By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Well, sort of. Decker was asking for unity. But that comment, "And the board is going to have to make some nasty decisions," was interpreted as another in what faculty members say has been a long line of veiled threats.
"There's a feeling we're getting set up to take the fall for the bond issue," says Verbout, who teaches English at the college.
Then, as the conversation heated up, as faculty members charged that they would spend years on committees established by Dailey only to have their recommendations disappear, that they've lived for years in fear, and that because of this environment, "anybody who can leave is leaving," Decker got irritated. And in his anger, he once again intimated that there was a conspiracy of faculty who had gone about subverting Dailey, and it all culminated with the face-stamping boot George Orwell quote that was interpreted as "the death threat."
"He just threw a match on that gasoline again," Verbout says. "Please, Tony, don't mention the boot."
Sanders came away with a tapeful of controversy. He wrote a story for the February issue. And that story set off a firestorm on campus.
Many praised him for finally showing what's really happening at Yavapai. Some damned him for sensationalism -- turning a grievance session into mutiny.
Others were just scared. Some of the faculty members who spoke freely in the meeting didn't consider it a public meeting. They saw their angry quotes in the newspaper, and, because of the very environment they were damning, they feared for their careers.
"A lot of board members and faculty members were very upset, very hurt," Verbout says. "I was angry and Vince is like, "If they fire you, just sue. They can't do that.' He thinks it's that easy. It isn't that easy. Sometimes you need to be able to hash things out and reach a consensus without it being splashed across the newspaper."
"I didn't know the tenure only protected faculty, not staff," Sanders says. "I put some people in jeopardy without realizing it. I wouldn't have put them out there like I did if I had known they didn't have that protection."
But Sanders remains resolute in his convictions. So much so that he has increased the circulation of the paper from 2,000 to 10,000. Instead of delivering just on campus, Sanders spends three days a week distributing the newspaper to government offices, cafes and convenience stores -- more than 260 locations -- throughout an area the size of Rhode Island.
"He's the beacon of truth in Yavapai County," says one bar owner in downtown Prescott. "Vince is a new man."
In March, the Rough Writer hit newsstands with a large, front-page headline saying the college may be involved in a felony.
Sanders had requested a detailed accounting of consulting fees from 1994 to 2000. Instead, Sanders received what he perceived to be conflicting stories on the whereabouts of those records.
Terry Bowmaster, Yavapai's finance director, told him: "We have summary records, but we don't have the details. It is on a software system that does not exist anymore. So what we have is summary reports."
The college's advancement director, John Coomer, said: "But if we did have to get the data for some legal reason, the data does exist in our backup records. We just don't have the system."
"Hey," Sanders says now, "my request was a legal reason."
Under state law, the college must retain financial records of contracts for six years after the contracts expire. It is a felony to destroy those records.
But Bowmaster and college officials contend Sanders mistook, or intentionally twisted, Bowmaster's explanation. College officials contend the information would be difficult and time-consuming to retrieve. But it definitely does exist.
"The Rough Writernewspaper inaccurately reported that Yavapai College may be involved in a felony," Coomer said in a college press release after the story. "The college does maintain all records required by law. It is unfortunate that student reporters failed to verify facts and chose to take information out of context to falsely accuse college officials."
The press release, which included the line, "The college governing board funds the student newspaper to the tune of $10,000," was written by Melody Riefsnyder. The press release was republished nearly verbatim as the top story in the following Sunday's Prescott Courier.
Sanders and Bowmaster have since volleyed letters regarding a fair price for copying and researching the financial records under state public records laws. That issue remains unresolved.
Soon after the story, Dailey distributed a memorandum to "high-level College Employees." It explained her interpretations of the First Amendment.
"Speech that causes disharmony among colleagues is entitled to little or no First Amendment protection," she wrote. It was a reminder to high-ranking administrative staff, Dailey says, and was not intended for circulation to faculty.
On April 3, a memorandum arrived at the student newspaper and faculty senate. In it, Dailey said she was appointing a committee to establish a new advisory board to "develop a more comprehensive set of guidelines to assist student reporters and editors."
The memorandum ended: "We would like the committee to begin its work as soon as possible and develop guidelines for the newspaper to be in place by July."