Friday, June 17, 2011

The Dissing Don leads NPR's Morning Edition

     Gosh, Don made the bigtime. Here he is mentioned at the opening of NPR’s Morning Edition.
     The likes of Orange Juice Blog’s Vern Nelson jumped all over Don “Spanky” Wagner: here. There's quite a buzz.
     My guess is that this thing will die fast. But it's been fun while it's lasted!
     Because Don is intelligent and has a grain of goodness in him (I've glimpsed it; it was a tiny blue spark), I have long sought to advise him—from afar. Don's problem is that he is hot-tempered, generally peevish, crudely arrogant, egoistic, and, above all, a bully. Over and over again, these weaknesses get the better of him.
     Remember the "hiring policy" incident? According to law, development of faculty hiring policies is to be a matter of joint agreement between the district (trustees) and faculty (academic senates). So Don and Co., that gang led by bullies, unilaterally imposed changes to their Neanderthalic liking to faculty hiring policies. The faculty senates objected.
     What did Don do? He said, dismissively, "So sue us." Thus spake Don-a-thustra.
     We sued. We won. In the grand scheme of community college things, that was a serious defeat for the Neanderthals. It was precedent-setting.
     Religion has long been mildly present in the doings of the SOCCCD board of trustees. But, generally, 1st Amendment (establishment clause) fans--with a few exceptions--could live with it. But it plainly irked Don that a small group of faculty occasionally carped about all those prayers.
     What did Don do? Did he ignore the complainers? No. Don lacks a sense of proportion, owing to his enormous ego and his bully psyche. He raised the temperature. In the setting of a scholarship awards ceremony (three or four years ago), he gave an invocation/prayer that morphed into (or that was) a speech that peeved openly about the complainers. More than the hard core "establishment clause" crowd were offended. The speech so angered the civil libertarians that, ultimately (and with further instigation by the oafish Raghu Mathur and others), they sued. The district spent over a million dollars defending itself.
     Whatever else might be said about the resulting litigation and settlement, it included the judgment, by a jurist appointed by the Bush Administration, that Don's rant was "unconstitutional."
     Add that to your résumé Don.
     Don, please try harder to be good. You've got it in you, I know.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"I will say a prayer for Roy, and hope he is helped"

     Gosh, thanks. I feel better already.

FPPC clears Fuentes of wrongdoing (OC Reg)

     The Fair Political Practices Commission has dismissed a complaint accusing former Orange County Republic Party chairman Tom Fuentes of breaking state laws by failing to disclose a business relationship with Newport Beach auction house Lang Financial Corporation, better known as LFC, while holding elected office.
     Fuentes, a long-time trustee of a community college district and former senior vice president of LFC, maintained an office at LFC for about three years beginning around 2004, he told the Watchdog. But Fuentes never mentioned LFC on any of the economic disclosure forms he was required to file from 2004 to 2010 as a trustee of the South Coast County Community College District.
     Roy Bauer, an ethics and political-philosophy professor for the district whose blog routinely criticize Fuentes, filed a complaint with the FPPC in January. The FPPC’s investigation confirmed what Fuentes had maintained: he did nothing wrong.
     “We found that Mr. Fuentes did not receive compensation from LFC while a member of the South Coast County Community College Board of Trustees (SCCCBOT), and therefore was not require to report LFC as a source of income,” wrote Milad Dalju, commission counsel for the FPPC’s Enforcement Division, in a June 8 letter.
     “LFC donated the use of an office to the Claremont Institute, which the Claremont Institute allowed Mr. Fuentes to use in his capacity as a fellow at the Claremont Institute, and Mr. Fuentes properly reported the Claremont Institute as a source of income on his Statement of Economic Interests,” Dalju wrote.

