socccd saga

The founders leaned distinctly to starboard
Regarding this sketch of SOCCCD history: it's lightan understatementon the events after the beginning period (roughly, 1967-1973) up to about 1996, the start of the period I'm most familiar with. To a degree, the gap is filled by SOCCCD headlines, which is extensive. Do check that out.
The best source for information about the early years of the district is Making History, from 2001. It's terrific.
Also there is considerable history to be found at our own College History.
Please note that I've added UPDATES at the end of this post.

"Hey, this looks like a good spot!"

In the late 60s, a community college district was established in ultraconservative southern Orange County, CA, a place hospitable to the likes of the John Birch Society.

1st Super., Jack Roper
bailed early
Local Republicans contrived to pack the initial board of trustees—which would be tasked with organizing and founding the college—with strong Republicans, several of whom had either run for office previously or held GOP leadership positions. A strong personality on this first board—and its president—was Hans Vogel, a war hero and successful businessman (with connections to higher education) who edited the county Republican newsletter. He had been an early appreciator of Ronald Reagan, having invited the fellow to events in Tustin long before Reagan attained office. When the district was created and Vogel became the chair of the board of trustees, Vogel used his connections to bring Reagan in for the Saddleback College dedication in 1968.

Rep. James B. Utt,
"Utt the Nut"
In a pattern to be repeated later, the first board was essentially of the "rogue" variety, proceeding with indifference to common practice, attempting to create a special zone of conservatism. For instance, trustees "resigned" from the California School Boards Association on the grounds that it would be "immoral" to give taxpayer money to a private organization that failed to represent all Californians (i.e., right-wing Californians). Evidently, the original board was disinclined to accept federal money. Unlike the rest of OC community colleges, Saddleback College imposed a dress code that forbade long hair on men--a situation that led to embarrassing criticism and litigation. (One original faculty speaks of "extreme regimentation.") When the plans for the new library were drawn, Vogel and other board trustees insisted on removing all windows from the planned structure owing to their fear of violent student protests—a phenomenon that, of course, never materialized. The board decided to name the new library after recently deceased Congressman James B. Utt, a veritable caricature of the right-wing paranoid of the time—a man who warned of "barefoot Africans" preparing to invade the U.S. under UN auspices and Chinese soldiers amassing at the Mexican border.

Clearly, there was considerable tension between faculty, as a group, and the initial board, owing to the latter's politics and politicization of the college. On the other hand, Vogel and the others supported high salaries, exploiting market principles to insure the best possible faculty—and faculty less liable to pursue administrative careers.

Among the board's decisions and policies that caused (unnecessary) turmoil and difficulty: rejection of federal money, the quarter system, a high school-style student dress code (resulting in litigation), a strict dress code for faculty, morning "flag salutes," inappropriate hiring criteria and actions, board clashes with CEOs, etc. Gradually, faculty gained in power and reversed much of this. (See especially Making History.)

The district has had various names during its 46-year history. During the initial planning stages, it was called the South Coast Junior College District. Starting in early 1967, it was called the Saddleback Junior College District. In 1970, it was renamed the Saddleback Community College District. Then, in 1997, it was finally named the South Orange County Community College District, which matched the name of the northernmost OC CC district (namely, the North Orange County Community College District).

The Saddleback Community College District at first comprised only Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, near San Juan Capistrano. Its “north” campus opened in Irvine in 1979 and later (1985) became the autonomous Irvine Valley College (IVC).

San Juan Capistrano, 1964
(For more about this early period, see our College History page. See also Making History, 2001--a series of interviews of early Saddleback College faculty. Coming soon: Making History, part 2, by Ana Maria Cobos.)

Young Tom Fuentes was a big fan of right-winger John Schmitz
Saddleback College, North Campus (1979)
In 1982, Larry Stevens was hired as Chancellor, and he proved to be a terrible autocrat. To get rid of him, the faculty union targeted his trustee supporters. The focus, then, was on the special election of late 1985.

That effort was successful. Trustees were replaced and Stevens was let go. It was a major victory for the faculty and the faculty union, some leaders of which were still feeling their oats in 1996, when the union took a disastrous turn, as explained in section 2 below.

The district grew and experienced the usual ups and downs and internal conflicts. Nothing too out of the ordinary, really. It had a pretty good reputation, I guess. Some called it the "jewel" of the CC system.

Now, we're skippin' to 1996, the era with which I am most familiar. To read more about the intervening years, go to HEADLINES, which covers events in the 80s—especially the Stevens Chancellorship—up through the present.

Saddleback Library construction, 1972-3
A might fortress is our Library (to better protect against students!)

By the mid-90s, a small crew of variously disgruntled, greedy, or ambitious faculty controlled the Faculty Association (the union) and its substantial war chest. Operating informally and in secret, the union leadership seemed to follow no rules; it failed to adopt valid bylaws; indeed, the FA wasn’t properly registered with CTA (the parent union) until 1997, when reform-minded faculty started to ask questions about their rogue union. (See Time for Pie)

The union of this era was stunningly corrupt, its leadership utterly unaccountable.

Sharon MacMillan,
Old Guard VP;
see video above
Some in this group saw themselves as thwarted and oppressed by real or imagined cabals at Saddleback or Irvine Valley colleges. Others sought specifically to maintain the district’s then-high salaries, especially for senior faculty, apparently at any cost. Others seemed interested in settling old scores against administrators and colleagues. A few had administrative ambitions. (Chemistry instructor Raghu Mathur was among this group. For a glimpse at his pre-administrative years, see Mathur is Censured for Lying) Some had committed remarkably unprofessional deeds and needed a powerful and corrupt union to protect them. (See The Character of the Opposition)

Toward securing such ends, the “Old Guard,” as it came to be known (at least among Dissenters), concentrated on a single objective: to control the seven-member, elected Board of Trustees (BOT), a body that directly or indirectly controlled virtually every aspect of the district and its colleges. (Today, the BOT oversees the expenditure of about $450 million in taxpayer dollars each year.)

