Monday, March 24, 2014

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Five years ago today: SOCCCD, the "Wagner/Fuentes show"

March 24, 2009: meeting of the SOCCCD BOT: He hoied my polloi: notes on Tuesday's board meeting, part 1
hoi polloithe masses; the common people. Hoi polloi is sometimes used incorrectly to mean ‘upper class’—that is, the exact opposite of its normal meaning.
     I showed up to the March 24 board meeting about ten minutes late. Before I even sat down someone whispered to me that something was up with the board and its devotion to religious invocations, for, just then, Board President Don Wagner had shared a “Hopi prayer” instead of the usual “Dear Heavenly Father” stuff. I’m told that the room grew particularly solemn and quiet during Don’s brief detour through the multicultural spiritual universe.
     Were they waiting for a bolt of lightning?
     During her report, trustee Marcia Milchiker expressed her enthusiasm for some campus event that included a “Flamingo dance.” This no doubt pissed off the Andalusians in the audience. (It's flamenco, not flamingo!)
     For his part, Chancellor Raghu Mathur blathered about a letter from former bigwig Diane Woodruff. Evidently, she had gone out of her way to praise the work of IVC’s Bill Hewitt as a “valuable member of the consultation council,” whatever that is. (Something in Sacramento, I think.) He also noted the new signs at Saddleback College, which are “easy to read.”
     Just then, someone grumbled to me that some of this new signage is misspelt. (For years, the A300 building at IVC sported the label “Humanites.”)
     During Don TaylorDavid Gatewood, and Randy Peebles’ presentation concerning “Career Technical Education Programs” at the three campuses, Taylor and Wagner exchanged delightful banter regarding St. Ronald Reagan (aka "he who must be invoked every 15 minutes"). I didn’t quite catch it, but I assure you that it was amusing beyond words, judging by the uproar.
Don's new spiritual advisor
     Taylor provided a brief account of the history of community colleges, starting with the Smith-Hughes Act, I think. Yeah, schools were recognized as necessary to produce good workers for the factories, yadda yadda yadda. A turning point for cc's occurred just after WWII—because of the GI Bill—he said, and we seem to be at another crossroads today.
     "You probably don't want to go into print journalism," he said.
     Some students showed up with a PowerPoint presentation describing a proposed IVC Recycling Complex. It was one of those student things that is supposed to bowl over the adults in the room, but, in truth, the trustees were only mildly impressed, and Tom Fuentes seemed unpleasantly scoffular about this proposed intrusion by government into the private sphere (as they love to say in Right-Wing World).
     Student trustee Hannah Lee once again enlivened the discussion with a daffy remark seemingly provided by writers for Fox television: “Thank you for an AWESOME presentation!” she said.
     Apparently, the packet of info re the Recycling Complex made mention of international students, and, natch, this was detected by the ever-alert Mr. Fuentes and his sophisticated xenophobic radar. It turns out that international students are very restricted in the kinds of work they can do on campus, and this center would provide jobs that fit the bill perfectly.
     That seemed to assuage the Fuentster.

     eSCHEDULES. Tom pulled an item from the consent calendar: renewal of a contract to print and email class schedules.
     This, said Fuentes, is unnecessary. After all, didn’t his neighbors tell him that they get this schedule and immediately toss it in the trash? Well, QED!
     Tom seemed to suggest that members of the community can simply go online, register, and find the classes they want without all of this mailing of schedules. Plus, he said, we just got through agreeing to a generous faculty contract (aka "an obscene waste of taxpayer money"), and so we ought to find ways to save money somewhere.
     As I reported on Tuesday, trustee John Williams judged this proposal to be a “great idea.” Maybe, he said, we could mail little postcards instead! But Nancy Padberg rolled her eyes as per usual and then demurred. I think she mentioned her neighbors, too. Anyway, sending these schedules increases enrollments and is great marketing, she said. Tom's idea sucks.
     Dave Lang seemed to side with Fuentes and Williams, though he seemed unprepared to support an immediate decision. He favored further study. I mean, maybe we can determine the potential effects of this approach, he said.
     Don Wagner naturally “echoed” what his pals had been saying. But Bill Jay suddenly (well, no) looked both discomfited and elderly. He mentioned his neighbors and family members and their love of mailed schedules. Plus “Emeritus” students are “forgetful,” said he, "as I am."
     He declared Mr. Fuentes’ proposal to be “penny wise and pound foolish.”
     Hannah Lee expressed a “student’s perspective”: “I just go online,” she announced perkily. Everyone stared at her absurdly young and perfect face.
     Fuentes noted that some other districts had made the change. But he seemed to see the wisdom of “further study.”
     Now, during much of this, Saddleback College’s Academic Senate President, Bob C, had his hand in the air—to no avail. At one point, sensing that the discussion was winding down, I raised my own hand and pointed at Bob, at which point Mr. Wagner spun around and roared that, yes, “I see you, Professor Bauer” and goddamit I don’t need the likes of you telling me what to do!
     Well, that was the gist of it. Evidently, even before I dared to raise my hand, he had been whipped into a state of abject peevitude because several persons had signaled to him that, um, what about Bob?
     He now bellowed that he would get to Bob later—maybe—after the board was finished discussing the matter!
     Tsk, tsk. How very undemocratic. He had hoied my polloi.
     Eventually, Chancellor Mathur, his nose a stinky deep brown, effused about Fuentes’ proposal and commenced talking about ways to “implement it.” But Bill Jay then reminded everybody that older folks “are not computer literate at all.”
     A truer thing had never been said (I'm thinking of my own elderly parents).
     Eventually, Bob C was permitted to speak. He noted that there is a survey done every other year and it has indicated that 63% of our students are brought to us via the mailed class schedule.
     In the end, the matter was tabled.

