Archive for Politics



Responding to Sigafoos’ persistent questioning of her during the October Board meeting, Representative McCasland said:  “I feel a lot of intimidation from you.”

“Mansplaining is a blend of the word man and the informal form splaining of the verb explaining and means “to explain something to someone, characteristically by a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing”.  Source: Wikipedia,

For some who attended the October 24 Yavapai Community College District Governing Board  meeting, the exchanges between Chair Ray Sigafoos and Representative Deb McCasland created an atmosphere that was less than pleasant.  The exchanges took place over more than an hour.  Ms. McCasland eventually told Sigafoos that she “felt a lot of intimidation” from him. 

The Blog believes that the treatment of McCasland by Sigafoos fits the classic definition of “mansplaining.”

At one point during the exchanges, a member of the audience, Ms. Ruth Wicks, got up and left the meeting room.   When interviewed, she told the Blog that she could no longer stomach what she perceived as the unfair attack being waged by Sigafoos on Ms. McCasland.

McCasland, who is perceived by the Blog as having been a target for Sigafoos’ efforts at intimidation since she was elected, stated to the Blog she was not fazed by the fieriness of Sigafoos’  effort to demean or embarrass her.

Below is a four-minute clip (out of more than an hour of back and forth exchanges) that  exemplifies what the Blog believes is a classic example of mansplaining.  Review it and see if you don’t agree.  You may also view the entire Governing Board meeting and all of the exchanges on Video by clicking here and going to the College Governing Board website.



Record shows West County reps on Governing Board voted down 80% of major recommendations coming from Verde Valley citizens group; left other major issues in hands of Administration with minimal direction

Over the past three years the citizens in the Verde Valley have spoken out about the need for greater development of post-secondary education. They were particularly vocal in voicing their concerns to the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee. Recall that the committee was unceremoniously shuttered during the fading minutes of a a-long Governing Board retreat in September 2016.

During its existence, the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee (VVBAC) made about two dozen specific recommendations for improvement. The District Governing Board formally considered five of them and rejected all but one.

There were also 16 recommendations made to the Governing Board that it never formally considered on an individual basis.

Five recommendations made to Governing Board with all but one voted down by the West County Governing Board representatives 3 – 2:

  1. VVBAC recommended no tax rate increase in 2015-16. This recommendation was rejected by the District Governing Board 3-2. As a result, the County property tax rate was increased.
  2. Former representative Al Filardo and then the VVBAC recommended obtaining an independent outside expert to assess the efficacy of creating an Administrative College or other model for operating the Community College in the Verde Valley. This recommendation was ejected by District Governing Board 3-2 (vote was on Filardo’s motion; VVBAC recommendation followed and was ignored).
  3. The VVBAC recommended no tuition increase. This was rejected by District Governing Board 3-2.
  4. The VVBAC recommended that the Sedona Center not be closed and sold. This recommendation was approved on a 5 – 0 vote.
  5. The VVBAC recommended no fees be assed to County high school students receiving College credit in courses taught in County high schools by high school faculty with facilities and administration paid by the high school. This was rejected by the Administration and Governing Board in March 2016.

There also was a general request that the VVBAC, the College Administration, and the Governing Board meet as a group and discuss issues involving the Verde Valley.  This was ignored.

16 recommendations Governing Board never took individual action on; left it up to the College to respond in some fashion:

  1. Allocate a far greater percentage of financial resources generated in the Verde to the Verde.
  2. Establish effective and efficient local decision-making through a Verde Advocate structure rather than through Prescott.
  3. Implement an ongoing Verde marketing and recruitment program of continuous and direct interaction with Verde lower and secondary education students and their parents.
  4. Focus on increasing student numbers in the Verde.
  5. In the Verde Valley create a CTE building for classes in fields that meet the needs of Verde residents.
  6. Prioritize building a state of the art delivery system.
  7. Add sufficient remote learning centers for distance learning opportunities.
  8. Provide and increase core transfer courses.
  9. Provide and increase multiple pathways of 2+1, 2+2, Certification, and CTE.
  10. Increase Verde scholarship and financial assistance and maintain an affordable tuition rate.
  11. Add focus on working with governments in all Verde communities to increase broadband coverage that can be used by the college.
  12. Fund all capital projects privately or through bonding rather than taxes, tuition and fees.
  13. Further incorporate workforce demand analysis in education decision-making. Build stronger local partnerships for business development and job creation.
  14. Focus on solutions for Verde affordable student housing.
  15. Encourage the immediate exploration of alternative models or structures to increase Foundation related activities and fund raising in the Verde. 
  16. Recommend revised criteria for evaluating investment needed for new programs as well as criteria for continuing programs.