Trustee Fuentes' Spanish Adventure, Part I
Trustee Fuentes' Spanish Adventure, Part II
3. 1996 TRUSTEES RACE: anything goes to protect "life as we know it"
     In 1996, owing to its decision to print and distribute a deceptive—and homophobic—campaign flier (the now-infamous "same-sex" flier), the Old Guard secured its objective. Dorothy Fortune (a right-leaning Democrat) won a seat, and John Williams and Steven Frogue were reelected. The union now controlled four of the seven trustees (Teddi Lorch, who was up for reelection in ’98, was the fourth trustee; she had been recruited by the union to replace a trustee who had died). And thus it was that, starting in December of ’96, the era of the conservative “Board Majority” began. The Board Majority, or “Board Four,” were conservative Republicans (Fortune evidently bailed on the Democratic Party) who, it appears, pursued the Old Guard’s narrow agenda (salaries, promotions, payback) in exchange for timely campaign support. While the “Board Minority” (Milchiker, Lang, and Hueter) watched in horror, the Board Four rammed through a series of changes that reflected predictable Old Guard desiderata plus their own benighted interests and agendas.  
IVC President Ron Kong (late 80s)
Sherry M-W: gettin'
homophobic to protect
"life as we know it"
     From the beginning, the Board Four pursued an assault on “shared governance” —a legislatively mandated upgrading of especially faculty involvement in governance at the community colleges. Key Old Guardsters, including notoriously conniving and ambitious chemistry instructor Raghu Mathur of IVC, were promoted. Despite lacking full-time administrative experience, Mathur was appointed IVC’s interim President in April of 1997. The move was justified on the basis of a thin anonymous petition that Mathur himself circulated. The Old Guard’s Mike Runyan and Ken Woodward were also given administrative roles, despite the Old Guard’s favored ad hominem against its critics—that they were administrative wannabes who “didn’t want to teach."
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
1997    5. LAW? HA!        From the start, the Board Majority brazenly flouted the law, especially as it concerned shared governance—by law, the board must delegate authority to faculty (the academic senate) in ten specified areas—and “open government.” California’s open meetings law, called the “Brown Act,” requires that all board discussion topics be publicly agendized in advance of board sessions and that closed sessions be restricted to a narrow range of topics. Mathur’s closed session appointment to the interim IVC Presidency in April of ’97 had not been agendized. IVC had adopted a governance structure—the so-called "chair model"—that gave to faculty (on a rotating basis) administrative responsibilities similar to those of deans. With the arrival of the Board Majority—and especially “President” Mathur—rumors began to fly that Mathur and the Board Four planned to eliminate the chair model in favor of a dean model. Deans, unlike faculty with tenure, lived from contract to contract. They are relatively easily intimidated or eliminated. To the Board Majority, "loyalty" to superiors was a paramount virtue. Some chairs at IVC had, in their view, had displayed disloyalty.
IVC c. 1979
6. THE INFAMOUS "REORG"        IVC faculty brought their concerns about the rumors to Mathur, who responded by assuring them that no such change would be contemplated, at least until faculty returned after the summer holidays. (This assurance was expressed in writing.) In fact, when Mathur offered these assurances, he had already instructed his Vice President of Instruction (VPI), Terry Burgess, to design a district reorganization that would eliminate chairs in favor of deans. (Source: various legal declarations.) Then, in mid-July, to the surprise of many, the Board Majority met in closed session and reorganized the district, eliminating faculty chairs at IVC and replacing them with Old Guard-targeted deans from Saddleback College. The reorganization closely followed the plan designed by Burgess under Mathur's direction. The “Reorg” eventually proved to be unworkable and expensive, requiring periodic restructuring, adding to a general sense of administrative instability. The situation was made worse by the low quality of many new administrative hires, some of whom managed to generate public relations nightmares, as when Dean Poindexter was involved in fracases and Dean Gensler was revealed to be pursuing The "Howard Hilton," an absurd $800 million complex, complete with Hilton Hotel, at IVC. The July 1997 Reorg, which occurred in closed session, again ran afoul of the Brown Act, which does not include “reorganization” as among allowable closed session topics. A few months later, in yet another violation of the Brown Act, Mathur was appointed permanent President of Irvine Valley College. In the days leading up to that action, Trustee John Williams attempted to broker a deal with Trustee Lang and the rest of the Board Minority—a clear and extreme violation of the open meetings law, which forbids secret communications between board members. During this period, two “Brown Act” lawsuits were filed by IVC philosophy instructor Roy Bauer, et al. So blatant were the violations that one judge spoke of the Board's "persistent and defiant misconduct." The district lost these suits and then lost the appeals.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
7. REFORMING THE UNION: SHELL GAME        Naturally, by mid-1997, many faculty were alarmed by the Board Majority's actions and its anti-faculty stance. It was clear to many that the Old Guard's control over the Faculty Association had to come to an end. The reform effort started eight months earlier, with a December ’96 letter to the California Teachers Association (CCA/CTA) that documented and expressed alarm at the local's actions during the trustees race and the failure of union leadership to be accountable to anyone, including membership. More than 100 full-time instructors signed that appeal for assistance. (For their own protection, part-timers were excluded.) CTA sent a "leadership team" to the district that eventually produced a report. With understated language, that report cited many of the local’s deficiencies and outrages. Even so, possibly owing to concerns over legal liability, the state union was disinclined to take strong actions against the existing leadership of one of its locals.
Curt McLendon,
Old Guard apologist
District faculty persisted in their efforts to wrest their union and its war chest from the secretive and unprincipled Old Guard. Reformers demanded copies of the union’s bylaws. The union leadership (Sherry Miller-White, et al.) refused to provide a copy, repeatedly explaining that the bylaws were undergoing editing or "clean-up." Reformers were elected by the members of their schools or divisions to serve as Reps. The union leadership refused to acknowledge the validity of those elections. Reform efforts were stymied. At one point, the union held an election, which yielded the victory of a crucial number of reformers. The union leadership responded by declaring the election void, owing to violations of election rules that it had itself committed. After two or three years of frustrating effort, reformers prevailed, but not before Old Guard leadership had expended union funds to secure the election victory of trustee candidates Don Wagner and Nancy Padberg—two Christian Right Republicans who were manifestly hostile to unionism and that were endorsed by an organization that authored a notoriously anti-union ballot proposition. (See The "board's unlikely secret allies": the union supports anti-unionists.)   [1992-2000]    8. THE ZANY-DISTURBING FROGUE YEARS
Steven J. Frogue:
what Holocaust?
     One of the Old Guard’s trustees, Steven Frogue, had weathered controversy in 1995. Numerous unassociated former students of Frogue's High School history classes alleged that he had denied the Holocaust and made racially insensitive remarks. (See Frogue defends himself against charge that he is a Holocaust denier.) Further, Frogue was an ardent fan of dubious conspiracy theories. In 1995, he used his trustee position as a platform to rail against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish civil rights organization that Frogue believed was involved in the assassination of JFK. At one point, Frogue praised the publications of a notorious Holocaust denial organization, the Institute For Historical Review, based in Orange County. (IHR had been founded by the notorious anti-Semite Willis Carto.) Throughout these controversies, the union leadership stuck by their man. By the fall of 1997, Frogue, then President of the Board, organized a "forum" at Saddleback College about the Warren Commission (i.e., the JFK assassination). The event involved inviting four speakers, some with ties to the anti-Semitic “Liberty Lobby.” Despite (Roy Bauer-instigated) warnings from a local ADL official that the forum’s guest speakers were unsavory characters or crackpots, the Board Four approved Frogue's forum and its guests. A few days later, the board's action was reported in the L.A. Times. Soon, throughout the country, people heard about the California community college that was providing a forum for conspiracy nuts and anti-Semites. Though Frogue eventually cancelled the forum, the fiasco revived concerns that he was anti-Semitic, and he soon became the target of a recall effort. (The lengthy recall effort ultimately failed, despite collecting a record-breaking number of petition signatories.) (See Hangin' with bigwig Republicans while Nazis hide in bushes.) Naturally, this controversy harmed the reputation of the district and its two colleges. Frogue's peculiar conduct didn't help. When groups of white supremacists and Holocaust deniers showed up at Board meetings to speak in Frogue's defense, Frogue did nothing to repudiate them or their views. (See Night of the Nazi and Nazis vs. JDL thugs: oh, what a night!)
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
Ray Chandos,
pal o' Mathur
