Friday, May 29, 2015

Hastert and Fuentes and bears, oh my!

     As you know, Republican and former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, has been in the news lately. Reportedly, he's in trouble over manipulations of financial records in an effort to obscure extorted payments owing to his (alleged) sexual abuse of a student during Hastert's coaching days, decades ago.
     You’ll recall that Hastert was the tool who provided former SOCCCD trustee (and avid mentor of conservative young men) Tom Fuentes with his “thank you” prize for his efforts to help reelect George Bush in 2004. (For Bush, Fuentes’ star was tarnished by the latter’s failure to support Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hence, the shitty prize. The previous giftage was even shittier. See Fuentes, cancer, and “tumor” rhetoric. In his later years, Fuentes claimed vindication re his opposition to Ah-nuld as "Republican in Name Only." He was right, of course.)
     As we reported back in 2006,
     I learned a bit more about Mr. Fuentes’ appointment to the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC).
     I am bothering with all this detail because, as we've pointed out on this blog more than once, there's good reason to be very concerned about election fraud. (See the Conyers Report. For a brief discussion of its conclusions: Conyers Report.) The EAC has an important role in the larger "watchdog" mechanism of federal elections.
     And now our man Fuentes is part of EAC.
     The recently-sent “board highlights," referring to Dave Lang's remarks, inform us that

Trustee Thomas A. Fuentes...was on his way to Washington, D.C. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert appointed Trustee Fuentes to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission Board of Advisors, succeeding U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts.
     See Mr. Fuentes goes to Washington (again) and More on Fuentes' appointment (DtB, 2006)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Raghu's defunct blog: bitterness and finger-pointing

Still yammering about his Chancellorizing philosophy more
than two years after he lost the gig? Oh sad, sad Raghu.
     Today, I happened upon a blog evidently created by former SOCCCD Chancellor Raghu Mathur during his (as it turned out, unsuccessful) bid for a seat on the Laguna Hills City Council in late 2012 (that was less than a year and a half after his exit from the district, in June of 2010).
     In typically half-literate Mathurian fashion, Raghu entitled his blog Dr. Raghu Mathur Statement (DRMS).
     The darned thing sports exactly five posts, two of them during the campaign, three not long after. As you'll see below, the first post was a draft, heavy on finger-pointing, that Raghu expanded in two subsequent drafts/posts.
     Question: To whom does he point his nasty little finger? Answer: at me and at Don Wagner.
     I should mention that there is no evidence that anyone has ever read Raghu's blog, 'cept for me. There are no comments. There's no counter or statistics page. DRMS seems to be decidedly unvisited, ignored.
     Like Raghu himself.
     Still, you ask, what's Raghu's blog like? Well, long-time DtB readers are familiar with Raghu's tendency to become bitter and angry in defeat, or when directly challenged about his wrongdoing or incompetence. Consider Raghu's remarkably bitter letter to voters after losing his SVUSD board seat in 1992—or his vituperative response to getting his first "vote of no confidence" back in 1998!
     During the 2012 City Council campaign, I made an effort (a pretty small effort, as I recall) to inform voters of Raghu's actual record whenever his name came up in the press. Judging by Raghu's remarks on his nasty little blog, in his mind (if not in reality), my efforts were successful.
     As far as bitterness and anger are concerned, DRMS does not disappoint at all. Check it out.

Some highlights/lowlights:

