People who sit in positions of power sometimes lose sight of how much weight they carry. And sometimes, they come to feel the world revolves around them.
Yosemite Community College District is one of our region’s most important educational institutions. On three major campuses, it has more than 14,000 students striving to continue their educations and enable their dreams. It’s been an integral part of our educational system for nearly a century. It’s crucial that it be well run, and generally speaking, we believe it is.
So it was disappointing to read of the YCCD board’s decision to censure member Anne DeMartini.
Disappointing, yet entirely necessary.
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DeMartini stepped over the line in sending an email criticizing an administrative staff member for contributing to a political opponent of DeMartini’s husband.
Anne DeMartini clearly didn’t realize how much weight such a note would carry, and just as clearly was thinking only of herself before hitting the “send” button. Now, she says she regrets doing that. Unfortunately, that statement was part of a prepared response Wednesday that spent as much time accusing other board members of violating procedure as it did trying to make amends.
DeMartini, by nearly all accounts, has been a solid board member for 14 years. She does her homework, asks good questions and is unafraid to take unpopular positions. The fact she is married to a longtime Stanislaus County supervisor, Jim DeMartini, rarely enters into the equation. That’s how it should be.
Unfortunately, Anne DeMartini brought her husband into the boardroom in an entirely inappropriate email to staff member Jann Mathies. DeMartini admonished Mathies for contributing to Patterson Mayor Luis Molina, who ran against Jim DeMartini for supervisor in the June primary. In a three-way race, DeMartini won just enough votes to avoid a November runoff.
Anne DeMartini took Mathies’ support for Molina personally, and put her hurt feelings into the email.
The political choices of YCCD staff are not subject to DeMartini’s approval or review. They are not open for debate or even comment.
Unfortunately, DeMartini went further. It wasn’t enough to criticize Mathies for supporting Molina, DeMartini also criticized her for the amount she gave. As DeMartini saw it, Mathies wanted her to know she was supporting Molina – hence her decision to avoid, by one penny, the rule that would have allowed her to donate anonymously.
“Perhaps you gave $100.00 so that I would be aware of your position in this political race,” she wrote.
Again, Anne DeMartini has no business commenting on how much Mathies gave Molina. And the thought that Mathies was trying to send some sort of message is testament to Anne DeMartini’s self-centered worldview. Sometimes, it’s not about you. Sometimes, it’s about writing a check with a round number.
DeMartini explained her actions to the board Wednesday before it voted 5-1 to censure her. Now, the district considers the case closed.
We hope it is. Anne DeMartini has been a good YCCD board member but her censure was appropriate. Anne DeMartini apologized to Mathies and insisted she was not trying to intimidate. But she didn’t appear very contrite.
We’re sorry DeMartini acted in such a manner. Truly, she should be, too.