Saturday, December 18, 2010

What's up with the prayer lawsuit? (Fun excerpts—including emails!)


     I offer a brief update on “Westphal v. Wagner,” our celebrated case against (some) prayers—in violation of the 1st Amendment’s “establishment clause”—at the SOCCCD:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A "heathen," evidently
     Our lawyers tell us that, of late, there’ve been lots of filings in the district court. By both sides.
     Plaintiffs (that’s us!) have filed a Motion of Summary Judgment on the religious-purpose prong of the Lemon test (the government's action must have a secular purpose, etc.). We’ve also filed a Motion to Amend that Order, asking for clarification re relief, etc.
     Meanwhile, defendants (i.e., Wagner, Mathur, et al.) filed a Motion for Judgment, arguing against the Court’s decision to deny them summary judgment “on the religious-purpose prong.”
"Heathen," agnostic
division
     I wanted to provide you with sections of these briefs that are understandable, and that ain’t easy, man. I have chosen to provide excerpts from our “reply on plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment,” filed on the 13th, for a hearing on Dec. 27—that's a little more than a week from now.
     Don’t try to make sense of that language. The verbiage in the brief (below) makes the issue at hand clear:
     (Click on these graphics BELOW to enlarge them. They should be readable then.)

. . .
. . .
. . .
[Be sure to check this one out (above).]
. . .
[I've excerpted nothing from section II.]
. . .

Winning and losing and winning

Photo: New York Times
● Measure to End ‘Don’t Ask’ Wins Approval in Senate (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The U.S. Senate approved legislation to repeal the military’s controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” by a 65-to-31 vote Saturday afternoon. The repeal, already approved by the House of Representatives, now President Obama for his signature. Repealing the law, which bars openly gay people from service, could greatly reduce tensions between the military and university faculty members and students who oppose the policy.

• See also Senate Repeals ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (NYT)

● Deferred Again: Senate Vote Is Latest Setback for 'Dream Act' (Chronicle of Higher Education)

For the second time in three months, the U.S. Senate has tried, and failed, to pass legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented college students. ¶ Saturday morning Democratic leaders fell short of the 60 votes necessary to overcome a threatened filibuster and move to a vote on the bill, known as the Dream Act. The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this month.
. . .
The bill's most-recent defeat in the Senate was the latest setback in the 10-year effort to enact the Dream Act. The measure enjoys bipartisan support but has never made it through both chambers of Congress.

• See also DREAM Act dies in Senate (Politico)

This is kinda sappy. But still....

Rebel Girl's Poetry Corner: "new stars are being born"

Toward the Winter Solstice
by Timothy Steele

Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the rope of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch's crown;
A dowel into which I've screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree's elegant design.

Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.

Some say that L.A. doesn't suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUV's.

And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow , blue, and red.

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It's comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing's lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.

*

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Captain's Beefheart stops

Don Van Vliet
     The OC Weekly’s Heard Mentality reports that Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart, Dies at 69.
     The world has lost another mad genius today. Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, passed away at the age of 69. Best known for his groundbreaking musical work that melded blues, free jazz and art-rock lunacy. Van Vliet's career included poetry and graphic art, as well. Sadly, Rolling Stone magazine and our sister paper LA Weekly both confirmed the news.
     My late brother Ray was mad for the Captain. Owing to that exposure, mostly, I slowly became a fan. With the Captain dead, it’s like Ray’s dead all over again.
     Gotta listen to the Captain more often.

See also: Don Van Vliet dies at 69; avant-garde rock musician known as Captain Beefheart (LA Times, Dec. 18)



My grade

     "For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance."
Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan)

Know your rights
     What are today’s college students like?
     Well, some of them are quite nice actually. Some are smart, eager to learn, willing to be corrected, etc.
     But more and more students are like Joe Claim, the inexplicably self-entitled college student.
     I teach, and I really don’t know what to do with his kind beyond failing 'em.

