Saturday, October 2, 2010

John Williams, chromochunks, and the free will problem

     An hour ago, a friend wrote me a brief email. It concerned John Williams. He wrote:
     I was looking for some tax documents today in the garage and I came across one of my college homework assignments for Biology 101 entitled "Williams Syndrome and the Brain." This assignment was from 1994. It completely explains why Williams is the way he is. My research on this issue concluded that Williams Syndrome is caused by a minute piece missing from one of the two copies of chromosome 7.
     The friend quoted his 1994 paper: "People with Williams Syndrome, commonly referred to as Williams People, generally score below the average on an IQ test, and are likewise classified as having mild to moderate mental retardation."
     I wrote back:
     Yeah, but if Williams is a "Williams Person," then he can't help himself. He can't be held responsible for those missing chromachunks! No free will! 
     I prefer to think of him as an "Asshole Person."
     I’m sure my friend was kidding about this “Williams People” business (and that he was aware of his descent into “incorrectness”).
     For nearly two years now, Williams, chromosomally challenged or not, has grown as an embarrassment for the Schroeder People who run this benighted county. And it now looks like he’ll continue to sprout ever more spectacular flinch-worthy doofutudes.
     Here’s the question of the moment, I think:

     When does a guy like Williams begin to be an intolerable liability to his sleazy pals in the OC Corrupto-Republican Cronysphere? 

World's most disgruntled man found living in South County

Raghu P. Mathur and his most recently alleged anti-Mathur "discriminator"

     In a statement released earlier today, former SOCCCD Chancellor Raghu P. Mathur said that, "because of my obvious superiority, I keep being discriminated. But those people will be sorry, for I have God on my side."
     Mathur had nothing further to say.

Friday, October 1, 2010

When you can fake that, you've got it made

     It's been a crazy day. I finally settled down and landed in front of the TV.
     I watched a new series (on A&E) entitled "Teach," starring Tony Danza. That's right: Tony Danza, the "Taxi" actor. (I think he had another series, but I'm sure it was crap.)
     "Teach" is an odd reality program. We see Danza attempting to teach English to high school kids in Philadelphia. It's kind of crazy.
     He obviously has much of what it takes to teach. He's funny, he's reasonably intelligent. He's pretty serious. He obviously wants to do well.
     The people around him don't give 'em any breaks. Especially the kids.
     It looks like he's going through hell.
     This is a reality program starring a celebrity. Could it be that this unpromising thing is managing to be, um, real?

Republicans ♥ For-Profits

Senate Scrutiny, Round 3 (Inside Higher Ed)

     The increasing divisiveness of the debate over the federal government’s role in the oversight of for-profit colleges (and the growing likelihood that nonprofit higher education will get roped into the scuffle) was on full display Thursday as a Senate committee convened for its third hearing examining the sector.
     Framing his concerns about the sector’s $24 billion stake in the federal financial aid program and what he called "misleading, deceptive, overly aggressive or fraudulent" practices that lead students to enroll at for-profit colleges, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, singled out the institutions for scrutiny. “They figured out how to be profitable even when the students are not successful,” he said. “There’s irrefutable evidence now that something’s gone wrong with this industry. I’m not saying that everybody’s bad in the industry, I’m just saying that the system has gone wrong.”
     Harkin reiterated his pledge to sponsor legislation relating to for-profit colleges early next year. But he conceded the need for further investigation and more hearings, because “I don’t know exactly what needs to be done.” He also announced that the next hearing on the sector would be in early December and focus in part on the increasing share of funding going to for-profit colleges from the tuition assistance programs for veterans, active duty military and their families.
     At the start of the hearing … Harkin unveiled a report analyzing some of the data submitted to the committee by 30 for-profit colleges as part of his staff’s investigation of the sector. The report focuses entirely on the for-profit sector and does not include data on nonprofit colleges and universities as a basis for comparison.
     That, said Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), was problematic. “I agree there is clearly a problem in higher education – now you’ll notice I didn’t limit that comment to for-profit schools,” he said. “It’s naïve to think these problems are limited to just the for-profit sector. We’ve been looking at this in a vacuum.”
     Harkin countered: “The point is that only 16 percent of community college students borrow money; 95 percent of [students at] the for-profits borrow money and they borrow money at a higher amount than they do at the community colleges.” Tuition for for-profit programs can be significantly higher than for comparable programs at community colleges, he said, pointing to findings from the Government Accountability Office’s August report on the sector. To him, the examination was not one done in a vacuum but one focused on the most pressing area of concern….

