ASCOCC has had a total revenue of more than $360,000 for the 2010-11 academic year.

Although council members voted to adopt a budget that they proposed in a May 6 meeting with Dean of Student and Enrollment Services Alicia Moore, that budget has been rejected by COCC administration.

“The ASCOCC budget does not follow the given fiscal parameters … and is not fundable,” said Moore. “At this point [the college-recommended budget] is the budget.”

ASCOCC stated in an email that the council has not overspent.

“Our budget plan was voted on and approved by the greater council, discussed with administration, and a second meeting is expected to be held this week,” wrote ASCOCC in an email.

However, there appears to be little left to discuss.

“It does not appear that we have avenues for student government to be operational after Saturday,” said Moore, although she stressed that the college will “continue to work to support clubs through the remainder of the year.”

An email from Dean Alicia Moore’s to ASCOCC outlines actions that are meant to cease expenditures and recoup costs on items like gift cards. The email stated that ASCOCC credit cards need to be returned, their copy machine codes removed and their charging authority at the bookstore suspended.  Council members are to return all Sodexo meal cards and movie vouchers.

The financial coordinator’s dismissal

In the depths of this financial crisis, council members voted for the immediate dismissal of Financial Coordinator Dustin Moore during a meeting on May 13.

Although a forced resignation was originally vote on, the group then voted for Moore’s immediate termination after Moore said he would be contacting an attorney about the resignation.

With ASCOCC Members Terry Link and John MacAulay, Pierce voted for his removal. While member Chris March was absent, he submitted his vote for Moore’s removal —albeit not worded “immediately”— in writing before the meeting.The same letter was used for both votes.

ASCOCC Advisor Taran Underdal questioned whether members should discuss the change in the motion with March first, but Link said the group had his vote “by proxy.”

ASCOCC Member Matt Coito voted against Moore’s dismissal.

When asked for the grounds for Moore’s dismissal, the council responded by e-mail, listing numerous reasons.

“There was a long history of communication issues and concerning behavior, late bill paying, conduct that was not inclusive of council members, and carelessness with financial matters,” wrote ASCOCC. “Concerns about procedures were discussed often with Mr. Moore, but the situation grew  increasingly problematic. The majority of the council felt it would be financially prudent to release him from his duties, and his position.”

According to Moore the communication trouble got worse when Terry Link harshly warned ASCOCC advisor Underdal that if she raised the issue of the budget at a public meeting, litigation and communication from a lawyer would follow.

Moore stated that money spent on videos, a D.C. trip and a lawyer and PR consultant were not needed for students.

“I am pretty sure students didn’t write en masse demanding those things,” he said.

Moore has served on the council since April 2010. The group previously voted against him serving on the Fiscal Task Force.
In January 2011, the ASCOCC budget was posted on the ASCOCC website. According to Moore, he and Taran Underdal worked on the creation of an excel spreadsheet to track expenditures. The document was available to every ASCOCC member.

Black and red budgets

Just before Financial Coordinator Moore’s dismissal, the group discussed the budget they submitted to administration on May 6, which has since been rejected by COCC administration.

Two days before, the outside contractors hired by ASCOCC—including the lawyer, the PR consultant and a printer for The Voice, the student government-run news magazine—were informed that the college would need to authorize all expenditures to those parties, effectively suspending any contracts.

The council approved the budget submitted to Alicia Moore. Moore has referred to this budget as “not fundable.”

“We did submit a balanced budget to Alicia Moore, somewhere along the line she made some changes and tried to throw that back at us,” said ASCOCC Member Link. “We are not going to accept that. We’re going to continue to operate under the budget that we… crafted.”

As financial coordinator, Moore had concerns about the ASCOCC-crafted budget.

“I disagree with the budget,” said Moore during the meeting. “There were a couple of things that were actually not correct on it. I still put forth that there are things that haven’t been accounted for yet that will not allow us to be in the black.”

At the meeting, Council Member Coito was hesitant about approving the budget.

“As long as it’s in the black I’m cool with it,” he said.

Link stated at the meeting, “The way we crafted it, it’s in the black.”

Dustin Moore recommended the group wait until Monday when they knew more about the lawyer’s bills.

“We should vote on it on Monday when we know when we’re actually in the black or not, because [the lawyer’s] bill puts us in the black or the red,” said Moore.

Moore’s parting words

After members voted to remove him from office, Moore responded with various critiques of the group’s operations.

“You guys have been making group decisions without the group’s vote on things that are resulting in great expenditures through the lawyer without informing the group,” said Moore. “Every time Alicia [Moore] has told us to do something or asked us to do something or said that maybe we should not do this, you go to the lawyer and you spend two or three hours.”

Moore pointed out further questionable decisions, including:

• “We did not take a formal vote in a public forum for any of the things that you guys have done in the last two weeks that involved spending for the lawyer or India [Simmons, ASCOCC’s PR consultant].

• “You’ve been paying India since August but only announced it in October.”

• “At least twice I have asked both of you to quit editing the meeting minutes and to stop making decisions for the group without the group present.”

• “I take real offense to the fact that you said I was ‘lone wolfing,’ when I was under the authority of Alicia [Moore].”

Underdal is complimentary of Dustin Moore service to ASCOCC.

“I believe Dustin complete his job duties to the best of his ability under the circumstances and continuously put more than the required time and effort required of council members,”she said.

No volunteering, no summer work

ASCOCC council members cannot stay on as volunteers after May 21 due to Bureau of Labor and Industry laws. The May 11 email from Dean Moore to ASCOCC states that there will be no summer activities for current ASCOCC members.

The college is considering hiring part-time student workers to complete necessary jobs.

Tobey Veenstra can be reached at Tveenstra@cocc.edu

Kirsteen Wolf can be reached at Kwolf@cocc.edu

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