     I got an email from Joe today. It concerned his last “writing assignment” grade. Essentially, a student’s grade in my Intro course is based on three tests and four writing assignments. The writing assignments usually ask students to explain something central to a lecture. Students typically have a week or two for the assignment. Scoring is simple: if a student makes any effort at all, he or she gets 1 point. Only excellent work gets 2 points.
     There are 8 points possible (i.e., 4 x 2). Students must achieve 3 out of the 8 points to pass the course. Easy.
     But some students—more than you might imagine—inevitably bring themselves to the brink of disaster; and then disaster occurs.
     Take Joe Claim.
     The subject of his email was “my grade.” He wrote:
Hi im [Joe Claim] in your friday class and i got a 0 on assignment 4 and really thought i deserved a better grade. i really need at least the point to get the three points needed to pass the class. [That’s exactly how he wrote it.]
     I wrote him back:
You think you deserve a better grade on #4? But you got each of the ten questions wrong, right? On what basis, then, do you deserve a better grade?
     He hasn’t responded yet.
     You’ve gotta love that Joe. He got 1 point on his first assignment and 1 point on his third. He simply ignored the second assignment.
     And so, being Joe, he went into the home stretch with 2 of the 3 points he needed to pass the course.
     You’d think he’d make damned sure that he nailed that last one, boy. But no.
     For assignment #4, I gave students a break. Instead of asking them to write (which is always like pulling teeth), I gave them a simple 10-question multiple-choice quiz designed to review the course material for the final. I was careful to ask clear and straight-forward questions. I told ‘em that, if they get 4 out of 10 right, they get 1 point. And if they get 7 out of 10 right, they get 2 points. They had over a week to work on this.
     A total piece of cake.
     Naturally, lots of students got scores of 7, 8, 9, and even 10. Two points!
     The questions weren’t hard at all. For instance, one question concerned the meaning of the adjective “a priori.” Our Joe chose the answer according to which an “a priori” belief “is the very first belief that one has.”
     Well no.
     Another question concerned Thomas Hobbes’ political writings. We had gone over two chapters of Leviathan in class, line by line. The question asked how Hobbes characterized people in the “state of nature” (i.e., in the anarchic condition before government is instituted). Hobbes wrote that people are confident in their abilities and are thus willing to compete with others for scarce resources. (This is one of three sources of conflict in the state of nature, said Hobbes.)
     But Joe got that all wrong. According to Joe, for Hobbes, people are “intimidated” by “virtually everyone.”
     That was the pattern in Joe’s answers. If there was a way to pick the opposite of the right answer, Joe always found it. So if ever a student deserved to fail a course, it’s Joe. He has no one to blame but himself.
     But Joe doesn’t see it that way. He got each of the ten questions wrong—on a simple quiz that he had over a week to take. He’s not arguing that there was a scoring snafu. He’s not arguing that my questions were unfair or confusing or erroneous. (Well, maybe he’ll surprise me.)
     Nevertheless, he informs me that he “deserve[s] a better grade.”
     There are many Joe Claims in America’s colleges and universities.
     Heck, maybe you're one of 'em.

     "For every man looketh that his companion should value him, at the same rate he sets upon himself: and upon all signs of contempt, or undervaluing, naturally endeavours, as far as he dares …, to extort a greater value from his contemners, by damage; and from others, by the example."
Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

X File


     Check out Matt Coker’s mini-interview with Exene Cervenka: Exene X's Out Nostalgia.
     X, for which Cervenka is lead singer, was perhaps the greatest of LA area bands in the 80s. I listened to them while in grad school at UCI; meanwhile, a younger Rebel Girl was closer to the action in South LA County. I’ve gotta get her to write about that scene.
     Back to Cervenka. Coker asked her to reminisce about the recording of the band’s classic debut album, Los Angeles. Reluctantly, she did, speaking of producer Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist who, fourteen years earlier, discovered Jim Morrison for his band the Doors:
     [Manzarek] read X lyrics in an L.A. Reader review slamming the band, [and he] realized the verse nailed the times and immediately sought out a show in whichever La-La Land hole X were playing at the time. ¶ Blown away by the haunting harmonies of Cervenka and her future ex-husband John Doe, as well as the musicianship of guitar god Billy Zoom and hot drummer D.J. Bonebrake, Manzarek made the proper introductions, went on to back X on keyboards live, and produced Los Angeles and three subsequent, critically acclaimed albums.
     “Even though it was really serious, it was still really fun,” Cervenka says of the Los Angeles sessions. “We were kids, and we’d do a take, and I remember hearing Ray over the phone telling us, ‘Remember, this is forever,’ which is the worst thing you could say, and he knew that. But, guess what? We just stopped goofing off.”
     She says Manzarek “did an amazingly great job,” although she now wishes the engineering on that record had been better.
     “In New York and London, they had state-of-the-art studios for people like Brian Eno and Elvis Costello. Stuff was taken more seriously in those cities,” she recalls. “Here, our engineering, when you even got in good studios, those engineers used to work with the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, country rock, hair rock. They had their version of what a snare drum sounds like. Ray would have to communicate what he wanted to people who couldn’t speak the language we were speaking to get the best sounds.”
     Manzarek, who is joining the band on keyboards for the first time in 30 years at the anniversary shows, deserves the credit as much as anyone for getting the essence of X on record, according to Cervenka. “It was very live, very much uncensored, pretty raw,” she says. “I think what that captured was more important than the tone or whether the drums could have sounded better.”….

