Friday, November 1, 1996

ARCHIVES: the infamous "SAME-SEX" flier & how we got to this sorry state





WHENCE THE HOMOPHOBIC FLIER?

By 1996, a small group of unscrupulous faculty—including the shamelessly ambitious and incorrigibly conniving chemistry instructor Raghu Mathur—controlled the faculty union (the "Faculty Association"). So unscrupulous were they that they campaigned for their right-wing candidates—including Holocaust denier Steven Frogue (see Register article, April '95)—using the utterly phony "same-sex" benefits issue.

The union was forced to use the flier, said then-union Prez Sherry after the election, in order to protect "life as we know it."

The union got these people elected; for their trouble, the unionists would get board support for continued high faculty salaries for senior faculty. Junior faculty were not similarly benfitted. Some scores were settled, too.

And so, in December of 1996, the era of the conservative "Board Majority" began. The Old Guard got what they wanted—for the time being. But their "victory" was the beginning of a painful and precipitous decline for the two colleges and the district. The BM concentrated its efforts on dismantling the machinery of "shared governance" (a concept that emerged from the historic "AB1725" legislation of the late 80s). Phoney accreditation reports were written, Old Guard schemers (Runyan, Mathur, Woodward, et al.) became administrators, and the Old Guard's long-time foes sought cover.

LAUGHING STOCK

Soon, the district was the laughing stock of the state community college system. SOCCCD was placed on the state chancellor's "fiscal watch" list—Williams blamed this on the OC bankruptcy, despite other OC district's avoiding that particular fate—and its colleges were given accreditation warnings, owing largely to sustained board "micromanagement"/lawlessness and administrative instability. To make matters worse, the Citizens Commission on Higher Education used SOCCCD to illustrate the need to eliminate locally elected boards of trustees.

Meanwhile, Mathur and the Board attracted tremendous negative media attention, thanks to their absurd and offensive actions and policies, as when Mathur banned signs and graphics from faculty windows and doors at IVC, or when Frogue planned a "Warren Commission" seminar, complete with assorted anti-Semites and conspiracy nuts.

Most faculty were horrified by what their union was doing, and thus many sought reform. For a very long time, reform efforts were successfully thwarted by such Old Guard tactics as refusing to provide copies of the union's bylaws, barring reform faculty from meetings, and proclaiming Old Guard-busting union elections to be null and void! In the course of these struggles, troubling irregularities re the union's bank accounts came to light. They were never fully explained.

Ultimately, the CTA entered the picture and, after years of struggle (CTA wasn't really much help), the Old Guard's stranglehold on the union was broken.

REFORM TOO LATE

But, by then, the union had managed to elect two more right-wing trustees. These two—Wagner and Padberg—campaigned, with union money, on the phony "stop the airport" issue (college trustees had no say in this issue). "Wagberg" were associated with "Education Alliance," a Christian Right organization run by the author of the infamous union-busting proposition of 1998. Without doubt, Wagberg moved the board to the right and even further away from the spirit of "shared governance." (In recent years, it appears that Padberg has drifted toward relative reasonableness, leaving Wagner and Fuentes—Fuegner—to anchor the board in abject right-wing evil.)

So, by late 1999, though the Old Guard was out, and reformers controlled their union, the Old Guard's chief legacy—an utterly anti-faculty board—was firmly in place.

THE FINAL PIECE

But matters got worse. When Frogue resigned in the summer of 2000—thereby providing the Board Majority with an opportunity to hand pick his replacement—notorious arch-conserrvative and Chair of the County GOP Tom Fuentes joined the board. Again, this was done with the help of the Old Guard, some of whom came to speak in favor of Fuentes at board meetings.

Natually, as an incumbant, Fuentes sailed to election victory in 2000.

At about that time, Raghu Mathur, who had already suffered two massive votes of "no confidence" at IVC, was chosen by the board as the district's new Chancellor.

Thus it was that, thanks to the union Old Guard—Mathur and his crew of disgruntled misfits and money-grubbers—the district came to be overseen by an anti-faculty, anti-intellectual, and anti-union board—and led by an unprincipled Chancellor who will say and do anything to keep his "bosses" happy. —CW

Click on graphic to enlarge
From The conservative board majority

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