Saturday, November 4, 2006

FOF

For the latest on FOF (i.e., Friend of Fuentes) Tan Nguyen, check out Martin Wisckol’s Nov. 3 post on Total Buzz.

Wisckol presents a letter by Attorney General spokesman Nathan Barankin. It's well worth reading.

Previous TAN coverage on DtB:
”Stand By Our Tan”—Babe pics!
Tom’s kind of guy
Rest of the story
Al Tello’s wife?
Lost in TANslation
Tan’s senior campaign advisor: Tom Fuentes

Prayer and being "out of the picture" at the South Orange County Community College District

In this morning’s OC Register, we find an article concerning the 25th anniversary of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) regional office: Fighting for fairness. The article includes a brief interview with Joyce Greenspan, the office’s recently-retired director.

I got to know Joyce back in 1997. Here's how: on the morning of the August 1997 SOCCCD board meeting, I read the meeting’s agenda. It revealed then-Trustee Steven Frogue’s intention of holding a “forum on the JFK Assassination.” He planned to invite four speakers to Saddleback College. I recognized one of the speakers' names: "Michael Collins Piper."

So I called the local ADL. Joyce answered the phone.

Joyce attended the board meeting. (See The Excrement Hits the Fan). In her public remarks, she noted that at least two of Frogue’s guest speakers were associated with the Spotlight, the foremost anti-Semitic newspaper in the U.S. Mr. Piper was the Spotlight’s chief reporter. The other speakers were way-out-there conspiracy mongers. Joyce urged the board not to approve Mr. Frogue's request for his speakers' travel expenses.

The board just blew her off. (John Williams supported his pal Frogue. As always, he looked very staunch.)

The rest, as they say, is districtular history.

PRAYER

As a trustee, Mr. Frogue was heavily into prayer and being openly Christian. He held "prayer breakfasts" at the colleges, where his devotion and appetite were fully on display. Among Frogue's defenders—he was dogged by charges of anti-Semitism going back to 1994—was the local Christian Coalition. (See Ambushing a young critic.) They prayed for 'im. It didn't take.

In the interview in today’s Register, Joyce is asked what conditions were like in OC back in 1981, when the regional office opened. The topic of "prayer" comes up:
In 1981 there was just a hint, a beginning of diversity in Orange County. But it was not a very diverse community, and looking at church-state issues, there wasn't a lot of tolerance for understanding that everybody was not looking at religion the same way. There were a great many issues having to do with local government, having to do with schools, having to do with any public area in which people were speaking as government representatives—teachers, principals, elected officials—and felt that they were speaking to people just like them….

For instance, if you look at a number of city council meetings of those days, there would always be a prayer before a council meeting. Those meetings would begin with a very Christian prayer. It's a discomfort that people feel if you aren't Christian and a meeting is beginning with the invocation of a Christian prayer, it kind of leaves you out of the picture.

Now, people are very careful. If they do a prayer, it's nonsectarian—not just nonsectarian Christian but nonsectarian.
Well, people are careful—except at the South Orange County Community College District, where, routinely, Christian or Christianesque prayers are offered by the very theatrical Mr. Tom Fuentes. If you've ever heard one of his invocations, you know what I mean.


Whenever Mr. Fuentes speaks, and especially when he prays, it is as though his mouth were slowly extruding a string of divine sausage. He's a man who always knows that his words are heavenly words.

That Fuentes is so promiscuous an issuer of prayer should not surprise us, considering what he says he's proud of. When he stepped down as Chair of the local GOP in 2004, he offered these "farewell remarks”:
Now, some have asked me what is it that gives me most joy in twenty years as Chairman of this County Party. It is a little thing. It is the fact that anywhere in this county, whenever Republicans gather, we begin our time together with prayer. You may pray in your way, and I may pray in mine, but, my friends, Republicans in this county always acknowledge a power higher than ourselves as did our Founding Fathers. And, the values, principles, and ideals that flow from the acknowledgement of the divinity, guides our conservative social agenda. It gives us pause to reflect on what is really important in life and society. It motivates us to defend causes that are so critical in the cultural war that today engulfs our nation and its society. (My emphasis.)
Despite his guff about praying “in your way,” Fuentes’ prayers—not just before his Republican pals, but before those assembled for SOCCCD board meetings and events—are plainly Christian, or at least Judeo-Christian: “Let us pray…You, the Creator…please enlighten our minds...we...acknowledge You…Amen.”

Of course, other Trustees pray, too. For instance, we’ve heard plenty of Our heavenly Fathers coming out of Williams’ big mouth. But Mr. Fuentes lays it on pretty thick, Amen-wise. The language and ritual—and especially the eye-rolling—of his prayers are Christian—not Jewish, not Muslim, not Buddist. (Any Roman Catholics out there? Are F's prayers distinctly Catholic? Inquiring minds wanna know.)

FOR YEARS NOW, Saddleback Math instructor Karla Westphal has asked the board to cease engaging in prayer (including nonsectarian prayer—agnostics and atheists can suffer alienation too!) during district and college events. Below is a brief clip of Karla’s most recent request, at May's board meeting:

this is an audio post - click to play

As I recall, the board didn't respond. They blew her off.


AS YOU MAY KNOW, recently, the Saddleback College Academic Senate passed a resolution urging the board to stop the praying, at least qua "invocations." IVC's Academic Senate joined them. The resolution was then moved up to the State Academic Senate. (There, it was well-received, but the State Senate is notoriously slow-moving, so don't hold your breath.) Expect some noise about this at some point.

As far as I know, trustees break no law when they pray as they do. I believe that, according to the courts, officials may not pray before youngsters at public schools, since the latter are impressionable. But college students are more mature, and so prayers by officials at events in public colleges are allowed.

If so, then the issue here is: what is the best practice? Undeniably, our community, especially at Irvine Valley College, is religiously diverse. At IVC, non-Christian traditions are represented by very large minorities:
Go to the district's Student demographics. (Also this)

● Evidently, in the Fall of ’05 (the most recent data), IVC enrolled about 12,500 students.
● About 3,300—over 26%—were “Asian." (Presumably, most Asian students are non-Judeo-Christian, although I don't really know.)
This means that, at public events that include prayer—especially Mr. Fuentes’ prayer—there is, or there could be, a lot of that “discomfort” and being left “out of the picture” that Greenspan talks about. (Entire district: over 14% of students identified themselves as Asian.)


We’ll try to keep you posted on this issue. (See also Fuentes' good pal Howard Ahmanson: condemning the separation of church and state.)

RELEVANT FACTOIDS:
● According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of Orange Countians who are Asian is 15.5%. (2004)

● According to the City of Irvine, Asian & Pacific Islanders made up 29% of the city’s population. (Based on 2000 census.)
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Friday, November 3, 2006

Vote As If It Mattered, Part II—or You Be the Judge

"Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." —JK
That late October-early November Surprise I predicted a few weeks back may have arrived from John Kerry. Ironies abound, of course, so that an assessment of the ex-Democratic candidate for president’s (but not so you’d notice) remarks about, basically, the crude hierarchy of class and education offers one a Lazy Susan of possible critiques. The remark about ending up in Iraq, despite being, well, true, is a delicious metaphor, whoever grabs it as the tray of entrees, circles on the table.

Poor Kerry. He has to avoid an honest critique because he is a confused wealthy scion of confusion and wealth and privilege and still can’t say that the U.S. war against the people of Southeast Asia was, no, not a “mistake” or misstep or tragic error, but (if you repeat this I will deny it) imperialism by a country which has been doing this since it invaded the Phillipines and Hormel sold the military a lot of bad canned ham, making it only the easiest exemplary precursor to invading Iraq and Halliburton/KBR selling, well, everything.

Today’s Rosa Brooks column, “Was Kerry Right?”, is articulate and smart and nuanced. It suggests that the political affiliations of the warrior class (they are mostly Republicans) has as least as much to do with the fatalism and weird self-destruction they seem to embrace. I sent Rosa a grateful email. (Still waiting, by the way, to hear from Mr. Rodriguez.)

Anyway, I promised you local judge recommendations. I am a registered Green, against the war, vote labor and choice (No, goddamn it, on Prop 85! No! No! No!) and just sent my contribution to Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

Most judges are okay. One exception there. And one real contest, at the bottom of the ballot.
Joyce Kennard - Yes
Carol Corrigan - Yes
Judith McConnell - Yes
Patricia Benke - Yes
Richard Huffman - No (he has made a number of anti-first amendment decisions)
Judith Haller - Yes
Cynthia Aaron - Yes
Joan Irion - Yes
Art McKinster - Yes
Betty Richli - Yes
Jeffrey King - Yes
Douglas Miller - Yes
Kathleen O'Leary - Yes
Raymond Ikola – Yes

Office No. 4—Sheila Hanson!
—Red Emma

Vote as if it mattered

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Sarah & Adam drop by for ice cream



Three-year-old Sarah's phobia du jour: fans. The electric kind.
"How come you're afraid of fans?"
"Because they're snoopy."
"Oh."
Meanwhile, two-year-old Adam has invented his own language. He's even loquacious.
And Sunny's on the prowl.



