7 Days 

Chancellor's windfall; and jurist's downfall; ditching the Planet, and docking the dumpers.

Severance hangover: As this space has reported over the past couple of months, outgoing Peralta Community College Chancellor Ronald Temple -- oh, pardon, Dr. Ronald Temple -- was not long for his $250,000 post. The nagging question has been when and at what cost the new Temple-hating majority on the board of trustees would send him packing. For a couple of months now, the board has been holding catered behind-closed-doors negotiations with Temple over the terms of his departure. His contract required that he get at least eighteen months' worth of pay if they canned him. Indeed, Temple will be getting that. But district sources say that's not all he'll get -- not all that taxpayers will have to pay.

Once again, Temple proved himself a shrewd negotiator with the board, whichoriginally awarded him a lucrative multiyear rollover contract three and a half years ago. Temple will be paid approximately $350,000 spread out over the next eighteen months and then officially "retire" -- in fact, he'll stay on the books as a "consultant" to the board during that time. It's highly unlikely that the new board majority would want to consult Temple on anything, so what gives? By technically keeping Temple around for another year and a half, he'll meet the minimum five-year employment requirement to be eligible for a state teacher's pension, district finance chief Tom Smith confirms. Moreover, Smith says that under the chancellor's severance agreement, the district will pay health benefits for the 61-year-old Temple and his wife for the rest of their lives (up to $1,124 a month for medical and dental).

7 Days can only hope the board of trustees negotiates a better deal with the next chancellor it hires. It is troubling, though, that a leading candidate to replace Temple as interim chancellor is a guy Temple brought in himself upon the recommendation of CampusWorks, the consulting firm founded by an ex-con and Temple associate. He is Charles Taylor, who came to Peralta last May to serve as the interim vice chancellor for administration and finance. And in typical free-spending Peralta fashion, the district paid $18,000 back then for its new interim vice chancellor to permanently move to the Bay Area from Washington. -- Will Harper

Judge Dread goes down: Last week, the state Commission on Judicial Performance bounced Contra Costa Superior Judge Bruce Van Voorhis from his bench, making him the first black-robe to lose his job for a "demeanor problem" (See "Judge Dread Takes the Stand," Cityside, November 13, 2002). Van Voorhis, known for his scolding attacks on newbie district attorneys, "displayed a pattern of misconduct," commissioners wrote, which amounted to "a loss of judicial temperament, abuse of authority, and embroilment."

The mood in the county district attorney's office following the ruling was downright ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead. The office had long held that Van Voorhis made marks out of its young prosecutors, particularly female ones. Back in December, in a separate ruling, a Monterey County judge ruled that Van Voorhis was indeed biased against the CoCo County DA's office, and forbade him from hearing criminal cases. As a result, Van Voorhis was stuck in a Concord traffic court, ruling on less-than-pressing matters. "Thank God it finally happened," cooed senior deputy DA Doug Pipes, who led the investigation that resulted in the Monterey ruling.

Jim Murphy, Van Voorhis' attorney, said he'd appeal the commission's ruling to the California Supreme Court. Murphy, along with Van Voorhis supporters -- including a half-dozen defense attorneys -- argued the embattled judge was notably stern but never unfair. Murphy wants the state court to establish a "bright line" so a judge knows what remarks are now suitable for dismissal. "So he's perceived as a jerk," Murphy told the legal newspaper The Recorder. "Is he subject to removal because he's perceived as a jerk?"

Apparently so. -- Justin Berton

Judith is from Mars, Becky is from Venus: Everyone in Berkeley has been waiting for the new Daily Planet's inaugural issue to hit the stands. And waiting. And waiting. In fact, powers that be at the Daily Planet (or simply Planet, since the paper is expected to come out only twice a week) have postponed their debut until April or perhaps longer. What could account for the holdup? It might have something to do with the fact that new Planet editor Judith Scherr recently quit after exactly one week on the job.

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