Sunny Girl

Reportedly, Don Wagner is the guy at left.

An old issue

Two brats, Kanab, Utah

They wanna be just like Mike

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Greed is not good

In Partisan Hearing, Democrats Attack Proprietary Colleges for Profiting While Students Fail (Chronicle of Higher Education)

More than half of students attending the nation's largest for-profit colleges withdraw within two years, a new report by Senate Democrats reveals. ¶ The report, which is based on data collected from 16 for-profit companies, is the latest bad news for a sector that is under intense federal scrutiny and has spent millions of dollars fighting a rule that could put many of its programs out of business. It shows that proprietary colleges are reaping record profits even though a majority of their students are leaving their institutions without a certificate or a degree….

LFC, Fuentes, and Williams: oh my!

     Just the other day (More of John Williams' fascinating campaign documents), we noted the curious fact that Tom Fuentes’ (former?) employer, LFC, shows up on Williams’ campaign funding disclosure documents.
     Today, another Williams/LFC connection emerges. This is from today’s Voice of OC:

Focus on Contract Between Auction House and Public Administrator

     As county officials begin their probe into the estate dealings of Public Administrator/Public Guardian John Williams, attention is beginning to focus on LFC, a Newport Beach auction house with ties to the highest levels of Orange County's Republican Party.
     The company, whose headquarters are about a half-mile from a popular Republican watering hole called Gulfstream, recently won a sole source contract to liquidate a $1.25 million property controlled by Williams' agency.
     The public administrator/public guardian has been in the limelight since last month when District Attorney Tony Rackauckas fired the prosecutor's heir apparent, former Assemblyman and county Supervisor Todd Spitzer, because Spitzer looked into an estate case Williams was administering….
. . .
     Since then, county officials announced they are conducting an audit.
     County officials are now beginning to ask questions about why the property auction contract with LFC was never brought to the supervisors, as with most large contracts.
     A testimonial from Williams on the website details the sale.
     Back in the 1990s, when the County of Orange filed for bankruptcy, they contracted LFC to sell their diverse portfolio of properties worth over $250 million through conventional sealed bid and outcry auction methods.
     Recently, the County used LFC's Internet-based auction program to sell a nondescript land parcel that had been on the market for more than three years. We established a release price of $1 million for the property. The marketing campaign produced over 2,800 visitors to the website, 32 registered prospects and 7 active bidders. After numerous rounds of bidding, the property sold for $1.25 million. We couldn't believe it.
     Legendary former Orange County Republican Party Chairman Tom Fuentes at one point had an office at the firm, and sources close to the transaction said he made the introduction between the company's owner and Williams.
     Fuentes said he couldn't remember making the introductions but admits it "may well have been the case."
     "I've known the owner of LFC for 30 years. I was there for a couple of years, and I know John Williams," Fuentes said.
     But, Fuentes said, "there's no business relationship" with the firm currently, which is why his state statement of economic interests (Form 700) filed with the South Orange County Community College District doesn't indicate any income from the company.
     Fuentes said he had his offices at LFC several years ago when he became a senior fellow with Claremont Institute because the firm donated office space to the program. He still regularly communicates with an email address with an tag.
     Yet Fuentes said he had no knowledge of the LFC land transaction for Williams' office. However, he has always been a strong supporter of Williams, and sources say he has lobbied county supervisors on Williams' behalf.
     Fuentes' introduction of Williams to LFC was around the time that Williams convinced county supervisors to combine the appointed job of Public Administrator (with an annual salary of $20,000) and the elected job of Public Guardian (which pays $138,000) and hand both offices to him.
     Fuentes said he didn't recall lobbying for Williams in recent years but said he is a strong supporter and wouldn't discount the fact that he's let people at the county know his opinions in the past. Fuentes said he's also a big proponent of offices like Williams' being elected offices, arguing that it goes with conservative values of heightened accountability.
     Williams is a "dedicated public servant," said Fuentes, who also serves on the South Orange County Community College District with Williams. "He's a very committed and hard-working public official, a man of integrity and of great quality."
     Williams recently came under fire because of accusations that he was traveling on behalf of the college district while getting paid by the county. A county internal audit cleared Williams of any wrongdoing.
     Fuentes said many of Williams' problems in recent years are because "he has [to] bite the bullet and [has] made hard decisions that have gained him enemies or opponents."
     Williams has seen his share of controversy over the past year.
     A grand jury in 2009 issued scathing reports against Williams that prompted county supervisors to vote on transforming his office back into an appointed position in December. Williams barely survived the 3-2 vote.
     As back in 2009, Williams has now hired political attorney Phil Greer to represent him. Earlier this week, Greer confirmed that the county audit is beginning to probe Williams' operations.
     While Greer declined to comment on the LFC contract or Fuentes' connections to it, he said Williams is confident that the county audit will clear his agency of any wrongdoing.

For an exploration of Tom Fuentes’ connection with LFC, go to Trustee Fuentes' boss, Buffalo Bill Lange

Melissa Fox: “Donald Wagner approved each of these taxpayer-funded junkets”

     You’ll definitely want to read Melissa Fox’s compelling complaint about Don Wagner that appeared in today’s Orange Juice Blog:

My opponent Don Wagner wastes Tens of Thousands of Taxpayer Dollars on John Williams’ Junkets

The Reg "voter guide": SOCCCD trustee races

   Have you seen the OC Register “voter guide” for the Fall 2010 election?
   Naturally, I looked in particular for any guidance offered in our three SOCCCD trustee races. The Area 2 and Area 5 candidates provided answers to the Reg’s questions. The Area 4 candidates (Nancy Padberg, Jack Frost) did not.


Marcia Milchiker

What do you think of the district’s spending priorities? What, if anything, should change?
   Through outstanding conservative fiscal management, we are debt free and have no unfunded public employee pension liabilities. We maintain a 7.5 percent reserve at the district level and each individual college (Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College) maintains a similar reserve percentage. We are at the top of fiscally sound community college districts in the nation.
   We spend taxpayers’ funds where it counts, in the classroom.
   I pledge to maintain this conservative fiscal management.

How would you prioritize spending in your budget to minimize the impact of revenue lost to the recession or state budget crisis?
   Our top priority is to spend precious taxpayers’ dollars wisely and where it counts, in the classroom.
We have maintained a substantial reserve and paid off all of our debts.
   Our board of trustees has approved a 2010-2011 balanced budget that doesn’t cut any classes and ensures superlative student education.
   If I have the privilege of your vote I know we will continue in this fiscally prudent manner despite the projected state budget difficulties.

What two promises are you willing to make? On what are you unwilling to compromise? Be specific and concrete.
   I pledge to continue my total dedication to maintaining our colleges as among the top in the nation.
   I pledge to maintain our fiscally conservative management of taxpayers’ dollars. We provide the best value in post-secondary education anywhere.
   I have experience as a professor and as a student. I have never missed a graduation ceremony or professor in-service.
   I will never compromise providing the best programs and the finest dedicated professors for our incredible students.

Jill E. Case

What do you think of the district’s spending priorities? What, if anything, should change?
   I noticed fewer classes being offered even though they’re listed in the catalog. I also noted from reviewing board discussions that administrative support functions are based on other districts, rather than this district's unique needs. While I will not make judgments until I have all information, I would review this district’s needs, especially in administrative support, and budget the most dollars to meet the district’s mission: bringing educational opportunities to the most students possible.

