Ex-HR chief at college district got $2.3 million to leave job; now he’s helping the DA build a case against his former boss

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

The former HR director of San Mateo County Community College District was paid $2.28 million to quietly resign, according to a document obtained by the Post.

And now the Post has learned that Eugene Whitlock provided information to the District Attorney that has led to an investigation of his former boss, longtime Chancellor Ron Galatolo, who stepped down last year.

Meanwhile, Whitlock is running in November for a seat on the college district’s five-member board.

The case began in November 2018 when Whitlock contacted the DA’s office. DA’s investigators interviewed him on April 17, 2019.

Nine days later, on April 26, 2019, Whitlock was fired.

Four months later, Galatolo stepped down after 20 years as chancellor.

And two weeks after that, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe confirmed that Galatolo was under investigation for harassment and mishandling construction contracts. The college district had been on a building boom for the past decade after passing three bond measures that raised a total of nearly $1 billion.

When Whitlock was fired, Galatolo was still in charge. But the district reached the $2.28 million separation agreement with him in April of this year — seven months after Galatolo was shown the door.

“Mr. Whitlock did report to us much of what got us going on the case,” Wagstaffe told the Post on Thursday (Sept. 10).

Wagstaffe said that his investigators are hoping to announce a decision about charges in the case by the end of November.

The circumstances surrounding Whitlock’s firing were a mystery until the Post filed a California Public Records Act request to obtain a separation agreement between him and the district. It was signed in May, a year after he was fired. The agreement reveals the $2.28 million payout, which had not previously been disclosed by the college district.

The agreement, signed by Whitlock, his wife Romina and Galatolo’s successor, Mike Claire, gives three reasons for the hefty payout:

• $336,028 was paid to Whitlock last year as severance;

• $971,986 is for an alleged physical injury;

• and $971,986 is for alleged “emotional distress, reputational harm and other intangible injuries.”

There is no further information in the agreement about Whitlock’s alleged injuries, but it does offer a hint as to why he was paid so much in severance.

About a year earlier, on April 26, 2019, the board sent Whitlock a letter saying it had decided to fire him “without cause,” and were doing so “as an olive branch, and an attempt to avoid a contentious dispute between us.” The letter was signed by then-board president Maurice Goodman, who still serves on the board and is up for re-election in November.

The letter also mentioned that Whitlock and the district would be entering mediation to resolve his “concerns” with the district. That process ended with the $2.28 million separation agreement a year later in May.

The settlement agreement keeps Whitlock from suing the college district. It said that Whitlock had complained to several agencies about the district:

• The San Mateo County District Attorney’s office;

• The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR);

• California Department of Fair Employment and Housing;

• The California State Personnel Board;

• And the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The state personnel board and OCR dismissed Whitlock’s claims. On the other hand, the fair employment and state personnel boards gave Whitlock “right to sue” letters, which allow him to pursue certain types of employment-law claims in Superior Court.

The agreement also says that Whitlock and his wife, who hadn’t been employed by the district, cannot seek any “relationship” with the district.

The district’s board was generous with Galatolo, too. When he stepped down, he was given a new contract that pays $479,208 a year to serve as chancellor emeritus, but he was not allowed to return to any of the district’s three campuses.

When questioned Wednesday by the Post, Whitlock wouldn’t say more than repeat a boiler-plate statement that the agreement says he is supposed to give when questioned about his departure.

Whitlock wants to join board

Still, Whitlock is running for one of three seats up for grabs on the college district’s board.

He pointed out that a court has ruled that a former school employee in Southern California with a similar separation agreement was allowed to run for that district’s board.

“Every American has a constitutionally protected right to run for office. And voters have a constitutionally protected right to vote for who they want to,” Whitlock said Wednesday.

Whitlock, a San Carlos resident, is running against Lisa Petrides of Half Moon Bay for the seat whose territory includes San Carlos and part of Menlo Park. Petrides declined to comment on Whitlock’s settlement agreement.

Whitlock, an attorney, also landed a new job after he was shown the door by the college district. He’s head of HR at UC-Berkeley.

Reaction

Skyline College professor and AFT union vice president Katherine Harer said the union, which often knocked heads with Whitlock, was “stunned” by the $2.28 million agreement.

“We thought the district was happy with him,” Harer said, adding that the district’s unions were not pleased with Whitlock when he was head of HR for the district and his negotiating practices.

