|"You oughta see it some time"|
(See Tere's Board Meeting Highlights)
6:05 Well, no meeting yet. The place (namely, the Ronald Reagan board of trustees meeting room or RRBOTMR) is jumpin'. Craig is practicing his PowerPoint presentation while various pairs and groups are yackin' it up pretty good all over the room. The special "hat" lady is sittin' in back. —That's a good omen. She's into Coco Puffs.
I'll let you know when this shindig actually starts.
. . .
6:11 Frank Meldau and Dave Lang have entered the room. Now TJ Prendergast. Now Gary Poertner (Chancellor). (Bill Jay is absent.)
Zounds! They're wheeling in TOM FUENTES! We haven't seen him in eight months!
They've rolled him up to where he normally sits. Only his head pokes above the stand. It has turned in my direction. I ignore it.
6:18 The meeting opens.
Trustee Marcia Milchiker reads out actions taken in closed session: Nothing.
Invocation (Prendergast): he explains his new mustache—part of an effort to fight the scourge of prostrate cancer.
Public comments: the hat lady shows up to complain about not being admitted to the Oxford Program. Complained somehow about the strategic plan and objectives. Said she'd had problems with access to programs for 30 years here at the college. Not for the first time, she suggests that the board look at her credentials for Chancellor!
I fear that this is the highlight of the evening.
Tom's dark warning:
6:30 Trustee reports:
Meldau: — blah
Milchiker: — blah
Prendergast: "I don't know what astounds me more—that [the board meeting] is televised or that people watch it."
TJ's back to being funny, which is good, cuz it's been like a tomb around here lately.
Padberg: — blah
It is a joy to be here. (He sounds very weak. Has trouble with his breathing.) 15th week of my hospice care. Normally, I spend my time at home. I still get all of the information for meetings, etc. So I know what is before the board. I've got time to keep track of the fiscal crises in the state. We live in the "abundantly lucrative" county of Orange, so we tend to forget how bad it is elsewhere. We need to remain "fiscally conservative," or we will pay the price. We're on a precipice, in great danger. There's been a change in this district, and one day we'll pay a price (for that). I'm still engaged. I'm still watching.Lang: — blah
Student Trustee Larson: — blah
Tonight, colleges will report student success. Next month, we'll hear about proposals for ATEP. Those will be up for approval in January.
Board requests for reports:
$73 million (grab of funds).
Fuentes interrupts: he doesn't understand. Shouldn't we have a study for plans if we don't get the funds? This entitlement mentality—"let's keep ours"—doesn't solve problems. We're part of the greed, is all it says. Need to look at solutions.
Padberg: I'm sure we'll get that info. All but Fuentes vote Yes on agendizing the resolution.
Padberg: asks for report re progress in SLOs. Bring that back to us next time? Burnett and Roquemore seem agreeable.
New trustee area boundaries:
6.1 Adjustments to trustee area boundaries.
Poertner: after the ten year census, defined trustee areas must be redefined if they prove to be unequal in voter population. CSUF did the study for us before, and this time too. He refers also to a private legal firm that advised in this matter, which concerns the Voting Rights Act.
Deborah (of CSUF) speaks. Our goal: have equal population areas. Shows data regarding population in each district: bar charts, graphs. We're way off of equal distribution at this point. Criteria followed in making adjustments: areas should be nearly equal in population. Also: topography, geography, cohesiveness, communities of interest, etc. (Tom's ears are pricked. Communities of interest?!)
We see ethnic distributions: non-hispanic whites and others (Hispanics, Asians). Our proportions here in South County are skewed toward white. We see a map of existing areas. We're shown various minor changes being proposed. Pretty tedious. (I think you'll have to look at these maps and charts to understand the changes. They are largely minor.) Recommended action: adopt this proposal.
Marcia: likes the changes in her area. She's happy. You did a great job, as you did ten years ago, she says.
Prendergast: asks about at-large voting and ethnic considerations. Private consultant comes up (he's a lawyer). There has been no racially polarized voting—we're OK with the Voting Rights Act.
Señor Fuentes: I'm the first Hispanic elected trustee in this district. This confirms what you've just said (about no polarized ethnic voting, I guess). Report doesn't give us breakdown based on party registration. Would it be difficult to get those numbers? Could we see that data?
Deborah: it can be done, but it will take effort.
Ben, the attorney, says: you may consider that info, if you wish. It may require change of (my and Deb's) contracts to achieve this.
Fuentes: it is a point of interest. It (the info) would be worthy of having, for our trustees, for our constituents. I frankly think this redistricting effort in the last several months (throughout the state, I guess)—there's an over-emphasis on race and ethnicity. As Americans, we look for color-blindness, when we do things politically. It has become so much an upfront issue, affecting the distributing process. I don't care for it myself. I'm prepared to vote today, but I'd like to know how much it would cost to get the data about party membership.
They vote: motions carries unanimously. (I suppose the party registration data will be pursued, too. Not sure.)
A devilishly long student success presentation:
Discussion item: 4.2 (Accountability reporting for CCs; aka ARCC reports): the march of factoids about student completion rates, etc.
Chris Tarman (IVC research and planning analyst) speaks. Pretty tedious but clear. Generally sounds good. "Above average" mentioned a lot. (We're like Lake Wobegon, I guess.) We're seeing an upward trend with regard to annual successful course completion. Blah, blah, blah. Tarman moves too fast through fairly difficult-to-understand factoids. Makes no effort to help us understand what it all points to, what it all means. A mere sputterer of factoids, he is.
Nancy says: can we ask questions? Yup
Marcia: excellent report, says Marcia. Blah, blah, blah.
Nancy P: good report. It's hard to see the blue figures on the black background (she's commenting on the slides). Could you make some adjustment to that? Yessireebob.
Next, the Saddleback people come up to give their report. Nicole Ortega, research analyst. She'll do the same thing as Chris. (She's prettier, though.) Ortega starts with the big picture (i.e., what it all means). Thanks. It all looks good. Her charts are clearer, if less elegant (and somewhat garish).
The march of factoids continues. It all sounds pretty positive, I think.
Marcia: excellent report again.
4.1 Student success planning
Saddleback College Prez Todd Burnett introduces faculty coordinator, Keven O'Connor, Don Busche, et al.
First speaker (Penny?) is seriously chirpy. She says she tells students: "take it serious." (Yeah, but that's ungrammatical.) Her chirpitude is like sunshine on a cloudy day. Her blondness hurts my peepers. Busche looks glum. Chirp, chirp, chirp. Like ice pick taps to my skull. Throws out buzz words, but her chirpiness overwhelms all content. "Stay the course," she says. I say: make her administrative cheerleader; send her to a field somewhere. Chirp, chirp, chirp. Big smile: "celebrate completion!" she says, as she dons a mortarboard. (I kid you not.) Good Lord. Whoo! she says. Chirp, I hear. Her Blondness continues. Busche looks glummer. Chirp chirp!! I'm thinking: Goldie Hawn, 1969. Remember the gal who runs the tour of the Alamo in PeeWee's Big Adventure? Yeah, that gal. "There's no basement at the Alamo!" [giggling; laughter; PeeWee runs in ignominious horror]
She persists in full blond chirpiness. Busche is glum, a glummer than which cannot be conceived. O'Connor is beyond glum; he looks like a corpse.
Blondie talks about waving wands, her hand in the air. She chirps anew. I feel as though I am a tiny balsa wood airplane, attached to string, flying around her. Whee!
Don't get me wrong: this gal could be great, even if she doesn't know it's "seriously" not "serious." Her blond chirpiness is almost as good as mice running around the floor, darting into the dead air. Almost as good as Tom Fuentes maintaining life with a machine in the corner. Her Chirpiness chirps still. (Could it possibly matter what she's actually saying?) I have no idea what she's saying. --She's speaking breathlessly, excitedly, blondly. I feel as though I am in Romper Room. She's gonna reach down and tie my shoelaces. "That's it!" she finally says.
