The long-running soap opera of Roxbury Community College

There was a time that missteps by administrators at Roxbury Community College were met with sighs and snickers over the continual stream of malfeasance at the two-year state school. But the recurrence of questions over administration and finances continues to roil what was planned to be a crown jewel for the beleaguered community and will once again raise the specter of merging it with Bunker Hill Community College.

The history is not pretty. Lawrence Johnson, the very first president of Roxbury Community, was fired just months after the school opened its doors in 1973 and it was a revolving door for decades after. Brunetta Wolfman. Walter Howard. Grace Brown. Terrence Gomes. These are but a few of the names of RCC presidents who have been fired or forced to resign since the school’s founding.

The school found some stability for about 10 years beginning in 2001 but in 2012, once again amid questions of financial mismanagement, then-Gov. Deval Patrick replaced the six-member Board of Trustees and Gomes, who was under a cloud from money problems and mismanagement at the school.

The latest contretemps involves the suspended director of the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, which is housed at the school. Keith McDermott, the longtime director of the facility, was placed on administrative leave after questions were raised about the track’s management. The state auditor, who had been brought into the mess, kicked the inquiry over to the attorney general’s office, saying the allegations appeared to be more for law enforcement to consider than her office.

Last week, Attorney General Maura Healey determined there was nothing to the allegations, clearing McDermott. But Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker, one of the few in the media keeping an eye on the school and its place in the community, says McDermott has been damaged by an administration led by President Valerie Roberson that is carrying on some of the worst of RCC traditions.

“Every few years, it seems, Roxbury Community College is on the verge of meltdown,” Walker writes. “Roberson was brought in after the last administration was run out a few years ago, in the wake of a series of Globe stories and columns about sweeping mismanagement at the school. Much of the school’s board was pushed out as well. But the new bosses are barely an improvement over the old bosses.”

Walker said Roberson emailed him a statement on Saturday declaring the school had reached a severance agreement with McDermott, only to admit the following day the announcement was premature.

There is a bill in the Legislature that would remove oversight of the track from RCC, a move that is opposed by members of the community as well as school administrators. There is also revival of talk about the Roxbury-Bunker Hill merger that would be a big hit to the community psyche and image. State Rep. Chynah Tyler has waded into the issue, calling for a community meeting on the future of the track and the school’s place in Roxbury, and tonight, the RCC board is scheduled to meet in what will be a tension-filled public hearing.

But caught in the crosshairs of the continual Keystone Kops approach to education administration are the nearly 2,500 students of the school that once held promise to bring education to them rather than force them to travel some distance to get what many suburbanites have much easier access to.

“RCC is a precious community resource,” writes Walker, “and it is beyond frustrating to see yet another management team mired in fruitless drama, rather than building the institution Boston needs RCC to become.”

–JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

One of every eight state workers who took advantage of the Baker administration’s early retirement program in 2015 returned to do part-time work for the state while collecting their pension, evidence that the program was ill-conceived and not the savings boon it was billed as, say critics. (Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker hasn’t pardoned anyone since taking office. He says his lack of pardons isn’t a reflection of philosophical opposition, noting the state Parole Board hasn’t recommended anyone for a pardon despite receiving 124 applications. (Salem News)

A Salem News editorial warns of a looming tax battle on Beacon Hill with House Speaker Robert DeLeo lowering his resistance to new taxes.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Police arrested seven anti-fascist protesters in Worcester on Sunday who blocked traffic and shouted anti-police slogans. (Telegram & Gazette)  At-large City Councilor Michael Gaffney says Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty’s support of earlier protests prompted the latest one. (Telegram & Gazette) T&G columnist Dianne Williamson says the anti-fascist protesters seem a lot like fascist protesters.