How would you prioritize spending in your budget to minimize the impact of revenue lost to the recession or state budget crisis?
   As a student at IVC, I experienced first hand the impact of reduced revenue with reduction in classes offered. Priority must be granted to students and classes and educational opportunities. In the recent past, the board did not properly oversee that priority and follow California law. If elected, I will be well versed on the laws and bring the maximum dollar to the classroom.

What two promises are you willing to make? On what are you unwilling to compromise? Be specific and concrete.
   I decided to run because my opponent was running unopposed, has served in the position for over 20 years and I believe in the Democratic process. I am providing a choice for the voters. I also believe in term limits. I will not serve more than two terms if elected. I will also use my expertise to protect taxpayer money as if it was my own and bring the maximum dollar amounts into the classrooms.


Thomas "T.J." Prendergast, III

What do you think of the district’s spending priorities? What, if anything, should change?
   The SOCCCD has a reputation of being a fiscally responsible and high quality education system. As a new member of the board I would want to work with the existing trustees to continue this reputation. I would not necessarily change anything, but I would look into making sure decisions are being made for the benefit of the students and the education they deserve.

How would you prioritize spending in your budget to minimize the impact of revenue lost to the recession or state budget crisis?
   As a fiscal conservative, a parent, and concerned taxpayer, I want to make sure we are getting value for our investment. I would prioritize spending on education programs that meet the demand of students looking for; transferring into a four-year university, vocational education, life-long learning, re-entering to gain skills to compete in a changing economy.

What two promises are you willing to make? On what are you unwilling to compromise? Be specific and concrete.
   1. Make sure the taxpayer is getting the value they expect
   2. Continue to provide and protect quality education. I am not willing to compromise on either of these.

Kevin Muldoon

What do you think of the district’s spending priorities? What, if anything, should change?
   The South Orange County Community College District has a $400 million annual budget. I believe the district should be focused on maintaining a balanced budget without issuing bond debt. Due to the current economic hardships, community college enrollment is steadily increasing. The district will have to cut wasteful spending to meet the demands of the growing student population without acquiring debt.

How would you prioritize spending in your budget to minimize the impact of revenue lost to the recession or state budget crisis?
   The district’s budget is funded by local property taxes and has diminished along with declining real estate values. I would work hard to ensure the colleges operate within their budgets and adequate reserves are set aside in anticipation of a prolonged recession. Classroom needs and facilities maintenance must be the district’s top spending priorities.

What two promises are you willing to make? On what are you unwilling to compromise? Be specific and concrete.
   I promise to support fiscally conservative principles and vote against the issuing of bond debt. Too many government institutions spend beyond their means. In this economy, we cannot afford to have a district governed by candidates who are beholden to the special interest groups.


Jack Frost
Nancy Padberg
No answers provided

Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. --RG

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beth takes the job—and the cake

Beth makes a point.

Recently, long-time IVC classified employee Beth S. was allowed to join the ranks of the fully-baked, employeewise, and so now she has health benefits, full-timery, and the whole shebang. 
The other day, I spotted her in a corner, smilin'.
She's always had friends, and today they got her this cool "Hollywood" cake, which Jeff bought, not at Costco (I was repeatedly assured), but at some place named "Rossmoor," I think.
Don't know what that is, but, evidently, Liz Taylor buys her cakes there, and you can tell she knows her cakes (and Bubbles, too).
I'm sorry, but I think she reached her peak with National Velvet (1944).
But it sure was a beautiful cake. It was seriously delicious, too. And check out them posies!

Starting at about 2:00, people came for the cake and to offer good wishes. Faculty, classified, administrators, and students dropped by. Beth beamed.
Yeah, but I watched that pile of pretzels (at left) for maybe a half hour and nobody touched 'em. It goes to show, you can be good, but when you're sittin' next to great, you're rotten, and so it goes (said Nick Lowe).

Jeff's the go-to guy, I guess, if you need a cake.

