A Tangled Web at Berkeley – forwarded to you from Aptos, CA

Aptos, CA 831 688-6002
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A Tangled Web At Berkeley
By John Ellis
Minding the Campus | Wednesday, April 08, 2009

In his Prologue to the Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer distills the betrayal of trust by corrupt public servants into a memorable expression: “If gold rust, what shall iron do?” This is the metaphor that his honest parson lives by, and it reflects on the venal churchmen among the pilgrims who betray the ideals of the church and set a terrible example when they should be a guiding light.

This theme—one of high expectations for integrity cruelly disappointed—is timeless: it is exemplified yet again by the sorry tale of malfeasance in the Chancellor’s office at UC Berkeley that follows. Yet Chaucer’s miscreants are not cardinals and bishops, but only a lowly monk, friar and pardoner, while Chancellor Robert Birgeneau of UC Berkeley is the leader of the flagship campus of the greatest public system of higher education in the world.

And while Chaucer’s folk cloak their transgressions in the mantle of devotion, Birgeneau wraps his in the mantle of diversity. Already in late 2007 California’s deteriorating budget led to reductions in UC’s state support, and President Robert Dynes announced that his system-wide staff would be reduced. A severance pay incentive was offered to those who retired voluntarily, but when the Regents were asked by recently appointed President Mark Yudof in November 2008 to approve severance pay of $100,202 for Linda Williams, alarm bells went off: Williams had transferred from her job as Associate President in system headquarters to the position of Associate Chancellor at nearby UC Berkeley without missing a day’s employment. She sought severance pay though she had never been severed. Astonishingly, President Yudof recommended it and the Regents approved the recommendation.

It said much about the entitlement mindset at UC that top administrators were surprised by the outcry that followed. The public easily grasped that it was offensive for Williams to ask for $100K of public money as a “severance package,” but that simple point seemed lost on UC’s leadership. President Yudof hid behind the notion that the rules for UC’s buyout program were not his responsibility, having been written before he took office. That left an obvious question unanswered: why didn’t he tell Williams that what she was asking was unseemly, and that it would be an embarrassment to the university if he sought regent approval of this payment when a deepening financial crisis was forcing an increase in student fees? The culture of administrative self-serving in the President’s office that had brought down the presidency of Bob Dynes was apparently still in place—a great disappointment for those who hoped that Yudof would be a new broom.

Evidently feeling exposed in an indefensible position, Williams released a statement saying that the Berkeley job opportunity came up after she had applied for the buyout from her UCOP job and had “therefore played no role whatsoever in my decision making.” In other words, she had not arranged a transfer from one office to another within UC, but instead resigned one job and later found another. This was not true.

Williams applied for the severance payment on January 22, 2008, a day after the Daily Californian, the campus newspaper, reported the announcement of her new job.

A request by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jim Doyle under the Freedom of Information Act produced additional damning evidence. Already on January 18, a UC Berkeley organizational chart had shown Linda Williams as Associate Chancellor. Chancellor Birgeneau had discussed the position with Williams as early as November 7 of the previous year. The FOIA material included a January 18 memo from Williams saying “The news is all over the place… getting the announcement out will be helpful.” Doyle’s material also confirmed that the Berkeley post was filled without competition—it was indeed a transfer without an application process.

Much more serious for the campus was how the FOIA material implicated Chancellor Birgeneau in the deception. Birgeneau had backed Williams’ false account by telling the SF Chronicle in December of 2008 that Williams “applied for the severance program before the Associate Chancellor position became available and before I offered her the position.” This was not true. The material in the stories in the Daily Californian and the SF Chronicle made it clear that the Berkeley job was essentially a done deal well before Williams’ application for severance.

Worse yet, more disinformation came from Birgeneau’s spokesman Dan Mogulof. In December 2008, rejecting the suggestion that Williams’ new position had been created specially for her—one acutely embarrassing for the official version—Mogulof told Jim Doyle that she took the job of retiring chief of staff John Cummins. That also was not true. Cummins’ position as Associate Chancellor and chief of staff was assumed by someone else, and Williams’ job was created by making a new position out of some of the less central functions of Cummins’ job. That’s right: during a budget crisis Birgeneau beefed up his administration with an extra Associate Chancellor position at a $200K salary.

But the FOIA material had still another effect: it shredded President Yudof’s defense of his actions. Birgeneau and Williams were now in an acutely embarrassing position. Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof then told a story to tell which insulted the intelligence of his listeners. The impression created by Williams that she was unaware of future Berkeley employment was “unintentional,” said Mogulof. But what she had said was clear and categorical: the Berkeley position “played no role whatsoever (my italics) in my decision making” because it was not open at the time of the severance application. What could be unintentional about that? Mogulof went on to say “We had no reason to be intentionally misleading.” Another of Mogulof’s gems was this: “We sacrificed clarity and detail for the sake of brevity.” By telling that story, presumably at the behest of Birgeneau, the spokeman destroyed his own credibility.

