Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The return of the curious "Shooting Star" saga

     Back in 2012, I wrote a series of posts about the mysterious sinking, in 1974, of the yacht "Shooting Star," which took the life of Tom Fuentes' then boss OC Supervisor Ron Caspers, arguably the seminal figure in OC political corruption of the last 50 years.
     We've just received new information about the Shooting Star story—in the form of FBI files. We'll report on that information soon.
     To get up to speed on the story, check out: The saga of the “Shooting Star”     

Monday, November 13, 2017

Guided Pathways, part 1: "Sooner, Cheaper, Faster"

What is this "Guided Pathways" thing? And where did it come from?
The first in a series, here on DtB, to help answer these questions.
The above video is put out by the State Chancellor's Office.
Good grief.

Friday, November 10, 2017

IVC student prodding Rep. Walters into stronger DACA leadership

DACA recipients turn up the pressure on Mimi Walters, local Congress members
(OC Register)
     Irvine Valley College student Rosa Rodriguez, like many among the nearly 800,000 other immigrants brought to U.S. as children, is increasingly nervous that she’ll lose her legal residency status and face deportation.
     That motivated her to meet with congressional staffers last week and plead for their boss, Rep. Mimi Walters, to take a leadership role in preserving protections made available to her and other so-called Dreamers by the Obama Administration.
     President Donald Trump announced in September that no more temporary extensions would be granted after March under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, and handed the Republican-controlled Congress the task of coming up with a replacement. But that process has largely stalled.
     Walters, who could prove a key Republican swing vote on the issue, is attracting particular attention from Dreamers and their advocates….
     “I’m in limbo,” said the 20-year-old [Rodriguez], who helps pay her bills with a part-time job at her school’s tutorial writing center. “I’m not waiting anxiously for my acceptance letter as much as I’m waiting anxiously to find out about my status. If I lose that, I probably wouldn’t go to school. I couldn’t work (legally) any more and even if I get my degree, I couldn’t work in my field.”
     Nearly 80,000 of California’s 223,000 DACA recipients are college students. More than 60,000 of those, like Rodriguez, attend community college. Rodriguez’s meeting with two Walters’ aides Nov. 7 was arranged by the South Orange County Community College District’s Public Affairs Office, as part of the school’s outreach on behalf of the more than 700 DACA recipients in the two-college district.
. . .
     Anti-illegal immigration stalwarts oppose giving legal status to anyone in the country illegally. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, is among those who have expressed reservations about extending special protections to DACA recipients.
. . .
     But some Republicans — including Reps. Walters, Ed Royce, R-Fullerton and Darrell Issa, R-Vista — have expressed support for continuing legal status for DACA recipients. Most congressional Democrats support giving DACA recipients permanent residency as well as a path to citizenship.
. . .
     Rodriguez, who’s permit expires in January 2019, was born in the small town of San Andres Ixtlan in Jalisco, Mexico. Shortly after she was born, her father headed to Napa Valley to better provide for his family. He’s worked at the same vineyard for 20 years and is helping her pay college bills, said Rodriguez, whose three siblings are U.S. citizens.
     During her meeting with Walters’ staff, Rodriguez described her harrowing efforts to cross the border with her mother. While completing high school in Napa Valley and researching colleges, she settled on UC Irvine because of the curriculum and because of the reputation of its immigrant help center.
     “It was just the energy — the vibe — UCI gave off,” she said. She selected Irvine Valley College as part of her path to UCI.
     Walters has issued sympathetic statements about DACA recipients, but Rodriguez told the congresswoman’s staff that wasn’t enough....
     [You should definitely read the rest!]

More on last Thursday's action at Walters' Irvine office:

From the OC Weekly:
Immigrant Rights Protester Arrested at Rep. Mimi Walters' Irvine Office

from Lake Forest Patch:
Dreamers Activist Arrested In Rep. Walters' OC Office

Korean activist arrested at Irvine congresswoman’s office
Dae Joong Yoon, president of the Korean Resource Center. Photo: Korean Resource Center

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"Misguided Pathways"

     This semester, faculty—of Irvine Valley College's Academic Senate—confronted a hurried effort by the college to embrace a set of odd "meta-majors" as part of the dubious state-wide "Guided Pathways" initiative. (Money's at stake, natch.)
     The faculty pushed back: what's the hurry? Why not get faculty buy-in first? Who's the knucklehead who came up with these daffy majors?
     The brakes were applied. So far so good, but, as always, we should be wary of administration-driven and idiotic "reforms."
     See Nov 2, 2017, Senate Meeting: lowering the heat on Guided Pathways [Senate Capers].

Inside Higher Ed
     …But a new report is calling into question just how the system of seven two-year institutions [City Colleges of Chicago] has increased degree completions, alleging it softened standards and manipulated data in the pursuit of better graduation rates.
     According to the report from the Better Government Association, an Illinois-based nonpartisan watchdog group, “Since 2010, City Colleges has watered down its curriculum, violated its own rules on what constitutes a degree, changed the way it counts statistics and bestowed thousands of degrees -- sometimes in multiples to the same person -- to current and former students who in many cases neither requested nor wanted them.”
     Critics of City Colleges’ completion push see the system as having altered policy and created initiatives simply to improve its metrics and image….
Chronicle of HE
     …Faculty members at the University of Wisconsin at Superior said they were "blindsided" by this week’s announcement that the university was suspending more than two dozen academic programs, including majors in political science, sociology, and theater.
     The programs were being phased out, the university said, as part of a streamlining process to make it easier for students to graduate on time. First-generation students, who make up 46 percent of the student body, tend to get overwhelmed by too many course offerings, university administrators said. As a result, they added, students often make bad decisions that cause them to take too many credits, incur too much debt and take too long to graduate....
. . .
     Khalil Dokhanchi, a professor of political science who has been at the university for 25 years, said that he has "absolutely no idea what this means for me," but that he plans to stay on.
     "They’re saying that poor, working-class students can’t make decisions because there are too many choices. It’s offensive," he said.
     "This is a huge mistake and a good indicator of why faculty members should be involved in these decisions."....
The Conversation
     ...For the Golden State of California, 1960 was a golden year: It was a time of rapid development, when the state chose to use its tax revenues to fund magnificent freeways and other infrastructure.
     Part of this massive development was a system of public higher education – a model that put California center stage in the American imagination.

     The master plan has struggled to keep up. It has gone through many reviews and revisions, the latest of which, in 2017, emphasized improving access and affordability.
     But the convergence of these trends, combined with fluctuations in the state economy and tax revenues, has turned the Californian dream of higher education into an American dilemma….

Friday, November 3, 2017

This Week in Dreams

Rosa Rodriguez holds over 40 letters written by IVC students, faculty and staff
and community members while she waits outside Mimi Walters office. 
So, among the dreams realized this week:

Yes, on Monday night, the Board of Trustees did unanimously adopt Resolution 17-33 in Support of Codifying DACA into Federal Law.

Yes, on Tuesday morning, the SOCCCD sent a student delegation with a copy of that resolution to meet with the staff of Rep. Mimi Walters.  A report from inside the room suggests that the testimony of IVC DACA student Rosa Rodriguez brought at least one staffer to tears. She gave Walters' staff over 40 letters written by IVC students, faculty, staff and community members. The delegation also gave the staff over 1,000 letters collected by Rio Hondo College students which the staff refused to accept days earlier. 

Yes, Rebel Girl did receive a peevish email from former trustee now Irvine Mayor Don Wagner which delighted her as it suggested that Don does sit in an office somewhere and read Dissent.  We hope he enjoyed the photos of Don and Sheriff Joe Arpaio that Chunk dug up along with all the choice soundbites. 

Then, Thursday night Red received an email from Tracy La, former ASUCI president, inviting him to join another Dream Act action at Walters' office. So Friday morning Rebel Girl and Red Emma returned to the corporate park to attend an action sponsored by the Korean Resource Center (KRC). It was a lively group of 60-70, including representatives from Orange County Congregation Community Organization, SEIU United Service Workers West, ACLU and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles - along with others and Red Emma and Rebel Girl, of course.  And drummers! With Korean drums! Red was pleased to discover that one of the lead organizers was a former student of his, Jonathan Paik, the KRC's Orange County director. Go figure.

Red Emma on the  march. 

Rebel Girl has been to countless marches and rallies, vigils and protests but there was something quite special about this assembly in an Irvine corporate canyon off Michelson and Jamboree.  Something about the range of ages, the spirit, and open pride - and yes, the Korean drums. You have not lived folks until you have walked in the shadow of the old Fluor Corporation to the beat of Korean drums, making your demands known in chants. You should try it.

Security didn't know what to do with us, except to say we could not could come in, not with the 2,000 postcards written to Mimi and certainly not with the drums. So we marched and rallied. At some point, a former student of Rebel Girl's showed up, inspired by a Facebook post.  And then Rosa arrived to a very different scene than Tuesday's. And when the time came for people to take the microphone and say their piece, Rosa did, speaking her heart out to those who gathered to listen.  Rebel Girl was proud of her, proud of all those brave DACA students. As a dear friend puts it: "Her voice is so important for all immigrants, for all who need to understand who an immigrant is."  Would that our elected leaders be as brave.