Keeps the public and Board members in the dark


District Governing Board Chair Ray Sigafoos keeps iron-fisted control over the agenda for Governing Board meetings. In doing so, it is the opinion of the Blog that he is preventing the public and the other members of the Governing Board from receiving important information that may affect the public pocketbook and the direction of the College.

Documents obtained by the Blog through public information requests and other sources show the nature and extent of his control.

For example, earlier this year the Chino Valley Town Council asked that it be placed on the College agenda. The Town wanted to share information with the Governing Board about the potential implications to the College should a Speedway be constructed near the College’s Chino Valley Center.  Because of the possible location of the Speedway and a 2003 agreement, the District Governing Board held veto power over the project.

Without first discussing the request with the Governing Board at a public hearing before making a decision, Sifoos decided on his own that placing the matter on the College agenda was a bad idea. He drafted and signed a letter stating that “we will not be able to accommodate your request.” The “we” he referred to were the other members of the District Governing Board who knew nothing of the request or his letter. Moreover, they had not authorized such a letter be sent.

It was only after the Chino Valley Town Council received the letter denying their request that Sigafoos casually disclosed to other member of the Board his decision. There never was a vote on this issue.  

There are other examples.  A number of written requests for items to be placed on the College agenda from at least one member of the Board have been refused by Sigafoos. For example, a request that the Board discuss as an agenda item whether information contained in a letter from the College to a member of the public was leadked from a confidential Board meeting was rejected by Sigafoos.  He replied that “this is not a Board issue and Dr. Wills may have more information if needed.”

When a Board member asked to be allowed to “submit a list of [scholarship] questions I would like to be answered” and be placed on the Agenda, Sigafoos replied:  “operational issue and can be discussed in applicable monitoring reports.”   A similar request that “the total financial picture for the Community Events and Public service” be an agenda item was met by Sigafoos with the same response: “operational issue and can be discussed in applicable monitoring reports.”

Philosopher Alan Bloom said: “Education is the movement from darkness to light.” The Blog says, “Open government is vital in a democracy. All too often, the doors to government are closed.” This is especially true when one person controls an agenda. 


Dana Dieterich describes the challenges she faced

Dana Dieterich addressed the Governing Board on April 18, 2017 about her concerns over the closing the wet lab on the Prescott Campus.  In the short video below, she outlined to the Board at its June 13, 2017 meeting the frustration she had experienced in her failed efforts to meet with President Wills.

Many might say, “she got the royal runaround.” What say you?



In a case involving Maricopa Community College, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACAs) are not eligible for lower in-state tuition because they are undocumented students. DACA students were brought to the United States by their parents when the students were minors.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson had ruled in May 2015 that  Arizona law did not bar benefits to immigrants lawfully in the country.  You may read the ruling from the Appeals Court by clicking here.

As a result of the ruling, student tuition for DACA students could more than double at community colleges and state universities in Arizona. DACA is known as the protection given Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from deportation by former President Obama. The Arizona Republic newspaper reported that about 240 current DACA students at the state’s universities and a little more than 2,000 DACA students in Maricopa Community Colleges are receiving lower, in-state tuition rates.  You may read the full Arizona Republic article by clicking here.  

The Arizona Republic reported that the in-state rate for undergraduate students at ASU is $10,640 this year compared with $26,470 for non-resident students. At Maricopa Community Colleges, the in-state rate is $86 per credit hour vs. $241 for non-residents. Maricopa Community Colleges has 2,056 DACA students, according to Matthew Hasson, a college spokesman who was interviewed by the Arizona Republic.

The ruling is expected to be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court and then, regardless of who wins at that level, to the United States Supreme Court.


Representative  Bob Thorpe would require  students who want to vote to do so only by signing up to get an early ballot from where they were living before they became students

If Flagstaff legislator Bob Thorpe has his way, students attending Yavapai Community College  could not vote in Arizona elections unless they were Arizona citizens before moving to the Campus.  A similar proposal introduced by him earlier this year died when Representative  Doug Coleman, (R-Apache Junction) refused to even give it a hearing in the House Government Committee that he chairs.

In a ruling, upheld without comment in 1979 by the United States Supreme Court, the Court of
Appeals said students can choose whether to register to vote where they live while at school or at their prior home address.

For more information about Thorpe’s proposal, please click here to read the on-line story by Howard Fischer from the Verde Independent.


Not listening, few or no questions, lack of setting direction for Community College

In May, the District Governing Board assessed areas where its behaviors needed improvement. Representative Deb McCasland pointed to three areas where she believed Governing Board behaviors needed to improve.

She said the Board needed to set direction for the Community College. It should not sit on its hands and approve  only administrative proposals. She also said that the Board was not listening to its ownership input. Finally she indicated concern that there are either no questions or no discussion about important issues affecting the College from a majority of the Governing Board. The Board behaviors assessment, which was made public at the June 2017 Board meeting,  is set-out below.


Cottonwood-Oak Creek Assistant Superintendent addresses Governing Board on how poverty is affecting children in his District and the efforts being made to deal with it

Yes, lots of children are doing “fantastic” in the Verde Valley.  However, “there is a significant and growing population of our students who are not doing alright.’  They are being left behind in a pretty substantial way.  They are slipping into what is called `generational poverty.’”  That was the message of Acting Cottonwood-Oak Creek Superintendent Steve King when he addressed the Yavapai Community College Governing Board on May 9, 2017. 

Mr. King emphasized that the problem of poverty is extensive and growing in the Verde Valley and must be addressed by everyone – from pre-school to post-secondary educators and others.  He lauded the recent efforts of the Cottonwood-Oak Creek school district to address the issue by dealing with the whole child in a supportive fashion.

 Mr. King’s report (edited for time) to the District Governing Board on poverty in the Verde Valley from his perspective can be viewed below.

Wills and Sigafoos undergo a sudden epiphany when it comes to concern for the underserved student population

Claim they will do something about access for the underserved in the County

Commentary Bob Oliphant

Per the article in the Verde Independent of April 21, 2017 it appears that Yavapai Community College President Penelope Wills and Board President Ray Sigafoos have undergone a sudden epiphany when it comes to concern for the underserved student populations in the County. The article suggested they were “considering putting more money in the pockets of students who need it most.”  It went on to say that they had “expressed interest in finding ways to increase access to education for the underserved lower socioeconomic populations within the County.”

The article quotes Sigafoos as claiming that: “I’ve made the point the last 10 or 12 years, that when we increase the tuition, we ought to be putting aside a bit of that tuition toward some sort of institutional scholarship, so we can keep those people who need those extra dollars.

Pardon me if I find Mr. Sigafoos’ statement hard to swallow and the sudden change in direction by Penelope Wills less than persuasive.  Here is why.

Read More→


Staff are mum on her absence

Yavapai Community College President Penelope Wills was out of her office from March 21 through April 11. When asked about her whereabouts, her staff were tight-lipped and provided no information. 

During her report to the District Governing Board on Tuesday, April 18 she did not mention her three-week absence from the College. Seems a little strange.

Wills receives about a quarter million dollars a year in salary. She is one of the highest-paid taxpayer supported bureaucrats in the County. Most believe she owes it to the taxpayers to let them know what she is doing in her professional capacity as President with her time—even if it is taking a vacation during the academic year.

One source reported to the Blog that Wills had traveled to Australia on a vacation and attendance at short conference. This report could not be confirmed.