Saturday, November 21, 2009

On being named in a lawsuit

There may be some confusion concerning the status of the defendants in the “prayer” lawsuit (“Westphal v. Wagner”). As you know, several people, including each of the SOCCCD trustees, have been named as defendants in that suit.

But they are not all being sued in the same way.

Dual capacities:

DONALD P. WAGNER is being sued individually and in his official capacity as a member and the president of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.

JOHN S. WILLIAMS is being sued individually and in his official capacity as a member and the vice president of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.

THOMAS A. FUENTES is being sued individually and in his official capacity as a member and the clerk of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.

RAGHU P. MATHUR is being sued individually and in his official capacity as chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District.

TOD A. BURNETT is being sued individually and in his official capacity as president of Saddleback College.

Only in their official capacity:

On the other hand,

DAVID B. LANG, WILLIAM O. JAY, NANCY M. PADBERG, and MARCIA MILCHIKER are only being sued in their official capacities as members of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're doing this but am curious as to why IVC is not mentioned in the lawsuit and why Glenn isn't a defendant.
10:17 AM, November 22, 2009

B. von Traven said...
I won't go into details, but these suits are somewhat complex, since there are significant distinctions between venues of prayer, kinds of prayer, and actions of officials, etc. There are also differing objections to these episodes. I will see about providing a link to the complaint so that readers can learn the relevant facts.
10:36 AM, November 22, 2009

Anonymous said...
IVC needs relief from this kind of forced worship too! I go to work here - not pray here!
10:45 AM, November 22, 2009

It is what it is

On Thursday, young Mr. B wrote me. He asked:

How do you feel about a phrase like, "It is what it is..."?

I responded as follows:
Excellent question. ... [T]he expression does seem to express something of significance. I say this because there are times when I am attracted to the phrase—I mean, I want to (or do) say it. But then I wonder what I'm saying or trying to say. (How odd that one can say something and not know what one meant….)

I guess I've got to have concrete instances of its usage…. Got any? What do you make of it?
Mr. B soon responded:
...[T]he phrase frustrates me ... because it is often used as an argumentative tactic against me. "Why explain something?" they seem to ask. "It is what it is." Though, as you indicate it may have some significance. It's just that these individuals I speak of often say it so casually turning something potentially sublime into a fuckin' handshake.

So what could it mean? I think I have said it, referring to the context of some thing. I find that common, everyday language lacks rules (or words, or symbols, or whatever) to discuss contexts as symbols of their own so we are reduced to these seemingly vague situations of describing "it" by that physical existence that "it" is.

For example, "a tree is a tree" is vague sounding, unless I take you outside and say "a tree is (I then point at a tree) a tree," then that whole human experience thing, plus my words, aid in your understanding of what a tree is.

I could be wrong, but I am just chattin' right now, so forgive me if I sound like a total tool.
[At this point, I sense a yawning generational gap. “Chattin’”? A “tool”? Wow, B is grody to the max! He continues:]
So, perhaps you have stood at the beach on a pleasantly chilled clear dawn, maybe not viewing the sun, but gazing across the vast sea, feeling a tickling of excitement in your body that you get to experience something so grand, and "What is that?" you might ask. It is what it is.

[Something wonderful yet indescribable! "Do not sully it with your analyses!"]

I guess in this little fit I am throwing, I think that only people who get that should be allowed to say the phrase. [Most of the time, uttering “it is what it is” provides] a sort of safe haven for people who have no fucking clue as to what they are talking about—to sound wise, or knowledgeable or something.

Get what I am saying?

Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, 1930

Two days later, utterly ignoring B’s profounder suggestions, I replied [actually, I am hereby replying to him]:
B, I was watching some stupid TV show, and I saw a guy look up at a big amusement ride and say, “Once it’s built, it is what it is.”

OK, so, here, “it is what it is” (IIWII) seems to mean, “You may want to change this, but there’s no changing it now. Deal with it.”

It then occurred to me to consult the Urban Dictionary.

The first UD contributor asserted that IIWII means “fuck it,” but “fuck it” itself stands in need of analysis, and, besides, his definition got lots of southward thumbery.

Contributor 2 offered two meanings:
A) A phrase that seems to simply state the obvious but actually implies helplessness.
B) A phrase that seems to simply state the obvious but actually means "it will be what it is," as in "it ain't gonna change, so deal with it or don't."
Contributor 3 suggested a definition that seems to match B above:
A cliché, popular within the circles of coaches, business execs, and those of us who just want to say "It's happened. 'I'm going to forget about it. I'm going to move on. There is nothing that can be done about it."
"We showed up and gave 100%, and it is what it is."— NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, after finishing second in the Nextel Cup championship.
Contributor 4 wanted to vent about assholery. He reminded me of you, B:
A trite, overused and infuriatingly meaningless cliché that is utilized by provincials who think they are adding some deep, meaningful insight during a discussion when all they are offering is senseless, unwarranted repetitiveness to what would otherwise be a far better conversation had they not shown the shallowness of the gene pool they spawned from by using this asininely useless and redundant phrase to begin with.

An interesting conversation is being had, when quite suddenly….
Yeah, many who use IIWII should be slapped upside the head. Much the same, of course, could be said of people who use the word “utilize.”

But, hey, it is what it is. (Thwock!)