The Board Majority were contemptuous of faculty and administrative warnings and advice, even with regard to the district's finances. Despite warnings from faculty, the Board allowed the district's reserves to fall below the state-required level. The State Chancellor's Office sent auditors to the district to examine its finances. Some board members responded by attempting to bully or intimidate them, resulting in further negative press. Ultimately, the State Chancellor's Office placed the district on its fiscal "watch list." At IVC, President Mathur illegally appointed a union crony (Ray Chandos) to edit the college’s accreditation self-study, a crucial part of the accreditation process. The resulting white-wash was so obvious that it attracted embarrassing media attention (LA Times, OC Register). Ultimately, the Accrediting agency saw through the attempted deceptions and dinged the district/colleges for administrative instability, the Board's violation of its own policies (in the case of administrative hires), and for trustee “micromanagement.” As in the case of the State Chancellor’s office and its efforts to audit the district, the Board Four seemed to respond to the Accrediting agency's efforts to evaluate the colleges and the district with defiance and hostility. At one point, the board enlisted the help of the Department of Education in going after the Accrediting agency. This effort at intimidation was successful.   LATE 1990s   10. 1ST AMENDMENT LAWSUITS
Carol Sobel,
1st Amend. attorney
     During this period, students at Irvine Valley College (Deb Burbridge and Delilah Snell) organized peaceful protests to dramatize their concern about college and district leadership and the threat that leadership posed to the institution’s accreditation. In response, Mathur and the Board severely restricted these protests. This led to a series of First Amendment lawsuits, which again attracted unwanted media attention. The district lost those lawsuits over the course of several years. (See Students sue district over 1st Amendment violations) Late in 1998, IVC philosophy instructor Roy Bauer, the petitioner in the successful Brown Act lawsuits—and the editor of an Old Guard/Board Majority-bashing district newsletter called “Dissent”—was called into the Chancellor’s office and advised that, based on the content of the newsletter, he had violated the district’s “workplace violence” and “discrimination” policies. Bauer was ordered to seek “anger management” counseling. (See Roy Bauer's 1st Amendment battles) (For an account of this episdode, see District goes after Bauer. The Board Four/Old Guard era has many parallels with the current Bush Administration, doncha think? See also "The Unabauer Manifesto" in OC Weekly, April 1999.)) Clearly, the action was the first step in an effort to fire the instructor. The charges against Bauer were patently absurd. Represented by attorney Carol Sobel (who also represented the students), Bauer filed a 1st Amendment lawsuit in Federal Court. The first judge to handle the case described the district’s action against Bauer as “Orwellian.” Eventually, the case came before Judge Gary Feess, who ruled heavily in Bauer's favor. The district appealed, but, in the end, Bauer prevailed. (See One gadfly, one gadfly swatter) (Regarding student 1st Amendment lawsuits, see Students sue district) (For another instance of Mathur/Board going after a perceived faculty critic, read Mathur goes after Jeff for "naming a greenhouse.") (For an article concerning the Old Guard’s brief attempt to counter Dissent with it’s own publication, see The Anti-Dissent.)
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
Above: DtB YouTube video edited by R. Bauer
Armando Ruiz; scraped
from the bottom
     The controversies did not end there. Mathur and the Board Four attracted a good deal of further adverse attention, owing to various absurd actions and policies. At one point, Mathur (through one of his underlings, who later achieved infamy for pension double-dipping) ordered faculty to remove all signs and graphics from their office doors and windows. The move was justified on aesthetic grounds, but it was clear that Mathur objected to signage that was critical of his leadership and the leadership of the BOT. At the start of the Iraq war, an IVC administrator (VPI Dennis White) ordered faculty to cease discussing the conflict in the classroom. In a memo to deans, he wrote:
Dennis White;
no "war talk"
It has come to my attention that several faculty members have been discussing the current war within … their classrooms. We need to be sure that faculty do not explore this activity within … their classroom unless it can be demonstrated, to the satisfaction of this office, that such discussions are directly related to the approved instructional requirements … associated with those classes … College personnel are … encouraged to explore their views … outside … the classroom. Again, however, the exploration of those reviews [sic] within … the classroom is professionally inappropriate… This action attracted national attention and caused considerable embarrassment. For the whole ridiculous story, see IVC Faculty prohibited from discussing the war   MATHUR SUES "DISSENT"       Bauer’s newsletter reported Mathur’s various misdeeds, including his violation of a student’s privacy rights in the mid-90s. Mathur responded by suing Bauer and Mathur’s one-time VPI for violating Mathur’s privacy by reporting his misdeeds! Appealing to California’s anti-SLAPP legislation (which is designed to protect whistle-blowers and the like from deep-pocketed entities who have the capacity to burden critics with endless litigation), Bauer counter-sued and prevailed. Mathur was required to pay out $35,000 in attorney fees for Bauer and the former administrator. Mathur then sued the district on the grounds that it failed to protect him. The district awarded Mathur money to cover much of his legal expenses. Teddi Lorch retired from the board in 1998 amidst rumors that she coveted the district’s chief Human Relations job. She later applied for that job but was rejected (Chancellor Sampson held her in low esteem). She sued the district for discrimination. The district settled by awarding her the job. She has it still. 2000—2012: THE FUENTES ERA  (The dirty dozen) 12. ENTER FUENTES, STAGE RIGHT
Tom "GOP" Fuentes
ruthless, dark
By 2000, it appeared that Frogue might not win reelection, and so he resigned from the board. That provided the Board Majority (which, at that time, included John Williams, Don Wagner, Nancy Padberg, and Dorothy Fortune) an opportunity to hand-pick Frogue’s replacement. To the surprise of many, the board chose Tom Fuentes, the long-time chair of Orange County's Republican Party, and the controversial leader of its ultra-conservative wing. Several Old Guard unionists came to board meetings to speak in support of Fuentes candidacy, despite Fuentes’ politics, which were manifestly hostile to unionism, especially unionism in the public schools. There are indications that, during the prior May, Mathur had met with Fuentes. Mathur and Fuentes share a reputation for wily and ruthless machinations. 13. PENNY-PINCHING, FACULTY-DEMONIZING CONSERVATISM ARRIVES         Naturally, as an incumbent, Fuentes sailed to victory during the 2000 election, and thus the Board Majority, five members strong, settled into an even more conservative era, one that was characterized by a hostility to faculty and a desire to reduce faculty benefits/salaries. Fuentes and Wagner emerged as the dominant figures on the board, and they made no secret of their anti-union politics. At one point, during a TV interview, Trustee Fuentes falsely asserted that faculty have a "36-hour workweek" and are paid on average "$100,000" per year. By 2002, President Mathur had experienced two faculty votes of “no confidence,” the last one involving 90% of voting full-time faculty. When the Chancellorship became vacant, Mathur got the job, despite his having recently sued the district. Faculty at IVC were horrified, but they also believed that, eventually, Saddleback faculty (and staff) would recognize Mathur’s ruthlessness, his incompetence, and his willingness to do anything that his “bosses” ordered him to do. (Alas, it didn't work out that way.)
Above: DtB YouTube video edited by R. Bauer
14. MATHUR'S ILLEGAL FACULTY HIRING POLICY        In 2003, Mathur pursued development of a new faculty hiring policy. He did so without informing the faculty, despite the law, which clearly states that faculty hiring policies must be agreed upon mutually by the district (i.e., Mathur and the Board) and faculty (i.e., the two academic senates). The resulting policy, which was approved by the board over vociferous faculty objections, meant a radical increase in administrative power during the hiring process. Further, it included provisions that allowed administration to punish faculty search committee members for unusual scoring of applicants.
Chanc. Larry Stevens;
hated by faculty (80s)
This particular outrage caused the district’s two academic senates to strongly unify. In an unprecedented step, the senates sued the district. Unsurprisingly, Judge Clay Smith ruled that the district had violated the law when it failed to include faculty in the development of the hiring policy. (See "How rude are you!": the senates sue the district) When, at the instruction of Judge Smith, Mathur started the development process anew, this time with faculty representation, the result was yet another faculty-unfriendly policy, which was again adopted by the board over strenuous faculty objections. This time, Smith ruled that the policy was indeed mutually agreed upon, since faculty were on the committee that produced it. (Their voices were overridden.) The faculty senates appealed the decision. In the meantime, district instructors held a vote of confidence/no confidence in Mathur (in 2004), which resulted in 93.5% "no confidence." It was clear that virtually no faculty were willing to be “led” by Mathur. In 2005, the appellate trio made its decision regarding the “hiring policy” case. It unanimously and strongly sided with faculty, and so the hiring policy was again voided. The district pursued its remaining avenues, but these were unsuccessful. 15. FORTUNE TAKES A POWDER, JAY TAKES A SEAT, PADBERG WISES UP
Howard Ahmanson;
right-wing loon
In 2003, rumors flew that Trustee Fortune no longer resided in Orange County. Faced with increasing scrutiny, she resigned from the Board. The Board Majority then attempted what it had achieved in 2000—handpicking a replacement. This time, faculty, especially the reformed union leadership, employed the law to force a special election. The controversy concerning the Board’s political gamesmanship drove away the Majority’s choice (the brother of a local right-wing politico), and thus it was that Bill Jay, the union’s candidate, became Fortune’s trustee replacement. That meant that the Majority was back to four members. But, by this time, it was no longer clear that Nancy Padberg was aligned with the other three. For whatever reason, she had come to despise Mathur. As a decision concerning the renewal of Mathur's contract neared, it appeared that Mathur had only three trustees in his corner (Williams, Wagner, and Fuentes).
