Monday, July 28, 2014

Forde and Agran's Great Park: a query

OC Weekly
     I offer the following “connective,” represented by the "circle" symbol: °
     The circle connective indicates that the person (or agency) to its left is “somehow connected to” the person (or agency) to its right. Hence, the sentence
Roy ° Teddy
Asserts that Roy (yours truly) has some connection to Teddy (his cat). (As Huey Long might have said, Roy and Teddy are living in "open celibacy" in a home in Trabuco Canyon.)
     It’s a pretty hazy connective: it could mean a lot; or it could mean virtually nothing.

Tom Fuentes ° Butcher-Forde

Caspers
     Now, it’s plain that the late OC GOP chief, Tom Fuentes, was “somehow connected to” Bill Butcher (age 82) and Arnold Forde (age 78) of the notorious campaign consulting firm Butcher-Forde. I’ve explored and described the strong TF/BF connections that existed early in Tom Fuentes’ career (starting c. 1969, when college kid Tom became Supervisorial candidate Ronald Caspers' campaign manager). In later years, Tom would have been “connected” to Butcher-Forde if only because many Republican candidates secured the services of B-F, and, as a GOP official (Fuentes was, first, vice chair, then chair of the OC GOP until 2004) he would likely be friendly with leading campaign consultants, and Butcher-Forde were "stars" in their field. I'm guessing their relationship continued to be much more than that, though. (A case can be made that "modern" [i.e., ruthless and sophisticated] politicking, in OC, all started with Caspers' notorious 1970 campaign, which not only started Fuentes' political career, but essentially started B-F's rise to prominence.)
     (Note: Butcher and Forde parted company in 1995. Essentially, Butcher moved to Britain [changing his name to "Lord-Butcher"], then to San Diego, then to LA [Encino]. Meanwhile, Forde continued in OC [he lives in Laguna Beach; his office is in Newport Beach]. Forde partnered with B-F associate Stu Mollrich; hence Forde & Mollrich.)

Tom Fuentes ° Larry Agran

     Larry Agran, former Mayor (and present City Councilman) of Irvine is “somehow connected” to Tom Fuentes, if only in the sense that, at one point, Fuentes supported Agran’s efforts to pursue a Great Park instead of an airport at El Toro:

Irvine's Next Mayor Comes With High Voltage (LA Times, October 2000, Jean Pasco)
     —Larry Agran, controversial in job during '80s and unopposed now, sparks alarm over sizzling El Toro issue.
Arnie Forde, c. 1982
     ...David Ellis, a Republican consultant who favors an airport at El Toro, said Agran's forte has been to use public money to fund personal causes. The Great Park plan, for example, was developed using a city-paid consultant.
     "He's a committed liberal, and you've got to respect him for that," Ellis said.
     Until recently, the mayor's race [in Irvine] had caused little stir in Republican circles in South County. Even Thomas A. Fuentes, the longtime chairman of the county GOP and a Lake Forest resident, joined Agran in promoting the Great Park plan….
     To the surprise of many, Fuentes "came out" for the park in a piece that appeared in the OC Register on August 13, 2000. He wrote:
[H]ow about a spectacular urban national park with vast green areas and plenty of orange trees to enshrine the county's agricultural heritage and provide contact with the land for generations to come? With Saddleback Mountain in the distance and the local foothills as a backdrop, an urban national park in Orange County could be a dream come true. (Quoted by Anthony Pignataro.)
     OK, that might be a pretty tenuous connection. So what if right-winger Tom briefly found it expedient to support this "great park" idea? But maybe there's more here than meets the (or, at any rate, my) eye. (I'm thinking: how explain Agran's picking a guy like Forde?)
     WELL, in recent years, we’ve come to realize that Arnold Forde (of BF) has been the secret "boss" of Agran's Great Park, a fact that is scandalous all by itself (why is this private PR guy running this public project?). And so
Tom Fuentes °°° BF (and thus)
Tom Fuentes °°° Arnold Forde [You bet!]
Tom Fuentes ° Larry Agran [Well, maybe]
Larry Agran °°° Arnold Forde [Amazing but true!]
     The above “connections” might add up to nothing, of course, re the BIG BOONDOGGLE. On the other hand, they might not. It all depends on the details in these connections.
     Anybody got any thoughts on the matter?

Some mental noodling:

Forde, c. 1978
     Note that it would be odd for Fuentes and Agran to form any sort of alliance, though it is fairly well understood why both Fuentes and Agran were drawn to opposition [starting in the late-90s] to the El Toro Airport and thus (?) support of the emerging alternative, the “Great Park.” So, at the very least, Fuentes and Agran had, in some sense, one goal in common, though, otherwise, they would seem to have been at opposite poles of the political spectrum, with very differing goals. (It was because Fuentes was so very conservative [in one sense of conservative] that he ran afoul of the Big Money wing of the local party [the "New Majority"], which tends to shed conservative "principle" in favor of big-profits-by-any-means*; he was drawn to opposition to the airport as a way of increasing the power of the right-wing of the party over the Big Money moderates of the party: Argyros, et al.)

