Thursday, September 22, 2005

The SMC Corsair's News Coverage

I am happy to announce that yesterday, September 21, 2005, the Santa Monica College newspaper, The Corsair, gave us a front page feature story. I commend SMC's courage in writing and publishing this article. Hopefully, the article will soon be online at the Corsair's website. In the meantime, you can check out more on the SMC Corsair article on our official SAVE SMC Website. You can read the article by clicking on PART 1 and PART 2 on our site.

It is interesting to see that no one from SMC's administration was available for comment. Also, it is interesting to see that SMC's Campus Police Department filed formal charges against the SMC photojournalist for taking a photograph of the president, Thomas Donner, being served a copy of the lawsuit on behalf of defendant, Santa Monica Community College District under the guise of "disturbing the peace." The weekly incident log for September 2005 states the following:

PENAL CODE-MISD. 415 Pc Disturbing The Peace SEP 8 2005-Thursday 05-09-08-19099

People? Do they mean the SMC Corsair photojournalist and the process server? Those are the only two people I am aware were there at the time of this alleged incident. Isn't serving someone with a lawsuit a protected right? Furthermore, isn't it our constitutional right to have freedom of press? According to the Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines School District, "students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate." (393 U.S. 503). The Court further stated, as cited in the online article, Unfettered Press, Constitutional Protection (by Robert S. Peck): "In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved....Students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views."

Unauthorized photos? Since when in the history of important news events does a photojournalist stop to ask permission to take a photo or a video tape? Would the LAPD grant permission to the video taper of the Rodney King beating? Unlikely? Would we, as the public, have had access to this crucial event if the video tape was classified as unauthorized and incriminating? Of course we wouldn't. The service of process of the SMC president was an important news event for the SMC community. To threaten the photojournalist with criminal sanctions was, in our opinion, unreasonable and another instance of abuse of the SMC Police Department whose own mission is "service to students and community." By filing criminal charges against an SMC student for documenting a legal event as it pertains to our access to public records, we allege that SMC was not serving the students or the community, but serving instead the president of the school and its own self-serving interests.

California Penal Code 415 states:

415. Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment and fine:
(1) Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person in a public place to fight.
(2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise.
(3) Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.

According to the above law, neither the SMC Corsair photojournalist nor the process server broke this law. They did not fight, they did not make loud and unreasonable noise, nor did they use offensive words. In fact, the Corsair photojournalist did not say one single word! The process server only said, in a very quiet voice, those words necessary to effectuate the service of process of the Verified Complaint and Petition under the CPRA. Yet, Gina Cole, an employee of SMC, stated to both the process server and the SMC Corsair photojournalist, "Please leave. Campus Police will be out there to meet you." We'll leave it to you, dear readers, to decide if Gina Cole was in violation of Penal Code 415 when she made that statement.

In any event, given these charges against the SMC Corsair photojournalist, it is a miracle that the SMC Corsair had the courage to publish this article on behalf of SMC. Our unending thanks goes out to SMC Staff Writer Tiffany Franklin for maintaining both her journalistic integrity and courage to take this assignment and to write such an objective article.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rats Always Flee a Sinking Ship

A quick little lesson on self-serving interests among our SMC administration...

On or about 1991, Piedad Robertson becomes Secretary of Education for the State of Massachusetts. How did she fair in this position? According to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

"Angry over budget cuts and what they call a void in leadership, faculty unions at public colleges in Massachusetts are passing votes of "no confidence" in the Secretary of Education, Piedad Robertson. The goal is "to call the public's attention to the fact that the system is being gutted," says David Lenson, president of the faculty union at the University of Massachusetts system. "It's fallen on the faculty's shoulders to defend these colleges. Nobody else is doing it."

Eventually receiving a vote of no confidence, Robertson moves on to Santa Monica College around 1995 where she serves as president until on or about January 2005. Again receiving a second no vote of confidence, she leaves SMC to become President of ECS on or about February 1, 2005.

Here's a little snippet about Robertson's second vote of no confidence at SMC from the June 17, 2004 article published online by the San Francisco Chronicle:

The only reason there are spaces at Santa Monica Community College is that the college cut classes by 26 percent this past academic year, and reduced its enrollment by an astonishing 6,000 students. Enrollment plunged from 31,000 to 25,000 this year -- a precipitous drop experts say has never been equaled in state history. The college was put on the state's watch list of colleges with severe fiscal problems -- where it remains today. The college's Academic Senate overwhelmingly approved a no-confidence motion -- by 413 to 68 -- in Piedad Robertson, the college president.

According to the ECS website:

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) is an interstate compact created in 1965 to improve public education by facilitating the exchange of information, ideas and experiences among state policymakers and education leaders. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization involving key leaders from all levels of the education system, ECS creates unique opportunities to build partnerships, share information and promote the development of policy based on available research and strategies.

Can Robertson, as the newly founded President of the ECS "improve public education"? Well, let's see what she's accomplished while at SMC. According to the CSEA/CLASSIFIED STAFF ACCREDITATION SELF STUDY ADDENDUM ( Accreditation%20Self%20Study%20Addendum%2003-23-04.doc), here's a breakdown of what Robertson left in her wake as President of SMC:


The true story of Santa Monica College under the current administration and the current Board of Trustees is a cautionary tale for the future of publicly funded institutions of higher education. While the classified staff acknowledges that it would be counterproductive to deny Santa Monica College accreditation at this time, we would be remiss if we did not advise the Accreditation Panel of the breakdown of the system of governance at SMC and the deleterious consequences this has had on the College, financially, operationally, and academically. If a self-study is to be meaningful in any sense of the term, it must address the issues that impact the core business of the organization with a view toward improving that organization’s ability to adapt to the inevitable changes that present themselves.

