Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Seven and their Afflictions

     I want to bring up an old theme: the inveterate cluelessness of the SOCCCD board, a crew I shall refer to, somewhat dramatically, as “The Seven.”
     Now, don’t get me wrong; nowadays, and at long last, we have a decent board, perhaps the best board the district has ever had. And we definitely benefit from that fact and will continue to benefit.
     I won’t say I’m grateful—my standards aren’t that low—but I will say that I’m very glad about the New Decency—including the decency of the current Chancellor, a fine fellow.
     But c’mon. Recently, the board was confronted with long-standing complaints from a representative of the (enormous!) ranks of part-timers—about poor pay, poor support, poor treatment, etc.
Susan Bliss; board low point
     (See part-timer all up in trustee grill and What the speaker said was accurate. See the video: Board of Trustees: minutes/video: April meeting; skip down to item 7.2)
     Those complaints are sound. We—faculty, anyway—all know that they are sound. Full-timers, of course, have all been adjuncts, and they work with adjuncts daily.
     But, somehow, the board heard these complaints with the wax-filled ears of the utterly clueless. They made fools of themselves, responding to the complainer (Susan Bliss) as though she were a mere crank or idiot.
     It was a low point for this otherwise decent board.

* * *
     Let me state the obvious. For many years, Dissent/DtB and various other entities (Academic Senates, respected senior faculty, classified leadership, et al.) have attempted to direct trustees to various longstanding troubles—with abusive or incompetent administrators or managers, counterproductive reforms, wrongheaded procedures and structures, corrupt faculty, etc.
     But these efforts have had virtually no impact with The Seven (with, of course, notable exceptions).
     Board members, it seems, are forever afflicted with a condition—let’s call it the “Smiley Suit & Title” Error (SSATE)*—in which powerful and multi-faceted indications of TROUBLE are immediately rendered no-account by a few apparently sincere assurances whispered by the likes of Glenn Roquemore and Tod Burnett—those well-dressed and well-mannered, but manifestly OOTD (out of their depth) galoots.
     Is it their suits? Their flag pins? Their sometimes whispery delivery? Their plastic, clean-cut looks and winning smiles? What makes these manifest bozos so believable to The Seven? (I could never understand why everyone didn’t react to meeting Raghu Mathur with the observation, “Who is this creepy mother-f*cker?”)
     Near as I can tell, The Seven, albeit a much improved crew over earlier iterations, remain seriously afflicted with SSATE. How else explain the continuing uneventful weeks in the life of that utterly vacuous doofus Glenn Roquemore? How can it be that trustees (and the chancellor) do not routinely drive up to Irvine, stomp into Rocky’s office, and scream “J’accuse!” —or worse?
     And, of course, there are many other examples of The Affliction and the problems it allows, month after month, year after year. (I encourage readers to list them for others to consider.)
     (I realize, of course, that other syndromes than SSATE have afflicted trustees over the years. Some former board members noticed the TROUBLES, all right, but have ignored them in the spirit of, “Well, Chancellor/President/Dean Brontosaurus may be an incompetent rat bastard, but he’s our incompetent rat bastard.” I suspect that Fuentes and Wagner strongly possessed this curious feature, which I shall dub "BYOB" (Bastard? Yes! But Our Bastard!).

Adjunct confronts trustees; trustees respond: go to: Board of Trustees: minutes/video:
 click on "video" for April 2013 meeting; using the links listed in the outline 
below the video monitor, jump to item 7.2.
* * *
     Recently, the board fell into some odoriferous empirical indications of (among other things) Roquemorean Shititude. It came in the form of the district “climate survey” results. (See also Verbatim responses.) The results underscored troubling themes that surfaced in earlier surveys.
     Did the trustees not read it? Have they somehow misunderstood it? The survey powerfully supports points DtB (and others) have made—about Roquemore, his VPI, about HR, about the relationship between the two college presidents, etc.—for years.
     No doubt, already, the reassuring besuited galoots have whispered it all into utter oblivion.


     *Akin to the "availability error" that psychologists yammer about.
     Roquemore became an administrator during the darkest days of the SOCCCD—the late 90s—as part of Team Mathur. By 1997, Roquemore was a foe of Mathur owing to the latter's stranglehold on the chairship of their school. But when Mathur became interim President (April '97), he desperately cast about for support among faculty, and, all of a sudden, Roquemore became his friend and ally. As a loyal ally, Roquemore was given the VPI position and, when Mathur ascended to the Chancellorship (in 2002), Roquemore became IVC President, and he has remained so ever since. When, starting about 2007(?), R tired of serving as Mathur's lackey and asserted his independence, Mathur turned against him, but R was supported and protected by D. Wagner, who gradually tired of Mathur's endless petty machinations. R must've looked good to W, just as a dirt clod looks good when sitting next to a turd.
     Raghu Mathur strongly advocated hiring Tod Burnett as SC President, despite the latter's shocking lack of experience as a college administrator. But Burnett had been the Governor's deputy appointment secretary (and a functionary in the state chancellor's office), and so hiring him might give Mathur (and perhaps trustees) an "in" with Sacramento. Voila!
     A bio that was once available at the state chancellor's website described Burnett thus:
He is ... an Associate Faculty at the University of Phoenix. Prior to joining the Community Colleges System Office, Tod served as Deputy Appointments Secretary for Governor Schwarzenegger where he advised the Governor on making political appointments to hundreds of full and part-time positions in State government.
     For a time in the late 1990s, Burnett was VP of Eva Gabor's wig company. (See.)

The best SOCCCD board ever—but....


Anonymous said...

Faced with the corruption, incompetence, nepotism, and general absence of integrity of the IVC administration, trustees have looked the other way out of fear of being accused of "micromanagement" by the accreditors. This is how the administration has kept them at bay, shielding themselves from any meaningful oversight.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Anon. But how to reconcile the result of the now-buried climate survey? Don't the Acreds see that too? And does anyone know why at IVC class caps are adjusted for the SIZE of the room, not the pre-determined curricular approved cap of the class? Just wondering. The new plastic Adirondack chairs are nice. Saddleback got them last year, I notice. I am glad we finally got some. It make a difference. I hope we get at least a dozen or more new hires at IVC this year but wouldn't bet on it. Saddleback got how many last year? Someone told me that the new physics hire at IVC didn't take the job because she got sick.

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