Contributor 5 seemed to detect an admonition in IIWII: don’t try to define the indefinable, College Boy:
In a nutshell, it means "this is the way its going right now, and that’s how it is." Kind of a way to say: don’t overthink the situation. A reminder to keep things simple, don’t overanalyze things, or a way to put a definition on something that’s hard to explain.

Friend: "So what's the deal with you and Bobby? I thought you guys were together, but then someone said you broke up, and then somebody else told me you were broken up but 'friends with benefits' So what's the true relationship status?

Girlfriend: it is what it is.

Anaheim, 1896

Well, all of this reminds me of my favorite quotation, attributed to Bishop Butler, which appears at the beginning of G.E. Moore’s famous Principia Ethica, published in 1903:

“Everything is what it is, and not another thing.”

Trivial? Tautologous? Well, no.

Moore is famous for his assertion that moral “goodness” is an indefinable concept. For centuries, philosophers have sought to define “the good,” but those efforts appear not to have succeeded.

Moore offered an argument. Hedonists (to pick one kind of thinker) tell us that, ultimately, only pleasure has value—that pleasure is the good and “pleasant” is the meaning of the word “good.”

But, reasons Moore, if the meaning of “good” is “pleasant,” then the question "Is it good that x is pleasant?" should not be an open question. That is, it should strike us as trivial.

Confused? Well, consider a term whose meaning is clear. Consider “bachelor.” A bachelor, by definition, is an unmarried man (more or less). This statement—that a bachelor is unmarried—seems trivial to us exactly because “unmarried man” is indeed the meaning of “bachelor,” and so, naturally, saying that a bachelor is unmarried strikes us much like saying that an unmarried person is an unmarried person, which is a trivial and obvious thing to say.

Therefore: it is an indication that we have not successfully defined “bachelor” with “X” if asking, “Is a bachelor X?”, strikes us as a significant (an “open”) question.

According to Moore, any attempted definition of “goodness” runs into this difficulty: the statement that goodness is X (where X is an alleged definition of “good”) always strikes us as non-trivial. And so, he concludes, no definition of “good” works. “Good” is indefinable.

Everything is what it is and it is not another thing.

* * * * *

We have worked hard on the project, you and I. But we are now finished. Our friends and supporters stand with us at this moment of completion.

At once, we all stand back and behold IT. We—you and I—are not entirely sure that we have succeeded.

“It is what it is,” you say.

After a few seconds of ominous silence, you turn to me: “Do you have anything of significance to add?”

“Yes I do,” I reply. All eyes dart my way. Everyone awaits my words.

Finally, I declare: “There’s no changing it now. We must accept it as it is, whatever its virtues or vices.”

Question: how many assessments have now been offered? One or two?

IT #2

I wake up as always. I stand sleepily over the percolator. I sense something odd about the morning light outside. I wander out the door, looking toward Santiago Peak.

Just then, B drives up. “Wuzzup?” I say.

“Nothing,” he says, as he climbs out of his car. We stand together, staring northward, in silence.

Suddenly, an enormous head rises above the mountain. It fills the sky, as the moon plunging into Earth might do. It is the head of a vital yet aged Italian man.

God’s head.

Soon, the head is immediately above, looking straight down at us. We are stunned and motionless, staring skyward.

“B, Roy. I want to show you two something,” booms God.

Fantastically, we are transported upward. Evidently traveling at many times the speed of light, we are brought to a vast and colorful nebula. We race into its center, and we see and hear and feel things beyond our wildest imaginings. Somehow, we are neither frightened nor stupefied. We are dazzled and moved beyond anything we could ever have dreamed. Our minds are aglow.

Then, suddenly, we are brought to the percolator and the ordinary morning kitchen.

We stand, silent.

After a few seconds, B and I look at each other, wide-eyed. I begin to speak, desperately attempting to describe our experience.

But B’s eyes say no. I stop.

“It is what it is,” he says. “It…is…what…it…is.”


alannah said...

Don't forget Exodus 3:14! "I am that I am."
7:19 PM, November 21, 2009

13 Stoploss said...
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty."
8:19 PM, November 21, 2009

Anonymous said...
So God is Popeye?
12:05 PM, November 23, 2009

Anonymous said...
Popeye is "I am _what_ I am." Close, but not God. Not quite. But perhaps this explains the old saying, "Popeyeness is next to Godliness." (I think that's how it goes.)
1:58 PM

Anonymous said...
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man, 
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man. 

I'm strong to the finich 
Cause I eats me spinach. 

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man. 

I'm one tough Gazookus 
Which hates all Palookas 

Wot ain't on the up and square. 

I biffs 'em and buffs 'em 
And always out roughs 'em 

But none of 'em gets nowhere. 

If anyone dares to risk my "Fisk", 
It's "Boff" an' it's "Wham" un'erstan'? 

So keep "Good Be-hav-or" 
That's your one life saver 

With Popeye the Sailor Man. 