Inexplicably, O'Connor comes up to speak, sobering things up considerably. He sounds good, professional. What a mistake. "We have a lot of challenges," he says. "Transferable English." "ESL." Blah, blah, blah. Poor guy. How do you follow Ms. Über-Chirp?
O'Connor's thing ends without warning. Miss Chirp steps in again to lively things up, like pouring gas on hell. "I always tell students....", she says. A slide says: "Become involved." Oh. Who's her audience? It ain't me, babe. Or maybe it is. Does it matter, chirp-wise?
She's smiling again. She's blonding intensely at the trustees who are really too old for all this, especially Fuentes, who appears to be, well, south of conscious. I feel his pain. He's coughing. Good grief. Could it be that Miss Chirpy will be the last thing he ever experiences? She will not stop. The trustees evidently don't know that they can stop her, throw a branch at her feet.
She stopped. But no! She's started again. "Oh!" she says. "It's hard to leave Saddleback College, it's such a great place!" she says. "But with Dr. Burnett's help....." That's it, she finally says.
But no! No no no. She has another factoid for us. 70% of nurses, 80% of Firefighters, and 90% of philatelists are trained in CC's!
Is that it? No it isn't. Another factoid. "I hope that was clear," she squeaks. A big smile. Then back to O'Connor (a dead Ken to her lively Barbie). Sobriety again. We're successful, but we want to be better, he says. Nobody hears him.
Good Lord, comparing IVC and Saddleback's presentations is like comparing a crisp, folded map to a whoopee cushion, or maybe to a Mythbusters powdered milk explosion!
Will this never end? At long last, Senator, have you no sense of decency? O'Connor blathers on.
. . .
Oh no! Now it's Busche's turn. I thought he died, but no. His garish slides are misbehaving, evidently. Nobody cares. Everyone wishes that he would just stop. AT LONG LAST SENATOR!!!! AT LONG LAST!
Fee wavers. More flexibility. The 50% law. I look at Fuentes for—I know not what. He doesn't move his head. Only his eyes move. They dart sidewise at Busche.
Good God! Busche just referred to the "next slide"! Nobody fucking cares, Don! Please stop!
"We're willing to innovate" he intones. Fuentes has an odd smile. It seems to say, "And so this is how it ends, eh, Lord?" Yes Tom. You and me both.
Busche will not quit. Poertner is thinking about something far, far away. Puppies maybe. Fuentes' smile has grown fainter. Burnett looks truly sad. Dead kittens, maybe?
Good Lord, now Busche is turning the mike over to Tammy Rice. She seems pleasant, but Good God! It's like being guided into an unexpected lower circle of hell, far worse than anything one ever imagined. She talks to a sulfurous yellow slide. It is ugly beyond words. She has a real person's voice, but it's no good. Nothing can help us now. "Remediation," she says, pleasantly. Good Lord. It's raining hell pokeys!
. . .
I'm back. It hasn't ended. Seriously. It is now 8:10 in this warm, fetid tomb. I'm about to stumble out of the RRBOTMR to fresh air and sanity. Busche is back in his corner, dying. O'Connor has moved off to the side, pretending to listen, crying inside. The trustees are blank. Tom's got that sidelong glance, that faint smile. His chin drops. Could it be....?
That gal is still yammerin'. She seems nice, intelligent. Really. But surely she must know that we aren't listening, that we'd rather eat broken glass than hear another syllable!
Or maybe it's just me. I dunno. Could it be that people are in rapt attention? Am I simply the oddball in the room in my own personal hell?!
Gregor Samsa woke up to find himself transformed into an enormous bug, superglued to his chair in the RRBOTMR....
8:15 She's still yammering, I tell you. I wonder if Nancy will simply kill this woman when she finally stops? Could be. She has that look. I almost want to see that. Tom is smiling again. It is a hideous thing.
She's done! Do you have any questions. God no.
Ah, but Lang has one. Congratulates all for the terrific report. "Penny, we're impressed with you're excitement and enthusiasm," he says, with a smile. (Laughter.) He's puzzled by a graph. Saddleback student achievement: everything showed upward trends except for the line for transfers between two years ago and this past year. Any speculation about that? (Why doesn't he also comment on the lint in his left pocket? Why the f*ck not?)
Busche: I don't have a prepared answer. I'll get the info for you. We still have a high transfer rate.
Marcia: are doors to UCs, CSUs closing for our students? Chirpy: it has to do with majors. Students have to earn a higher GPA. A 2.0 or 2.5 won't get you in anymore. She mentions "tag" agreements. I dunno. What's that, asks Marcia. Transfer agreements. Chirpy says there's no basement in the Alamo. Nancy says something, but I don't care. The student trustee wears an Arte Johnson mask and gives a lecture about whipped cream.
Burnett: blah, blah, blah. Tremendous decrease in tutorials, etc. (Maybe because the library's closed?) Burnett says the Library will open in the Fall.
Henry Gibson explains something, holding a posy. Ruth Buzzee.....
We're gonna need to take a break, says Prez Nancy. Yep. Or we're just gonna die!
Student success initiatives: more hell
8:41 OK, we're back. Prendergast says he's pessimistic about finishing the meeting by 9:00. I blame chirpy, he says. (Not really.) They vote on extending the time. Somebody has to punch Fuentes to get him to wake up and vote. Somehow, he does so. His arm falls limp.
Craig Justice speaks. They're gonna give a report on "student success initiatives." (Near him: Lisa Davis Allen and Gwen Plano.) This could be bad.
Blah, blah, blah. We've got the highest transfer rate. Blah.
There's some kid two seats down with the weirdest fucking shoes and socks I've ever seen. But I digress....
Lisa Davis Allen: Goals. Reports. Task forces. "Teaching and learning." Facilitating.... --Good Lord. CTE and certificated programs....ATEP....what we hope to make real at that location.... The "20/20 vision." Student support. Structure. Success. Goal 3. --I can't go on with this.
Fuentes has that infernal smile again. What's he thinking?
Gwen Plano: nice plaid jacket. She speaks like a human being, thank God. She'll focus on "four areas." Online orientation, advisement. Blah, blah, blah.
I heard that Gwen has submitted her resignation. If so, she seems to benefit from post-resignation euphoria or energizreree. She's really quite excellent. Too bad I don't care. Not now. Not after hell.
She says one of IVC's counselors is a "beautiful person." Good grief. That can't be right. She's got nothin' left to lose, I guess. She'll say just about anything!
What with the plaid jacket and her new focus, it's almost as if she's saying something good and important. "Incredibly successful," she says. Yadda yadda yadda.
Next she describes the "Summer bridge program." She's quite eloquent about it. The superlatives are flyin', man. A retention rate of 89%. Can you imagine?!
Tom's got his eyes closed. He's smiling, but it's as though he's in pain. She points to somebody in the room. He stands up. Talks about veterans.
Gwen's odd eloquence continues. Sings the praises of the vets on campus. Very passionate.
Gosh, Gwen. Don't make me listen! She's pretty focused, impossible to ignore (almost).
Meanwhile, Craig Justice is chewing his tongue in the corner. He seems to have an enormous cup of coffee. Not sure. It's El Diablo coffee. "I have never been so touched in all my life....," says Gwen.
Back to El Diablo—er, Craig. Blah, blah, blah. Talks about how many computers per head at the college. —Yeah, but what about rat turds or mold pies per head? What about hairs per head?
He says the Academic Affairs committee has organized one of the most effective staff development programs in the known goddam universe. I did not know that. I do not think so. (How can anyone tell?)
Success center: a place to go to engage their professor, says the Prince of Darkness. Shows slide of Teacher of year. "See?", he seems to say.
Talks about writing center: shows Linda Thomas, describing the Center. I nice presentation. Linda seems like a pro (video-wise). The background music hits a wrong note: infomercial. But that's probably a plus with these geezers. Too bad everybody wishes they were dead. Pearls before corpses.
"Good writing begins with a conversation," said Linda to El Diablo, he says. Wow.
Next: basic skills, etc. Our newest center: Language Acquisition Center. Student come to practice languages, learn about other cultures. It opened this semester.
Reading center: but wait! Don't students know how to read? Well, they think they do. Hahaha. Blah, blah, blah.
Basic skills tutoring is conducted in the library, says Lucifer. (His jacket ain't much. His tie is an atrocity.)
I don't have a slide for the basement, he says. But blah, blah, blah.
Marcia: "it's so wonderful," she doesn't know where to start. The pictures! So much one-on-one help! Incredible!
Marcia notes that Gwen is retiring. Says: Gwen has "really big feet." Oops, no, she's left big shoes to fill! Yeah, that's it! (Much laughter.)
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
Prendergast: he's still got that mustache. Talks positively about veterans. No more comments. It's finally over.
Nancy: that was "very exciting, although a little bit long."
Well, at least she didn't kill anybody, like she does sometimes.
Hell writhes and sputters to a close:
Pulling 5.1 for Fuentes' sake. (Must be where they pay him despite absence last month.)
Otherwise, everything in consent calendar passes.
6.2 change order, IVC Life Science Building. Passes.
6.3 Ac Personnel actions. Passes.
6.4 Classified personnel actions. Bugay says there's a small change. See page 5. Blah, blah, blah. D1. It's tedious beyond words.
Marcia: what was very confusing last time is very clear now. Thanks.
Reports - Lang has question about basic aid report. Refers to an OC Reg article about this that caused some consternation among trustees. Nancy: not sure how that's tied in with "Basic Aid." $7.3 million in taxes being held back by county. (See article.) Very unclear in article how this would "impact" us, if at all. The fiscal gal explains, but you know me. Can't follow that stuff. The upshot seems to be that we're OK. We will be diligently monitoring this situations, she says. We'll collect 100% of any money owed to our district.
Poertner: it doesn't really impact us, he says. We haven't received this revenue source, so makes no difference. Lang seems satisfied. He examines lint from his pocket.
Fuentes: turn to page 1 of 2. Item #1. Could you refresh my memory? We have the concept that we don't use basic aid funds for one-time salary expenditures. How is it that that is there?
Poertner: my recollection: during those negotiations, we had a difficult time agreeing. The board agreed to use for that one year only the 4 and a half million for salary negotiation. Following year, was no longer used for that. It was controversial among trustees at the time, he says. (This is Gary's sense of humor at work, I think.)
Fuentes: OK, has no impact for future.
7.4 - no comments. 7.5 - no comments.
7.6 non-resident tuition fees for foreign and out-of-state students.
Lang: we ran the numbers, blah, blah, blah. Fiscal gal explains.
My Mac's battery is running mighty low. It's not likely that anything interesting will happen now, what with everyone being dead.
Prendergast: makes motion to extend meeting until 10:00. They do that. Somebody's got to smack Fuentes again. He somehow votes, then returns to his dark passenger.
7.7 Retiree trust fund.
Fuentes: could you walk us through this? Fiscal gal explains. I got nothin'. She is reassuring: we're in it for the long hall. Fuentes: when will we hear about this again? Blah, blah, blah. "We monitor it daily." But we only present on a quarterly basis. Fuentes wants to hear about it more often. Says something about "people camping on the lawn." I dunno. Maybe he's hallucinating. So Poertner and Co. agree to give more frequent reports.
Reports from groups....
I left amid the reports.
|Alone in the enshrouding darkness|
• Welch versus Joseph McCarthy, Part 2