The cursing philosopher and other tales

CSEA election results:
     Before leaving campus this afternoon, I ran into a classified employee who informed me that the “incumbent candidates” were elected in today’s CSEA election (in the SOCCCD). Let us know details if you have them.

UPDATE: The chapter website—SOCCCD Chapter 586 CSEA—is congratulating the winners in today’s election: “Congratulations to Daune Main Chapter President Gee Dickson 1st Vice President Megan Newton, Secretary Have a great Holiday” [original syntax]
     Presumably, they mean to say, "Congratulations to Daune Main, Chapter President; Gee Dickson, 1st Vice President; Megan Newton, Secretary. Have a great Holiday!"

Today in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

• University Cans Cursing Philosophy Lecturer

     ...The lecturer, Daniel Petersen, said he had told students that “stuff happens”—though he used a more emphatic word than “stuff”—to illustrate concepts like free will and determinism. Parents complained, and Mr. Petersen was suspended without pay. Then he was informed that he wouldn’t be returning to teach next semester....

• Congress Approves Changes to New GI Bill

     A bill to expand the benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which helps finance higher education for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, received approval by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, clearing the way for President Obama's signature....

• Scholars Elicit a 'Cultural Genome' From 5.2 Million Google-Digitized Books

     The English language is going through a time of huge growth. Humanity is forgetting its history more rapidly each year. And celebrities are losing their fame faster than in the past. ¶ Those are some of the findings in a paper published on Thursday in the journal Science by a Harvard-led team of researchers. The scholars quantified cultural trends by investigating the frequency with which words appeared over time in a database of about 5.2 million books, roughly 4 percent of all volumes ever published, according to Harvard's announcement....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"I Am the Woman in Your Department Who Does All the Committee Work"

Rebel Girl has been busy but that doesn't mean she hasn't been thinking of you all.

Here's a little something that she knows some of you will enjoy.

She found it on McSweeney's. It made her happy.

I Am the Woman in Your Department Who Does All the Committee Work

By Sophia Gould
- - - -
I received your email about the tower you are building in the woods with a few Amish masons, and of course I understand that you'll be unable to notify us as to what classes you'll be teaching next semester, or when you'll be available to meet with your advisees. With your permission, I'll rely on last year's schedule and again sign you up for two five-person sections of "Lyric Sexuality." I will also schedule some extra office hours to collect mucous-soaked, germ-infected tissues from each of the suicidal girls you seem to enjoy mentoring when you are not laying stone.
...
I am grateful for your presence at our curriculum meeting. It was kind of you to make fifteen minutes in your busy schedule. I think we were all struck by your objections to the proposal we've spent two years crafting, and how you are convinced that the current program, designed by you and some venerable dead people in 1971, should stay in place. The introductory course, "Eating the Strawberry" is still relevant, and still poses a challenge to mainstream ideas of the Nixon era. Speaking of eating, I gather you enjoyed the homemade snacks I provided, since you honored me by eating all of the lemon-scented Madeleines before you had to run to dinner with the university president.

As you recall, you agreed to chair our hiring committee, but since I know you're "bad with paperwork and deadlines" I will continue to fill out the "administrative paperwork" that amounts to reading and summarizing all 300 applications (or twelve feet of paper) for you. When we meet to discuss candidates, I will count on your voicing your commitment to affirmative action, as well as your support of young men who write about young men, unless they are too talented, in which case you'd prefer a woman who will do all of your committee work....

*
To read this in its entirety, click here.

—Now, go back to grading.
*

Public comments and the Brown Act

Barry Krugel addresses our board
December 15:

UPDATE: OCTA Tweaks its Public Comment Policy (Voice of OC; Dec. 16)

     As you know, the board of trustees of the South Orange County Community College District has had a colorful history with the “Brown Act,” California’s open meetings law.
     You remember the Brown Act. The point of that law is to promote accountability, and, more specifically, to insure that the people’s business is done in the open, not in secret. Thus it demands that discussion topics (for meetings of such “legislative bodies” as college or school boards, city councils, boards of supervisors, etc.) be descriptively agendized and that agendas be made available well prior to meetings; that board members not meet and discuss board business in secret; that only some issues be discussed in closed session; etc.
     Back in 1997 and ’98, our board engaged in “persistent and defiant” misconduct relative to this law. We warned them about that. They blew us off. We sued ‘em. We won. They were pretty nasty about it. They trumped up charges against me and made moves to get me fired. I sued 'em again, etc.
Paradigm sh*t
     Did I mention that John Williams is an a**hole? According to several declarations (including his own), that guy actually tried to hammer out secret deals between trustees and administrators. Paradigmatic assholery.
     Since those bad old days, at least up through the end of the Mathur/Wagner era, the board has mostly followed the law, albeit often begrudgingly and minimally. It is often unclear what SOCCCD agenda items mean. Sometimes, with a slight effort, an item’s full meaning could be made clear, but no.
     And, sometimes, the board hides things.
     Take, for instance, the odd way in which trustees’ requests for attending conferences are indicated. The agenda item for the December 2010 meeting is typical: it includes an Exhibit A. There, we read “Trustees wishing to attend,” followed by, not trustee names, but brief descriptions of events plus the cost per person. (Huh?) We are not told who wishes to attend these events or how many trustees seek to attend.
     It appears that this odd template (it's been used many times before) is designed to obscure precisely that information.
     Well, now that John’s gone, maybe such obfuscation will cease. The phrase “trustees wishing to attend” should be followed by the names of trustees—plus what they seek to attend, and how much it will cost. Sheesh!
     But we’ve got a new chancellor, and I expect big things from him, including moves toward greater openness and honesty.
     Today, I noticed that we (in the district community) got some sort of notification of agenda items for the next board meeting. Not sure what that’s all about, but it seems to be a step in the right direction. Hear, hear!

PUBLIC COMMENTS:

     The Brown Act is about accountability, and so it has something to say about “public comments” at meetings. Obviously, it clears the way for members of the community to address the board, but boards have a way of throwing in hurdles and detours and even roadblocks. For instance, it is common to ask those who wish to address the board to fill out a slip or form that requests various kinds of information that a speaker might not wish to divulge.
     At the SOCCCD, speakers are asked to fill out orange slips. I think they only ask for the speaker’s name and the topic that he or she wishes to address.
     In today’s Voice of OC, we learn that at least one local “legislative body” screws up the public comments thing, Brown-Actwise. And it appears that, to a lesser extent, our board gets it wrong, too:

You Don't Need a Blue Card to Speak Your Mind (Voice of OC)
     The blue cards that the Orange County Transportation Authority gives members of the public to fill out before they can comment during meetings violate California's open meeting law, according to open government expert Terry Francke.
     OCTA lawyer Ken Smart said speakers are "not required" to fill out the cards with information including their names, addresses, telephone numbers and affiliations.
     But in no way does the agency tell potential speakers that giving OCTA that information is voluntary.
     "When the government hands you a form to fill out, the usual assumption by most people is you have to fill it out," said Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware (http://www.calaware.org/home.php) and Voice of OC's open government consultant. "If they don't tell you it's voluntary, you're going to assume that it's not.". . .
     Francke said "If they (members of the public) have something to say to the government, they do not need, under the Brown Act or any other law, to disclose who they are," he said.
     And, he said, the Legislature recognized that people might feel they are required to fill out a form, if it is given to them. He said state law requires public agencies that have a sign-in roster to specifically "advise the public of their right not to sign.. . .
     The right way for government agencies to plan for public speakers, [Franke] said, is to ask them to simply write which item on the agenda they wish to address, without giving their name or any other information. That way, the presiding officer knows how many speakers are interested in a specific issue and can plan for large numbers who may want to speak without violating the Brown Act….
Bolstering national security
     I do think that we are entering a new day in the district. (I can just see the Reb rolling her eyes at my unbridled optimism!) Things are gonna improve, you wait and see!
     So let’s get this “public comment” thing right and start producing agendas that try to inform the public of how this district spends its half billion bucks per year.

See also House Votes to Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell; Loretta Sanchez Says Gay Soldiers Can Bolster National Security (OC Weekly)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dang technology!

     Yesterday, I posted about some rebuttals to criticism of the local CSEA chapter’s leadership (CSEA leadership responds, sort of). I mentioned that the two comments comprising the rebuttals had been taken down from the blog, but not by the Reb or me. I assumed that the author—Delores Brooks Irwin—had taken them down herself. Under the circumstances, I thought it best to keep the author's name to myself.
     Just now, I found Irwin’s two comments in my “spam” folder for blogspot! (I never check that.) So now that mystery’s solved. Dang technology.
     I’ve de-spammed her comments, and so they are now again among the comments (under The CSEA election brouhaha and More on the CSEA election controversy), as Irwin evidently intended.
     I do appreciate her comments. Sorry for the mixup.

Grand injustice—and we're part of the freakin' grandeur

“Injustice, if it is on a large enough scale, is stronger, freer, and more masterly than justice.”
Thrasymachus (in Plato’s Republic)

     If you check out the “payin’ our bills” section of SOCCCD agendas, you’ll discover that our district pays a company named Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. about $300 a month. We’ve been doin’ that for a long time, it seems. I don't know what ACS does for us. Maybe nothin'. Wouldn't be surprised.
     According to today's OC Reg Watchdog, ACS State and Local Solutions got a big bonus from the County today—$254,609—despite its doing a notoriously shitty job.
     Down at the County, there’ve been “repeated complaints of substandard performance,” it seems.
     I Googled "ACS State and Local Solutions," and that brought me here, where I found a link that brought me here—the website for ACS, “a Xerox company.” The footer of that site says "© Copyright 2010 Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved."
     This tells me, I suppose, that ACS State and Local Solutions either is, or is closely tied to, Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., the company that does something, I know not what, for the SOCCCD.
     Don't know about SOCCCD, but, evidently, for Orange County, ACS has done a seriously shitty job.
     That’s too bad, ‘cause ACS “has a 10-year, $266 million contract to manage the county’s computer needs” (Reg).
     $266 million!
     Do you ever get the feeling that that asshole Thrasymachus was right?

• See also County Computer Contractor Gets $254,000 Bonus (Voice of OC)

The faculty union: reminiscing—about corruption, greed, secrecy, stupidity. You know. The good old days.

Apologist McLendon
December 14:
     Before the SOCCCD Faculty Association was finally reformed in about '98-99 (the effort started in '96), it was unbelievably corrupt and nasty.
     Just remember: the faculty let it all happen. They didn't pay attention.
     Eternal vigilance!

• The infamous same-sex flier (1996)
• The board’s unlikely secret allies (the union backs anti-unionists) (1998)
• The Old Guard’s not-so-sweet charity: Puerta de Escándalo (2001)
• The trustee race of ’98: Maddox/Galcher v. Wagner/Padberg (1998)
• Time for Pie (a typical union meeting with Prez Sherry, 1997)

Preserving "life as we know it"

Rotten apple for teacher

Students: one third untruthful on faculty evals
Students Found to Lie on Course Evaluations (Inside Higher Ed)
     A new study of students at the University of Northern Iowa and Southeastern Oklahoma University has found that about one-third of students said that they had been untruthful on faculty evaluations they submit at the end of courses, The Des Moines Register reported. While students admitted to fudging the truth both to bolster professors they liked and to bring down those they disliked, the latter kind of fabrication was more common.

See also Students Lie on Course Evaluations, Study Finds (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Monday, December 13, 2010

CSEA leadership responds, sort of

December 13: 

mea culpa
an acknowledgment of one's fault or error : [as exclam. ] “Well, whose fault was that?” “Mea culpa!” Frank said.

     One union (CSEA chapter 586) member, who shall remain nameless, has twice left rebuttals to our recent posts re Thursday’s election, but, both times, he/she then deleted them—evidently.
     I don’t get it. It's not as if these rebuttals were lousy. They make some good points!
     The first rebuttal was posted late Saturday night (in response to The CSEA election brouhaha). The second one was posted two hours ago (in response to yesterday’s More on the CSEA election controversy: “silly season”?).
     (Comments are automatically sent to my home email account (and the Reb’s), and neither of us deleted them. That leaves only the author—Member Z.)

     Well, we want to be fair and let union leadership respond to our and others’ criticisms. So, for what it’s worth, here are member Z's points—and my responses.

Saturday’s "rebuttal":

“NOBODY is being disenfranchised. Maybe they are being inconvenienced, but there is a big difference between the two.”

(My response: people can make their own judgments about that. Some CSEA members work from 4:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. (swing shift). The election is scheduled for 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, which is five hours after the shift. So it would be like a 9-5 worker being told that they can vote, but the polls are only open from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.)

“The constitution … states that the election must be held on the day of the December meeting, and polls must close before the meeting begins.”

(My response: (1) This element of the constitution does preclude some accommodations that have been suggested, but not the accommodation of opening the polls from midnight to 1:00 a.m. on Thursday. (2) Again, given that some classified workers work non-regular hours, it is hard to see the logic of the drafters [of the recent revision] in opting to include the “same day” rule.)

“The voting tellers do not get release time, and we have a limited number of people who are willing to serve as tellers.”

(My response: one of the suggested accommodations involves adding only one hour [from midnight to 1:00 a.m.] to the polling schedule.)

“[T]he change in voting that was accomplished this year [namely, allowing voting at both college campuses and not just at the location of the meeting] did not come about as a result of requests from the membership, but from the E Board itself.”

(My response: irrelevant. And again: that the rules were once worse than now does not justify their present failings, right?)

“Maybe you can say we were short-sighted, but the fact is that no one was complaining about the way voting was conducted in the past.”

(My response: first, one of the requested accommodations—adding the midnight-to-1 hour to the polling schedule—is entirely consistent with the existing constitution. Second, evidently, the E Board did not see a problem writing the constitution and setting the election in a manner that de facto disenfranchises some membership. “Shortsighted” is one word for it, I guess. Oblivious? Indifferent?)

“If the night shift staff felt they were ‘disenfranchised’ in past elections, they did not bring it to our attention. If they had, we could have overhauled the whole system.”

(My response: no doubt these members should have brought the matter to leadership's attention. But it is hardly surprising if these workers—a rather marginalized group, it seems to me—were simply unaware that a change in the rules could be made for the asking.)

A tree on the hill across from my place, this morning. Click on it!
Today’s "rebuttal":

“...'silly season' is an expression used to describe the antics that happen during elections. You have a right to misconstrue [the] meaning if you wish.”

(My response: I don’t think I did misconstrue the author's meaning. The phrase “silly season” came up in this post by a union officer:
Whispers. Gossip. Innuendo.
In a CSEA election?
Really?
Read below for a reality check. Fortunately, silly season will end Election Day, Dec. 16.
Plainly, the writer implied that those engaging in “whispers,” “gossip,” and “innuendo” are being silly, which ain't good, whatever it might mean. And there can be little doubt what that writer means by “gossip,” etc., for, in a post a few days earlier, she referred to three “myths,” including concerns from classified employees who felt disenfranchised by the Dec. 16 polling schedule.)

“[W]e are not opposed to further changing election rules. However, it is too late for this year – even the moving of the chapter meeting time, because of notice rules.”

(My response: glad to hear that the leadership do not oppose changing the rules! Perhaps it is too late to change the meeting time, but I don’t see how all suggested accommodations entail changing the meeting time. Further, even if nothing can be done to accommodate these members, I cannot understand why the leadership of this union is not apologetic about its actions—actions that leave some members disenfranchised. Frankly, I am mystified by this. Mistakes? —We all make 'em. But then you say, "My bad." No?)

“…I do know that our constitution is based on a template provided by state CSEA. (See http://members.csea.com/MemberHome/Portals/0/csea_pdf/pub_119.pdf) Judging from the template, it is standard practice for CSEA chapters to allow voting only at the December meeting each year. [Most] likely this is because most CSEA chapters are k-12 and comprise many campuses. That is most likely the reason it has been done that way all this time, even though it doesn't really make sense.”

(My response: informative. And I agree. It doesn’t really make sense. Perhaps some of the blame here should be directed at CSEA. Good point.)

“There is nothing nefarious going on here. We are not professional board members, we are classified staff members fitting in our CSEA obligations during lunch and after work and on weekends. (We do not have the luxury of having flexible schedules like faculty!)"

(My response: speaking for myself, I have not assumed that anything nefarious (i.e., wicked or criminal) is going on here. Nefarious is too strong a word. Still, I would challenge the union leadership to ask themselves whether they have erred in bringing about a situation in which some members are virtually disenfranchised. I think it is clear that they have. So do the right thing, even if all that it can be, for now, is a statement of commitment to do better!)

     ONE MORE POINT: one reason I have pursued this matter is that I can think of few mistakes (by a union's leadership) more serious than disenfranchising some of its members, especially its most marginalized members. —And doing it for a long time, oblivious.—And then refusing to take the matter seriously when the disenfranchised members complain!
     I just can't understand why these people didn't simply declare "mea culpa," then accommodate these few members and then resolve publicly to make the obvious changes to the constitution.
     (Hint: you can stil do all that.)

CSEA candidates' statements

December 13:
     Not long ago, CSEA Chapter 586’s blog, 586 News, posted the nominees for elected office. In each case, the candidate’s statement appears to be provided:

President:
Dennis Gordon’s statement
Daune Main’s statement

First Vice President:
Vince Cooper’s statement
Gee Dickson’s statement

Secretary:
Megan Newton’s statement
Kori Garner’s statement

Dennis

Daune

Vince

Gee

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More on the CSEA election controversy: "silly season"?

December 12:
     The CSEA chapter 586 website has some helpful information. For instance, there, one can find the current constitution (a pdf file).
     The relevant section of the constitution states the following:
When there is more than one (1) nominee for an office, a secret ballot election shall be conducted on the day scheduled for the December Chapter meeting. Balloting shall be conducted at such times and at campus site locations as determined by the Chapter President. Hours for balloting shall be set so that polls will close prior to the start of the Chapter meeting.
     Delores Irwin is the Public Relations officer for the chapter. According to the website (see), among the “Chapter 586 blogs prepared by Delores Irwin” is 586 News586 News is more polished and more interesting than the chapter website. Check it out.
     Here's a recent post on 586 News (Dec. 6). It is entitled “On the Campaign Trail”:
Whispers. Gossip. Innuendo.
In a CSEA election?
Really?

Read below for a reality check. Fortunately, silly season will end Election Day, Dec. 16. Watch your email for details about how to vote. [My emphasis.]
     “Silly season”?
     The “below” seems to refer to the previous post (Dec. 4), which presents three “myths,” including Myth 3:
Special accommodations are being made for Saddleback swing shift to vote outside the established voting hours in the upcoming election, but the same accommodations are not being made for IVC swing shift.

Truth:
At the time this rumor was floated, the hours for the election had not yet been set. The CSEA constitution outlines the rules for the election, establishing that the election must be held on the day of the December chapter meeting, and balloting must be concluded before the start of the chapter meeting – 12:30 PM.

Members of the IVC swing shift complained that their shift – 4:30 PM - 1:00 AM, does not allow them to vote during the scheduled time of 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM. They claimed that the Saddleback swing shift was being allowed to vote the night before the election. [My emphasis.]

2nd VP Kathe Nunez' response: "In the past, according to our Constitution and Bylaws, voting [by membership] for E Board members was only allowed at the campus where the December meeting was scheduled. This eliminated many, many members who could not take the time from their work schedule to travel to the other campus to vote.

"For the two years that I have been on the E Board, we have worked to update the Constitution to make it more relevant to our members. One of the big changes was to allow voting to take place at both campuses. [My emphasis.]

"The polls on both campuses will open at 6 AM and close at 12 PM. I will be at the Saddleback campus before 6 AM (2 hours earlier and using my vacation time) in order to have the polls open for our members. This is the same time that the polls will be open at IVC. Both campuses are being treated exactly the same.

"As with any voting process in our government, we need to follow the rules. In voting for President of the United States, the polls are not open the day before to accommodate someone who can't make it to the polls at the assigned hours. I don't like getting up two hours earlier than usual, but I will be there. Will you?"
     Wow. It is certainly true that the existing constitution precludes voting on the day before the meeting, but one wonders why those who drafted the constitution would embrace this “same day” rule given that, among members, there are some who work the swing shift (and graveyard). Given these “round the clock” hours, embrace of this rule virtually guarantees member disenfranchisement.
     Equally importantly, Nunuz’ remark ignores other options, such as the suggestion to open the polls from midnight to 1:00 a.m. and then again from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon—all on the 16th. This would entail opening the polls one extra hour.
Who you calling "silly"?
     Further, the “it used to be worse” defense really won’t do. One cannot defend rules that disenfranchise members by arguing that the old rules used to disenfranchise members even more so! –Not, at least, if alternative rules that eliminate disenfranchisement altogether are available.
     Such a scheme was provided this morning by our old pal down south, Phil Lopez:
Bottom line: Everybody should get to vote. Period.