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man, 
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.
I'm strong to the finich 
Cause I eats me spinach.
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.
2:27 PM

Anonymous said...
Man, that takes me back to after school, lo these many years ago.
3:04 PM

Friday, November 20, 2009

That Raghu sure can pick 'em

I’ve done a little quick ‘n’ dirty research on the lawyer Raghu hired to defend plaintiffs in the “prayer” lawsuit: David Llewellyn. He’s seriously right-wing. According to the website for Llewellyn’s law firm,
David Llewellyn is a legal advocate, civil rights lawyer and law professor now practicing in Sacramento, California. … He is a member of the faculty of the Chapman University School of Law [uh-oh], where he has taught Constitutional Law and the First Amendment and currently serves as a law professor and legal counsel with the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. He was formerly Dean and Professor of Law at Trinity Law School…. Previous to that he was a founder, President and senior legal counsel for the Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom [WCLRF], a public interest law firm.
Founder of the Western Center, eh? Hmmm. Wikipedia’s article on far, far, far-right religious wacko—and pal of Fuentes—Howard Ahmanson explains that Ahmanson
contributed $62,500 to the [WCLRF], which, among other things, aided the citizens and leaders of the Kern County school district defend their choice to ban One Hundred Years of Solitude, a book by Gabriel García Márquez, for its "profanity" and "vulgarity."
Evidently, the "Western Center" is now known as the Pro-Family Law Center of Abiding Truth Ministries. I Googled that and got the website for the Pro-Family Resource Center of Abiding Truth Ministries, which presents writings by Scott Lively, the “President of Abiding Truth Ministries and lead attorney for ATM's Pro-Family Law Center.”

The Pro-Family Law Center (see) seems obsessed with the EVIL that is homosexuality. PFLC sells such books as:
The Pink Swastika (by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams)
The Pink Swastika is a thoroughly researched, eminently readable, demolition of the "gay" myth, symbolized by the pink triangle, that the Nazis were anti-homosexual.
Bill Berkowitz (in Buzzflash) called this book, by Lively, a “Holocaust revisionist anti-gay book.” According to Berkowitz, Scott Lively declared “war against the Southern Poverty Law Center for refusing to remove his Abiding Truth Ministries ( from its list of hate groups.”

Clearly, this Scott Lively fella is seriously bad news. Gosh, he's Frogueworthy!

Does that make Llewellyn seriously bad news too?

Well, no.

LLEWELLYN & ANTI-GAY NUTJOBS. I came across an amazing book called As We Sodomize America, by O. R. Adams Jr.

Adams is a nutjob.

Well, at some point Adams refers, positively, to a VCR tape entitled The Gay Agenda, which is narrated (in part) by Llewellyn:
…[It] is an authoritative and comprehensive explanation of the homosexual movement, and homosexual activity. The narrators on the tape are David Llewellyn, President, Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom; Stanley Monteith, M.D., author of "AIDS, The Unnecessary Epidemic;" Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., a well known specialist in homosexuality, and author of "Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality," and many other publications; John Smid, an ex-homosexual, and Director of Love in Action, an organization which helps homosexuals who want to change to a decent way of life; and John Paulk, an ex-homosexual, and Administrator of Love in Action. Dr. Montieth gave the statistical references on homosexual acts….
Wow. Lawyer Llewellyn, it seems, hangs out with a far-out crowd not dissimilar to Mr. Frogue's "Liberty Lobby" gang.

I’ll keep looking. But it doesn't look good. Gosh, why don't they run down the street and see if Steve's available?


I found some videos featuring Stanley Monteith, co-narrator, along with Llewellyn and others, of "The Gay Agenda." See below. Good grief.

Joseph Nicolosi, another co-narrator, is a major advocate of reparative therapy, which attempts to "cure" people of their homosexual feelings and desires. He's a crank.

Evidently, John Smid headed an organization--Love in Action--dedicated to the notion that homosexuality is a "myth." Right.

Read about the troubled Mr. John Paulk, the remaining narrator, here.


Anonymous said...

Yikes - it's worse than I thought. Stop scaring us Chunk!
7:42 PM, November 21, 2009

Raghu saves the day, hiring an expensive lawyer!

OC Weekly’s Matt Coker has noted our “prayer” lawsuit (here) and has managed to dig up some cool facts! One cool fact concerns the Chancellor, that clever fellow who played a certain video three months ago--you know, the one that ends with that remarkable assertion about Jesus?

According to Matt,
District Chancellor Raghu Mathur, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, has retained David Llewellyn of the Sacramento-based Llewellyn Spann law firm. Llewellyn, who often represents conservative Christian groups, left a message with the Weekly vowing that Westphal v. Wagner will be settled through "constitutional law designated in the courts."

Llewellyn also revealed his defense strategy, saying official government sessions have begun with prayer invocations since the United States was founded and that the public college district simply wants to follow that tradition.
Yeah, but it isn't that simple, L-man:
[T]he Americans United complaint references more than just invocations before public meetings. Saddleback officials are accused of showing a video titled God Bless the USA during a faculty training session this past August.

"The video included religious images and closed with two pictures of military personnel carrying a flag-draped coffin," according to the complaint. "Superimposed on those images was the following text: 'Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you. Jesus Christ and the American G.I. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom.'"

Such spectacles subject some members of audiences to "unwanted religious practices," according to Americans United, which adds that attendance at some events where this occurs are mandatory, citing students who are awarded scholarships but must go to a public ceremony or forfeit the financial aid.
This isn't just about prayin'.


Anonymous said...
You can't make this stuff up, can you?

That video is shameful.
7:36 PM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
It's about time something was done about this. But does the lawsuit not say anything about prayer at Irvine Valley College?
8:34 PM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
Well, the Chancellor's "opening session" in August was at IVC. So there's that. The notorious "Jesus Christ" video was shown there.
9:16 PM, November 20, 2009

13 Stoploss said...
I (still) take offense that Mathur thinks soldiers are willing to die for assholes like himself. 

btw, do you have video of this invocation? I'm sure there are scores of veterans, possibly hundreds, that would love to see that video.
11:54 PM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
Does this also mean that the District, using taxpayer dollars, will be paying these lawyers to defend these actions? Just what we need on the heels of this week's announcement that the State is projecting another $21B deficit and education funding is again at stake.
1:39 PM, November 21, 2009

Anonymous said...
Yes, it does mean that. The behavior of Wagner, Fuentes, and Mathur seems to have been particularly provocative. And so now they've got a lawsuit on their hands, and it will cost the taxpayer many tens of thousands of dollars at the very least.
5:03 PM, November 21, 2009

AUSCS press release: targeting SOCCCD's "prayer practice"

Americans United Challenges California Community College Prayer Policy In Federal Court

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging official prayers during public ceremonies at a Southern California community college.

The lawsuit challenges the South Orange County Community College District’s practice of opening its events with prayer. The District oversees two Southern California community colleges – Saddleback College in Mission Viejo and Irvine Valley College in Irvine; the legal action challenges prayers at Saddleback.

School officials, the legal action asserts, routinely sponsor official invocations at events for students and faculty, including scholarship-award ceremonies, commencement ceremonies and training programs for faculty.

Plaintiffs assert they are subjected to unwanted religious worship at these events, a stance AU backs in its lawsuit.
“These community colleges need to stop promoting religion and get back to the business of education,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Faculty and students should be able to attend school events without being subjected to official prayer and religious worship.”

AU’s lawsuit notes that students and faculty members have protested the mandatory prayers many times. The student government of Saddleback College has twice passed resolutions opposing the prayer practice, and similar resolutions have been passed by the faculty’s Academic Senate of Saddleback College, the Academic Senate of Irvine Valley College, the statewide Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and the South Orange County Community College District Faculty Association.

School officials ignored the complaints and, in response, actually increased the religious content of these public events.

In August of 2009, Saddleback officials showed a video titled “God Bless the USA” during a faculty training session. The video included religious images and closed with two pictures of military personnel carrying a flag-draped coffin. Superimposed on those images was the following text: “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you. Jesus Christ and the American G.I. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom.”

The legal action asserts that these types of activities subject many in the audience to “unwanted religious practices.”

AU points out in legal documents that attendance at some of these events is mandatory. For example, students who are awarded scholarships must attend a public ceremony or forfeit the financial aid.

Plaintiffs are: Karla Westphal, Alannah Rosenberg, Margot Lovett and Claire Cesareo-Silva, all professors at Saddleback College; Roy Bauer, a professor at Irvine Valley College; Ashley Mockett, a former student at Saddleback and two current Saddleback students who have chosen to remain anonymous.

AU’s complaint notes that for years, faculty, students and parents have protested the prayer policy. College officials, the complaint asserts, “responded by expanding the prayer practice, by making the prayers ever more religious and divisive, and by publicly attacking members of minority faiths and nonbelievers for not sharing the District’s preferred faith.”

The case, Westphal v. Wagner, was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. AU Assistant Legal Director Richard B. Katskee is overseeing the case, assisted by AU Madison Fellow Jef Klazen as well as Allen Erenbaum and Christopher P. Murphy of Mayer Brown LLP in Los Angeles.

“Prayer and religious worship are intimate matters that must be freely undertaken and never coerced,” Katskee said. “This litigation is designed to remind community college officials of that fact.”

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.


Anonymous said...
These people have for too long run this district (and this county) as if they and only they know best - it's infuriating and offensive to come to work at a publicly funded institution and be subject to this.
5:37 PM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
help! help! Will someone take note and help us please! this has gone on for tooooo long!
9:26 PM, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The SOCCCD’s “prayer practice” in the courts

"Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you—Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom."
—From a video played during
the Chancellor's Fall Opening Session

Today, a complaint concerning our district was filed with the United States District Court, Central District of California.

The defendants include the seven members of the South Orange County Community College District board of trustees, including board president Don Wagner. Also included are Chancellor Raghu Mathur and Saddleback College President Tod Burnett.

The plaintiffs include professors Karla Westphal, Allanah Rosenberg, Margot Lovett, Claire Cesareo-Silva, and Roy Bauer.

A formal announcement of the complaint will be made in the morning.

Papers will be served on defendants tomorrow.

The complaint reads in part:

For years, … college students, faculty, and staff, as well as scholarship donors, community members, and others have publicly objected to the District’s prayer practice, requesting that a moment of silence or some other, less divisive practice be adopted instead. But rather than respecting the beliefs of its faculty and students, the trustees, the chancellor, and Saddleback College’s president have responded by expanding the prayer practice, by making the prayers ever more religious and divisive, and by publicly attacking members of minority faiths and nonbelievers for not sharing the District’s preferred faith. Plaintiffs therefore have no choice but to seek provisional relief and a permanent injunction to stop the prayer.

More information about the complaint will become available tomorrow.

To read the just-released press release from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, click here.

See also A troubling sentiment.

Anonymous said...
It's about time!
7:24 AM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
Great. go get 'em. I can't believe they think we should stay in the room when they play church like that.
7:54 AM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
Well, I'm gald you all are doing this but it will certainly give Don W. a boost as he runs for higher office. Now he can martyr himself.
8:02 AM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
Excellent--yes; go get 'em. The arrogance and disrespect (for persons and for the constitution) manifested in this long-standing practice are breath-taking.
8:17 AM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
I hope you all prevail. I can't stand how they shove this stuff down our throats.
8:45 AM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
11:46 AM, November 20, 2009

Anonymous said...
The "Americans United" press release can be found here.
12:30 PM, November 20, 2009

Bohrstein said...
Yes to separation of Church and State!
3:05 PM, November 20, 2009

Amir said...
As a former student of Saddleback, I am honored to have professors that once taught me take this case to court. It is appalling that one religion stands out above all others in these ceremonies. An institute of higher education should never place one religion above another. Allowing such an act undermines the school's diversity and is unconstitutional.
4:48 PM, November 20, 2009

Other comments in the sidebar at right =>

No plotting or scheming behind anyone’s back, we’re assured

Some points of information and clarification re the curriculum chair resignation:

A CURIOUS ANNOUNCEMENT. On Monday, IVC faculty received an email "announcement" from the President of the IVC Academic Senate that stated: “The responsibilities of IVC Curriculum Committee Chair have passed from [KS] to [JT] effective immediately.” That statement was followed by an expression of gratitude for K’s years of dedicated service.

The announcement took many of us by surprise and seemed to many of us in need of explanation and elaboration, but we soon learned that the cabinet had agreed not to discuss the matter with anyone. As far as I know, they have kept that agreement.

Today, during a meeting of the IVC Academic Senate Representative Council (i.e., the “senators”), the Senate President announced and then explained the situation, informing Senators that new and dire curriculum review deadlines had arisen, raising the long-standing curriculum “bottleneck” problem to a genuine crisis.

That was followed by a discussion in which I (Roy Bauer) participated.

1. Laboring under the impression that J was replacing K, I made the point that, according to the Senate bylaws, a vacancy of the office of Chair of Curriculum is to filled by the Rep Council, not the cabinet.

This is true. But, I was told, in this case, there was no vacancy to fill, since, prior to the resignation, the Curriculum committee was “co-chaired” by J and K. Hence, all that has occurred is the continued chairing of J.

That J was a “co-chair” before the resignation appears to be beyond dispute. I do feel, however, that Monday’s announcement invited confusion when it described “responsibilities of…Curriculum…Chair” passing “from [KS] to [JT].” I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that such language can be understood as saying that JT is replacing KS as chair.

That J had already been serving as co-chair was further obscured for me by the circumstance that, in my memory, only K reported during Senate meetings for the Curriculum Committee. Contrary to the impression this left with me, the Curriculum Committee has for some time been "co-chaired."

(It is perhaps worth mentioning, however, that J’s status as Chair has changed in one sense, for, evidently, significant changes will occur for her in reassigned time/compensation, suggesting an increased workload. Also: the Senate cabinet might want to correct the IVC Academic Senate website, which clearly identifies only K as the Chair of Courses.)

2. Proceeding with the understanding that some of the cabinet had decided to ask for K’s resignation in discussions that did not include K, I objected, arguing that, since K was a member of the cabinet, she should have been included in those discussions. In my mind, I was making a plea for transparency and I was rejecting processes that involve some committee members secretly plotting/arranging actions against another member.

Unless I misunderstood, the Senate President (and other members of cabinet?) assured me today that such was not the case.

Questions to ponder (for those chained in a cave, staring at shadows)

What is likely to occur next month at the Board’s yearly organizational meeting (Dec. 7)? Who will emerge as President of the Board?

Trustee Wagner, the current Board President, seems to be doing well in his pursuit of office as a California Assemblyman. If he can reasonably expect to succeed in that race, will leadership of our Board continue to be attractive to him? (The election for his Board seat is but a year away.)

Trustee Williams’ difficulties as OC Public Guardian/Administrator will perhaps continue to occupy his attention. What does that suggest, if anything? (He won’t be up for reelection until 2012.)

Gosh, Oracle of Delphi, what will the future bring?


Anonymous said...
Santa. The future will bring Santa and lots of presents for good little boys and girls.
9:30 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
and lumps of coal for the rest!
9:40 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
er, are there fabulous prizes if I guess right?
9:45 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
11:30 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
It will bring Fuentes. Emperor Fuentes and his fiddle.
11:34 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
Mathur will get a very large and shiny lump of coal.
11:57 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
Fuentes, I'm afraid -and one of the Ackermans to take Don's place.
8:58 PM, November 19, 2009

"accessible, affordable, high-quality and accountable"

from the SF Chronicle: "Higher education master plan getting ignored" by Nanette Asimov:
California's Master Plan for Higher Education - which set academics ablaze with the promise of a nearly free college education for all who qualified - is limping toward the half-century mark largely ignored by lawmakers who don't even pretend they can live up to its expensive commitment.

That's the finding of a report released Thursday by the state's Office of the Legislative Analyst. It says today's reality of soaring student fees, volatile college budgets and enrollment caps are so far removed from the guiding Master Plan, that something must be done to bring them in line...

...California's budget crisis has led to cuts of more than $500 million from CSU since last year, more than $800 million from UC, and more than $700 million from community colleges.

The new report doesn't fault state lawmakers for the out-of-control economy, but says lawmakers have failed to set policies to guide colleges and universities through turbulent times, as the Master Plan calls for.

With no new policy on how much students should pay for their education, "fee levels have been unpredictable and volatile, with little alignment to the cost of instruction or to students' ability to pay," the report says.

Not only are lawmakers unaware of what it costs to educate students, they lack a policy for funding enrollment growth, the report says. The result is hit-or-miss decision making...

The California Master Plan for Higher Education

In 1959, state lawmakers asked the UC regents and state Board of Education for a plan that would develop, expand and integrate the curriculum and standards of California's colleges and universities for years to come. The plan approved in 1960 called for periodic increases in fees for noninstructional services, such as activities and athletics. Faculty salaries would be paid by the state.

Most of the Master Plan principles are not codified in state law. Here are two of its key provisions:

Eligibility targets: The top 12.5 percent of graduating public high school students are eligible for UC. The top 33.3 percent are eligible for CSU. Everyone 18 or older who can "benefit from instruction" is eligible to attend a community college.

Other goals: Higher education should remain accessible, affordable, high-quality and accountable.
To read the rest, click here.

(Photo and fee chart from the Los Angeles Times.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Opacity and power

Towering Irvine monolith, signifying nothing—or perhaps avarice—earlier this evening

Available: Tracy Daly's Board Meeting Highlights (for last night's board meeting), here.

opacity: the condition of lacking transparency


Anonymous said...
The IVC Academic Senate seems to have a transparency problem. Maybe that’s it. The only reason we got an announcement of the Curriculum Chair’s “resignation” is that Kathy asked for that. Otherwise, it would have happened very quietly and it would have been announced long after it happened. --BB
4:43 PM, November 18, 2009

Anonymous said...
Is it true that Mathur's on the ropes? Has the little man met his Waterloo?
4:58 PM, November 18, 2009

Anonymous said...
Isn't Courses Chair a member of the cabinet? How could the cabinet ask her to resign unless they met without her to come to some decision? What happened?
5:34 PM, November 18, 2009

Anonymous said...
Come on guys, the meteor was about to hit! They had to act and quick and so they did. 

It's just a management style that has been hidden better than it was in this case. 

We're back to an "off with their heads" approach. Get over it.
11:03 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
The plural in the last comment (i.e. heads) is misplaced. There was already a co-chair in place since the end of last semester, which meant that the transition was already underway. There's no reason to assume that the modus operandi of the senate is to have heads roll. What's shocking people is that it's the faculty leadership initiating a sacking, not the administration. But is there really any "good" way to do it (assuming that there was an actual need for the "resignation" in the first place)? How can one ask a faculty member to step down without causing hurt feelings and/or misunderstandings? It's truly an unpleasant task all around. My understanding is that the cabinet members all like Kathy and consider her a friend. It couldn't have been an easy decision. I'd like to see a bit more empathy and consideration of the decision's impact on all the parties involved, not just the "sackee". It's a shame to see faculty turning on their own leadership, which probably thought it was acting responsibly in the interests of all faculty. I haven't heard a single cabinet member gossiping or otherwise discussing this decision in public...and I assume that's out of respect for Kathy's feelings, privacy and dignity.
11:26 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
11:26 said, "What's shocking people is that it's the faculty leadership initiating a sacking, not the administration."

Well, no. That's no what's bothering me. What bothers me is the odd and seemingly brutal way that this decision (to request resignation) was made. I can see no reason why the cabinet could not have arranged for a discussion (formal and otherwise), including the chair, concerning the advisability of new leadership--leading to a suggestion that she resign--something that she could choose to accept or not. It is highly likely that she would go along with the suggestion if it were backed by enough of the cabinet. The approach taken seems sneaky and cowardly, and it involves reference to a cabinet that made a decision--even though the Chair was a member of that cabinet and yet excluded from the decision-making. There's a larger issue as well. It's about transparency and distrust. Some leadership seems oblivious to a worry among faculty that things are no longer as they seem and that decisions are engineered on the basis of reasons not aired at the senate level.
11:46 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
oh, I think it IS administration and faculty leadership (or former faculty leaderhsip) behind it all.
4:47 PM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
What's cowardly and sneaky about discussing a problem in a cabinet meeting and asking the person to step down? It sounds like what you're suggesting IS what happened: a formal opportunity to answer concerns, an opportunity to resign, an arena for discussion....isn't that what the cabinet is and isn't that what it did? There's a lot of discussion on this blog based on innuendo, hearsay, and incomplete understanding of the facts.
7:09 PM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
It is an unfortunate circumstance and 7:09 is right on. For quite sometime, Roy's reports on this blog are based on innuendo, hearsay, and an incomplete understanding of the facts. It is sad to watch it happen and it is happening. I rarely, if ever, read this stuff anymore because of the inaccuracies but it is sad to watch Roy attack faculty colleagues and former friends. As I understand it, he made a complete fool of himself today and the senate leadership made it clear that he did not know what he was talking about and did not have the facts. This time Roy really got it wrong. Faculty are under attack from both Roy and Raghu. Heads will roll. Watch out for Roy. If you cross him or have a difference of opinion, he will get you. Sound familar?
8:21 PM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
A lot of times people attribute remarks to Roy that aren't made by Roy - I'm just saying. 

There seems to be an attempt to diminish the multiplicity of voices here - not all are Roy, not hardly. Just one. His is usually the most cautious.

This blog gets somewhere 125-200 hits a day, folks. People check in when they get to work and the numbers jump at lunchtime.
8:29 PM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
Courses is an impossible job. Everyone knows that.
8:59 PM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
What can anyone say. Roy is getting it wrong these days more often than not. It's that simple. This blog has become a place for gossip mongering and a rumor mill and it wasn't always that way. I agree, it is unfortunate that this has happened.
9:20 PM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
Gosh, Wendy, you really should stay off the blog.
9:25 PM, November 19, 2009

B. von Traven said...
I do not make anonymous comments. When I make comments, all know who made them. I invite those who find fault with us to disabuse us of our errors. (Seldom do they do that, unfortunately.) 

I see, however, that some brave commenters continue to hide behind anonymity even as they accuse me of "gossipmongering" (in fact, we make an effort to delete such stuff) and being in league with Raghu. (I guess.)

If we have made an error, clearly identify the error and explain how it is erroneous. This blog has always attempted to get things right and to correct errors. And it has also always allowed people who disagree with us to express their opinions. -RB
9:45 PM, November 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The November board meeting: uneventful

8:22 — A friend who attended tonight's meeting of the SOCCCD board of trustees just informed us that nothing of earth-shattering importance occurred. She noted, however, that the meeting was very brief and that at least one trustee focused on "efficiency." He thus requested reports concerning our colleges' efficiency and the efficiency of other colleges.

As you know, in a few days, video of the meeting will become available at the SOCCCD website. We encourage readers to view tonight's meeting when video becomes available. You might wanna drink some coffee though.


Ominous: giving the impression that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen; threatening; inauspicious

Anonymous said...What do you mean? Are you talking about the board meeting?
4:41 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...The board members are at each others' throats. They've never been more divided and angry. And at the center of it all.....?
4:52 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...Recently, the chair of Curriculum went to a senate cabinet meeting and was asked to resign. Just like that. Out of the blue. No explanation. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence, trust. Even if there were some sort of reason for this action, surely there was a better way!
5:19 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...No one knows what happened. It's all just speculation.
5:30 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...5:19 to 5:30 -- Nope. I got it from the horse's mouth. That's not speculation.
5:42 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...Can the cabinet do that? Didn't we just vote Kathy in a few months ago?
5:55 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...What would go so wrong that they would ask a longtime faculty leader to resign - overturning the will of the faculty who had just voted her into office? (I thought the wording of the announcmrnt email was a bit cold, by the way. It sort of stung. A bit rude.)
6:04 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...I don't see why this happened the way it did. Why wasn't it brought by to the Senate as a whole for discussion?
6:08 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...I was told (from a very reliable person who was in the room) that the request was attributed to the entire cabinet. Is that right? It's hard to believe that those people (or a majority of them) would go along with this. They might go along with a change of "curriculum" leadership, but they would never go about it in this way, after K's many years of service. This just doesn't add up. And it stinks. This is the kind of stuff that discourages faculty from participating in governance. I sure hope cabinet members come to their senses and clear this up.
6:29 PM, November 17, 2009

[A gossipy comment was deleted.]

Anonymous said...Kathy has earned a plaque and the gratitude of her colleagues. So much for integrity.
7:04 PM, November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...
Great graphics, Mr. von Traven. Snake Pit indeed...
6:08 AM, November 18, 2009

Anonymous said...
There are at least three issues re the sacking (resignation) of the Curriculum chair: (1) The reason for the decision (to request the resignation); (2) The treatment of the chair with regard to the cabinet decision and communicating that decision to her; (3) The transparency/propriety of the entire process (or lack thereof), including notification and involvement of faculty.

1. It is entirely possible that grounds for the decision (1) were adequate. The concern about this incident is not about (1).

2. If what reliable sources tell us is true, the failure to bring the chair into the discussion/decision and the sudden/abrupt manner in which the decision was communicated to her is unfortunate and less-than-collegial. It appears unnecessarily harsh and sneaky and opaque, and it may have involved questionable assertions regarding the decision process.

3. The manner in which this occurred reeks of unprofessionalism and opacity and inspires (further) distrust of senate leadership, which has, this semester, inspired suspicions of a too cozy and trusting association with administration, which, in recent months, has been conniving and dishonest (yeah, right: we "found some extra money" to hire part-timers as full-timers for a semester; yes, chill out, we're really on top of this "early college" mess).
11:45 AM, November 18, 2009

Anonymous said...
Don't committee chairs serve at the pleasure of the IVC Senate president?
2:17 PM, November 18, 2009

Anonymous said...
They had it all planned in advance which is how/why they had some one ready to take over just like that.
2:30 PM, November 18, 2009

Anonymous said...
Careful folks. Those of you who don't like the idea that a faculty member was asked to step down from a post in a cabinet meeting should consider the alternatives you're suggesting: (1) that it be done privately one on one or (2) that the decision be aired and discussed on the floor of the senate. The first method could be construed as a personality conflict between two people, rather than a thoughtfully considered decision of a leadership group. The second would involve a very public discussion of a faculty member's performance in a position--which is why it is common, at all levels of governance, to hold such discussions in closed sessions and private meetings. The cabinet is the appropriate arena for the discussion and the decision about the most important role of the senate: overseeing curriculum.
10:53 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
10:53 - I think that's a prime example of an either/or fallacy if I've ever seen one. Either THIS or THAT - no other options that might preserve integrity and transparency? 

