[In 1963] Orange County … Congressman James B. Utt makes national news by suggesting that "a large contingent of barefooted Africans" might be training in Georgia as part of a United Nations military exercise to take over the U.S.
—The OC Almanac
See the latest UPDATE—September 17, 2016—at the END of this post.
Regarding this sketch of SOCCCD history: it's light on the events after the beginning period (roughly, 1967-1973) up to about 1996, the start of the period I'm most familiar with. To a degree, the gap is filled by SOCCCD headlines, which is extensive. Do check that out. The best source for information about the early years of the district is Making History, from 2001. It's terrific. Also there is considerable history to be found at our own College History. Please note that I've added UPDATES at the end of this post.
* * *
1. IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS RONALD REAGAN
|1st Super., Jack Roper|
Local Republicans contrived to pack the initial board of trustees—a group which would be tasked with organizing and founding the college—with strong Republicans, several of whom had either run for office previously or held GOP leadership positions. A strong personality on this first board—and its president—was Hans Vogel, a war hero and successful businessman (with connections to higher education) who edited the county Republican newsletter. He had been an early appreciator and promoter of Ronald Reagan qua politician, having invited the fellow to events in Tustin in the earliest days of the Gipper's post-Hollywood career. Reagan, of course, soon became the state's Governor, where, among other things, he took on the leadership of the UC system, those dastardly intellectuals. When, in 1968, the district was created and Vogel became the chair of the new college district's board of trustees, Vogel used his connections to bring Reagan in for the Saddleback College dedication. It was quite a coup.
|Rep. James B. Utt,|
"Utt the Nut"
In a pattern to be repeated later, the first board was of the right-wing "rogue" variety, proceeding with indifference to common practice, attempting to create a special zone of ultra conservatism. For instance, trustees "resigned" from the California School Boards Association on the grounds that it would be "immoral" to give taxpayer money to a private organization that failed to represent all Californians (i.e., right-wing Californians). Evidently, the original board was disinclined to accept federal money. Unlike the rest of OC community colleges, Saddleback College imposed a student dress code that forbade long hair on men—a move that led to embarrassing criticism and litigation, about which the board exhibited little concern. (One original faculty speaks of the "extreme regimentation" imposed by this initial regime.) When, in 1970, UCSB students set fire to a bank in Santa Barbara, our district's trustees responded by removing all windows from the planned library, the college's first permanent structure, thereby transforming it into a fortress against imagined radical students. When the library was completed, the board decided to name it after recently deceased Congressman James B. Utt, a veritable caricature of right-wing paranoia. Notoriously, in 1963, "Utt the Nut" warned constituents that "barefoot Africans" were preparing to invade the U.S. under UN auspices and that Chinese soldiers were amassing at the Mexican border.
Clearly, in the early years, considerable tension existed between faculty, as a group, and the initial board, owing to the latter's politics and politicization of the college. On the other hand, Vogel and the board supported high salaries, exploiting market principles to insure the best possible faculty—and faculty less liable to pursue administrative careers. (The latter philosophy was explicitly embraced by such latter day district leaders as John Williams.)
Among other controversial board decisions and policies: rejection of federal money, adoption of the quarter system, imposition of a high school-style student dress code (resulting in litigation), imposition of a strict dress code for faculty, mandatory morning "flag salutes," implementation of inappropriate hiring criteria and actions, board clashes with CEOs, etc.
Gradually, faculty gained in power and reversed much of this. (See especially Making History.)
Among other controversial board decisions and policies: rejection of federal money, adoption of the quarter system, imposition of a high school-style student dress code (resulting in litigation), imposition of a strict dress code for faculty, mandatory morning "flag salutes," implementation of inappropriate hiring criteria and actions, board clashes with CEOs, etc.
Gradually, faculty gained in power and reversed much of this. (See especially Making History.)
|Young Tom Fuentes was a big fan of right-winger John Schmitz (1967).|
Schmitz was expelled from the John Birch Society for his extremist rhetoric
• Early Saddleback College history: dress codes, censorship, faculty wives clubs, and more! (Further exploits of a rogue "conservative" board)
• The 1967 board: the "immorality" of district membership in the School Boards Association (Further exploits of a rogue "conservative" board)
• Right-wing paranoia and foolishness c. 1970: "The depths of your own mind" (re 1970; further exploits of a rogue "conservative" board))
• Charter trustees: the curious Mr. Alyn Brannon (A creep, evidently)
• A glimpse at Saddleback College, 1970: HAIR (Because, uh, hair length is key)
• Did right-wing loons establish the SOCCCD? (re 1967; the local GOP)
• [Superintendent] Bremer: just saying “No” to long hair and windowlessness (early chief gets into hot water)
• A weird windowless library, alleged marauding flag-swiping Hippies, the protean name, and other district mysteries—Solved! (re 1960s)
•THE DISTRICTULAR DESIGNATION
The district has had various names during its 46-year history. During the initial planning stages, it was called the South Coast Junior College District. Starting in early 1967, it was called the Saddleback Junior College District. In 1970, it was renamed the Saddleback Community College District. Then, in 1997, it was finally named the South Orange County Community College District, which matched the name of the northernmost OC CC district (namely, the North Orange County Community College District). This, I'm sure, is one of the very few good idea John Williams has ever had.
The Saddleback Community College District at first comprised only Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, near San Juan Capistrano. Its “north” campus opened in Irvine in 1979; in 1985, it became the autonomous Irvine Valley College (IVC).
|San Juan Capistrano, 1964|
(For more about this early period, see our College History page. See also Saddleback College's Making History, 2001--a series of interviews of early Saddleback College faculty. Coming soon: Making History, part 2, by Ana Maria Cobos. See College History, 69-89.)
* * *
Saddleback College, North Campus (1979)
The STEVENS years
In 1982, Larry Stevens was hired as Chancellor, and he proved to be a terrible autocrat. (I believe that that was the point of his hire.) To get rid of him, the faculty union targeted his trustee supporters. The focus, then, became the special election of late 1985.
That effort was successful. (See 1982: The district hires Larry Stevens and learns to regret it.) Trustees were replaced and Stevens was let go. It was a major victory for the faculty and the faculty union, some leaders of which were still feeling their oats in 1996, when the union took a disastrous turn, as explained immediately below.
The district grew and experienced the usual ups and downs and internal conflicts. Nothing too out of the ordinary, really. It had a pretty good reputation, I guess. Some called it the "jewel" of the CC system.
Now, we're skippin' to 1996, the era with which I am most familiar.
Now, we're skippin' to 1996, the era with which I am most familiar.
To read more about the intervening years, especially the disastrous Stevens Chancellorship, go to HEADLINES, which covers all years up to the present.
|Saddleback Library construction, 1972-3|
A might "fortress" is our Library (to better protect against students!)
19962. CORRUPT UNION LEADERSHIP: THE OLD GUARD.
By the mid-90s, a small crew of variously disgruntled, greedy, or ambitious faculty controlled the Faculty Association (the union) and its substantial war chest. Operating informally and in secret, the union leadership seemed to follow no rules; it failed to adopt valid bylaws; indeed, the FA wasn’t properly registered with the California Teachers Association (CTA, the parent union) until 1997, when reform-minded faculty started to ask questions about their rogue union. (See Time for Pie)
The union of this era was stunningly corrupt, its leadership utterly unaccountable. It was directed by a highly secretive core group who seemed to feel no obligation whatsoever to include faculty at large in its deliberations/machinations.
Old Guard P/VP
Some in this group saw themselves as thwarted and oppressed by real or imagined cabals at Saddleback or Irvine Valley colleges. Others sought specifically to maintain the district’s then-high salaries, especially for senior faculty, apparently at any cost. Others seemed interested in settling old scores against administrators and colleagues. A few had administrative ambitions. (Chemistry instructor Raghu Mathur was among this group. For a glimpse at his pre-administrative years, see Mathur is Censured for Lying.) Some had committed remarkably unprofessional deeds and needed a powerful and corrupt union to protect them. (See The Character of the Opposition.) Toward securing such ends, the “Old Guard,” as it came to be known (at least among Dissenters), concentrated on a single objective: to control the seven-member, elected Board of Trustees (BOT), a body that directly or indirectly controlled every aspect of the district and its colleges. (Today, the BOT oversees the expenditure of
about $450 $700 million in taxpayer dollars. —7/16)
Trustee Fuentes' Spanish Adventure, Part II
Trustee Fuentes' Spanish Adventure, Part II
Trustee Fuentes' Spanish Adventure, Part I
3. 1996 TRUSTEES RACE: anything goes to protect "life as we know it"
In 1996, owing to its decision to print and distribute a deceptive and homophobic campaign flier, the now-infamous "same-sex" flier, the Old Guard secured its objective. Dorothy Fortune (a right-leaning Democrat) won a seat, and John Williams and Steven Frogue were reelected. The union now controlled four of the seven trustees (Teddi Lorch, who was up for reelection in ’98, was the fourth trustee; an adjunct instructor, she had been recruited by the union to replace a trustee who had died). And thus it was that, starting in December of ’96, the era of the conservative “Board Majority” began. The Board Majority, or “Board Four,” were conservative Republicans (Fortune evidently bailed on the Democratic Party) who, it appears, pursued the Old Guard’s narrow agenda (salaries, promotions, payback) in exchange for timely campaign support. While the “Board Minority” (Milchiker, Lang, and Hueter) watched in horror, the Board Four rammed through a series of changes that reflected predictable Old Guard desiderata plus their own benighted interests and agendas.
|Our faculty union paid for this, I kid you not (1996)|
|IVC President Ron Kong (late 80s)|
4. GOVERNANCE UNSHARED, LAW UNOBSERVED.
|Sherry M-W: gettin'|
homophobic to protect
"life as we know it"
From the beginning, the Board Four pursued an assault on “shared governance” —a legislatively mandated* upgrading of especially faculty involvement in governance at the community colleges. Key Old Guardsters, including notoriously conniving and ambitious chemistry instructor Raghu Mathur of IVC, were promoted. Despite lacking full-time administrative experience, Mathur was appointed IVC’s interim President in April of 1997. The move was justified on the basis of a thin anonymous petition that Mathur himself circulated. The Old Guard’s Mike Runyan and Ken Woodward were also given administrative roles, despite the Old Guard’s favored ad hominem against its critics—that they were administrative wannabes who “didn’t want to teach." In truth, it was among the Old Guard, and not its critics, that one found teachers who evidently "didn't want to teach."
*See Assembly Bill 1725 (1988). See also History of California’s AB 1725 and its major provisions (1998). From the latter: “Bill Scroggins, President of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, notes that AB1725 opened the door for shared governance, but points out that it was the revision of Section 5320 to 53204 of Title 5 that strengthened the authority of the academic senate in dealing with the local board….”)