     That Agran “connected” with Forde—as, evidently, he did, in a big way—is very odd. Arnold Forde is a Republican and a conservative who has generally affiliated himself with right-wing causes (he was a big player in Jarvis’ anti-tax crusade; he was part of the movement to oust Rose Bird). Larry Agran has had the reputation (probably undeserved) for being OC’s most liberal/progressive politico. He inspired the one-time jokey moniker of Irvine as the “People’s Republic of Irvine.” Despite some changes in his approach in the last dozen years, he's still opposed to the right's agenda.

     On the other hand, starting about a dozen years ago (see here and here), Agran, to the horror of many of his fans and associates, began to embrace a kind of realpolitik—an embrace of hardball tactics and corrupt secret shenanigans, often of the self-serving variety. But when one thinks of the rise of hardball campaigning, etc., in the OC, one immediately thinks of Butcher-Forde, the "Darth Vaders" of ugly direct mail tactics. That is, one immediately thinks of Arnold Forde.

Bill Butcher, c. 1982
     Fuentes was still a big mover and shaker at the beginning of the millennium—he wasn't deposed as chair until 2004 (they took him out for several reasons, including his opposition to the airport and his bungling of outreach to Mexican-Americans). Privately, he was (always) all about lobbying for big money to secure fat government contracts. (I was much amused by how noisily he declared his "vindication" when my FPPC complaint turned up nothing. Gosh, dude, why was that silly agency's favorable finding so important to you? Were you worried about what everybody was thinkin'? Think so. [Do you suppose that Tom really prayed for me like he said he would?])
     (*Fuentes was complex. What he preached, as a GOP leader, was one thing; what he did in his private affairs was quite another. As GOP leader, he celebrated the efforts of the "many" [volunteers] over special interested Fat Wallets; but, in truth, he made his money getting those Fat Wallets juicy government contracts—by hook or by crook. He was loudly homophobic in his politics, and yet--well, whatever.)

     How does this all fit together? Does it?
     Maybe TF has nothing to do with anything here. Could be. The more fundamental question is: just how does a right-wing, hardball playing guy like Arnie Forde get into the catbird seat of a liberal's Great Boondoggle? 
     Inquiring minds wanna know. (Yes, yes, I know: it could be just another opportunity for AF to grab enormous wads of cash. It may go no deeper than that, I suppose. Forde is just a very prominent flack, so he got the gig. --Nah, there's gotta be more to it.)

Supervisor Caspers and right-hand man Fuentes, c. early 70s

"Secret Boss"

Arnold Forde, c. 1979
Pal o' Fuentes
Arnold Forde: Half a Century of Big Time Politics (Voice of OC)
     Arnold (Arnie) Forde, identified in depositions as the secret boss behind Irvine’s Great Park, has been a publicity-shy mainstay of both Republican and Democratic California political campaigns for nearly half a century.
. . .
     Forde first gained political attention in the 1960s when he and Butcher formed Butcher-Forde Consulting.
     At the height of their political and financial success, they called themselves the "Darth Vaders of Direct Mail."….

OC's "win at any cost" political ethic: Butcher-Forde, Tom Fuentes, & James Lacy (Dtb)
Orange County incomporuption: toward a "big picture" (DtB)
The 'Darth Vaders of Direct Mail' (LA Times)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wendy's campaign, 73rd Assembly District

     Listen to a recent radio interview of our own Wendy Gabriella, Candidate, 73rd Assembly District:

     Interview. (Show 16, July 12)

     Very informative. Lots of discussion of higher education, the Brown Act, the CA legislature, the minimum wage, etc.

     To contribute to Wendy's campaign, visit Wendy Gabriella for Assembly 2014

THE 73RD ASSEMBLY DISTRICT:

» Las Flores

Now this

A "second hardware failure Friday evening"? Golly.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The grammar jammers

Incomplete sentence. Telegraphic speech. Misspelling. Subject/verb disagreement. Golly!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A startling cause of Americans’ innumeracy: school

Why Do Americans Stink at Math? (NYT)

America the beautiful
     …It wasn’t the first time that Americans had dreamed up a better way to teach math and then failed to implement it. The same pattern played out in the 1960s, when schools gripped by a post-Sputnik inferiority complex unveiled an ambitious “new math,” only to find, a few years later, that nothing actually changed….
. . .
     The trouble always starts when teachers are told to put innovative ideas into practice without much guidance on how to do it. In the hands of unprepared teachers, the reforms turn to nonsense, perplexing students more than helping them….
. . .
     Today the frustrating descent from good intentions to tears is playing out once again, as states across the country carry out the latest wave of math reforms: the Common Core….
. . .
     …The cognitive-science research suggested a startling cause of Americans’ innumeracy: school.
. . .
     Without the right training, most teachers do not understand math well enough to teach it the way Lampert does. “Remember,” Lampert says, “American teachers are only a subset of Americans.” As graduates of American schools, they are no more likely to display numeracy than the rest of us. “I’m just not a math person,” Lampert says her education students would say with an apologetic shrug….
. . .
     …The very people who embody the problem — teachers — are also the ones charged with solving it….
. . .
     With the Common Core, teachers are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own. Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals — who are no more skilled at math than their teachers — remain unprepared to offer support. Textbooks, once again, have received only surface adjustments, despite the shiny Common Core labels that decorate their covers. “To have a vendor say their product is Common Core is close to meaningless,” says Phil Daro, an author of the math standards.
     Left to their own devices, teachers are once again trying to incorporate new ideas into old scripts, often botching them in the process….

