Saturday, June 23, 2007

BOOM!

1. WENDY G’S BIG NIGHT

I recently received the following account of IVC Academic Senate Prez Wendy G’s BIG NIGHT with the State Academic Senate (the ASCCC). As you know, Wendy was recently selected to be the first recipient of the Freedom Fighter Award, an award the creation of which she inspired as an attorney and Academic Senate President.

A few years ago, when Chancellor Mathur set about to change the faculty hiring policy without consulting faculty—despite a statute clearly requiring mutual agreement between the district and the Academic Senates—our two senates united and took the district to court. Wendy served as attorney. (See How rude are you?)

It’s a long story, but, in the end, faculty won, and it is widely believed that the victory shall have huge implications for governance in the state’s community colleges.

BIG NIGHT:
I just returned from the State Senate Leadership Institute and it was wonderful. The State Senate Executive Committee went all out. Wendy was treated like a celebrity from being shuttled from the airport, to a nice bottle of chilled white wine waiting for her in her room, to a wonderful dinner and amazing tribute.

Pictures were posted everywhere with the theme, “Everyone Knows It’s Wendy.” For those of you under 50, that’s an allusion to a forty-year-old hit by the pop band the Association.

People actually sang a modified version of the Association tune at dinner!

The State Senate Resolution was effusive in its praise. The actual physical award is a 10 pound falcon, inscribed with an enconium.

Wendy gave an inspirational acceptance speech. She explained the importance of knowing when to confront and when to collaborate, which was the evening's theme. She explained that, when one senate is under attack, all senates are under attack. It is the role, she said, of the State Senate to ensure the local senates’ well-being.

The award is important, she explained, because it underscores how local issues can impact all academic senates.

Naturally, she thanked those who were particularly important contributors to the “hiring policy” initiative.

One again, congratulations, Wendy!
Here's the statute we appealled to when Mathur and the board unilaterially developed and imposed a new faculty hiring policy:
No later than July 1, 1990, hiring criteria, policies, and procedures for new faculty members shall be developed and agreed upon jointly by representatives of the governing board, and the academic senate, and approved by the governing board.
—California Ed Code Section 87360(b)

2. TRADEMARK DOUBLE SONIC BOOM

Did you hear that double sonic boom yesterday?

I was at my parents’ house, visiting with my sister. Then, all of a sudden, “boom!” But I didn’t so much hear it as feel it. My first thought was that something very big had banged or crashed into the house! So I ran outside, but I found nothing.

Then I remembered about the space shuttle. I checked the internet and, sure enough, that was the culprit.

According to this morning’s New York Times,

...The spacecraft, containing a crew of seven, passed over San Diego and Los Angeles, emitted its trademark double sonic boom after it reentered the atmosphere, and glided onto the runway under nearly cloudless skies.

MY PARENTS' PLACE up in the mountains has been the scene of a fair number of weird events. About twenty years ago, I was on their patio one night with my then-wife, my brother Ray, and his buddy, a self-described "dark-green Marine." All of a sudden, we saw a huge craft slowly and silently pass over the house. It seemed to be flying (hovering?) very low. It made no sound at all.

We still have no idea what that was.

3. BOARD MEETING MONDAY

There’s a SOCCCD board meeting Monday night. To download the agenda, go to June 25 board agenda.

We keep hearing that big things are brewing, and so the meeting might offer surprises. The agenda doesn’t tell us much.

The (sub)agenda for the board’s closed session includes:

A. Public Employee Appointment, Employment, Evaluation of Performance, Discipline, Dismissal, Release (GC 54957): (1) Public Employee Appointment/Employment -- a. IVC Vice President of Instruction, b. IVC Chemistry Professor

Item (a): Cal Nelson is retiring from his VPI duties and the word is that, recently, his replacement has been hired (pending board approval). We also hear that it was a good selection. SURE HOPE SO.

What’s item (b)?

Among the CONSENT CALENDAR items are rejection of seperate claims made against the district by Suzanne Dobbs and Suzanne Hammel.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mathur loses motion

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Concerning the discrimination suit brought by former IVC instructor Cely Mora against former IVC President Raghu P. Mathur: reliable sources tell us that Mathur moved for fees against Aracely and the judge denied his motion.

You'll recall that Mora lost the case in Federal Court not long ago. (See Mora's testimony.) Nevertheless, in the course of the trial, Mathur's remarkable unprofessionalism and incompetence were fully revealed by witness testimony and documents, and not only with regard to the hire of the unstable and dangerous Mr. Rod Poindexter. (See Reference checks.)

During the trial, it became plain that Mathur is in the habit of messing with hires and imposing his will against all reason.

Mathur's explanation for hiring Poindexter, a man who appeared to have none of the background necessary for the dean position for which he had applied, came down to alleged information provided during a mysterious reference check, the documentation of which has been lost. Or so said Mathur.

The judge's decision means that the district had to pay over $250,000 to defend Mathur.

Mathur once sued the district to cover expenses incurred when he unsuccessfully sued an instructor and former administrator for revealing (in Dissent) his violation of a student's privacy rights. The district coughed up about $40,000 for the notoriously parsimonious fellow.

As Chancellor, Mathur makes about $300,000 a year, a salary without equal among college districts of the size of the SOCCCD.

Addendum:

Re the unsuccessful lawsuit, I dug this up from an old Dissent:
September 1, 2000: it’s 12:45, and I get a cell-phone call from Wendy P, who’s been teaching all morning. She tells me that she has just served Raghu Mathur with papers regarding his “Judgment Debtor’s Exam.”

I should explain. You see, back in January of 2000, Mr. [Ra]Goo filed a suit against Terry Burgess—and me—regarding my reports, in three issues of Dissent, regarding Mathur’s violation of a student’s right to privacy as delineated by a federal law (FERPA).

That Mathur had violated that law was, at any rate, the conclusion of the district’s lawyer, Spencer Covert (yes, Covert—I’m not makin’ this stuff up!), who had been asked, by then-IVC president Dan Larios, to provide an opinion on the matter. Ironically, Mathur, a man who can neither detect nor pronounce irony, believes that the Dissent stories amounted to a violation of his privacy rights, and so he sued us for $50,000. According to Mathur, the only way I could have secured the documents I reported on was through the help of Terry Burgess, formerly the VP of Instruction. (That’s nonsense. The documents had been readily available on campus for years.) Thus Burgess was included in the suit.

Unfortunately for Raghu, the great state of California has a law (the anti-SLAPP statute) designed to protect citizens from lawsuits that are filed by powerful interests—developers, politicians, et al.—merely in order to silence legitimate criticism. SLAPP suits are burdensome annoyances, or worse, for defendants, but they produce a chilling effect on potential criticism by others as well. They thwart free speech.

To make a long story short, we responded to Mathur’s suit by appealing to the anti-SLAPP statute, which yielded a quick dismissal. In court, Judge Brenner noted that my Dissent reports were both true and newsworthy and that, further, there was no evidence whatsoever that Burgess provided the information regarding Mathur that I had reported. In fact, he hadn’t.

As per the law, Brenner ordered Mathur to pay Burgess and me costs and attorneys fees. That amounted to $34,000 and change. Ouch!

This was months ago.

But, as of this day (Sept. 1), Mathur hasn’t paid. In such situations, the prevailing side files for a “Judgment Debtor Exam.” Once it is granted, the “judgment debtor” is served papers that inform him that he must appear in court on a certain date. “If you fail to appear…you may be subject to arrest and punishment,” say the documents.

On August 29th, Carol Sobel, my attorney, filed for a debtor’s exam for Mathur. The order was granted on that day. So, on this day—the 1st of September—Wendy serves Raghu with the papers:

“Hi Raghu. I’ve got something for you!” chirps Wendy.

He stares but doesn’t move. She hands him the papers, smiling broadly.

Eventually, he takes them, glumly thanks her, and then disappears behind the door of his office.

Later, someone tells me that she thinks she heard Mathur crying and banging his head against a chair. But she isn’t sure.