While any organization inherently has conflicts, the intensity, duration, and intransigency of the conflicts at SMC absorb much of the valuable time of the administration and employees at the College. The disagreement between the stakeholders at the College has led to a series of decisions that cannot be justified as being in the best interests of the student body or the community that the College purportedly serves. The genesis of these conflicts was a decision by the Board of Trustees to hire Dr. Piedad Robertson, an administrator with a documented history of problematic relationships with employees, resulting in two prior statewide votes of no confidence, and an ideological bent toward privatization of services in the public sector. The rationale for the Board’s choice was that they wanted to concentrate their efforts on expansion of SMC’s facilities and felt that Dr. Robertson would achieve that goal.

We will demonstrate to the Accreditation Committee how things went awry at SMC. We will demonstrate how local control has failed. We will demonstrate how the shared governance process has failed. We will show what attempts were made to improve matters at the College and how all such attempts were rebuffed. We will outline how the District ignored and undermined the feedback loops that a well-functioning organization relies on. We will layout how mistakes were made and how they can be prevented in the future. From the evidence the Accreditation Committee can to draw its own conclusions and consider the broader implications of the SMC experience.


Examples of failed SMC leadership:
· Nine academically viable vocational education programs that were successfully placing students in the workforce were eliminated.
· The College was placed as a priority one on the State’s fiscal watch list.
· Management costs at SMC are at an all time high. Despite recent reductions, they are still 80% greater than they were in 1995.
· $5 million was spent on enterprise management software that the College never implemented.
· The level of and total of expenses for contracting out and consultants are at an all time high.
· The frequency and expense for litigation are at an all time high.
· The morale and engagement of the College’s employees is at an all time low.
· The classified staff and faculty nearly unanimously (85%) voted that they had no confidence in the President’s ability to lead the College.
· Sixty authorized classified positions were never filled. In addition, 10% (40) of the existing staff has been reduced, leaving about 400 employees faced with the impossible task of doing the work of 500.
· The College has aggressively and prematurely acquired property it cannot possibly use without substantial further investment of operating funds it has not budgeted.
· None of the campus computer labs that had weekend hours are any longer open on weekends.
· The newly constructed library is closed on weekends, though the old library was once open on weekends.
· Student enrollment is down 17% from last year vs. the statewide average.
· There is up to a 12-week waiting period for financial aid awards.
· There is a 30% student dropout rate.
· The Admissions Office has suspended all its evening hours and also closes student services early Friday afternoon.

Hmm... this doesn't paint a favorable light toward Robertson's role of improving public education. Maybe this is just one person's opinion. So, let's see what another source has to say...

The Ocean Park Gazette published an article on October 26, 2004 entitled "Trustees chair goes from gavel to rubber stamp." Carl Gettleman and Phil Hendricks voice their opinion as follows: "At Santa Monica College, the Chair of the Board of Trustees long ago traded her gavel for a durable rubber stamp. Margaret Quiñones and Piedad Robertson found a way to turn that rubber stamp into an ATM."

So, here's a few excerpts of how Robertson turned SMC into their own personal ATM:

Governor Schwarzenegger's and his Education Secretary Richard Riordan tap SMC Superintendent/President Piedad Robertson for their education transition team.

SMC Board of Trustees Chair Margaret Quiñones gets appointed to the State's Community College Board of Governors.

Due to budget problems, SMC winds up as "priority one" on the State's fiscal watch list (right alongside Compton Community College).

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accrediting Team evaluates SMC and finds problems serious enough to warrant an unprecedented, interim progress report by March 2005, instead of the standard 6-year cycle.

Without skipping a beat, the SMC Board of Trustees, chaired by Quiñones, gives Superintendent/President Piedad Robertson a $25K salary increase making her, at over $200K, the State's highest paid community college president.

SMC Board of Trustees promotes President Robertson's Director of Marketing, Don Girard, who engineered an expensive campaign that fell short of recouping the College's enrollment losses and meeting growth targets.

SMC Superintendent/President Piedad Robertson and the Board of Trustees along with Senior Staff at the College contribute over $3K to Margaret Quiñones' reelection campaign (not including most current campaign filings), circumventing Government Code provisions that prevent community college district funds from financing board of trustee campaigns.

Hmm.... guess the first source was pretty accurate. Oh, but Robertson's got one vehement supporter here as quoted in the Santa Monica Mirror: "SMC is losing a great leader whose courage and vision have pushed this college to new heights," said SMC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Margaret Quiñones. "We wish Dr. Robertson well and we know that she will help shape national education policy as brilliantly as she shaped our college."

Oh, but I forgot... Robertson, the Board of Trustees, and the SMC senior staff contributed to Quiñones' reelection campaign. Guess that blows her credibility out the window. Well, surely it wouldn't be fair to place all the blame on Robertson. She needed a team of people to help her create this kind of "mess." Where did she recruit this team?