Meanwhile, John Pimentel, who is running for a seat on the college board, said that the district should increase its transparency surrounding items such as the Whitlock agreement and payout.

Lisa Hicks-Dumanske, who is running against Pimentel, found it interesting that Whitlock was running despite his separation agreement saying that he is not to have any sort of relationship with the district.

Trustees Maurice Goodman and Dave Mandelkern declined comment, telling the Post to speak with Board President Karen Schwarz, who responded through Vice Chancellor Mitch Bailey. Bailey said that the board is not commenting on Whitlock’s employment at the district, beyond what is in the “public record.”

Correction: An earlier online version of this story said that Whitlock’s wife had been employed by the district. Although she is a party to the separation agreement and signed that document, she was not an employee of the district.

71 Comments

  1. Wow, you were fired, you sued the district for 2.3 million dollars money that could have helped the students and now you want to want to be on the board of SMCCD for what? To get back at the Chancellor? This has been your big question pertaining to his settlement. Both of you are scoundrels.
    You are running for this board for spite. You don’t care about the students.

    Does Berkley know he is sue happy?

    • I don’t know Mr. Whitlock or all the facts in the case but what concerns me is that the core of his campaign (at least when I went to his web page last month) focused on a promise of Transparency and an Opposition to Golden Parachutes by the District. It just seems hypocritical that it took a Public Records Act request by our local paper to reveal and make transparent that (right or wrong) Whitlock, the former lead attorney and HR Director for the District, was the recipient of such a golden parachute. If he felt he was terminated unfairly, Mr. Whitlock had the ability to defend himself but instead he decided to take the money and walk. Now he wants to be on the Board that fired him – I don’t know his motivation, but it really does seem like spite. Either way, it is hypocritical. The District just doesn’t need this ongoing drama and should move on and begin placing the needs of the students first for a change.

      • I agree with both Parent and R&P. The District needs to move forward without the power-hungry Whitlock and Galatolo. Whitlock got a massive settlement deal which explicitly says he’s supposed to stay away from SMCCD for 5 years and then he got an even more influential and profitable position as head of HR at UC Berkeley! If he wants to help the world he should go use his money for a good social justice cause, and let the District focus on improving the education and outcomes for students in our county without more infighting, spite and egotistical leadership.

    • The Chancellor is not a scoundrel. Have you seen our beautiful schools?! 20 years of hard work and love and idiots like this guy destroys reputations and fantastic work! It’s pathetic.

    • EW made the lives of faculty and staff in the district miserable. He was quick to fire and even suspended one teacher for harassment. He put her through hell and then dropped everything.
      [Portion deleted — Don’t allege things that aren’t in the public record.] Neither CSEA or AFT supported him in his campaign.

      [Portion deleted — same problem.]

  2. Please identify the case that supposedly “ruled that a former school employee in Southern California with a similar separation agreement was allowed to run for that district’s board.”

  3. Why wasn’t the district’s $2.3 million payment disclosed to the public before now? It’s as if the board can throw around millions of dollars while keeping it secret. Maybe that’s legal, but as a taxpayer I’m pissed they tried to keep this from me.

  4. How can Mr. Whitlock run for the College Board when the settlement agreement states that he agrees “to have no further contact of any kind, whether direct or indirect, with SMCCCD or its Colleges, including taking any measures that would create any type of relationship with SMCCCD (e.g., seeking employment, applying for
    childcare, enrolling in courses, renting facilities)” for 5 years. Man, he gets $2.3 mil. from the District by agreeing to go away and then he runs for a seat on their Board! What an even crazier mess if the guy actually won the election! Would he then try to make another settlement deal where they pay him to get off the Board?? Insanity all around!

    • If Whitlock was the whistleblower, then he probably knows more about how the district operates than any of the candidates. It’s too bad he won’t talk more about this case. I’d like to know if he is doing this because he has a grudge against Galotolo or he’s truly interested in cleaning things up.