Could be, though. The document orders Mathur to bring 27 kinds of document, including

All checkbooks, registers, and canceled checks for all savings, checking, credit union, bank, mutual fund accounts and/or all other accounts owned by you and/or you and your spouse for the past three years…All payroll check stubs for you and/or your spouse for the past three years…All passbooks for savings, checking, credit union, bank, mutual fund accounts, and/or all other accounts owned by you and/or your spouse for the past three years…All financial statements listing your assets…during the past three years…All stock registers or other records of stocks presently owned by you…All documents evidencing any partnership interest in property owned by you…All credit card applications…Ownership documents…Your state and federal income tax returns for the past thee years…

—and so on. Jeez, I’d cry too. The exam is set for September 19th.
Above: in the end, Raghu writes the check. There were tears.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Parade update: flurry power

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ACCORDING TO this morning’s LA Times,
The "Magical History Tour" bus may roll back into Huntington Beach's Fourth of July parade. ¶ Parade organizers had snubbed the 1967 Volkswagen bus, which honors the Orange County lawsuit that desegregated California schools, because it lacked "entertainment value," although the U.S. Postal Service has deemed the lawsuit worthy of a commemorative stamp. ¶ But after a flurry of media attention, organizers on Tuesday told filmmaker Sandra Robbie, who proposed the entry, that they wanted to steer her bus back into the Independence Day parade, billed as the largest in the western United States, with 250,000 people expected to watch. ¶ …Pat Stier, who chairs the board that oversees the parade, said organizers also wanted the bus to mesh with the 300 or so other entries. ¶ "I said, 'Can you make it more patriotic and put some music on it and make it more fun?' " ¶ … "She's got a great cause," Stier said. "We just have to make it a fun great cause."
Yeah, can you make it more patriotic and ... more fun?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Organized crime, real and imagined, in the OC

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1. Does “entertainment value and patriotism” trump a sense of history? Why, sure it does! It’s Orange County!

In Today’s LA Times: Parade rejects entry on desegregation:
The Orange County lawsuit that desegregated California schools was deemed of such historic significance that a postage stamp commemorating it will be released in September. But organizers of the Fourth of July parade in Huntington Beach—the largest in the western United States—denied an entry celebrating the 60-year-old ruling, saying it lacks "entertainment value." ¶ Filmmaker Sandra Robbie, who produced an Emmy-winning documentary about the lawsuit and proposed the parade entry, vowed to fight the decision, which she called baffling.¶ ...The case, Mendez vs. Westminster School District, ended segregation in California schools in 1947 and set the stage for the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that outlawed school segregation nationwide seven years later. In the Mendez case, Latinos and whites were sent to separate schools.

¶ …Connie Young, a spokeswoman for the parade's organizers, said a committee of City Council appointees reviewed parade applicants. Approximately 300 entries, from marching bands to patriotic displays to dignitaries, will participate. Fewer than 20 applications were turned down. ¶ "It didn't have enough entertainment value, that's what the parade committee looks for," Young said….
Meanwhile, the OC Register (Filmmaker denied July 4 parade application) reports that, according to parade organizers,

…Robbie's application was denied by the parade's eight-member board executive board because her request didn't align with the general theme of the parade. ¶ The parade's board looks primarily at the entertainment value and patriotism in reviewing applications, said Connie Young, the spokeswoman for the organizers. ¶ …"It appeared that this application was more about this woman's self-promotion," Young said. "The denial of this application is not meant to diminish in any way the significance of the Mendez case."….
2. Looming trouble for OC's Republican Mafia?

As you know, the Republican Mafia (Mike Schroeder and his gang, including the DA and the Sheriff) pretty much runs the show in the OC. Sheriff Mike Carona is notoriously corrupt and embarrassing, and so one of his employees, Lt. Bill Hunt, ran against him and all that he represented. Early on, the local GOP declined to endorse Carona—what with his being corrupt and embarrassing—but the Mafia connived a switcheroo. In the end, Carona won reelection by a whisker. Hunt was then demoted to beat cop. Then he quit. Now he’s suing:

