THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY
Update 2:45pm, March 3, 2023: Following the publication of this story, an anonymous submission to the Citizen Secure Leak portal pointed out a public comment made by Toni Cook, former Dean of Special Programs at College of Alameda, during the Dec. 11 Board of Trustees meeting in 2018 that shared similarities with Jordan’s comments. The video and Cook’s comments are included in the updated article.
Disclaimer: The Citizen has been unable to verify the allegations made against Trustee Nicky González Yuen that appear in this article.
By Shiloh Johnston, Editor-in-Chief
March 2, 2023
Former Student Trustee Aisha Jordan read a statement during the public comment section of the Peralta Community College District’s (PCCD) Feb. 28 Board of Trustees meeting, accusing Trustee Nicky González Yuen of using “tactics of intimidation” on former student trustee Adrien Abuyen, a candidate for the governing board’s vacant Area 2 seat. The statement came in the wake of a Feb. 24 special meeting where the Board of Trustees were unable to appoint a candidate to the position.
Jordan claimed that Yuen used these alleged tactics to change Abuyen’s position on a PCCD specific measure that appeared on the ballot during the 2018 general elections.
“Trustee Yuen used tactics of intimidation on Adrien in 2018 in efforts to get him […] to retract his support for Measure Bond E [sic], which myself and Adrien are the only students who signed off on that measure,” Jordan said.
Measure E proposed the renewal of the 2012 Measure B parcel tax to fund PCCD for a period of eight years. The measure was approved with 82 percent of the vote, although it was plagued by controversy when Citizens’ Oversight Committee chairman Michael Mills signaled his disapproval of the measure and published a “con” argument for the measure in the voter guide.
While Abuyen was a signatory on the official argument in favor of a measure and did serve as student trustee at the district, he was no longer a PCCD student when Measure E appeared on the ballot in 2018. Abuyen ended his term as student trustee and graduated from College of Alameda in 2016.
Aisha Jordan’s comments at the Feb. 28 Board of Trustees meeting.
Despite Jordan’s claims, Yuen voiced support for the measure in a San Francisco Chronicle article covering the controversy over the parcel tax:
“The faculty and the staff are amazing. Despite horrendous working conditions they continue to teach and support their students really well,” said Trustee Nicky González Yuen. “The problem is with the central district administration and the board that will not hold them accountable.”
Still, Yuen said, he supports renewing the parcel tax because the district needs stable funding.
Jordan also accused Yuen of making “threats” against Abuyen regarding the potential consequences of not withdrawing his support for the measure.
“He also made threats, insulting [sic] that Adrien might end up on the wrong side of [sic] potential grand jury report,” Jordan said, claiming that Yuen “alleged that Peralta does not deserve such funding because of questionable practices that led to biased hiring practices resulting in the hiring of too many African American females at Peralta.”
Trustee and Board President Dyana Delfín Polk attempted to interject with a question for Board Clerk Sasha Amiri-Nair, but Jordan continued.
“So basically I am just here to ask if we can have some integrity today because clearly things have been compromised and I am asking if Trustee Yuen would recuse himself from the voting on agenda item 10.5,” Jordan explained.
Agenda item 10.5 concerns the approval of a board appointed candidate to fill the vacant Area 2 seat on the Board of Trustees. The item was placed on the agenda after the board was unable to elect a candidate at the Feb. 24 special meeting. The board’s interests were split evenly between Abuyen and Paulina Gonzalez-Brito, at which point a motion was passed that pushed the approval of the candidate to the Feb. 28 regular meeting.
At the special meeting, the Board of Trustees interviewed four candidates for the vacant position. During the discussion following the interviews, Yuen reflected on the time they shared together on the board.
“He sat next to me on this dais for the time that he was here. I know he was extremely hard working. I drove him home after board meetings numerous times, and so I know Adrien really well. And I know that he would be a very hard working trustee and bring in a specific skill set of kind of understanding the position of students in this district. And I think that’s a real strength,” Yuen said.
Jordan took issue with Yuen’s remarks during her statement on Feb. 28.
“[Yuen] claimed to know Adrien Abuyen and engage in a kindred relationship by recounting a story of providing him [sic] numerous rides home when he was a student trustee at Peralta. But the claims were made to portray a false sense of kinship,” Jordan claimed.
Abuyen also spoke at the meeting during a subsequent public comment section for an agenda item regarding RepresentEd Leadership, a company for which he serves as Board president, but did not address Jordan’s comments.
The Citizen reached out to Abuyen to confirm the veracity of Jordan’s claims. In an email response, Abuyen did not directly address the claims made against Yuen and recommended that The Citizen “reach out to former student trustee Aisha Jordan.”
The Citizen reached out to Jordan for comment on the claims that she made during her statement, and also for any documentation to support the allegations she made against Yuen. Jordan did not respond in time for publication.
Update 2:45pm, March 3, 2023: Following the publication of this story, an anonymous submission to the Citizen Secure Leak portal pointed out a public comment made by Toni Cook, former Dean of Special Programs at College of Alameda, during the Dec. 11 Board of Trustees meeting in 2018 that shared similarities with Jordan’s comments.
While Cook’s comments mention a similar phone call between a former student trustee and a member of PCCD’s governing board, she did not mention any names specifically.
“I had a phone call from a former student trustee, who expressed to me his anger, his hurt, and his disappointment,” Cook said, “that a board member asked him to withdraw his support of Measure E, and when he inquired as to why, he said that he was told that our chancellor [Jowel Laguerre] was a poor manager of the funds and besides, that our chancellor had hired too many black women.”
Unlike Jordan’s claims, the former dean did not mention “tactics of intimidation”, and it remains unclear whether Cook was referring to Yuen and Abuyen during her remarks.
The Citizen contacted Cook via Facebook to verify whether she was referring to the same phone call as Jordan and is currently awaiting a response.
Following the submission to the Citizen Secure Leak portal, The Citizen also reached out to Abuyen and asked whether he was the former student trustee that had called Cook. Abuyen did not respond in time for this update.
The Citizen reached out to Yuen to respond to Jordan’s allegations. His complete statement has been provided below:
“Through hard work over the past two years the Peralta Board has created an environment that fosters collegiality and consensus, and channels disagreements into opportunities to learn from each other.
To have the politics of personal attacks re-surface at this pivotal moment is dangerous and disturbing. The Board must make it clear that there is no place at Peralta for such tactics or anyone associated with them. We must have a unified board singularly focused on serving our community, leaving aside personal ambition and personal animosity.
The ugly allegations made on Tuesday are completely false. Anyone who knows my history and personal values or who has watched my actions as a board member, community leader or college instructor would know that I could not have possibly acted in the way described.”
The Citizen reached out to Mark Johnson, PCCD’s Executive Director for Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations for a statement from the district. Johnson informed The Citizen in an email response that the district could not comment on the allegations made by Jordan at the meeting.
During deliberation on agenda item 10.5, trustees remained deadlocked in their positions and were unsuccessful in filling the vacant seat. The board passed a motion to reconvene at a special meeting to determine who it will appoint as the new trustee.
The meeting will take place on March 3 at 4:30PM. It will be open to the public and take place in person at the district offices at 333 E 8th St, Oakland, CA 94606. Those that wish to attend virtually can register here to view the meeting via Zoom.
According to Johnson, the meeting will be uploaded to the district’s YouTube channel the following business day.