      • I am an employee of the SMCCD. I hope the Daily Post will include the actual text of the “separation agreement” directly into an article to emphasize what was determined. It is disgusting to DOZENS of us who work at the SMCCD that Mr. Whitlock received $2.3 MILLION dollars and he wants to come back on the Board of Trustees. While his goal of punishing his employer with a lawsuit may have made him feel his reputation was intact (debatable), I ask that since he must be satisfied now, can he offer to donate that money back to the district for student services, equipment, salaries…? He wants to help us? Donate it back. I do not know ONE SINGLE employee who supports him. He may have a list of supporters on his website, but if ONLY we could post a list of those who do NOT SUPPORT HIM from the SMCCD… but alas, we need our jobs.

      • Oh Carmen, he’s interested in “cleaning things up” after he got a big fat settlement, part of which was almost a MILLION DOLLARS in physical harm damages….? What, did a co-worker run over him with a car? No one except maybe some high-level people in the district who want promotions would ever put their names on a petition for him for the Board. Trust me. Employees know all the politics including payoffs for him and Ron Galatolo. And it stinks.

        • Exactly. Physical harm my big toe! It is interesting to note that physical payouts are not taxable. So guess he didn’t pay taxes on that portion either. Which board member made that call? Injuries are paid by insurance btw, not districts.

      • Oh, I think all of us at SMCCD would LOVE to hear what he has to say about this case. I hope the $2.3 Million he received will heal his physical and emotional wounds. Unfortunately your taxpayer money is supporting this, instead of supporting students.

        • Dear SMCCD Employee, I share your outrage at the settlement. The $2.3M to Whitlock and $1.2M plus perks to Galatolo is inexcusable. But, rather than ask the recipients of the quid pro quo, your question should be directed to the elected body representing the citizens of San Mateo County and accountable to the voters – The Board of Trustees. They are the only ones who can explain if they were extorted, gave such large sums of settlement cash to shut people up, or did so out of the generosity in their hearts. The statement in these settlements is that the Board engaged in “an arrangement to conceal” in order to “to avoid costly litigation.” If the Board wanted to fire Galatolo and Whitlock legally, what type of litigation were they trying to avoid by paying “hush money” with taxpayer dollars? I asked this question repeatedly of the Board; I was totally ignored.

  5. While I understand “Parent of a student’s” concern about misdirecting taxpayer dollars for students’ education to a settlement providing hush money to both Whitlock and Galatolo, I think “Parent” is missing the bigger picture. Is Parent aware that the three year graduation rate for a two-year associate degree is only 18%? That means that four-out-of-five students fail to graduate on time. Is “Parent” content with those statistics? Given the $200M budget provided to SMCCCD by local property taxes, I suggest parents and others spend more time analyzing the lack of academic success at the District as well as protesting hush money.

    Michael B. Reiner, PhD, is a higher education consultant and educational researcher. Previously, he was a professor of psychology and college administrator at City University of New York (CUNY), Miami Dade College, the Riverside Community College District, and the San Mateo County Community College District. mreiner32205@gmail.com 

  6. Accepting 2.3 million dollar payout from a community college is an anathema to the purpose and role of the community college. Faculty and staff have decided to work for a community college because they believe in the mission and the right for all to have a quality education, regardless of their means. These workers have taken lower paying salaries than those in the private sector in this area because of these values. Electing someone to the board who would prefer to line his pocket rather than have public debates about his concerns will not move our district forward. Raising issues isn’t the problem; it’s the personal benefit from that process that is the problem.

    • Cover-Up? Maybe I am missing the point. To me the most basic question is not about Whitlock, but why would elected Trustees agree to use taxpayer dollars intended for students’ education in a “settlement,” first with Galatolo ($1.2M) then with Whitlock (a year after he left for $2.3M). Is there something Trustees wish to bury with non-disclosure clauses (like the fact of the payoff itself, let alone the cause of the “disagreement”?). SMCCCD Is a government agency. Don’t know about you, but if I were to learn that Trump (or any public official) paid off senior advisors to keep them quiet, I’d want to know why??? What are the skeletons in the closet? Doesn’t the Board “hire the BEST people?”

  7. “An arrangement to conceal — separation agreement prevents officials from explaining Galatolo’s removal,” Emily Mibach (Sept 9, 2019) blew the lid off SMCCCD’s quid pro quo.

