Last month, I provided WCC Board of Trustees candidate David DeVarti with a series of questions, which you can see here. Mr. DeVarti declined to respond to my invitation to speak directly to prospective voters, so I’ll examine his record as a WCC Trustee over the last 5½ years.
DeVarti’s first term as a WCC Trustee began January 1, 2015 and expires December 31, 2020. His attendance record at WCC Board Meetings was as follows:
|Year||Regular Meetings||Special Meetings||Retreats|
* Meeting notes are not available for the April 28, 2016 meeting. The meeting took place, but it is excluded from the data.
**There were 2 additional Special Meetings in 2018, but the minutes were not published.
***Data reflect meetings through June 30, 2020.
Overall meeting attendance record through June 30, 2020: DeVarti attended 53 of 59 monthly meetings; 11 of 12 Special Meetings and 8 of 9 Board Retreats. His overall meeting attendance record is 90.0%.
Analysis: Since 2015, all WCC Board members combined have missed 7.51% of the votes they could have cast, had they been present at the time of the vote. Meeting attendance (including timely arrival) is a significant problem for certain WCC Board of Trustees, but this does not generally describe David DeVarti. He typically attends and participates in the monthly meetings, special meetings and Board retreats. Unfortunately, he was absent from meetings with loaded agendas, so he has missed a comparatively large number of votes in his term. At 10.25%, DeVarti’s “missed vote” percentage is higher than the combined Board average during his term.
Commentary at meetings
David DeVarti is often vocal at meetings. At his first meeting, DeVarti suggested that the Board meetings be televised on CTN. While this did not occur, the Board did eventually agree to record their meetings and make them available on YouTube.
He routinely displays interest in the College budget and monthly financial reports, (despite its byzantine presentation), and occasionally asks the hard questions that most other Board Members avoid.
He is unfailingly supportive of the students, and has argued (to no avail) for a tuition freeze. DeVarti rejected the Administration’s argument for the institution of a $10/credit-hour “facilities fee” to pay for construction projects on campus. He advocated for putting WCC’s planned capital projects in front of the voters for approval.
One one hand, DeVarti has cast the second-highest number of “No” votes by current Trustees. Unfortunately, he cast fewer than a dozen “No” votes over five-and-a-half years. That’s less of a commentary on David DeVarti than it is on the fact that the WCC Board has styled itself as an “advisory” board. For the most part, the WCC Trustees now refuse to do the actual work the voters have elected them to do.
|Year||Yes||No||Absent||Abstain||Vote Not Recorded|
*Through June 30, 2020
Analysis: DeVarti has voted against some of the most inflammatory and divisive measures the Administration has brought to the Board, including a 5-year catering contract for WCC executives; a tuition increase in 2015; an appointment extension and salary increase for the College president in 2016; the Revenue and Expense analysis for the 2017-18 budget; the establishment of an armed police force on campus; and the $26M, no-bid outsourcing contract for IT services.
He argued against the sale of revenue backed bonds and a planned $10/credit-hour “facilities fee” to pay for the “Advanced Transportation Center” and other campus construction projects. Instead, he (rightly) advocated for asking voters to authorize bonds for the projects.
When it came time to vote, however, he authorized the Administration to sell revenue backed bonds – putting added pressure on an already-overtaxed General Fund. It may also subject future students to rising tuition and fees to pay the bond debts.
The pandemic has put a temporary halt to construction on campus, but these expenditures will rise again. WCC’s current financial problems may force the Board to seek additional funding from the voters or abandon the ATC project.
This table shows the reimbursement requests submitted by David DeVarti for Board-related business, through December 31, 2019.
|03/12/2015||$590.49||ACCT National Legislative Summit|
|07/14/2016||$1,231.72||ACCT Conference: Becoming a Disaster-Resilient College|
|03/09/2017||$305.71||ACCT National Legislative Summit|
|03/15/2018||$701.08||ACCT National Legislative Summit|
|03/14/2019||$795.68||ACCT National Legislative Summit|
Among the four candidates for the three available Board seats, David DeVarti comes closer to being an advocate for students and taxpayers than most current WCC Trustees. While his vote on the Advanced Transportation Center funding contradicts his initial position, DeVarti offers hope for providing the authentic oversight that WCC so badly needs and deserves.
Washtenaw County voters should return DeVarti to the WCC Board of Trustees on November 3, 2020.
David DeVarti also completed a brief questionnaire at Vote411, which you can see here.
Photo Credit: Winnifredxoxo , via Flickr