According to the Times (O.C. sheriff's election rival sues over demotion):
A former Orange County Sheriff's lieutenant sued the county and Sheriff Michael S. Carona on Monday, saying he was unfairly demoted for criticizing the sheriff .... ¶ Bill Hunt was placed on administrative leave the day after the June 6, 2006, election in which Carona was reelected, narrowly avoiding a runoff with 50.9% of the vote…. ¶ …The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, alleges that the demotion was retaliation for Hunt's campaign comments and violates his rights to free speech and political activity.... ¶ …During last year's campaign for sheriff, Hunt made several critical comments about Carona's leadership, saying that numerous controversies had given the department a black eye and that the sheriff had failed as a leader….
Meanwhile, the Reg (Hunt files political retaliation claim against Carona) reports that
A third legal claim was filed Monday accusing Sheriff Mike Carona of political retaliation against members of his department who refused to support him in last year's election. ¶ ...[Hunt's] suit is similar to the claims of retaliation made by retired Lt. Darrel "Guy" Poncy and Lt. Jeff Bardzik after they supported Hunt….
3. Board wacko Rocco responds to Recall effort

According to the Reg (Orange Unified board member answers petition to recall him),
Orange Unified School District trustee Steve Rocco has filed a response to the recall effort against him with the Registrar of Voters Office. ¶ The one-page response, filed last week, alleges cronyism, nepotism and organized crime involving those who initiated the recall and a number of his fellow trustees. ¶ The response comes after a district parent, Michael Foster, handed Rocco the notice of intention to circulate a recall petition during a recent board meeting…. ¶ "Mr. Rocco refuses to participate in closed session meetings, refuses to vote on most issues …," the notice of petition states. ¶ Rocco's filed response supplies dates and details of alleged events of the "criminal partnership," which he states five of his six colleagues on the board of trustees are involved in.... [My emphasis.]
4. Philosophers take aim at Wikipedia

This morning’s Inside Higher Ed alerts us to this blog posting: Martha Nussbaum and Wikipedia: A Case Study in the Unreliability of Information on the Internet. Check it out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Our conundrum

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1. Among other things, Irvine Valley College’s nearly completed Performing Arts Center (PAC) is an enigma. Many of us routinely step back from it and ask,

— “These shapes. These colors. What do they mean?”

No one expects an answer. One ponders, is all.

This is what distinguishes us from the animals. No animal would waste time like that.

2. Some say that the odd Red Patch of the PAC, as seen from the west (Jeffrey Boulevard), is an homage to the state of Texas.

Well, I’ve looked into that, and I don’t think so. (See.)

3. After teaching my class today, I wandered to the back of the PAC. The sky was very blue. The sun was intense. The shapes and colors of the PAC seemed not only to glow but to radiate heat.

I was enjoying myself in silence, allowing my mind once again to idle pleasantly upon the PACitudinal apparition.

I noticed some kind of construction worker, who was doing something near his truck. He was near enough to talk to. So, after a while, I said, in a loud voice,

“Well, what do you think of it?”

Somehow, he knew what I meant. He briefly paused and looked over his shoulder. He said, “It’s a fucked up mess.”

I smiled at him. After a while, he added, “If you ask me.”

4. My friends in Fine Arts acknowledge that the PAC is odd. From the outside. On the inside, they say, it is "pretty fucking wonderful."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sarah & Adam on Father's Day

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Sarah is 4 and a half. Adam's nearly 3:

Ill-advised bottle removal in Mission Viejo*

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In this morning’s OC Register: Suspicious object destroyed in Mission Viejo:
A Best Buy store was evacuated and shut down for more than four hours Saturday after a clerk found a suspicious device that a bomb squad later determined to be harmless, authorities said.

A clerk found the object—described as a water bottle with duct tape and wires—about 4 p.m., and removed it by hand from the store, an act officials called ill-advised. The Best Buy and several adjoining stores in the 25000 block of El Paseo were evacuated.

The Sheriff's Department bomb squad inspected the device with a robot and, about 8 p.m., destroyed it with a water cannon, said Sheriff's Lt. Lee Trujillo. Investigators determined the object was not an explosive and are treating the incident as a hoax.

No threats have been received, and there are no suspects,Trujillo said.

*All photos are artists' deconstructions

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

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

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

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

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

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

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary