.....AS WE REPORTED two days ago, on Tuesday, Judge R. Gary Klausner denied Westphal, et alia’s motion for a preliminary injunction. It is something we had expected. Naturally, the denial of this motion is not a judgment of the suit.
.....Further, the “denial” can be appealed (no decision on that yet).
.....Further, Klausner’s remarks (issued on Tuesday) are hardly a vindication of the district, for Klausner seems to acknowledge the unconstitutionality of trustee Don Wagner’s infamous “scholarship” speech and Chancellor Raghu Mathur’s notorious opening session “Jesus” video:
The Court notes some of the specific conduct by Defendants may have violated the Constitution while some other conduct did not. For example, Trustee Wagner’s comments at the 2009 scholarship ceremony and the slide show at the 2009 Chancellor Opening Session may appear to be in violation of the Establishment Clause…......It is true that, as things stand, Klausner appears unsympathetic to the notion of a general ban on “offering prayer or religiously themed programming” at the district. But he has made no final ruling about our suit.
Dandy Don the Demagogue
.....Also as expected, Wagner immediately demagogued the situation, for, on Tuesday, he added the following to his “Wagner for Assembly” website:
Wagner Prevails in Prayer Lawsuit
The United States District Court has sided with Don Wagner and the South Orange County Community College District against the atheist plaintiffs in their misguided lawsuit challenging invocations at the college district. Wagner and the District have defeated the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction and invocations can continue......Don then leaves a link to a “Flashreport [news item] on the decision.” (FlashReport is a conservative blog run by Jon Fleischman, who worked for many years under his hero, felon Mike Carona.)
.....Here's the FlashReport post:
FlashReport Weblog on California Politics: BREAKING NEWS
by Jason Roe
.....Don Wagner, candidate for the 70th Assembly District, has prevailed in Westphal v. Wagner, a suit filed against Wagner and the South Orange County Community College Board of Trustees, to prevent the offering of invocations at graduations, awards ceremonies, and other District functions......Well, again, contrary to what Mr. Roe implies, the case is by no means over. We plaintiffs have not prevailed in our motion for a preliminary injunction. That’s all. The case has not yet been decided, and, further, the judge’s decision about the injunction can be appealed.
.....The plaintiffs, Americans United for Separation of Church and State [sic], sought an injunction but after months of discovery, including depositions from Wagner and other trustees, and reviewing thousands of pages of documents, the aetheists [sic] could not make their case that the District was violating the establishment clause of the Constitution. The court denied the motion and invocations can continue.
.....Roe eventually acknowledges that
this case is not necessarily over. The aetheists [sic] may force this to trial and there is always a chance that Wagner et al could be defeated......Well, again, the plaintiffs (i.e., Westphal, et al.) are not “atheists.” Some are atheists, but some are theists, some are agnostics, and I do believe we’ve even got a Deist in the bunch.
.....We do not object to prayer or religion. We embrace the Constitutional notion that our government, and thus our government officials, should not act to “establish” religion. In our opinion, the pattern of district actions in recent years amounts to establishment of religion.
.....Listen, when a government official (trustee) prays at commencement, he imposes his religion on the audience. He sets religiosity as the norm. Does anyone deny this?
.....Don loves to portray the situation as though we seek to prevent him and all other theists from praying. But no. As far as the plaintiffs of this suit are concerned, Don and others can pray all they want. They can climb on their roofs and pray into the cosmos or across the valley. They can swim in the ocean and pray there too. That’s all fine by us. (By me, anyway.)
.....But, says the Constitution, when someone acts as a government official, things are different. As a trustee of a community college district, he or she represents the government. And the government isn’t supposed to establish religion. Not in this country.
.....It ain’t rocket science.
Classified forum at IVC
.....Earlier today, a forum for classified employees was held at Irvine Valley College. The President, the VPI, and the VP of Student Services were present.
.....I’m told (by a reliable witness) that one employee—someone with a history of reliability (and of substantial service in the community)—stood up to make some critical remarks about IVC’s Director of Facilities, John Edwards.
.....(You’ll recall that, three or four years ago, complaints abounded concerning the alleged unprofessionalism and retaliatory nature of then-Director of Facilities and Maintenance, Wayne Ward. By the Spring of ‘07, he was let go, in part thanks to the high profile that objections to Wayne’s conduct and performance achieved here on DtB. See Two Days of Retaliation and “It’s a condom,” he said.)
.....Here’s what I heard about today’s forum (again, from a reliable witness). According to Mr. Employee (I’ll call him “Em”), many classified are fearful of the Director, for, upon being approached, he at times becomes very angry: he transforms from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.
.....Further (says Em), Edwards retaliates against those who would dare criticize him: people like Em (a natural leader who was instrumental in drawing attention to problems with Wayne Ward).
.....Recently, Em, who has long worked the day shift, was placed by Edwards on swing (night) shift, despite Em’s protests.
.....Evidently as illustration of Edwards’ temperament, Em cited an alleged incident last year in which Edwards, who was on campus to attend a play, accosted a teenager and held him or touched him. (Such conduct, says Em, is officious. The Director should have left the matter to the campus police.) The kid reacted to Edwards by hitting him in the face, resulting in an injury that kept the Director home for several days.
.....At one point recently, Em approached the college President, asking that he address these difficulties with Director Edwards. But, it seems, the President has responded by simply backing Edwards.
.....--Well, that’s what I’ve been told. Naturally, Edwards likely takes a different view of these matters. I do hope we’ll have the opportunity to present that. For what it’s worth, I’ve always found Edwards to be friendly and approachable. I’ve never seen this alleged dark side.
.....But I’m not a classified employee.
.....Stay tuned. No doubt we’ll hear more about this.
.....We encourage your comments, but please refrain from name-calling. Be descriptive. Avoid conjecture or rumor-mongering or insult.
.....We certainly welcome—and hope to receive—remarks from Director Edwards’ defenders. And we do hope that this matter can be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.