    While I admire Ms. Mibach’s journalism, she inadvertently misrepresented the Board’s “generosity” toward Galatolo today:

    1. The Board created a new job for Galatolo to develop and administer CSU-Cañada (his separation agreement indicated the split was for difficulties in their employment relationship; why would the Board want him to administer such a high-profile project?)
    2. As Galatolo was barred from campus, how could he develop CSU-Cañada?
    3. While CSU shelved this project, Galatolo is still on “paid administrative leave.” This “arrangement” gives me pause as to the Board’s acumen and foresight.
    4. His contract was extended by the Board by eight months to March 2022.
    5. His salary (at the rate of $467K a year) totals $1.2 million, plus full benefits (including accruing retirement).
    6. The Board granted him the title of Chancellor Emeritus in violation of their own policy.
    7. The Board held Mr. Galatolo harmless for infractions committed during his reign as Chancellor.
    8. The Board placed supervision of Galatolo’s work product solely under the eye of Chancellor Claire, someone Galatolo hired as CSM president, formerly supervised, and was a friend (in government we call this cronyism).
    9. The Board abdicated their responsibility and authority to fire the Chancellor Emeritus, leaving such a decision entirely in the hands of a mediator (hand-picked by Mr. Galatolo).

    Nice work if you can get it.

  8. I am running for office because I see the immense potential of our community colleges to better serve our students and do better than the 18% graduation rate Mr. Reiner quoted. In my time there I saw many opportunities to help our students that were ignored by an establishment doing other things. I am happy to chat with anyone, no need to speculate about my motives.

    • Mr. Whitlock, we have every right to speculate the motives of someone who has taken several million from the district – from our students and support staff – and then wanted to come back to “fix” us. We don’t want your way of fixing things.

    • 2.3m? Fascinating. Ohhhhh the questions I do have. You should be ashamed of yourself. And spreading your BS about this amazing District. Definitely forwarding this to Chancellor Christ. I’d be shocked that they hired you knowing what is leaking out every minute. Sad! In 20 years this District has made incredible strides. What a joke this is.

  9. I pushed to allow students to evaluate every class, every semester like happens nearly everywhere else. AFT fought giving students this opportunity to provide regular feedback and the Board went along with AFT. Why don’t they want to hear from students about how to improve? Are they happy with an 18% graduation rate? This is the kind of change I bring and why they are afraid of me.

    • Mr Whitlock’s proposal to have students evaluate every class every semester is a perfect example of his on-going attempts to undermine faculty. Students do evaluate every class but the AFT pointed out that numerous recent studies of student evaluations of faculty have raised serious questions about the accuracy, reliability and usefulness of student evaluations of faculty. See: http://aft1493.org/sept-2016-advocate/ Mr. Whitlock didn’t mention that when the AFT proposed that administrators be evaluated by all faculty and staff they supervised, he and the district rejected that idea.

    • That’s an interesting remark from an HR representative. Oh wait you’re a lawyer. I guess that’s what you want….people to be afraid of you! Who’s afraid now? Is that why you dropped out of the race?! Because so many are afraid of you? Glass Houses. It’s a good rule to live by….but you’re so savvy.

  10. During his tenure in the District Mr. Whitlock went out of his way to treat poorly the employees and the Unions. He created a hostile environment and that’s why most of the employees do not support him. He hasn’t been elected yet and he’s already breaking promises. He claims to be for transparency and against golden parachutes yet he got a $2.3 million golden parachute himself. He signed an agreement that he would not have any relationship with the District and now he’s running for the Board. Can we trust him? I say not.

  11. Mr Whitlock created a hostile work environment for employees in SMCCD because of his harsh disciplinary measures and lack of due process. Many were traumatized and students were negatively impacted when teachers and support staff were investigated and put on long leaves. In some cases employees left the district or were forced out. He is not a trustworthy person to serve on the board.

  12. Dear Former Employee, I too am a former employee though I was not there during the time in question nor do I know Mr. Whitlock. I can affirm some of your concerns from my interaction with other administrators which I deemed unfair. All this, though, begs the question – who is being protected with these substantial payoffs??? Mr. Whitlock could have been fired “without cause” at any time (employment is “at will”) and received a severance (usually a year’s salary).

    AREN’T YOU INTERESTED IN WHY THE SMCCCD BOARD OF TRUSTEES PAID OUT OVER $3M to Galatolo and Whitlock????

    THAT IS THE QUESTION.