Rosa speaks.
Comprehensive coverage of the rally below.  Rosa's remarks begin at 1:05. (Rebel Girl thinks she may have cued it right, but maybe not.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Irvine Mayor Don Wagner ♡ Joe "the racist scofflaw" Arpaio

Yeah, they go way back. Palsy-walsy.
Trump Pardons Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Who Illegally Targeted Latinos, Huffington Post, 8-26-17
     ...Arpaio, who served as sheriff from 1993 through 2016, had long been accused of discriminatory practices against Latinos. A 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division concluded there was reasonable cause to believe that Arpaio and his office engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful policing and racial profiling. Arpaio’s officers called Latinos “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “fucking Mexicans” and “stupid Mexicans,” the Justice Department found, and Latino drivers were four to nine times as likely to be stopped by his officers as non-Latino drivers were. A lawsuit filed by the Justice Department was settled in 2015....
Mexican hater Joe Arpaio endorses Don Wagner for the 70th Assembly District, Orange Juice Blog, 5-28-10
     “I’m proud to support Don Wagner, a strong advocate for law and order and a common-sense conservative leader,” said Arpaio in giving his support to Wagner.
     Arpaio has developed a national reputation for his tough stance on law and order and illegal immigration, earning some notoriety by reinstituting chain gangs and forcing inmates to wear pink underwear. He has been a vocal proponent for the enforcement of state and federal laws on immigration and had been considering a run for Arizona governor.
     “Sheriff Joe is known around the country for his toughness and we need that kind of toughness in Sacramento if we are going to change things,” said Wagner.
Excerpt from Trustee SPANKY on your right to “pack a gun,” Dissent the Blog, May 30, 2006

…Wagner’s answers to a campaign questionnaire are sometimes interesting. “What,” he is asked, will he “do to stop illegal immigration and its economic effects in California”?
     “We should deport illegal aliens when and where found,” says Don….
     Don’s a great believer in guns. In fact, in Don World, the good guys oughta have more of ‘em: "I would try to greatly expand the right of law abiding citizens to carry weapons.”
     Greatly expand? I do believe Don wants us to wear holsters, boots, and Stetsons!
     Like many conservatives, Wagner is especially concerned about the specter of homosexuality. He is definitely against sex education and the promotion of the “pro-homosexual agenda” in public schools.
     At one point, Wagner is asked, Do you support same sex marriage? He offers a snappy answer, sure to annoy:
     "Then it isn't ‘marriage,’ now is it?"
     I like Don, but he just doesn't get how annoyed at his audience—and thus annoying—he often seems.
     In the questionnaire, Don again emphasizes the value of local control. And so he supports the “right of communities to require curricula with greater studies of”—are you ready?—here goes:
The U.S. Constitution, the role of religion in American life, traditional values, honest U.S. history, the founding fathers in greater dimension tha[n] mere "slave owners," appreciation for the cultural and political traditions of our country, patriotism, gun safety[.] [He says “yes” to the preceding.]
     Don’s a great one for discipline. "Corporal punishment in the lower grades works,” he asserts.
No bananas!
     Spanky—er, Don—sees himself as a Warrior. Is there a culture war in the U.S. today? “Yes,” says Corporal (and corporeal!) Don. If so, then “What side are you on?”
     His answer is a tour de force:
     "I am on the side that thinks ‘under God’ belongs in the pledge of allegiance and that it's all right to wish people ‘Merry Christmas,’ but that free speech does not include burning the flag or dancing in the nude.
. . .
…"I believe public schools should be permitted to give out aspirin, but not condoms, and that bananas belong in the cafeteria, not in ‘health class.’
…”I am on the side of the culture war that believes Teddy Kennedy should do time for Chappaquidick and that Bill Clinton should do time for Juanita Broderick, perjury, illegal campaign fund raising from China...
     "My side of the culture war thought that the first term of the Clinton Administration was … a disaster. There was nothing to like about his positions on gays in the military, nationalization of the health care industry, opposition to welfare reform that took a Republican Congress to finally achieve, …the incineration of children in Waco, …stonewalling on Vince Foster, missing Rose Law Firm billing records, … sale of the Lincoln Bedroom, ad nauseam.
…"Those on my side of the culture war believe that with rights come responsibilities, and that you have a right to build on your own property even if a snail darter or some such endangered vermin happens to live on it, a right to pack a gun, and the right to live free of an oppressive nanny state. You also have a responsibility to care for yourself and your family, and to exhaust every effort to do so before asking the government for a handout. Personal responsibility and self reliance [sic] are more highly regarded on my side of the culture war than are feelings and groupthink.
     "My side of the culture war laughs at the hypocracy [sic!] of the left when it says we care about children only until they are born, when in fact it is our side that also opposes euthanasia, the left's creeping culture of death, the killing of Terry Schiavo….”
Happy together

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hell Freezes Over at the SOCCCD? Update!