Oh, look what a coincidence... Winniphred Stone seems to be following the same career path, although at a lesser position of power than Robertson. Stone was senior policy analyst in the Executive Office of Education in Massachusetts before following Robertson to SMC. In May 1996, Stone was "on special assignment at the college as workforce development specialist." Then, in a Feb. 27, 1997 SMC Press Release, she is "selected for the newly created position of associate dean of business and industry at Santa Monica College." How did she warrant this new title? According to the press release, "She will also be working on projects associated with SMC's Academy of Entertainment and Technology, scheduled to open this fall, as well as distance education and videoconferencing, an SMC project that recently received a $125,000 donation from GTE." (See the December 10, 1996 article, GTE GIVES $125,000 FOR SMC VIDEOCONFERENCING CENTER).

How nice of GTE to give away $125,000 to SMC's Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET). In fact, in Jan. 16, 1999, GTE sat on the advisory board of the Academy. I guess they really cared about our school. Oh, but what do we have here? In SMC's Master Plan for Technology, Revision 1998-2000 (Last Modified 5/5/98), under Objective 7, it states that "Leased lines currently cost over $60,000 a year from GTE." So, in two years, GTE is able to recoup its money and keeps reeling in more. Guess that comment about Robertson and the ATM rings true.

Anyway, back to Winniphred Stone. She went on and "served as associate dean for distance education at Santa Monica College (SMC), where she created the Distance Education Program and administered the SMC Virtual Campus." Served? Isn't this in the past tense? So what's she doing now? She's become the Vice President of Planning and Development at the ECS since September 2005. Isn't that position effective as of this month? Oh, and we were trying to get her to provide documents under the California Public Records Act when we served the SMC Distance Education Department with 20 requests for production and inspection. Well, at least she's working once again with her buddy Piedad Robertson who serves as President of the ECS. As a matter of fact, their bios on the ECS page are right near each other on the same webpage.

So, as our verified complaint and petition alleges, Robertson left due to the mess at SMC. Now, Stone has also left. Was it also because of this "mess" or just for her unending loyalty to Robertson? Who is going to run SMC as President and who is now going to run SMC's Distance Education Department?

Well, as I said before, rats always flee a sinking ship. Too bad we are the ones, as students, who are left on this institutional Titanic with no remaining lifeboats.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Little Bit of Nepotism Goes a Long Way

Breaking news on the legal front...

Can you guess how SMC's current attorneys ended up representing them? Well, Phoenix Genesis went to the truth of the matter and once again shows you, Watergate style, how to "follow the money." Unfortunately, it is our money that we are following down this sewer of litigative waste. Read on...

Joshua E. Morrison is the current attorney for Santa Monica Community College District (SMC). You can read his bio and see his photo HERE. Mr. Morrison is a legal associate for the law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (kind of sounds like the name of Italian Mob Bosses!). According to the webpage, "Mr. Morrison represents California public school districts in all aspects of general education."

In an SMC Press Release, dated Jan. 28, 1998, Robert Sammis was appointed Vice President of Human Resources. The press release reveals this enlightening bit of information:

Sammis, who started in his new position Jan. 13, is not a newcomer to SMC -- as a senior associate with his Cerritos law firm, he had done work for the college on collective bargaining, grievances and other human resources matters. His responsibilities at the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo -- where he was employed since 1990 -- included educational law.

Wow! Mr. Morrison and Mr. Sammis worked for the same law firm? This must be a pretty popular law firm. Or is this not a coincidence? Let's dig a bit deeper into this story...

On the SMC Administation Page for Robert Sammis, we see that Mr. Sammis has risen up the SMC ranks to his current position as Vice President of Planning & Development (effective Jan. 1, 2005). The bio states: "From 1998 through 2004, he served as Vice President of Human Resources." Again, the webpage makes clear that Mr. Sammis worked for many years at the law firm involved in this current litigation:

His responsibilities at the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo - where he had been employed from 1990 to 1998 - included educational law. Among other duties, he represented California public school employers, including community colleges, in labor, employment, personnel and civil litigation matters; served as chief negotiator in teacher and classified employee negotiations; and litigated complex matters in a variety of fields. He has also had extensive experience working with personnel commissions.

Now, what exactly were the tasks and projects Mr. Sammis worked on during his tenure as VP of Human Resources? During the last year, it appears that one of those tasks was to allegedly dip into the 2004-2005 Human Resources Budget (or ratify someone else from SMC to dip into it) to grease the pockets of his former employer Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo with work for SMC's legal matters! Well, at least it provides Mr. Morrison with employment preventing the same school where Mr. Sammis is an administrator from providing inspection and copies of public records. How convenient for them, how tragic for us.