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Agran's corruption: Arnold Forde and Tom Fuentes

Butcher & Forde
     If you’ve been paying attention to Larry Agran’s slowly unfolding Orange County Great Park” scandal, you’ll know that among the prime beneficiaries of this boondoggle was the firm of Forde and Mollrich. The “Forde” in question is Arnold Forde, a fellow who figured prominently, along with the late Tom Fuentes, in the severe coarsification of OC politics, starting c. 1970.
     See OC's "win at any cost" political ethic: Butcher-Forde, Tom Fuentes, & James Lacy
* * * 
Young Tom
     “Some of these consultants [Butcher and Forde, Fuentes, et al.] regard a campaign as the equivalent of warfare, in which anything goes, short of overt violations of the law. Deceptions and misrepresentations, especially unleashed at the last minute through computerized mailings, seem to have become, for some, a standard campaign technique.” 
—Orange County Citizens' Direction
Finding Commission report, 1978
     "When Butcher and Forde brought professional management and a fierce competitive drive to Orange County campaigning, they were challenging decades of friendly, folksy clannishness. They have been called amoral and their campaign tactics deceptive. And the accusations have not been hurled exclusively by their candidates’ opponents."
 — "Butcher and Forde, wizards of the computer letter," California Journal, May 1979.
     SEE Great Park Timeline - in 1994, Forde and Mollrich worked for the pro El Toro Airport forces (i.e., big money Orange Countians); later (in the new millennium), the firm supported efforts to block the airport.
     You'll recall that Tom Fuentes, seeing a political opportunity (for his far-right wing of the local GOP), early on decided to support anti-Airport forces (thereby joining "liberal" Agran's anti-airport movement), one reason that the Fat Wallet crowd forced Tom out of the OC Republican chairmanship in 2004.
     Agran and Forde
c. 1982

Monday, July 21, 2014

The July meeting of the Board of Trustees: Wright is Wrong

The hideous spectre of
micromamummmmm....
     (Please see Board Meeting Highlights.)
     From the looks of things (i.e., the agenda), this could be another minimalist meeting, but you never know....

     6:00 p.m.: well, I've arrived, and there's no sign of the trustees. I'm lookin' over the room: I count three vividly green union shirts. Not much of a union presence.
     6:02: The room is still pretty empty. Way over on the left, I see IVC's Academic Senate Prez (Kathy Schmeidler) conversing with IVC's VPI, Craig J, that notorious fellow.
     The drive over here was lovely. A thousand years from now, I suspect I'll still remember these monthly late-Spring and Summer nights, driving to silly old board meetings. Such supererogation as this—covering BOT meetings—entails no pressures and few expectations. And, these days, meetings are short and sweet (well, they're short).
     The air is clean and the sun is bright. I love it! Even caught a glimpse of a shimmering Pacific Ocean driving down Santiago Canyon/El Toro Rd. Wowza! As usual, I had great music on the stereo: the Gories, Cat Power, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Band of Horses, Detroit Cobras, the Kills, etc.
     There was swoonage.
     6:06: still no sign of trustees. I suspect that we won't be seeing Nancy (Padberg) anytime soon. Don't know where Jim Wright's been. I wonder if it will be another skeleton crew tonight?
     (You realize, of course, that Nancy P is up for reelection this year—the election is just a few months away. Trustees seem to be hinting that Nancy will be back in the harness soon, but, from what I'm hearing, her recent injury was, well, significant. My mind is abuzz.)
     6:11: Aha! David Lang has arrived.
     6:14: Three (of the seven) trustees have arrived, including Jim Wright.
     It's been a busy afternoon already for the BOT. Earlier, they had a closed session to evaluate the Chancellor (Gary Poertner). Then they had their usual monthly closed session, where they discussed (I think) the fate of IVC's Director or Student Life, Helen Locke.
     6:16: Board Prez TJ Prendergast has arrived. No sign yet of Bill Jay or Marcia Milchiker. I am assuming that Nancy will be a no-show. (She's recovering from an injury.)
    6:17: only four trustees? I guess that's a quorum.

T. Wedel
    6:17: They've started the meeting.
    Anything to report out of closed session? No. (No actions taken.) (I notice that Ray Chandos is in the audience. Perhaps he is here to support Helen Locke, whose fate seemed to be on the closed session agenda. Locke, like Chandos, was a part of the core group of Raghu Mathur supporters back in the day [c. 1997]. Strictly Old Guard.)
    Invocation by Lang: he mentions that jet liner that was shot down. Why not, I guess.

Public comments?
     Dave Anderson: personal invitation here at SC, performances of Godspell. Free to the public. Bring a picnic dinner.
     That's it.

     No resolutions, but two commendations:
P. Weekes
     SC's Tod Burnett comes up to recognize two "very very important people" and their pending retirement. Dean Flanagan and Patti Weekes come up. Yacks about the tutoring center at SC. Gives examples of Patti's accomplishments. "Tremendous passion" for student success. "We're both soulmates," says the Todster. A small token of our appreciation. Applause. Photo op. She says, "I'm going to miss you all so much." Something about the way she says it makes the audience laugh. She's funny, I guess.
     Next: Terry Wedel, Director of College Broadcasting Services, is next. (He's been at SC for six years.) Blah blah blah. The radio station has listeners all over the world. KSBR has received many awards; a top station in its format. "Convergent media" seems to be the buzzword. Congrats! Photo op. He says: "I'm going to miss you too." Notes that it's hard to follow that wag Patti.

Board reports:

     David Lang: no report. Uses his time to stand up to give Patti and Terry a standing O. We all do that. (This kinda warm 'n' fuzzy shit doesn't make up for your betrayal, ol' Davey Boy.)
     Jim Wright: I'll miss Terry and Patti on campus. Congrats. "It's not so bad," he adds, speaking from experience, I suppose. Brags about an ACCA conference: the great Deans(?) program. How to be an effective dean. Creating successful faculty relations, etc. "I was honored to be there; I was on a panel." I visited Nancy Padberg, who is in Emeritus Senior Living in San Juan Cap. I attended "Hello Dolly," a wonderful production.
     TJ Prendergast: congrats to retirees. "I don't know what that word 'retire' means." Laughter (TJ can be funny). Haven't had a chance to visit Nancy, but will do so. Mentions that, owing to the presence of 4 out of 7 trustees, the board does indeed have a quorum. He mentions his status as a "government" teacher.
     Tim Jemal: Terry and Patti, congrats. Very impressive what you've been able to do here.  I also saw Nancy, and she looks great. We are looking forward to seeing her back here on the podium; we miss her dearly. Retreat last week at the "Duck Club": blah blah blah. IVC #1 transfer rate in CA. Foundation laid down some ambitious goals. Will require sustained and significant leadership [well, in that case, we're in trouble, at least at IVC]. Gonna take a monumental effort; you'll want to be a part of that.
     Student trustee Carillo: attended retreat. I do believe that these goals can be met. I will be joining triple CT(?) in San Francisco. I'll try to win the elections. Wish me luck. Hope for speedy recovery for Nancy P. (Garsh, what a self-important kid; yet another "resumé commando"?)

     Chancellor's report (Gary Poertner): Chancellor's opening session is coming soon (Aug 12, a Tuesday). Featured speaker will be state chancellor Bryce Harris, a wonderful speaker. Following that session will be a groundbraking ceremony for the A400 building (at IVC). We'll have a presentation from Student Success Taskforce today.

     IVC VP Craig Justice (gives IVC report cuz Rocky is absent): nothing to add but congrats to Terry and Patti. "When you retire, you never get a day off," said Craig's father, evidently. Laughter.
     SC's Todd Burnett: we're all entering our crunch time, beginning of new school year. Meeting our enrollment targets won't be easy. Want them back up to where they were. "Professional development week." Prez's faculty breakfast, etc. One more week left for "Hello Dolly."
     ...Miscellaneous further reports....

Board requests for reports:
     Approval for requests. Lang comments: he alludes to some desire to make sure these requests are not "onerous" to staff, et al. Poertner says something, but I didn't listen. Motion for approval: unanimous (4 yes votes).

Discussion item 4.1: student success scorecard:
     Denice Inciong, District Dir, Research, Planning &DataMgmt, speaks (with Caroline Durdella and Craig Hayward)
     Discusses "new scorecard" and its "four layers."

     See Student Success Scorecard

     Blah blah blah (and I mean that).
     We're going to be looking at 5-years trends.

     Student/counselor ratio. IVC: 1,004: 1,  SC: 705: 1
     Statewide: 719: 1. (And so IVC isn't doing so hot, I guess.)

     Craig Hayward comes up to go over "metrics." (Planning and Accred guy at IVC.)
     First metric: overall completion rate. Consistent trend at both colleges. We're well above state averages.
     State: 67%
     IVC: 74%
     SC: 74.6%
     Overall persistence rates. State: 70.5%  IVC: 71.7%    SC: 76.2%
     Math remedial progress rate (Caroline comes up):
     Math remedial progress rate: state 30.6%    SC: 40.4%    IVC: 39.1%
     Both SC and IVC perform above state average.
     English remedial progress rate: State: 43.6    IVC: 53.5     SC: 62.4
     ESL remedial progress rate: State 27.1   IVC: 20.1    SC: 19.2
     Overall CTE completion rate: State: 53.9     IVC: 54.3     SC: 53.8
     (Def: Completed at least 8 units within a single CTE discipline.)
     Overall: both colleges perform above state in 6 to 7 "metrics."

     QUESTIONS?

     Jemal: student counseling ratio. He has a couple of questions about IVC, etc.
     IVC is 4th in the state re SPAR(?)[overall completion rate?]; SC is in the top 10. A question about writing 180/280 at IVC. Evidently, changes in these courses skewed the data in some way. Still trying to make sense of it.
     Prendergast: who compiles the data? A: We have a system of reporting, everyone is required to use it, across the state. No further questions.

     Next: Consent calendar items: anything to pull? Jemal: 5.7 and 5.9. Wright: 5.11. No other pulls. They vote to accept: unanimous (4 votes).

5.7 - A400 development project (at IVC, Hum and Social Science Bldg.)(Design-build contract, our first.)  Jemal: tell us rational for increase in dollar amount. Brandye D: yes, our first d-b project. We're learning some lessons. Items that were outside the original request/proposal. We need to define early in the process what is required of the contractor. Being our 1st experience, "there are some holes in it." We were not clear about aesthetic desires: adding brick, office doors, etc. Upgrading the roof would bring us to 30 year warranty (not just 20). At the end of the day, we'll have a better "value" (if this is approved). You'll see our per-square-foot price is wonderful. This really is a best value approach. --No other requests to speak. Motion to approve. Vote: unanimous.