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
Dave Lang;
     The district’s two colleges underwent yet another Accreditation process that ended in 2004. In January of 2005, the Accrediting agency reaccredited the two colleges, but it did so in the least favorable terms (the lowest of four possible). According to the Accreditors, the colleges suffered from administrative chaos, trustee micromanagement, and a “plague of despair.” SC was also dinged for the district's executive hiring policy, which, as usual, left constituency groups such as faculty out in the cold. The two colleges were required to produce a “progress report” within a year. Both colleges seemed to make a good faith effort to respond to the Accrediting team’s recommendations, but, at the district level, it was difficult to see how Mathur and the Board were responding to the agency’s recommendations. By late 2005, the colleges submitted their progress reports to the Accrediting agency. The IVC report referred to the despair engendered by the Board’s action, in mid-2005, not only to renew Mathur’s contract, but to grant him a raise. Mathur now enjoys a salary of close to a quarter million dollars a year. It came as a shock to many of his faculty supporters that Lang had switched sides and now supported Mathur. (In time, it became clear that he had switched sides--and had sold out his faculty supporters--in exchange for the "support" of GOP chief Fuentes in his efforts to become OC Treasurer.) At time of writing, the two colleges await the Accrediting agency’s response to the progress reports. Reportedly, Board President Lang is pessimistic about the Agency’s pending response….   17. TRUSTEE FUENTES' SPANISH ADVENTURE      Among the more entertaining of the numerous episodes of district folly was Trustee Fuentes' early 2005 action (with support from his conservative colleagues) not to approve Saddleback College's highly popular summer Study Abroad program to Santander, Spain. By why? Explained Fuentes: "Many of our students in this college, and of its sister college Saddleback and Irvine, past and future today, fight on the battlefield of Iraq under the flag that is behind us. Spain has abandoned our fighting men and women, withdrawing their support. I see no reason to send the students of our colleges to Spain at this moment in history." (February 2005 meeting of BOT) I videotaped these remarks. The next morning, I brought the video to the Register, which made it available on its website, accompanying a story about Fuentes' bizaarre action. To make a long story short (for the whole story, see Trustee Fuentes' Spanish Adventure), Fuentes' action (plus rationale) was widely ridiculed and condemned—it was briefly a national and even an international story, inspiring commentary even by Spanish officials—and yet another embarrassing chapter of the troubled SOCCCD was born. As the story mushroomed, Fuentes soon backpedaled, claiming, implausibly, that his "abandoning us" rationale for nixing the study-abroad program was a minor consideration among several. (Read his comments again.) (To be fair, none of his colleagues who supported non-approval mentioned Spain's withdrawal from Iraq; only Fuentes had made that point, though, clearly, it was an important point for Fuentes. See the video.) In the end, the board reversed its decision, and the Study Abroad trip occurred without incident.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
Babs Beno;
accred queen
APRIL, 2006:         The Accreditors smacked the two colleges but good, especially with regard to trustee micromanagement and the climate of "despair" at the two colleges. In the early months of 2006, some trustees—most obviously Tom Fuentes—were defiant re the Accreditors' recommendations. At board meetings, Mr. Fuentes opined that the problem with the district was not so much trustee micromanagement as faculty "macromanagement." Further, in private conversation, Fuentes has stated that he regards the Accreditors' reports as in reality authored by the district faculty. Evidently, Mr. Fuentes, like Mr. Frogue whom he replaced, is a fan of daft conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, trustee Wagner, who is politically ambitious (he has run for a seat in the California Assembly), has pursued an agenda as trustee that seems designed to please the right wing, as when he sought (successfully) to cease the two colleges' memberships in the liberal American Library Association, calling the organization a bunch of "liberal busybodies." (See "Liberal Busybodies": Wagner takes aim at the American Library Association) Chancellor Mathur for a time seemed to make a real effort to turn a new leaf and respect faculty and other constituency groups. By April, however, he seemed suddenly to return to the old Raghu, blaming others for the district's problems.
John "Brown Boy"
EARLY 2007 UPDATE, FEBRUARY, 2007:         Each college recently heard from the Accreds. Each has once again been directed to prepare a progress report on the same unmet recommendations (including board micromanagement). Each report is due in October. Surprisingly, the action by ACCJC re Saddleback College was harsher, for submission of that report will be followed by a site visit. The IVC report was generally very favorable as far as the college operations and climate are concerned. The problem: essentially, the usual trustee/Chancellor issues. The problem, of course, is that the colleges are in no position to cease board and chancellor micromanagement. It's a flaw in the Accred system. The Saddleback College report seemed to go out of its way to ding the faculty leadership for fostering a culture of discord. In the end, though, the Accred team left the buck sitting on the trustees' desk. (See conclusion re rec. 6.) One wonders whether these colleges will be writing progress reports ad infinitum. Well, that's one solution, I guess, though it's just gonna piss off faculty, who have to write the damned things. —CW, Trabuco Canyon   SUMMER 2007 UPDATE, JULY, 2007:
Fred Bremer
     Let's see. The Board and Raghu seem to have settled into a period of relative indifference to the Accrediting agency's concerns. They are aware, of course, that the Accreds are too whimpy really to spank the colleges hard, for as long as the fundamentals are sound. Mathur has increased his micromanaging—butting his nose into each college president's business, apparently on a near-daily basis. The presidents have been pushing back, and so they both appear to be doomed. But who knows. In the Spring, Cely Mora's long-awaited "discrimination" trial occurred, and, in the end, Mathur prevailed. Mathur petitioned to have Mora pay for his defense (which was provided by the taxpayer), but the judge turned that down. Nothing unusual there. In the course of the trial, it was revealed just how unprofessional and dishonest Raghu can be, at least in the case of administrative hires. (See Stunning testimony.) In the hire of Rodney Poindexter (who was eventually fired amid accusations of violence on his part), Mathur disregarded the search committee's judgment and brought Poindexter into the final interviews. None of the letters justified the notion that Poindexter was sufficiently experienced--although, according to Mathur, there was a further reference that did offer that evidence, only it has somehow been lost. (See Reference Check.) The jury didn't look like much. One juror slept through much of the trial (saw that with my own eyes more than once). Two jurors (apparently) wrote to this blog, revealing qualities that were, well, worrisome, especially for jurors. As I write (July), the board is poised to renew and extend Mathur's contract yet again. UPDATE: JANUARY 23, 2007:          Yup, that's just what it did. On a 4 to 2 vote (with Milchiker absent), the board (Williams, Fuentes, Lang, Wagner) approved a 4-year contract with COLAs. Padberg and Jay dissented. The matter had evidently been decided during the previous Thursday's "special" meeting, which concerned an ongoing evaluation of the Chancellor.
Above: DtB xtranormal "movie" by R. Bauer
John "Orlando"
     With the seven trustees, Chancellor's Mathur's stock appears to be lower than it's been for a long time. Everybody's got his number, it seems, but three or four trustees continue to have a reason to retain him as Chancellor—including this daffy one: maintaining stability during a period in which major changes on the board are expected. During the summer, Mathur's contract was extended for four years, although he can be canned at any time (with 45 days notice?), with a six month buy-out. The qualification is important, I think. Paying out half his yearly pay to get rid of him could easily seem like a sweet deal, were the IQ wattage of the board to move slightly upward. During the August board meeting, the majority (i.e., Wagner, Fuentes, Lang, Williams) produced an ugly accusatory Accred Response (poorly documented to boot) at the eleventh hour. Mathur declared that it is to be "incorporated" into the existing drafts of the reports that are owed to the Accrediting commission in October. The move causes confusion and consternation. In truth, the existing reports (composed as per regulations and completed) are designed to get the Accreds off our backs. The inclusion of these new elements, if that ultimately occurs, will likely inspire the Accreds to require yet another progress report, after October. The Board Majority don't care. They're flipping the finger at the Accreds and at faculty. Meanwhile, our colleges' accreditation is in no real jeopardy. Rumors abound that the board will undergo many changes between now and December (or later?). Is Trustee Fuentes too ill to continue? Are Trustees Jay and Lang sick and tired of the gig? Could be. Lang, Jay, Fuentes, and Williams will be up for reelection in one year. But watch for the ol' "resignation and temporary appointment" ploy. It worked well for the majority in the summer of 2000 (Fuentes replaced Frogue). It did not work so well when they replaced Dot "Don't live here no mo'" Fortune (the board got caught breaking the rules, and we ended up with union-pal Bill Jay). Looks like it's up to the FA (union) to strategize effectively to counter Board Majority machinations. OMG! UPDATE Late September, '07:
Don "Mad Dog"