  13. So many questions. Could it be that Galatolo was the kingpin bully and hired people to do his dirty work while remaining in untouchable power and privilege. While there are sides to every story, this Board is an embarrassment to our County and are misusing our hard earned tax dollars. I will never make 1.2 OR 2.3 million for 1,2 or 3 years of work as a working class parent in this county. Isn’t is true that the AFT and CSEA unions aren’t even getting their fair share and are well over a year without contracts being settled due to the terrible “leadership” currently in place at the SMCCC District Chancellor’s office? Wow, so what is it that rises to the top anyway, certainly not the cream in this case.

  14. Mr. Whitlock, we have every right to speculate the motives of someone who has taken several million from the district – from our students and support staff – and then wanted to come back to “fix” us. Thanks anyway.

  15. During Mr. Whitlock’s tenure as SMCCCD HR Chief and Chief Counsel, he created an environment of fear, hostility and lack of trust among faculty, staff and administrators. With his and Chancellor Galatolo’s departures from the district, there has begun to be greater collegiality, confidence and hope for the future within the district. If Mr. Whitlock comes back to the District by joining the Board of Trustees, those hopes for the future will turn back into divisiveness, fear and lack of trust. The district needs healing and a commitment to work together for better working and teaching conditions and increased student success. Those of us who have worked under Mr. Whitlock believe he would bring the opposite.

  16. Working at SMCCCD there was a constant fear of retaliation under Galatolo. I admire Eugene for being the only one courageous enough to fight back after a wrongful termination. The settlement was insignificant compared to the potential disclosures that hopefully come to light. Not all employees disliked Eugene. Yes, he was difficult to work with because he was trying to change a broken system and many of us were adverse to change. Seeing him succeed is like seeing an underdog that was bullied come out on top. A vote for Eugene will save the district tens of millions of dollars because he will stop the corruption and finally hold people accountable for their actions.

    • I worked under both Galatolo and Whitlock for their entire tenures. I did not trust Galatolo and believe he was incredibly overpaid and played fast and loose with laws, such as getting contractors to donate to Board candidates he supported. I did not experience any fear of retaliation, though, until Whitlock was hired. Under Whitlock the constant fear grew very intense for many, many faculty and staff and even administrators. He acted like a prosecutor, not like a head of HR. (btw, Whitlock was hired by and strongly supported by Galatolo until shortly before the District fired Whitlock. Could it be that once Galatolo didn’t support Whitlock anymore, he decided to go after Galatolo?)

  17. The letter to Mr. Whitlock from the SMCCCD Board President notifyimg him of the decision to terminate his employment clearly states the College District “opted to proceed on a ‘without cause’ basis despite having ‘ample cause’ for its decision”. This statement alone should sound an alarm! For 5 Trustees to vote unanimously to terminate Mr. Whitlock’s employment suggests there were serious issues related to his conduct while working as Executive Director of Human Resources. To elect a former employee with this kind of negative work history to serve on the SMCCCD Board would not be conducive to moving the College District forward in a positive direction. To the contrary, it would be extremely harmful.

    • The fact that “5 Trustees voted unanimously to terminate Mr. Whitlock’s employment“ does not necessarily validate the fairness of the decision. This is the same Board that excused infractions by Chancellor Galatolo reported in the news during his 19 year tenure, gave him raise after raise until his salary was $467,700 (more than the salary of the CSU system chancellor), and for some unknown reason forced him out (just before the DA issued a search warrant of his office) then gave him all he demanded to buy him out (though he currently remains an employee in a bogus job as chancellor emeritus and has been on paid administrative leave over a year – see my review of his contract above). FOLLOW THE MONEY.

  18. The students at SMCCCD deserve better. As a San Mateo County tax payer, I am repulsed by the hypocrisy of Whitlock’s defense of his own complicity in the misuse of money at the District. What is relevant is that he obviously saw his house of cards collapsing around him and flew to the DA. He is a savvy lawyer no doubt. But how can he possibly have good intentions for a District from whom he willfully took a 2.3 million-dollar, unjustified payout? The Settlement Agreement starts out by stating “The College District has opted to proceed on a “without cause” basis despite having ample cause’ for its decision.” I was a victim of Whitlock’s unskillful and destructive behaviors, which were well documented in the years prior to his departure. Unfortunately, he was able to hand out his cruel and unbalanced attacks on individuals under the guise of fake “investigations” in which he served as accuser, investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury. His sensational and vindictive actions created the environment of terror unique to his term on the job.
    Also, in the Settlement Agreement, Whitlock agreed “to have no further contact of any kind, whether direct or indirect, with SMCCD or its Colleges, including taking any measures that would create any type of relationship with SMCCCD.” And, “No Whitlock Releasor will access SMCCCD property, or the property of any of its College, except upon written permission from SMCCCD’s counsel for the next five (5) years.” This seems like continuation of a pattern of disregard for the well-being of the District in the pursuit of his personal agenda.