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
19975. LAW? HA!
• From the start, the Board Majority brazenly flouted the law, especially as it concerned shared governance—by law, the board must delegate authority to faculty (the academic senate) in ten specified areas—and “open government.” California’s open meetings law, called the “Brown Act,” requires that all board discussion topics be publicly agendized in advance of board sessions and that closed sessions be restricted to a narrow range of topics. Mathur’s closed session appointment to the interim IVC Presidency in April of ’97 had not been agendized. IVC had adopted a governance structure—the so-called "chair model"—that gave to faculty (on a rotating basis) administrative responsibilities similar to those of deans. With the arrival of the Board Majority—and especially “President” Mathur—rumors began to fly that Mathur and the Board Four planned to eliminate the chair model in favor of a dean model. Deans, unlike faculty with tenure, lived from contract to contract. They are relatively easily intimidated or eliminated. To the Board Majority, "loyalty" to superiors was a paramount virtue. Some chairs at IVC had, in their view, had displayed disloyalty. • See also:
• The board's "persistent and defiant misconduct" (according to Orange County Superior Court Judge Tully H. Seymour)
• Williams' secret deal revisited (1998)
From the Dissenter’s Dictionary (1999):
• BROWN ACT (a.k.a. “open meeting laws”).
Each state has "open meeting" laws that forbid secrecy among "legislative bodies," such as city councils and water and school boards. In the state of California, these laws are known as the “Ralph M. Brown Act.” Essentially, the Brown Act requires that decision-making occur in public, and therefore secret meetings (including "serial communications" leading to a "collective concurrence" prior to meetings) by "legislators" are strictly prohibited. Further, all items to be discussed by legislators must be clearly agendized, and the public must be permitted an opportunity to comment on any possible action prior to its consideration by officials. Finally, though some sensitive issues, specified by law, may be discussed in closed session, they must nevertheless be agendized and, again, the public must be permitted an opportunity to comment upon them prior to the meeting in which they are considered. The Board Majority has a long history of violations of the Brown Act, starting with its first meeting (12/16/96) in which, during a closed session, it discussed and voted upon a reduction of reassigned time for academic senate officers--not a permitted closed session topic--without agendizing the matter. After the board appointed Raghu Mathur interim president of IVC in a closed session in April--the action was unagendized and the public was thus not allowed an opportunity to comment--a group of faculty and community members demanded a "cure," which the board ignored; this ultimately led to a decision, by OC Superior Court Judge MacDonald, that voided Mathur's appointment and decisions. (This has been dubbed, by the district, Bauer I.) Then, in July, the board reorganized the district in closed session, agendizing the matter deceptively as a "personnel" action, thereby robbing the public of an opportunity to comment on the action, which, in any case, is not among actions that may be taken in closed session. Then, prior to the September '97 board meeting, trustees engaged in secret serial meetings regarding a "deal" promoted by Board Majoritarian John Williams (see WILLIAMS). Each of these violations (and others, including a closed session address by Vishwas More) led OC Superior Court Judge Tully Seymour to write of the board's "persistent and defiant misconduct" relative to the Brown Act. The petitioner of Bauer II was awarded $98,000 in attorneys fees, though Seymour's judgment, and the fees, are being appealed. 
|IVC c. 1979|
6. THE INFAMOUS "REORG"
• IVC faculty brought their concerns about the rumors to Mathur, who responded by assuring them that no such change would be contemplated, at least until faculty returned after the summer holidays. (This assurance was expressed in writing.) In fact, when Mathur offered these assurances, he had already instructed his Vice President of Instruction (VPI), Terry Burgess, to design a district reorganization that would eliminate chairs in favor of deans. (Source: various legal declarations.) Then, in mid-July, to the surprise of many, the Board Majority met in closed session and reorganized the district, eliminating faculty chairs at IVC and replacing them with Old Guard-targeted deans from Saddleback College. The reorganization closely followed the plan designed by Burgess under Mathur's direction. The “Reorg” eventually proved to be unworkable and expensive, requiring periodic restructuring, adding to a general sense of administrative instability. The situation was made worse by the low quality of many new administrative hires, some of whom managed to generate public relations nightmares, as when Dean Poindexter was involved in fracases and Dean Gensler was revealed to be pursuing The "Howard Hilton," an absurd $800 million complex, complete with Hilton Hotel, at IVC. The July 1997 Reorg, which occurred in closed session, again ran afoul of the Brown Act, which does not include “reorganization” as among allowable closed session topics.
A few months later, in yet another violation of the Brown Act, Mathur was appointed permanent President of Irvine Valley College. In the days leading up to that action, Trustee John Williams attempted to broker a deal with Trustee Lang and the rest of the Board Minority—a clear and extreme violation of the open meetings law, which forbids secret communications between board members. During this period, two “Brown Act” lawsuits were filed by IVC philosophy instructor Roy Bauer, et al. So blatant were the violations that one judge spoke of the Board's "persistent and defiant misconduct." The district lost these suits and then lost the appeals.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
7. REFORMING THE UNION: SHELL GAME
• Naturally, by mid-1997, many faculty were alarmed by the Board Majority's actions and its anti-faculty stance. It was clear to many that the Old Guard's control over the Faculty Association had to come to an end. The reform effort started eight months earlier, with a December ’96 letter to the California Teachers Association (CCA/CTA) that documented and expressed alarm at the local's actions during the trustees race and the failure of union leadership to be accountable to anyone, including membership. More than 100 full-time instructors signed that appeal for assistance. (For their own protection, part-timers were excluded.) CTA sent a "leadership team" to the district that eventually produced a report. With understated language, that report cited many of the local’s deficiencies and outrages. Even so, possibly owing to concerns over legal liability, the state union was disinclined to take strong actions against the existing leadership of one of its locals.
Old Guard apologist
District faculty persisted in their efforts to wrest their union and its war chest from the secretive and unprincipled Old Guard. Reformers demanded copies of the union’s bylaws. The union leadership (Sherry Miller-White, et al.) refused to provide a copy, repeatedly explaining that the bylaws were undergoing editing or "clean-up." Reformers were elected by the members of their schools or divisions to serve as Reps. The union leadership refused to acknowledge the validity of those elections. Reform efforts were stymied. At one point, the union held an election, which yielded the victory of a crucial number of reformers. The union leadership responded by declaring the election void, owing to violations of election rules that it had itself committed. After two or three years of frustrating effort, reformers prevailed, but not before Old Guard leadership had expended union funds to secure the election victory of trustee candidates Don Wagner and Nancy Padberg—two Christian Right Republicans who were manifestly hostile to unionism and that were endorsed by an organization that authored a notoriously anti-union ballot proposition. (See The "board's unlikely secret allies": the union supports anti-unionists.)
•8. THE ZANY-DISTURBING FROGUE YEARS
|Steven J. Frogue:|
One of the Old Guard’s trustees, Steven Frogue, had weathered controversy in 1995. Numerous unassociated former students of Frogue's High School history classes alleged that he had denied the Holocaust and made racially insensitive remarks. (See Frogue defends himself against charge that he is a Holocaust denier.) Further, Frogue was an ardent fan of dubious conspiracy theories. In 1995, he used his trustee position as a platform to rail against the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish civil rights organization that Frogue believed was involved in the assassination of JFK. At one point, Frogue praised the publications of a notorious Holocaust denial organization, the Institute For Historical Review, based in Orange County. (IHR had been founded by the notorious anti-Semite Willis Carto.) Throughout these controversies, the union leadership stuck by their man. By the fall of 1997, Frogue, then President of the Board, organized a "forum" at Saddleback College about the Warren Commission (i.e., the JFK assassination). The event involved inviting four speakers, some with ties to the anti-Semitic “Liberty Lobby.” Despite (Roy Bauer-instigated) warnings from a local ADL official that the forum’s guest speakers were unsavory characters or crackpots, the Board Four approved Frogue's forum and its guests. A few days later, the board's action was reported in the L.A. Times. Soon, throughout the country, people heard about the California community college that was providing a forum for conspiracy nuts and anti-Semites. Though Frogue eventually cancelled the forum, the fiasco revived concerns that he was anti-Semitic, and he soon became the target of a recall effort. (The lengthy recall effort ultimately failed, despite collecting a record-breaking number of petition signatories.) (See Hangin' with bigwig Republicans while Nazis hide in bushes.) Naturally, this controversy harmed the reputation of the district and its two colleges. Frogue's peculiar conduct didn't help. When groups of white supremacists and Holocaust deniers showed up at Board meetings to speak in Frogue's defense, Frogue did nothing to repudiate them or their views. (See Night of the Nazi and Nazis vs. JDL thugs: oh, what a night!)
• Is trustee Steven Frogue a Holocaust denier? ~ Let's use some abductive reasoning, shall we?
• Frogue defends himself against charge that he is a Holocaust denier ~ "Am not!" he roars.
• The infamous "same-sex" flier ~ Pandering to South County homophobia? We're academics and unionists! Why the hell not!
• Time for pie ~ Sherry Miller-White excludes yours truly amid pie @ Marie Calendars.
• Night of the Nazi ~ Extras from "To Kill a Mockingbird" wander into the Saddleback Library.
• The 1998 IVC accreditation white-wash ~ Take out the negative, leave in the positive! Let's call the whole thing off!
• Nazis vs. JDL thugs: oh, what a night! ~ Trustee Frogue's unsavory pals v. JDL wackos. And years before reality TV!
• Hangin' with bigwig Republicans while Nazis hide in bushes ~ Repubs and Dems agree on one thing: Nazis are bad.
• The "board's unlikely secret allies" (the union supports anti-unionists) ~ Yes, the union "leadership" brought us Don & Nancy--and even Tom!
• Mathur censured for lying ~ That's 'cause he lied, and creeped and worse. No wonder Tom loves him so.
• Bauer's court victory ~ Judge Feess spanks the district hard. Cedric and the gang are shocked, shocked!
• Mathur goes after Jeff for "naming a greenhouse" ~ Displays of ruthlessness and power thrill both trustees and their tiny puppet.
• The old guard's not-so-sweet charity ~ Between Tom and these guys, local sorditude competes with Falling Rome.
• Roy Bauer's 1st Amendment battles ~ Around these people, no decent person could resist the urge to go postal!
•• Students sue district over 1st Amendment violations ~ These people won't abide complaint, not even from students.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
9. "PERSISTENT AND DEFIANT" MISCONDUCT
pal o' Mathur
The Board Majority were contemptuous of faculty and administrative warnings and advice, even with regard to the district's finances. Despite warnings from faculty, the Board allowed the district's reserves to fall below the state-required level. The State Chancellor's Office sent auditors to the district to examine its finances. Some board members responded by attempting to bully or intimidate them, resulting in further negative press. Ultimately, the State Chancellor's Office placed the district on its fiscal "watch list." At IVC, President Mathur illegally appointed a union crony (Ray Chandos) to edit the college’s accreditation self-study, a crucial part of the accreditation process. The resulting white-wash was so obvious that it attracted embarrassing media attention (LA Times, OC Register). Ultimately, the Accrediting agency saw through the attempted deceptions and dinged the district/colleges for administrative instability, the Board's violation of its own policies (in the case of administrative hires), and for trustee “micromanagement.” As in the case of the State Chancellor’s office and its efforts to audit the district, the Board Four seemed to respond to the Accrediting agency's efforts to evaluate the colleges and the district with defiance and hostility. At one point, the board enlisted the help of the Department of Education in going after the Accrediting agency. This effort at intimidation was successful.
|Carol Sobel, ace|
1st Amend. attorney
During this period, students at Irvine Valley College (Deb Burbridge and Delilah Snell) organized peaceful protests to dramatize their concern about college and district leadership and the threat that leadership posed to the institution’s accreditation. In response, Mathur and the Board severely restricted these protests. This led to a series of First Amendment lawsuits, which again attracted unwanted media attention. The district lost those lawsuits over the course of several years. (See Students sue district over 1st Amendment violations) Late in 1998, IVC philosophy instructor Roy Bauer, the petitioner in the successful Brown Act lawsuits—and the editor of an Old Guard/Board Majority-bashing district newsletter called “Dissent”—was called into the Chancellor’s office and advised that, based on the content of the newsletter, he had violated the district’s “workplace violence” and “discrimination” policies. Bauer was ordered to seek “anger management” counseling. (See Roy Bauer's 1st Amendment battles) (For an account of this episdode, see District goes after Bauer. The Board Four/Old Guard era has many parallels with the current Bush Administration, doncha think? See also "The Unabauer Manifesto" in OC Weekly, April 1999.)) Clearly, the action was the first step in an effort to fire the instructor. The charges against Bauer were patently absurd. Represented by attorney Carol Sobel (who also represented the students), Bauer filed a 1st Amendment lawsuit in Federal Court. The first judge to handle the case described the district’s action against Bauer as “Orwellian.” Eventually, the case came before Judge Gary Feess, who ruled heavily in Bauer's favor. The district appealed, but, in the end, Bauer prevailed. (See One gadfly, one gadfly swatter) (Regarding student 1st Amendment lawsuits, see Students sue district) (For another instance of Mathur/Board going after a perceived faculty critic, read Mathur goes after Jeff for "naming a greenhouse.") (For an article concerning the Old Guard’s brief attempt to counter Dissent with it’s own publication, see The Anti-Dissent.)
