While many of us were looking ahead to BBQ's and fireworks, the Hartnell College Governing Board met on July 2 to revisit their decision to implement a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the school's $28.5 million science building.

Back in May, the Board approved the use of a lease-leaseback construction contracting method for the project, as well as, the inclusion of a PLA that would exclude a majority of local contractors from the bidding process. They also voted to appoint Board members and a HCCD employee to the PLA ad hoc negotiation committee, an unusual move as staff, not Board members, typically negotiate PLA contracts.

The May outcomes were reversed in a 4-3 vote to use the traditional design-bid-build construction contracting method.

Trustee Elia Gonzalez-Castro spearheaded getting the topic back on the agenda for reconsideration and made the motion to rescind the PLA. She argued that everyone should have access to the project just as all students have access to Hartnell College.

What happened you ask?

The community raised its voice. And the Salinas Chamber of Commerce and local contractors were the major players.

They collectively voiced their concerns - to fellow community members, the media and elected officials. The Chamber spotlighted the May vote along with their deep disappointment in the Board's decision in their June/July Business Journal. And they illustrated the decision's impact on the local economy.

Together, the Salinas community affected change. With this reversal comes a level playing field and equal opportunity.

So, thank you Salinas and thank you Elia!

Please email Elia at elia4hartnell@gmail.com and thank her for reversing her vote and supporting fair and open competition.

Megan Kilkenny is the Communications Director for ABC Northern California.