Longoria resigns from PCC Board to head to Phoenix
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Longoria resigns from PCC Board to head to Phoenix

David Longoria has resigned from the Pima Community College Governing Board to become a top staffer for a Phoenix city councilwoman. Although he resigned Monday, effective immediately, the college did not put out a news release for days and only posted an online notice on Tuesday.

Longoria was appointed to the PCC Board in February 2010 to fill a vacancy, and was then elected that November to serve from 2011 through 2016.

The former aide to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry will move north to Phoenix, becoming chief of staff to Councilwoman Laura Pastor. His name already appeared on her staff list Tuesday evening.

Longoria's replacement on the college's Board of Governors will be appointed by Pima County Superintendent of Schools Linda Arzoumanian to serve out the remainder of his term. He represented District 2, which encompasses much of the South Side and extends to Sahuarita.

Pima Chancellor Lee Lambert sent an email to college employees about Longoria's resignation on Monday night, but the college did not inform the press, nor post a notice on its website until Tuesday. The college has attempted to muzzle staff, forbidding them from speaking to the press in a new policy this year. Last year, the Arizona Press Club board (of which I'm a member) voted to give PCC the annual Brick Wall Award, presented to the "most deceptive" government agency or official in the state, saying Pima "has promised much but delivered little in the area of openness and transparency."

Following the publication of this report Tuesday, PCC eventually put out a news release after 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

The email was rife with the sort of mutual back-patting common in resignation announcements.

"David is an experienced public servant who has worked tirelessly on projects that improve our county and has been an articulate and effective champion of PCC during his tenure on the board," Lambert wrote. "Please join me in expressing gratitude to David for his support of Pima Community College."

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Longoria said he is "very thankful for the opportunity to have served my community as a board member ... I am endlessly grateful for the work, guidance and support that my colleagues throughout the organization, at every level, have selflessly continued to offer."

"I am extremely proud of my tenure on the board and what it has been able to accomplish during my service, but especially since hiring Chancellor Lee Lambert," Longoria wrote. "I am happy to have played a leading role in bringing him to Pima Community College, and am proud of the advances and growth the institution has achieved under his leadership and the current board's stewardship."

Longoria's resignation and replacement will be the second in months for Pima's leaders. Marty Cortez suddenly resigned from her West Side District 5 seat at the end of June after holding it for two decades. Martha Durkin, deputy Tucson city manager, was appointed to that empty seat in August.

With Longoria stepping down, just one of the members remain of the Governing Board that was reviewed as "dysfunctional" by the Higher Learning Commission as PCC was placed on probation by that accrediting body in 2013. Scott Stewart of District 4 on the East Side has a term that runs through next year.

The other members of the Governing Board are District 3's Sylvia Lee, elected in 2012 for a 2013-2018 term, and District 1's Mark Hanna, elected last year for a term running through 2020.

The college was placed on probation by accreditors — putting at risk both federal financial aid and students' ability to transfer course credits — in part because of what HLC investigators termed "a culture of fear and retribution that pervaded the administration of the college."

Although the school was taken off probation in March, PCC remains "on notice" by the HLC. Accreditors will continue to monitor progress as improvements are made.

As Lambert was appointed in 2013, after the college was put on probation, he said he would model "important behaviors that start to open the door to a new way of transparency and a sense of openness."

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