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
Above: DtB YouTube video edited by R. Bauer
11. MISCALLENEOUS FIASCOS, CRONYISM, ETC.
|Armando Ruiz; scraped|
from the bottom
The controversies did not end there. Mathur and the Board Four attracted a good deal of further adverse attention, owing to various absurd actions and policies. At one point, Mathur (through one of his underlings, who later achieved infamy for pension double-dipping) ordered faculty to remove all signs and graphics from their office doors and windows. The move was justified on aesthetic grounds, but it was clear that Mathur objected to signage that was critical of his leadership and the leadership of the BOT. At the start of the Iraq war, an IVC administrator (VPI Dennis White) ordered faculty to cease discussing the conflict in the classroom. In a memo to deans, he wrote:
no "war talk"
It has come to my attention that several faculty members have been discussing the current war within … their classrooms. We need to be sure that faculty do not explore this activity within … their classroom unless it can be demonstrated, to the satisfaction of this office, that such discussions are directly related to the approved instructional requirements … associated with those classes … College personnel are … encouraged to explore their views … outside … the classroom. Again, however, the exploration of those reviews [sic] within … the classroom is professionally inappropriate… This action attracted national attention and caused considerable embarrassment. For the whole ridiculous story, see IVC Faculty prohibited from discussing the war (~ A college run by maroons.)
• • The "Howard Hilton" ~ One of Raghu's "stars" pursues a Hilton w/ pool at IVC. Don nearly loses a limb. •
MATHUR SUES DISSENT • Bauer’s newsletter reported Mathur’s various misdeeds, including his violation of a student’s privacy rights in the mid-90s. Mathur responded by suing Bauer and Mathur’s one-time VPI for violating Mathur’s privacy by reporting his misdeeds! Appealing to California’s anti-SLAPP legislation (which is designed to protect whistle-blowers and the like from deep-pocketed entities who have the capacity to burden critics with endless litigation), Bauer counter-sued and prevailed. Mathur was required to pay out $35,000 in attorney fees for Bauer and the former administrator. Mathur then sued the district on the grounds that it failed to protect him. The district awarded Mathur money to cover much of his legal expenses. Teddi Lorch retired from the board in 1998 amidst rumors that she coveted the district’s chief Human Relations job. She later applied for that job but was rejected (Chancellor Sampson held her in low esteem). She sued the district for discrimination. The district settled by awarding her the job. She has it still.
THE FUENTES ERA
|Tom "GOP" Fuentes|
By 2000, it appeared that Frogue might not win reelection, and so he resigned from the board. That provided the Board Majority (which, at that time, included John Williams, Don Wagner, Nancy Padberg, and Dorothy Fortune) an opportunity to hand-pick Frogue’s replacement. To the surprise of many, the board chose Tom Fuentes, the long-time chair of Orange County's Republican Party, and the controversial leader of its ultra-conservative wing. Several Old Guard unionists came to board meetings to speak in support of Fuentes candidacy, despite Fuentes’ politics, which were manifestly hostile to unionism, especially unionism in the public schools. There are indications that, during the prior May, Mathur had met with Fuentes. Mathur and Fuentes share a reputation for wily and ruthless machinations.
13. PENNY-PINCHING, FACULTY-DEMONIZING CONSERVATISM ARRIVES
• Naturally, as an incumbent, Fuentes sailed to victory during the 2000 election, and thus the Board Majority, five members strong, settled into an even more conservative era, one that was characterized by a hostility to faculty and a desire to reduce faculty benefits/salaries. Fuentes and Wagner emerged as the dominant figures on the board, and they made no secret of their anti-union politics. At one point, during a TV interview, Trustee Fuentes falsely asserted that faculty have a "36-hour workweek" and are paid on average "$100,000" per year. By 2002, President Mathur had experienced two faculty votes of “no confidence,” the last one involving 90% of voting full-time faculty. When the Chancellorship became vacant, Mathur got the job, despite his having recently sued the district. Faculty at IVC were horrified, but they also believed that, eventually, Saddleback faculty (and staff) would recognize Mathur’s ruthlessness, his incompetence, and his willingness to do anything that his “bosses” ordered him to do. (Alas, it didn't work out that way.)
Above: DtB YouTube video edited by R. Bauer
14. MATHUR'S ILLEGAL FACULTY HIRING POLICY
•In 2003, Mathur pursued development of a new faculty hiring policy. He did so without informing the faculty, despite the law, which clearly states that faculty hiring policies must be agreed upon mutually by the district (i.e., Mathur and the Board) and faculty (i.e., the two academic senates). The resulting policy, which was approved by the board over vociferous faculty objections, meant a radical increase in administrative power during the hiring process. Further, it included provisions that allowed administration to punish faculty search committee members for unusual scoring of applicants.
|Chanc. Larry Stevens;|
hated by faculty (80s)
This particular outrage caused the district’s two academic senates to strongly unify. In an unprecedented step, the senates sued the district. Unsurprisingly, Judge Clay Smith ruled that the district had violated the law when it failed to include faculty in the development of the hiring policy. (See "How rude are you!": the senates sue the district ~ In which, once again, Raghu and the Board bully the faculty. This time they get slapped back.) When, at the instruction of Judge Smith, Mathur started the development process anew, this time with faculty representation, the result was yet another faculty-unfriendly policy, which was again adopted by the board over strenuous faculty objections. This time, Smith ruled that the policy was indeed mutually agreed upon, since faculty were on the committee that produced it. (Their voices were overridden.) The faculty senates appealed the decision. In the meantime, district instructors held a vote of confidence/no confidence in Mathur (in 2004), which resulted in 93.5% "no confidence." It was clear that virtually no faculty were willing to be “led” by Mathur. In 2005, the appellate trio made its decision regarding the “hiring policy” case. It unanimously and strongly sided with faculty, and so the hiring policy was again voided. The district pursued its remaining avenues, but these were unsuccessful.
15. FORTUNE TAKES A POWDER, JAY TAKES A SEAT, PADBERG WISES UP
In 2003, rumors flew that Trustee Fortune no longer resided in Orange County. Faced with increasing scrutiny, she resigned from the Board. The Board Majority then attempted what it had achieved in 2000—handpicking a replacement. This time, faculty, especially the reformed union leadership, employed the law to force a special election. The controversy concerning the Board’s political gamesmanship drove away the Majority’s choice (the brother of a local right-wing politico), and thus it was that Bill Jay, the union’s candidate, became Fortune’s trustee replacement. That meant that the Majority was back to four members. But, by this time, it was no longer clear that Nancy Padberg was aligned with the other three. For whatever reason, she had come to despise Mathur. As a decision concerning the renewal of Mathur's contract neared, it appeared that Mathur had only three trustees in his corner (Williams, Wagner, and Fuentes).
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
200416. THE ACCREDS: WHO DO THESE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE?
The district’s two colleges underwent yet another Accreditation process that ended in 2004. In January of 2005, the Accrediting agency reaccredited the two colleges, but it did so in the least favorable terms (the lowest of four possible). According to the Accreditors, the colleges suffered from administrative chaos, trustee micromanagement, and a “plague of despair.” SC was also dinged for the district's executive hiring policy, which, as usual, left constituency groups such as faculty out in the cold. The two colleges were required to produce a “progress report” within a year. Both colleges seemed to make a good faith effort to respond to the Accrediting team’s recommendations, but, at the district level, it was difficult to see how Mathur and the Board were responding to the agency’s recommendations. By late 2005, the colleges submitted their progress reports to the Accrediting agency. The IVC report referred to the despair engendered by the Board’s action, in mid-2005, not only to renew Mathur’s contract, but to grant him a raise. Mathur now enjoys a salary of close to a quarter million dollars a year. It came as a shock to many of his faculty supporters that Lang had switched sides and now supported Mathur. (In time, it became clear that he had switched sides--and had sold out his faculty supporters--in exchange for the "support" of GOP chief Fuentes in his efforts to become OC Treasurer.) At time of writing, the two colleges await the Accrediting agency’s response to the progress reports. Reportedly, Board President Lang is pessimistic about the Agency’s pending response….
17. TRUSTEE FUENTES' SPANISH ADVENTURE
Among the more entertaining of the numerous episodes of district folly was Trustee Fuentes' early 2005 action (with support from his conservative colleagues) not to approve Saddleback College's highly popular summer Study Abroad program to Santander, Spain. By why? Explained Fuentes: "Many of our students in this college, and of its sister college Saddleback and Irvine, past and future today, fight on the battlefield of Iraq under the flag that is behind us. Spain has abandoned our fighting men and women, withdrawing their support. I see no reason to send the students of our colleges to Spain at this moment in history." (February 2005 meeting of BOT) I videotaped these remarks. The next morning, I brought the video to the Register, which made it available on its website, accompanying a story about Fuentes' bizaarre action. To make a long story short (for the whole story, see Trustee Fuentes' Spanish Adventure), Fuentes' action (plus rationale) was widely ridiculed and condemned—it was briefly a national and even an international story, inspiring commentary even by Spanish officials—and yet another embarrassing chapter of the troubled SOCCCD was born. As the story mushroomed, Fuentes soon backpedaled, claiming, implausibly, that his "abandoning us" rationale for nixing the study-abroad program was a minor consideration among several. (Read his comments again.) (To be fair, none of his colleagues who supported non-approval mentioned Spain's withdrawal from Iraq; only Fuentes had made that point, though, clearly, it was an important point for Fuentes. See the video.) In the end, the board reversed its decision, and the Study Abroad trip occurred without incident.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
|John "Brown Boy"|
SUMMER 2007 UPDATE, JULY, 2007:
Let's see. The Board and Raghu seem to have settled into a period of relative indifference to the Accrediting agency's concerns. They are aware, of course, that the Accreds are too whimpy really to spank the colleges hard, for as long as the fundamentals are sound. Mathur has increased his micromanaging—butting his nose into each college president's business, apparently on a near-daily basis. The presidents have been pushing back, and so they both appear to be doomed. But who knows. In the Spring, Cely Mora's long-awaited "discrimination" trial occurred, and, in the end, Mathur prevailed. Mathur petitioned to have Mora pay for his defense (which was provided by the taxpayer), but the judge turned that down. Nothing unusual there. In the course of the trial, it was revealed just how unprofessional and dishonest Raghu can be, at least in the case of administrative hires. (See Stunning testimony.) In the hire of Rodney Poindexter (who was eventually fired amid accusations of violence on his part), Mathur disregarded the search committee's judgment and brought Poindexter into the final interviews. None of the letters justified the notion that Poindexter was sufficiently experienced--although, according to Mathur, there was a further reference that did offer that evidence, only it has somehow been lost. (See Reference Check.) The jury didn't look like much. One juror slept through much of the trial (saw that with my own eyes more than once). Two jurors (apparently) wrote to this blog, revealing qualities that were, well, worrisome, especially for jurors. As I write (July), the board is poised to renew and extend Mathur's contract yet again.
