Monday, April 30, 2007

Last week's board meeting: sandwiches described and machinations exposed

WELL, it’s been another busy day, and tomorrow promises to be an even busier one.

In the morning, I’m off again to downtown LA, to the U.S. Courthouse, across the street from the old Los Angeles City Hall Building, to attend Week Two (well, day 4) of the Mathur “discrimination” trial. I’ll be taking the train, cuz tomorrow is also the day of the Really Big Immigration March, which, naturally, happens right there, more or less, near Olvera Street. Luckily, Rebel Girl is up to speed on train travel, and so I’m feeling like a man with a plan. And an adventure.

At Irvine Valley College, there’s been lots of intense buzzage about this trial—the Trial of the Century!—which, is, among other things, an occasion for public revelation of innumerable Corrupt Mathur Stories. I’ve gotta say, just sitting there, listening to the witnesses, it pisses me off anew that (most of) our Board of Trustees have steadfastly refused to believe these old Corruption Stories. Meanwhile, they’ve allowed a once-great community college district to sink into mediocrity and ridiculousness.

These trials are like battles, and attorneys are like generals, constantly switching tactics on the fly and moving pieces in and out of danger, and so, even though I've communicated with Field Marshal Sobel, I can’t be sure what’s on tap for tomorrow, aside from the completion of Cely Mora’s testimony. I’m hoping that Mathur will be up after Cely, but, in truth, any of the defense witnesses should be loads of fun, cuz they’ve either gotta lie or tell the truth, and, either way, well, they can’t miss, funulosity-wise.


I never got around to reporting on last week’s regular board meeting (on the 23rd), aside from a few points. So I’ll try to do some catch-up here.


As I reported last week, faculty offered remarks to the board during “public comments.” Academic Senate Presidents Cosgrove and Gabriella spoke, as did Lewis L of the Faculty Association (union), who noted that the district’s faculty contract proposal is “provocative and contentious.” The last negotiations, noted Lewis, dragged out for three years. Lewis asked the trustees to consider whether this unfortunate proposal will “promote collegiality.”

Will S noted that the proposed contract mandates faculty attendance of the chancellor’s and Presidents’ opening sessions. That, he said, smacks of “micromanagement.” “Let’s get beyond this,” he said.

Jeanne E found the proposal to be “insulting.”

Susan F noted the importance of the “reassigned time” issue. She explained that the list of faculty tasks has greatly expanded in recent years, and so faculty chairs are doing more work than ever.

Kurt M described faculty dedication and noted that much faculty work is uncompensated.

Kathie S suggested, grandly, that “we are our faculty and our curriculum.” She bemoaned the lack of respect for faculty—by persons unidentified.

The prayer issue was mentioned again. It’s not going away, that’s for sure.

Tom W acknowledged that he used to worry about the quality of the Chancellor’s opening session, but “then came Elvis.”


During trustee reports, Trustee Don Wagner suggested that some of the concerns about contract negotiations that were being expressed that night were “premature.” It wasn’t clear—not to me at least—whether he really wanted to reassure us. Maybe so.

Williams alluded to yet another Florida conference that he had attended. Mathur went with him.

Mathur asserted that faculty need not get alarmed about the contract negotiations. “It takes two to make it happen,” he said, tautologically, though he didn’t detect his remark's vacuity, nor does he know what the word “tautology” means. Nor "vacuity."

Once again, the insufferable fellow said that he looks forward to speedy negotiations.


Item 6.2 was “Curriculum Development and Process, and Planned Enhancements.” Mathur explained that, for the March board meeting, the senate presidents had offered brief reports about the curriculum process during “public comments,” but these, he said, were “inadequate.”

In fact, Mathur was hopping mad about those reports. In the week or so after the March board meeting, he made it known to the VCs and Senate Presidents that the trustees had been horribly insulted and offended by those reports, and so he was determined to make faculty go back and give “real” reports—you know, with PowerPoint, etc.

The senate presidents, however, could not figure out what the fellow wanted from them. Meanwhile, Mathur kept turning up the heat: Report! Report! Report! This ultimately led to IVC Senate President Wendy G taking the uncharacteristic step of calling up board president Lang to apologize for insulting the board and asking the fellow just what in hell the trustees wanted curriculumwise. Lang said he didn’t know what she was talking about. He wasn’t insulted and he was not aware that anyone else was insulted.

