The board will appoint a temporary replacement trustee for District 9.
By Zachary-Taylor Wright
The board of trustees recalled memories of District 9 trustee Jim Rindfuss at the regularly monthly meeting Aug. 15. Trustees learned of his death while they were in executive session.
Rindfuss did not attend the meeting because of ill health, but Board Chair Yvonne Katz, District 7 trustee, said he was watching a live streaming of the event.
She said Rindfuss joined the board of trustees in May 1996, meaning he served Alamo Colleges for 21 years. Rindfuss’ six-year term was set to end in 2020.
In an interview with The Ranger after the board’s executive session Aug. 15, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the board will send out requests for application to fill Rindfuss’ position until the next board election in May.
During the time allocated for memorials, Chancellor Bruce Leslie announced there were no memorials, but the board would probably not see Rindfuss at board meetings again.
Leslie said he spoke with Rindfuss Aug. 14 and he is in a “very dire stage in his disease.” Leslie did not identify the disease.
During the board meeting, Leslie said he met Rindfuss and District 2 trustee Denver McClendon and Rindfuss during his interview for the chancellor position, saying that Rindfuss, an attorney, took immediate control and asked a wide range of questions at a rapid pace.
Leslie said Rindfuss’ questions ranged from what the responsibility of a chancellor was to how Leslie was going to address the kindergarten issues in this city.
Leslie said McClendon allowed Rindfuss to go on and then subtly dismissed everything Rindfuss said.
Leslie said this insight into the friendship between two board members convinced Leslie that he wanted to accept the position when it was offered.
“I left that session so impressed with the relationship that these two men had,” Leslie said.
Katz said the Rindfuss family was streaming the board meeting that night and gave the board members an opportunity to share their stories.
District 4 trustee Marcelo Casillas recalled Rindfuss’ mission to end the corruption in the district when he became a board member.
District 1 trustee Joe Alderete thanked Rindfuss for his time in 1996, saying people don’t understand how difficult it is to correct a faltering organizational system.
“All he wanted was justice and transparency,” Rindfuss said.
Casillas said Rindfuss was a champion of the district, the colleges and his constituents.
District 6 trustee Gene Sprague recalled public accusations that Rindfuss was racist but said he proved them wrong.
“Never did I have a doubt about where you stood on an issue,” Sprague said. “There’s a man where whatever he says is exactly where he is. I’ve never seen a fiercer warrior for the truth and for justice.”
Sprague said Rindfuss had a passion for increasing the literacy rate in the city.
He recalled Rindfuss’ efforts to get messages about children’s literature put on television and said Rindfuss’ goal was to get everyone in this city literate.
Alderete said Rindfuss was being sincere when he pushed for affordable books and joked that two agreed for the first time on purchasing electronic books.
Sprague thanked Rindfuss for helping out his son at a time of need, saying the “bill for that never arrived.”
“You’re a great friend,” Sprague said. “I’m not ready to say goodbye, but you’ll always have a very important part on this board. … Thank you for being a great friend.”
McClendon said he and Rindfuss were very good friends but often had to resolve political differences.
“Jim and I are very good friends,” McClendon said. “Jim and I disagree politically on everything.”
District 3 trustee Ana Bustamante said Rindfuss used to scare her when she first joined the board in 2008 because he was so passionate in his convictions.
Bustamante said she discovered that Rindfuss was extremely kind; she said she experienced a loss in 2010, and he helped her out legally.
Bustamante said, as she got more comfortable speaking up, Rindfuss would say, “You’re just a firecracker!”
District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate defined Rindfuss in one word.
“Devotion: That to me just describes Jim Rindfuss.”
Zárate said that the student success fund was mainly instigated by Rindfuss.
Kingsbery said Rindfuss was the first board member to speak to him and described Rindfuss as tall and intimidating.
Kingsbery said Rindfuss was the first person to call and congratulate him when he became a board member.
Kingsbery said every interaction he had with Rindfuss was a little scary because “he (Rindfuss) was not afraid to speak his mind as everyone on this board knows.”