California Online College a Great Deal for No-Bid Recruitment Boss

California’s master plan for education provides a place for all, and the vast community college system is a favorite of working adults seeking to upgrade their qualifications. While many independent colleges offer convenient online degree programs, California has been slow to get on board. Last year, spurred by outgoing Governor Jerry Brown, state legislators approved the creation of a taxpayer-funded online community college.

This operation is slated to open on October 1, which California Community Colleges Board of Governor’s president Tom Epstein calls “an extremely ambitious timeline” college bosses are “doing our best to meet.” College president Heather Hiles’ “push for approval of a no-bid contract with an executive recruiter – has left some Board of Trustees members and other critics concerned about the quality of students’ learning experience.”

As Dan Morain noted at CALmatters, Hiles’ choice for a recruiter, approved by the board, was Carolyn Carpeneti, formerly a political fundraiser for former state Assembly Speaker and San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, with whom Carpeneti was “romantically involved and had a daughter in 2001.” Non-profit groups and committees controlled by Brown, Morain shows, “paid Carpeneti $2.3 million over a five-year period,” but there was more.

In the early 2000s, Carpeneti performed “consulting” work for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Governor Gray Davis, and former Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, among others. But as Hiles explained, “My concern is who is best qualified.” As Morain explains, “Hiles also is connected to San Francisco politics, having overseen communications for Governor Gavin Newsom while he was running to succeed Brown as mayor of San Francisco in 2003.” And “Newsom subsequently appointed Hiles to a seat on the San Francisco Unified School District board.” As Louis Armstrong said, what a wonderful world.

Meanwhile, the no-bid Carpeneti and her firm, The Leadership Group, are tasked to recruit six top executives for marketing, finance, and administration, plus a “chief learning officer,” “chief of workforce programs,” “chief success officer” and “chief people officer.” Whoever these people might be, one reality should be clear to taxpayers and students alike. Before it has serviced a single student, California’s online community college program succeeds in bulking up the bureaucracy and rewarding political cronies.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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