Saturday, December 3, 2005

The 450

We’ve heard from our friends in the classified union, who’ve been negotiating a contract for the 450 classified employees of the district.

The good news: after many negotiating sessions, most issues have been resolved.

The bad news: there remain serious sticking points, and negotiations have bogged down. There’s been little progress over the past several months. People are mighty frustrated. And peeved.

If you’ve been to recent Board meetings, you know what I’m talking about!


Have you heard about the “Johnson and Associates” study? Eighteen months ago, the board agreed to hire J & A, an independent contractor, to develop a “classification and compensation plan for all positions in the classified bargaining unit at a cost not to exceed $98,500.”

$100K! Jeez, after spending that kind of money, one might suppose that the Board would listen to J & A’s advice!


(The Board has a history of responding to pricey studies by tossing them in the trash or even acting in defiance of their recommendations. It’s like the Bush administration: if they don’t like a study’s conclusion, then the study gets deep-sixed, and that’s that. It doesn't matter how good it is, or how much taxpayer money has been spent on it!)

J & A’s study addressed all classified positions. Employees were asked to complete a twelve page detailed description of their jobs. These descriptions were then sent to supervisors, and then to area managers, for their input. The results were sent to J & A, which then interviewed employees.

The upshot of the process was a re-titling or re-definition of classified employees in terms of standard roles and jobs. After some adjustments and corrections, J & A then compared existing classified jobs in the district (with the new titles) to similar positions in local school districts.

Seems fair.

Based on these comparisons, J & A produced a list that identified “equitable” salaries for all of the new (standardized) job descriptions.

This list included a very few positions that would freeze in pay until the cost of living rose to meet recommended compensation. Many other positions showed a 2.5% raise recommendation ranging up to three positions with a 31% raise. Most of the actual dollars per month increases hover under $100 with a few spiking up from that.

While there is some dissent regarding the recommendations, overall, employees are pleased with Johnson and Associates’ reclass study.


Here’s one reason that classified employees are hopping mad: over the next five years the cost of the classified managers’ raises will be roughly $1.9 million!

That’s for only 28 employees!

(You’ll recall the curious timing of these raises. A year ago, as the Board approached a decision re Mathur’s contract and Raghu couldn’t scrape anybody up to speak on his behalf, these stunning raises suddenly materialized. Classified managers—some long known for their low regard of the Chancellor—then showed up at Board meetings to sing the fellow’s praises!)

From the perspective of classified employees, the classified managers’ raises were arbitrary. And they did not reflect the findings of a comparison study done by The Hay Company.


In negotiations, the District has offered the classified staff “next dollar” raises, to be implemented over the next three years. Are you kidding?

CSEA’s calculations indicate that classified employees can secure “equitable pay” in terms of the J & A study for a cost of $1.7 million.

That’s for all 450 employees!


Negotiations have at times become pretty rocky. At one point, unbeknownst to the Board, the J & A study was taken off the negotiations table by lawyer Steve Andelson (the Chief Negotiator for the District).

When Board members learned of this, unsurprisingly, they were surprised. (Same old story. Those people get their info from Mathur.)

In view of the raises that have been bestowed upon all other constituent group in the district—and the recommendations of the J & A study—fairness surely demands that the district come through with a decent offer.

In addition to compliance with the Johnson study, classified negotiators have pressed for a cost of living raise equivalent to the state mandated COLA for the next three—plus continued complete medical coverage.

Wanna support our classified brethren (and, um, sistren)? Talk to ‘em. Come to Board meetings wearing red. Speak up!

(Note: the "sexy" photo above is from a recent issue of the Lariat. --CW)

Friday, December 2, 2005

Friday Updatery

1. ACCRED STRING ALONGITUDE. Weeks ago, the Accreds said they’d send us drafts of their reports—i.e., their responses to the two colleges’ responses to the Accreds’ recommendations.

It was Accred maven Deborah Blue, I think, who said the drafts would arrive by Nov. 17. Well, the 17th came and went, and nothin’ materialized. Jeepers! Then Blue, or somebody, promised to have the drafts to us by this week. As far as I know, that hasn’t happened. Dang!

2. PRESS ZERO, GET ZERO. This morning, a friend wanted to contact Rebel Girl here at IVC, but he couldn’t remember her phone number on campus, so he called information, which yielded a pleasant recorded voice that yammered a while about menus and such.

The yammerage ended with: “To reach the operator, please press zero now.”

So he did that, but then he got another recorded voice, this time a man’s voice, and it yammered a while too. At the end of the yammerage, the voice said to hold on and “an operator will be with you momentarily.”

But no operator got with ‘im. The line just went dead.

He tried this twice. Nothin’.

I was with Rebel Girl when she heard about this—hours later—and so I went to my office and tried the “info” number myself. In the meantime, Rebel Girl headed to the information desk in A100 to see what was up over there.

Naturally, my attempts to get to a real person yielded squat. Like Reb’s friend, I spent a good while expiating my sins during two courses of menu yammerage purgatory, and then, finally, I was told to hold:

“An operator will be with you momentarily.”

But, again, the line just went dead. It was like a joke or something.

Right about then, the Reb returned and reported that there was nobody at the “info” desk.

“Jesus,” I said, “squirrels run this college.” (I'm not blaming Kathy. I'm sure the problem lies elsewhere.)

3. SH*THOUSES AND TORNADOES. Also, today, Rebel Girl insisted on giving me a tour of the interior of the notorious “Community Ed” Building, which is better known as “the Sh*thouse” for reasons having to do with leaf eruptions, dilapidation, and general metaphorical stinkitude.

So we went over there and opened a fun-house door—all twisty and disconcerting. The Twilight Zone theme played in my head.

In one room, we found a window with a big gap between the pane and the wood (balsa, I think). The gap was filled with three old beach towels.


The floor outside of the distorted entry doors was pretty holey and rotten—a litigation magnet.

In general, the building interior matches its exterior re crapulence and decrapitude, er, decrepitude.

Plus you wouldn’t want to be in it during a tornado. It would just explode into splinters and cows.

That reminds me. I once saw a tornado at IVC. This was years ago. I was sitting at the bus stop waiting for the bus—I did a lot of that in those days—and I saw this tornado over to the north, maybe a quarter-mile or a half-mile away. It wasn’t huge, but it was definitely a tornado, and I could barely believe my eyes.

I remember looking around to get somebody else to witness it, cuz I figured right away I’d be telling this story and getting lots of dubitude 'n' peevitude, but, in those days, I was the only guy in Irvine who took the bus, and so there I was, alone, looking at a gosh-darn tornado here in Irvine.

It was pretty special, like getting’ in your car, turnin’ the key, and then suddenly finding yourself in a pumpkin.

Later, I told people about it, and, sure enough, everybody thought I was tellin' a yarn or something. “No,” I said, “I really saw a tornado.”

“There are no tornados in Irvine,” they asserted.

Then, a few days later, I read a story in the Irvine “World” News about a tornado, yes a TORNADO, that had done some real damage on the roofs of a few homes—not far from where I saw the dang thing.

So when I tell you something, you’d best believe it. I’m not makin' stuff up. I don’t do that, and neither does the Reb. And we’re saying that the Community Ed building is a real sh*thouse, like those flimsy shacks ‘n’ sheds they used to stick those Marines in over in El Toro and Tustin. I used to feel sorry for those guys, cuz I taught philosophy classes over there, and it used to get hot and humid and noisy and stinky in those lurid buildings that we would teach in, and you kinda hoped that a tornado would come along and take you out of your misery, or send you back to Kansas.

Well, the "community ed" building isn't quite that bad. Have a nice weekend. —Chunk

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Legislating from the Stench

This afternoon, the IVC Academic Senate voted to endorse Senate Bill 55, which, upon passage, would require community college district boards of trustees to agendize and discuss any Academic Senate votes of “no confidence” in college presidents or district chancellors.

As you know, Raghu Mathur received a vote of “no confidence” (74%) in 1997, a vote of “no confidence” (90%) in 2000, and a vote of “no confidence” (94%) in 2004.

The first two concerned Mathur’s performance as president of IVC. The third concerned his performance as chancellor.

Each time, the Board essentially ignored the vote.

To learn more about this bill, go to:

(Google +Lowenthal +"SB 55" and then click on the 3rd entry.)

Kick 'em to the curb!

I sometimes realize that I haven't got a clue what goes on in the lives of my students. I kinda know what music they listen to (as long as they’re listening to the White Stripes). But I have no idea what TV they watch.

They sure as hell don’t watch what I watch. You know, Nova and Medium and Meet the Press.

A couple of days ago, the IVC community got an email from Roquemore’s secretary about a "casting call" for some MTV show called "Next!" Attached to the email was a poster. (See.)

Evidently, the show is produced by the same people who brought us "Date My Mom," whatever that is.

I asked some of my students about these shows. "What's 'Next'? What's 'Date My Mom'," I asked.

Naturally, they knew all about ‘em. In fact, they regarded me as if I had just confessed to never having heard of Christina Aguilera! Gawwd!

I found the show’s website, and I checked it out.

—Let's just say that, if you like the idea of stupid surfers representing students and "hotties" representing the raison d’etre of education, then you’ll just love "Next!" representing dating.

Here’s how MTV describes the show:

Ever wish you could bail in the middle of a bad date? Well, NEXT is the MTV show that lets you do just that. We'll set you up on 5 dates. The minute you get annoyed, angry or just plain bored, simply kick 'em to the curb by saying "NEXT", and start over with someone new. Don't feel too bad for the ones you give the boot. They'll get cash for every minute they last and the one who makes it to the end gets a chance to turn the tables. They can choose to go on a second date with you or take the money and run. So be careful what you do, because sooner or later you could be the one hearing the word "NEXT." (My emphasis.)

I watched a video clip on the website that allegedly captures the “best moments” of the first season. It’s exactly what you’d expect (I'm going from memory, so I might not have the dialogue exactly right):

CLIP: a gal, maybe 18, walks up to a seated young guy who’s checkin’ her out. Even before she says anything or her butt hits the chair, he rolls his eyes and buries his face and shouts “Next!”

What a gracious fellow!

We get a shot of the girl’s expression. (Funny, eh?)

CLIP: a young guy is looking at his “date,” but he looks worried. She scrunches up her nose and says something like, “You kinda stink.” He says, “What do you mean?” She says: “Maybe like cat piss.”

What a gracious gal!

The camera cuts back to the guy’s forlorn face. We’re having a good time!

CLIP: a woman in her forties is getting a back rub from some young guy. Supposedly, she’s trying to convince the guy to date her daughter, but it’s more like she’s tryin’ to get into this kid’s pants herself! She says, “I like it rough, really rough!” She barks or grunts or something. We see the young guy’s face; he’s looking into the camera. He’s looking into the faces of young people like himself--apparently, the only people who exist. His face is saying, “God, as IF I’d EVER play hide the salami with this geezer!” (Ha ha ha ha ha!)

--Well, that last one was from the clip reel for “Date My Mom,” not "Next!", but, after a while, all these shows seem the same.

I Googled “Next!” and found a clip from the show “Talk Soup,” a program that dispenses snideries and cheap shots at the most embarrassing moments of each week’s “reality” programming. This particular clip showed Talk Soup playing ten seconds of “Next!” in which two young people are at a bar on their “date.” The girl says she’s very nervous. The camera then cuts to the floor beneath her, which is wet with beer.

–No, not beer. Urine! She gets up off her stool and we see that she’s so nervous (I guess) that she’s peed herself. The guy looks at the stool and yells, “Next!”

What a gentleman!

He stands back. He says, "Are you nuts?" The camera cuts to the girl’s horrified face. (Ha ha ha ha!)

Let’s face it. These kids watch some sh*tty TV. And their TV watching doesn’t seem to be balanced with some opposite kinda TV. What would the opposite be? CSI?

I don’t want to campaign against this crap. It exists, and there’s nothing I can or would do about it.

But we’re a college. Shouldn’t we at least refrain from EMBRACING it?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Fuentes World," part 1

Ever hear of Mark Bucher?

Now, bear with me here. Mr. Mark Bucher is a minor player in “Fuentes World,” the world of Orange County way-right-wingers who continually weave in and out of each other’s political plans and projects. The players of Fuentes World comprise a kind of Christian Neanderthal Rat Pack, and Bucher is maybe Joey Bishop.

EDUCATION ALLIANCE. Back in 1993, Bucher, then a businessman, and two pals—James Righeimer and Frank Ury—fought for passage of the “school voucher” initiative (Prop 174). Apparently, when that measure failed, the three amigos founded “Education Alliance,” in Tustin, an organization dedicated to placing “conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives, on local school boards” (Cosmo Garvin).

At the time, Frank Ury was a trustee on the Saddleback Valley Unified School District board—having been elected as part of a slate that took out trustee Raghu Mathur in ‘92!—but, owing to Ury’s support of the voucher initiative, he lost in 1996 to an opponent who was heavily financed by the California Teachers Association (CTA), of which, incidentally, Raghu was a member. (CTA is the parent organization of our own Faculty Association.)

THE CAMPAIGN REFORM INITIATIVE (1998) . Perhaps that experience helps explain Ury, Righeimer, and Bucher’s decision to author the so-called “campaign reform initiative” of 1998. You’ll recall that Proposition 226 would have required “all labor unions to obtain annual written permission from union members before allocating any dues for political action or political education efforts” (Garvin). Evidently, when a very similar measure passed in Washington state in 1992, union coffers took a huge hit. (See Garvin and Cristopher Rapp.)

In other words, Prop 226, whatever its intrinsic merits, was a major threat to the clout of unions in general, and to the clout of teachers unions in particular. The CTA’s continued uber-clout in California definitely depends on the failure of such measures as Prop 226.

By 1998, Education Alliance’s campaign reform initiative had attracted the attention of big-time national Republicans. Bucher and his pals got much of their support in their battle for 226 from out-of-state Republicans who dreamed of passing such measures all over the country. One big contributor was J. Patrick Rooney, a close advisor of Newt Gingrich. Another was Gingrich crony Grover Norquist.

Well, 226 failed.

But wait! What’s all of this got to do with US in the good old SOCCCD?

WAGBERG. Well, in a way, a lot. Back in 1998, the Faculty Association secretly used mucho union funds to elect two anti-union trustee candidates: Don Wagner and Nancy Padberg. Both Wagner and Padberg were affiliated with Bucher/Ury/Righeimer’s Education Alliance.

No surprise there. Over the years, Wagner has openly advocated the school voucher concept, and he was a big supporter of Prop 226. As a conservative, he’s clearly way out in the darkest Fuentes right-wing frontier. In fact, you’d have to say that he’s a denizen of Fuentes World. (Not so Padberg, evidently.)

Wagner helped found, and is presently on the Executive Board of, the Orange County chapter of the Federalist Society, a right-wing attorney group with strong ties to the Bush White House. The FS is associated with the philosophy of “strict constructionism” (as opposed to judicial “activism”).

Only a month ago, the OC Federalists hosted a debate at Gulliver’s Restaurant in Irvine about Proposition 75—you know, this year’s version of the GOP’s anti-union “campaign reform initiative.” (The Republicans are gonna keep pushing this thing until it takes! It’s just a matter of time.)

The debaters? Beverly Tucker of CTA, and—you guessed it—Mark Bucher of Education Alliance.

There are other SOCCCD/Education Alliance connections. According to Kimberly Kindy of the OC Register, Trustee John Williams, who has long portrayed himself as the unions’ friend, “has strong ties to members of the Education Alliance, which supports opponents of union-backed candidates” (10/31/98).

FUENTES. And there are Fuentes-Education Alliance connections aplenty. According to the OC Weekly (in 2000), Education Alliance’s Jim Righeimer is the “longtime trusty lieutenant to [Dana] Rohrabacher and OC Republican Chairman Tom Fuentes….”

Perhaps you know—and perhaps you don’t—that there are three notorious right-wing “Board Majorities” among OC school districts. Fuentes, being the sort of guy he is, has hovered in the background, and sometimes the foreground, of all three. They are: (1) the Orange Unified School District “Board Majority” (which was offensive enough to be successfully recalled in June of 2001), (2) our own SOCCCD “Board Majority” (which was much dissipated by the inclusion of Bill Jay and the awakening of Nancy Padberg), and (3) the notorious Westminster School District “Board Majority,” which has taken aim at laws requiring fair treatment for gays. (Re Fuentes and the OUSD Board Majority, see OC Weekly, 12/28/01)

Mark Bucher was the Orange Unified BM’s attorney—yes, he quit his contractor's business in favor of the law in 2000—but he was quickly fired after the BM was replaced. Later, he became the Westminster School Districts BM attorney.

These guys sure do get around!

Plus, Bucher is the current Treasurer of the OC Republican Party—the organization that Fuentes chaired for twenty years and until recently.

Got all that straight?

AHMANSON. One more thing (for now). The initial sugar daddy of Education Alliance, and the chief backer of the OUSD’s Board Majority, was Orange Countian Howard Ahmanson. According to Jerry Sloan (, Ahmanson is a “Christian Reconstructionist idealogue and daddy deep-pockets [who has] embarked upon a plan to capture California’s school boards.”

What’s a Christian Reconstructionist? Well, according to Wikipedia,

Christian Reconstructionism is a highly controversial religious and theological movement within Protestant Christianity. It calls for Christians to put their faith into action in all areas of life including civil government, and envisions the private and civil enforcement of the general principles of Old Testament and New Testament moral law, including those expounded in the case laws and summarized in the Old Testament Decalogue.

(Go to

In 1992, Ahmanson, a creationist, was quoted as saying: “My purpose is total integration of biblical law into our lives.” (See website of American United for Separation of Church and State.)

Funding the Education Alliance in its early years was, according to Sloan, part of Ahmanson’s plan to carry out his Reconstructionist philosophy in California/Orange County. (It appears that Ahmanson stopped funding EA by the late 90s.)

Ahmanson is on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute. Guess who else is on CI’s Board?

That would be Tom Fuentes.

That's some world, that Fuentes World.

More soon. —Chunk

(For a brief bio of Mr. Ahmanson, see:

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary