|Don Wagner and Tom Fuentes, pledging allegiance to the flag|
From Dissent 64, 9/23/02
It’s no secret that, contract-wise, the SOCCCD BOARD MAJORITY has adopted a tough and unsympathetic stance toward employees. Thus, negotiations between the district and the classified union reached an “impasse.” No one doubts that the district/faculty negotiations will be equally unpleasant.
How did this happen? Why the sea change? Whence crapulence?
The answer is simple: the Board is now dominated by three dyed in the wool anti-unionists, namely, Fuentes, Wagner, and Padberg.
And how did that come about?
Again, the answer is simple: the Faculty Association’s Old Guard—with the help of their ally John Williams—put these three on the board.
FUENTES’ “SUSPICIOUS” APPOINTMENT:
Fuentes’ appointment to the board in July of 2000 was fishy, boy. It all started with Steve Frogue’s abrupt resignation only 5 months before the election, which inspired the Irvine World News to opine: “Frogue’s actions…smack of back-room politics. Resigning from an elected board post just before a term expires is an old trick used to give a board majority the opportunity to hand-pick an ally for the seat. The handpicked successor then has the distinct advantage of running as the incumbent when the seat comes up for election” (6/29/00). Despite its suspicions, the IWN hoped that the Majority—by then, Williams, Frogue, Fortune, Wagner, and Padberg—would, for once, eschew “politics.”
No such luck. Within days, the ultra-conservative chairman of the OC GOP—a man who could advance the careers of the Majority’s political wannabes—announced his candidacy. Though there were other candidates, trustees opined that Fuentes was “the guy to beat.”
Now, obviously, Fuentes is about as unsympathetic to Labor as can be imagined. But on the night of the board’s Frogue-replacement decision, three members of the faculty union’s Old Guard, including SHARON MACMILLAN, showed up to urge Fuentes’ appointment!
Well, Fuentes was appointed. John Williams seemed especially pleased. He proudly told the Irvine World News that, back in June, he “called a circle of his friends in town to tell them of the vacancy, including Fuentes, looking for qualified referrals. He ‘jokingly’ asked Fuentes if he was interested in the job and Fuentes said he would consider it.” (7/20/00) Sure.
Conspiracy fans, I’ve got two facts for you.
(1) Six days before Fuentes’ appointment, there was a party at the Corona Del Mar home of Tom Phillips, a filthy-rich East Coast publisher who hoped to enter politics here in OC. The shindig was a gathering of the “Silver Circle,” an elite support group for the OC GOP. Guess who attended this soiree? Tom Fuentes, of course. But also Williams, Wagner, and Board President Padberg. (How unseemly!)
(2) Intriguing fact #2: Board Majority toady RAGHU MATHUR met with Fuentes about a month before Frogue’s resignation. Hmmm.
FUENTES & THAT OTHER “BOARD MAJORITY”:
Ours is not the only anti-faculty “Board Majority” in OC. Until its members were recalled last year, the Orange Unified School District’s board majority wreaked havoc on its teachers, and how. According to the OC Weekly,
The Orange Unified Board of Trustees, whose 6-1 conservative majority made it the darling of OC Republican and Christian education reform groups such as Tustin’s Education Alliance…gained nationwide prominence by winning the court battle to rid the OUSD’s…schools of bilingual education programs…[T]he board provoked the passions of…a bitterly resentful teachers’ union by slashing teachers’ benefits…and attempting to…dismantle the teachers’ retirement fund…OUSD teacher salaries are among the lowest in the county, and the district boasts a staggering turnover rate of 80 percent among teachers employed fewer than four years, according to district employment records… (3/26/99)
Now consider these facts:
(1) Tustin’ Education Alliance (EA)—a pro-voucher organization that authored and then promoted a measure (Prop 226) that was designed to destroy the political muscle of teachers unions--also supported Wagner and Padberg.
(2) During its reign of terror against faculty, the OUSD Board Majority’s key support came from HOWARD AHMANSON, Jr., a Creationist who provided Education Alliance’s seed money, and county GOP chairman Tom Fuentes.
Fuentes’ support of OUSD’s Board Majority continued even after the Recall, when he assisted Majoritarians in their failed bid to win back their seats. (See OC Weekly, 12/28/01)
FUENTES AND THE CLAREMONT INSTITUTE:
During a board meeting in ‘99, John Williams proudly reported visiting a place called the “Claremont Institute” (CI). After Fuentes’ board appointment, Williams mentioned CI again. According to the IWN, “Williams said [that, among candidates,] Fuentes rose to the top due to his broad range of experience and his roots in the community college system…‘He knows about policy making. He’s a member of the Claremont Institute’ …” (7/20/00).
Actually, Tom Fuentes is more than a member of CI: he’s on its board of directors.
I found a description of the Institute’s “policy making” on the “Americans United for Separation of Church and State” website:
The CI [is]…an ultra-conservative advocacy group with ties to the Republican Party and some of the most extreme elements of the Religious Right… Claremont’s board of directors includes Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., a California-based Religious Right activist…[He] personifies the Institute’s ties to the farthest fringes of the right. He has contributed significant sums of money to spread a radical philosophy known as “Christian Reconstructionism.” Reconstructionists believe the Old Testament’s harsh legal code should be binding on modern society. They advocate the death penalty…for a number of religious “offenses,” including apostasy [i.e., abandonment of one’s faith], blasphemy and “unchastity.” The Reconstructionist view is perhaps best summed up in a 1992 quote by Ahmanson: “My purpose is total integration of biblical law into our lives.” Ahmanson gave the Institute $185,000 in 1995…Claremont attacks the concept of a wall of separation between church and state. One Institute article labeled Thomas Jefferson’s metaphorical wall “imaginary.”…The CI believes homosexuality is an affliction that can be cured by therapy…Another Institute project is Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership….
As near as I can tell, this accurately describes CI’s “policy making.” Good grief!
I invite you to explore CI’s own website; unquestionably, CI—and its man Fuentes—mean to promote the interests, not of Labor, but of Big Business and Big Authority. Their vocal support of Prop 226 is part of a pattern. The pattern’s pretty plain, dude.
It’s obvious what Williams is about. But why did the Old Guard help put the anti-union Fuentes (and Wagner & Padberg) on our board?
I dunno. Why don’t you ask ‘em?
And give ‘em my love! --CW