     “We also found that, under these facts, Mr. Fuentes was not a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee, or held a position of management, at LFC while a member of the SOCCCBOT. He was therefore not required to disclose LFC as a business position,” Dalju wrote.
     “I never doubted the FPPC would arrive at this conclusion,” Fuentes said in a statement. “Bauer’s charge was absolutely false and filed for the sole purpose of tarring my reputation. The FPPC saw through Bauer’s machinations, and dismissed it as having no basis in fact. I will say a prayer for Roy, and hope he is helped.”
     Fuentes’ relationship with the auction house and with Public Administrator and former Public Guardian John S. Williams, who used LFC for land sales, drew the interest of county officials.
     Williams’ office was criticized in two Orange County grand jury reports in 2009, and has come under renewed fire since August. That’s when former state Assemblyman and county supervisor Todd Spitzer was fired from his post at the Orange County District Attorney’s office after he started asking questions about a conservatorship being handled by Williams.
     Fuentes and Williams served together on the community college district together for years until Williams resigned in December.
     Williams also gave a testimonial for LFC on the company’s website, praising LFC’s Internet-based auction program and highlighting its work to help Orange County out of its bankruptcy in 1990s.
     County officials worry that this is all too cozy; the supervisors ordered a review into the Public Administrator/Public Guardian’s Office along with its dealings with LFC.
     In an email obtained by The Watchdog through the California Public Records Act, Fuentes explained to Williams his relationship with LFC. Williams had asked him to write the explanation, Fuentes told The Watchdog.
     Fuentes acknowledged in the Sept. 28 email he had maintained the office space and had access to a company email account. But Fuentes maintained “I have no financial interest in LFC, nor do I receive any compensation from LFC.”
     Fuentes reiterated that claim in an interview with The Watchdog in January.
     “I’ve never been on their payroll,” Fuentes told us. “I have no fiduciary interest in LFC.”
     As for his Statements of Economic Interest, no disclosure was made of his relationship with LFC because no money was changing hands, he said. And the title of senior vice president was merely a courtesy title given by the owners of LFC, who are lifelong friends.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Assemblyman Don Wagner, that silver-tongued devil, offends Italian Americans, nearly causes a fist fight

LA Times

Fight Breaks out on California Assembly Floor during Budget Talks (KTXL.TV Sacramento)

See also SacBee's VIDEO

Don "Mad Dog" Wagner
     Two lawmakers got into an argument on the California Assembly Floor while debating redevelopment bills.
     It all started when Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, compared the bill to the HBO hit “The Sopranos.” He said, “Let’s not buy the insurance policy that Tony Soprano is selling us.”
     Then, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, stood up, saying he was offended by Wagner’s comments. “As a proud Italian-American, I resent that and would respectfully ask the commenter to make an apology to Italian-Americans in California.”
     Wagner took the bait, saying, “I will apologize to any Italian-Americans that are not in the Mafia and engaged in insurance scams.”
     That comment brought murmuring from the Assembly floor, prompting Wagner to go even further. “My apology is sincere,” said Assemblyman Wagner. “My reference is not lost on anyone here. This is not an attack on anyone. This bill is a bait-and-switch.”
     The speaker tried to move the conversation on, but then Assemblyman Warren Furutani confronted Assemblyman Wagner. The two had to be broken up by colleagues.
     Eventually, the redevelopment bills were passed and handed over to Governor Jerry Brown.
     The state Legislature plowed through a package of majority-vote budget bills Wednesday afternoon, approving a plan to close the $9.6 billion deficit with more than seven hours left until the deadline for both houses to pass a budget.
     You can watch the scuffle in the [above] video. The comments begin about 3 minutes in.

See also:
LA Times
SF Chronicle

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fuentes, cancer, and “tumor” rhetoric