Here's the little snippet from the June 7, 2004 SMC Board of Trustees Minutes about the consulting contract given to this law firm:


Santa Monica Community College District
ACTION - June 7, 2004



V. Legal Services

Provider: Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo
Service: Human Resources, Student Services issues
Amount: $135 to $225 per hour for attorney services;

$100 per hour for paralegal services; plus expenses
Funding Source: 2004-2005 Human Resources Budget


Well, everyone, it appears that a little bit of nepotism goes a long way into further draining our public fisc in unnecessary litigation. Given the fact that SMC's own Board Policy supports the California Public Record Act in compliance with inspection and copying of records belonging to the District and Mr. Sammis is an administrator who is a public employee of this school, is this now a conflict of interest for his former law firm to prevent and frustrate compliance with these laws and Board Policies? The longer this litigation drags out, the more money is siphoned from the Human Resources Budget and out into the hands of their lawyers. This is just another example of who is in charge of our money and where it is being misspent.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

CSEA 2004 Survey Comments

You can view the original CSEA Survey Comments about the 2004 Accreditation of Santa Monica College document ( Accreditation%20Survey%20Comments.doc) or download a PDF version I made by clicking HERE. Otherwise, here's the full text as follows below. Hopefully, this document will shed light on why it is so important to SAVE SMC before it is too late and why we cannot expect our administrators, Board of Trustees, or President to save it for us. Ironically, the former President of SMC, Piedad Robertson, left the school at the beginning of this year having received a vote of no confidence, her second in her career. To date, Thomas Donner sits as temporary president while the school frantically searches for another president to fill Robertson's position. Given the administrative problems of the school and its fiscal crisis, it may be a long wait until we have someone who is willing to step up to the plate.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP


The following is a compilation of all of the comments from 143 surveys returned out of approximately 440 sent out. No editing was done except to correct occasional minor spelling errors.

1. The Board of Trustees is an independent policy-making body that reflects public interest in Board activities and decisions.
a. Based upon the Trustee's actions at Board meetings, including outright rudeness, eye-rolling, note-passing, name-garbling, scowling, sneering, smirking, and whispering, as well as their disrespectful treatment of those who make pubic comments by contradicting them instead of dialoguing with them, threatening censorship and accusing them of slander instead of listening, demanding the final word because speakers are only allowed to speak once, while Trustees can speak in unlimited monologues, the Board of Trustees clearly shows disregard for the public interest.
b. The Board is currently functioning with limited information because of the top down structure of the college.
c. They only support administration.
d. It does not reflect the SMC students interest.
e. The current Board does not reflect public interest.
f. It's a known fact that the Board is controlled by Tom Donner, he hired Cheryl Miller, and need I say more.
g. I do not think the board did enough to research and form their own opinion of the budget crisis we are currently facing.
h. Public and community interests have certainly not been taken into account in the light of recent program discontinuances.

2. The Board of Trustees adequately discusses institutional practices.
a. The Board discourages public discussion of institutional practices.
b. Does this from one perspective (Administration) only.
c. Only Nancy Greenstein, we need to recall the others.
d. Not completely - too much is "Just not mentioned".

3. The Board of Trustees receives and processes input from our constituencies.
a. The Board only gives consideration and credence to information filtered by the Administration.
b. The Superintendent is the only input they listen to.
c. I don't feel the board reviewed information provided to them thoroughly.
d. But do they listen?? Do they hear??

4. The Board of Trustees makes decisions on matters after consideration of all facts and views.
a. The Board dismisses information that conflicts or does not support the Administration’s views.
b. They do whatever Piedad Robertson tells them to do.
c. Lacking a great deal.
d. The Board of trustees is not considering facts and views to make important decisions.
e. I don't feel the did look at all the facts & views when deciding program eliminations.
f. A blind eye and deaf ear to all of the facts and views presented by faculty and staff & CSEA regarding layoffs and program discontinuance as well as possible solutions.

5. The Board of Trustees’ policies are consistent with Santa Monica College’s mission statement.
a. Their actions are in direct conflict with their mission statement.
b. No. consistent with the wishes and goals of Admin.
c. They do not have the students interests at heart, except Nancy Greenstein.
d. They just need to follow it.
e. The BOT is ignoring SMC's mission statement.
f. No.
g. Community, not transfer.
h. Usually.
i. Based on recent program cuts we are not upholding the college's mission statement.

6. The Board of Trustees acts in a manner consistent with its policies and laws.
a. The Board does not adhere to its policies.
b. Only Nancy Greenstein.
c. Questionable.

7. The Board of Trustees assumes and demonstrates ultimate responsibility for Santa Monica College’s educational quality.
a. The Board relies on the Administration to provide information, and rather than assuming responsibility for the credibility of that information, accepts it without critical review.
b. Only Nancy Greenstein.
c. The BOT is acting against education quality.
d. Too much finger pointing.
e. Isn't this a shared item?
f. This has certainly not been demonstrated this fiscal year.

8. The Board of Trustees assumes and demonstrates ultimate responsibility for Santa Monica College’s legal matters.
a. The Board relies on the Administration’s interpretation of facts and does not critically evaluate the legality of SMC Administrations actions.
b. The Board goes way too far.
c. Only Nancy Greenstein.
d. They do not, period.
e. Defers to president.

9. The Board of Trustees assumes and demonstrates ultimate responsibility for Santa Monica College’s financial integrity.
a. The Board relies on the Administration’s interpretation of facts and does not critically evaluate the financial integrity SMC Administrations actions.
b. Way too much waste and irresponsible spending.
c. The Board believes whatever they are told by Administration.
d. They spent our reserve.
e. Defers to pres.
f. Integrity? I don't think they know what that is.
g. Disaster. More hidden agenda.