Like so much lately, this all feels contrived, staged, managed. 

(see, reading Dissent does teach you something!)
11:16 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
Well, "either/or" fallacy: those were the alternatives people were suggesting. I didn't engage in the fallacy, I merely addressed people's comments on how it should've been handled. Rather than incorrectly accuse me of engaging in a logical fallacy, why don't you explain a "third way" that is not contrived, staged, or managed, and that preserves integrity and transparency. Perhaps then the senate cabinet and the rest of us can learn something from reading the Dissent. I for one would like to know how to balance a faculty member's need for dignity and privacy, and the faculty at large's desire for transparency. How do you suggest that one be handled?
11:36 AM, November 19, 2009

Anonymous said...
As I suggested elsewhere: What bothers me is the odd and seemingly brutal way that this decision (to request resignation) was made. I can see no reason why the cabinet could not have arranged for a discussion (formal and otherwise), including the chair, concerning the advisability of new leadership--leading to a suggestion that she resign--something that she could choose to accept or not. It is highly likely that she would go along with the suggestion if it were backed by enough of the cabinet. (In fact, knowing the chair, I find any other scenario almost inconceivable.) The approach that was taken seems sneaky and cowardly, and it involves reference to a cabinet that made a decision--even though the Chair was a member of that cabinet and yet excluded from the decision-making. Evidently, the senate Prez imposed a gag order regarding much of this. Wow. That's some transparency. With faculty already suspicious that the real decision-making is going on somewhere else (trust Craig's committee!), this is a poor time to make these kinds of "black box" moves.

And so, yes, someone above plainly committed a false dilemma fallacy. They ignored the alternative that would first come to mind for most of us who've had experience serving on the cabinet. Why get ham-fisted and mysterious when collegiality and openness are available?
11:53 AM, November 19, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tomorrow's board meeting

The SOCCCD Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold its November meeting tomorrow (closed session: 5:00 p.m.; open: 6:00 p.m.).

(As per my earlier announcement, I won’t be attending or reporting on the board meeting.)

The agenda, a pdf file, is available here.

The closed session agenda includes an evaluation of various administrators, including several IVC deans.

The last closed session item is “Anticipated Litigation/Significant Exposure to Litigation.” This seems to concern the Brown Act: GC Section 54956.9[b][1] and [b][3][A]. See Brown Act.

The board’s “discussion item” is
SOCCCD: Sustainability
Discussion on Sustainability Efforts at Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College and the Advanced Technology and Education Park (ATEP).

Item 5.11 comprises trustee requests for travel to conferences, including $2,150 for a trustee’s stay at the Orlando Hilton.

Photo: Lela and Bertie Bollinger, Anaheim, 1887

Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, 1915

P.S. [Tuesday morning]:

Item 7.1 is a report requested by a trustee on the Saddleback College Communications Arts and Film Program.

The page for 7.1 refers to Exhibit A.

But Exhibit A is a mere promissory note:

The report…has been distributed as a separate item on the agenda. A copy of the report may be viewed in hard copy in room 334, Office of the Chancellor and Trustee Services. HSB, Saddleback College.

Distributed to whom? Trustees, I guess. Why no characterization of the contents of A?

Wanted: A New Mascot for IVC

For nearly 25 years, IVC has distinguished itself as a college with an element as a mascot: the IVC Laser.

While our sister school is home of the mislabeled racist stereotype (Go Gaucho!) and UC Irvine long ago embraced an anteater named Peter, IVC chose the Laser to promote the college as a cutting edge technological campus.

But the mascot choice has been a challenge. Unlike more traditional mascots, the Laser defies cuddly representations or fierce warrior-like depictions.

After all, it's difficult to get excited about a utilitarian mascot mostly associated with hair removal or eye surgery or failed first strike missile tests.

Rebel Girl remembers one sad Laser mascot foray into public life: a student, clad in a bright blue unitard emblazoned with a silver thunderbolt, walked quickly across campus, maybe ten years ago, during one of those student club days. The Laser waved. No one waved back.

Now the Laser's unlikely tenure is coming to an end.

from the college webpage:
Irvine Valley College, as part of our 25th anniversary and in the spirit of a vibrant and growing college, is inviting students, faculty, staff and alumni to review the college mascot – The Lasers.

The Associated Students of Irvine Valley College are asking you to nominate your idea for the next generation’s College Mascot. Nominations may be made by anyone involved with our campus by submitting the required information via e-mail. Nominations are currently being accepted and close on December 11th. All nominations will be reviewed by the ASVIC Executive Board and IVC Marketing and Outreach Committee, and student voting will be conducted in early February to determine the mascot.

Nominations are encouraged to include the following information:

● Nominator and/or organization (name and e-mail)
● Affiliation with the College (student, alumni, donor, etc.)
● Mascot & a suggested name
● Supporting rationale (uniqueness, history, utility, etc.)
● Use of official school colors (blue, silver and white)
● Examples (pictures, drawings, attachments are permitted)
● Suggested uses (athletics, marketing/recruiting, letterhead, costume, apparel, bookstore, etc.
Nominations must be submitted no later than December 11th.
All submissions must be made by e-mail (attachments are permitted) to
Let's go.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In these mountains

Earlier this evening, along El Toro Road.

Santa Ana Mountains, 1913


Tin mine in the Santa Anas, 1903

Somewhere in the Santa Ana Mountains, 1945

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