     On the board, things hit a new low at the Sept. meeting of the BOT. Mathur is manifestly partisan in favor of the Board Majority (Lang, Williams, Wagner, Fuentes) and is now obviously doing their bidding by, among other things, taking steps to keep the Minority (Milchiker, Padberg, Jay) out of the loop in board projects. Indeed, at that meeting, Milchiker reveals that, in February, Mathur acted to undo the mechanism whereby college emails are sent to the trustees, effectively keeping some trustees "in the dark," as Marcia puts it, about important college meetings. More importantly, at this meeting, the Majority pushes through revisions of the two colleges' Accreditation Midterm Reports that weave the Majority's inflammatory and incompetent "response" into the colleges' drafts--in essence, changing those drafts. They approve the revisions on a 4/3 vote. Expect faculty writers of these reports to refuse to sign off on the grounds that their writings have essentially been changed. It's an ungodly mess created largely by Mathur's ruthlessness and Lang's incompetence. It seems likely that everyone would have been happy had the district response simply been inserted in the report as the Board Majority's perspective.
Above: DtB xtranormal "movie" by R. Bauer
UPDATE (October 13, 2007): WHENCE RESPONSE?            Good grief. Mathur managed to turn the Focused Midterm Reports episode into an absurd drama that will only make him and his patrons look bad. After enduring endless feints and other shenanigans, the college Accred writers were allowed to insert factual language, explaining how the Chancellor/District "response" was inserted into the Reports. They even included links to the district website and its board meeting video. At the last minute, Mathur tried to delete that (the Commissioners mustn't look at what board discussions are really like!). But the Senate leaders drew a line in the sand. Mathur even tried to impose a bit of revisionism: he wanted the college writers' Whence Response? to say that the college presidents, not Goo, instructed the colleges to incorporate the response. The man is unbelievable. What a liar! So, now, the reports are sent, and God only knows what the Commissioners will do. They meet in January. My guess is that they'll spank us hard. If the colleges/faculty had been allowed to turn in their original drafts (pre-Response insertion), then we'd be whistling a happy tune, Accredwise. But no.
THE 50% LAW.          The district has been forced to cough up the data, and the data make clear that Mathur was lying when he said that the dip below 50% was only discovered "last month." In fact, the percentage has been steadily declining for years, and, each year, the district must sign a document with the "instructional percentage" figure clearly indicated.
     God, he's a liar! But it gets worse. Turns out that Mathur's efforts to build his Mt. Rushmore in Tustin--lavishing big bucks on ATEP, almost all of it spent on the non-instrucitonal--means that, for 2007-08, the district will be at about 46%! (This is the district's projection, not mine.) It is already clear that Mathur will try to pin this problem on faculty and on such bugaboos as "reassigned time." But the data suggest that RT has nothing to do with this. The problem is that Mathur threw money at ATEP without being mindful of the 50% Law. The cost of RT is chump change compared to the $5 million he's spending on ATEP this year (only 5% of it instructional!). One more thing: I keep hearing that the City of Tustin is unhappy with Mathur's grand plans for ATEP--i.e., the "Camelot" version of ATEP. If the city is unhappy, then, boy are we screwed. If they don't sign off--well, heads will roll. Mathur's turning out to be quite the disaster. Why don't they fire him? Now doubt, they'll give him cash prizes.   UPDATE (February '08):          The Dept. of Education has placed great pressure on WASC (and thus ACCJC) to mean business with their standards and to stick to the period of correction (of problems) of two years. And so, in the Accred letters sent late January, each college was told that, unless it finally overcomes the long-standing problems (trustee micromanagement, a plague of despair, administrative instability, etc.), its accreditation would be pulled. Wow.
Above: DtB xtranormal "movie" by R. Bauer
UPDATE (June '08):      Saddleback College has been oddly quiet (complacent?) re their accreditation problem (its report to the Accreds is due in October). I'm told that their Accreditation task force, which includes trustee Dave Lang, doesn't even have faculty representation. Good grief.
Trustee Marcia Milchiker:
"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
     Meanwhile, IVC has approached its parallel accreditation issue with great seriousness and industry. Its focus group, which includes a cooperative Don Wagner (President of the Board), meets every two weeks or so. It has wide representation (faculty participate in a manner that honors the existing "work to contract"). The group even gave a fine (and well-attended) presentation of its work at an all-college meeting at the end of April. It appears that the ACCJC has brought it about that someone will visit our colleges/district to scope things out. Mathur is insisting on calling this person a "consultant," but that's just obfuscation. The visitor is liable to finally arrive (the original guy was delayed by an emergency) some time this summer, which is unfortunate, since the colleges are virtual ghost towns. Re our looming and inevitable violation of the 50% Law: we've heard almost nothing about it for some time. (I'm told that a delegation went up to the state to plead for leniency and whatnot, but that profited them nothing.) Late in the Spring, the Faculty Association, unhappy with the district's failure to bargain the contract in good faith, called for a "work to contract," which ended up affecting the massive (and absurd) effort to hire 35 or 40 new full-time faculty (a ploy to bring instructional costs up to the 50% mark). But, owing to the usual union SNAFU, the WTC affected IVC much more than Saddleback and thus caused tensions among faculty. We seem to be getting past that now though. (Essentially, owing to fortuities, the hires turned out OK, even at IVC.)
Nancy Padberg; fired
by Williams at County
     No contract yet. There is no way, of course, to approve a contract during summer anyway, owing to the usual faculty diaspora. Our 50% situation clearly calls for serious salary increases (our salaries do not compare well with those of faculty at contiguous districts), but this board just will not go there. There's been quite an administrative exodus of late, adding no doubt to "administrative instability"—one of the Accreds' worries. VC Andreea Serban bolted for the President job back in Santa Barbara (she'd only been on the job for two years). ATEP Provost Bob Kopecky was essentially canned—no doubt made a scapegoat by the wily Mathur. (He'll return as faculty in the Fall.) VC Bob King left for greener pastures. Several IVC deans left in the course of the Fall and Spring (Feldhus, Cooper, Corum, et al.). Essentially, IVC is experiencing deanlessness. It's amazing. No doubt I've left somebody out. Whatever. Board President Don Wagner really stepped in it at the recent Saddleback College "scholarship" event, where, in the minds of many observers (including some doners), he "politicized" the occasion by lecturing in defense of prayer. Evidently, he had received a missive from a "church/state separation" organization suggesting that prayer at college/district events is inappropriate, and so he felt the need to rebut. Don seems to lack self-control.
     Someone posted Don's scholarship remarks on YouTube, and then the shit hit the fan. At the May board meeting, Nancy Padberg opined that Don should apologize; she challenged him to make up the loss in moola after the exodus of doners. (Don't know how many, if any, doners are actually bolting.) Lots of community members came to carp at 'im. He responded with defiance. Wrong move, Don. Don doesn't apologize. He doesn't recognize his mistakes. Still, I like 'im. Trustee Tom Fuentes, who has liver cancer, received a liver transplant—which surprised everyone, since he was quite obviously a poor candidate (owing to his age, diabetes, etc.). People have muttered their suspicions in the hallway, but that's all. But I don't buy it. I'm sure the Lord intervened on Tom's behalf, owing to the fellow's manifest goodness.
Old Guardster: several
bricks shy of a load
     The Faculty Association (union) is gearing up for the November election, at which time they hope to unseat Lang and Fuentes (Bill Jay is a friend, and John Williams has supported faculty with regard to the contract). Late in Spring, the FA held a lunch at the Spectrum at which time its candidates spoke and spoke well. Amazingly, the board continues to support Mathur, despite the ample reasons to can him. Mathur, of course, committed the massive "50%" blunder and is heavily implicated in our accreditation woes (which are grave). It is by no means obvious that both colleges will have their accreditation renewed in early 2009. If you suppose otherwise, you're just not paying attention. Leaving aside IVC's Wendy Gabriella and her crew, faculty leadership seems to be disintegrating--no big deal: faculty effectiveness historically waxes and wanes. It seems that, at Saddleback College, faculty have collapsed into consternation and despair. Am I wrong? On the up side: the weather's been nice, and some of us our flourishing. I sense no great despair at IVC, though it may exist in buckets at the administrative level. Dissent the Blog is flourishing and growing in stature. Trivia, I know, but true nonetheless. UPDATE, August 31, 2008:      The IVC Accreditation focus group has done great work. Meanwhile, Saddleback's focus group has done virtually nothing. When Saddleback College's new Academic Senate President, Bob Cosgrove, returned from a vacation in late July, he found a disaster in the making, and hair was immediately set on fire. Consequently, Saddlebackians have made a huge effort to finally get their act together. SLOs have been written, etc. Everybody down there is starting to seem terribly pleased with themselves. We're all beginning to relax about this accreditation crisis. Whew!
Old Guardster,
Bob Kopfstein
     Meanwhile, Mathur seems to be more despised than ever. Administrators barely hide their contempt for the fellow. Things seem so bad that his Chancellorhood seems almost titular, ceremonial--yet pungently sulfurous. Ghastly. Meanwhile, enrollments and FTES are way up, especially at IVC. Why? That's hard to say. We don't yet know how widespread the phenomenon is. Tom Fuentes, still recovering from liver transplant surgery and a bile top-off, has been making a great show of his regained health and vitality. He's held another Balboa Bay Club fundraiser, with the usual dark and moneyed suspects. What's he need all that money for?