We were gathered in the A200 "faculty lounge," the scene of many an event over the years. The building seems endlessly to undergo change. Maybe they should knock it down, just start over.
(But that might cause a mold cloud.)

Later, I went to the "accreditation" meeting, and that seemed to go well.
A pretty good day, I'd say.
Congrats, Beth.


     I just now clicked on our stats page, and I noticed that, right now, somebody in Orlando, Florida, is reading Dissent the Blog.
     And guess which post they're reading? More of John Williams' fascinating campaign documents
     Do you suppose....?
     Is Bailiff Boy there right now? Anybody know?

I do believe that this was on the July board agenda.
The Florida conference doesn't start for another month.

Is the ACCJC on a tear?

     At the good old South Orange County Community College District, we never seem to stop busying ourselves with accreditation.
     We all know why that is.
     Well, self-study reports have been submitted and now we're readying ourselves for the ACCJC site visits. Everyone is terribly earnest.
     On the surface at least, everything seems to be going smoothly at our two colleges. We're getting our ducks in a row.
     I figured this might be a good time to look at what the ACCJC (our accreditor) has been up to lately.
     If you go to the ACCJC website, you'll find a section concerning "recent Commission actions." Evidently, ACCJC has been very busy issuing nasty tickets, judging by the January 2010 actions listed there.
     But one also finds a pdf file of more recent actions: June.
     More nasty tickets.
     I've included the three pages of that file below. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The meaning of Monday

     To a great extent, as Dissenters, what we’ve stood for all these years boils down to process. District policies should require good, open, and decent procedures that involve genuine collegial consultation; and we should take care to follow those policies.
     In the last year or so, here at IVC, there’s been considerable worry about a certain dean hire that is now going forward. Our hiring policies are OK, but, given the evident character of some of our leadership, many of us have suspected that, nevertheless, the fix was in. (You should read the job description. Sheesh.)
     These people just don’t get it. We aren’t necessarily against the hire of the apparent beneficiary of the suspected fixitude. Nope. It’s about process. Unless the hire is fair and honest, we want nothing to do with it. Ignoring or violating process is corrupt and corrupting. It grounds the institution in rot.
     Naturally, in this district, we have every right to worry, too, about hires occurring higher up the food chain. I won't review the history.
     Our chancellor hiring policy is good, more or less. But can we trust the powerful to faithfully implement it?
     I was noisily concerned about the Chancellor search last Spring. I was particularly concerned that the duplicitous Raghu Mathur would be designated the overseer of the process.
     But the trustees steered clear of that error. Evidently, Mathur wasn’t considered for that role. It was given to mild-mannered and respected David Bugay. Whew!
     Still, there was so much else that could go wrong. And so I was very relieved when, at the February board meeting, Board President Don Wagner offered apparently heartfelt assurances that the chancellor hiring process would be aboveboard.
     At the time, I described his remarks thus:
Wagner then said—well, he said all that one might hope that he would say! He explained that he was committed to a process that was as fully open and exhaustive and aboveboard as possible. Speaking for himself, he pledged that there certainly were no candidates with a "leg up." He said that he was looking for a process that everyone could get behind. He was determined that the community would embrace the process as a good and honest one. (The Chancellor recruitment goes forward—but only after a brouhahahahahaha; for video, go here; jump to item 6.1.)
     That assurance plus the choice of Bugay as search overseer did much to assuage our concerns.