  19. There are many employees who apparently are NOT pleased with the SMCCC District administration and have NO confidence in this Board and Administration. There doesn’t seem to be cordial interactions; there is fear and silencing. It seems many are still very much Scarred by the damage left by Galatolo even after Whitlock who was courageous to fight back yet collected a large payoff. This current administration seems to care more about each other, the new shinty buildings at Skyline and Canada Colleges that are NOT for students and employees uses but for private business use over academics while covering up for each other. Aren’t the Board, Chancellor and Colleges administrators embarrassed? Clean house now before we taxpayers payout another 5 million.

  20. Lots to unpack here. I don’t think the agreement prevents someone from becoming a candidate, but if elected, that would clearly be a relationship (an activity prohibited by the settlement agreement and paid for with a rather generous amount of public dollars.) It’d be nice to see him, if elected, voluntarily return at least a portion of the settlement such as the “• and $971,986 is for alleged “emotional distress, reputational harm and other intangible injuries…” so that those funds can be returned to classroom support wages rather than private profit off of public-entity mistakes. But I suspect he will do as both his conscience and self-interest guide him. As far as precedent and case law – you can find examples of everything somewhere in the great State of California, including City Managers making 500,000 per year and employing their spouse and children while poorly serving a small and otherwise politically disenfranchised community. Even in San Mateo County, the SMCCCD is not the only outlier, look close at sewage and water districts, waste management and even open space orgs where staff profit to ridiculous extremes while the core service suffers or requires yearly rate adjustments to keep operating. I think we can do better in San Mateo County.

  21. How does this District evaluate its administrators at the District location and at the college locations? Other colleges evalaute administration by having EVERY employee under them complete an evaluation of their performance and then have a trusting agent collect and review the feedback. This includes the direct reports to the clerical staff to the file clerk. Could this highly organized “operation” under the Galatolo reign have been a game of smoke and mirrors to the taxpayers and now we are left with pennies on our dollars for the student programs and the rank and file employees? Seems as though the administrators who were hired by the former chancellor are collecting hefty salaries; many of them don’t live in the zip codes in our County while others were paid off for who knows why…this Board of Trustee members sure know why.

    • The Board of Trustees is not transparent about such things. They will claim that these are personnel issues and they are not obliged to comment. However, SMCCCD is not a private corporation, but a public government agency. Don’t taxpayers paying the freight have a right to know where their money is going? The taxpayers are the ultimate stakeholders in the district, yet the Board believes it can refuse to explain its actions. “Closed sessions” of the Board are where most of the important decisions are made. Why are they closed to the public? Why are contract negotiations behind closed doors? Are they discussing national security issues?

      Michael B. Reiner, PhD, is a higher education consultant and educational researcher. Previously, he was a professor of psychology and college administrator at City University of New York (CUNY), Miami Dade College, the Riverside Community College District, and the San Mateo County Community College District. mreiner32205@gmail.com  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-b-reiner-phd-14057551/

  22. It’s frustrating and very troubling to know that the district has millions of dollars readily available to pay out chancellors and vice chancellors yet 2 out of the 3 unions still don’t have contracts. Moreover, employees are now being told there is no guarantee they will have a job come 2021 if the campuses remain closed. If the board has the money to pay out employees to exit through the back door, what they REALLY should be securing is money to pay the employees WHO ARE STILL ON PAYROLL. The board and district leadership should be ashamed for not investing in the employees who’ve dedicated their lives to this district.

    • I agree 100%. As important, if not more so, is that four-out-of-five students do not graduate in three years for a two-year degree. If a CEO or sports coach performed this poorly, they get fired or the Board of Directors is disbanded by the stock holders. The citizens of San Mateo County are the stock holders, yet they have been inattentive to the data indicating the true nature of academic achievement at the District. The Board and District leadership should be held accountable, but county residents have not been informed of the truth.

      Michael B. Reiner, PhD, is a higher education consultant and educational researcher. Previously, he was a professor of psychology and college administrator at City University of New York (CUNY), Miami Dade College, the Riverside Community College District, and the San Mateo County Community College District. mreiner32205@gmail.com  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-b-reiner-phd-14057551/

  23. Go check out the court record FAM099780 involving Ron Galatolo. Listed as Lead Attorney for Ron is WHITLOCK, EUGENE E. If it is the same Eugene Whitlock, these two are locked in some kind of blood feud with the students of the San Mateo Community College District now caught in the middle.

    • I can’t find this record with the info you provided. I want to understand your accusation of a “blood feud.” Can you give a link to the record? Thanks.

      • Go to the San Mateo County court records and look it up. It’s online. I don’t know if it is the same Eugene Whitlock. It’s possible there are two people with the same name. But if it is the same Eugene Whitlock then imagine the head of HR under Ron had been his personal attorney. Whatever happened between the two of them seems pretty personal.

  24. In total agtreement with County Resident. Shouldn’t we as taxpayers of this San Mateo County be insulted and demand the Board of Trustees, who we elected, be removed immediately and the Chancellor that this Board hand selected be removed as well, before more humiliation and financial loss? Are they all in kahoots and maybe still in communication with Galatolo? Is there even a COMMUNITY college environment any longer? The newly constructed buildings which our tax dollars built are to be used for education, teaching, learning, developing our children and not for money making schemes and fee based fitness centers and wedding rental facilities. I have heard there is even Starbucks locations on the campuses. This is not what is needed while students of this County are without food, computers, money for rent., etc. Remove some of the top salaried positions and perks and utilize those funds for those in need and not for greed. Don’t know how the members of the Board or the Chancellor sleep at night.

    • Students don’t pay fees for the fitness centers. Have you seen our beautiful schools. Galatolo and his teams did that. They are amazing! Public fees for services help pay for state of the art facilities. This district is one of best in State. Business helps students and those who work hard there. It’s not a conspiracy for crying out loud. Geezuz. Never anything like this since EW came in….everyone makes bad hires. It happens. Unions are not going anywhere. It’s not so easy to fight unions and I guarantee no one thinks one cocky lawyer is able to do that. Puhleeze!

  25. Is the San Mateo County District Attorney Office looking into this Board, current Chancellor and his cabinet and each College administration, the fee based fitness enters and wedding rental facilities? Heck, even the Starbucks location on the campuses, why not? Where does all that money go? Should it be refunded to us taxpayers? Just think these agreements are only 2 large payouts that made it out of the “closed sessions”. One can only imagine how many more millions have been or are currently being “settled”.

  26. Been to a Board Meeting lately? You can help students, employees, and taxpayers by reviewing Board Packet and SPEAK UP during public comment! Review past Board Minutes. Do your homework. Examine the data. Cronyism is RAMPANT!!!! Watch/listen to Board Members and Chancellor on Zoom. Whitlock seems a threat to some of them. Think about it. VOTE WHITLOCK… a smart lawyer who will get the job done!

    • What a fool you are “SMCCCD Employee for Whitlock.”It’s YOU who needs to do your homework. IF you really are an employee, then YOU WOULD KNOW that Mr. Whitlock was A PART of the cronyism in our District. Watch his Berkeley video on his website where he admits he had NO HR experience when he was hired. He was purposely hired by Galatolo to use his training as an attorney to squash the unions – Galatolo hated the unions, he wanted to run HIS District as close to a private company with at will employees.

      Whitlock has only been gone about 2 years – the majority of those at the top were here WHEN HE WAS HERE. He’s not going to fix anything – this is pure revenge against the “good ‘ol boys” bc HE’S no longer in the club – be sure – he was as much a part of that club as all the other fixed hires of Galatolo’s.

      I agree with John Adkins above – the district is a MUCH BETTER place without Whitlock, Galatolo – they just know need to get rid of all the other fixed hires (which are mostly at the top.)

  27. We recently heard that these colleges are now offering wifi in their parking lots for students and their families yet they must remain in their cars. What if students do not have cars? Why not give students hot spots and computers which may be less costly and is safer for students. The students should be able to keep those items as part of living in this county as their parents have paid for them via the SMCCCD taxes and bonds. We live in Silicon Valley. There must be educational discounts that the colleges can take advantage of on behalf of the students. Don’t the SMCCCD Trustees and Chancellor think taxpayers would rather have their funds spent in that manner rather than filling up the Galatolo money pit or do they even care? We believe they could have done better.

