Rowley pick solid, abstention puzzling

Freedom Newspapers

Clovis Community College’s Board of Trustees made a sound decision last week when they appointed Becky Rowley as interim president. She knows the programs, faculty and direction in which the school is headed, which should make the transition to the next presidency a seamless experience.

Recommended by Beverlee McClure, who leaves next month to become New Mexico’s first secretary of higher education, Rowley has been at CCC since 1993. As the executive vice president, she earned the respect of many people in the community and at the college.

Rowley won’t step into her new role until Sept. 19, but she has mentioned making plans for new programs and looking into expanding the online classes. “Even if Cannon (Air Force Base) closes, we still hope to offer new programs,” she said.

It would be premature to weigh in on whether Rowley is a good fit for the top CCC leadership post in the long term. But her positive, pro-active approach is what CCC will need to build on the foundation that exists.

In coming months, the board of trustees will determine McClure’s successor, a process that Trustee Gayla Brumfeld estimates could cost $30,000 to $50,000 if they search nationwide. When the board makes its pick, it will be interesting to see if all five trustees vote. We say this noting that only four CCC trustees approved Rowley’s interim presidency while one — Robert Lydick — abstained from the vote.

Lydick may have a good reason for declining to participate in one of the most important votes a college trustee can cast, but it is disappointing that he won’t explain his reasoning. Lydick did not state why during Wednesday’s board meeting. When a Clovis News Journal reporter asked why after the meeting, he asked her to call him later. Five telephone messages later, Lydick had not returned any of the calls as of Saturday afternoon.

He should because public officials have the responsibility and duty to explain themselves when questions arise. Everyone may not like what they hear, but the reasoning will at least be clear and that is the real issue.

If, for example, Lydick said he has a conflict of interest and explains what that is, his abstention is understandable. Reasonable people know officials are sometimes in positions where conflicts of interest are inevitable, especially in smaller communities. Those conflicts can range from family ties to personal business relationships.

If he won’t explain, the question immediately arises as to whether, if Becky Rowley decides to become a candidate to replace McClure beyond the interim period, will a longtime CCC trustee again abstain, or will he vote then. What if Rowley and another candidate become finalists and the vote is 2-2? Where will Bob Lydick stand?

Meth letters welcome
So far we have received three letters related to last Sunday’s editorial on a proposed methamphetamine ordinance. Two letters are published on this page, and we welcome publishing the third — and any others that come in, no matter the stance taken. The ordinance would limit the sale of powder and hard-pill form pseudoephedrine products, and require logs be kept by businesses selling the items.

City Commissioner Fred Van Soelen, who in his day job is an assistant district attorney for ordinance champion Matt Chandler, the district attorney, wrote the third letter. We’re happy to publish the commissioner/prosecutor’s opinions — which are critical of ours — when he meets the 300-word maximum requirement set on letter writers.

But Van Soelen’s day job raises an interesting issue both for him and Mayor David Lansford, a pharmacist. Should they even vote at all next month because of either a conflict of interest or the perception of one?

Van Soelen said Friday that while he introduced the meth ordinance at Chandler’s request, he also did so because he believes it would benefit Clovis and reduce the number of meth manufacturers in the region. He declared his views are independent of his boss’ wishes and that he will not abstain from voting because he does not see any conflict of interest.

Lansford said he opposes the proposed ordinance. But the mayor only votes when there is a tie. Should that occur, Lansford’s obvious personal interests, like Van Soelen’s, come in to play. He would not have to vote yes or no, though, if the Commission vote ends in a 4-4 tie. He can abstain and the measure would not pass without a majority. Lansford said he will not vote on the issue because of his business.

We hope the vote is not close, that a majority of city commissioners will favor individual liberty over unnecessary government control. More utilization of existing laws will accomplish the same goals without further infringement on personal rights.