     The composition of the search committee was another real positive. They’re good people.
     We’ve heard rumors of issues and problems on that committee, but we’ve also been assured—by otherwise tight-lipped committee members—that the group came up with genuinely good candidates. They have put their names forward. Great!
     The board agenda that went out last week revealed that, at Monday's meeting, the board would spend five hours interviewing and discussing these candidates. And so we wondered: could it be that, at the evening opening session, a new chancellor would be announced?
     That seemed to be the plan.
     But, yesterday, when the trustees finally convened the open session (at about 7:30), that didn’t happen. No announcements were made about the hiring process (aside from the announcement that there was nothing to report).
     What does this tell us? It is possible, I suppose, that some trustees were pushing for, say, site visits or some other further step. But that doesn’t seem likely. It’s hard to imagine the trustees traveling to colleges or even a college. They're busy people. The legwork has been done. It is time to decide.
     Years ago, the board would make a great effort to hire a chancellor only unanimously, and that produced some peculiar negotiations (some of them illegal). Could it be that some trustees just couldn’t be persuaded to get on board with the popular choice?
     But nobody who has observed the board in the last year or so would suppose that unanimity would be required. Unrealistic.
     We need to consider the possibility (not the only remaining one, I guess) that the board just doesn’t like the candidates sent up by the search committee.
     If so, process will once again take a major hit, and Don Wagner's assurances of good and honest processes will now be seen to be, well....

“Incredulous stories,” said the corrupt and illiterate BUFFOON

     What do you do when an unstoppable audit of your office is coming down the pike?
     If you’re John Williams, you make a big show of asking for the audit. That’s right. As if it’s your idea. 
     "See how honest I am!" says the conniving twit.
     And, if you’re John Williams, while you're at it, you demonstrate that you’re an illiterate buffoon:

Bates, Public guardian ask for audit (OC Register)

     Public Administrator/Public Guardian John Williams has requested the county audit the operations of his office in the wake of criticism of how his office manages more than $38 million in estates and the lives or deaths of more than 1,000 people every year.
. . .
     But Supervisor Pat Bates had already requested an audit of the office, concentrating on how the office handles large estates. Bates, who made her request Sept. 16, wants the results of the audit within 45 days, said Bates’ chief of staff, Don Hughes.
     “The only way to finally and irrevocably put an end to the scurrilous and incredulous stories, rumors and allegations being spread about my office, my staff and myself, is to have an independent, respected third party look at our books, records, and operations,” Williams said in a statement.
. . .
     The public administrator/public guardian, targeted twice last year by the Orange County Grand Jury, was hurtled once again into the spotlight last month after District Attorney Tony Rackauckas fired Todd Spitzer, one of his hand-picked senior assistant district attorneys and widely believed heir apparent, over alleged “inappropriate contact” with that office.
. . .
     Spitzer claims his firing was politically motivated.
. . .
     “The whole idea he is grabbing little old ladies off the street, putting them in a box and stealing their money is just ridiculous,” [Williams attorney Phil] Greer said. “It’s absurd.”
     Several other groups, including California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations – a statewide organization representing 80,000 law enforcement officers – have already called on the California Attorney General’s Office to look into Williams’ office.
     “Our members are deeply concerned that the health, welfare and financial estates of present conservatees and those presently under investigation are in jeopardy,” wrote CCLEA President Wayne Quint in a Sept. 7 letter to the Attorney General’s Office.

Atheists and Agnostics smarter than Theists. Deal with it.

     The Pew Research Center released the results of a poll regarding Americans’ knowledge of religion today. It offers some surprising apparent facts:

U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey

     Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.
     On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education….

*I took the quiz, got 14 out of 15. I mistakenly identified Saturday as the start of the Jewish sabbath.

Prendergast fundraiser on Thursday

     I forgot to mention that, at the start of last night's meeting (of the SOCCCD board of trustees), Board Prez Don Wagner introduced someone who's been "sniffin' around for his seat" (something like that): T.J. Prendergast.
     Speaking of that, here's an announcement for a Prendergast fundraiser:

2010 Campaign Kick-off Party and Fundraiser!
Come out and meet Thomas "T.J." Prendergast, candidate for the SOCCCD Board of Trustees.

5 to 8 pm, Thursday evening, September 30
Boosters, Mission Viejo
(corner of Marguerite and Avery, by the 405)

The Faculty Association is holding a campaign kickoff party and fund raiser on Thursday, September 30th, at 5 pm at Boosters in Mission Viejo. Come out, meet the candidate, and help us raise funds to support his election.