Rebel Girl remembers a time not so long ago when two events happening this week in our fair district would have been impossible.

On Monday evening the SOCCCD board is set to adopt Resolution 17-3: South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees in Support of Codifying DACA into Federal Law which resolves what its title suggests:
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the South Orange County Community College District supports all of our students, including DACA recipients, and calls on Congress and the President to find a permanent legislative solution so that all of our students can continue their educational pursuits and make meaningful contributions to our state and communities.
Then on Tuesday morning, October 31 at 10:30 AM, a delegation will meet with the staff of Congresswoman Mimi Walters to lobby for the passage of a clean DREAM Act and codify DACA into federal law and provide a permanent pathway to citizenship.The delegation will be made up of one DACA student, four representatives from student government and Tere Fluegeman, the district’s Executive Director for Public and Government Affairs, who arranged the visit.

The delegation's DACA student is IVC's own Rosa Rodriguez, a familiar presence on campus as one of the Writing Center's student aides. Rosa is set to graduate from IVC this May and hopes to transfer to UCI.

While it is not uncommon for students to lobby on behalf of funding or against tuition increases, for DACA students to lobby on behalf of immigration reform is highly personal on many levels. It requires special courage, especially in these times.

In an email, Rosa wrote: "I don't mind the community knowing I am undocumented. I think it is a way to let people like me know that if I feel safe speaking up about DACA they too can speak up and see IVC as a safe place.... I have a good feeling about this meeting. I am glad I can do something for students like me and speak up. "

Rosa has asked for letters to share with Congresswoman Walters staff. In her email, she wrote "I hope that we can get a couple letters." Rebel Girl thinks we can do better than that.

So, please consider writing a letter on behalf of Rosa and the DACA students. It can be short and simple and you can email it to Rebel Girl and she will print it out for her to take. Please include your name and address so Walters can respond. If you live in the district, that’s great but you can also write a letter if you don’t.

Your letter might begin like this:
Congresswoman Walters,
I am writing in support of Rosa Rodriguez and the over 800,000 DACA students in the United States and the estimated 72,000 enrolled in California Community Colleges.
Please support the passage of a clean DREAM Act and codify DACA into federal law and provide a permanent pathway to citizenship for these hardworking young people.
As a (constituent, community college student, instructor, concerned resident, etc. Choose or create your descriptor) I feel strongly that…
Close with your full name, title, if any, and address (residence or college)
Your letter does not have to be long.

You can email your letter to Rebel Girl at or you can drop it off at her office (LA 214). Or consider dropping it off in the Writing Center where you may be able to meet Rosa and wish her well. Letters need to be received by Monday evening so they can be delivered Tuesday morning.

Now bear with Rebel Girl and imagine how Tom Fuentes or Steve Frogue or Don Wagner would have voted on this resolution, if they even let it come to the table. What they would have said about a delegation with the district imprimatur visiting a local congressional office to lobby in support of undocumented immigrants and immigration reform. We've come a long way - but still have a long way to go. Let's get there.

UPDATED: Irvine Mayor Don Wagner wrote to Rebel Girl today to say she had misstated his record on immigration issues:  He wrote: "Years ago I spoke in favor and voted for Assembly Bill 1024 (Gonzalez) specifically dealing with Dreamers who had completed their educations and demonstrated good character, precisely the kinds of immigrants who make this country flourish." He went on to cite "a letter I co-authored to Congress years ago arguing for comprehensive immigration reform."

While Rebel Girl is thrilled to know that Don Wagner is in the trenches with immigration reform, she imagines that her trench and his may differ in depth and focus.  But who knows?  Maybe he really does support the passage of a clean DREAM Act and codify DACA into federal law and provide a permanent pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers. Maybe he is about to declare Irvine a Sanctuary City. Maybe he isn't one of those who desire a kind of bracero program that creates a perpetual class of all-but-indentured forever disenfranchised low-wage workers.

How could she have gotten him so wrong? Perhaps it was his attack on the American Library Association or his support of Ted Cruz. His opposition to marriage equality. His desire to make us all bow our heads and pray at public college functions. So many things.

More later on this. Meanwhile, welcome to the fight, Don.

We are proud that the Mayor of Irvine reads our blog! Yee ha!


Friday, October 27, 2017

White Supremacists In The Neighborhood

It's been a busy week but Rebel Girl finally had time to check out this expose by ProPublica  and you should too. It profiles the rise of white supremacist activity in the county, covered well by the OC Weekly, not so well by other news outlets.  Video above, article below.

Racist, Violent, Unpunished: A White Hate Group’s Campaign of Menace


The return of the curious "Shooting Star" saga

     Back in 2012, I wrote a series of posts about the mysterious sinking, in 1974, of the yacht "Shooting Star," which took th...