Birgeneau’s next move was exceptionally sordid. He wrote an op-ed for the Daily Californian touting his dedication to equity and inclusion, then complained of lingering racism on campus: “Most recently, there have been scurrilous attacks with outright misrepresentation of facts by print media, bloggers and even some of our own faculty and staff against Associate Chancellor Linda Williams, the first African-American woman to serve on the Chancellor’s Cabinet in Berkeley’s 141-year history…. Many members of our African-American community are rightly outraged by the media harassment of a successful and accomplished black woman and see these actions as creating a chilling climate for all African-Americans on campus.” No details of the alleged “misrepresentations” were given and an email asking for examples was not answered.

Desperate to save himself from the consequences of his duplicity, Birgeneau was willing to whip up racial strife on campus to create a smokescreen. But throughout this story, administrative self-serving, bloat and deceit were always entwined with the issue of diversity.

In the Latin mottos of the nation’s great universities, one word appears again and again: Veritas, meaning truth. Yale’s motto is Lux et Veritas (Light and Truth), Harvard’s is Veritas. Northwestern elaborates: Quaecumque Sunt Vera (Whatever is True), as does Miami University: Magnus est Veritas (Great is the Truth).

Universities put the concept of Truth up front for a reason. General Motors should be truthful about its cars, but its business is cars. Truth is our business. That’s what we academics deal in. Whether in the classroom or in research, knowledge is only knowledge if it’s based in truth. One lesson of this story is that the concern with diversity must never trump the academy’s core value, Veritas.

A university that stops caring about truth will soon be of no use to anyone, minorities included. When a great university is led by someone who misleads seemingly without compunction, contrition, or consequences, it is sick at its core.

Each year, thousands of fresh-faced undergraduates come to UC to be initiated into a campus culture that is dominated by the idea of Veritas. It is painful to picture this innocent young flock being watched over by Chancellor Birgeneau. Once again, Chaucer captured the essence of the situation in another memorable line in his Prologue, one which, in the interest of delicacy, we’ll leave in Chaucer’s Middle English original:

For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
And shame it is, if a preest take keep,
A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.

What works educating young children with autistic spectum disorders

Aptos, California
(831) 688-6002

* Begin educational services as soon as a child is suspected of having an autistic spectrum disorder.

* Services should include a minimum of 25 hours a week, 12 months a year.

* What constitutes those 25 hours will vary according to the child’s chronological age, developmental level, specific strengths and weaknesses and family needs.

* Each child needs sufficient individualized instruction on a daily basis so objectives are implemented effectively.

* Objectives include achieving functional spontaneous communication, social instruction delivered throughout the day in various settings, cognitive development and play skills, and proactive approaches to behavior difficulties.

Source: Educating Children with Autism, Natioal Academy Press, 2001

Aptos starts coalition to pressure Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors to slash government salaries

Troubled by recent government spending?

Join other Aptos residents to pressure local Santa Cruz County government to cut recent HUGE increases in top county salaries. See recent letters to Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 8, 2009.

Of course administrators such as the CEO for County of Santa Cruz has her hand out for more money. You can’t blame people for asking. You can blame those who gave the huge increases. That’s the Board of Supervisors.

Contact Cameron Jackson at cameronjacks@gmail.com for information. Join Facebook and get your friends to add their two cents.

Look for APTOS SLASHER on Facebook. That is Cameron Jackson on Facebook. Together let’s SLASH those HUGE, wasteful increases! Let’s start our Aptos Tea Party opposed to huge increases in gevernment spending. Cameorn Jackson 831 688-6002

Push the reset button says Aptos resident Dale Bridenbaugh

from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Opinion page, April 8, 2008
[bold added by Cameron Jackson, 831 688-6002]

“Thank you for calling attention to the large Santa Cruz County administrative pay increases reported in the Sunday, April 5 edition. With the hue and cry hyped nationally over unearned bonuses of AIG and others, it is easy to not see the microcosm happening locally. A 27 percent increase of a $200,000 plus salary (exclusive of the generous benefits package) is reminiscent of the millions of “bonuses” awarded to those on Wall Street. A similiar reporting that at least two assistants earned more than $200,000 “with overtime” is equally disturbing. Many small business owners in the county are working long hours of “overtime” just to stay afloat. If overtime hours are needed by county executives in these challenging times, they should be worked without extra compensation just as the majority of county’s taxpayers do to survive (or not). With businesses closing, retiree’s benefits eroding by 40 percent or more and large layoffs taking place, it is time to “reset” the economy to a more fair and equitable basis. Time magazine’s cover story last week argues that such a reset would likely be good for the country, and it can be argued that a similiar rest is past due here at home.”
Dale Brideenbaugh, Aptos