10. The Board of Trustees supports the services and allocates the resources necessary to achieve SMC’s institutional goals.
a. No, because actions speak louder than words.
b. Defers to pres.
c. Because we rashly and irresponsibly spend on the wrong things, institutional goals are sometimes neglected.
d. No way. They closed programs.
e. Maybe Dr. R's goals.
f. Usually.
g. The board needs to have much more open dialogue with faculty staff & students at SMC they need to know who we are & what we do.
h. So much of our "in-house" services have been discontinued or contracted out - i.e. - printing, photography, etc. - and where did all that equipment go???

11. The Board of Trustees provides adequate activities to get to know and understand the concerns of the constituency groups.
a. The Board does not invite direct interaction with the constituent groups. Even the Board dialogues, ostensibly organized to address their disconnect, was structured by the Board to limit content and topics, and the ideas and concerns raised by the constituent groups were given only lip service. The Board has not maintained any commitment to continuing any on-going direct dialogue.
b. Never see them except for Nancy Greenstein.
c. Should have town hall meetings to get to know immediate concerns of groups.
d. Defers to pres.
e. Lots of jargon.
f. As stated above they do not know and understand the concerns of the groups on campus
because they do not interact with them enough.
g. No. It has been demonstrated that there is no understanding or doesn't appear to want to.

12. The Board of Trustees’ agenda is posted and/or distributed in a manner that gives the public adequate time to evaluate, analyze and/or identify concerns with the agendized items.
a. Though the Board does post its agenda within the required 72 hours, because the Board meetings are on Monday, the 72 hours encompass weekend days, thereby rendering the notice inadequate. The Board manipulates the rules to speak to the agenda items by refusing to recognize speakers, shuffling the order in which people speak, reprimanding and lecturing attendees, yet they consistently fail to directly address the questions and issues raised by the public speakers.
b. Needs to come out at least by Wednesday prior to Board meeting.
c. No. I disagree, not enough time.
d. Sometimes
e. The agendas are well done but I did not know they could be evaluated.
f. Too many hidden agendas.
g. Not in recent months Friday evening postings are not enough time to evaluate & identify concerns when most of us don't see it until Monday morn.
h. This entire fiscal matter seems to have dropped like a bomb "out of the blue" - warning? I think not.

13. The Board of Trustees provides the President/Superintendent with clear expectations and directives to implement.
a. The mission and goals of the college are clear.
b. Its seems to be the other way around.
c. It works the other way around here.
d. President owns the Board, the opposite is true.
e. I think it's the other way around
f. If they did a good job at this we wouldn't be in this mess even with budget cuts.
g. The Board works for the President and vice versa.
h. I believe it is the other way around.
i. I feel it is the other way around and that is a problem.
j. ????

14. The Board of Trustees holds the President/Superintendent publicly accountable for the operation of the District.
a. Though the President is asked questions publicly, follow-up questions are not asked because the Board feels that further probing, rather than reinforcing accountability, will be perceived as an effort to embarrass the President. The Board does not seem clear on the issue of who is in charge.
b. They should have fired her long ago.
c. If they did we wouldn't be where we are.
d. They don't.
e. Definitely not.
f. Okay.
g. That is yet to be seen.
h. In the light of what is happening and what has happened to SMC in the past 6 years that statement is a farce.

15. The Board of Trustees adheres to a clearly defined policy for evaluating Santa Monica College’s President/Superintendent.
a. The Board considers evaluating the President a personnel issue, and does not publicize their critique or criteria, nor do they seek input from any of the constituent groups.
b. Not to my knowledge. The President/Superintendent needs to be evaluated by all college constituencies.
c. They should ask for an outside audit.
d. Not true.
e. They seem to have their own agenda.
f. That is yet to be seen.
g. If the above statement were true - a great deal of the impact of our present situation would 1)not have occurred or 2) - been eased.

16. The President/Superintendent plans, oversees and evaluates an administrative structure organized and staffed to reflect Santa Monica College’s purposes, size, and complexity.
a. The Board is clueless, given that it has approved a 100% increase in management while the work staff has increased by only 20%.
b. We're a college, not a cooperation.
c. The word for it is "featherbedding".
d. Management to staff ratio is 3 managers to every staff at SMC.
e. The P/S does the above for the purposes of the P/S.
f. You mean, all of Rocky Young's plans implemented.
g. Completely false.
h. Not even, remember the three rings.
i. Usually.
j. I feel there is a way to many administrate staff and that is part of the problem.
k. No. Unsatisfactory - not enough direct communication between management and classified as to what's really (underlined twice) happening.

17. The President/Superintendent delegates authority to administrators and others consistent with their responsibilities.
a. The President appointed a human resources director who clearly does not play well with others.
b. Doubt it. Administrators behave as though they're under orders.
c. Only those who agree with her.
d. Completely false.
e. Her senior staff is a group of spineless wimps who goes along with whatever she says or wants.
f. Dictates.
g. SMC is management top-heavy!!

18. The President/Superintendent has established a collegial process that sets values, goals, and priorities for institutional improvement.
a. The President disregards the process when it conflicts with her goals.
b. Shared governance is smoke and mirrors.
c. The college should be on watch due to President's actions.
d. Must have been in Boston, sure not at SMC.
e. Seems resistant to shared governance.
f. Don't make me laugh.
g. I can only see what's happening now - certainly no improvement for students.