JANUARY 23, 2007:
Yup, that's just what it did. On a 4 to 2 vote (with Milchiker absent), the board (Williams, Fuentes, Lang, Wagner) approved a 4-year contract with COLAs. Padberg and Jay dissented. The matter had evidently been decided during the previous Thursday's "special" meeting, which concerned an ongoing evaluation of the Chancellor.
Above: DtB xtranormal "movie" by R. Bauer
With the seven trustees, Chancellor's Mathur's stock appears to be lower than it's been for a long time. Everybody's got his number, it seems, but three or four trustees continue to have a reason to retain him as Chancellor—including this daffy one: maintaining stability during a period in which major changes on the board are expected. During the summer, Mathur's contract was extended for four years, although he can be canned at any time (with 45 days notice?), with a six month buy-out. The qualification is important, I think. Paying out half his yearly pay to get rid of him could easily seem like a sweet deal, were the IQ wattage of the board to move slightly upward. During the August board meeting, the majority (i.e., Wagner, Fuentes, Lang, Williams) produced an ugly accusatory Accred Response (poorly documented to boot) at the eleventh hour. Mathur declared that it is to be "incorporated" into the existing drafts of the reports that are owed to the Accrediting commission in October. The move causes confusion and consternation. In truth, the existing reports (composed as per regulations and completed) are designed to get the Accreds off our backs. The inclusion of these new elements, if that ultimately occurs, will likely inspire the Accreds to require yet another progress report, after October. The Board Majority don't care. They're flipping the finger at the Accreds and at faculty. Meanwhile, our colleges' accreditation is in no real jeopardy. Rumors abound that the board will undergo many changes between now and December (or later?). Is Trustee Fuentes too ill to continue? Are Trustees Jay and Lang sick and tired of the gig? Could be. Lang, Jay, Fuentes, and Williams will be up for reelection in one year. But watch for the ol' "resignation and temporary appointment" ploy. It worked well for the majority in the summer of 2000 (Fuentes replaced Frogue). It did not work so well when they replaced Dot "Don't live here no mo'" Fortune (the board got caught breaking the rules, and we ended up with union-pal Bill Jay). Looks like it's up to the FA (union) to strategize effectively to counter Board Majority machinations. OMG!
Late September, '07:
|Don "Mad Dog"|
On the board, things hit a new low at the Sept. meeting of the BOT. Mathur is manifestly partisan in favor of the Board Majority (Lang, Williams, Wagner, Fuentes) and is now obviously doing their bidding by, among other things, taking steps to keep the Minority (Milchiker, Padberg, Jay) out of the loop in board projects. Indeed, at that meeting, Milchiker reveals that, in February, Mathur acted to undo the mechanism whereby college emails are sent to the trustees, effectively keeping some trustees "in the dark," as Marcia puts it, about important college meetings. More importantly, at this meeting, the Majority pushes through revisions of the two colleges' Accreditation Midterm Reports that weave the Majority's inflammatory and incompetent "response" into the colleges' drafts--in essence, changing those drafts. They approve the revisions on a 4/3 vote. Expect faculty writers of these reports to refuse to sign off on the grounds that their writings have essentially been changed. It's an ungodly mess created largely by Mathur's ruthlessness and Lang's incompetence. It seems likely that everyone would have been happy had the district response simply been inserted in the report as the Board Majority's perspective.
Above: DtB xtranormal "movie" by R. Bauer
(October 13, 2007):
• Good grief. Mathur managed to turn the Focused Midterm Reports episode into an absurd drama that will only make him and his patrons look bad. After enduring endless feints and other shenanigans, the college Accred writers were allowed to insert factual language, explaining how the Chancellor/District "response" was inserted into the Reports. They even included links to the district website and its board meeting video. At the last minute, Mathur tried to delete that (the Commissioners mustn't look at what board discussions are really like!). But the Senate leaders drew a line in the sand. Mathur even tried to impose a bit of revisionism: he wanted the college writers' Whence Response? to say that the college presidents, not Goo, instructed the colleges to incorporate the response. The man is unbelievable. What a liar! So, now, the reports are sent, and God only knows what the Commissioners will do. They meet in January. My guess is that they'll spank us hard. If the colleges/faculty had been allowed to turn in their original drafts (pre-Response insertion), then we'd be whistling a happy tune, Accredwise. But no.
THE 50% LAW.
The district has been forced to cough up the data, and the data make clear that Mathur was lying when he said that the dip below 50% was only discovered "last month." In fact, the percentage has been steadily declining for years, and, each year, the district must sign a document with the "instructional percentage" figure clearly indicated.
God, he's a liar! But it gets worse. Turns out that Mathur's efforts to build his Mt. Rushmore in Tustin--lavishing big bucks on ATEP, almost all of it spent on the non-instrucitonal--means that, for 2007-08, the district will be at about 46%! (This is the district's projection, not mine.)
• It is already clear that Mathur will try to pin this problem on faculty and on such bugaboos as "reassigned time." But the data suggest that RT has nothing to do with this. The problem is that Mathur threw money at ATEP without being mindful of the 50% Law. The cost of RT is chump change compared to the $5 million he's spending on ATEP this year (only 5% of it instructional!). One more thing: I keep hearing that the City of Tustin is unhappy with Mathur's grand plans for ATEP--i.e., the "Camelot" version of ATEP. If the city is unhappy, then, boy are we screwed. If they don't sign off--well, heads will roll. Mathur's turning out to be quite the disaster. Why don't they fire him? Now doubt, they'll give him cash prizes.
• The Dept. of Education has placed great pressure on WASC (and thus ACCJC) to mean business with their standards and to stick to the period of correction (of problems) of two years. And so, in the Accred letters sent late January, each college was told that, unless it finally overcomes the long-standing problems (trustee micromanagement, a plague of despair, administrative instability, etc.), its accreditation would be pulled. Wow.
Above: DtB xtranormal "movie" by R. Bauer
• Saddleback College has been oddly quiet (complacent?) re their accreditation problem (its report to the Accreds is due in October). I'm told that their Accreditation task force, which includes trustee Dave Lang, doesn't even have faculty representation. Good grief.
|Trustee Marcia Milchiker:|
"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
Meanwhile, IVC has approached its parallel accreditation issue with great seriousness and industry. Its focus group, which includes a cooperative Don Wagner (President of the Board), meets every two weeks or so. It has wide representation (faculty participate in a manner that honors the existing "work to contract"). The group even gave a fine (and well-attended) presentation of its work at an all-college meeting at the end of April. It appears that the ACCJC has brought it about that someone will visit our colleges/district to scope things out. Mathur is insisting on calling this person a "consultant," but that's just obfuscation. The visitor is liable to finally arrive (the original guy was delayed by an emergency) some time this summer, which is unfortunate, since the colleges are virtual ghost towns. Re our looming and inevitable violation of the 50% Law: we've heard almost nothing about it for some time. (I'm told that a delegation went up to the state to plead for leniency and whatnot, but that profited them nothing.) Late in the Spring, the Faculty Association, unhappy with the district's failure to bargain the contract in good faith, called for a "work to contract," which ended up affecting the massive (and absurd) effort to hire 35 or 40 new full-time faculty (a ploy to bring instructional costs up to the 50% mark). But, owing to the usual union SNAFU, the WTC affected IVC much more than Saddleback and thus caused tensions among faculty. We seem to be getting past that now though. (Essentially, owing to fortuities, the hires turned out OK, even at IVC.)
|Nancy Padberg; fired|
by Williams at County
No contract yet. There is no way, of course, to approve a contract during summer anyway, owing to the usual faculty diaspora. Our 50% situation clearly calls for serious salary increases (our salaries do not compare well with those of faculty at contiguous districts), but this board just will not go there. There's been quite an administrative exodus of late, adding no doubt to "administrative instability"—one of the Accreds' worries. VC Andreea Serban bolted for the President job back in Santa Barbara (she'd only been on the job for two years). ATEP Provost Bob Kopecky was essentially canned—no doubt made a scapegoat by the wily Mathur. (He'll return as faculty in the Fall.) VC Bob King left for greener pastures. Several IVC deans left in the course of the Fall and Spring (Feldhus, Cooper, Corum, et al.). Essentially, IVC is experiencing deanlessness. It's amazing. No doubt I've left somebody out. Whatever. Board President Don Wagner really stepped in it at the recent Saddleback College "scholarship" event, where, in the minds of many observers (including some donors), he "politicized" the occasion by lecturing in defense of prayer. Evidently, he had received a missive from a "church/state separation" organization suggesting that prayer at college/district events is inappropriate, and so he felt the need to rebut. Don seems to lack self-control.
Someone posted Don's scholarship remarks on YouTube, and then the shit hit the fan. At the May board meeting, Nancy Padberg opined that Don should apologize; she challenged him to make up the loss in moola after the exodus of donors. (Don't know how many, if any, donors are actually bolting.) Lots of community members came to carp at 'im. He responded with defiance. Wrong move, Don. Don doesn't apologize. He doesn't recognize his mistakes. Still, I like 'im. Trustee Tom Fuentes, who has liver cancer, received a liver transplant—which surprised everyone, since he was quite obviously a poor candidate (owing to his age, diabetes, etc.). People have muttered their suspicions in the hallway, but that's all. But I don't buy it. I'm sure the Lord intervened on Tom's behalf, owing to the fellow's manifest goodness.
|Old Guardster: several|
bricks shy of a load
The Faculty Association (union) is gearing up for the November election, at which time they hope to unseat Lang and Fuentes (Bill Jay is a friend, and John Williams has supported faculty with regard to the contract). Late in Spring, the FA held a lunch at the Spectrum at which time its candidates spoke and spoke well. Amazingly, the board continues to support Mathur, despite the ample reasons to can him. Mathur, of course, committed the massive "50%" blunder and is heavily implicated in our accreditation woes (which are grave). It is by no means obvious that both colleges will have their accreditation renewed in early 2009. If you suppose otherwise, you're just not paying attention. Leaving aside IVC's Wendy Gabriella and her crew, faculty leadership seems to be disintegrating--no big deal: faculty effectiveness historically waxes and wanes. It seems that, at Saddleback College, faculty have collapsed into consternation and despair. Am I wrong? On the up side: the weather's been nice, and some of us our flourishing. I sense no great despair at IVC, though it may exist in buckets at the administrative level. Dissent the Blog is flourishing and growing in stature. Trivia, I know, but true nonetheless.