Santa Cruz County leadership at its worst says Aptos resident Mark Willaman

from Santa Cruz Sentinel, Opinion page, April 8, 2009 [bold added by Cameron Jackson]

“I am the CEO of a software and service firm headquartered in Santa Cruz County. Although profitable, we froze salaries for all employees in 2008 pending a better economy. I took a pay cut. These prudent cuts helped us avoid making a single layoff. So it was with absolute disgust I heard about the pay raises of Santa Cruz executives. Their actions represent everything wrong with our nation and showcase leadership at its worst. In the midst of an historic recession when the county is losing money and cutting budgets, jobs and teachers, these bureaucrats have the audacity to raise their pay. Their excuse? To retain top talent. Hogwash. If they had any talent, the country would not be in its current shape. Where is the accountability? Shame on all of you who took part in this grotesque display of leadership.”
Mark Williams, Aptos

How dumb can you get? Never in Aptos, but YES in San Francisco!

No Aptos, CA smart lawyer would do this!
Get this. A San Francisco attorney changed his vote while serving on a jury because:

1) his wife told him to do so;
2) he went out and looked at the scene of events and thus knew more;
3) to return to work.

Answer: Number three. The lawyer simply wanted to go back to work.

In a possibly unprecedented case, a San Francisco lawyer faces disbarment because he changed his vote to break the deadlock in order to return to work.

This is frm California Bar Journal, April 2009. And what do you think of that?? There is “stupid is” and “stupid does”. This is an example of “stupid does”. And maybe also is “stupid is”.

Educating Children with Autism

Below is an excellent review of a book on autism I just bought through Amazon. A good read for a rainy day in Aptos, California.

Title: Educating Children with Autism
Author: National Research Council
Publisher: National Academy Press

A profound and arresting analysis of interventions, January 30, 2003
By John Harpur

My contact with autistic children and teenagers is primarily through research into social skills teaching. I have a assembled a small library of key texts and until I read this one, I found my library incomplete in one area – a review of intervention programmes. This book is simply superb is its coverage of the various principles that inform current interventions, its analysis of the outcomes of several commonly cited progrmmes, and the scope for future work.

However, this book is not ‘selling’ any particular intervention and that may dismay some parents particularly. It is geared more towards informing professionals in the field about options, choices and consequences associated with interventions. And boy is it thorough!

There is a huge amount to be gained from this book. I found reading it to be very stimulating but pleasurably slow, since every page has thought provoking observations.

I would certainly recommend that anyone pursuing interventions not pass over this book, be they parent, teacher or health professional. I genuinely cannot see this book disappointing an interested party. Parents of children with Asperger Syndrome may feel a little let down however, given the lack of attention their special requirements. Other books, such as Succeeding with Interventions for Asperger Syndrome Adolescents, may be of help to them.

To see other reviews go to Amazon.

St. John’s Espiscopal church moves to Aptos

buildingahomesign
Know where the best gas station is in Aptos? Yes, it is the Unocal gas station near the entrance to Sea Cliff State Beach. They are the best gas station in Aptos because they have real mechanics that FIX cars.

Across the street from the Unocal gas station, thre used to be a large field. Low income housing built on one parcel. More low income housing comes soon. There is a sign saying that a park is coming. Dont hold your breath.

And in that field, across from the best gas station in Aptos, is where St.John’s Episcopal Church moves soon. Very soon.

Soon, St. John’s will knock on neighborhood doors. They will ask you a few questions. Such as: What do you like about the community? How can St. John’s as a church be a Good Neighbor? What hopes and dreams do you have for your community?

You can check out St. John’s web site at: http:www.sjlife.org

substantial communication AND social delays in small children?

Does your child have substantial communication AND social delays? Live in Monterey, Santa Cruz, Sen Benito or Santa Clara County?

If under age 3, call San Andreas Regional Center and ask for Early Start services (for ages 0 to 3). San Andreas Regional Center has offices in Watsonville (831) 728-1781, Salinas (831) 759-7500) Gilroy (408) 846-8805 and Campbell (408) 374-9960. Visit the regional center web site at www.sarc.org


If over age 3,
also call San Andreas Regional Center and ask for an evaluation for autism. Call your local elementary school and in writing request assessment for “autistic-like” education services. Keep a copy of your school request and send a second copy if you do not hear back in two weeks. And go to your pediatrician for a hearing and vision assessment and physical check up. Ask ahead of time whether your doctor uses CHAT or some other rating scale for autistic spectrum symptoms.

If your pediatrician does not use an autistic spectrum rating scale, ask for one from Dr. Cameron Jackson. She will send one to you to fill out and take to your MD and appointments with health professionals.

You can email Dr. Jackson at DrCameronJackson@gmail.com or call (831) 688-6002. Dr. Jackson specializes in psychological assessment including the diagnosis and treatment of autistic spectrum disorders. Her office is in Santa Cruz, CA.