5.9 - Institutional Memberships. Jemal: yes, really important. But let's make sure we're not paying "multiple dues" if we don't have to. It's not clear from this document if that's the case. Todd Burnett comments. We try to coordinate with the district, but we could do this "more precisely." Jemal is satisfied. Lang: some memberships can only occur "per college," so there will be some "natural overlap." They vote: unanimous approval.

Nurses rule
5.11 - Academic Calendar. Jim Wright: I have some concerns, in the spring 2016. We start after MLK B-day. Grad on May 24. How does this affect the vets, nurses? I still worry about that. Burnett: blah blah blah. IVC's VP Justice speaks. He explains. Final exam days count as days of instruction. With regard to nursing issues, SC prevailed. SC Academic Senate: yes, those were key concerns. We've minimized impacts on those two programs. They can work with this. They advocated this approach. Wright: wouldn't starting a week earlier solve the problems? IVC Ac. Senate Prez: 1st, this went through extensive conversation with all parties. We followed the district policies with the relevant constituencies. Very collaborative. IVC has somewhat diff concerns. This was a compromise calendar. We had real problems with early start dates. We had interest in offering short courses in January. This is the minimal amount of time to try these projects. This is the compromise. [Here we have a case of micromanagement. Groups are trying to tell Wright that all of his worries were very carefully considered; you're making us rethink what was already thought out very carefully, responsibly. Wright just isn't getting it.] Wright continues to be "concerned." SC's Werle is asked to speak: nursing needs to start earlier. Adjustments are being made; as result, some folks will work two weeks longer than the rest. TJ Prendergast: this is the third year of "making this shift (a new calendar)" He asks if things are working out. Schmeidler (of IVC): yes, we've had some issues, last two years. This "version" addressed those issues. IVC still had interest in a possible January session. Etc. No further requests to speak. They vote: unanimous.

5.11 - approved
6.2 - approved
6.3 - approved (air unit replacement)
6.4 - approved (lighting retrofit, IVC)
6.5 - approved (realignment, two schools at IVC)
6.6 - approved ("Fine arts" at IVC to "School of Arts")
6.7 - approved (board policy review - for discussion)
6.8 - approved (paying Padberg for missed meeting)
6.9 - approved (this time for Wright's absence last time) - Wright abstains, that counts as a "yes." "Thanks for playing," says TJ.

"Concerned"
6.10 - approved (parking fees for Admin Classified). Wright: concerned, fee increased four-fold. Lang: my only concern, is under negotiation in contracts. Could create a disparity between groups. Must it be approved tonight? TJ loses track of what's been moved. So, must this be approved tonight? Burnett: the parking situation is "ongoing." We've been below average on parking fees for a long time. We've worked two years to get to this point. Students very involved in this, most supportive. Faculty are exempt because these fees are negotiated. My personal view: students shouldn't pay more than admins and managers. B: "It's not a lot of money": moving from $20 to $80. But, no, does not have to be decided tonight. But if we table, won't apply to Fall 2015. Student trustee: let's have additional report. I'm against students paying more than staff. I'd like a more thorough report. [Micromanagement again?] Motion on table is to approve. (Jemal: if not accepted this evening, then put off until January? Burnett: no, will be put off for a year.) At both colleges, correct inclusive process was involved. The students have passed on this. Three yes, one no. Wright voted against it. They think about what the vote means: first, they decide that the motion fails; but no, they decide that the item PASSES. So the fee hike is in. Whew.
6.11 - no discussion. Passes unanimously.
6.12 - Academic Personnel Actions. Unanimous.
6.13 - Classified Personnal Actions. Unanimous.

Reports:

7.1 - "student trustee member election." Student trustee, a pompous fellow, comments.
7.2
7.3
7.4
7.5 - no comments.

Reports from admin. and governance groups:

7:33 - Blah, blah, blah.

I'm outa here.


Unconcerned

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Teddy's World

That's "Teddy's Hill" just to the left of young Theodore.
Teddy's oak is to the right, out of view.
Great song; in this lovely version, the guitar solo is to die for.
(I think the guitarist was Jerry Mathews.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