Guerra-Payan

In this morning’s OC Register: obituary for Saddleback College's only female police officer, Cynthia Guerra-Payan, who died over the weekend:

Motorcyclist died doing what she loved

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Get ready for "smiley face" buttons!

JUST IN CASE YOU MISSED IT THE FIRST TIME:

A great moment in Orange County's rich history of weirdness and wonderfulness!

All photos: stills from above video of babe crooning "Stand by Our Tan" at last Saturday's Tan Nguyen rally.

● ALSO, don't forget to read our account of Monday's amazing BOARD MEETING.
It's like an assignment, OK?
[State] Chancellor Thanks Governor for $5 Million...for...Professional Development
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger budgeted $5 million to fund the development of community college faculty, staff and administrators, announced Chancellor Marshall (Mark) Drummond….

[Among the] activities determined to be related to educational and professional development[:] ...programs designed to develop self-esteem.
18-24 YEAR OLDS POISED TO CHALLENGE MIDTERM ELECTION TURNOUT RECORDS, HARVARD POLL FINDS

RateMyProfessors: Hidden Camera Edition

● Read Gustavo Arellano's THEIR MAN TAN: Nguyen addresses his true believers.


● The IVC/Nguyen connection(s): Al Tello's wife?

Got any Saddleback College news? Send it our way! -CW

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Monday's board meeting: blow by blow

● Surveillance system?
● RAGHU'S stealth agenda item!
● WAGNER on Spain again
● FORTUNE'S legacy?
● A first-rate stadium complex for Saddleback College?
● MATHUR/ADMINISTRATORS caught in a sh*t storm



As promised, here is my “full report” on Monday night’s meeting of the South Orange County Community College District’s Board of Trustees. (See also Tracy's board meeting highlights.)

LARIAT. The board loves Resolutions. Monday night, it “resolved” in various directions, including the direction of honoring Saddleback’s student newspaper, the Lariat, which, evidently, is a finalist for the National Pacemaker Award.

During public comments, the Lariat’s editor carped indecorously that the “division” will no longer be providing the paper its usual $14,000. The powers that be, he suggested, have decided to “punish [those who produce the newspaper] for being successful.”

Someone close to Liberal Arts Division leadership told me today that the student editor is mistaken. We’ll look into it.

SAFE CITIES. During his public remarks, Trustee Fuentes “saluted” the elected leadership and the police of Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, and Irvine. Evidently, earlier in the day, the FBI had declared those cities—especially Mission Viejo—to be among the very safest in the nation. Of course, if the Feds say it, it must be true.

BUT DO THEY EVEN KNOW WHAT "PROFLIGATE" MEANS? During the Saddleback College Associated Student Government’s giggly presentation of their budget, Trustee Wagner grumbled about the ASG’s “criteria and priorities,” suggesting that those standards “will encourage profligate spending.”

SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS:


The Honeywell Corporation then came up to present a semi-slick sales pitch for their super-duper digital “video surveillance” system. I do believe that the name of the man from Honeywell was “Ted Nugent.” He did not have a guitar.

Mr. Nugent explained that he used to sell AC units, but, increasingly, he found it necessary to concentrate on video surveillance equipment, which is hot hot hot. Nugent showed charts and graphs and diagrams. The best thing about the new system, he said, is…“risk mitigation.” Sounds impressive!

At first, I wondered if our benighted board had finally decided to monitor the movements, thoughts, and conversations of every employee and student in the district. But no. It appears that the reason for the Honeywell presentation had more to do with cops’ love of new gadgets to hang on their black leather utility belts than the trustees’ love of control.

Trustee Williams, a former bailiff wearing a hideous tie made from a large American flag that hung down near his knees, indicated that it was he who invited Ted Nugent and the Honeywells.

Trustee Fuentes expressed Libertarian “Big Brother” concerns.

Trustee Padberg seemed to ask: if Mission Viejo is the third safest city in the whole dang country, why the heck do we need all this surveillance equipment?

Williams reminded everybody that, once, in the 90s, an itinerant serial killer murdered a student in the parking lot. Plus, in the 70s, some guy ran amok at Cal State Fullerton.

Williams saved his best argument for last: “we live in an era of surveillance cameras,” he declared.

Trustee Jay yelped that “this is a terribly scary place at night.”

Trustee Lang and Chancellor Mathur reminded everyone that this stuff costs money.


MATHUR CAUGHT RED-HANDED:

Eventually, the board got to item 38: “Academic personnel actions.”


A half hour earlier, some of us detected something strange about the agenda. At the Docket meeting back on Oct. 19—when, supposedly, the Chancellor lists upcoming board agenda items—there was no mention of a recommendation to grant the Chancellor a retroactive (to 7/1/06) COLA. And yet the version of the full agenda available at the district website as of Oct. 30 included the following item:


Trustee Jay moved that item J1 be separated from the rest of item 38. That was approved. Eventually, the board returned to item J1.

Trustee Padberg “objected” to the item. For one thing, she said, why is the granting of a COLA to the district’s chief administrator listed under the heading: “Academic Personnel Actions”? Why does this newly added item refer to a “Raghubansh Mathur”—an unfamiliar name?

Padberg declared that these tactics are an “attempt to hide the item.” We’re paying the fellow “$300,000 a year,” she said, and “he does not need a COLA.”

Trustee Milchiker noted that the proposal to grant Mathur a COLA had come up a few months ago and was rejected by the board. (No, actually, the matter was essentially tabled.)

Trustee Lang, that notorious quisling, argued that, not long ago, every other administrator in the district received a COLA. Fairness, he said, demands that the Chancellor receive one too, even though, of course, the Chancellor makes more money than God. (Leave it to a bean-counter to offer so soulless an argument.)

Irvine Valley College Academic Senate President Wendy G was allowed to speak. She noted the curious circumstance that, at Docket, item J1 was not revealed or included. Between Oct. 19 and Oct. 30, she said, J1 was slipped into the agenda.

Chancellor Mathur commenced looking homicidal. His nose pulsated.


Wendy continued: there’s a “Brown Act” issue here. According to the Brown Act, posted agenda items should inform the public just what the board plans to discuss. How is the public supposed to learn that the board intends to discuss granting the Chancellor a COLA when all that they’ve got to go on is the cryptic phrase “additional compensation” appearing under the heading “Academic Personnel Actions”? (See graphic.)

Mathur’s boy Bob King, who wrote the item, was asked to respond. He seemed to say that the agenda says “additional compensation,” and, sure enough, that’s what is supposed to be discussed: additional compensation—for the Chancellor. So there's no prob.

Williams then argued that Mathur is a “professor”—one who happens to be the Chancellor. And so it is right and proper that his compensation is listed under the heading “Academic Personnel Actions.”

Earlier, Trustee Padberg noted that spelling out Raghu’s first name was unusual and served to further obscure the item. This inspired Williams to now argue that Padberg was making fun of Raghu’s name. “You owe him an apology,” he declared.


Milchiker then suggested that "Raghubansh" “is certainly a wonderful name,” but it has never appeared on an agenda before. Besides, she said, the board discussed this COLA idea before, and it failed. Item 38 “is suspicious to me,” she said.

Trustee Fuentes then suggested that perhaps Trustee Padberg has “difficulty with gentlemen whose names have a foreign origin.” (Fuentes is of Spanish origin, via Mexico. "Fuentes" means "fount of appalling evil" in Spanish. Or not.)

Trustee Wagner turned to Bob King, pressing him on the adequacy of the agenda verbiaage relative to the Brown Act and its requirements. (As you know, the SOCCCD board has a history of egregious Brown Act violation.) Wagner seemed to say that he was turning to King for guidance and that he was not getting any. He noted that the agenda refers to “additional compensation,” and yet section J1 refers, not to additional compensation, but to “compensation revision.”

Wagner seemed genuinely peeved.

In the end, King agreed to rethink the item and make sure that, next time, it is properly agendized.

SPAIN AGAIN:


Items 42 and 43 concerned Saddleback College’s “Spanish language studies” trips to Salamanca, Spain (one in spring; the other in summer). Once again, Wagner (and Fuentes?) were unhappy. The spring trip, said Wagner, is an “extraordinarily expensive program.” He wondered whether the department had considered more than one program provider.

Saddleback President McCullough explained that the division and departments did look at various programs, but the others were found wanting.

Wagner sought information from Dean Kevin O’Connor (Liberal Arts). O’Connor again stated that the department considered several vendors. Evidently, the board’s “$50 million liability coverage” requirement scared off many vendors. (You’ll recall that the board embraced that requirement after addressing the dangers of terrorists and marauding Flamenco dancers in connection with the Santander, Spain program.)

Wagner peevishly bemoaned the $50 million requirement. Apparently, no policy covers acts of war or terrorism. Hence, raising the liability amount failed to accomplish what trustees sought to accomplish.

During this discussion, it became clear that most vendors would not go along with this unusual liability requirement.

If his mouth did not say that the requirement was stupid, Mr. Wagner's face surely did.

Fuentes revived the idea that students should go to Mexico instead of Spain. Trips to Mexico are relatively inexpensive.

O’Connor said that the department hadn’t looked at Mexico. He said he could ask them to do that.


Milchiker explained that Salamanca is a city with an Ancient (Roman and Medieval) past. A visit to a city like Salamanca is nothing like a visit to Mexico. It's a case of apples and oranges.

Saddleback Academic Senate President Bob C reminded everyone that a delay in approving these programs would set them back.

Wagner declared that he was “extremely distressed” by Dean O’Connor’s “screw the board” attitude, as he put it. When the matter of cost was discussed previously, said Wagner, O’Connor said he would look into other options, but he clearly didn’t do that. “This is no way to treat recommendations of the board,” he fumed.

Padberg then suggested that the sort of influence Wagner, as an individual trustee, seemed to want over administrators amounted to “micromanagement.”

Eventually, the trips were put to a vote, and they were approved. But Trustee Wagner then pursued a “reconsideration” of the item.

Wagner seemed to say that he and Trustee Fuentes have concerns, and those concerns have been ignored. They’ve had to endure “silly arguments,” he said, about the inexpensiveness of trips when considered relative to “per day” cost.

In the end, the Salamanca trips were approved.


INDECOROUSNESS, REASSIGNED TIME, ETC.:

Vice Chancellor Serban was supposed to make a computer-assisted presentation of her work in pursuit of “institutional effectiveness,” a matter of great importance, according to the Chancellor. But it was getting late, and this yielded an indelicate effort by some trustees to skip Serban’s presentation as unnecessary. In the end, owing to the importance of the topic (re accreditation, etc.), Serban was allowed to make her brief presentation.

The episode seemed to go down badly with many people in the audience.

Item 49 concerned stipends and reassigned time. You’ll recall that, back in 1996-7, then-Trustee Dorothy Fortune led an effort essentially to do away with reassigned time, the practice of relieving instructors of teaching duties so that they can perform other duties (e.g., chairing departments, writing accreditation reports, etc.). Discussion of 49 seemed to revive this old issue.

Trustee Fuentes reminded everyone that Fortune left two “great legacies,” including “this building” and severe limitations on reassigned time for instructors. He seemed to warn against reversing Fortune’s “great” reassigned time-busting reform.

Wendy noted that the prevailing “reassigned time” policy—which restricts RT to 2% (of?)—was set about ten years ago. But in the last decade, the state has greatly increased demands of accountability, and this has multiplied duties that normally fall to faculty. Sticking with this old 2% rule is not fair to faculty, she said.

Item 51 was a report on “intercollegiate soccer at Saddleback College,” the contents of which Mr. Wagner found wanting. The discussion brought out more Wagnerian peevitude, which seemed to be dumped on Dean L.

Discussion of item 51 led to a discussion of the desirability of a “first rate stadium facility,” something strongly advocated by Trustee Williams and Trustee Jay. Trustee Lang threw cold fiscal waters on that discussion.

In truth, the trustees got pretty snippy, and everybody, I think, was glad when the meeting came to an end.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The R-r-r-r-rest of the Story

WHILE DIPPING MY MADELEINE into a mug of linden flower tea on Sunday morning, I read Gregory Rodriguez’s op-ed, A letter-perfect political story in the OC, in the LA Times.

Mr. Rodriguez works with the New America Foundation, a “non-partisan think tank” (read: a startlingly benign think tank) supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, god bless ‘em. They are dead, but their work lives on and, no, they don’t actually drive tanks. They give away those “genius” awards. Interestingly, right-wing AM radio cornball Paul “The Rest of the Story” Harvey was once on their board of directors, when he was not shilling for True Value Hardware.

Hey, John and Cate and Paul, how ‘bout some support for Dissent?

Hello, America! Page two!

Anyway, over at NAF, they embrace words like “compromise,” “reform,” and “non-partisan” toward describing their work, and offer programs that show “that Democrats and Republicans can bridge their differences to improve the system,” a clause which begs for so much more assholery than even Red Emma can summon just now. Good grief.

Page three!

Need more? The big, new thinkers at NAF are all about “Relying on a venture capital approach,” where “the Foundation invests in outstanding individuals and policy solutions that transcend the conventional political spectrum.”

I love transcendence. So does Rodriquez, who transcends the obvious. He begins his thought-piece with the telling and perhaps honest confession that he doesn’t know.
“I don’t know what was more disturbing, the lame attempt to suppress immigrant voter turnout in California's 47th Congressional District or the breathless reporting and hyper-indignation that followed it.”
Okay, so here comes another critique of the political status quo and the media, its co-conspirator. “Disturbing” News Flash for some perhaps, but readers of Dissent and of the Situationists, Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, Frank Zappa, George Lakoff, the good people at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and your aunt Suzy’s blog will understand the symbiotic relationship between corporate media and mainstream political parties and the “social construction of reality,” right? Transcendence, indeed.

It seems Gregory Rodriguez had read, watched, and listened to all the absurd theater from the GOP and Dems alike, including displays of who could be more outraged and shocked and distance themselves from Tan Nguyen, concluding that the Donald Segretti-esque dirty trick wasn’t nearly as relevant as was the media opera which followed, where “plenty of politicos on both sides of the aisle got to prove their benevolence, the media got to show off their high-minded indignation, and nothing, absolutely nothing, was done to alter the political status quo. A perfect story.”


A little too perfect methinked to meself. So Red Emma dipped his cookie in the tea and, instead of resting any longer on his couch, leapt up and emailed Rodriguez, who clearly needs to leap up off of his, asking him to please reconsider. The trick was relevant, it turns out. Where there was smoke, there was Fuentes.

That was Sunday. It’s been two days, and G.R., who must occasionally get email, hasn’t responded to my careful, polite observation that he perhaps missed The Point, which I share with you, below.

Stand by for…news!

Mr. Rodriguez:
I offer two objections to your LA Times analysis today.

First: indeed, the story, as you frame it, might be a “perfect” example of the media and pundit Spectacle variety, where analysts (as yourself) talk about the shallowness of commercial media and lousy politics, apparently toward reminding everybody of how lost we are. But the part you missed, the real story, is potentially interesting, engaging and difficult. Instead of offering the same tired fatalism, why not do some investigative reporting? Nguyen will be forgotten, but should not be, and you could fix that.

Doing a little bit of investigation here would deliver to you a story which activists, not journalists, know about and have done their best to document. When we try to get local media to do the work it should be doing, we get the “editor won’t let me” refrain.

Here’s the story, Mr. R. Check out Dissent the Blog, maintained by faculty and staff of our local South Orange County Community College District (Al Tello’s wife?). Briefly, the woman who was Nguyen’s Campaign Manager, Emilee Tello, is married to the president of one the district’s college foundations, Al Tello (Irvine Valley College Foundation). That person was hired by Thomas Fuentes, former GOP county leader and current SOCCCD member, who took $15,000 as Nguyen’s consultant, which means basically a shakedown so that this “loser” and “rakish” candidate could run against Sanchez. Whoever wins, Fuentes gets his piece of the action.

This is the same Thomas Fuentes who famously hired poll “guards” to intimidate Latinos. He voted to cancel a study abroad program to Spain after the Spanish government left Iraq. And so on. He represents what they call the Old Guard Republicans here in “conservative” Orange County. So, no, the story does not exactly fit the needs of all parties (sic) involved. Only the easy version.

Second: Yes, Nguyen did not have a chance against Sanchez. But do you imagine that the goofy letters don’t reverberate, and play a larger role, doing their intimidating best vis-a-vis other races, notably the State Senate race between Supervisor Lou Correa and Assemblyperson Lynn Daucher? No possible “ethnic disenfranchisement” outside one small district? C’mon.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing was done to alter the political status quo” because of the desire of so many journalists to collaborate with the corporate media and mainstream politicos to accept the easy story. You are right. Now please consider following up on this story yourself.

Yes, “Journalists…determine whether to cover it and from what angle.” How ‘bout it? Give us an angle that challenges the too-easy “letter-perfect” version.

Thanks.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Raghu caught in flagrante delicto


JUST GOT BACK from the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the South Orange County Community College District, and I'm slaphappy!

I'll provide a full report later tomorrow. (I've got that teaching gig that keeps me busy.) For now, I'll just mention the highlights.

Trustee Don "Bull" Wagner was in rare form, peeviosity-wise. He smacked Saddleback College Dean Kevin O'Connor around for a while. Then he dropped him, but he came back later and smacked him around some more. Then he grabbed Vice Chancellor Bob King by his hair and slapped him silly. (The audience cheered that one.) Finally, the brute practically grabbed Chancellor Mathur by his left Goo, suggesting, at one point, that the poor fellow had offered a "stupid" argument!

"With all due respect, that's STUPID!" said Don.

I'm not making this up! (OK, there wasn't any actual slappage.)

Even the delightfully Transylvanian Vice Chancellor Andreea Serban got roughed up a bit, and she hadn't even done anything!

And I'm not even mentioning what Don did to the PE guy! And to Trustee Nancy Padberg!


BUT THAT WASN'T EVEN THE BEST PART! The best part was Raghu P. Mathur's attempt to sneak through that stinky Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that he asked for a few months ago but didn't get, owing to some then-fresh atrocity.

You see, back on the 19th, during the big DOCKET meeting--that's the meeting where shared governance groups get to learn what will be placed on the next board meeting agenda--there was no mention of a COLA for the Gooster. It wasn't there at all! But, somehow, between the 19th and the 30th, the wily fellow snuck that item into a section of the agenda concerning academic employees.

Plus, on this abracadabra item, he used his full name (Raghubansh), something sufficiently exotic as to fail to suggest to readers that it had any connection whatsoever to the Raghu P. Mathur whom we all know and love!

Now THAT'S a nice detail. He's the Napoleon of Slime! (When Nancy P tagged Raghu and Co. on this "unfamiliar name" gambit, Williams and Fuentes virtually called her a racist for "making fun" of Raghu's "Indian" name! Ridiculous! said our Nancy. Maybe you don't like us foreigners! said Tom Sluggo, who sported a delightful pink "stand by our Tan" button on his lapel.)

Well, anyway, luckily, some trustees (Padberg, Milchiker) seemed to be clued in, and so the whole greasy hairball unravelled. (N.B.: at IVC, mixing metaphors is a competitive sport.) Within minutes, the board was like a barrel full of nasty little monkeys and weasels, squealin' and scratchin' and hissin'--and wigglin' that barrel all over the room, causing regular people to scatter like roaches.

Like I said, I'll eventually write up a full report tomorrow. Now, like everybody else who attended that meeting, I've got to get a beer or something.

(Boys, for a good time, go to Stand By Our Tan. Rebel Girl sent me the address, and I'm so grateful!)

(Also: Irvine sucks scum, and hopes you don't notice)

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Unsafe conditions?


AS YOU KNOW, much of Irvine Valley College looks, well, seedy.

And morale among IVC Facilities & Maintenance workers--or at least among custodians--is in the toilet.

IVC's Director of Facilities & Maintenance, Wayne Ward, is smack dab in the middle of a leadership crisis, for many of his employees object mightily to his management style and conduct, accusing him of unprofessionalism, incompetence, retaliation, and more.

Recently, the CSEA (the classified workers' union) sent a letter to Human Resources, warning that an official grievance may soon be filed against Director Ward on behalf of one worker. As we explained over the weekend, Wayne has decided to switch the worker from the day shift to the swing shift, while switching a current swing shifter to the day. He has made this decision despite knowing the extreme hardship that this change would entail for the worker.


Evidently, such actions need to be justified in terms of how they benefit the college/students, but workers tell us that they know of no such justification for this particular action. Further, the worker has received no indication from Wayne that there is any problem with his work or his conduct.

What gives? About six weeks ago, the worker whose shift is being changed participated in filing an Unusual Occurence Report against Wayne (they assert that Wayne behaved unprofessionally, unjustly accusing them of misconduct and threatening them with firing, etc.).

It is hard to see how Wayne's action in this case could be viewed as anything but retaliation.

(Last summer, a worker requested some days off to get married. The day after Wayne signed the papers allowing the absence, and about a week before the wedding, Wayne informed the worker that he would have to work on that day, his wedding day.

(That time, a union lawyer had to enter the fray.)

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Since F&M workers contacted us, they've told numerous disturbing stories about Wayne. We've emphasized to them the importance of being factual and of not exaggerating. But they insist that they are not exaggerating, that their stories are entirely factual.

Some of their anecdotes concern safety. Workers have repeatedly told us that Wayne is more concerned about "how he looks" than about the safety of his employees.

Here are two safety stories.

Custodians sometimes use large, heavy, and unwieldy floor cleaning machines, commonly called "buffers," although they are also used for stripping. Weighing about ninety pounds--it takes two people to lift them--they are often operated using a tricky side-to-side motion. That isn't easy. And it's dangerous.

1. Evidently, at one point, one of the workers (who no longer works for the district) arrived to work "very stoned." Nevertheless (say F&M employees with whom we have spoken), Wayne allowed this plainly "stoned" worker to operate one of the hard-to-handle buffers.

He could have been badly hurt, they insist.


2. On another occasion, Wayne instructed workers to use a particular buffer whose motor housing had clearly broken loose, exposing electrical wiring inside. (Evidently, the floor was wet for this job.)

The workers refused to use the buffer, noting the hazard. The unit was supposedly repaired--with duct tape! (See photo.) But the tape did not hold. Again, the workers refused to use the unit. It has now been relegated to the sidelines, labelled as dangerous by employees. (See photo.)

All of us have heard disturbing stories about Director Ward. And now official complaints are surfacing. But many of us here at Irvine Valley College fear that no real effort to look into the complaints will be made. "President Roquemore," some say, "has decided that he likes Wayne. And so Wayne is protected."

After all, they add, other incompetent managers and administrators have been allowed to keep their jobs. Glenn doesn't seem to respond to complaints.

Is that how things are?

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sand in mis zapatos

You say emigrado, I say immigrante,
You say tomahto, I say tomate.
Tomahto, tomate,
Emigrado, immigrante,
Let's call the whole thing off!
WELL, FOLKS, the IVC Spanish department has weighed in on the Tan Nguyen letter—at least a sampling of them has. Rebel Girl did her best to lure her colleagues into her office and then thrust copies of the letter at them. She must report that the letter's prose style isn't impressive in Spanish either.

The verdict? While the writer (aka Sergio Ramirez) may indeed be a native speaker of Spanish, he has issues with his written expression. Also, the writer is most likely a Mexican-American, that is, an American of Mexican descent as opposed to, say, an immigrante or emigrado, or a Cubano or Salvadoreno or una Peruvian—perhaps someone who grew up in the Central Valley in a Spanish-speaking home, someone who became conversant in spoken Spanish but not in written Spanish. Still, the espanol comes in handy when visiting the tourist resorts Mexico has to offer and when presented with an opportunity to translate a letter spiced with racismo.

This view was determined, I think, primarily by word choice—the term emigrado—and a verb form to which the scholars also objected: registrado, I believe.

What does it all mean?

Beats me. I look forward to the day when we know who crafted this thing, though, and we can see how accurate the estimations of my fine colleagues are.

Meanwhile, Rebel Girl herself remains astonished by the vision at the heart of the story Tan Nguyen keeps telling: how, after the hysteria broke out about the letter, he retreated to the shores of the Pacific where, he claimed, he met many Latinos. He approached them and asked them the meaning of emigrado. These Latinos with sand in their zapatos all told him the same thing: an emigrado is a green card holder and thus, in Nguyen's loca cabeza, they exonerated him and his campaign.

I can't help but picture the scene: Huntington, maybe Corona del Mar. Latino families out for the day with Igloo coolers and folding chairs. It's what we call Indian summer here in So Cal. You can still don shorts and tanks tops and not catch a chill. The kids let the waves chase them. Seagulls squawk. Bags of Doritos flutter in the breeze. Los Tigres del Norte play on the boom box. A slight man dressed in a white button down shirt and dress pants stumbles toward las familias. He clutches a crumpled letter, looks harried.

Can you help me, he asks. Can you tell me what emigrado means? Please? Please?

My family would have run away, but in Nguyen's dream, these people stay, welcoming him and giving him a lesson in Spanish 1. Maybe they even offer him a Coca-Cola. The cold silver and red can feels good in his hot hands. Its promise is sweet.

Pobrecito, they think. Poor man, brought low by the liberal media, misunderstood by his own, sold out by a bad translator. They know how it feels.

Isn't America great?

Where one man can create his own reality!

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Check out:
Sanchez finds self on terror-watch list

Read down to the part about FRIEND OF FUENTES Chriss Street, OC's Treasurer. Sheesh, does Fuentes have any friends or associates who aren't CORRUPT?

Gallaudet ousts incoming President

Looks like the students got their way--thanks, in part, to the power of the blog.

Not so fast! Rethinking fall opening

Today's report  — up again USC reverses robust fall reopening plans, asks students to stay home for online classes LA Times  ...

Invited to IVC—this time a notorious admitted HOMOPHOBE

—Conservative radio host, Michael Reagan


Here at IVC, natch, we have an Accounting Department. It happens to support something called the Guaranteed Accounting Program: GAP4+1.

According to the department website,

This unique pathway program — a partnership between Irvine Valley College (IVC) and Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) — will enable you to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years and a master’s degree with one more additional year (thus GAP4+1).

Among the Master's degrees available through the program, we're told, are "Accountancy and Finance; Taxation; or Accountancy."


We're also told that "The number of students accepted into this program in any one year is limited so be sure to apply early."


Great. The early bird gets the worm.


Evidently, the good people of the GAP4+1 program have recently seen fit to invite someone to speak at Irvine Valley College (in late April): Michael Reagan.




The Republican Party of OC just loves IVC (from their website)

That's right. They've invited Reagan family embarrassment Michael, a man of, let's face it, little or no distinction.


He was expelled from his High School and he washed-out of college. Eventually, he went into clothing sales.


In those early years, he made some curious friends:

In 1965, the FBI warned Ronald Reagan that in the course of an organized crime investigation it had discovered his son Michael was associating with the son of crime boss Joseph Bonanno, which would have become a campaign issue had it been publicly known. Reagan thanked the FBI and said he would phone his son to discreetly discontinue the association. (From Wikipedia's Michael Reagan.)

[“F.B.I. agents in Phoenix made an unexpected discovery: According to records, ‘the son of Ronald Reagan was associating with the son of Joe Bonnano [sic].’ That is, Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Reagan and Ms. Wyman, was consorting with Bonanno’s son, Joseph Jr. The teenagers had bonded over their shared love of fast cars and acting tough.” ... "Joseph Jr. was not involved in organized crime, but he was spending time at his father’s home... [I]n October 1964, he had been arrested in connection with the beating of a Scottsdale, Ariz., coffee shop manager. ... Following routine procedure, F.B.I. agents in Phoenix asked agents in Los Angeles to interview Ronald Reagan for any information he might have gleaned from his son. The investigation, after all, was a top priority. But Hoover blocked them from questioning Reagan, thus sparing him potentially unfavorable publicity. Declaring it 'unlikely that Ronald Reagan would have any information of significance,' Hoover instead ordered agents to warn him about his son’s worrisome friendship." - New York Times]

Later, there were legal problems:

In 1981 Reagan was accused, but later cleared of felony violations of California securities laws in court documents. The Los Angeles County District Attorney alleged that Reagan had baited investors into unlawful stock arrangements, and selling stocks despite the fact that he was not legally permitted to do so. The D.A.'s office investigated allegations that Reagan improperly spent money invested by others in a company, Agricultural Energy Resources, he operated out of his house in a venture to develop the potential of gasohol, a combination of alcohol and gasoline. Investigators said they were also checking whether he had spent up to $17,500 of investors' money for his living expenses. The district attorney's office cleared Reagan of both charges later that year. [“The investigators said they became interested in Michael Reagan after being informed that he had steered customers to Mr. Carey {Richard Francis Carey, who "was selling worthless stock,"} had accepted a $4,000 check from one investor, and that, in at least one meeting of potential investors, his relationship to Ronald Reagan had apparently been exploited as a promotional tool for the stock.” - New York Times]
On September 20, 2012, Reagan and two associates were sued by Elias Chavando, a fellow partner, for allegedly withholding Chavando's interest in an e-mail business built around the Reagan.com domain name. In 2015, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury found Reagan liable for conversion and breach of fiduciary duty. Reagan and his business partners were ordered to pay $662,500 in damages.
(From Wikipedia's Michael Reagan.)

Michael tended to smash things (cars, etc.) in his youth. Well into his 40s, he tells us, he was full of "rage" (owing, he explains, to having been molested) and he treated his family badly.


Then, natch, he found the Lord.


Plus, owing to his relationship to his pop, President Ronald Reagan, Michael grabbed the brass ring and became a talk-show host on one or two right-wing radio networks. Blah, blah, blah, he said.


In his latter-day career as mediocre right-wing bloviater and Pious Christian, Michael Reagan has said some unfortunate things:

In April 2013, in a syndicated column, Reagan accused American churches of not fighting hard enough to block same-sex marriage. He wrote that, in regards to arguments supporting gay marriage, similar arguments could be used to support polygamy, bestiality, and murder.

. . . In June 2008, conspiracy theorist Mark Dice launched a campaign urging people to send letters and DVDs to troops stationed in Iraq which support the theory that the September 11 attacks were an "inside job". "Operation Inform the Soldiers", as Dice has called it, prompted Reagan to comment that Dice should be executed for treason. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a liberal/progressive media criticism organization, asked Radio America at the time to explain whether it permits "its hosts to call for murder on the air".

. . . He spoke out in support of profiling in October 2014. In a piece called Profile or Die, he wrote that it would be left to citizens to defend themselves if there were an attack against them by terrorists such as the Islamic State. (Wikipedia)

Golly. It's pretty clear that Michael Reagan is just another "former total fuck-up, now reborn and pious."


Intellectually, he's a low-rent Limbaugh, and that's pretty low.


I mean, when he gets here, just what is he gonna say? That liberals are evil? That his dad was a saint? That freedom and democracy are good? That you oughta put your life in the hands of the Lord? That you don't need to go to college? That homosexuality is a sin?


Only in Bizarro World would Michael Reagan be judged a good speaker to invite to a college.


* * *

Meanwhile, IVC's Guaranteed Accounting Program folks have only wonderful things to say about the fellow:


Michael Reagan

The eldest son of former President Ronald Reagan and one of the most dynamic and sought-after public speakers, Michael Reagan’s commitments to public service and the conservative vision his father championed are second to none, making him the natural heir to the Reagan conservative legacy. Michael serves as chairman and president of the Reagan Legacy Foundation, which seeks to advance the causes President Reagan held dear and to memorialize the accomplishments of his presidency. Michael’s career includes hosting a national conservative radio talk show syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, championing his father’s values and principles in the public policy forum, commentating and appearing on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Good Day LA, CNN, and Fox News, and contributing to Newsmax Television. Also an accomplished author, Michael has many successful books including On the Outside Looking In, Twice Adopted, and his latest book, Lessons My Father Taught Me.

Well, sure. But he's also the worst kind of insubstantial, opportunistic "celebrity." And he's not an intellectual; he's a propagandist. He's a minor player in our sad era of noisy and loutish conservative anti-intellectualism and demagoguery.


—And he's a homophobe, among other things. Or so he says.


WAY TO GO, GLENN


IVC Prez Roquemore shares Reagan's enthusiasm for the Pussy-grabber-in-chief.

Recent columns by Michael Reagan


ALL IS FAIR IN THE WAR ON TRUMP (Cagle.com) - by Michael Reagan, December 13, 2018

…Hillary continues to skate free, unbothered by the FBI or any federal agency for the dirty things she and the Obama administration’s injustice department did during the 2016 election to try to defeat Donald Trump.

But not General Flynn.

His life was ruined by the FBI bosses who set out to nail him – and did….

TRUMP VS THE CRAZIES (Cagle.com) - by Michael Reagan, January 11, 2019

…Some of the country’s most desperate liberals in the media actually argued that the president’s televised pitch to the country for congressional funding for a stronger border fence should not be carried live by the networks.

Why? Because they said the president lies too much and they wanted to be able to fact-check his speech beforehand….

TRUMP SAYS ‘ADIOS’ TO BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP (Cagle.com) - by Michael Reagan, November 1, 2018

…Ending birthright citizenship, better known as dropping the anchor baby, is the most significant illegal immigration reform the President Trump has announced. With a single executive order, he unplugs a beacon that attracts scammers from the world over. He also attacks a visible manifestation of the “foreigners first” mindset that has infected the State Department, and the rest of the federal bureaucracy, since the 1960s….

THE PARTY OF EVIL (Cagle.com) - by Michael Reagan, October 11, 2018

…Now, thanks to the Democrats’ ugly smear campaign against Judge Kavanaugh, Republican senators like Susan Collins and Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders need security guards 24/7.

It’s not the new Supreme Court Justice who’s evil.

It’s the Democrat Party and the nasty “progressives” who’ve taken it over and are willing to say or do anything or destroy anyone to bring down President Trump.

Maybe this is not something new. Maybe the Democrats have always been this evil….

About Michael Reagan:


A separate peace* (LA Times, August 31, 2004) – by Anne-Marie O'Connor

For years, Michael Reagan, the older son of Ronald Reagan, felt unloved and unwanted. His parents divorced when he was 3. Two years later he was packed off to a boarding school where, he says, he was so lonely he cried himself to sleep. Sexually abused at age 7, he felt shame and self-loathing, compounded by Bible passages that convinced him he would never go to heaven.

He grew up so angry he smashed a childhood bicycle and later took a sledgehammer to his new car. Well into his 40s, his "rage came to a full boil," and he often yelled at his wife and young son.

Then, he says, he found salvation through the love of his family and his "adoption" by God. He embraced conservative values and became a syndicated talk-radio host who today tells listeners: "I am homophobic."….

Roquemore and U of Phoenix

From Clueless IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore smiles as he makes nice with the enemy DtB, 8-26-14

Vice President, Western Region, Workforce Solutions/University of Phoenix, Chuck Parker, President, Irvine Valley College, Dr. Glenn R. Roquemore

Members of the Irvine Valley College community just received this gushing email from the President:

Irvine Valley College Signs Memorandum of Understanding with University of Phoenix

Irvine – Irvine Valley College (IVC) administration, faculty and staff held a formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Phoenix, Inc. (University) on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.

Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore said, “This partnership will expand the many transfer opportunities available to the IVC students and staff. One of the major benefits of the MOU is the tuition discount."

Irvine Valley College students transferring to University of Phoenix into an undergraduate baccalaureate degree program … will be considered as having satisfied the general education requirements for the breadth of the liberal arts degree program….

IVC students get 10% off Phoenix tuition, which is way pricey.

Evidently, President Roquemore is not aware that entities such as the U of Phoenix exist to make huge profits by taking advantage of students who typically receive federally insured loans, putting them in serious debt. Those students, upon graduating, typically fail to find the work they were expecting and often default on their loans, forcing the taxpayer to pay. (It's a massive bubble that, one day, will pop.)

You’re fine with all that, are you Glenn? You're a Republican, aren't you? Yeah. I see you smiling with those vets you claim to love!

Alas, the "predatory for-profits" problem is especially egregious in the case of Vets, who pay their way via the new GI Bill:


GI Bill funds failing for-profit California colleges

(Desert Sun)

The ever-clueless Glenn R

Over the last five years, more than $600 million in college assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been spent on California schools so substandard that they have failed to qualify for state financial aid.

As a result, the GI Bill — designed to help veterans live the American dream — is supporting for-profit companies that spend lavishly on marketing but can leave veterans with worthless degrees and few job prospects, The Center for Investigative Reporting found.

. . .

Financial records analyzed by CIR show that California is the national epicenter of this problem, with nearly 2 out of every 3 GI Bill dollars going to for-profit colleges.

The University of Phoenix in San Diego outdistances its peers. Since 2009, the campus has received $95 million in GI Bill funds. That's more than any brick-and-mortar campus in America, more than the entire 10-campus University of California system and all UC extension programs combined.

. . .

The school's large share of GI Bill funding reflects more than just the number of veterans enrolling. The programs are expensive. An associate degree costs $395 a credit, for instance — nearly 10 times the cost at a public community college.

The University of Phoenix won't say how many of its veterans graduate or find jobs, but the overall graduation rate at its San Diego campus is less than 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and more than a quarter of students default on their loans within three years of leaving school.

Those figures fall short of the minimum standards set by the California Student Aid Commission, which dispenses state financial aid. The commission considers either a graduation rate lower than 30 percent or a loan default rate of more than 15.5 percent clear indicators of a substandard education.

No such restrictions govern GI Bill funds. And nearly 300 California schools that received GI Bill money either were barred from receiving state financial aid at least once in the past four years or operated without accreditation, CIR has found.

. . .

Of the $1.5 billion in GI Bill funds spent on tuition and fees in California since 2009, CIR found that more than 40 percent — $638 million —went to schools that have failed the state financial aid standard at least once in the past four years.

Four of those schools were University of Phoenix campuses, which together took in $225 million….

An Enemy In Common? The Case Against For-Profit Colleges

(Cognoscenti [NPR Boston])

… As Americans, we should all be concerned that veterans are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous profiteers. As taxpayers, we should be aware that we are paying for this disservice. Approximately 85-95 percent of the for-profits’ revenue comes from taxpayer-supported benefits….

For-Profit College Investigation--Is the New GI Bill Working?: Questionable For-Profit Colleges Increasingly Dominate the Program

([Senator] Harkin newsletter)


…Senator Harkin's HELP Committee investigation found:

. . .

  • Most for-profit colleges charge much higher tuition than comparable programs at community colleges and flagship State public universities. The investigation found Associate degree and certificate programs averaged four times the cost of degree programs at comparable community colleges. Bachelor's degree programs averaged 20 percent more than the cost of analogous programs at flagship public universities despite the credits being largely non-transferrable.
  • Because 96 percent of students starting a for-profit college take federal student loans to attend a for-profit college (compared to 13 percent at community colleges), nearly all students who leave have student loan debt, even when they don't have a degree or diploma or increased earning power.
  • Students who attended a for-profit college accounted for 47 percent of all Federal student loan defaults in 2008 and 2009. More than 1 in 5 students enrolling in a for-profit college-22 percent-default within 3 years of entering repayment on their student loans....

Hey-Diddly-Ho, Neighbor!

Oldie but Goodie [2012]: See Senator Harkin’s For-Profit College Investigation: U of Phoenix

Glenn Roquemore, the Pacifica Institute & women's "primordial nature"

Glenn Roquemore, the Pacifica Institute & women's "primordial nature" May 21, 2013

Delivering factoids for

Turkish anti-feminists

Here’s a curious factoid. I came across the following press release, evidently dating back to April of 2008. It was posted by the “Pacifica Institute,” which has a dozen or so offices, including one in Orange County (Irvine):


Glenn R. Roquemore-Irvine Valley College President Speaks at PI - Orange County

Today Pacifica Institute hosted Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore. Before this luncheon forum in Irvine , New Zealand Consul General Rob Taylor and Irvine Mayor Beth Krom were the keynote speakers. Consul General Rob Taylor spoke about Welcoming Diversity as a Path to Peace and Mayor Beth Krom’s topic was How to Create a Balanced Community. Dr Glenn Roquemore’s topic is the Role of Community Colleges in Higher Education.

Dr. Glenn Roquemore is President of Irvine Valley College….

Dr Roquemore gave very important statistics of the Community Colleges in California….

You’ll recall that, in the past, we’ve kidded Roquemore over his tendency to approach speaking always as an occasion to dispense the merest of statistics as though they were astonishing jewels. "Two percent of our students," he'll say, "sport a vestigial tail." Huh?

What’s the matter with ‘im? Dunno.

But just who are these “Pacifica Institute” people?

According to PI’s website,

Pacifica Institute was established in 2003 as a non-profit organization by a group of Turkish-Americans. Pacifica Institute designs and executes projects covering social welfare, education, poverty, and conflict resolution issues in collaboration with scholars, activists, artists, politicians, and religious leaders-communities….

. . .

The Institute seeks to …[engage] in a variety of civic activities and [seeks to invite] others to generate and share insights, thereby removing barriers to confidence-building and trust….

Gosh, it sounds as though that illiterate pseudo-educator, Raghu Mathur, may have had a hand in writing this stuff.

Elsewhere, PI presents “Frequently Asked Questions about Pacifica Institute and Fethullah Gülen.”

One naturally assumes, then, that Mr. Fethullah Gülen and his ideas are important to PI. Sure enough, in the Q&A, Gülen and his movement are central:

Fethullah Gülen

Q: How is the Pacifica Institute involved with the Gülen movement?

A: Some of the founders and donors of Pacifica Institute are participants of the so-called Gülen, or Hizmet movement. Pacifica Institute was inspired by the movement’s philosophy and goals….

. . .

The Gülen/Hizmet movement is a values-driven social movement and following a philosophy that advances interfaith dialog, education and community service as tools to build a better and more harmonious society. The movement was inspired by the philosophy and teachings of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish scholar, author and advocate….

. . .

Q: Who is Fethullah Gülen?

A: Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish scholar, preacher, thinker, author, opinion leader, education activist, and peace advocate who is considered by many to be one of the world’s most influential religious thinkers. He is regarded as the initiator and inspirer of the worldwide civil society movement, the Gülen Movement, which is committed to education, dialogue, peace, social justice, and social harmony….

Well, I’ve done a little looking, and this Gülen fella is mighty controversial, in some circles at least.

I skimmed a couple of sites, which suggested that Gulen is, among other things, a conservative and a vocal opponent of feminism (although I ask that readers judge for themselves based on his writings--and the writings of his mouthpieces).

So I went to the Fethullah Gülen website. There, I searched the term “feminism” and that brought me to a page with links to various relevant essays, evidently by Mr. Gülen, including The Gülen Movement: Gender and Practice.

I clicked on that. That essay includes this passage:

Although he promotes equality between the sexes, Fethullah Gülen's views on gender can indeed be described as complementary. He sees women and men as having equal value but inheriting different roles and characteristics due to physical and psychological differences. He classifies men as "physically stronger and apt to bear hardship" and women as "more compassionate, more delicate, more self sacrificing" (Gülen 2006: 1). Although he does state that women can be involved in any field of work he idealizes the mother as the pure educator (Gülen 2006: 2) implicitly implying that the man should be the family provider. This may open up for critique on behalf of Western feminists or scholars of religion and gender. According to this relatively new academic discipline[,] gender is a social construction. Human beings are born with different sexes, but social roles and expectations of fulfillment of these are constructed and emphasized by the norms that prevail in society.

Another link takes one to an essay entitled Women Confined and Mistreated. Here are some excerpts:

As a reaction to all the injustice done to women … a movement to claim women's rights emerged, particularly in the West. Even though this movement is considered an awakening of women, it occurred as a reaction and was doomed to imbalance like all other reactionary movements and ended up in extremism. Although the starting point was to defend women, in time it deviated from the original aim to the degree of being full of hatred towards men and to feeling a grudge against them. The movement named feminism, which was born from the idea of protecting women and providing them with rights equal to those of men, has only left behind longing, sorrow, and wreckage as a movement of discontentment….

. . .

According to Islam, women's role in this world is not only restricted to doing the housework and raising children. In fact, as long as it does not conflict with her primordial nature or with observing religious requirements, she is responsible for carrying out the duties that befall her in every area of society and making up for shortcomings where men fall short in social life. However, this reality was ignored in time, even among Muslims; rough understandings and crude thinking upset this system based on women and men's mutual assistance. After this upset, both family life and the social order were also upset. Different peoples' perception of their own historical heritage as a part of Islam, their seeing and reflecting their folklore and traditions as essentials of religion, and making judgments pertaining to this issue at certain periods all resulted in the usurpation of women's rights; they were pushed into a more restricted area day by day, and in some places they were totally isolated from life without consideration of where this issue leads. However, the source of mistaken thoughts and deviations in this matter is not Islam whatsoever. The mistakes belong to those who misinterpret and misapply the religion. Such mistakes in practice must definitely be corrected.

On the other hand, while correcting these mistakes, approaching the issue from a feminist standpoint will upset the balance again and an opposite extremism will replace the former. For instance, just as it is very ugly to see women as merely child-bearing objects and is insolence towards them, it is equally unbecoming and unnatural to build a society where women are unable to bear and bring up the children they wish for, or for a woman to feel a need to rebel against marrying and to avoid bearing children in order to show that she is not a machine. As a woman is not a dirty dish, her place at home is not confined to the kitchen with the dirty dishes. However, a woman who claims to have no household responsibilities and thereby turns her home to a quarters for eating and sleeping is far from being a good mother, a good teacher, and a good spiritual guide to her children.

Besides all this, it is another form of oppression to make women work under difficult conditions, such as mining and road-building. It contradicts human nature to push women into heavy tasks like agricultural manual labor, or military field operations, and other harsh pursuits, just for the sake of proving their equality with men; it is nothing but cruel torture. It shows ignorance of women's qualities and conflicts with their primordial nature. Therefore, just as an understanding which imprisons women at home and takes them completely away from social life is absolutely incorrect according to Islam, likewise, depriving women of financial support, preventing them from bearing and raising children in security, and forcing women into the labor force to do uncongenial work is also oppressive. A woman, like a man, can have a certain job as far as her (and his) physiology and psychology are taken into consideration; but both women and men should know that a good life consists of sharing and division of labor. Each should assist the other by doing tasks in compliance with their nature.

Yikes.

I’m in no position to judge this “take” on feminism relative to the various Muslim communities (e.g., in Turkey) and the possibility of discourse within them. But it’s pretty plain that Gülen’s philosophy, as expressed here, is antithetical to some of the core tenets of Western feminism, broadly understood. It seems clear that Gülen is not likely to gain many adherents or followers among contemporary Westerners, with their commitment to the ideal of equality, as they understand it at least, between the sexes.

The Wikipedia article on Gülen is alarming—if, that is, it can be trusted. It asserts that

...Gülen's views are vulnerable to the charge of misogyny. As noted by Berna Turam, Gülen has argued:

"the man is used to more demanding jobs . . . but a woman must be excluded during certain days during the month. After giving birth, she sometimes cannot be active for two months. She cannot take part in different segments of the society all the time. She cannot travel without her husband, father, or brother . . . the superiority of men compared to women cannot be denied." [35]

Berna Turam, Northeastern

Wikipedia is quoting Berna Turam, a serious academic at Northeastern U. She herself seems to cite a work from 1996 entitled Fethullah Gulen Hocaefendi ile ufuk turu (Aktuel kitaplar dizisi). It is written in Turkish.

One should be careful to note that the superiority that Gülen is discussing is physical, not moral, or at least that's how I read it. Even so, his remarks are mighty offensive, at least to these Western ears.


Gosh Glenn, you really oughta be more careful who you hang out with. Philosophically, these Gülenites are a problem, at least relative to most of our community on these shores.

I'll see if I can shed more light on the Pacifica Institute and what it means for the likes of Glenn Roquemore and Beth Krom (a Democrat) to be hanging out with 'em.

Votes of "no confidence" - 1999

from the Dissenter's Dictionary, Dec. 3, 1999


MATHUR, RAGHU P.



In April of 1997, in an action later judged a violation of the Open Meetings law, the Board Majority appointed chemistry teacher and campus joke Raghu P. Mathur as Interim President of Irvine Valley College. At the time, Mathur had no experience as a full-time administrator. Five months later, through a process that violated board policy, and amid strong faculty opposition, the BM appointed Mathur permanent president. That action, too, was later voided owing to violations of the Brown Act. Two years later, despite his miserable record, which included a vote of no confidence and the palpable contempt of nearly all IVC faculty and staff, the board majority renewed Mathur's contract, giving him a raise and a $200 a month "security stipend."

Mathur was hired as an instructor in 1979, and he quickly established a reputation as a schemer and liar who would stoop to anything in order to secure an administrative position. Owing to his manifest unsavoriness, however, that ambition was consistently thwarted both inside and outside the district.

His intrigues soon gained him the hatred of Ed Hart, IVC's first president. In 1986, Hart retired, and the college adopted a "faculty chair" model, partly for fiscal reasons. Soon, Mathur "ruled" the tiny school of Physical Sciences as its chair. During the "chair" era, he was, without doubt, the chief abuser of that office, engaging in endless machinations while arranging a lucrative schedule that netted him a salary far in excess of the college president's ($124,000 in 1996-7).

During this period, Mathur continued to seek administrative positions. When he was passed over, he played the race card, charging everyone in sight with "discrimination," apparently on the sole grounds that he had not been selected.

Mathur's habit, as chair, of circumventing the governance process eventually yielded an official censure of him by IVC's "Instructional Council' in April of 1994. Earlier, the IC membership had all agreed not to go outside the process--particularly with regard to the selection of the IVC presidential search committee chair. During an IC meeting in March (of 94), Mathur was asked whether, despite the agreement, he had presented a petition, urging the selection of a particular faculty member, to the chancellor. He answered that he had "not forwarded" a petition to the chancellor or anyone. In fact, he had and, apparently on that basis, the chancellor did appoint the faculty member as (co)chair.

When this came to light in April, Mathur was censured. According to the minutes of the April 5 meeting, "Instructional Council had agreed that no one will work outside of the IVC governance structure and agreed-upon processes. They felt that Raghu had lied to the Council...[One member] made a motion to censur Raghu Mathur for lying to the Instructional Council regarding the petition and the presidential search process and for misrepresenting not only Instructional Council, but also the faculty...Raghu Mathur stated that he did not lie to the Instructional Council. He said that he was asked if he had forwarded the petition to the Chancellor and he said he had not. He did admit, however, that he had shown the petition to Chancellor Lombardi...Raghu felt that the members of Instructional Council were making too big of a deal out of the situation...The question was called and the motion passed with 8 ayes, 3 noes, and 4 abstentions."

Classified employees, too, have at times found it necessary to complain about of Mathur's conduct. For instance, in August of 1995, IVC administration received a letter from Leann Cribb, Executive Secretary (and formerly secretary for the School of Physical Sciences), in which she wrote: "Mr. Mathur routinely revises facts and manufactures innuendo to suit his objectives." During the January '98 Board meeting, classified employee Julie Ben-Yeoshua explained that Mathur was the reason she was seeking employment elsewhere: "Since you first appointed Raghu Mathur as the interim president, the atmosphere at IVC has changed drastically; morale is in the gutter...[Mathur's] inability to tell the truth is so natural that I have come to gauge everything he says and writes by believing the complete opposite...."

By the mid-90s, Mathur had come to regard Terry Burgess, then-VP of Instruction, as his nemesis, and, in 1996, he tried to discredit Burgess with the board. In the spring of '96, a student sought to enroll in a chemistry course without enrolling in the concurrent lab, and the matter came before the chair--Mathur. Though the student provided documentation proving that she had done the equivalent work at UCI, Mathur denied the request, whereupon the student asked for a review of the decision by the Office of Instruction. Mathur agreed to go along with the Office's decision.

Later, however, he accused Burgess of signing the student's admittance card despite non-approval by the instructor. Mathur convinced his school to send a resolution of complaint to the board (and also to the senate and the union), appending the student's transcripts, without her permission, an action that violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and district policies. When then-IVC president Dan Larios learned of this, he requested an opinion from the district's attorneys regarding the legality of Mathur's action. The opinion, dated March 18, 1996, indicates that Mathur acted improperly, violating FERPA and board policy 5619. Larios was fed up.

Realizing that Larios now planned to deny approval of him as chair of his school, Mathur, as per usual, scrambled to lobby board members for support. On March 29, Larios met with Mathur; he explained that he had lost confidence in Mathur and that Mathur had better "change." In the end, Larios wrote a memo (May 14) expressing his serious reservations about Mathur's leadership, owing to his repeated circumventing of established processes and his violations of board policy, and placed him on probation. If there were any further violations of process, wrote Larios, Mathur would be removed as chair.

In the meantime, Mathur asked the senate to censure Burgess. It declined to do so, citing Mathur's misdescription of crucial facts. Larios, troubled by Mathur's misrepresentations, sent out a memo explaining that Burgess had in no sense acted improperly.

In December of '96, the Board Majority era began, and Larios sensed that it was time to move on. Normally, the VP of Instruction—Terry Burgess--would serve as interim president, but the BM blocked his selection, and, in March, Lombardi was chosen as a sort of compromise. But in April, Frogue presented another one of Mathur's petitions--this time, an “anonymous” petition urging Mathur's selection as president. On that basis, Mathur became IVC president.

Mathur's outrages while president are too numerous to recount here. Suffice it to say that in the early months of 1998, the IVC academic senate instituted a Special Inquiry into “abuses of power.” By April, it became necessary to abandon the investigation, owing to the number and the complexity of the charges against Mathur. Said the committee’s chair: “It’s like bailing water out of the Titanic with a tea cup…Every time we put an allegation to bed, another one jumps up” (Voice, 5/7/98). Soon thereafter, Mathur received a 74% vote of no confidence by his faculty.

Mathur has sought to rule through intimidation, punishing his critics in every way available to him. In early November of 1999, the IVC academic senate released the results of a survey of full-time faculty (78% participated). 90% disagreed with the statement, "I can express my opinion about issues at the college without fear of retribution or retaliation." The 90% figure will likely go up soon, for Mathur intends to fire an untenured instructor--a critic--for his involvement in the act of naming the plot of dirt next to the Life Sciences greenhouse. It was named the "Terry Burgess garden."


Huge Vote Against College Chief (LA Times, May 18, 2004 | Jeff Gottlieb)

Faculty in the South Orange County Community College District overwhelmingly voted no confidence Monday in Chancellor Raghu Mathur.
Of the full-time professors at Irvine Valley and Saddleback colleges who cast ballots, 93.5% voted in favor of no confidence, and 6% were against the union-sponsored measure. One person abstained.
Out of 318 faculty eligible, 246 -- 77% -- voted, according to the district faculty association….

Clueless IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore smiles as he makes nice with the enemy - August 26, 2014

Vice President, Western Region, Workforce Solutions/University of Phoenix, Chuck Parker, President, Irvine Valley College, Dr. Glenn R. Roquemore

○ Members of the Irvine Valley College community just received this gushing email from the President:

Irvine Valley College Signs Memorandum of Understanding with University of Phoenix

Irvine – Irvine Valley College (IVC) administration, faculty and staff held a formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Phoenix, Inc. (University) on Wednesday, August 20, 2014.
Irvine Valley College President Glenn Roquemore said, “This partnership will expand the many transfer opportunities available to the IVC students and staff. One of the major benefits of the MOU is the tuition discount."
Irvine Valley College students transferring to University of Phoenix into an undergraduate baccalaureate degree program … will be considered as having satisfied the general education requirements for the breadth of the liberal arts degree program….

○ IVC students get 10% off Phoenix tuition, which is way pricey.

○ Evidently, President Roquemore is not aware that entities such as the U of Phoenix exist to make huge profits by taking advantage of students who typically receive federally insured loans, putting them in serious debt. Those students, upon graduating, typically fail to find the work they were expecting and often default on their loans, forcing the taxpayer to pay. (It's a massive bubble that, one day, will pop.)

○ You’re fine with all that, are you Glenn? You're a Republican, aren't you? Yeah. I see you smiling with those vets you claim to love!

○ Alas, the "predatory for-profits" problem is especially egregious in the case of Vets, who pay their way via the new GI Bill:


GI Bill funds failing for-profit California colleges

(Desert Sun)

The ever-clueless Glenn R

Over the last five years, more than $600 million in college assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans has been spent on California schools so substandard that they have failed to qualify for state financial aid.
As a result, the GI Bill — designed to help veterans live the American dream — is supporting for-profit companies that spend lavishly on marketing but can leave veterans with worthless degrees and few job prospects, The Center for Investigative Reporting found.

. . .

Financial records analyzed by CIR show that California is the national epicenter of this problem, with nearly 2 out of every 3 GI Bill dollars going to for-profit colleges.
The University of Phoenix in San Diego outdistances its peers. Since 2009, the campus has received $95 million in GI Bill funds. That's more than any brick-and-mortar campus in America, more than the entire 10-campus University of California system and all UC extension programs combined.

. . .

The school's large share of GI Bill funding reflects more than just the number of veterans enrolling. The programs are expensive. An associate degree costs $395 a credit, for instance — nearly 10 times the cost at a public community college.
The University of Phoenix won't say how many of its veterans graduate or find jobs, but the overall graduation rate at its San Diego campus is less than 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and more than a quarter of students default on their loans within three years of leaving school.
Those figures fall short of the minimum standards set by the California Student Aid Commission, which dispenses state financial aid. The commission considers either a graduation rate lower than 30 percent or a loan default rate of more than 15.5 percent clear indicators of a substandard education.
No such restrictions govern GI Bill funds. And nearly 300 California schools that received GI Bill money either were barred from receiving state financial aid at least once in the past four years or operated without accreditation, CIR has found.

. . .

Of the $1.5 billion in GI Bill funds spent on tuition and fees in California since 2009, CIR found that more than 40 percent — $638 million —went to schools that have failed the state financial aid standard at least once in the past four years.
Four of those schools were University of Phoenix campuses, which together took in $225 million….

An Enemy In Common? The Case Against For-Profit Colleges

(Cognoscenti [NPR Boston])

… As Americans, we should all be concerned that veterans are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous profiteers. As taxpayers, we should be aware that we are paying for this disservice. Approximately 85-95 percent of the for-profits’ revenue comes from taxpayer-supported benefits….

For-Profit College Investigation--Is the New GI Bill Working?: Questionable For-Profit Colleges Increasingly Dominate the Program

([Senator] Harkin newsletter)


…Senator Harkin's HELP Committee investigation found:

. . .

  • Most for-profit colleges charge much higher tuition than comparable programs at community colleges and flagship State public universities. The investigation found Associate degree and certificate programs averaged four times the cost of degree programs at comparable community colleges. Bachelor's degree programs averaged 20 percent more than the cost of analogous programs at flagship public universities despite the credits being largely non-transferrable.
  • Because 96 percent of students starting a for-profit college take federal student loans to attend a for-profit college (compared to 13 percent at community colleges), nearly all students who leave have student loan debt, even when they don't have a degree or diploma or increased earning power.
  • Students who attended a for-profit college accounted for 47 percent of all Federal student loan defaults in 2008 and 2009. More than 1 in 5 students enrolling in a for-profit college-22 percent-default within 3 years of entering repayment on their student loans....

Hey-Diddly-Ho, Neighbor!

Oldie but Goodie [2012]: See Senator Harkin’s For-Profit College Investigation: U of Phoenix