So it looks like Wendy accidentally stepped on one of Mathur’s ugly machinations and broke it in two.

At one point during the meeting, Mathur cited Wendy’s phone call as an example of how faculty cause the board to micromanage (it’s faculty’s fault, doncha see?). He was doing some serious finger-pointing and blaming. You know, like he always does.

But Mathur’s ugly little gambit backfired on ‘im, publicly. During the meeting, Wendy and Dave had a brief exchange in which Dave made it clear that she really ought to call more often! Yup. Turns out Wendy and Dave never talk, and so he was glad to hear from her. Plus, she called only to apologize and to get clear about this presentation, right Dave? Yup. And when Wendy tried to apologize, Dave said, Huh?—right, Dave? Yup.

That stuff about the trustees being horribly insulted by those brief faculty presentations? Mathur made it up from whole cloth.

Well, last Monday, Saddleback and IVC’s main “curriculum” persons gave their curriculum presentations, and they were good.

Howard Adams explained how faculty “grind out the sausage.” Wagner kept asking, “How do you know they’re doing a good job?” Lang asked, “what about SLOs?” In general, the trustees’ questions revealed profound cluelessness—about the process, about the work involved, and especially about academics.

Kathie S’s presentation was also good. Wagner pronounced the presentations “excellent”—and this is a guy who isn’t impressed by much. Still, he said that he expected more of a “here’s what’s new” presentation. Kathie tried to explain why new programs and courses aren’t really what you can expect from an established institution. Such institutions are up to speed.

Well, here’s the thing. The board seemed to respond well to what they were learning. They seemed to be surprised and impressed. That's GREAT. But, geez, HOW CLUELESS CAN YOU GET?


Next up was information about security services. Some people from Honeywell came up to explain their gizmos. In the middle of all that, Wagner returned from a brief absence and commented, wryly, that it was sounding like “an ad for Honeywell.” Then he said something snippy about Florida, I think, but I didn’t catch it. Dang! Something interesting was going on—something about Williams’ junkets, I think—but I didn’t have a clue what it was! Anybody know?

4.7 There was lots of peevish discussion about the bookstore contract (going to Follett) and how, in Wagner’s words, the bookstores have been “ripping off students.” An administrator came up to explain about how it’s the publishers’ fault, but Wagner wasn’t having any of it.

4.10 There was some discussion about the recommendation to change the Food Services vendor at IVC. Somehow, that discussion went south fast. At one point, somebody had to explain about how this new vendor was gonna make these pita sandwiches, and, just before he got to the ingredients, somebody cut him off. Too much info!

5.1 The board approved the “Exclusive Right to Negotiate Agreement…with Camelot Entertainment.” It was unanimous, and there was no discussion. Can somebody explain what this means?

5.5 Only Bill Jay voted against approving the “district’s initial proposal for negotiations with the…Faculty Association….”

Well, that was about it. —CW


Anonymous said...

pita sandwiches?

Anonymous said...

For the exclusive right to negotiate regarding Camelot productions, see the minutes of the last Humanities and Languages School Meeting.

Professor Zero said...

I am delighted that this trial is actually happening...

And psst ... guess what ... our President finally resigned!

Anonymous said...

I am delighted too - and impressed - Cely could have just let it go - I am glad she didn't.

and congrats on your president's resignation - if congrats are in order. You do sound happy!

Chunk Wheeler said...


Let's not start any wild rumors!

It is Prof Zero's President who resigned. IVC's prez hasn't gone anywhere.

Besides, our issue concerns the Chancellor.

Anonymous said...

oh - and you got me all excited! darn!
I was hoping for dominoes!

Anonymous said...

"collegiality" with socialist faculty - NEVER!

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with socialism, 8:12?

Anonymous said...

Collegiality with conservative and liberal and libertarian and Christian and Jewish and Muslim and pagan and Buddhist and Hindu and atheist faculty? You bet!

One of the nice things about the whole SOCCCD debacle over the last ten years is the amount of times I have looked around the room and seen such varied faculty all united in their opposition to poor administration and misuse of tax payer money.

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