Two lawyers engaged in a written altercation this week over whether or not the Academic Senate could legally review college Superintendent/President Mark Rocha.

General Counsel Gail Cooper and Faculty Association (FA) attorney Lawrence Rosenzweig traded caustic letters to each other after Cooper and the District accused Academic Senate President Eduardo Cairo of violating state law by not attending the Committee on Academic and Professional Matters (CAPM) meetings.

Rosenzweig said that Cooper was wrong for claiming the senate’s proposal to form an Ad Hoc Committee to evaluate the college president violated Board policy and state law, calling her statements a “blatant example of the District’s misguided attempts to intimidate faculty members.”

“Your threats are pointless,” Rosenzweig wrote. “In plain English, please stop.”

Cooper insists that Cairo’s boycott of CAPM was a violation of Board policy and the Brown Act, the state law that governs public meetings. Cooper also said that if the Academic Senate had a quorum of members present at the Town Hall meetings, they could not discuss business relating to the Academic Senate matters, according to the Brown Act.

“…My [Oct. 23] letter advised Cairo of violation of the law and Board policy, specifically regarding the unauthorized effort of the Academic Senate to conduct an evaluation of the Superintendent/President,” Cooper wrote in a Nov. 4 follow-up email. “As is stated in my letter, the violation of law is based upon the fact that a purported evaluation of the Superintendent/President is outside the purview of the Academic Senate…”

Rosenzweig is technically the Faculty Association’s lawyer, but was asked by them to respond to Cooper’s letter.

“You state you do not represent the Academic Senate,” Cooper wrote. “But are responding because the Faculty Association asked you to do so… The fact that you do not represent the Academic Senate, but you are nonetheless intervening in a manner between the District and the Academic Senate at the behest of the Faculty Association corroborates the District’s view.”

In her Oct. 23 letter to Cairo, Cooper stated that if the senate attempted to conduct a public evaluation of Rocha it would be a violation of his right to privacy and he would have the right to seek redress in a court of law against any individuals who participated in the defamatory statement.

“Frankly, I am shocked that you would threaten faculty of the college,” Rosenzweig wrote. “Who do you represent? As General Counsel of the District, you represent the interests of the District. You are not the college president’s personal attorney. It’s not your job to protect the president’s privacy.”

Cooper countered, saying that it was a statement of fact, and added that she would not necessarily represent Rocha if he chose to sue.

She said that Rosenzweig should make his client aware that the District does not defend or indemnify employees if investigation reveals that they committed conduct outside the course and scope of their employment.

“The communication sent to Cairo [has] properly placed him and the members of the Academic Senate on notice of their violations of law and Board policy,” Cooper said. “They should conduct themselves accordingly.”

13 Replies to “FA lawyer and District general counsel tangle”

  1. I would like to make it very clear that Gail claim is wrong. The Brown Act has not one line or sentence that requires members of a government body to attend. In fact I will post some key parts of the law for all to read.
    Brown Act or Government Code 54950-54963 will apply to,

    “54952. As used in this chapter, “legislative body” means:
    (a) The governing body of a local agency or any other local body created by state or federal statute.”

    For the novices this means all California Public Government entities below the State Government.

    The Main purpose of Brown act is outlined as,
    “54953. (a) All meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.”

    Brown Acts fundamental purpose is to control when notification for meetings occur, allowing the public to participate, and when the public may not participate. The times when the public may not attend/participate are very narrow. They are also defined within the Brown Act.

    Gail’s claim may only be believed if not one person who read this article had ever read the Brown Act. It is however a bold face lie. The Brown Act does not require the participation of any member of a body. Board Policy which has no enforcement value outside a court.

    Anyway if anyone ever wants to read the brown act please read here:

  2. Someone spelled “dumb” wrong.
    Third-rate English.

    “They who can not spell, cannot write. They who can not write, can not think–and for their own sakes, should not speak.” — Wm. Slade

  3. This story is good but would be a lot better if the writer told us who this Cairo is. There is no first name or other ID for him/her in the story. I have no idea who he/she is. Also where in the Brown act does it say that people are required to attend meetings?

    1. Mariaelena —

      Apparently Cairo is neither a he nor she, but an “it.”

      “It” leads the Committee on Academic and Professional Matters (CAPM), but like a little child, it refuses to play because it can’t have it’s way.

      From another article: “The Academic Senate voted to approve President Eduardo Cairo’s decision to boycott the Committee on Academic and Professional Matters (CAPM) meetings, asserting that it would be willing to return….”

      So basically, instead of working together for the sake of the students, it, meaning Cairo, chooses to not work together at all. His pay should be withheld.

      1. The Ad Hominem comments by “Clarification” are an inappropriate tack. (Drinking and posting do not mix.)

        Behind the closed doors of CAPM meetings, President Rocha made definitive, clear, unmistakably direct commitments– which he just as clearly violated, often the very next day. He repeatedly wasted the time and energy of those who came expecting honest communication. It looks as though the Faculty Senate had enough of that.
        It is a grim reality that the Admin. has proven it cannot be trusted.

      2. I would like to point out that President Rocha has ordered all his deans NOT to participate in hiring more full-time faculty. VP Bell, several weeks ago, also informed deans there will be no full-time hires this year, period. The school is rolling in dough, even RETURNING $ to the taxpayers, it’s so rich, but refuses to give ACCESS to students to faculty that are on campus and have office hours, to faculty that will devote time and energy to working on committees at the school, etc. (i.e.:full time professors vs. temporary part time professors). The administration started boycotting the process that’s in place WEEKS ago – why? Because the former Senate leaderships either kissed up or gave in to Rocha, and this one (President Cairo) does not.

  4. Is Cooper really threatening faculty again in this article? By “putting members of AS on notice” she is not only trying to flex her limp muscles but also showing that she will never be a member of the PCC family. It is time to get rid of this dead weight. Rocha and the Board of Trustees need to unify with the rest of the campus community and finally fire this woman for lack of professionalism. By keeping this harasser on staff, it appears that she is doing Rocha’s personal bidding rather than working for the District. Misappropriation of funds!!

    1. I, too, have received one of Cooper’s letters. She didn’t have a leg to stand on – as usual – and her sole aim is to intimidate and harass. I wonder how the trial is going that she is on for sexually harassing a former male employee at PCC…

      Why does the Board look the other way!? The public needs to put THEM on trial!

      1. Your ignorance is amazing. The former male employee Hutchings was fired for being a crook and a liar. If you bothered to find out, you would know since he’s lying about everything, the judge threw half of his case out of court and he has to pay Cooper’s and Rocha’s lawyer fees. The other half isn’t far behind. You say it’s harassment to say what the laws and policies are and they have to be followed by everyone. What do you call lying about this woman? PCC sued him in the same case for all the money wasted cleaning up the mess he caused. Guessing that’s way into six figures. Wonder how that trial is going.

  5. Once again Cooper has been out classed by another lawyer. Why is she still on our campus? Is it that she thinks no one is aware that she is being sued for sexual harassment? It’s obvious that by her lack of knowledge in employment and educational law she will continue to make one mistake after another. This ignorance of law reinforces the fact she was not successful in the private sector; therefore, PCC hired her. When will we ever learn that you can’t make something from nothing.

    1. Your lack of knowledge is obvious, angry fac member.

      Let me guess that you are the third-leg type member.

      Cooper is right on all counts.

    2. Do you think if you keep repeating the BS allegation of that lying sack of garbage who sued her, that makes you right? All you have to do is Google Hutchings and you can see he was a crook before he ever came to PCC. Big surprise he got fired for being a liar and a cheat, and then he tries to discredit Cooper with a lie. And since you’re faculty, lemme guess – you’re no lawyer. Or if you are, you couldn’t cut it as one. So where do you come off saying Cooper lacks knowledge. Looks to me like she knows exactly what she’s talking about. Everything she said is dead on. You’re just sour grapes because she put the union lawyer in his place.

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