Post 1. No Title, September 12, 2012 - He briefly introduces himself.
     ...I was engaged in tough and successful contract negotiations with the faculty and staff unions due to declining economic conditions affecting our taxpayers. However, a disgruntled faculty union member has created blog [sic] with continued irresponsible, unprofessional and defamatory false statements about me and my outstanding work as Chancellor.
     I retired from the college district when an elected member of the Board of Trustees directed, and, in fact, pressured me to perform an illegal and unethical task,which would have cost an unnecessary expense of more than $250,000 annually for many years. I declined to perform such a task because it was against my principles and conscience as well as against the best interest of the students, and the taxpayers. Therefore, I respectfully and honorably retired.
Post 2. Reason for my retirement, October 28, 2012 [still pre-election]
     ...I was engaged in tough and successful contract negotiations with the faculty and staff unions due to declining economic conditions affecting our taxpayers. However, a disgruntled faculty union member has created blog [sic] with continued irresponsible, unprofessional and defamatory false statements about me and my outstanding work as Chancellor.
     I retired from the college district when an elected member of the Board of Trustees directed, and, in fact, pressured me and attempted to blackmail me** to perform an illegal and unethical task, which would have cost an unnecessary expense of more than $250,000 annually for many years. I declined to perform such a task because it was against my principles and conscience as well as against the best interest of the students, and the taxpayers. Therefore, I respectfully and honorably retired.
Post 3. Reason for my retirement from the SOCCCD, January 16, 2013 [post-election]
     ...However, a disgruntled faculty union member had created blog [sic] with continued irresponsible, unprofessional and defamatory false statements about me and my outstanding work as Chancellor as supported by my outstanding performance evaluations.
     I retired from the college district when an elected and married male member of the Board of Trustees, directed, and in fact, pressured me to perform an illegal and unethical task, which would have cost an unnecessary expense of more than $250,000 annually for many years. I declined to perform such a task because, as a fiscal conservative, it was against my principles and conscience as well as against the best interests of the students, the three campuses and the taxpayers. Therefore, I respectfully and honorably retired.
Evidently, I have "created blog"
     Specifically, I chose to leave related to a moral and ethical issue, when an elected and married male member of the Board of Trustees demanded of me to create a new Dean position and pressured me to promote his unqualified girlfriend to fill that position. The position came with a secretarial support position at a total annual cost of $250, 000, and was unnecessary, illegal in the context of employment laws for public higher education institutions and outright unethical. While the colleges were offering a limited number of courses for students due to budget constraints, I declined to add any administrative positions and thus participate in wasting taxpayer dollars. This was against my principles as a fiscal conservative as well as against my conscience and the best interests of students, college campuses and taxpayers. Therefore, I respectfully and honorably retired as Chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District. The Board of Trustees chose to honor one year remaining on my contract as the Chancellor. I most sincerely wanted to work and earn the money; instead, the Board chose to pay me severance pay per contract, and still paid full salary and benefits to another Chancellor when I left. Some Trustees wanted me to stay and earn my pay which I was totally prepared and willing to do.
Post 4. My Accomplishments as Chancellor of South Orange County Community College District, July 4, 2013
...Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College were accredited by WASC, completed development of student learning outcomes in response to new standards, and were preparing for 2010 site visits. A positive outgrowth of the accreditation process has been the institutionalization of strategic planning at both colleges which includes establishing district wide goals that are integrated within the college planning cycles....
Post 5. My Philosophy and Experiences as a Student Centered Chancellor of SOCCCD, July 28, 2013
     On a daily basis, I provided leadership by reminding everyone in our district that we exist, first and foremost, to meet the educational needs of our students. I encouraged faculty to attend workshops on student learning outcomes. I supported reassigned time for faculty so that they can provide leadership and coordination in development of assessment and documentation of student learning outcomes at course, program and degree levels.
. . .
     As an individual, I model and reflect accountability, transparency and visibility in the colleges and the community.


     *For an interesting (and very believable) account of why Don turned on Raghu, read this. No, Raghu did not take the moral high ground. As usual, his connivery got him into hot water.
     **I believe that Raghu leveled this charge in a formal complaint that was mentioned in an OC Reg article back in February of 2010, but Don, who was in the middle of his own campaign for an Assembly seat (the primary), evidently did an effective job of damage control, and, at any rate, the charge went exactly nowhere. (See here, here, and here.) The press was, I think, unimpressed by Raghu's yarn. Or by Raghu.

Raghu teaching Chem this summer in beauteous Cypress, CA

     Guess who's teaching basic chemistry at Cypress College this summer? Yep. Raghu Freakin' Mathur, the SOCCCD's one-time Chancellor. (Do you realize that it's been nearly five years since he "resigned"?)
     I occasionally Google Raghu's name, and, in recent years, it's as though he's fallen off the face of the Earth! Looks like his political career—he ran for Laguna Hills City Council in 2012—is totally in the crapper.
     This morning, the Reb found mention of the Gooster as an employee in an old agenda for an NOCCCD board meeting. So I went straight to the Cypress College Schedule of Classes for this summer. Voila. (See above.)
     As you know (and as the Cypress College website explains), "The campus is just a stones-throw from Downtown Disney and Knott’s Berry Farm."
     Yep. I think I'll grab a stone and go up there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dreaming BIG and SECRETLY too! (Once again, Howard Gensler provides great summer reading!)