August 31, 2008:
• The IVC Accreditation focus group has done great work. Meanwhile, Saddleback's focus group has done virtually nothing. When Saddleback College's new Academic Senate President, Bob Cosgrove, returned from a vacation in late July, he found a disaster in the making, and hair was immediately set on fire. Consequently, Saddlebackians have made a huge effort to finally get their act together. SLOs have been written, etc. Everybody down there is starting to seem terribly pleased with themselves. We're all beginning to relax about this accreditation crisis. Whew!
Meanwhile, Mathur seems to be more despised than ever. Administrators barely hide their contempt for the fellow. Things seem so bad that his Chancellorhood seems almost titular, ceremonial--yet pungently sulfurous. Ghastly. Meanwhile, enrollments and FTES are way up, especially at IVC. Why? That's hard to say. We don't yet know how widespread the phenomenon is. Tom Fuentes, still recovering from liver transplant surgery and a bile top-off, has been making a great show of his regained health and vitality. He's held another Balboa Bay Club fundraiser, with the usual dark and moneyed suspects. What's he need all that money for?
He's an incumbent, for Chrissake. Well, you know Tom. He's planning to destroy someone. The other day, a well-known county Democrat called me to ask about this and that. At one point, she commented on Fuentes' poor health. I told her, "Fuentes is the kind of guy who's kept alive by evil." She thought that was awfully funny. But I wasn't kidding.
live 'round here?
Hmmm, doesn't look too good. The faculty union bit off more than it could chew and came away with nothing in the trustee election of 2008. Jay and Williams, as essentially unchallenged incumbents, were reelected handily. The union's candidate came close to unseating Lang, and Bliss did surprisingly well against Fuentes. But Lang and Fuentes are with us for another four years. Merde! Early in December, the board held its annual "organizational meeting" and rolled over the existing leadership (i.e., Wagner continues as board President, etc.). Gosh, what else has happened? Both colleges seem to be sailing toward Accreditation success in January, but who knows. The board is pissed at faculty right now owing to union leadership's demands (contract negotiations) and the Academic Senate's push for much more reassigned time. This has made Mathur look good to the board again. By November, Mathur had returned to his old habit of wagging his finger at people--mostly faculty, it seems. He commenced his new practice of insisting that the future looks bleak and things need to change. He says this as though he were correcting and warning recalcitrant children. Observers are, of course, appalled. Morale seems to be at a new low. Mathur seems to have no allies, aside from four board members, all of whom--save Fuentes--probably detest him.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
JANUARY 23, 2009
• During a closed board session in December, trustees took some sort of preliminary vote of the Faculty Association's contract proposal and, evidently, a majority voted affirmatively. Fuentes then decided to obliterate the situation by sliming Williams and Padberg with demagoguery: he got his pal Steve Greenhut (OC Punch) to complain that Williams is no conservative what with his pro-union vote; then he went after Padberg, too. Eventually, the OC Reg editorialized to that effect. Next thing we knew, the union was pursuing damage control by asking that the "contract" item for the Jan. 20 board meeting be pulled, and that's what happened.
The turning point (a true story)
Circa Fall, 2009Miss Zendy had ambitions. She was the California community college system's most celebrated Academic Senate President, a David who slew Goliath. But she wanted to go into administration. Just think what she could do there? So Dom said, “you need to make peace with The Fountain.”“Really?”“Yes,” said Dom. That’s my advice to you.”
Dom had been working with Miss Zendy on a committee for months. He realized that she was smart, hard working, and sincere. He liked her and wanted to help her.And so the day came and Dom, The Fountain, and Miss Zendy met.
It was horrible. The F-ster commenced berating her. He accused her of things. She was, he charged, the reason that he had to spend money on his reelection as trustee. Imagine!Of course, that wasn’t true at all. It had been the union, not the Academic Senate, that targeted The Fountain for moneyed pushback, and no wonder. But the Old Boss, an inveterate ideologue, could only see faculty the way he had always seen them—as union featherbedders and deadbeats. And, as far as he was concerned, there wasn’t a nickel’s worth of difference between the senate and the union. They formed one lazy, un-American unity. They were the enemy.Dom must have been horrified, but he said little. Miss Zendy took it. The assault continued. Finally, The Fountain said, “for as long as you’re in this district, you won’t be going anywhere—unless you agree to be mentored by me.”The Fountain was, of course, famous for his embrace of “mentorship.” Some of his mentoring, of course, raised eyebrows, occurring, as it sometimes did, in the sauna down at the Balboa Bay Club and similarly odd locales.The mentees were generally vibrant young men. He liked to buy clothes for them, take them to fancy dinners, and so on. No doubt, from the perspective of The Fountain, he was making a great exception here, a terrible sacrifice, offering to take on—well, a woman.Miss Zendy did not appreciate that sacrifice. She merely felt assaulted. Eventually, she broke into tears. And she almost never cries. “Crying,” she likes to say, “is stupid.”But cry she did. And the tears kept coming. (I’ve seen this; it is a terrible thing.) She excused herself, went to the ladies’ restroom. She called a friend. “Say something about how it’s a nice day,” she sniveled. “Please say something nice.” She returned to the meeting and then excused herself, saying to The Fountain, “It’s been great meeting with you.”She walked straight out of the building and to her car. Shaky, she made her way home. Her cell phone rang again and again, but she ignored it. She ignored it for hours.“I am so very sorry,” said Dom, over the phone, hours later.
* * *
Circa October 2009So, when the time came, Miss Zendy applied for the new dean position. But then a big problem arose from out of nowhere.It was Gu Blathur, the Chance. The fellow hated Miss Zendy going way back. No doubt there were a small handful of faculty for which Blathur reserved his most intense hatreds. I’m sure that I was on that short list. (Still am.)And so was Miss Zendy.The Chance had called HR. He told a classified employee there—a Miss Toby—that applicants for the new IVC dean position must have the right degrees, and JDs are not the right kind. “But I think they are,” she said. “No, you will not accept applicants with only JD degrees,” he instructed her.And so she did as she was told. Naturally, Miss Zendy discovered that her application had been rejected. She found out why. She immediately made some phone calls. They led to a phone call to Dom.Dom was surprised. How could this be? Dom himself had a JD degree (i.e., he was an attorney). How could it be that someone with hisdegree was not qualified for a deanship at IVC? Surely there was some kind of misunderstanding here.He called HR and talked with Miss Toby. “Is it true that you are rejecting candidates with JD degrees?” “Yes,” she said. “But why?” “Those were the instructions I received.” “From whom?” “From the Chance.”Dom immediately went to Blathur. “Is it true,” he asked, “that you instructed HR to reject any applications for the dean position from applicants with JD degrees?” Blathur had been in such spots before. He knew what to do, of course.“Of course not!” he said. “Why would I do something like that?”It was clear, of course, that Blathur was simply lying. Why would Miss Toby make this story up? Blathur had been caught red handed, and he was going to handle it in his usual way. Baldface lying.Blathur had plainly lied in the face of the Dom. That was the beginning of the end for Blathur.Dom called Miss Zendy. “I don’t understand what’s going on here,” he said. “You are now in the loop,” she said. “Many of us have experienced Blathur’s lies and manipulations. And now so have you.”Miss Zendy had been among the perennial chorus of Blathur detractors. They had annoyed Dom. Dom had always blown that stuff off.He had been dead wrong. Blathur, it turned out, was exactly what his enemies said he was. Now, Dom was furious.He went to The Fountain. “Your boy Blathur instructed HR to reject applicants for the dean position if they have a JD degree,” he said. “Obviously, a JD degree should be sufficient!” But The Fountain was prepared. He simply disagreed with Dom’s assessment. The Chance, said The Fountain, was in the right. “You mean to tell me,” said Dom, “that I am not qualified for that silly dean position at IVC?” “No Dom,” said The Fuentes, “you are not qualified.” He was standing by his boy and he was dissing Dom and his JD.That was simply too much for Dom. Soon, he and The Fountain, the Boss Man, commenced screaming at each other. They nearly came to blows.There was no turning back now. Though Dom was smack dab in the middle of his big shot at the State Assembly—The Fountain was his campaign advisor—he was now going to sink that bastard Gu Blathur come hell or high water. If it meant going against the Big Boss Man, Mr. G.O.P., then so be it. It was going to be hard, very hard. But he would do what he had to do. (And, of course, he succeeded.)It was upon this point—this clash over the adequacy of the JD for a deanship and Blathur’s lie—that the destiny of the SOCCCCD turned. On this point, the board majority shifted against Blather and The Fountain. Now, nothing would ever be the same again.
JANUARY 31, 2009:
|Former Old Guardster|
The Accred letters were supposed to be faxed Friday morning (yesterday), but, somehow, that didn't happen. The ACCJC evidently explained to the college(s) that the letter(s) will be faxed to campus on Monday. What's that all about? Lots of rumors re the letters' content, but none to be taken seriously, I think. Still no word on the faculty contract. At this point, especially given the economic downturn, many faculty (or at least some--those with whom I speak) would be happy to get the 5% COLA and kiss the rest goodbye. But who knows what the union leadership is thinking or doing. Mathur continues to act like an asshole. We're moving closer to the "big day" for ATEP--that is, the City of Tustin's imminent rejection of our performance and direction (this concerns the "conveyance document" or some such thing). Naturally, Mathur acts as though it's smooth sailing. Meanwhile, he seems to be doing everything possible to build up ATEP simplex--so that we can say, "See, we're really moving along out here! There's so much momentum!" No doubt we'll be singing that tune to a judge by summer. Who knows what Monday will bring. Good news, I think, for the colleges.
Above: DtB YouTube video by R. Bauer
• Padberg: conservative, but generally goes along with the board core. At present, she is the chair, but the board has no real leader.
• Milchiker: generally reasonable though at times a bit of a loose cannon. If the board has a "left" (keep in mind that all members, save perhaps Prendergast, are Republicans), it might be Milchiker/Prendergast, though Jay, an old unionist, generally goes along. This group does not seem to be hostile to Padberg, despite some obvious ideological differences.
• Lang: since about 2005, Lang, a former moderate/liberal, has been under the thumb of Tom Fuentes, his mentor/patron. He's exhibited no change of direction now that Fuentes is gone.
• Meldau: intelligent, seemingly moderate, reasonable. A strong trustee, though perhaps not from the perspective of the union.
• Prendergast: seems reasonable though not as tied to the union perspective as one might suppose, given his background. Generally goes along with the moderate middle of the board. • Jay: old-fashioned and conservative, and yet a unionist. Generally reliable, though not always focused. Occasionally comes alive, his wits intact.
• Wright: promises to be an outstanding trustee. He was not bashful on his first night on the job. Seems reasonable, so far. I have high hopes.
• The election of 2012: Here's who's up (or not) for reelection: Padberg: not Milchiker: not Lang: YES Meldau: YES Jay: YES Wright: YES Prendergast: not It is hoped that Meldau and Wright will seek reelection (seems likely). Don't know what Jay has in mind, given his iffy health. And Lang?
Recently, Thomas Fuentes died after a very lengthy battle with cancer. In a fourteen or fifteen month period, Fuentes had attended only one meeting. He had no intention of resigning. Upon his death, the trustees quickly acted to set up a procedure for his replacement. In the end, two nominees were interviewed: Dr. James Wright, a respected Saddleback College administrator, and Jolene Fuentes, widow of Tom. Both did impressively well during the interviews, but Wright got the nod. His first meeting was on July 30, 2012. At that point the board was made up of seven fairly independent persons with (evidently) Lang the odd man out, having been a slavish partisan of Fuentes and his agenda, even in the months after Fuentes' death.•
It's been quite a while since my last update to this "story." Here's a quick overview of what's been happening:
By early 2011, trustee Don Wagner, an (ahem) strong personality (read "bully"), had moved on to his Assembly seat in Sacramento. He was replaced on the board by TJ Prendergast, a high school instructor with faculty- and education-friendly politics. He hasn't emerged as a strong leader, but he hasn't become a follower either. He's no bully.
Trustee John Williams, who resigned amid scandal (re his county gig) in late 2010, ran for his former office when trustee Mike Meldau, who had replaced him, oddly decided against running. But, likely owing to his infamy—for he then shone brightly as OC's Shitty County Government poster boy—Williams was defeated by fresh-faced "public affairs professional" Tim Jemal. Jemal, who seems to enjoy a good reputation, has not been around long enough to reveal his nature qua trustee, though he clearly aims to make a splash (he annoyed his colleagues by immediately requesting massive reports).
Trustee Tom Fuentes died last May (after over a year of moribund non-attendance), and that set into motion a lively process that yielded James Wright, the beloved retired SC faculty member and administrator, as his replacement. He's been pretty quiet, but, lately, he has revealed an independent streak, though its nature is not yet clear to me. There's no need for worry, I think.
So, at present, this is our board:
Nancy Padberg (board Prez): a right-wing conservative, but one who has moderated on many fronts over the years (or, perhaps, has increasingly opted for pragmatism). She wants to lead but can find no followers on this board. Still, she enjoys her authority, such as it is, and she seems mostly to stay out of trouble these days. Runs a fairly efficient meeting.
Dave Lang: during Fuentes' last few years, Lang, a midget Mephistophales, served as F's lackey; that even continued after Fuentes' passing; but Dave is slowly becoming himself again, which isn't that bad. He’s a bean counter to the core, though, and he likely continues to harbor political ambitions despite his disastrous bid for the OC Treasurer spot.
Marcia Milchiker: arguably the most consistently faculty-friendly trustee, but she can be easily swayed by others. Marcia could be a great #2, not a #1. She needs a strong leader. Now, who would that be?
Bill Jay: often in dire need of Red Bull; but otherwise reasonable, mostly. One senses, however, that he is comatose between monthly meetings. Monthly defibrillation required.
TJ Prendergast (VP): perhaps he has deferred overmuch to more senior trustees. (Has he replaced the execrable JW as the Faculty Association's champ?) Still, he's a good trustee, I think, and he occasionally makes smallish independent moves. He might step up to a leadership role one of these days. Don't be surprised.
Tim Jemal: he has an agenda of sorts—he seems especially interested in voc ed and college/business partnerships. He's accustomed to dealing with the OC business community, which is undeniably right-leaning, though he himself seems to be politically moderate. The board has no leader, it seems, but Jemal might end up with that role, if he wants it, and if he can just avoid stepping on too many toes. I'm sure he can.
Jim Wright: an intelligent guy who has generally proceeded with moderation and humility.
My guess is that the unions would offer a slightly less favorable take on this crew, especially Jemal. (A union member, I've never been the "contract is everything" sort.) Our board won’t look great to anybody focused entirely on the "contract." I'd be surprised, though, if the FA disagreed dramatically with the above.
So, as things stand, we've got the best board we've ever had, which, I know, isn't saying much, but it's a vast improvement over what we've generally been saddled with since 1996. At long last, it is roughly reasonable and jackass-free.
|The best board we've ever had|
STILL CLUELESS. The BOT can still be mighty clueless: the recent "debate" over the plight of part-time instructors made them look totally out to lunch. Let's hope they're listening to the chorus of complaint.
THE GARY FACTOR. Chancellor Gary Poertner is widely respected. He doesn't appear to have angered faculty, unlike his execrable predecessor. He's happy about having guided the board far away from its former political nature. The fact that, during most board meetings, I've got nothing to rail against pleases him no end.
Gary has turned out to be the reasonable, competent, excitement-averse, politics-eschewing guy we all expected him to be. Some of us do wonder, however, how he can condone Roquemore's endless reign of error. (Doesn’t he?)
PRESIDENTIAL DILAPIDATION. Tod Burnett, President of Saddleback, acts like a guy who expects NOT to get his contract renewed next year, for he's aggressively seeking a new gig. I don't expect him to be around much longer.
Glenn Roquemore, President of IVC, appears to be the beneficiary of some bizarre conservative BOT impulse. The faculty generally regard him as removed, ineffectual, and sub-collegiate. He's presided over a series of snafus born mostly of his own incompetence (and utter lack of vision) or the incompetence/visionlessness of his hires (people he typically refuses to fire well beyond their expiration dates).
•His VPI is smart but ruthless and even less interested in genuine shared governance than Glenn.
Roquemore plainly covets the Chancellorship!
ATEP FEUD. By all accounts, Burnett and Roquemore have been feuding over college ownership of ATEP, the district's third "campus," for years. A while back, Gary's had to step in and calm things down, making like Solomon. As things now stand, ATEP continues to be small potatoes, and there's no clear indication what it might become, if anything. It's been twenty years of chasing this dream, and all we've got to show for it is a tin village—which we recently traded away for more dirt.
ACCREDITATION/SLOs. Accreditation continues to be de stupid and dishonest escapade (de SADE) it has long been. Further, at the district level, massive efforts have been conducted to determine how many pinheads can dance during the daily civility inquisitions. That's been demoralizing among thinking people who sometimes ask themselves, hey, wouldn't it be great if we could concentrate on teaching?
Don’t be silly. We must "task" on data-driven instructional delivery, utilizing measurable civility promulgations in terms of clearly stated hierarchical desiderata.
• Raghu Mathur is rumored to be chomping at the bit for his chance to succeed Marcia Milchiker as trustee in area 5.
• (Note to Marcia: gosh you're good. Please don't leave us. Gary, talk to her, will you?) •
January 7, 2014
The district seems to be doing all right. Albeit clueless, the board isn’t the sort to cause problems where none exist (or so it seems to me). TJ Prendergast just stepped up as board President, and it should be interesting to see what he does with the job.
Recently, the board decided to renew the contracts of both IVC’s Glenn Roquemore and SC’s Tod Burnett. That was somewhat surprising; in the case of Roquemore, it’s hard to see what he hasn’t completely fouled up. In the case of Burnett, well, he sure acted like a guy who didn’t expect his contract to be renewed, what with his hard push to get a new gig somewhere on the coast.
I just don’t know what Poertner’s thinking. Surely he’s aware that Roquemore is both corrupt (hires) and incompetent (you name it). And what’s the board thinking (if anything)?
ATEP continues to be undefined. In recent years, a turf war has broken out if not between the two colleges then at least between the two college Presidents—yet another reason to dump those guys. And that’s forced Poertner to make like Solomon with ATEP and its relationship to the two colleges.
Our finances seem to be OK, I guess, though, more than a year ago, Roquemore’s hair was on fire because he “discovered” that, according to projections, revenue would continue to be flat while expenses would slowly rise. I still don’t understand how that could have been a surprise to him/them. The situation led to the usual unilateral Roquemorean spasms, which were somewhat mitigated by Academic Senate watchdoggery. It’s pretty clear on campus that Glenn and Co. have no idea how to run a college and, in particular, have no clue how to work with budgets. During the scramble to respond to the aforementioned “fiscal crisis,” a committee was charged with looking into the budget and looking for ways to increase revenue. Pretty basic questions about past actions re the budget produced “we don’t know” from Glenn and crew.
At IVC, governance and decision-making is so convoluted that nothing gets done and nobody knows what’s going on. People are told to participate in the process, but, often, when they do, they find that decisions are not made and questions cannot be answered. That has been the fate, for instance, of those who have worked through the process whereby money is requested for important tasks, hires, etc.
It now appears that the upshot of “Westphal v. Wagner,” the “prayer” lawsuit, which ended in a settlement requiring that an independent planning committee determine whether there will be a prayer at commencement, is, well, an embrace of bad faith by the district. Supposedly, Burnett is exploiting a “loophole” to enforce commencement prayers. My efforts to determine just who the planning group is at IVC has yielded a very fuzzy picture with no hope of clarity.
Gary and the district have decided, evidently, to give the Accreds whatever they want, and they don’t much care whether the solutions make any sense. I defy any educated person to read the so-called “five barriers” to civility and loveliness produced by the district and not guffaw. We have committees for everything, and most of them are dominated by the usual brainless Ed.Ds, a crew that make the Scholastics look positively sensible.
Among the many snafus at IVC is the Veterans Service Center. Glenn has always pursued the vets more with an eye to sound bites and photo ops than to actually doing any good, and, now, it really shows. The vet situation is a total mess, and Glenn’s point person seems to be Linda F, yet another deluded educationist who couldn’t run a Cub Scout Pack meeting.
The IVC Foundation is another fubar and, as usual, the key to the whole mess is Glenn’s lousy hire. As usual, Glenn’s response to criticism is doubling down on his support for his bad hire. He does not allow criticism, if he can help it.
July 10, 2014
• Below, I provide a kind of “state of the district” address. –For what it’s worth.
• Please feel free to disagree or chime in one way or another. Let’s do the “forum” thing.
Anything good to report?
Absolutely, though you sure don’t have to count on me to hear about it.
Not sure about Saddleback (I just haven’t kept track), but here at IVC, we’ve hired some terrific new faculty in recent years. Really good people, good scholars, good educators. I’m very impressed! And reassured.
And there are some wonderful programs at the colleges. There’s no point in naming names. We all know, I think.
It appears that, occasional desperate shrieks from college presidents to the contrary notwithstanding, our finances are in relatively good shape. In part that is owing to some of the board’s “conservative” policies. (No doubt the unions see the matter differently.)
Relative financial health is a big, big plus. Only time will tell whether our “basic aid” boondoggle, upon much of this grooviness really rests, will continue. I sure hope so.
The kids that come through our colleges continue to be very, very likeable—a chirpy crew that, generally, one is more than happy to educate. In general, they’re almost as charming as puppies and kittens. (Well, not quite.)
Obviously, lots of district/college employees, including some administrators, are good, hard-working people—the kind of people a guy is proud to know. They’re the reason that going to work in the good ol' SOCCCD, for most of us, is still enjoyable.
If you want to hear more positivity, that’s easily accomplished: just attend any board meeting or any one of the many college presidents’ public presentations. Those people never fail to lay it on pretty thick, like frickin’ molasses. Have at it.
Me, I’m into a more balanced account.
So what about the negatives?
•THE BUBBLE BOARD.
We (i.e., the district community) now enjoy the best board of trustees (BOT) ever. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. The SOCCCD’s BOTs have been penny dreadful from the start, often because they’ve been political (consider the original board and its loony “John Birch” conservatism!) or controlled by members seeking political careers (e.g., Frogue, Wagner, Fuentes, Williams, Lang, et al.).
The fact is that, despite its legacy of having overcome many serious challenges, our current board routinely reveals profound cluelessness.
This is wonderfully illustrated by a recent episode concerning part-time instructors. Fifteen months ago, a polite and articulate representative of the part-time instructors addressed the board, offering a reminder of that group’s continued plight: no benefits, lousy pay, poor student access, poor job security, etc. It is, of course, a fundamental truth about our system that it relies heavily on the exploitation of part-timers—who are poorly compensated, receive no benefits, and who possess virtually no real voice in governance or with regard to their workplace conditions. This truth is our great yet ignored failing, our Big Sin. Who would deny it?
It is a truth that our board evidently does not understand at all.
The board’s response to the part-timer? –Hostility and dismissal. (See here.) Evidently, they regard complaining part-timers as mere cranks.
Ridiculous. Absurd. Shameful. (It has always puzzled me that the faculty union, dominated by full-timers, has never really regarded this miserable status quo as intolerable. But they don’t run the district.)
In truth, The Seven wonderfully illustrate life in a perpetual Bubble.
BUBBULOSITY ABOUT LARGER ISSUES.
• Here’s more bubblosity. In the last decade, the higher ed “accreditation” system has been beset by loud and persistent complaints and even scandals, including recent developments that bring into question accred agencies’ fundamental competence and fairness. The situation is too big and complex to describe briefly, so I won’t try.
• The SOCCCD has of course taken the short view, the nearsighted view, on all of this, noisily concentrating on just giving the accreditors what they want--hardly the high road. Maybe they’re just scared shitless by the Accreds. Could be. In any case, they seem oblivious to the deeper issues at hand at the colleges (administrative incompetence & abuse, disastrous student realities) and generally fail to actually improve matters.
• Obviously (though not to the BOT, it seems), the accrediting system, especially the ACCJC, has become an unaccountable, secretive, and incompetent bureaucracy, a force for massive wastes of time and money (SLOs, etc.) and, in general, a clearing house for bad educationist “theory” and the wrong-headed directives that such thought has produced. Instead of joining with enlightened groups to combat this enemy of common sense and openness, the SOCCCD and its colleges have become the great appeasers of that hideous anti-intellectual, anti-democratic blob. Thus the obsession with “barriers to civility” and SLOs, which has occasionally made us look like a high school system. (Federal and state pressures to improve “student success” has also produced some dubious initiatives, burdened again by politics and the profoundly annoying “leadership” of folks with Ed.D. degrees.)
• You really should attend board meetings. You wouldn’t believe how much of meeting discourse proceeds in the spirit of the politician or the jargon-happy educationist. Everything and everybody is celebrated. Big fricking facts (e.g., profound student unpreparedness and pervasive disastrous student attitudes toward homework and commitment) go largely unmentioned. One is treated to an endless series of (often) meretricious dog and pony shows—impressive only to the clueless or the self-deceptive. (There are exceptions, of course. I do not deny that we have some terrific employees among faculty, classified, and administrators/managers. And admirable programs and initiatives, too. Pace.)
FEAR AND LOATHING IN IVC.
• Many of us at Irvine Valley College are dejected and dispirited because district leadership (i.e., the Chancellor and BOT) fails to perceive the painfully obvious: that much is wrong with the college and its top leadership. That leadership is largely incompetent (especially at the tip top) and it has long settled into a culture of bullying. To this, the BOT remain resolutely oblivious. We sure do draw attention to it here at DtB, but to no avail, it seems.
IT’S SOME KIND OF TECHNOLOGY PARK, I GUESS.
ATEP continues to be a problem for the district, a money pit and an emblem of continued wrong values. Unfortunately, the early development of that property occurred at the district’s historical nadir: the disastrous era of the “board majority” (c. 1996-200?). • Despite state law, which grants to faculty (not administrators) primary authority over the development of instructional programs, faculty have always taken a back seat in the development of ATEP and its programs. The latter endeavor has gone so badly that, after more than 15 years of effort and expense, ATEP remains a tiny tin school of who-knows-what. And faculty continue to be largely in the dark about the meaning and future of “ATEP” (the “advanced technology and education park”).
• Further, the presidents of the two colleges have long pursued a pissing contest over control of this dubious facility. The has annoyed the chancellor. But not enough.
A REVERSAL OF PROPORTIONS.
• A new 800 pound gorilla has entered the SOCCCD scene.
• The district has always been dominated by the larger Saddleback College (the district, of course, started with solitary Saddleback College nearly 50 years ago). To this day, the district is burdened by typical (and atypical?) large college/small college tensions.
• But now there’s surprising new writing on the wall, and it proclaims a massive change: Saddleback College has stopped growing; meanwhile IVC will grow tremendously. It’s just a matter of time: IVC will become the new “big sister” of the SOCCCD.
• One wonders if this approaching reality will cause certain heads, located 15 miles to the south, to simply pop. [END]
UPDATE June 17, 2016
(The last two years)
The ACCJC finally bites the dust
• In my last update, two years ago, I mentioned the growing political problems for our accreditor, the ACCJC. Since then, the shite has really hit the fan, and, in March of this year, the Governing Board has decided to pull ACCJC’s ticket. That occurred largely owing to the hoopla surrounding San Francisco City College, but, in truth, the problems with our accreditor ran much deeper. I fear that the replacement regime will be just as benighted, owing to continued reliance on the usual worthless Ed.Ds and their anti-intellectualist ways [yielding continued embrace of the discredited, or at least unsupported, "outcomes" learning philosophy]. Until something is done about that, nothing will work, accred-wise. (See Systematic Failures.) (See also Contra anti-intellectualism.) (See Fall of the House of Beno.) (For an account of the IVC academic senate's efforts to take the ACCJC to task for its embrace of a discredited [or at least unsupported] education philosophy, see here.)
Low morale; climate survey results hidden
• Clearly, serious issues remain at the good old SOCCCD. We continue to suffer low morale, especially, it seems, among classified. The last big district climate survey (See) revealed a disastrous state of affairs, moralewise, and Chancellor Poertner appears to have done little about it aside from hiding the report. (See buried and also written results of survey.)
• District (and college) leadership seems to be dropping the ball on all over the place. For instance, our colleges seem to be way below the average in our state in the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty (See.)Why’s that? The district, especially at IVC, seem always to have more money for new administrators or managers. What gives?
• Glenn Roquemore’s opaque and highhanded ways have inspired some curious developments. A case in point is the curious emergence of his PR person as campus bully and strongwoman, a rise culminating in her recent process-defying ascension to VP. (See here. Also: here and outrage.)
The Workday FUBAR
• VC Debra Fitzsimmons pushed for adoption of a software program called “Workday.” That has yielded a slowly unfolding fubar of enormous proportions. (See Workday doesn’t work.) There’s no end to the noise emitted by classified about the problems with that unfortunate program—and failures to recognize or deal with them. (See also Defending Fitzsimmons.)
•Creepy speakers; creepier hostility
• IVC experienced some excitement when Right-wing Christian provocateurs invaded campus, yielding campus discussion about the right of free speech (See here and here).
• The rumor is that Tod Burnett, Prez of Saddleback, is on his way out. Not sure why, but the rumor mill suggests that he’s really on some serious shit lists. As you know, he and IVC’s Glenn Roquemore have been squabbling over ATEP and territory for years. Maybe that’s got something to do with it.
A plague of d'Roquemore • IVC continues to be plagued by the incompetence and dark Nixonian ways of self-promoting Prez Glenn Roquemore, a fellow who is about to begin his fifteenth year as President(!). There have been countless public manifestation of Roquemore's incompetence as he presides over an ever worsening morale decline; but the board, as usual, seems oblivious. (Example of Roquemorian folly: here.)
The profit motive
• In recent years, it has become clear that among higher education’s mortal enemies is the for-profit segment (U of Phoenix and the like), which daily perpetrate scams on the poor, the clueless--and, of course, the American taxpayer. (Natch, the for-profit “system,” which depends on government student loans, has endlessly been defended by the GOP, which has lately emerged as the Plain-as-day Party of the Rich). Nevertheless, not long ago, Glenn Roquemore held a media event in which he noisily signed some sort of agreement with the U of Phoenix. We carped loudly about that one. Typical Glenn: make nice with the enemy, and smiling his plastic smile. (See Omnishambles II.) (See also Failure to communicate, Part III.)
The ATEP money pit deepens
• Believe it or not, ATEP continues to be a dream, not a reality. The money for building the first of two buildings (one for IVC, then one for SC, each of exactly equal size!) has been secured, and, who knows, maybe they’ll actually build it. But, as usual, despite the primary role given to faculty in the development of programs (by state legislation), faculty continue to be left largely excluded in deciding just what will be taught out there among the toxic waste.
• Speaking of toxic waste: Agran and Co’s “Great Park” boondoggle finally got taken away from that unsavory crowd (now it's with the Republicans!), which included PR man Arnold Forde. Forde, of course, is a key figure in the development of the seriously dirty politics of our era, especially among Republicans. (The late Tom Fuentes, who died in 2012 [while an SOCCCD trustee] worked, in his early years as a political functionary, with the remarkably unprincipled Mr. Forde. See The Bold and the Ruthless.)
• Meanwhile, OC continues in its role as a poster child for political corruption, GOP division. No Ethics oversight for the OC Board of Supes. Nope! • Nevertheless, at long last, pressure is mounting on the OC District Attorney, that paragon of vice. You’ll recall that Mr. Fuentes was very close to DA Rackauckas. (See here.)
IVC counselors vs. reason
• IVC faculty (in the School of Humanities & Languages) had a curious battle with the Counselors over control of the Women’s Studies Program. Luckily, IVC’s VPI, that ruthless fellow, isn’t dumb, and he sided with the former and helped slap back the latter. I predict that, in ten years, counselors will no longer be called “faculty.” (See Resolution of the Women’s Studies Imbroglio.) (Resolved.)
Saddleback's shrinkage amidst continued Saddlebackcentrism
• Facts is facts: as Saddleback College slowly sinks into a secondary role in the district, population-wise (they’ll deny this, of course), many of its denizens continue to imagine that that college is the center of the universe; and they are determined to construct an enormous new stadium befitting such a grand entity. Expect much Sturm und Drang over this. Some of the trustees (including current Board Prez Tim Jemal) seem prepared to just say no to the pro-stadium crowd.
• (We at DtB have long complained about the endless Saddlebackcentrism of the district, exhibited routinely by such board members as Mr. Wright, among others (see here). One manifestation: the board’s refusal to see the wisdom of moving district headquarters off of the SC campus to a more “neutral” location. See here.)
Armored vehicles on campus
• As you know, our nation is slowly sinking into a war between the Teabrains (aka gun-toters, aka Neanderthals, aka Trumpsters or knuckle-draggers) and the (barely) Thinking People. (That's us, I'm afraid.) Our district has done its share to manifest that struggle. Mr. Roquemore leads in this department. (See many instances sited on this page.) Burnett is often not far behind.
• One aspect of our general national sinkittude into Neanderthalism is the peculiarly hostile mentality of police around the country: evidently, they are at war with the people, and especially some people. (I've long thought that there will be no end to trouble with our police until way break the back of the locker-room culture that permeates it. Think of the Army, of high school sports, etc.)
• At one point, Saddleback’s police department actually secured some kind of military vehicle--it's big, like a tank--to be used, I guess, when our pesky kids finally decide to burn the college down. (As you’ll recall, that fear caused the district’s original board to belatedly change the design of the library, its first structure, removing all of its windows in order to make it into a fortress!) • Meanwhile, IVC’s police secured a bunch of anti-personnel batons. Not sure why. To beat on students, I guess. (Pace Chief Glen, who's generally an enlightened guy, especially for a cop.)
Veterans' counselor fiasco
Meanwhile, Glenn Roquemore continues to generate fubars, as he did in his efforts to provide for student veterans (one of his favorite dog und pony sideshows). He stepped in to secure his choice for veterans counselor, and that turned out to be an unqualified disaster. Nobody compares with Roquemore when it comes to disastrous hires (and violations of process). (See Vets FUBAR.)
The voice of part-timers • Recent years have seen the emergence of part-timer voices (See), at long last demanding to be heard. Still, that adjuncts are the much-agrieved slave labor of our system is beyond our board’s comprehension, evidently.
• Early in 2015, trustee Bill Jay passed. He was replaced by his widow, who, like Bill, seems to embrace Saddlebackcentrism. She's pretty chirpy though.
• In mid-2015, trustee Nancy Padberg, who had been dealing with poor health, finally resigned. She had suffered a bad fall a year earlier. She was replaced in August of 2015 by Saddleback nurse Terri Whitt, a move that fuelled fears among IVCers who have long complained about the board's unconsious Saddlebackcentrism. Poertner resigns: July 2016. At the recent board meeting, tensions arise between administrators and trustees. IVC's budget guy, Davit K, outlines a budget crisis, largely caused by all those recent raises that the board approved. So Lang asks: did we know that we'd get into this budget trouble when we went along with all those raises? The budget guy (Davit K) and VC Fitzsimmons say, "yep." Lang says that he doesn't "remember that conversation." Awkward. A few days later, the district informs everyone that Poertner will resign that day. Huh? What? VC Fitzsimmons is appointed acting Chance. Rumors swirl. Is Tod B in trouble? Why did Gary resign? I hear about lousy morale down at Saddleback. We know it's lousy at IVC. What's it all mean? Many of us feel that the board ought to find someone from outside to take the reins. We need new people, and we may as well start at the top. But this board seems determinedly clueless, so who knows. If we end up with either Burnett or Roquemore as Chancellor, expect an explosion of disgust.
UPDATE: September 17, 2016
|YAF leader with felon/Republican.|
Vice Chancellor Deb Fitzsimons became the Interim Chancellor—evidently, she has made it clear that she doesn’t want the permanent gig, what with her plan to go live with her ailing mother, and so her appointment has inspired no gnashing of teeth among the crew of Ambitious Ones. A full-on search is in the works. The board just hired a consulting firm to solicit and select candidates.
Lots of rumors are swirling in the district and its colleges. One particularly strong rumor has it that Saddleback President Tod Burnett is a dead man walking. Why? Not sure.
One story is that he demanded of his underlings that they sign a loyalty oath. The recently exiled (from Saddleback, to IVC) Chris McDonald, once Dean of M, S, and E (and later dean of “Institutional Effectiveness”) is rumored to be one (of two?) who refused to “sign.” Hence the exile (in June). At the July board meeting, two Saddleback bio faculty, speaking for many "faculty and staff," addressed the board, noting that McDonald is popular with faculty and that he has been “the victim of lies” (to the effect that he is a bully, that he is abusive, etc.). One speaker requested reevaluation of the transfer decision and examination of the “personal agenda of those who slandered his name.” Another speaker, the faculty chair of Accreditation, got up to commend Gary Poertner’s efforts as Chancellor. That might suggest that the villain of the McDonald story is someone other than Poertner.
|Targeted: Chris McDonald|
|Speaking for many |
faculty and staff
I’ve heard other rumors—reliable ones, I think—involving other district administrators claiming misconduct on the part of colleagues. Something serious. No doubt some of that will come to light at some point.
I’m told that the board is divided; hence, the lack of timely decision-making and controversy-settling.
The two colleges are gearing up for the all-important Accreditation review process, involving, as it does, the composing of the usual comprehensive and incomprehensible “self-studies.” Meanwhile, the Accreditor (the odious ACCJC) is also a Dead Man Walking, having been sent their walking papers by the Board of Governors a year or so ago. But the state system’s transition from the ACCJC to a yet-to-be-determined successor is expected to take YEARS. It’s an odd situation: we’re being reviewed by an organization that has been reviewed and has been found wanting to the point that it has been sent packing. Writing dubious jargony reports for review by a lame duck organization. That's us, boy.
Recently, groundbreaking for the first BIG building at ATEP—the 30K s.f. IVC Building—occurred, with the usual hoopla. No doubt, the crowd was all smiles. IVC’s Glenn Roquemore and Co. are said to hate (yes, hate) SC’s Burnett, owing to the latter’s greedy eyeing of ATEP and even IVC’s traditional geographical purview (namely, everything north of El Toro Road). Perhaps the ongoing pissing contest between Burnett and Roquemore had something to do with the recent retirements. Not sure.
There’s talk again of looming and dire budget shortfalls, evidently caused by a steady rising of costs not offset by savings or income. Meanwhile, in recent years, SC’s enrollments (in our system, each college's budget is keyed to enrollments) have been flat or worse while IVC’s are healthy, owing, no doubt, to the construction fever that has infected the City of Irvine for several years now and doesn't look like its stopping any time soon.
There've been some curious episodes. One is worth mentioning. The district’s current board is probably the least political, and least conservative, since the district’s founding in the late 60s. (That’s not saying much. The SOCCCD has been saddled with some seriously right wing boards.) Still, until a few years ago, the board was very conservative, dominated by the likes of Don Wagner (and, starting in the summer of 2000, Tom Fuentes). It was an incarnation of this arch-conservative board that, back in the mid-to-late 90s, pushed back against student protests and critical studentular speechifyin’ via various dastardly and ad hoc means.
Now back to 2016. The SOCCCD, and especially IVC, have developed a cult of death otherwise known as perennial 9-11 commemoration ceremonies. Flags are waved, tears are shed, heroes are identified, Republicans staunchify, etc.
A group of kids at Saddleback wanted to restart their “Young Americans for Freedom” club (the YAF is a curiously retrograde cold war throwback), which had somehow lapsed as officially recognized since last semester. They were told which forms they must fill out and turn in to be back in good standing. Meanwhile, they organized a suitably flag-waving and freedom-loving 9-11 event, but they ran into trouble owing to a failure to turn in the proper forms. These kids had also run around campus, promiscuously posting lurid “never forget” 9-11 posters. Unfortunately, said kids were unware of, or otherwise failed to honor, the aforementioned AR8000, which designates special “free speech” zones where such posters must be posted.
A few days before the 9-11 events, History professor Margot L, well-known for her left-leaning politics, detected these illegal posters and commenced taking them down (natch, she left posters in the “free speech” zone unmolested). One or some of the YAP kids videotaped her efforts and then sent the footage to the usual places. (That’s what right wingers do these days. It's all about viral video causing a splash.) It ended up in the loutish world of right wing social media and news: Breitbart.com, the Blaze, Fox News, etc. Soon, these places were promulgating the video footage, asserting, cluelessly and hysterically, that the college, and certainly the instructor, were Liberal/Leftist fascists thwarting the free speech of conservative students who only sought to commemorate the events of 9-11. Natch, that produced the expected outpouring of vitriol and bile from hundreds of anonymous liberal-hating louts, virtually all targeting the instructor. Among the places receiving such comments: Saddleback College’s Facebook page, where one could find commenters advocating ramming the instructor’s (i.e., the “cunt’s”) teeth down her throat.
|Lovett: thrown under the bus|
As near as I can tell, Saddleback College responded to the situation by throwing the instructor under a bus. Despite complaints, the disturbing/violent comments on the Facebook page oddly remain, despite assurances by the college PIO that problematic comments would be deleted, and the leader of the YAF kids (responsible for the outpouring of wrong-headed fulminations about Liberals oppressing conservatives) was invited to SC’s 9-11 commemoration ceremony to lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.
So things are about normal around here, I suppose.
September 20, 2016: Saddleback College announces the retirement of President Tod Burnett:
|Appearing on Saddleback College's Facebook page|
"Dr. Burnett plans to serve until June 30, 2017. A nationwide search will commence for his replacement."
The truth is that I've been pretty busy—and preoccupied—with the care of my parents, who are quite old and feeble and difficult to care for. And so I've not been keeping up with things at the colleges/district. Haven't attended recent board meetings. Not getting around much.
Still, I'll lay out what I know or think I know.
As you know, Gary Poertner suddenly quit as Chancellor a while back. He was pressing the board to dump Saddleback College President, Tod Burnett, a fellow Gary held in very low regard. When the board, which is split on Burnett, failed to take action (and met, sans Gary), Gary was fed up, and that was that. He booked. (New Boardster, Terri Whitt, is a big fan of Burnett, I hear.)
Burnett has since announced his resignation, and he is supposed to leave in June, but I keep hearing that he might leave before that. January maybe.
I hear that there are serious problems among top administrators down there at Saddleback. It's a viper's nest. Just like up here at IVC. There are some good people, but ....
I keep hearing about an investigation going on down there at Saddleback. Something about hiring practices. Discrimination? HR isn't in charge of the investigation, cuz it's in the crosshairs too. It's a big deal, I'm told. Heads will roll, I guess.
And I keep hearing about yet another investigation up here at Irvine Valley College. Something about hinky hiring. Heads will roll on this one, too, I'm told. Well, the persistent hinkitude of hires at IVC is dang obvious to anyone who pays attention. Glenn and Craig (and now just Glenn) sure do run a curious operation. I'm glad some entity is looking into it, whatever "it" is, if such is the case.
As you know, Dean Chris McDonald was moved up to IVC from Saddleback last summer. Under a cloud. Maybe whatever happened at Saddleback that led to his curious migration north relates to the above-mentioned investigation. Dunno.
McDonald came up here just as Craig Justice "retired" from the all-powerful VPI role. And so, now, McDonald is the acting VPI, despite his lack of experience, and that's been a tad rocky. (McDonald was thrown the Accreditation hot potato, and so he's been squirmin' and dancin' over that. At one point, he tried to solve a problem with "course outlines of record"—they're supposed to include SLOs [student learning outcomes] and ours don't—by buying a rubber stamp and stamping "SLOs here" on the part of the outline listing "learning objectives." When that didn't fly [what was he thinking?], McDonald scrambled anew, and that's caused a bit of a ruckus at the IVC senate, pitting senate leadership against McDonald. That's all settled now. I think people don't like McDonald's car [a pricey Porsche 911], and its license plate. Whatever, man.)
Will McDonald be hired as the new (permanent) VPI, despite his obvious lack of experience? We'll find out soon, I'm told.
Recently, IVC President Roquemore got yet another three year contract.
I take it back. This isn't the best board we've ever had. I hate them.
Did I mention that morale is in the toilet?
I hear that both Tod and Glenn are Trumpsters.
Perfect. Trump world. I think Der Spiegel has it right.