An ATEP by any other name would be—whatever



     As you know, ATEP, on 68 or so acres out in Tustin, has long been troubled. The district  doesn't have much to show for its 10+ years of effort and expense, developing the dang thing, whatever the hell it is supposed to be.
     It wasn't always called "ATEP." I recall the programs envisioned for the Tustin facility way back when. For a while, there was talk of offering training in "homeland security" and culinary arts.
     Today, I visited the ATEP website (here). The site sports a menu, including these items:
  • ATEP Today
  • Future Plans
  • Site Development and Planning
  • Development Partner Opportunities
     I clicked on “ATEP Today.” There, we’re told:
     The Advanced Technology & Education Park (ATEP) in Tustin opened an initial 1-1/2 acre campus in Fall 2007 to immediately begin serving students and the community while the 68 acre development planning is under way. Irvine Valley College currently oversees the day to day operations of the ATEP site while the ATEP Development Team at South Orange County Community College District oversees development of site planning and partnerships for the expansion to 68 acres.
     Gosh, this blurb seems to be about ATEP tomorrow as much as it is about ATEP today.
     Next, I clicked on “Future plans” (does one ever plan things that are not of the future?). Here, we’re told that “South Orange County Community College District is developing the Advanced Technology & Education Park (ATEP) on 66 acres….”
     —OK. But just what IS ATEP, anyway?
     The name gives us a pretty good idea: it’s about “advanced technology.” Students are to be educated or trained relative to that. There's a need, we're told.
     I wish it were so simple.
     Over the years, the district seems to have considered the possibility of giving over (part of) the facility to such organizations as the “Young Americans,” who eventually (2010) opened The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts in beauteous Corona, CA. So district decision-makers’ fidelity to the idea of “advanced technology” education has always been somewhat loosey-goosey. I mean, learning to be a hoofer isn't about advanced technology, is it?
     The page goes on to elaborate. In bold face, we’re told that:
ATEP will focus on advanced technology, career technical, and workforce development training programs to support high demand industries….
     This description is somewhat equivocal. Yes, ATEP will "focus on advanced technology," but it will comprise "workforce development training programs to support high demand industries" as well. Hell, that could describe virtually anything in the CTE realm, as long as it is in "high demand."
     The rest of the “future plans” page is divided into two sections: (1) Saddleback College plans and (2) Irvine Valley College plans. Makes sense.
     The IVC section is utterly unsurprising. IVC is developing programs “in these areas”:
High-Tech Manufacturing and Product Design
Engineering and Design
Business and Professional Services, including Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment
Energy, Environment and Utilities
Information Services, Design and Networking
Digital Media, Game Design and Simulation
     This list generally concerns, not just the broad area of CTE (Career Technical Education), but CTE that is, well, advanced and technical—you know, like designing cars and widgets and shit.


     Oddly, the SC section concerns exactly one to-be-developed project (or “center”), here called the “Center for Innovation in Healthcare Education” (CIHE). It is explained thus:
     Saddleback College currently runs an award-winning Registered Nursing Program and other highly rated health career programs in Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLTs), Paramedic and EMT Training, Drug and Alcohol, Mental Health, Medical Assisting, Healthcare Information Technology and others. Saddleback College plans to develop a regional simulated health care facility providing an innovative, risk-free educational environment to address multiple safety and training needs of allied health workers. Program areas will include:
  • Professional Healthcare Provider skills
  • Disaster and Emergency Preparedness
  • Advanced Patient Simulations
  • Multi-disciplinary Training
  • Healthcare Team Leadership Development
  • 300-seat Healthcare Education Conference Center
…Industry projections estimate that the largest employment gains in Orange County will occur in healthcare industries … Saddleback College and SOCCCD were recently awarded a $2.75m Department of Labor grant to develop programs for the Center for Innovation in Healthcare Education….
     Two points: (1) the CIHE would seem to be, nothing really new, but an extension of SC’s already-existing and much ballyhooed cluster of "health career programs," and (2) the education/training envisioned for CIHE comprises a set of CTE areas not naturally associated with the concept or phrase “advanced technology.”
     That's what happens when your plans and definitions (i.e., your thoughts) are equivocal and bullshitty. IVC seems to be focussing on "advanced technology." SC seems to be focussing on training needed for "high demand" industries, whether or not they have anything to do with "advanced technology." Essentially, they're just extending their existing plans and projects onto a new site, up there in Tustin.
     The philosopher in me cringes. Things oughta make sense!
     Let's dump the "ATEP" moniker and just call this thing "Training Park." But we'd better take care to plant a couple of trees. —You know, it's a park.

The agenda for Monday's board meeting: "two campuses" at ATEP?

From IVC: then and now (Pinterest)*
     As is his custom, five days before the meeting of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Chancellor Gary Poertner has provided a link to the agenda (Monday, July 21).
     I've had a brief look at it.
     A DtB reader noticed this closed session item:


     This would seem to concern Helen Locke—until a few months ago anyway, she was IVC's Director of Student Life.

     Saddleback College Pres. Tod Burnett’s report includes:


     Check out that second paragraph. Preparing for riots and protests, eh? Re cops in general (not our cops in particular): we've got to keep an eye on 'em. Their record hasn't been so good lately, especially in OC.

     IVC Pres. Glenn Roquemore’s report includes:


     My school (Humanities) will be located in the new and improved A400 that will be constructed at the site. My colleagues and I are looking forward to the change.
     So the actual tear-down took just one day? Sheesh. Maybe it was made of papier-mâché.
     A400 was one among the original four buildings of the campus, when it opened as Saddleback College "north" in 1979. The campus became an autonomous college, IVC, in 1985.
     Also included in Roquemore's report:



     "College of the Future." That's the name,  I guess,  for what they're finally building out at ATEP.  According to this blurb, there will be "two new campuses in Tustin at ATEP." Two campuses?
     You'll recall that a lengthy pissing contest between SC's Burnett and IVC's Roquemore over control over ATEP yielded the Solomonic decision by Chance. Poertner to build two equal buildings at the site, one per college. Sheesh.
     Finally:


     So Davit goes from being a lowly "director" to a VP—just like that. No hiring committee, no interviews, no nothin'.

     This month’s “discussion” item is:
4.1 Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College: Student Success Scorecard for Community Colleges. A presentation on performance indicators for Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College.
     D&P show.

