Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Big (Faculty) Sleep; downtown corruption club; a letter to the Opacity Twins

 “The girl gave him a look which ought to have
stuck at least four inches out of his back.” 
     It’s been quite a day.

     PROP 8 STILL UNPROPPED. It was a huge day for advocates—including, of course, DtB—of gay and lesbian rights. As the Times explained, “A federal appeals court panel … threw out a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage passed in 2008, upholding a lower court’s ruling that the ban, known as Proposition 8, violated the constitutional rights of gay men and lesbians in California.”
     I look forward to watching this story unfold. I have high hopes.

     A (TEMPORARY) VICTORY FOR THE MACHINE. It was known that the appellate panel would release its decision today. And so it was no accident that, also today, we learned of John Williams’ agreement to retire from the Public Administrator’s office as per his original agreement in March. Whatever else might be said about Williams’ and the County’s “settlement,” it ensures that the public will never see Special Counsel Michael Colantuono’s “highly critical” report of Williams’ performance.
     Many of us believe that the Supes fear releasing the report because it reveals, well, too much about how things work in the County.
     You know. After a dozen years of Fuentes, you know. Unless you’re brain dead.
     Could be. Hello?
     So I’d have to say that Johnny’s Big Bye-Bye counts as a defeat for the Good Guys, a victory (but a close call) for the Bad Guys.
     Meanwhile, Williams will get $25,000 to help the County make the painful transition to competence. No doubt, one of these days, Johnny will show up again at the district to receive some resolution or award. I'd like to staple it on his forehead.

     MASSIVE FACULTY BALL-DROPPAGE. At this point, some of the dust is settling after the curious appearance last week of the draft report of the “Civility” workgroup. (It appears that administration does conceive the report that way, whatever members of the workgroup might think.)
     In the last two days, several people have suggested to me that faculty members on the workgroup really dropped the ball on this one. Why did no one insist on Faculty Association (union) representation? Why have we not heard from these faculty in the four or five days since the appearance of this report—a report that pretends to speak for the group and that includes obnoxious elements of an Orwellian nature?
     I still can’t figure out why a guy like Erwin Chemerinsky didn’t stand up in the middle of this Duck Workshop and squawk, “What the fuck do you people think you’re doing?!”

     FACULTY: ADRIFT, ASLEEP, APATHETIC. IVC faculty are, I think, enduring a shameful period—after years of focus and attainment, owing, to a great extent, to fine leadership and the usual fortuities and alignments of stars.
     It is plain that the faculty’s present leader, Texas charmer and Academic Senate President Lisa Davis Allen, has long been angling for an administrative position (Dean of Fine Arts, no doubt).
     (Obviously, I do not object to such ambitions per se. I do, however, object to conflicts of interest.)
     Almost from her first day at the college, she has made no secret of her ambition to become an administrator.
     It seems to me that her behavior as Senate President suggests allegiance, not to faculty, but to administration. She needs to please them, and so she does.
     Consider: faculty have expressed consistent strong skepticism about the college’s absurd Early College Program. LDA has at best tolerated the Senate’s efforts to push back to the modest degree that it has. When administration’s notion of IVC ownership of ATEP ran into rough weather (i.e., Hurricane Burnett), LDA was there to steady the ship for Rocky and His Friends.
     Last week, years of work to reform and improve the deliberations and values of the Commencement Speaker Committee were, well, simply tossed away—with the blessing of our Senate President, who somehow placed herself there. (Is there a committee that she isn’t on?)
     —“Good grief! Only one female commencement speaker in the last twenty years!?”
     So what, says the leader of faculty.
     “No intellectuals or artists sent forward? Back to businessmen, fish taco entrepreneurs, and exercise gurus!?”
     Well, as far as LDA is concerned, that’s well and good.
     (Where are faculty? Are they even awake?)
     Near as I can tell, LDA did all that she could to be a team player for administration in its efforts to deal with the Accred’s warnings and recommendations. But, in truth, there really are serious problems at this college—low morale, poor communication, lack of transparency, bullying managers and administrators, incompetent leadership, etc. But LDA—and faculty at large—have done virtually nothing to deal with these very real problems.
     No doubt our Accreditation efforts secured a favorable accreditation outcome. That’s important. I get it.
     But what about those very real problems that remain? (Let's face it: the accreditation process is one thing; actually recognizing and solving our problems is quite another.)
     Don’t count on the Academic Senate even to recognize them. Reminds me of the time one of the Byrds was interviewed and, when asked about all the changes since the 60s, he said, "We're all Republicans now." May as well shoot ourselves in the head.

Major Kong, aka Slim Pickins
     IT’S THE FACULTY, STUPID. I don’t mean to lay all this on LDA. She is what she is, and she’s pretty open about her values and intentions (a think she had a close personal relationship with Slim Pickins). Faculty have allowed her to go in the directions she has gone. They could have resisted her, slowed her, diverted her a bit, but no. (And, yes, I attempted to be Obstacle Man, but, it seems, to no avail.)
     Consider the benighted “CAFÉ” idea. Why, exactly, did we do this?
     Did you know that there is a sign on the door of the CAFÉ that says that no students are allowed? Yep.
     Remember the CAFÉ’s first (and, as it turns out, false) opening in August? The flier that announced and advertised the event made clear that only “full-timers” were welcome. Nobody seemed particularly bothered by that. How come?
     It’s no secret that classified, or a healthy proportion of that crew, do not require much coaxing to perceive elitism and high-handedness in faculty plans and projects. By late summer, a perfect storm of negative perception prevailed. And then….
     Sorry to be so negative.
     Some very good things have come about in the last two years. The various speakers’ series sponsored by the Senate have been great. Other things, too.
     Here’s a big positive. When union Prez Lewis Long learned of the draft report re “Civility” yesterday (I had sent it to him; it had originally been promulgated in a fashion that seemed designed to achieve oblivion), he saw the problems immediately. He wasted no time firing off a letter to the Opacity Twins. No fucking way, said Lewis.
     Boom. Just like that.
     And I have every hope that he’ll prevail, too.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lewis, for watching our backs.

Anonymous said...

Saddleback has a set of its own problems owing to some administrators and managers and some faculty. It's an issue that WILL appear in the next progress report and probably mid-term one as well.

The developing civility policy seems Mathurian.

I wish you well in resolving this matter so that REAL improvement can take place at IVC. You have many excellent faculty--PT and FT--classified staff and some stellar administrators but not at the top.

Anonymous said...

Yes, our problems at IVC concern mostly top administration, and, to an extent some non-administrative management. Glenn is clueless; he couldn't lead a group of Brownies down the hall. Craig doesn't give a damn about collegiality or shared governance. And the Academic Senate Prez is, well, focussed on her administrative future--likely at IVC. Meanwhile, the accreds are told all is well. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

This is depressing but not surprising. Ant they say things have changed. Well they have and some of that is for the good but others are certainly not. Thanks for keeping an eyes on these issues. Sometimes you wonder why people go into education when what and who they want to serve are so obviously themselves and their own self-interest.

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