     Today, an OC Reg editorial notes that
     More than 800 Republican activists, donors, Tea Partiers and elected officials gathered Monday at the Irvine Hyatt to commemorate Flag Day, June 14, and bolster support for local Republican efforts. It was an evening to celebrate, look into the future of the party and honor a long-term activist. If there were a coordinated theme for the evening, it might as well have been "battle on."
     The editorial ends with this:
     But the show-stopper for the evening was the speech given by the county GOP's Chairman Emeritus Thomas A. Fuentes, who, for the first time, publicly acknowledged his battle with cancer. "Yes, your old chairman has cancer," Mr. Fuentes told the silent room. But his brief speech had little to do with him and more to do with the ideas and battles of the GOP – past and present.
     "Many of you have stood with me when we have battled cancers within our party, cancers from the left. Tumors like Arnold Schwarzenegger," he said, prompting the biggest cheer of the evening. "In the long run, we have won these battles. I will stand with you in our ideals until I can stand no longer."
     Meanwhile, OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano pounced all over Fuentes’ speech:
     Kudos to former OC GOP head Tom Fuentes for cracking jokes about his terminal cancer last night during the local Reeps' annual Flag Day dinner … in Irvine. Of course, for him—who supported more pedophiles, corrupt politicians, and plain old scum than the entirety of Law and Order: SVU has ever featured—the deadly disease is liberal!
     "Many of you have stood with me when we have battled cancers within our party, cancers from the left," he told his seals. "Tumors like Arnold Schwarzenegger," at which point, the audience laughed.
     Oh, how quick those pendejos forget.
     If you're to believe Fuentes that Arnie is a tumor, then the OC GOP just might be the only case in human history where a group of people willingly infected themselves with cancer just for shits. ... Let's remember that Schwarzenegger found his most loyal donors here, pulled his most enthusiastic ground troops from the rank-and-file of the OC GOP, and that the recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis was mostly orchestrated by activists and funders from OC.
     Fuentes, amazingly, stood on the right (as opposed to Right) side when it came to Schwarzenegger, famously disallowing his campaign from keeping 5,000 "Join Arnold" signs at county party headquarters and always distrusting him as too liberal. Richard Nixon would've been too liberal for Fuentes, but his fellow party [members] didn't heed their in-house Cassandra—and we all know what happened next.
     It would've been great to see Fuentes, the aging lion, admonish his party for the disaster that he warned would come, but he'll never be that truthful. Instead, the rest of wrecked California waits for an apology from the OC GOP for Schwarzenegger, an apology that'll come right after they apologize for Arnold's pal, Mike Carona...
     Gustavo might have mentioned that Fuentes was one of Carona’s biggest boosters.
     Reg political reporter Martin Wisckol covered the same event, providing a truly fluffy story designed to raise a Fuentean smile:
     Fuentes, who faced his share of controversies as GOP chairman, has been active in the Catholic Church as well, received a papal Knight of Malta honor, and was a founder of the Second Harvest Food Bank. He was also known for his fundraising abilities.
     “Tonight, I can only ask for your prayers,” he said Monday.
     That sounds pretty bad.
     Leave it to Fuentes to have loyal friends who stand out for their ability to inspire the moniker, “Prince of Darkness.” You remember the execrable Pal-o'-Fuentes "Bob" Novak? Good Lord. And then there's Mike Schroeder.
     And then there’s the equally execrable Bruce Herschensohn:
     [At the flag day dinner,] Bruce Herschensohn… preceded Fuentes to the podium with a tribute to the Lake Forest resident.
     “He’s the man who put Orange County on the map by making it the best-known Republican county,” Herschensohn said. “Republican presidents always wanted Tom Fuentes to sit next to him.”
     Speaking of loathsome creeps, check out who’s lurking in the background in the article's accompanying photo:

     That's right. It's Dave "the Quisling" Lang.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The “slush fund” story lives ($26k for Saddleback College coaches?)

The Voice of OC reports this morning that
     The Orange County Sheriff's Department expects to open a formal investigation into allegations that some high school and college coaches received kickbacks in the form of personal checks from a sporting goods company, in addition to maintaining accounts their districts were not aware of, according to a sheriff's spokesman.
     The investigation follows a request from Orange County Superintendent of Schools Bill Habermehl.
. . .
     Habermehl's request came after an Irvine couple provided him with a detailed list of what they say were off-the-books accounts held by coaches outside of district oversight, as well as company checks written to coaches.
     Geoff and Teresa Sando, who acquired Lapes Athletic Team Sales as it was going out of business, say the company orchestrated a kickback scheme with coaches across Southern California from 1992 until it closed down in 2008.
     The Sandos say the company maintained "slush" accounts that school districts were not aware of, and that the company's former owner, Bill Lapes, made payments to coaches to reward them for their business.
. . .
     The Sandos say they've been seeking a criminal investigation of the alleged "slush" accounts and kickbacks for more than three years. Teresa said she first provided evidence of the "slush" funds to the sheriff's department in 2008, and last July sent a sheriff's investigator copies of checks made out to Patton….
     VOC provides a link “to view the Sandos' list of "slush" account totals.
     By my count, eight community colleges appear on the list:
Saddleback College -- $26,272.49 (from 1994 to 2006)
Orange Coast College -- $3,335.70 (from 1995 to 2002)
Fullerton College -- $2,706.13 (from 2003 to 2003)
Cerritos College -- $410.00 (from 2007 to 2007)
East Los Angeles College -- $2,300.00 (from 2005 to 2005)
Palomar College -- $2,658.58 (from 2005 to 2005)
Rio Hondo College -- $139.00 (from 1995 to 1995)
Victor Valley College -- $7,043.75 (from 2002 to 2004)

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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Goals and Values and Twaddle

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

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

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

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

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

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary