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The Region

Eric Norby Won't Seek South O.C. Community College Post

His appointment as trustee was voided by a faculty petition in an ongoing dispute with the board. He cites time constraints for decision.

December 31, 2003|Jeff Gottlieb | Times Staff Writer

Eric Norby, who lost his appointment to the South Orange County Community College District board when faculty gathered enough signatures to force an election, said Tuesday that he no longer seeks the post.

Norby, brother and chief of staff for Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, had attended three meetings of the conservative-dominated board.

Also this week, the South Orange County Community College District Faculty Assn. endorsed retired district administrator William Jay for the position. Jay is a former math instructor, president and vice chancellor in the district.

The filing deadline for the March 30 election is Jan. 2.

Norby, 57, said he decided not to run because the position required much more time than he had expected and campaigning would take even more.

"I barely have enough time to do what I do now," he said.

Norby was appointed a trustee in October, filling the slot held for seven years by Dorothy Fortune, who resigned amid allegations she had moved out of the district.

Faculty leaders said they were angry that the board did not give them and others in the community college district greater consideration in making the appointment.

The faculty led a petition drive that gathered more than the required 6,500 signatures, thus forcing the election and nullifying Norby's appointment.

Union leaders have insisted that Norby was not the target of their ire.

"We would not have done the campaign had it not been for the failure of the board to bring in the stakeholders in the process of appointing a trustee," said Bill Hewitt, treasurer of the faculty association and its political action committee.

Professors, the administration and the trustees have long been at odds in the district, which includes Saddleback and Irvine Valley colleges.

In 1998 and 1999, the faculty at Irvine Valley gave no-confidence votes to President Raghu Mathur, whom the trustees later appointed as chancellor over both colleges. Faculty and students have won several lawsuits against the administration over free-speech issues and disputes have arisen over everything from class schedules to faculty appointments.

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