     Included among consent calendar items is this:
5.7 SOCCCD: Irvine Valley College A400 Design Build Project, Change Order No. 2, Swinerton Builders. Approve and authorize staff to execute the corresponding contract change order which will result in an increase of $300,000 for a revised contract total of $9,150,000.
Some details:


     This is a list of add-ons and their cost, I think.

     Among the “general” action items is this:
6.5 Irvine Valley College: School of Humanities and Languages and the School of Library Services Realignment. Approve the realignment in an effort to increase efficiencies and yield two balanced schools to be named as the School of Humanities and the School of Languages and Learning Resources, effective July 22, 2014. The Dean of Liberal Arts will continue to oversee both schools.
*Saddleback College also has a Pinterest page: here. Below is one of its photos:

Evidently, this depicts the college's new program in "Kinky Kinesiology"
(Just kidding: Saddleback "fashion")

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wage theft

Adjuncts Urge Labor Dept. Inquiry Into Working Conditions (Inside Higher Ed)

     More than 500 adjunct professors and their advocates have signed a petition calling for the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate their working conditions. The petition's authors, all current or former adjuncts at various colleges and universities, allege that they are being paid for only part of the work they do, and that that amounts to wage theft. The petition is addressed to David Weil, director of the agency's Wage and Hour Division, and urges him to "open an investigation into the labor practices of our colleges and universities in the employment of contingent faculty, including adjunct instructors and full-time contract faculty outside the tenure track." The investigation should be conducted at the "sector" level, they say, rather than individually.
     The petition says that average yearly income for adjunct professors "hovers in the same range as minimum-wage fast food and retail workers," since adjuncts typically are paid only for the time they spend teaching–not the time they spend preparing or meeting individually with students….

A Tale of ‘Too Big to Fail’ in Higher Education (NYT)
City College of San Francisco Survives

     …[W]hen it came to actually running community colleges, the state fell short. Many of the existing two-year schools had begun as locally run junior colleges with no tradition of state control. Instead of being led by a single chancellor, like the universities, each of California’s 112 community colleges is governed by a locally elected board. The state also passed a law requiring the boards to share day-to-day decision-making power formally with faculty unions.
     A result has been chaos and dysfunction in many places. With no state leadership, and with boards and faculty unable to resolve their many differences, institutions like City College have achieved terrible results for students….

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chancellor's evaluation

Notice on the district website
     As you know, the JULY meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held in a week (on the 21st).
     Evidently, a "special meeting" will be held prior to the usual closed and open sessions that day. It concerns Chancellor Poertner's evaluation.
     No doubt an opportunity for public comments will be provided at the start of that meeting.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Frickin' For-Profits, ridiculous regulators

Flunking Out, at a Price (NYT)

     In the years before the mortgage crisis, financial regulators often looked the other way as banks and other lenders pursued reckless activities that cost investors, taxpayers and borrowers billions of dollars. When trouble hit, these regulators had to scramble to fix the mess that their inertia had helped create.
     This same dismal pattern is now playing out in the for-profit education arena.
     For years, federal and state regulators have done little as dubious operators of for-profit colleges and trade schools have pocketed tuitions funded by taxpayer-backed loans. Many students left these colleges with questionable educations and onerous debt loads that cannot be erased in bankruptcy.
     Regulators have finally woken up to this ugly reality. And, once again, taxpayers and borrowers will pay the price of regulatory failures.
. . .
     “Many of the students who have already graduated will default on their loans and will be followed by the federal government for the rest of their lives,” said Robyn Smith, of counsel to the National Consumer Law Center and author of a recent report on how states can improve oversight of for-profit schools. “If the regulators had been better at doing their jobs, this could have been avoided.”
     For example, Ms. Smith pointed out that while the Department of Education had cited Corinthian in November 2012 for falling below the department’s financial responsibility standards, it still allowed the company to recruit students until last month. That put an additional $1.5 billion in taxpayer money at risk.
. . .
     It isn’t clear, though, that those lessons have been learned. Given that other for-profit institutions are also facing difficulties, I asked the Department of Education in an email what it planned to do in the future to avoid a repeat of the Corinthian disaster.
. . .
     It’s not clear what kind of an education Corinthian students have received, and it’s too soon to determine the total taxpayer burden in the collapse. Tallying that bill will depend on whether the company can sell its colleges and keep students in place.
     Perhaps Corinthian’s fall will become a teaching moment for both state and federal regulators. Here is one suggestion from Mr. Safalow: The Department of Education should monitor the financial position of for-profit colleges more closely, to protect both students and taxpayers.
. . .
     Looking the other way also harms students and taxpayers. Can we all agree that something about this regulatory construct needs to change?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Whatever happened to Jolene Fuentes? (By hook or by crook: the real Fuentean legacy)

By hook or by crook
     You'll recall that former trustee Tom Fuentes died of cancer a little over two years ago. With one exception, Tom had failed to attend any meetings for about a year prior to his death. The obvious question was: why did he not simply resign? Whatever the answer, it had nothing to do with a dedication to public service. Especially to those who knew Tom, it was obvious that he had something up his sleeve: something to gain, some enemy to vanquish.
     You’ll also recall that, in a special meeting soon after Tom's death (in May of 2012), the board decided to appoint a replacement for Tom instead of leaving a vacancy and letting the voters decide his successor at the next election, just five months away.
     One guesses that this was a crafty political decision, for it was known that a Fuentes—either widow Jolene or son TJ—would seek that office, and, given the Fuentes family’s GOP connections, a Fuentes would likely prevail in an election sans incumbent. On the other hand, if the board were to appoint a replacement—a non-Fuentes—he or she would come into the election in November with an enormous incumbent advantage and would very likely prevail, even against a well-heeled Fuentes.
     Well, who knows what trustees (or board Prez Nancy Padberg) were actually thinking. But surely there was no one on the board, save Tom’s curious minion Dave Lang, who wanted another thuggish (i.e., Fuentean) politico on the board. Unless they took action, that is exactly what would occur.
     This was great theater, of course. It culminated in a special meeting in June of 2012 in which the trustees interviewed two candidates: James Wright,  a popular recently retired long-time instructor and dean—and Jolene Fuentes, who, as it happened, had no experience in the community college system or in higher ed.
     She was a Fuentes, is all.
     In my view, both candidates did well answering questions that night, but it was obvious that Wright had the superior resume. In any case, Wright was selected. Trustees used a points system, and the final tally was Fuentes: 367.5 and Wright: 454.
     Naturally, the local GOP, or at least its knuckle-dragging Fuentes wing, cried foul. Immediately after the selection was announced, Lang and TJ carped that the board should not have appointed anyone; rather, they should have left the matter of selection to the voters (again, in five months). OC Reg columnist Frank Mickadeit made the same point.
     Leave it to the voters! That’s what Tom would have wanted, said Jolene.
     Curiously, back in 2000, when the notorious Holocaust-denying trustee, Steve Frogue, resigned from our board (four months prior to election), Tom had no objection at all to being appointed to the board by trustees rather than by voters, a point I made here on DtB (7/1/12) and that was repeated elsewhere.
     (See also Frank Mickadeit, OC Register Columnist, Slams College Professor on Behalf of Late Tom Fuentes [6/28/12]).
     Well, soon, reality set in and all that peevitude faded. Wright, now an incumbent, was duly elected the following November. After a dozen miserable years, the "Fuentes" era at the SOCCCD, that long lurid nightmare, came to an end.
Frank M,
Thugophile
     But what became of Jolene?
     Well, a year later, she emerged as a candidate to fill yet another empty seat—this one on the Lake Forest Planning Commission (PC). Once again, she had no experience or background for the office. She had never even attended a Lake Forest PC meeting!
     To make a long story short, Fuentes and company managed to bully the existing City Council members (who appoint the PC replacement) to select Jolene, despite the availability of manifestly superior alternative candidates. (When asked about his peculiar decision to reverse himself and vote for the inexperienced Jolene Fuentes, Mayor Voigt actually said, "I don't know.")
     Upon arriving on the commission, she immediately announced that she would be missing a meeting—despite attendance having been a salient issue for the commission in the recent past.
     In general, it appears that Jolene has turned out to be a very bad commissioner who has a poor attendance record and who is widely regarded ineffective, owing to a lack of experience. Nowadays, she's gotten the PC embroiled in an issue regarding granting an exemption to a rule restricting sale of alcohol (see below).
     You can read all about it here. The last post is a scathing review of Jolene’s efforts on the commission in a guest editorial that appeared in the Voice of OC two months ago:

• Council Dismisses Planning Experience In Favor of Fuentes (Lake Forest Patch, 9/4/13)
     ...However, [Mayor Voigts] had difficulty justifying the switch from one woman [Morrell] who was worthy of his first ballot choice to another woman [Fuentes] who is a relative newcomer by comparison. Morrell has an extensive background, including being a project planner on a new town of 100,000 outside Tokyo, Japan, and master planning and infrastructure planning support for agencies such as the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers and county of Orange.
     Finally, after being pressed why he chose Morrell as his No. 1 choice in the first round and then switched to Fuentes, Voigts gave up.
     "I don't know," he said softly....
• Fuentes Participates in First Planning Commission Meeting (Lake Forest Patch, 9/13/13)
     ...But [Fuentes] offered a somewhat surprising revelation during the commissioners' comments at the end of the meeting when she informed her colleagues she would be absent at the next regularly scheduled meeting to attend a long-awaited wedding in Memphis, Tenn. The planning commission meets twice a month.
     Fuentes was appointed to replace Tim Hughes, one of the original planning commissioners in the city. He resigned because his work out of state would force him to miss meetings and prevent him from devoting up to 80 hours of prep time for each meeting....
• Lake Forest 99 Cents Only stores win appeals to sell beer, wine (OC Reg, May 21, 2014) (See also One Lake Forest 99 Cents Only store allowed to sell beer, wine, 7/11/14)

• Community Editorial: Planning Commission Is Not for Politics (Voice of OC, March 26, 2014)
     A little more than six months ago, Jolene Fuentes was appointed to the Planning Commission in Lake Forest amid controversy about her lack of background, experience and education, given the excellent qualifications of the applicants passed over in favor of her.
     The controversy was exacerbated by the claim of then Mayor Scott Voigts that he had no idea why he cast the deciding vote for Fuentes, failing to mention the $1,000 contribution to his 2010 campaign from (now deceased) Tom Fuentes, the Republican bigwig and husband of Jolene.
     In the intervening months, Fuentes' record of attendance has been poor, and that’s on a commission that already cancels more than 20% of its meetings....
Tom loved his machine