19. To guide institutional improvement, the President/Superintendent ensures that evaluation and planning relies on high quality research and analysis of external and internal conditions.
a. The President disregards analysis and suggestions that conflict with her goals.
b. No, she clearly is self serving look at her past.
c. Friends and family
d. It's based on first hand knowledge.
e. Not the case in program eliminations one day the programs are viable and…….
f. Research? Analysis? Too little too late.

20. To guide institutional improvement, the President/Superintendent ensures that educational planning is integrated with resource planning to achieve student learning outcomes.
a. The President does not allocate resources to programs that conflict with her goals.
b. Doesn't seem like it.
c. Students and staff suffer due to her decisions.
d. Please, this is not working.
e. There is no learning process if vital programs are discontinued - as has happened.

21. To guide institutional improvement, the President/Superintendent has established procedures to evaluate overall institutional planning and institutional efforts.
a. The President disregards evaluations that do not glorify her goals.
b. Attempts, but they're top down.
c. She has hurt this college, not helped, she needs to go.
d. By force of faculty, staff and students.
e. The "evaluation" system /method still has problems.

22. The President/Superintendent assures the implementation of statutes, regulations, and governing board policies.
a. They try.
b. No. She does what she wants.
c. You must be kidding.
d. I don't think they have a clue

23. The President/Superintendent assures that Santa Monica College’s practices are consistent with its mission and policies.
a. The President’s interpretation of the college’s mission and policies are self-serving and shortsighted.
b. No. A college is not about its CEO or its president. It 's about faculty, student and curriculum.
c. She has hurt this college and only cares about management.
d. What a joke.
e. Just on paper.
f. Definitely not. No equal access.
g. The only thing she makes sure of is that she gets what she wants.
h. Budget cuts unfair to students, especially vocational.
i. She has but one mission, kill programs and destroy lives.
j. Cutting programs is not consistent with the college mission and policies.

24. The President/Superintendent effectively controls Santa Monica College’s budget and expenditures.
a. The President allocates disproportionate funds to pet projects (i.e. the anti-merit system campaign, Cubafest, Workforce and Development, Madison) that do not serve the community or the college.
b. No. Spending is too free and not thought through.
c. That is a joke.
d. She is running this college into the ground.
e. Another joke.
f. To benefit herself.
g. This is the area the CSEA "E" Board should focus on because SMC is in this predicament because of mismanagement of previous business.
h. For her own personal interests.
i. Definite control
j. The people who oversee the money.
k. Too many managers and Administrative positions.

25. The President/Superintendent works and communicates effectively with Santa Monica College’s constituencies.
a. The President refuses to meet with all constituencies simultaneously; instead she meets with them individually, slanting her message and using the meetings as an opportunity to pit one constituency against another.
b. Orders, but little communication.
c. There is no respect and no collegiality here.
d. She lies to us and the Board. She disregards what we want.
e. More jokes.
f. Her way or the highway for classified staff only, she protects her incompetent Sr. staff.
g. Okay, when she is on a mission.
h. No, the last few months is an example of how the constituencies have been unable to communicate effectively with the President.

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,

Praise from Our Supporters

Here's some comments from students, faculty, and friends of SMC. I am keeping these comments anonymous to protect the innocent. None of these comments have been edited or otherwise modified except for minor spelling corrections. To each and every one of you, I express my sincerest thanks in your unending support for our battle to SAVE SMC.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP


Des, Your blog page is outstanding!!!

WOW, WOW, WOW, you go girl:):)

One thing for sure Des, you are my inspiration, You are one strong, and determined woman in spite of all the shit that has been thrown at you. I'm very impressed on how you continue to fight for the right way and the important things in life. No matter what the odds are you stick in there. Good for you, I'm proud of you for sticking to your convictions, no matter what and making folks accountable. No matter what happens there will be some good that comes from alll of this.

Back to law again? Cool!

Wow, Des, good for you! You are prepared for such things much better than many. I never had to deal with any legal eagles before. It’s great you have such an advantage here.

You should still be able to make films to touch a great many people’s lives. Maybe even about such situations?

Thank you, and stay good to yourself. You are not alone.

Des, what's the latest? Your saga is fascinating!

Des, this blog, I feel can teach people so much about their own rights and can definitely show lawyers how beneficial it is to share knowledge with others. You're teaching them all. It opens so many doors and potentials of hope for everyone.

I'm SO SORRY THAT YOUR BEING TREATED SO POORLY AT SMC. There is no reason for that and yes, I believe that it's fear and all of the messes that they have created. Des, you are definitely a woman of courage as you have demonstrated all of your life. Thank God you've been there and done this before. I know that it's not an easy thing that you are doing but a lot of students and faculty will benefit for what your doing. I'm not sure if I would have the courage to do what you're doing. You have my support and love always.

Help me Obi one Canobi. You're my only hope...

It's like a wild monkey jungle out there. You are the only one civilized, doing a real civic thing out there... that's the right thing to do. Best of luck.

Hi Des, keep up the good fight!

I saw the site....Wow!

Keep up the good work Des! I'm glad you have all the support you need now. I'm sorry it is dragging for a long time, but that's the nature of legal battles. Also, don't feel afraid, as you go deeper into the hole. You are doing the right thing, and you are the only light at the end of that tunnel. Without your work, all that money gone, would be nothing but a huge black hole of missing stuff.

Dearest Des, it appears you have found a new family, a network of real friends, and that makes me so happy.

They know this is gonna be hugh! Some people can feel when their skin is being lifted off!!

Sounds very together. I mean, wow!. Thank you for sending me a copy of the letter - this is all very interesting. Peace! May it go well!

Amazing... You are opening the pandora box again!

Des, I just finished reading your blog about the document dump. I can't say I understand everything about it, but it looks to me like they want to baffle you with bullshit. In other words, they are going to drop so much irrelevant material on you that you will get confused over what it all means and maybe even give up. They still haven't met the Des I know yet. Congratulations on the blog and the notice it has already received. Sometimes it amazes me that you absorb so many body blows in life, yet still bounce right back up and do the right thing. Your strength is something I'll always admire about you. Good luck deciphering the document dump.

The work you are doing is unmatchable. It takes tremendous courage...

You're very brave! Many blessings to you on your battle!

Hang in there, your case is big and important.

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

SMC's Recent Document Dump

Again, SMC feigned compliance with the California Public Records Act by providing us yesterday with a huge document dump which is non-responsive to our requests. I will not go into details at this time, but will cover this more fully in a future post. Additionally, SMC blackened out information which is vital to the public's right to know the truth of where our money is being spent and by whom. Yes, we have received a large amount of papers yesterday (about the size of the recent lawsuit we served against them to compel production), but quantity is not quality.

SMC is missing contracts, including the current contract between, Inc. and Santa Monica College (I'm sure the stockholders of eCollege will be interested to find this out!) and is unable to provide itemized expenditures for a lot of the contracts which were provided. Where's the receipts for the money they spent? Where's the proof of copyrights to materials they are alleging they own? They claim to neither have nor need any proof. Curiously, having made such a thorough job of erasing my existence as a teaching assistant to Professor Jim Keeshen, they now have no paperwork, including emails, documenting my role. Thank God we had documented it!

Once again, Katharine Muller, Dean of External Affairs who oversees the Academy of Entertainment & Technology has her hands in a lot of things as is evident in her numerous email correspondence and signatures. One wonders if she is in fact overseeing compliance with the CPRA or commandeering SMC's non-compliance. Why did she demand, through her attorney Joshua Morrison, that I turn over all my work to her in the History of Animation within 7 days, yet the school does not have proof of copyright ownership of this work? Why are Professor Keeshen's rights to his work also being voraciously consumed by the school when his distance education faculty compensation plan (which they have conveniently failed to provide) states that he owns the rights to his coursework?

In any art school, such as the Academy, intellectual property ownership is crucial. When the school attempts to rob both the faculty and staff of the fruits of their labors, what is left? The school alleges that my work is a work-for-hire, but did I not pay the school to attend its program rather than the school paying me? Are the administrators, by this standard, my employees rather than my employers? Since Professor Jeannie Novak wrote a book for her Academy Course in Game Development (ET42) and uses it in the course and offers it for sale in the Academy's bookstore, should she now be forced to sacrifice her intellectual property rights and turn over her copyrights to the book to Dean Muller and SMC? I don't think so and I'm sure Professor Novak would agree with me. Should the work done by Professor Jim Keeshen and myself be any different? Regardless, the school has no documentation showing transfer of copyright, assignment of rights, a written work-for-hire agreement, or copyright registration or ownership. Absent such documentation, this is just pure attempted theft on the part of the school. Thank God we have laws to protect us.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of paper provided to us (guess they forgot to remove it) is an email from Lee Peterson to (who else) Katharine Muller, dated September 1, 2005 entitled "suggested text for inclusion in response to Des." Mr. Peterson writes in part, "I worked up some text that might be useful in responding to Des. .... Use the text -- or not! -- in any way you like. I think Des' underlying questions are 'Who's in charge here, and who does what?'."

Worked up some text that might be useful...??? That sounds a bit suspicious. Hmmm... Yes, it would be nice to know who's in charge of our money at the school and who does what with it! But again, the District is not acknowledging our right to inspection of these records. As time goes on, it is becoming increasingly obvious why.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,
, , , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Battle of the Attorneys

This afternoon our attorneys, Lee & Fields, entered into a phone conference with the attorney for Santa Monica Community College District (hereinafter, "the District"), Mr. Joshua Morrison. Mr. Morrison is still denying us our right to inspect the public records of the District, yet has no legal grounds or justification as far as I can ascertain.

Mr. Morrison spent a considerable amount of time beating around the bush on this issue. Why not spend the time?... He gets paid a lot of money by the District... money which comes out of our pockets by the way as students and taxpayers. At somewhere between $135 to $225 an hour, that's a huge chunk of change spent from our public fisc, money which could be put to better use such as to student scholarships or toward an effective marketing campaign to draw in more students to meet the necessary quotas so our classes are not continually cancelled or to hire another staff member to keep our AET Computer Lab open for the evening students.

Perhaps Mr. Morrison should read our Legal Primer on Access to Public Information (see previous post) so that he understands the California Public Records Act and the other laws we are citing. Perhaps he already is fully versed in the law, but does not wish to honor it.