     A FEW WEEKS AGO, an old friend and colleague dropped off a flier, leaving it on my desk. It was campaign literature: Saddleback College Econ/Poli-Sci instructor Howard Gensler, it seemed, was running for Academic Senate President.
     My friend clearly thought this development worthy of a huge laugh. But I didn’t know what to make of it. I filed the dang flier away. It somehow annoyed me.
     But, today, someone sent me a perfect artifact of Howard’s long and painful career as a loon. —More about that in a minute.
     Howard is not fondly remembered here at Irvine Valley College, where he was the Dean of Humanities & Languages (among other things), starting in 1999 and until about 2002. Essentially, he was then-IVC President Raghu Mathur’s hatchet man (re Mathur critics, most of whom could be found in H&L), and, privately, he made no bones about that. Not to me, anyway.
     For those interested in the nature of Howard’s curious administrative rein—among other infamous deeds, he gave this Mathur critic an impossible teaching schedule; he fired adjuncts who dared criticize him or Mathur; he ruined building A300, turning it “inside out”; he declared that an innocuous painting that hung in the H&L office was sexually harassing him—be sure to read this post from Dissent 65 (September 30, 2001).
     Also curious was how Howard went from being a highly notorious administrator at IVC to being a highly notorious instructor (and colleague!) at Saddleback. That all happened back in 2002-2003. A few years after that, he was granted tenure.
     At IVC, many a jaw dropped. How, we asked, could the guy responsible for the astounding and stupendous HOWARD HILTON fiasco end up a tenured instructor in our district? What are they smokin' down there at Saddleback College?
     When you consider the facts, well, it's mind-blowing!

* * *
     BUT FIRST, let’s see what kind of colleague and professional Howard has been, post-IVC, down there on Marguerite Parkway in beauteous Mission Viejo, CA.

They don't like me
     Well, there've been problems. Back in early 2006, according to the Saddleback College Lariat, Howard sued the district because "[the dean and the chair] didn't give me priority in the summer classes...The procedure is that full-time teachers get their classes before the part-time."
     According to Howard's petition (said the Lariat), his dean and his chair "simply do not like the petitioner (Gensler) and have ignored the rules to harass and to injure him."
     That Howard saw himself as being “harassed” via his teaching schedule was highly ironic, of course. (See.) The factoid inspired many smiles up at IVC, especially in H&L, where the chief Genslerian targets of, well, harassment could be found.
     I have no idea what became of that lawsuit. Don't really care. (The district can be a real ninny when confronted with potential litigation. Think of how Teddi Lorch got her job!)

     YEARS LATER (in early 2011), the Reb and I came across Howard’s curious online presence qua Saddleback College instructor. We found that Howard’s SC faculty page & bio included (and still includes) such curious remarks as
  • I received the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal for U.S. History in Fifth Grade. It was the first time a student from my Elementary School earned one.
  • I … believe that we should have fun in everything we do. [In my class,] We generally play a roll [sic] game rather than just take roll. I use humor liberally. The vast majority of students enjoy my sarcasm and wit.
  • [As an undergrad at UCI,] I gave the Honors Convocation Student Speech, which was published by the University. It was the second speech ever published by UCI. The first was Hazard Adams’ retirement speech. He was a founding faculty member and considered one of the most erudite professors ever to teach at UCI.
  • I … got hired as an attorney/adviser at the national headquarters of the IRS…. I was appointed to the newly created Special Task Force, which worked on anticipating tax problems. I was assigned the most difficult regulations project ever tackled by the IRS and completed the project in record time. The Associate Chief Counsel tried to hire me to work on a project to simplify the tax code, but he was blocked by the Commissioner of the IRS.
  • … I accepted a position at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as a Business Law Instructor…. I met one of the most distinguished accounting professors in China and established a partnership to translate China’s tax laws. This resulted in … a monthly translation service. We translated and published … all of the tax laws, regulations and notices from the establishment of China in 1949 to the current time. ... We were invited to be the official translator for China’s tax laws, but the government was unable to agree to a publication cycle as fast as we could provide and insisted on total control of official and unofficial publication....
  • I was the world’s foremost authority on Chinese Tax laws during the mid- and late-1990’s.
     Golly. (You shoulda seen this page before Howard decided to tone it down!)
     Howard’s Saddleback info page included (and still includes) a list of his "activities":
  • 8-ball Break
  • Backward Free-throws
  • Free-throws
  • Pool Shots
     The bullets are links to videos of Howard’s astounding feats.
     He also provides lists of his favorite songs, restaurants, historical figures, etc. Check out his advice to students!
Howard was "sexually harassed" by this painting by an IVC adjunct
* * *
     But enough about Howard’s very special understanding of himself as the most unappreciated person in the history of humankind. Let’s focus on the fellow’s legitimate claim to eternal notoriety: the Howard Hilton.
     Here’s how I reported the “HOWARD HILTON” affair back in 2001:
Howard and Raghu’s “top secret plan”:

About a year ago [i.e., c. 2000], faculty [at IVC] began hearing about a massive project that would provide facilities for Fine Arts (and fish). The word was that Howard was developing the project with the blessing and encouragement of his mentor, president (now chancellor) Mathur.

Howard eventually provided Chancellor Mathur with a “report” concerning the project on May 23, 2002. According to my sources, then, in early June, Howard and Raghu met with three Board Majoritarians, including Wagner, to discuss the project. (Ask Dot.)

That’s about when the L.A. Times caught wind of it [I called ‘em]. On June 15, the Times reported

Irvine Valley College officials are quietly trying to find investors for a private hotel, entertainment and office complex on campus that could cost as much as $800 million, officials confirmed this week…As described in recent meetings among campus officials, the project would include a hotel, a multistory parking structure, two 2,000-seat theaters, office buildings, a sound stage and a lake, replacing orange groves and an athletic field at the southern end of campus…The scope of the privately funded, for-profit project—whose cost estimates nearly double Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles—is believed to be unprecedented, not only for a community college, but for any public university in the state…The cost would be enough to build two community colleges, said Kirsten McIntyre, spokeswoman for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, which was unaware of the proposal…The project is a long way from reality and would have to be approved by trustees for the South Orange County Community College District, which includes Irvine Valley and Saddleback colleges.

According to the Times, some college employees had doubts about the project: “they don’t understand how the two-year college benefits from such a deal. ‘It would be a commercial enterprise that would not be a benefit to our students,’ said Jan Wyma, Irvine Valley’s choral director.”

The Times reported that Dean Gensler was the man behind the plan and that Mathur was aware of it. Glenn Roquemore, president of IVC, however, said that he hadn’t yet received a proposal.

The scope of the Gensler/Mathur venture was truly stunning:

The proposal has changed over the months, but the basic plan calls for construction on 25 to 35 acres…Several sources said Gensler was pitching the deal to investors as a 99-year lease, and that it would include a Hilton or Hyatt hotel with conference center facilities, restaurants, a four- or five-story parking structure, an office building of several stories, the theaters, an art museum, an observatory and a building with sound stages for TV and film…Also contemplated are a movie complex and soccer stadium.

Massive unbeknownstitude:

City officials were miffed about all of this secret planning. The Times quoted an Irvine official who said: “Any construction not associated with the college’s educational mission must be approved by Irvine.” Nevertheless, “she had not heard of the proposal.”

Three days later, the Register weighed in with a story that presented Howard’s project—now described as involving a paltry $463 million—in a less sympathetic light:

Board members interviewed said they were surprised at the planning that has gone into Gensler’s vision and that they should have been informed about it earlier…“Apparently this was really being pursued by just a few people unbeknownst to other members of the board,” said trustee Dave Lang…One instructor described the project as “absurd” in that it “flies in the face of the college’s long-term planning.”

During the Board Meeting of June 24th, trustees decided to pull the plug on the whole business:

Irvine Valley College trustees got their first official look Monday night at a controversial proposal to develop a $463 million entertainment complex on campus–and decided they wanted no part of it… “The feeling was that the proposal that came to us did not sufficiently meet the needs of the college and the students,” said board president Don Wagner, who said trustees first learned of the project in the press…“It came to us as a take-it-or-leave-it proposal, and we are going to leave it.”…. (OC Register, June 25, 2002)

On the 25th, the Times quoted Dorothy “Dot” Fortune, who carped that the Gensler/Mathur project would give “away half the land at IVC.”

Howard, however, defended his project; it would, he said, make IVC “one of the most important cultural centers in Southern California.”

Nonagenarian takes plan elsewhere:

The Times eventually reported the proposed project’s builder:

The complex was to be built by the Newport Financial Group of Newport Beach. One company figure is Charles Ross*, 91, of Laguna Woods, who proposed a similar project at UC Riverside, without success, Fortune said…Ross said Monday he would not discuss the plan, but that if the district turned it down, he would take it elsewhere. [See]

In an article for the Irvine World News on the 27th, Wagner is again reported as saying that “trustees first learned of the project after the top secret plan was leaked to the press.” Well, no, according to my [reliable] sources, he and two other Board Majoritarians heard about the “top secret plan” two weeks before the Times report. C’mon Don!

Some newspaper articles claimed that, on campus, the project was called “the Howard Hilton.” In truth, it had been dubbed “Howie World” by the Chevy Chase fans who have always dominated IVC.

“One has to wonder…”

On the 30th, Times editorial writers offered a harshly critical perspective on “the Howard Hilton”:

The DeShazer connection
Irvine Valley College’s mission statement…[says that the] college exists to provide quality education for students…The document doesn’t say anything about leasing a huge chunk of the campus to a private developer for a $500 million entertainment and office complex…That’s why people were caught off-guard earlier this month when word surfaced that an IVC dean had been meeting with a developer who wanted to build a massive, for-profit venture. The trustees of the SOCCCD are to be commended for putting the educational purpose of the district first by rejecting the plan last week before it could gather more momentum…The proposal was out of sync with the city of Irvine’s general plan and existing zoning. The city envisioned the orange groves…as one day hosting recreational facilities and college-related construction—not hotels, parking garages and a Hollywood production lot. City officials hadn’t had a chance to review the proposal, and from what it suggested, many of the plan’s elements also clashed with zoning in the area…The proposal also was at odds with IVC’s own planning process. Community colleges are required to create a master plan that describe how they intend to grow. There’s nothing in IVC’s long-range planning that was even remotely close to the proposal that was submitted to the board by Howard Gensler…College deans have a lot of clout, but one has to wonder how this kind of major campus land-use negotiation got to the stage it did. It probably should have been handled in the first place at a higher level of administration….

Hey, yeah! Then, on July 9, IVC issued an odd little press release. It announced plans to construct a modest “Performing Arts Building”:

Irvine Valley College submitted plans to the state…for the construction of a 400-seat Performing Arts Building… The…Building has been long in development as part of Irvine Valley’s Educational and Facilities Master Plan to unify campus services and to meet a growing demand by students and the community. The Educational and Facilities Master Plan and, in particular, the Performing Arts Building, is wholly separate from a recent $450 million proposal made by Irvine Valley Humanities Dean, Howard Gensler, who worked with a private investor to develop a possible alternative campus building project…
Yes, among his list of "accomplishments," Howard includes a book that he
self-published, an epic poem. This is one of its illustrations.
* * *
     Today, my blog partner sent me a document from that long-ago era of districtular and collegiate zaniness and corruption. It is a memo (a pdf), evidently sent to IVC Fine Arts faculty, dated, October 23, 2001.
     It is the “Fine Arts Village Draft.”
     Emblazoned upon it, in large letters, is “NOTE: DRAFT ONLY AND CONFIDENTIAL.”
     We had often heard about it. For the first time, we could see it for ourselves.
     I've provided pics of the pages of that pdf throughout this post.
     Amazing, no?
* * *
     Recently, a colleague at IVC asked if Howard had prevailed in his bid to become SC Academic Senate President. I said that I didn't know.
     I added, "If they elect him, then they deserve him." (Well, actually, I offered the consequent sans the antecedent. Sorry.)

*I could find virtually no information about Mr. Ross. I did, however, find the website for the Newport Financial Group.

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

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