Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Listen! & "Let us now praise infamous men"

Tim Jemal
     Went to the trustee “listening session” today at Irvine Valley College. It was held in the Café, that silly space at the north end of the library.
     Four trustees were in attendance: Marcia Milchiker, Dave Lang, Tim Jemal, and Jim Wright. No one—including Chancellor Gary Poertner—accompanied them. Part of the idea of the session, of course, is to ban managers and administrators from the session, “to encourage frankness,” as Lang explained.
     (Nancy Padberg and Bill Jay had really good reasons for not showing; Board President TJ Prendergast evidently couldn't attend because of his teaching duties at his high school.)
     The session started a few minutes after 3:00. Attendance was so-so. The first three rows of chairs remained empty (shyness), but most or all of the chairs circumscribing the room were taken, as were the chairs in back (I was smack dab in the middle, in an otherwise empty row). The middle of the seating area was sparsely occupied.
Marcia Milchiker
     The room stank (sorry) of coffee from the contraptions lined along one side of the room. There were cookies too. No punch.
     I didn’t count heads but it seemed to me that there were more classified employees than faculty in the room.
     Things got started. Tim Jemal took charge. He went over the rules: two minutes to a customer, but the trustees would accommodate anyone with something to say, even, I guess, if it took longer.
     A classified employee was the first to speak up. She carped about having to attend training sessions during lunch, thereby interfering with her lunch break.
     There was a feeling in the room (or so it seemed to me) that getting comments out of this crowd would be like pulling teeth.
Dave Lang
     Next came a complaint from a faculty member concerning the new manner in which repairs are made (or not made) on campus. Stuff breaks and it is no longer possible just to call a local vendor to fix the dang thing tout de suite. Gotta fill out forms three months in advance (I think that was the figure).
     Jim Wright asked questions, and it came to light that these absurd constraints are not in place down at Saddleback College. Blah, blah, blah. I think the instructor implied that VC Deb Fitzsimmons had imposed these new and absurd procedures, but that seemed to conflict with the fact, if it was a fact, that they have not been imposed down south. Whatever.
     Next comment? Silence.
Jim Wright
     At about that point, it occurred to me that my sitting in the middle of the room with pen and paper might discourage the desired loose lips. (I recalled abandoning a similar session a year ago for the same reason.) So I just grabbed a cookie and got out of there.
     It was maybe 3:15 or so.
     So, how did it go? Did things, um, pick up? Hope so.
     Let us know.
     UPDATE: a reader writes:
After you left all the seats filled and it was standing room only. It definitely picked up. There were a mix of faculty and classified staff feedback.
* * *
     About a week ago, the district put out an email “sadly” reporting the death of Armando “Muggins” Ruiz.
     According to the district release, Armando was a helluva guy: “Armando was known for his generosity and was respected by many as a model of unconditional love….”
     Gosh. I remember when similar things were said about Tom "Prince of Darkness" Fuentes when he passed.
     Predictably, IVC’s permanent president, Glenn Roquemore, chimed in:
“He was a very good friend and colleague. We served together as Vice Presidents for a few years. He was a talented professional and an excellent father and husband.”
     This sort of spin does no good. Decent people are pained by it, discouraged, demoralized. There are some admirable people among us. Often, they go unappreciated. Meanwhile, creeps are lionized and eulogized.
     So what's the problem with singing the praises of "Muggins" Ruiz? Well, Ruiz was a rat bastard. An unscrupulous jerk.
     Under the circumstances, the best thing to do is to say nothing.
     Instead, we were told that “Armando spent 40 years devoted to education….” What a public servant!
     The OC Register didn't see it that way. According to the Reg, "Politics is a selfless job; then there's Armando Ruiz…."
     Here in DtB, we often reported Ruiz’ misdeeds. About five years ago, we finally wrote:
     One of the minor characters in the epic “SOCCCD and the Neanderthals” saga is Armando "Beyondo" Ruiz, who, while counseling at Saddleback College, managed to get elected on the Coast Community College District board of trustees. That started back in the 80s, I believe.
     Ruiz is coarse, stupid, spectacularly incorrect (around women), and dishonest. Naturally, therefore, about a dozen years ago, in his desperation to gain allies [among faculty, only Glenn Roquemore showed up all greased up for the ol’ quid pro quo], then-IVC President Raghu Mathur cut a deal with Ruiz; he had "Boots" transferred from Saddleback College to Irvine Valley College for the purpose of grooming him for an administrative career, despite Boot Boy's manifest shititude.
     Not a problem.
     Soon, Ruiz was indeed an IVC administrator, eventually achieving his Mathur-contrived apex as the Vice President of Student Services. Besides Mathur, he was the least popular person at the college. [His role in the ruthless attempt to block the tenure of a Mathur critic didn't help.]
     That Ruiz was a creep wasn’t a problem for Mathur—after all, Mathur’s creepitude at least matches Ruiz’. That he kept f*cking up was slightly more bothersome. But the worst thing about Ruiz was his manifest disgruntlement, in 2002, when he wasn’t chosen to replace Mathur [loyal Mathurite Glenn Roquemore got the nod], who, natch, was awarded the district Chancellorship right after having sued the district. (He sued the district for not having protected him from my suing him in response to his suing me for reporting the truth about him—namely, that he had once violated a federal law protecting students' privacy rights.)
     So, after that, Ruiz bailed, i.e., he retired.
     That’s when he performed the sleazy maneuver upon which his wider infamy rests. Exploiting a loophole in the law, he resigned his trusteeship just days before getting reelected; he thus contrived to enjoy an enormous pension. (As Frank Mickadeit once explained: “He was taking advantage of a loophole that allows a person who exits two state jobs on the same day to count the highest-paying of the two as the salary for both jobs for the purpose of calculating his pension. …So, Ruiz "retired" ... as a part-time trustee of the Coast district and as a full-time counselor at Irvine Valley College. Even though the trustee gig pays just a $9,800 annual stipend, he was able to calculate his state pension as if he had been paid $106K a year for that "job'" plus the $106K a year he got for his real job at Irvine.")
     It was a spectacular flimflam, proving once again that stupidity and craftiness easily fit inside the Neanderthal’s ample cranium.
     A local journalist took up the cause of getting rid of the odious Ruiz. Eventually, Ruiz lost reelection in 2008.
The sad Armando Ruiz saga (OC Register; 11/4/04) -
Politics is a selfless job; then there's Armando Ruiz….


Anonymous said...

It was fine but there was too little time and too much to say. We need one session for staff and another for faculty.

Anonymous said...

I think we all need to follow up with emails and letters to the trustees who we spoke with yesterday. In those we can details our concerns and they may wish to ask more questions. this is just the beginning of establishing more communication which is sorely needed. They should visit campus more than once a year.

Anonymous said...

After you left all the seats filled and it was standing room only. It definitely picked up. There were a mix of faculty and classified staff feedback.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of Armando's passing - he certainly was all that you write about, Chunk, in addition to a player who knew how to work the system for his own benefit. But then again, isn't that what we all do? Regardless, I enjoyed his company even though we had very different perspectives. The beat goes on.

Old—and insane (—and when <I>eugenics</I> was in the air)

Young Frieda Flueckinger, c. 1893      Here's another post on the historical blog I'm doing for a friend. You might find it i...