I am a little confused here on a few issues. First, why are they so afraid of allowing us access to our grants and contracts for the school? After all, there are supposed to be so many committees and procedures that allegedly guarantee that the money being handed out is for legitimate reasons. By the time these grants and contracts reach their final stage with the District's Board of Trustees, they are allegedly scrutinized to the smallest increment. Why do they now feel the need to conceal these same documents, bills, receipts, and proposals? Were they in fact simply rubbed stamped through the system? Did they think that there would never be any scrutiny after the fact?... No accountability? Did they perhaps not follow the proper procedures? If Mr. Morrison and his client, the District, have their way, we shall never know. But, according to the law, isn't it our fundamental right to know?

This leads to my second question. If I am defending the school through my proposed Court order to produce these documents for inspection and copying, and through the SAVE SMC website and blog and Mr. Morrison is also defending the school by representing the District, then why are we on opposite sides? Should we not be allies instead of adversaries? Is Mr. Morrison not perhaps defending the school, but instead defending the administrators who are not acting in the capacity of the sacred guardians of the public's information and instruments which we have created? This just makes no sense to me.

Also, my final question. Mr. Morrison sent me an email on September 8, 2005 (shame on him, he allegedly violated state bar rules of ethics by sending it to me as a party and not to my attorney), telling me, "You may make arrangements to inspect and/or copy these records by telephoning Gina Cole." Okay, so why then, about 20 minutes later, Gina Cole pushes us out of the SMC President's Office (never mentioning a word about these records), locks the door and barricades herself, Defendant Letty Kilian, and Defendant Thomas Donner inside? Why, when our paralegal returned about an hour later with the photojournalist from the Corsair, did Gina Cole state: "Please leave. Campus Police will be out there to meet you."???? To me, that does not seem that Mr. Morrison, SMC, or Gina Cole planned to comply with the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

So, Mr. Morrison seems nervous to answer our Verified Complaint and Petition under the CPRA. For those of you not familiar with the law, when a complaint is verified (that is, signed under penalty of perjury), the answer by the Defendants must also be verified (signed under penalty of perjury). In this case, if the Defendants ADMIT our allegations, they are alleging, in essence, that they did not comply with the law. If they DENY our allegations, then they are, in essence, committing perjury as our allegations are thoroughly documented. Hey, I had to sign MY NAME to the complaint and I am not about to commit perjury! Perhaps if the Defendants did not do the acts alleged in the complaint and simply complied with the law, they would not be in such a tight bind right now.

Mr. Morrison now states to our attorney, Mr. Edward Y. Lee, that he will produce some documents tomorrow for me to pick up. Given their past actions and broken promises, I will not hold my breath. Hopefully, if they do give us something, the Campus Police will not be there to harass and intimidate me or anyone else again! If they do, we shall thoroughly once again document the incident. I'm sure all of you as well as the Court will find the outcome most interesting.

If you wish to take a sneak peek of Mr. Morrison's pic and bio, you can click HERE. Personally, he does not look as tough as he alleges to be.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , ,

Constitutional Right to Free Press and Speech

Here's the law under the California Constitution which protects our online news media outlet, Phoenix Genesis, from disclosing information which we provide as well as our right to speak and write freely and address any concerns we might have without fear of retaliation.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis
(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP


SEC. 2.
(a) Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.

(b) A publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service, or any person who has been so connected or employed, shall not be adjudged in contempt by a judicial, legislative, or administrative body, or any other body having the power to issue subpoenas, for refusing to disclose the source of any information procured while so connected or employed for publication in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, or for refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.

Nor shall a radio or television news reporter or other person connected with or employed by a radio or television station, or any person who has been so connected or employed, be so adjudged in contempt for refusing to disclose the source of any information procured while so connected or employed for news or news commentary purposes on radio or television, or for refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.

As used in this subdivision, "unpublished information" includes information not disseminated to the public by the person from whom disclosure is sought, whether or not related information has been disseminated and includes, but is not limited to, all notes, outtakes, photographs, tapes or other data of whatever sort not itself disseminated to the public through a medium of communication, whether or not published information based upon or related to such material has been disseminated.

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , ,

Legal Primer on Access to Public Information

Here's a bit of law to help you understand your rights to public information in the State of California. You can click on the name of each Act or Law to go directly to the full citation.


Cal. Gov. Code Section 6250. In enacting this chapter, the Legislature, mindful of the right of individuals to privacy, finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.


Cal. Gov. Code Section 54950. In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.


Cal. Gov. Code Section 11120. It is the public policy of this state that public agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business and the proceedings of public agencies be conducted openly so that the public may remain informed. In enacting this article the Legislature finds and declares that it is the intent of the law that actions of state agencies be taken openly and that their deliberation be conducted openly. The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.

In addition to the statutory California Government Codes cited, supra, access to public information is a constitutional right as set forth, infra.



SEC. 3.

(a) The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition government for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for the common good.

(b) (1) The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.

(2) A statute, court rule, or other authority, including those in effect on the effective date of this subdivision, shall be broadly construed if it furthers the people's right of access, and narrowly construed if it limits the right of access. A statute, court rule, or other authority adopted after the effective date of this subdivision that limits the right of access shall be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.

(3) Nothing in this subdivision supersedes or modifies the right of privacy guaranteed by Section 1 or affects the construction of any statute, court rule, or other authority to the extent that it protects that right to privacy, including any statutory procedures governing discovery or disclosure of information concerning the official performance or professional qualifications of a peace officer.

Also, you can check out a vast wealth of information on this excellent site: CFAC: California First Amendment Coalition.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,