The number of city employees taking time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act jumped 50 percent last year, and City Hall officials aren’t sure why. (Boston Herald)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump has tapped Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, an active duty military strategist, as his National Security Adviser to replace the ousted Mike Flynn. (New York Times)

Daniel Levitin says Trump is more bullshit artist than pathological liar. (Boston Globe)

Trump travel spending is costing taxpayers more in a month than what former president Obama spent in a year. (ThinkProgress)

Apparently there is a limit on free speech with the right after Breitbart News flame-thrower Milo Yiannopoulos, who has made a career out of riling up the left, has been disinvited to speak at an annual conservative confab after recordings of him surfaced appearing to tout man-boy sexual relations. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Richard North Patterson says Democrats must figure out how to speak to voters across all regions of the country and says former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean’s “50 state strategy” was right. (Boston Globe)

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas urges Tom Brady, not Curt Schilling, to run against Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

While skeptical of the whole enterprise, a Herald editorial says if the state is going to have an early voting mandate it needs to help cities and towns with some of the costs.

A recount has confirmed the results in the reelection of Cedric Cromwell as chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council in a bitter race over a former top lieutenant. (Cape Cod Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The median price of a condo in central Boston neighborhoods jumped 16.2 percent last year to $790,000. (Boston Globe)

Allegations by a former Uber engineer of sexual harassment by a supervisor that was brushed off by company higher-ups is adding to the firm’s poor reputation when it comes to treatment of women. (Boston Herald)

EDUCATION

Smith College’s “Women for the World” fundraising campaign brings in a record $486 million. (Boston Globe)

The chairman of the Boston School Committee wants the city’s high schools to adopt later starting times, pointing to research suggesting student engagement and academic performance would benefit. (Boston Globe)

The for-profit education business, which came under scrutiny during the Obama administration, is breathing a sigh of relief with the arrival of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has investments in the industry. (New York Times)

Bridgewater State University officials are still refusing to release details about what and when administrators knew about alleged rapes at the school’s child day care two years ago. (The Enterprise)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

STAT’s Ed Silverman says “Right to Try” drug laws like the one Vice President Mike Pence is pushing at the federal level offer false hopes and carry real downsides.

Boston Medical Center will take over emergency services from the state at the Corrigan Mental Health Center in Fall River beginning in May. (Herald News)

A Framingham dental group is disputing the findings of a state audit that says the practice incorrectly billed MassHealth for X-rays that did not meet the requirement of being medically necessary. (MetroWest Daily News)

CHS, which sold eight hospitals to Steward Health Care, plans to unload as many as 25 hospitals as part of an effort to dump money-losing facilities and reduce a mountain of debt. (Modern Healthcare)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA has canceled Hingham-Boston ferry service for at least the week as repairs are underway on the shipyard dock in Hingham. (Patriot Ledger)

A Herald editorial makes a pitch for a Seaport district helipad even if General Electric has said it can make do without one.

Gretchen Effgen of nuTonomy says Boston is emerging as a mobility innovation center alongside Silicon Valley and Detroit. (CommonWealth)

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick hires former attorney general Eric Holder to investigate allegations of sexism at the company. (Recode)

The Federal Transit Administration pulls the plug on a $647 million grant to pay for electrification of the commuter rail system near San Francisco. (Governing)

RELIGION

Sanctuary sanctuary? Religious congregations in the state are beginning to discuss offering refuge for illegal immigrants to live in their houses of worship, which immigration officials have generally been reluctant to raid. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

With Donald Trump’s election probably meaning the end of climate change action out of Washington, Massachusetts should pick up the slack with new approaches to reducing carbon emissions from transportation, says a Globe editorial.

Opponents of a proposed controversial compressor station on the Fore River in Weymouth have raised money to launch a legal challenge to the facility’s federal energy permits. (Patriot Ledger)

CASINOS/GAMBLING

A move by the state to adopt an online lottery, as Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is urging, could be a bonanza for tech companies that set up such systems. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Massachusetts Sentencing Commission voted to recommend repeal of all mandatory minimum sentences except in the case of murder, adding an important voice to the current call for sweeping criminal justice reform. (CommonWealth)

Sen. William Brownsberger says crime can be reduced by reducing incarceration rates. (CommonWealth)

One suspect is under arrest and another is being sought in connection with a double murder in Peabody. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

Tim Taliaferro, the editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly, says he plans to take the magazine in a life-style direction, according to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review. But he quickly recants in an editor’s note, saying he had given CJR “the wrong impression.”

PASSINGS

Former Bank of Boston CEO Ira Stepanian has died at age 80. (Boston Globe) Ira Jackson writes a remembrance of the man he always called “Big Ira.” (CommonWealth)