    • Dear “So Many Questions,” I agree with you. The public should demand the Board explain not only their rationale for the money, but also the contractual arrangement:

      1. The Board created a new job for Galatolo to develop and administer CSU-Cañada (his separation agreement indicated the split was for difficulties in their employment relationship; why would the Board want him to administer such a high-profile project?)

      2. As Galatolo was barred from campus, how could he develop CSU-Cañada?

      3. While CSU shelved this project, Galatolo is still on “paid administrative leave.” This “arrangement” gives me pause as to the Board’s acumen and foresight.

      4. His contract was extended by the Board by eight months to March 2022.

      5. His salary (at the rate of $467K a year) totals $1.2 million, plus full benefits (including accruing retirement).

      6. The Board granted him the title of Chancellor Emeritus in violation of their own policy.

      7. The Board held Mr. Galatolo harmless for infractions committed during his reign as Chancellor.

      8. The Board placed supervision of Galatolo’s work product solely under the eye of Chancellor Claire, someone Galatolo hired as CSM president, formerly supervised, and was a friend (in government we call this cronyism).

      9. The Board abdicated their responsibility and authority to fire the Chancellor Emeritus, leaving such a decision entirely in the hands of a mediator (hand-picked by Mr. Galatolo).

      The Board will say they “don’t discuss personnel matters.”

      However, can they dispense your tax dollars for secret reasons? Demand answers!

  28. I am a resident of San Mateo. I saw Eugene Whitlock signs today and was curious. I read this article and every single comment. Impressions:

    1) When someone says an agreement they signed that a term is “not enforceable” has already confessed his word cannot be trusted. That he did not sign in good faith.

    2) many who seem to worked close with Mr. Whitlock have largely described him as being agressive, alienating, unpleasant and a negative presence.

    3) Mr Whitlock collected a large sum in settlement. Settlements are arrived at for various reasons, usually to forego expenses that protracted litigation would incur in the form of time, human resource, reduced morale due to stress and most of all money. I would presume insurance coverage may have been called upon. If so, the insurance company would also have surely had a say in how deep to go. There could be other reasons to settle, but most reasons have to do how much blood one is willing give up.

    4) most of what I have read here and elsewhere sounds to me as though Mr Whitlock is intent on keeping the fire burning. Vindictive? Seeking retribution? Or simply wanting to put his thumb in some eyes? The impression I am left with after reading is that it’s certainly likely that Mr Whitlock can’t help but want to get even by winning a seat on the board of the institution he sued and caused to burn up a lot of money long before settlement. (perhaps going to the DA is just another way to settle scores?)

    • Ah, the Lasana Hotep story reemerges: Both the faculty and staff unions raised concerns about his intimidating comments at Skyline’s public forum (see October 23, 2019 Board minutes).

      They described an “ugly incident” involving the Executive Director of the Equity Institute (Mr. Hotep) making targeted, vitriolic, and aggressive verbal attacks on faculty and staff. It was described as “a loud, demeaning and profanity-laced rant.” In part, complaining about comments in this publication.

      College presidents just sat there; the interim chancellor (Mr. Claire) actually praised the speaker’s passion! Given the behavior of all the administrators who remained silent and complicit, the psychologist in me believes this reflected not just the behavior of one individual, but is a situation requiring family therapy.

      Both unions asked the District administration and Board to intervene and investigate. What has happened since? Who knows? I was told it’s hidden behind the veil of an HR “personnel matter.”

      However, there was a public appeal to the Board by employees for an investigation; to the best of my knowledge, there has been no public response by the Board, though one was promised. I requested a meeting with Interim Chancellor Claire as a concerned citizen but was ignored.

      Typical.

      Michael B. Reiner, PhD, is a higher education consultant and educational researcher. Previously, he was a professor of psychology and college administrator at City University of New York (CUNY), Miami Dade College, the Riverside Community College District, and the San Mateo County Community College District.

  29. Physical harm my big toe! It is interesting to note that physical payouts are not taxable. So guess he didn’t pay taxes on that portion either. Which board member made that call? Injuries are paid by insurance btw. Soooo interesting!

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