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September 12, 2006 > Bob Brunton: 'The devil is in the details'

Bob Brunton: 'The devil is in the details'

TCV: What is your view of the proposed use of Ohlone's frontage property?

Brunton: The frontage property has both great potential and great perils depending upon how well it is handled. I was involved at the very beginning of this process when it was determined that Ohlone College was going to need alternative sources of revenue. I am having difficulty where it is now because the plan has morphed and almost hijacked from its original intent.

TCV: What was the original plan?

When it first started with [previous college president] Floyd Hogue, Trustee Nick Nardolillo and me, we looked at this prospect as income and enhancement of the college in several ways: to provide steady revenue for the college through rents and enhancement of enrollment as well as providing activities beneficial to college and students who attend Ohlone. We also wanted to avoid creating a problem for the Fremont Unified School District by creating a large impact through significant additional housing. So the original intent was to create an ongoing revenue source to help maintain our buildings because we knew there was not enough money to do this as well as we should.

TCV: Where has this plan gone wrong?

We have now gone to funding capital projects. That was not its intent. Furthermore, I am disappointed that there has been selective leaking of information about this deal. There is no secret that we are negotiating for the frontage property, but the terms of that are supposed to be secret until it is done. The administration leaked the terms of upfront rents. This is not supposed to be public knowledge at this point. I cannot discuss this because "the devil is in the details" and they have not been settled yet.

I am a part owner of an electronics company and a certified financial planner so I bring to the board, a business aspect to all this. I have done a lot of negotiations in the past and when the terms are leaked, you are dealing from a weak and unfavorable position.  I am in favor of development of the frontage property, but as I said previously, it has been morphed and hijacked.

TCV: Why does it appear there is so much dissention on the board?

Our board has been split on this issue and I feel that Dr. Treadway needs to accommodate those who may be in the minority by reaching out rather than simply counting on a majority to vote for his proposals. The board generally wants consensus but if those questioning the administration are simply ignored and allowed to fester by isolation, that is asking for problems.

It is good to have good, healthy discourse on our board. I am a believer in open government, because people get a better deal when things are discussed in public rather than private. I am very happy that finally our next meeting that will be video streamed. We should have live broadcasts of our meetings and more detail of meeting minutes. On the frontage property issue, at the very least we should have a well-publicized public meeting in which a representative of Sobrato Development explains what is going on and there should not be any thought of voting on this issue at the same meeting. There is a question of how many board votes are necessary to approve a Letter of Intent, but at this point, I have a long laundry list of reasons that need to be addressed prior to my approval. My perspective is long term for Ohlone, while Dr. Treadway may be looking at things differently since his 5-year contract ends June 30, 2008 has not been extended.

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