Friday, July 1, 2016

Shite hits fan? Poertner's out

Roquemore: handin' out
promotions lately,
violating process
     I’m told that the shite really hit the fan at Monday’s board meeting—a meeting that lasted until way past 11:00 p.m. (In recent years, the meeting has seldom gone much past 9:00.)
     Things heated up in particular during the discussion of Irvine Valley College's tentative budget. (See summary report.) Evidently, there are structural factors pointing to a severe budget shortfall at IVC, a fact that has been known, at least to budget guy Davit K, for some time; but, somehow, nobody listened to, or heard from, the fellow, and the upshot seems to be that the board was sans clue about all this during the recent board deliberations concerning raises. (See transcript of actual exchange between Davit, Lang, and Fitzsimons.)
     Lang’s questions were especially pointed, I’m told. (I’ll be looking at the video. See transcript.)
     There’s other trouble afoot at the colleges and at the district, I’m told. I keep hearing that Saddleback's Tod Burnett is up shite creek, not sure why. And that certain administrators at one college have been badmouthing certain other administrators at the other college, and it's been nasty. 
    There’s a sense that something’s gonna break. Maybe there’ll be a shake up.

* * *
    And then, today, we got this message from the district:
Chancellor Poertner Retires
     Chancellor Gary Poertner has announced his retirement effective today, July 1, 2016. He joined South Orange County Community College District in 1999 as Deputy Chancellor and retired in June of 2010. In December 2010 he returned to the district to serve as Chancellor. Vice Chancellor Debra Fitzsimons will serve as Acting Chancellor until further notice. A special meeting of the board will be scheduled for next week and more information will follow.
     Sheesh. Why would Gary "retire" so suddenly? Is his exit related to the obvious tensions exhibited at the last board meeting? Is a shakeup afoot?
     What's it all mean?
     (Supposedly, one can access the "streaming video" for the June 27 board meeting here. The link doesn't work for me. Could be a Mac vs. Windows issue. But if you get to the streaming video page,  click on the video for June 27, and then jump to item 6.1. The agenda language can be found here.)

P.S.:
ON THE OTHER HAND...
     A good friend and member of the district community tells me that it's like this: Saddleback College gets to spend its money the way it wants to and IVC gets to spend its money the way it wants to. And if Saddlebackians decide that building a Stadium 2.0 is the thing to do, well, then that's swell. "Live and let live," says the friend.
     I guess that makes sense.
     I still say that certain trustees constantly exhibit Saddlebackcentrism. But I hereby no longer object to Saddlebackians seeking to build a Stadium 2.0. That's their business, I guess. None of my business.
     Live and let live.


38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please watch the report on Workday that VC Fitzsimmons gave to the board. What a spin job. Half truths and some flat out lies. And she's now acting chancellor? I wish the board would take a really good look into that and maybe visit staff at both campuses and the district office who have been seriously impacted by the switch to Workday. Also, why ask for a report from the administrator who spearheaded the whole thing? Did the board expect to hear anything other than sunshine and lollipops? Classified staff would give a whole other story, and it would be factual.

Anonymous said...


I'm sure glad I checked DtB. How did this happen? Why? Do tell. It's summer; people are supposed to relax and get ready for the fall. I'm not able to watch the video. Can someone tell us what happened at the board meeting? Workday? Budget? Out-of-process staff promotions?

I'm glad to see that the board is tuning in at last, if they indeed have anything to do with the latest development. I hope this is the beginning and more is to come. For sure, they need to turn their attention to IVC where a bully is running the college and a president who's clueless and self-serving.
If anyone is listening out there, please do something. The staff is demoralized, CJ is running amuck, and GR is disengaged. I call for a vote a no-confidence this fall.

We work so hard during the year so we can enjoy our summer break and the administration takes advantage of us being gone to circumvent the process and further their agendas. This is utterly disgusting. CJ needs to go. The administration needs to go.

Anonymous said...

They ALL need to go!

Anonymous said...

Ah, summertime. The game's afoot, as in the past.

Anonymous said...

4:33 - Classified staff have been warned to be quite and not talk about Workday. They will not speak up as they are afraid of reprisal. Davit has told staff that it is because they didn't go to training and it is part of their responsibility (other duties as assigned-what a joke). No one wants to speak up at IVC as fear factor is evident. Wait till the next campus climate survey.

Anonymous said...

Well it's no wonder things are heating up around the tentative budget and the projected shortfall, what with all this rewarding of allies (the recent D.Oaks pay raise scandal) going on. Now we're in a position where we have a bloated administration thanks to Rocky and when it comes time to cut the staff should not be made to suffer.

Anonymous said...

Gary Poertner was a good person. So is Debra. I heard this has to do with the SC president.

Anonymous said...

Agree with everything that has been said so far. You think IVC has dirty politics going on...you should hear what is going on at the Saddleback Campus. Yep, it all has to do with the SC President...BOT...are you listening?

Anonymous said...

Sorry folks, but the BOT is also to blame. They have "listening sessions" at the campus, then either don't listen, or worse, don't bother to look into issues and problems at IVC. Problems go much deeper than Workday, but they choose not to do any investigating.

Anonymous said...

Does the SC president have so much influence that he can push the chancellor to retire, or was Gary just tired of the infighting? I don't understand. Gary is a likable man and a good administrator. My only critique of his tenure would be that he was ineffective in getting Rocky and Tod to quit fighting in the sandbox. The two presidents, with their uncivil behavior, are an embarrassment to SOCCCD.

3:21 - The BOT has not listened to, nor taken action on, the years and years of IVC's dirty politics and Rocky's inept and corrupt administration. What makes you think they will listen to the happenings at SC?

Anonymous said...

If I understood the tentative budget presentation, the colleges have increased their salary and benefit costs beyond the threshold necessary to fund daily operation of the campuses, thus, the shortfall. If the BOT is steaming now, wait until they discover how many additional, permanent staff will be required to manage the workload (and slower processing time) of Workday. That should push them over the edge.

2:04 said that Debra is a nice person. Nice or not, I have to agree with 4:33 that Debra was less than truthful with the BOT in her Workday presentation on Monday night. And, 11:34, it is a sad commentary on the state of our district that any employee - classified, faculty, or management - feels they cannot speak up and express an opinion about Workday without fear of retribution.

I was told that the BOT was very open and considerate of concerns and opinions at the listening sessions. Classified staff apparently were told that the BOT members' e-mail accounts were private and confidential, and that the BOT welcomed contact. I encourage any employee with concerns to express the facts of their experiences with Workday to members of the BOT. After watching Monday's presentation and hearing Debra misrepresent the history and present state of Workday, I will be doing the same.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has picked up on a major issue going forward.

Whether you agree that Debra is a nice person or not, her performance at the Board meeting represents what many (Most? All?) see as a significant lack of skills, a very micromanaging style, and a ready willingness to pass blame without accepting responsibility. She is at the very epicenter of substantial negatives that are just now coming home to roost in the forms of budgetary mismanagement and the Workday snafu.

And she is immediately elevated to the role of acting Chancellor? Which of course says as much about the other Vice Chancellors as it does about the Board.

This is a nightmare. Not only for the immediate future, but what if the Board fails to do a proper search and makes the expedient and grossly incompetent decision to name her permanently? As nearly everyone at both colleges craves fresh blood in leadership, there better be a call to arms by both unions to use every one of their members' connections with the Board to advocate that they go beyond the borders of the district for our next Chancellor. Only then will we see the chance to change the culture in SOCCCD and both colleges.

Anonymous said...

Working at Saddleback is very toxic right now. I can't understand why everyone can't get along. This blog only fuels the fire. So many rumors. No wonder Gary Poertner left. Who can blame him?

Anonymous said...

So long as the BOT members email accounts have a @SOCCCD.edu attached, no one will believe that any communication could be kept confidential. Trust went out the window a long time ago (hence the ongoing fear of retaliation). Classified staff are especially at risk as they don't have a strong union and don't have the security of tenure.

Anonymous said...

7:38 - I disagree, this blog does not fuel the fire. I don't always agree with everything that is written, however, many problems and issues that occur at IVC are swept under the rug. We should commend the concerned individuals willing to disclose information about what is really happening on campus.

Anonymous said...

I have no issues with Debra. She has been excellent. But, I am very frustrated with HR. The hiring process is still very slow. I just don't understand how it can be so slow.

Anonymous said...

This place is crazy. Who from the outside would want to come here. We need to learn to be kinder.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, along with kindness should come honesty, integrity, and civility from our college and district administrators. The board should understand that the executive administration's definition of transparency is selective disclosure presented in the best possible light. The presentation on Workday was a prime example of that. VC Fitzsimons' report of the ERP process, from conception to its current state, should be fact-checked, as there were several clear misstatements (I'm being kind).

Apparently, Debra accepts no responsibility for Workday's epic fail. Whatever problems we are having with Workday are the fault of those of us at the colleges - we're slow to accept change and didn't show up for training. But don't worry; we'll be bright enough to catch on by the end of the two-year stabilization period, and all of the pain that is Workday will magically disappear.

Anonymous said...

10:23 - A thoughtful analysis of the current situation. The BOT never asked about how much testing was done before going live or about how the implementation was rolled out to us at Saddleback. The documentation given to us is very poor and is not updated as changes are made on a regular basis. The fact that reports were not available until months after the system was implemented was a joke. A private consultant should have been hired to evaluate the system.

Anonymous said...

You KNOW Rocky thinks he will be the next chancellor, right? Probably went out and bought a new suit and tie even.

Anonymous said...

The BOT needs to bring an outside investigator to look into Workday, hiring practices, and budget decisions.

Anonymous said...

10:23, don't forget the recent promotions...

Anonymous said...

What's going on with Tod?

Anonymous said...

Both SC and IVC are a mess. I wonder what will go into the accred report.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like the board has been deliberately missled.

Anonymous said...

Why was it a same day resignation? Just like that, BOOM. What really happened?

Anonymous said...

10:23, it's called the CA State Auditor. They are charged with investigating reports of waste, fraud and abuse within public entities in CA.

Anonymous said...

The Board has been repeatedly informed of the stress, anxiety and loss of morale at IVC caused by the administration and they have done nothing as far as many can see. IVC has such potential, what it could be with reasonable, supportive, professional and frankly friendly management; instead we are condescended to as if we are stupid. We receive obsfucated responses to our many questions, and almost no one wants to speak up and those that do - watch out, GR will sic CJ and DO on you. I recently heard one person describe the administration as the 'detritus of Mathur', I believe that to be accurate. I would replace most if not all of the upper administration including the Directors of Publications and IT and about 3/4s of those ineffective cowering 'yes-men' vision-less Deans. IVC's true potential is being squashed and demoralized by this dictatorial, mean, dismissive, neo-plutocratic administration. If we are not careful another generation of wonderful faculty could become as jaded as the ones who survived the Mathur presidential years to say nothing of his chancellor-(mis)ship. Not all of them are bad; we do have some good ones but we cannot say which ones lest they too be 'spit-roasted' (so to speak) by CJ and Crew. So? Board of Trustees, come on! Truly listen for once and do something, because the next accreditation report could be rougher than it needs to be if you do not do your jobs.

Anonymous said...

Why is anyone surprised by this? Given the faculty raises, this was expected.

Anonymous said...

Given both colleges are now addicted to the 50% rule for faculty and this seems to be rapidly spreading to our classified BUT, curiously, n to to our administrations.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the BOT approved the May and June promotions given that we're broke. What use is a BOT if it only rubber stamps everything. Who's watching the house? Who's gonna stop GR and CJ?

Anonymous said...

What - no farewell party with a Costco sheet cake? He's gone, just like that?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Gary was tired of the Board having closed door discussions about his "problem" direct report and forcing him out of the room. Maybe he was tired of a college president, whose back is against the wall, courting (bribing) certain BOT members so they don't fire him. Maybe he wasn't forced out but decided to give the BOT the finger...

Anonymous said...

I hear Gary is throwing his own private party. I hope Roy gets an invite.

Anonymous said...

I bet Wendy will be there

Anonymous said...

If memory serves me correctly Mr Poertner wanted to retire a few years ago. I am not surprised Gary retired. I wish him the best.

Roy Bauer said...

Poertner was planning to retire back in early 2010, when he was Vice Chancellor. But the search for a new Chancellor went badly (or so it seemed to the trustees), and so the board persuaded Gary to stay on. Inducements were trotted out. So he signed on, reluctantly. So he was a reluctant Chance from the start. It's amazing he hung in there as long as he did.

Anonymous said...

I heard somewhere that Fitzsimmons or other administrators had said things such as, the employees just don't like change, all will be well with worseday (I mean workday) in time, or, some such non-unusual at all administrator condescending little pat on the head remark that is so common in the SOCCCD these days, well I know some of the administrators do not like workday either but of course they cannot speak up, I know of some change the employees wouldn't mind at all and that would be new administrators. Let's change out most of the ones we have now.

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