With an open seat on the Board of Trustees in the upcoming election, we have an excellent opportunity to elect to the Board a trustee who is familiar with the issues facing teachers, and dedicated to public education. But we need your help! We need money for television commercials, campaign mailers, postcards, flyers and signs; and we also need volunteers to participate in the phone bank and to hand out informational literature in your neighborhoods.

Come on out next Thursday, bring a check to help the campaign, enjoy pizza, soft drinks and beer, and meet T.J.

Williams’ PA/PG: a “lucrative patronage scam for GOP insiders”

     Check out our good pal Vern Nelson’s marvelous overview and update on the John Williams saga in this morning’s OJ Blog:

When Scumbags Collide: Let Spitzer do his damage to Williams and T-Rack

Some excerpts:
     As you may recall from our May essay (which failed to prevent this baboon’s re-election in June) the Original Sin in the John Williams saga was the combining of the elected, low-paying job of Public Administrator with the appointed, high-paying (up to 200K counting benefits & perks) post of Public Guardian. At the same time this newly combined office was made independent and removed from the supervision of HCA, the Health Care Agency. These two moves had the effect of making Williams’ position permanently unassailable and unaccountable, at least as long as low-information voters go to polls with slate mailers in their hands and/or skip the offices they’ve never heard of. Hence, given his character and that of his associates, the PA/PG office evolved into a lucrative patronage scam for GOP insiders. (As one lady disturbingly said to a friend of mine, “Ah, but John Williams has done so many good things for the Republicans!”)
     Money being no object, Williams began hiring new at-will managers at six figures a year – nearly a dozen, filling posts never before deemed necessary. These were good loyal Republicans who were owed favors, many close to DA Tony Rackauckas – most notably Williams’ top aide Peggi Buff who we’ve just learned is the DA’s bride-to-be. THAT’S quite a convenient set-up for someone who wants to avoid accountability, and a fact that ended up biting Spitzer in the ass. Preferring to spend his time traveling to Florida on the taxpayer dime as ostensibly part of his other gig as a SOCCCD trustee, the ex-bailiff Williams came to rely on all these T-Rack imports to manage the PA/PG job, while doubling the “annual base salary” at the agency by about $1 million a year.
     Well okay, to a degree money’s no object – when you’re pleasing your friends. But it’s gotta be made up somewhere, so staff was cut – the lower-paid “deputies” who do the actual work of going out in the field to meet and work with all these vulnerable people, the aged, mentally ill, sickly, friendless, who still have property of some sort to administer. Overworked underpaid deputies grow demoralized with doubled and tripled caseloads; cases that should take months drag on for years, while the whole time fees are charged to these people’s estates that go to the PA/PG’s office. Oftentimes these fees eat up the whole estate!
     Just last year two DAMNING Grand Jury reports were produced detailing all these fuckups and more, and recommending as a very START that the PA and PG jobs should be separated again, and those jobs brought back under the supervision of the HCA. Orange County CEO Tom Mauk agreed and brought the matter to the Board of Supervisors; Supes Moorlach and Campbell also concurred. John Williams, his position and reputation on the line, didn’t even bother to show up but instead sent his trusty attorney, the ethically challenged Phil Greer who seems to represent every powerful lowlife in the OC. The remaining Supes – Norby, Bates and Nguyen – seeing their trusty attorney on the stand, stood by John Williams.
     …who felt fully exonerated and has continued his reign of incompetence, cronyism and waste, a Teflon wig-topped tortoise of public squander.
     And as these sort of things tend to do, it only gets uglier.
     As his agency’s deficits kept building and he had no desire to terminate any of his highly-paid at-will employees, while the state and the nation began suffering the longest stretch of bad economy in memory, PA/PG John Williams and his circle began to look for ways to raise more money. And the easiest, most logical way seemed to be to pounce more aggressively on the estates of the people he was entrusted to protect and serve, to leech them for fees. And this is what the recent Spitzer kerfuffle helped bring to light….
Be sure to read the whole essay!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Williams to be audited

