Last month, I provided WCC Trustee candidate Christina Fleming with a series of questions, which you can see here. Ms. Fleming declined to respond to my invitation to speak directly to prospective voters, so I’ll examine her record as a WCC Trustee over the last 5½ years.
WCC Trustee Christina Fleming began her six-year term January 1, 2015. Her 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 reflects meetings through June 30, 2020.
Overall meeting attendance record through June 30, 2020: Fleming attended 57 of 59 monthly meetings; 12 of 12 Special Meetings and 8 of 9 Board Retreats. Her overall meeting attendance record is 96.25%.
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. Fleming has attended almost all regular meetings, but did miss two meetings and one retreat in 2019. Since 2015, she has missed a total of 26 votes. At 4.09%, Fleming’s “missed vote” percentage is lower than the combined average for the entire Board.
WCC Trustee Christina Fleming rarely contributes to discussions at monthly meetings, which should be a significant red flag for taxpayers who expect real oversight. She seems to have bought into the idea that the Board of Trustees is in place to “advise” the College president. From the glib assessments of special presentations at Board Meetings and periodic self-serving commentary, it’s hard to see how Fleming has made any positive contributions while sitting on the Board.
Fleming’s voting record since 2015 shows the following:
|Year||Yes||No||Absent||Abstain||Vote Not Recorded|
* Through June 30, 2020
Analysis: During her tenure on the WCC Board of Trustees, Christina Fleming has transformed herself into a thoroughly reliable “Yes” vote for the Administration. She does not appear to exercise any authentic oversight or allegiance to the Washtenaw County taxpayers. Fleming does not make meaningful contributions to discussions on the substantive issues the Board considers. She does not ask questions and has approved every spending request since 2016. During her 5½ years on the Board, she has cast a grand total of three “No” votes. One was in opposition to raising tuition in 2015. The other two were against the nominations of two other Board members to officers’ positions.
Fleming has supported every new executive hire since she arrived. She authorized unrestricted catering services for WCC executives. She also supported the establishment of an armed police force on campus. Fleming has attempted to whitewash other Trustees’ inquiries regarding oversight of the Police Academy. Additionally, she supported a $26M no-bid outsourcing contract for IT services, then used the opportunity to publicly insult the IT staff she just voted to terminate. Fleming supported the use of operational funds to pay the “Advanced Transportation Center” loan debts. She also attempted to write off a full-blown plan (complete with site information) for a hotel and conference center in the new, $225,000 Master Plan as “just a suggestion.”
According to a pair of 2014 articles from MLive:
… Fleming is a web developer who thinks she can offer a unique perspective of the college to the board. Because of her experience as technology professional, Fleming says she can help the board stay in front of changes in technology.
DeVarti, Fleming and Hatcher each ran on a platform of bringing change to the board especially when it comes to the current communication problem between faculty and administration.
Despite her self-proclaimed technology expertise, Fleming voted to eliminate the jobs of 31 highly qualified IT professionals. This ill-considered decision will cost WCC millions more than it had paid for IT services through 2024. It also forced WCC to discard a fully developed, fully functional website because the new IT provider couldn’t support it. Slightly more than a year later, WCC’s IT costs have exploded under the new managed services contract. The year-end FY19 budget included $8,109,460 for IT costs. Under the new managed services provider, the year-end FY20 budget included $9,096,714 for IT costs. And the College must also make an additional $1.5M in technology infrastructure upgrades in FY21 to meet the terms of the managed service contract.
If bringing change to the Board was her goal in 2014, voting “Yes” on everything has been a poor strategy to achieve that.
This table shows the reimbursement requests submitted by WCC Trustee Christina Fleming for Board-related business, through December 31, 2019.
|09/13/2017||$874.10||2017 MCCA Summer Conference|
|08/28/2018||$258.34||2018 MCCA Summer Conference|
|03/04/2019||$65.71||ACCT National Legislative Summit|
|08/28/2019||$341.92||2019 MCCA Summer Conference|
Christina Fleming has become an enthusiastic cheerleader for the WCC Administration. She has facilitated the creation of a structural deficit at one of the best-funded community colleges in Michigan. Fleming is clearly unprepared to guard the taxpayers’ substantial investment in Washtenaw Community College. She is unwilling to demand accountability from non-resident College administrators who do little more than dissipate our investment in career and technical education. Since her election to the Board, it is clear that Fleming has done more damage than good. Voters should send Christina Fleming home on November 3, 2020.
As of 10/18/2020, Christina Fleming has not completed the brief questionnaire at Vote411, but you can view the other candidates’ responses here.
Photo Credit: Karen Cox , via Flickr