What if they gave a democracy and nobody came? 
Board meeting notes, part 2

     [Continued...] Eventually, the board arrived at items 6.1-3, which concerned our district’s benighted ATEP campus out there in Tustin where the Marines (et al.) used to dump carcinogens onto the ground every five minutes for forty years. As things stand, ATEP is an acre of cool looking Art Tin-canno buildings right along Redhill, where kids/adults learn how to work various kinds of technical whizbangery.
     Yeah, but what about the other 67 acres?
     ATEP 2.0 was once supposed to be a center for “Homeland Security” training. Then, I think, it was supposed to be a center for the study of gizmology (well no) and Young Republican Hoofers 'n' Crooners (yes, sorta). Anyway, in recent years, efforts have been made to work with Money Men (and Money Women I guess, though I never seem to spot any of those) to create a film and TV pre- and post-production complex and underwater basket-weaving appreciation module.
     For a while, the “Camelot” people seemed likely to put this thing together, but they turned out to be Money Men sans Money. Nowadays, there are two bigtime developers in the running (they seem to be avec money), and they’re still talking about that Film and TV studio, which, I'm told, is desperately needed in OC. One wonders why these Money People need us, cuz leasing property has got to be cheap in OC by now—I mean, what with the country hitting the skids and all.
     In the meantime, the City of Tustin is essentially a crew of hayseeds who keep falling off of a turnip wagon (see Albert Camus' “Myth of Turnipus”)—and those people are pissed because, way back in the 60s or 70s, they were slated to get their very own community college right there where the Tustin Marketplace now stands, but then that wily old Irvine Company arranged one of its slick deals to avoid paying taxes by giving away that orange grove upon which IVC now sits.
     So there you are: Irvine got the community college, and Tustin got IKEA. Ever since, Tustinistas have resented IVC and Irvine and their high-handed ways. The hayseeds who run that town (they’ve got names like “Lou Bone”) have been pounding their little fists and stamping their little feets to turn ATEP into “Tustin Community College.” But that just ain’t gonna happen (it would be contra state rules, given proximity of other CCs, e.g., IVC).
     I’m told, though, that the Tustin people have decided at long last to make nice. Don’t know what that’s about.
     So, on Tuesday, the legal eagles of the bigtime legal firm that is advising us re ATEP (think of the money they're making!) showed up to explain a series of “resolutions” having to do with environmental impact reports and "conveying" the property and defanging the toxins. Something like that.


     The way this went down was interesting. Board Prez Don Wagner recessed the regular board meeting to go into a “public hearing” regarding this complicated ATEP stuff. (A meeting within a meeting! How cool is that?) Then he asked if any members of the public wanted to speak to these “resolution”/ATEP issues.
     At that moment, the spiffy and spacious Ronald McDonald Room was as quiet as the Gipper's tomb. Not only did no one want to speak, nofreakinbody showed up!
     I enjoyed it immensely.
     So Don looked out at the sea of nothingness and went forward with the damned resolutions.
     He made a big deal of asking for public comments twice. I could tell that he was awfully proud of himself for this supererogatory CYA.
     If any Tustinistas were there, I sure don't know about it.
     Later, the board got to item 7.1, “ATEP Developer Selection.” The “principles” of Hudson Capital, LLC and Cyburt Hall Partners were there to “discuss their credentials” to complete ATEP 2.0.
     That’s when Tom Fuentes manifested his fear of ATEP turning into a production facility for porno most foul (PMF). It was kinda like that scene in Dr. Strangelove when Herr Doktor Peter von Sellers explained the need for a rigorous repopulation program, post apocalypse.
     Creepy, man.
     What about “violence and vulgarity?” asked the violent and vulgar Mr. Fuentes. We don’t want a “fox in the chicken coop,” he said.
     But the foxes explained that their vision of ATEP involves pre- and post-production, not big fancy soundstages and partings of the Red Sea. As things stand, businesses in the OC have no place to go for commercials and reality shows and Tony Robbins' chin and whatnot, and this facility would be just the thing.
     Fuentes yammered for a while about our securing the 68 acres of the old helicopter station as a fine “peace dividend garnered for us by this man over here.” Fuentes turned around and gestured at the name “Ronald McDonald” on the wall. (Well, no. “Ronald Reagan.”)
     I’m not making this shit up.
     “Every six months,” continued Tom, there’s s strike in Hollywood, and, hey, in the SOCCCD we’ve got union teachers (he grimaced and snarled à la Tasmanian Devil). He wondered if the latter dastardly crew would “cross the union line.”
     Well, the Money Men essentially explained that Fuentes doesn’t know what the f*ck he’s talking about. Market-related work doesn’t stop just because of strikes, they said. “The entertainment/marketing business goes on,” they said, no matter freakin’ what.
     OK, whatever. No decision was made.
     That was about it, I guess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“Nothing is but what is now”
― Ron Rash, Serena

Where's Mitch?