     He's an incumbent, for Chrissake. Well, you know Tom. He's planning to destroy someone. The other day, a well-known county Democrat called me to ask about this and that. At one point, she commented on Fuentes' poor health. I told her, "Fuentes is the kind of guy who's kept alive by evil." She thought that was awfully funny. But I wasn't kidding. UPDATE: December, 2008:
Dot Fortune;
live 'round here?
     Hmmm, doesn't look too good. The faculty union bit off more than it could chew and came away with nothing in the trustee election of 2008. Jay and Williams, as essentially unchallenged incumbents, were reelected handily. The union's candidate came close to unseating Lang, and Bliss did surprisingly well against Fuentes. But Lang and Fuentes are with us for another four years. Merde! Early in December, the board held its annual "organizational meeting" and rolled over the existing leadership (i.e., Wagner continues as board President, etc.). Gosh, what else has happened? Both colleges seem to be sailing toward Accreditation success in January, but who knows. The board is pissed at faculty right now owing to union leadership's demands (contract negotiations) and the Academic Senate's push for much more reassigned time. This has made Mathur look good to the board again. By November, Mathur had returned to his old habit of wagging his finger at people--mostly faculty, it seems. He commenced his new practice of insisting that the future looks bleak and things need to change. He says this as though he were correcting and warning recalcitrant children. Observers are, of course, appalled. Morale seems to be at a new low. Mathur seems to have no allies, aside from four board members, all of whom--save Fuentes--probably detest him.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
UPDATE: JANUARY 23, 2009      During a closed board session in December, trustees took some sort of preliminary vote of the Faculty Association's contract proposal and, evidently, a majority voted affirmatively. Fuentes then decided to obliterate the situation by sliming Williams and Padberg with demagoguery: he got his pal Steve Greenhut (OC Punch) to complain that Williams is no conservative what with his pro-union vote; then he went after Padberg, too. Eventually, the OC Reg editorialized to that effect. Next thing we knew, the union was pursuing damage control by asking that the "contract" item for the Jan. 20 board meeting be pulled, and that's what happened. The turning point 
 Circa Fall, 2009
     Miss Zendy had ambitions. She was the California community college system's most celebrated Academic Senate President, a David who slew Goliath. But she wanted to go into administration. Just think what she could do there? So Dom said, “you need to make peace with The Fountain.”
     “Yes,” said Dom. That’s my advice to you.”      Dom had been working with Miss Zendy on a committee for months. He realized that she was smart, hard working, and sincere. He liked her and wanted to help her.
     And so the day came and Dom, The Fountain, and Miss Zendy met.       It was horrible. The F-ster commenced berating her. He accused her of things. She was, he charged, the reason that he had to spend money on his reelection as trustee. Imagine!
     Of course, that wasn’t true at all. It had been the union, not the Academic Senate, that targeted The Fountain for moneyed pushback, and no wonder. But the Old Boss, an inveterate ideologue, could only see faculty the way he had always seen them—as union featherbedders and deadbeats. And, as far as he was concerned, there wasn’t a nickel’s worth of difference between the senate and the union. They formed one lazy, un-American unity. They were the enemy. 
     Dom must have been horrified, but he said little. Miss Zendy took it. The assault continued. Finally, The Fountain said, “for as long as you’re in this district, you won’t be going anywhere—unless you agree to be mentored by me.”
     The Fountain was, of course, famous for his embrace of “mentorship.” Some of his mentoring, of course, raised eyebrows, occurring, as it sometimes did, in the sauna down at the Balboa Bay Club and similarly odd locales.
     The mentees were generally vibrant young men. He liked to buy clothes for them, take them to fancy dinners, and so on. No doubt, from the perspective of The Fountain, he was making a great exception here, a terrible sacrifice, offering to take on—well, a woman
     Miss Zendy did not appreciate that sacrifice. She merely felt assaulted. Eventually, she broke into tears. And she almost never cries. “Crying,” she likes to say, “is stupid.”
     But cry she did. And the tears kept coming. (I’ve seen this; it is a terrible thing.) She excused herself, went to the ladies’ restroom. She called a friend. “Say something about how it’s a nice day,” she sniveled. “Please say something nice.” She returned to the meeting and then excused herself, saying to The Fountain, “It’s been great meeting with you.”
     She walked straight out of the building and to her car. Shaky, she made her way home. Her cell phone rang again and again, but she ignored it. She ignored it for hours.
     “I am so very sorry,” said Dom, over the phone, hours later.
* * *
Circa October 2009
     So, when the time came, Miss Zendy applied for the new dean position. But then a big problem arose from out of nowhere.
     It was Gu Blathur, the Chance. The fellow hated Miss Zendy going way back. No doubt there were a small handful of faculty for which Blathur reserved his most intense hatreds. I’m sure that I was on that short list. (Still am.)
     And so was Miss Zendy.
     The Chance had called HR. He told a classified employee there—a Miss Toby—that applicants for the new IVC dean position must have the right degrees, and JDs are not the right kind. “But I think they are,” she said. “No, you will not accept applicants with only JD degrees,” he instructed her.
     And so she did as she was told. Naturally, Miss Zendy discovered that her application had been rejected. She found out why. She immediately made some phone calls. They led to a phone call to Dom.
     Dom was surprised. How could this be? Dom himself had a JD degree (i.e., he was an attorney). How could it be that someone with hisdegree was not qualified for a deanship at IVC? Surely there was some kind of misunderstanding here.
     He called HR and talked with Miss Toby. “Is it true that you are rejecting candidates with JD degrees?” “Yes,” she said. “But why?” “Those were the instructions I received.” “From whom?” “From the Chance.”
     Dom immediately went to Blathur. “Is it true,” he asked, “that you instructed HR to reject any applications for the dean position from applicants with JD degrees?” Blathur had been in such spots before. He knew what to do, of course.
     “Of course not!” he said. “Why would I do something like that?”
     It was clear, of course, that Blathur was simply lying. Why would Miss Toby make this story up? Blathur had been caught red handed, and he was going to handle it in his usual way. Baldface lying.
     Blathur had plainly lied in the face of the Dom. That was the beginning of the end for Blathur.
     Dom called Miss Zendy. “I don’t understand what’s going on here,” he said. “You are now in the loop,” she said. “Many of us have experienced Blathur’s lies and manipulations. And now so have you.”
     Miss Zendy had been among the perennial chorus of Blathur detractors. They had annoyed Dom. Dom had always blown that stuff off. 
     He had been dead wrong. Blathur, it turned out, was exactly what his enemies said he was. Now, Dom was furious.
     He went to The Fountain. “Your boy Blathur instructed HR to reject applicants for the dean position if they have a JD degree,” he said. “Obviously, a JD degree should be sufficient!” But The Fountain was prepared. He simply disagreed with Dom’s assessment. The Chance, said The Fountain, was in the right. “You mean to tell me,” said Dom, “that I am not qualified for that silly dean position at IVC?” “No Dom,” said The Fuentes, “you are not qualified.” He was standing by his boy and he was dissing Dom and his JD.
     That was simply too much for Dom. Soon, he and The Fountain, the Boss Man, commenced screaming at each other. They nearly came to blows.
     There was no turning back now. Though Dom was smack dab in the middle of his big shot at the State Assembly—The Fountain was his campaign advisor—he was now going to sink that bastard Gu Blathur come hell or high water. If it meant going against the Big Boss Man, Mr. G.O.P., then so be it. It was going to be hard, very hard. But he would do what he had to do. (And, of course, he succeeded.)
     It was upon this point—this clash over the adequacy of the JD for a deanship and Blathur’s lie—that the destiny of the SOCCCCD turned. On this point, the board majority shifted against Blather and The Fountain.       Now, nothing would ever be the same again.
     Never, ever.UPDATE, JANUARY 31, 2009:      
Former Old Guardster
Ken Woodward
     The Accred letters were supposed to be faxed Friday morning (yesterday), but, somehow, that didn't happen. The ACCJC evidently explained to the college(s) that the letter(s) will be faxed to campus on Monday. What's that all about? Lots of rumors re the letters' content, but none to be taken seriously, I think. Still no word on the faculty contract. At this point, especially given the economic downturn, many faculty (or at least some--those with whom I speak) would be happy to get the 5% COLA and kiss the rest goodbye. But who knows what the union leadership is thinking or doing. Mathur continues to act like an asshole. We're moving closer to the "big day" for ATEP--that is, the City of Tustin's imminent rejection of our performance and direction (this concerns the "conveyance document" or some such thing). Naturally, Mathur acts as though it's smooth sailing. Meanwhile, he seems to be doing everything possible to build up ATEP simplex--so that we can say, "See, we're really moving along out here! There's so much momentum!" No doubt we'll be singing that tune to a judge by summer. Who knows what Monday will bring. Good news, I think, for the colleges.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
UPDATE:  July, 2012      Padberg: conservative, but generally goes along with the board core. At present, she is the chair, but the board has no real leader. Milchiker: generally reasonable though at times a bit of a loose cannon. If the board has a "left" (keep in mind that all members, save perhaps Prendergast, are Republicans), it might be Milchiker/Prendergast, though Jay, an old unionist, generally goes along. This group does not seem to be hostile to Padberg, despite some obvious ideological differences. Lang: since about 2005, Lang, a former moderate/liberal, has been under the thumb of Tom Fuentes, his mentor/patron. He's exhibited no change of direction now that Fuentes is gone. Meldau: intelligent, seemingly moderate, reasonable. A strong trustee, though perhaps not from the perspective of the union. Prendergast: seems reasonable though not as tied to the union perspective as one might suppose, given his background. Generally goes along with the moderate middle of the board. Jay: old-fashioned and conservative, and yet a unionist. Generally reliable, though not always focused. Occasionally comes alive, his wits intact. Wright: promises to be an outstanding trustee. He was not bashful on his first night on the job. Seems reasonable, so far. I have high hopes.     The election of 2012: Here's who's up (or not) for reelection: Padberg: not Milchiker: not Lang: YES Meldau: YES Jay: YES Wright: YES Prendergast: not It is hoped that Meldau and Wright will seek reelection (seems likely). Don't know what Jay has in mind, given his iffy health. And Lang? SEE:
     Recently, Thomas Fuentes died after a very lengthy battle with cancer. In a fourteen or fifteen month period, Fuentes had attended only one meeting. He had no intention of resigning. Upon his death, the trustees quickly acted to set up a procedure for his replacement. In the end, two nominees were interviewed: Dr. James Wright, a respected Saddleback College administrator, and Jolene Fuentes, widow of Tom. Both did impressively well during the interviews, but Wright got the nod. His first meeting was on July 30, 2012. At that point the board was made up of seven fairly independent persons with (evidently) Lang the odd man out, having been a slavish partisan of Fuentes and his agenda, even in the months after Fuentes' death:
 • Is trustee Steven Frogue a Holocaust denier? ~ Let's use some abductive reasoning, shall we?  • Frogue defends himself against charge that he is a Holocaust denier ~ "Am not!" he roars.  • The infamous "same-sex" flier ~ Pandering to South County homophobia? We're academics and unionists! Why the hell not!  • Time for pie ~ Sherry Miller-White excludes yours truly amid pie @ Marie Calendars.  • Night of the Nazi ~ Extras from "To Kill a Mockingbird" wander into the Saddleback Library.  • The 1998 IVC accreditation white-wash ~ Take out the negative, leave in the positive! Let's call the whole thing off!  • Nazis vs. JDL thugs: oh, what a night! ~ Trustee Frogue's unsavory pals v. JDL wackos. And years before reality TV! • Hangin' with bigwig Republicans while Nazis hide in bushes ~ Repubs and Dems agree on one thing: Nazis are bad.  • The "board's unlikely secret allies" (the union supports anti-unionists) ~ Yes, the union "leadership" brought us Don & Nancy--and even Tom!  • Mathur censured for lying ~ That's 'cause he lied, and creeped and worse. No wonder Tom loves him so.  • Bauer's court victory ~ Judge Feess spanks the district hard. Cedric and the gang are shocked, shocked!  • Mathur goes after Jeff for "naming a greenhouse" ~ Displays of ruthlessness and power thrill both trustees and their tiny puppet.  • The old guard's not-so-sweet charity ~ Between Tom and these guys, local sorditude competes with Falling Rome.  • The "Howard Hilton" ~ One of Raghu's "stars" pursues a Hilton w/ pool at IVC. Don nearly loses a limb.  • Roy Bauer's 1st Amendment battles ~ Around these people, no decent person could resist the urge to go postal!  • Students sue district over 1st Amendment violations ~ These people won't abide complaint, not even from students.  • "How rude are you!": the senates sue the district ~ In which, once again, Raghu and the Board bully the faculty. This time they get slapped back.  • IVC Faculty prohibited from discussing the war ~ A college run by maroons.  • "Liberal Busybodies": Wagner takes aim at the American Library Association ~ Because you've gotta toss red meat to the knuckle-draggers once in a while, or they wander off, unled.
UPDATE, June 2013:
       It's been quite a while since my last update to this "story." Here's a quick overview of what's been happening:
     By early 2011, trustee Don Wagner, an (ahem) strong personality (read "bully"), had moved on to his Assembly seat in Sacramento. He was replaced on the board by TJ Prendergast, a high school instructor with faculty- and education-friendly politics. He hasn't emerged as a strong leader, but he hasn't become a follower either. He's no bully.
     Trustee John Williams, who resigned amid scandal (re his county gig) in late 2010, ran for his former office when trustee Mike Meldau, who had replaced him, oddly decided against running. But, likely owing to his infamy—for he then shone brightly as OC's Shitty County Government poster boy—Williams was defeated by fresh-faced "public affairs professional" Tim Jemal. Jemal, who seems to enjoy a good reputation, has not been around long enough to reveal his nature qua trustee, though he clearly aims to make a splash (he annoyed his colleagues by immediately requesting massive reports).
     Trustee Tom Fuentes died last May (after over a year of moribund non-attendance), and that set into motion a lively process that yielded James Wright, the beloved retired SC faculty member and administrator, as his replacement. He's been pretty quiet, but, lately, he has revealed an independent streak, though its nature is not yet clear to me. There's no need for worry, I think.
     So, at present, this is our board:
Nancy Padberg (board Prez): a right-wing conservative, but one who has moderated on many fronts over the years (or, perhaps, has increasingly opted for pragmatism). She wants to lead but can find no followers on this board. Still, she enjoys her authority, such as it is, and she seems mostly to stay out of trouble these days. Runs a fairly efficient meeting. 
Dave Lang: during Fuentes' last few years, Lang, a midget Mephistophales, served as F's lackey; that even continued after Fuentes' passing; but Dave is slowly becoming himself again, which isn't that bad. He’s a bean counter to the core, though, and he likely continues to harbor political ambitions despite his disastrous bid for the OC Treasurer spot.
Marcia Milchiker: arguably the most consistently faculty-friendly trustee, but she can be easily swayed by others. Marcia could be a great #2, not a #1. She needs a strong leader.  Now, who would that be?
Bill Jay: often in dire need of Red Bull; but otherwise reasonable, mostly. One senses, however, that he is comatose between monthly meetings. Monthly defibrillation required.
TJ Prendergast (VP): perhaps he has deferred overmuch to more senior trustees. (Has he replaced the execrable JW as the Faculty Association's champ?) Still, he's a good trustee, I think, and he occasionally makes smallish independent moves. He might step up to a leadership role one of these days. Don't be surprised. 
Tim Jemal: he has an agenda of sorts—he seems especially interested in voc ed and college/business partnerships. He's accustomed to dealing with the OC business community, which is undeniably right-leaning, though he himself seems to be politically moderate. The board has no leader, it seems, but Jemal might end up with that role, if he wants it, and if he can just avoid stepping on too many toes. I'm sure he can.
Jim Wright: an intelligent guy who has generally proceeded with moderation and humility. 
     My guess is that the unions would offer a slightly less favorable take on this crew, especially Jemal. (A union member, I've never been the "contract is everything" sort.) Our board won’t look great to anybody focused entirely on the "contract." I'd be surprised, though, if the FA disagreed dramatically with the above. 
     So, as things stand, we've got the best board we've ever had, which, I know, isn't saying much, but it's a vast improvement over what we've generally been saddled with since 1996. At long last, it is roughly reasonable and jackass-free.
The best board we've ever had
     STILL CLUELESS. The BOT can still be mighty clueless: the recent "debate" over the plight of part-time instructors made them look totally out to lunch. Let's hope they're listening to the chorus of complaint.      THE GARY FACTOR.  Chancellor Gary Poertner is widely respected. He doesn't appear to have angered faculty, unlike his execrable predecessor. He's happy about having guided the board far away from its former political nature. The fact that, during most board meetings, I've got nothing to rail against pleases him no end.
     Gary has turned out to be the reasonable, competent, excitement-averse, politics-eschewing guy we all expected him to be. Some of us do wonder, however, how he can condone Roquemore's endless reign of error. (Doesn’t he?)        PRESIDENTIAL DILAPIDATIONTod Burnett, President of Saddleback, acts like a guy who expects NOT to get his contract renewed next year, for he's aggressively seeking a new gig. I don't expect him to be around much longer.
     Glenn Roquemore, President of IVC, appears to be the beneficiary of some bizarre conservative BOT impulse. The faculty generally regard him as removed, ineffectual, and sub-collegiate. He's presided over a series of snafus born mostly of his own incompetence (and utter lack of vision) or the incompetence/visionlessness of his hires (people he typically refuses to fire well beyond their expiration dates).      His VPI is smart but ruthless and even less interested in genuine shared governance than Glenn. 
     Roquemore plainly covets the Chancellorship!          ATEP FEUD. By all accounts, Burnett and Roquemore have been feuding over college ownership of ATEP, the district's third "campus," for years. A while back, Gary's had to step in and calm things down, making like Solomon. As things now stand, ATEP continues to be small potatoes, and there's no clear indication what it might become, if anything.      It's been twenty years of chasing this dream, and all we've got to show for it is a tin village—which we recently traded away for more dirt.
     ACCREDITATION/SLOs. Accreditation continues to be de stupid and dishonest escapade (de SADE) it has long been. Further, at the district level, massive efforts have been conducted to determine how many pinheads can dance during the daily civility inquisitions. That's been demoralizing among thinking people who sometimes ask themselves, hey, wouldn't it be great if we could concentrate on teaching
     Don’t be silly. We must "task" on data-driven instructional delivery, utilizing measurable civility promulgations in terms of clearly stated hierarchical desiderata.        Raghu Mathur is rumored to be chomping at the bit for his chance to succeed Marcia Milchiker as trustee in area 5.       (Note to Marcia: gosh you're good. Please don't leave us. Gary, talk to her, will you?)

UPDATE: January 7, 2014

The district seems to be doing all right. Albeit clueless, the board isn’t the sort to cause problems where none exist (or so it seems to me). TJ Prendergast just stepped up as board President, and it should be interesting to see what he does with the job.

Recently, the board decided to renew the contracts of both IVC’s Glenn Roquemore and SC’s Tod Burnett. That was somewhat surprising; in the case of Roquemore, it’s hard to see what he hasn’t completely fouled up. In the case of Burnett, well, he sure acted like a guy who didn’t expect his contract to be renewed, what with his hard push to get a new gig somewhere on the coast.

I just don’t know what Poertner’s thinking. Surely he’s aware that Roquemore is both corrupt (hires) and incompetent (you name it). And what’s the board thinking (if anything)?

ATEP continues to be undefined. In recent years, a turf war has broken out if not between the two colleges then at least between the two college Presidents—yet another reason to dump those guys. And that’s forced Poertner to make like Solomon with ATEP and its relationship to the two colleges.

Our finances seem to be OK, I guess, though, more than a year ago, Roquemore’s hair was on fire because he “discovered” that, according to projections, revenue would continue to be flat while expenses would slowly rise. I still don’t understand how that could have been a surprise to him/them. The situation led to the usual unilateral Roquemorean spasms, which were somewhat mitigated by Academic Senate watchdoggery. It’s pretty clear on campus that Glenn and Co. have no idea how to run a college and, in particular, have no clue how to work with budgets. During the scramble to respond to the aforementioned “fiscal crisis,” a committee was charged with looking into the budget and looking for ways to increase revenue. Pretty basic questions about past actions re the budget produced “we don’t know” from Glenn and crew.

At IVC, governance and decision-making is so convoluted that nothing gets done and nobody knows what’s going on. People are told to participate in the process, but, often, when they do, they find that decisions are not made and questions cannot be answered. That has been the fate, for instance, of those who have worked through the process whereby money is requested for important tasks, hires, etc.

It now appears that the upshot of “Westphal v. Wagner,” the “prayer” lawsuit, which ended in a settlement requiring that an independent planning committee determine whether there will be a prayer at commencement, is, well, an embrace of bad faith by the district. Supposedly, Burnett is exploiting a “loophole” to enforce commencement prayers. My efforts to determine just who the planning group is at IVC has yielded a very fuzzy picture with no hope of clarity.

Gary and the district have decided, evidently, to give the Accreds whatever they want, and they don’t much care whether the solutions make any sense. I defy any educated person to read the so-called “five barriers” to civility and loveliness produced by the district and not guffaw. We have committees for everything, and most of them are dominated by the usual brainless Ed.Ds, a crew that make the Scholastics look positively sensible.

Among the many snafus at IVC is the Veterans Service Center. Glenn has always pursued the vets more with an eye to sound bites and photo ops than to actually doing any good, and, now, it really shows. The vet situation is a total mess, and Glenn’s point person seems to be Linda F, yet another deluded educationist who couldn’t run a Cub Scout Pack meeting.

The IVC Foundation is another fubar and, as usual, the key to the whole mess is Glenn’s lousy hire. As usual, Glenn’s response to criticism is doubling down on his support for his bad hire. He does not allow criticism, if he can help it.

UPDATE, July 10, 2014

     Below, I provide a kind of “state of the district” address. –For what it’s worth.
     Please feel free to disagree or chime in one way or another. Let’s do the “forum” thing.

     Anything good to report?
     Absolutely, though you sure don’t have to count on me to hear about it.
     Not sure about Saddleback (I just haven’t kept track), but here at IVC, we’ve hired some terrific new faculty in recent years. Really good people, good scholars, good educators. I’m very impressed! And reassured.
     And there are some wonderful programs at the colleges. There’s no point in naming names. We all know, I think.
     It appears that, occasional desperate shrieks from college presidents to the contrary notwithstanding, our finances are in relatively good shape. In part that is owing to some of the board’s “conservative” policies. (No doubt the unions see the matter differently.)
     Relative financial health is a big, big plus. Only time will tell whether our “basic aid” boondoggle, upon much of this grooviness really rests, will continue. I sure hope so.
     The kids that come through our colleges continue to be very, very likeable—a chirpy crew that, generally, one is more than happy to educate. In general, they’re almost as charming as puppies and kittens. (Well, not quite.)
     Obviously, lots of district/college employees, including some administrators, are good, hard-working people—the kind of people a guy is proud to know. They’re the reason that going to work in the good ol' SOCCCD, for most of us, is still enjoyable.
     If you want to hear more positivity, that’s easily accomplished: just attend any board meeting or any one of the many college presidents’ public presentations. Those people never fail to lay it on pretty thick, like frickin’ molasses. Have at it.
     Me, I’m into a more balanced account.
     So what about the negatives?

     We (i.e., the district community) now enjoy the best board of trustees (BOT) ever. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. The SOCCCD’s BOTs have been penny dreadful from the start, often because they’ve been political (consider the original board and its loony “John Birch” conservatism!) or controlled by members seeking political careers (e.g., Frogue, Wagner, Fuentes, Williams, Lang, et al.).
     The fact is that, despite its legacy of having overcome many serious challenges, our current board routinely reveals profound cluelessness.
     This is wonderfully illustrated by a recent episode concerning part-time instructors. Fifteen months ago, a polite and articulate representative of the part-time instructors addressed the board, offering a reminder of that group’s continued plight: no benefits, lousy pay, poor student access, poor job security, etc. It is, of course, a fundamental truth about our system that it relies heavily on the exploitation of part-timers—who are poorly compensated, receive no benefits, and who possess virtually no real voice in governance or with regard to their workplace conditions. This truth is our great yet ignored failing, our Big Sin. Who would deny it?
     It is a truth that our board evidently does not understand at all.
     The board’s response to the part-timer? –Hostility and dismissal. (See here.) Evidently, they regard complaining part-timers as mere cranks.
     Ridiculous. Absurd. Shameful. (It has always puzzled me that the faculty union, dominated by full-timers, has never really regarded this miserable status quo as intolerable. But they don’t run the district.)
     In truth, The Seven wonderfully illustrate life in a perpetual Bubble.

     Here’s more bubblosity. In the last decade, the higher ed “accreditation” system has been beset by loud and persistent complaints and even scandals, including recent developments that bring into question accred agencies’ fundamental competence and fairness. The situation is too big and complex to describe briefly, so I won’t try.
     The SOCCCD has of course taken the short view, the nearsighted view, on all of this, noisily concentrating on just giving the accreditors what they want--hardly the high road. Maybe they’re just scared shitless by the Accreds. Could be. In any case, they seem oblivious to the deeper issues at hand at the colleges (administrative incompetence & abuse, disastrous student realities) and generally fail to actually improve matters.
     Obviously (though not to the BOT, it seems), the accrediting system, especially the ACCJC, has become an unaccountable, secretive, and incompetent bureaucracy, a force for massive wastes of time and money (SLOs, etc.) and, in general, a clearing house for bad educationist “theory” and the wrong-headed directives that such thought has produced. Instead of joining with enlightened groups to combat this enemy of common sense and openness, the SOCCCD and its colleges have become the great appeasers of that hideous anti-intellectual, anti-democratic blob. Thus the obsession with “barriers to civility” and SLOs, which has occasionally made us look like a high school system. (Federal and state pressures to improve “student success” has also produced some dubious initiatives, burdened again by politics and the profoundly annoying “leadership” of folks with Ed.D. degrees.)
     You really should attend board meetings. You wouldn’t believe how much of meeting discourse proceeds in the spirit of the politician or the jargon-happy educationist. Everything and everybody is celebrated. Big fricking facts (e.g., profound student unpreparedness and pervasive disastrous student attitudes toward homework and commitment) go largely unmentioned. One is treated to an endless series of (often) meretricious dog and pony shows—impressive only to the clueless or the self-deceptive. (There are exceptions, of course. I do not deny that we have some terrific employees among faculty, classified, and administrators/managers. And admirable programs and initiatives, too. Pace.)

     Many of us at Irvine Valley College are dejected and dispirited because district leadership (i.e., the Chancellor and BOT) fails to perceive the painfully obvious: that much is wrong with the college and its top leadership. That leadership is largely incompetent (especially at the tip top) and it has long settled into a culture of bullying. To this, the BOT remain resolutely oblivious. We sure do draw attention to it here at DtB, but to no avail, it seems.

     ATEP continues to be a problem for the district, a money pit and an emblem of continued wrong values. Unfortunately, the early development of that property occurred at the district’s historical nadir: the disastrous era of the “board majority” (c. 1996-200?).
     Despite state law, which grants to faculty (not administrators) primary authority over the development of instructional programs, faculty have always taken a back seat in the development of ATEP and its programs. The latter endeavor has gone so badly that, after more than 15 years of effort and expense, ATEP remains a tiny tin school of who-knows-what. And faculty continue to be largely in the dark about the meaning and future of “ATEP” (the “advanced technology and education park”).
     Further, the presidents of the two colleges have long pursued a pissing contest over control of this dubious facility. The has annoyed the chancellor. But not enough.

     A new 800 pound gorilla has entered the SOCCCD scene.
     The district has always been dominated by the larger Saddleback College (the district, of course, started with solitary Saddleback College nearly 50 years ago). To this day, the district is burdened by typical (and atypical?) large college/small college tensions.
     But now there’s surprising new writing on the wall, and it proclaims a massive change: Saddleback College has stopped growing; meanwhile IVC will grow tremendously. It’s just a matter of time: IVC will become the new “big sister” of the SOCCCD.
     One wonders if this approaching reality will cause certain heads, located 15 miles to the south, to simply pop. [END]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Almost 70,000 words. Mostly bulls***.