     About an hour ago, the Voice of OC reported that OC Public Administrator/Guardian John Williams is in for an audit:

County to Launch Audit of Public Administrator

     County officials are launching an audit of Public Administrator/Public Guardian John Williams that will look specifically at how his office liquidates large estates.
     The forthcoming audit, requested by County Supervisor Pat Bates, is the latest in a string of investigations into Williams' office. Meanwhile, Williams has retained influential political lawyer Phil Greer, who was instrumental in helping Williams lobby the fifth floor last year.
     Greer said Monday that Williams himself was calling on county Chief Executive Tom Mauk to audit his operations.
     "Williams is very comfortable with how the office is run," said Greer, who at one point represented each of the supervisors. "Everything is above board and transparent. And he welcomes any and all inquiries into the operations of his office."
     Williams' handling of conservatorships came into focus last month when his office protested publicly that then-Deputy District Attorney Todd Spitzer called the office asking questions about a case the office was handling.
     Earlier this year, the county internal auditor, Peter Hughes, examined the manner in which Williams was filling out his timesheets and found no evidence of wrongdoing. In 2009, an Orange County grand jury issued two scathing reports on how Williams' office operates.
     Bates was chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors in December when Williams survived a 3-2 vote by the board to move his office back into the county bureaucracy following the grand jury reports. Bates told Williams publicly that he would be on a short leash following the tight vote.

Tonight's board meeting: live and direct! (No chancellor announcement)

It's 7:24, and at long last the trustees (of the South Orange County Community College District) have emerged from their closed session, which started at 5:00. One wonders what it was that occupied them for so long (they were supposed to emerge at 6:30).

But of course! They were discussing the three (?) Chancellor candidates they interviewed this afternoon. Perhaps some trustees wanted to hire someone and others, um, didn't. (On the other hand, maybe they were discussing some aspect of the dismantlement of ATEP.)

Board Prez Don Wagner has yet to appear. The others have shown their faces. John Williams looks fat and sassy.

Naturally, I forgot my glasses, so I have no idea what I'm typing here. If there are typos, well, so be it. Back in a moment!

7:32: board clerk Marcia Milchiker reads out actions of the closed session: nothing of great import. Wagner explains that there will be no announcement re the interviews that occurred this afternoon. I.e., no action has been taken re hiring the new chancellor.

Fuentes does the invocation: lays it on pretty thick. Asks the Lord to "turn down the heat, please."

Resolutions read/voted upon re teachers of the year.

I stepped out to get my glasses; when I got back, Carmen D, the Saddleback College Academic Senate Prez, was finishing her public remarks. I suspect it was worth reporting. I’ll try to update you on that later.

UPDATE: Carmen read a resolution asking the district to follow its own hiring policy with regard to the permanent dean of the Business Science Division and Economics and Workplace Development.
I think the point is that they've put this thing on the fast track--thus creating the risk of a less-than-optimal hire. So slow down and do it right!

Evidently, a Mrs. Molina complained about her company getting bumped or something. I didn't pay much attention.

Board reports:
Jay: zilch
Williams: less than zilch
Fuentes: Mrs. Molina, maybe you can talk to the Chancellor. Fuentes seems to blame the president in Washington for her troubles.

Everything but 5.14 passes on consent calendar.

5.14: Only Padberg votes against Williams' request for Orlando trip in January. No discussison.

6.1, 6.2, 6.3--boom, boom, boom.
6.4 too. Unanimous. 6.5, 6.6.
7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5 Yeah sure whatever...

7:55: Wagner: "It's almost embarrassing, we're almost [done]"

Written reports:

Saddleback College Prez Burnett: blah, blah, blah. Talked about accreds visiting soon. Homecoming coming up.
Irvine Valley College Prez Roquemore: we've launched a new website. Check it out.
ATEP'S Peebles: moving forward with bidding on demolition, etc.
No reports from various leaders.

We gotta outa there fast.

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