100 miles down the road from you all, we had, several decades ago, the same problem. Elections for the faculty union were scheduled on just one weekday from noon 'til four in the afternoon. Full-time faculty were (nearly) all on campus at that time, but only a fraction of part-timers. All it took was a call to CTA to change the election rules.

Here's a simple solution for CSEA: Vote by inter/intra campus mail.

1. Everyone gets two envelopes (a small one and a large one) and a ballot in his/her mailbox at work.

2. Fill out the ballot, and put it in the smaller envelope. Do not write anything on the envelope.

3. Put the smaller envelope inside the larger envelope, seal it, sign your name over the seal, print your name on the outside, and send it to CSEA's campus mailbox.

4. Give everyone a week to do this.

5. When the union gets all the envelopes, it can check—by looking at the outside of the big envelopes—to make sure that only eligible members vote and to make sure that everyone votes only once. You've got ballot security.

6. Open all the big envelopes. Take out the smaller envelopes containng the ballots. Now you've got secret ballots because there are no names on them.

7. Count 'em.

Sure, this takes more time, and, sure, it's a pain in the ass to get two envelopes and a ballot into every union member's mailbox, but it's secure and fair. Democracy is often messy and time-consuming, but it beats any alternative.

By the way, it's inevitable that some folks will fail to follow directions and screw up this two-envelope system. When you're counting ballots, you simply put the mis-marked envelopes to one side without opening them. Then count the ballots from the envelopes that were marked correctly. If a candidate wins by, say, 50 votes and there are only 10 mis-marked envelopes, then there's no problem. If the election is close and the mis-marked envelopes will affect the outcome, then you'll need a committee of ballot counters (which you should have in the first place) to ageee on some ad-hoc rules to determine which envelopes to open and count. These decisions usually are common-sense.
     Unfortunately, the existing 586 constitution precludes use of Lopez’ method for this election, owing to that bothersome rule about the voting occurring “on the day” of the chapter meeting. (Perhaps a variation is still possible: skip the mail; place the envelope in a box on the 16th.)
     The midnight-to-1 suggestion is still alive. Why not go with that and then change the constitution once again—this time seriously embracing enfranchisement of members?
     One more thing. The writer of the "silly season" post evidently regards as silly those who complain that polling is set up in a manner such that they cannot vote.
     —Yes, I know. She's saying that the "Saddleback gets to vote the day before" rumor is silly. But underlying that rumor is a serious concern: you've set things up so that we can't vote. 
     Silly?
     Really?



Not so fast! Rethinking fall opening

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

Invited to IVC—this time a notorious admitted HOMOPHOBE

—Conservative radio host, Michael Reagan


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

According to the department website,

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

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


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


Great. The early bird gets the worm.


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




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

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


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


In those early years, he made some curious friends:

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

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

Later, there were legal problems:

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

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


Then, natch, he found the Lord.


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


* * *

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


Michael Reagan

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

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


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


WAY TO GO, GLENN


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

Recent columns by Michael Reagan


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

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

But not General Flynn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Michael Reagan:


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

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

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

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

Roquemore and U of Phoenix

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

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

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

Irvine Valley College Signs Memorandum of Understanding with University of Phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


GI Bill funds failing for-profit California colleges

(Desert Sun)

The ever-clueless Glenn R

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

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

. . .

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

(Cognoscenti [NPR Boston])

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

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

([Senator] Harkin newsletter)


…Senator Harkin's HELP Committee investigation found:

. . .

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

Hey-Diddly-Ho, Neighbor!

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

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

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

Delivering factoids for

Turkish anti-feminists

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


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

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

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

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

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

What’s the matter with ‘im? Dunno.

But just who are these “Pacifica Institute” people?

According to PI’s website,

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

. . .

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

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

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

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

Fethullah Gülen

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

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

. . .

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

. . .

Q: Who is Fethullah Gülen?

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

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

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

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

I clicked on that. That essay includes this passage:

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

Yikes.

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

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

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

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

Berna Turam, Northeastern

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

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


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

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

Votes of "no confidence" - 1999

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


MATHUR, RAGHU P.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Irvine Valley College Signs Memorandum of Understanding with University of Phoenix

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

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

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

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

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


GI Bill funds failing for-profit California colleges

(Desert Sun)

The ever-clueless Glenn R

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

. . .

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

. . .

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

. . .

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

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

(Cognoscenti [NPR Boston])

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

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

([Senator] Harkin newsletter)


…Senator Harkin's HELP Committee investigation found:

. . .

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

Hey-Diddly-Ho, Neighbor!

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