Sunday, January 15, 2006

SMC's Skullduggery and Creative Refinancing of Federal Funds

To date, we've done a series of SAVE SMC blog articles pertaining to various consultant contracts between Jim Keeshen and Santa Monica College (SMC). We've shown that while Keeshen was a professor at SMC's vocational satellite campus, the Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET), he operated under various corporate veils. During 2000 and 2001, Keeshen was also on the Representative Assembly of the SMC Faculty Association (SMCFA). While the SMCFA was battling for a long-overdue salary increase with district negotiator Robert Sammis, Keeshen took matters into his own hands to wrangle more money for himself from SMC. He did this with the help of several people at SMC through a Title VI-A federal grant.

Joan Abrahamson, who was under her own consultant contract with SMC, was also on the AET Advisory Board. She was also one of two program directors for the newly formed Academy of Entertainment & Technology back in 1997. Abrahamson would be utilized by former SMC President Piedad Robertson to obtain a Title VI-A federal grant. With Keeshen's help, they would create a CD-ROM with animated foreign language modules.

Randall Lawson, then SMC Vice-President of Academic Affairs, would act as Project Director of the Title VI-A grant. In his capacity as such, he would submit a
Grant Performance Report to the U.S. Department of Education on or about April 12, 2000. In his report, Lawson indicated that AET professor Jim Keeshen was in charge of the animated language components of the project. In Keeshen's capacity of AET professor and acting on behalf of Santa Monica College, Keeshen presented the project in a conference hosted by Rice University on or about May 2001. It was clear that at all times, Keeshen was to act as a district employee of Santa Monica Community College District.

However, Keeshen simultaneously was acting as both a district employee and as an outside consultant for this Title VI-A project. Keeshen entered into several consultant contracts with SMC under the fictitious names Animatics and Studio Animatics. We demonstrated that the companies did not really exist, that the tax identification number he used was questionable, and that his name was forged on at least one of these contracts. We also showed that Keeshen signed the contracts knowing that he was an employee of the district, but stated that he was not. He also agreed that his employees were not, but we revealed that his CD-ROM programmer, Jerry Hamby, was also a faculty member at AET. We also showed that Keeshen utilized the talent and skill of
Isabelle Decencière on his Studio Animatics Title VI-A CD-ROM while he also used her for his "Day of the Dead" animated film through Jim Keeshen Productions.

We've shown that Keeshen's direct supervisor of the Academy, SMC Dean of External Programs Katharine Muller knew that Keeshen was covertly operating under these fictitious companies and first authorized payment for $40,000 to Animatics in 2000 and then for an additional $33,000 to Studio Animatics in 2001. Keeshen used his home apartment address on all his invoices. Keeshen may have received an additional $10,000 for this project under another Animatics contract, but SMC has failed to disclose relevant documents under the California Public Records Act including two Animatics contracts for 2000.

The project Keeshen produced, a CD-ROM, was allegedly a "
prototype" that we believe was never used by SMC. Additionally, despite the fact that SMC paid for this project via federal funding and matching district funds, Keeshen placed his own Studio Animatics copyrights on both the load screen and the end credits. Jim Keeshen's name is clearly credited in the CD-ROM as is Piedad Robertson, Katharine Muller, and Joan Abrahamson, among others. In fact, the actual Macromedia Director executable program that launches the CD-ROM is titled "JOANDEMO.EXE". Was this CD-ROM just a taxpayer-funded showcase for Joan Abrahamson and Jim Keeshen? Was SMC merely the fraud vehicle that helped them secure this funding?

Here is the complete list of blog articles to date for reference:

Piercing Jim Keeshen's Various Corporate Veils
Jim Keeshen's Studio Animatics SMC Contracts Exposed
Santa Monica College's Failed Forgery Attempt
With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

What else did Katharine Muller, Randall Lawson, and Joan Abrahamson, acting on behalf of Santa Monica College, do to help Jim Keeshen secure these federal grant funds from the United States government? Let's see...

In a
memorandum from Katharine Muller to Victor Tellez and Erica LeBlanc, dated December 19, 2000, Muller discusses the "problems with the initial establishment of the GMSC/FLP grant." What kinds of "problems" was she referring to? Perhaps a little history lesson is in order. GMSC stands for "Global Media Studies Center" while "FLP" stands for "Foreign Language Program." Here's an excerpt from the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees Agenda for April 5, 1999:

Title of Grant: Title VI-A, Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program

Granting Agency: US Department of Education
Requested Funding: $176,335
Matching Funds: $176,538 (SMC in-kind)
Performance Period: September 1999 - August 2001 (two-year position)

Summary: SMC proposes to establish an interdisciplinary Global Media Studies Center (GMSC) to operate under the auspices of the SMC Institute for International Trade.

The GMSC will facilitate the joint development of course modules and curriculum materials by faculty from the Academy of Entertainment/Technology, the modern languages department, and other disciplines, across the curriculum.

Funding will also support two staff development events and internationally-focused internship opportunities for both faculty and staff.

And here's the relevant excerpts from the SMC
Board of Trustees Minutes for June 7, 1999:

Santa Monica Community College District
Minutes of the Board of Trustees
Meeting
June 7, 1999

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
Joan Abrahamson reported on the Institute for International Trade.

RECOMMENDATION NO. 2 ACCEPTANCE OF GRANTS

Title of Grant: Title VI-A, Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program Granting Agency: US Department of Education
Requested Funding: $176,335
Matching Funds: $176,538 (SMC in-kind)
Performance Period: September 1999 - August 2001 (two-year grant)


Summary: SMC proposes to establish an interdisciplinary Global Media Studies Center (GMSC) to operate under the auspices of the SMC Institute for International Trade.

The GMSC will facilitate the joint development of course modules and curriculum materials by faculty from the Academy of Entertainment/Technology, the modern languages department, and other disciplines, across the curriculum.

Funding will also support two staff development events and internationally-focused internship opportunities for both faculty and staff.

RECOMMENDATION NO. 44 CONSULTANTS, 1999-2000

It is recommended that the Board of Trustees renew the following consultant contracts for the period July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2000 (unless otherwise indicated) on a month-to-month basis with 30-day cancellation notice:

F. Planning and Development Services
Academy of Entertainment and Technology


Dr. Joan Abrahamson $5,200 per month, plus expenses to provide consultant services for the Academy of Entertainment and Technology, the Institute for International Trade, and other projects in the planning and development area.

Funding Source: District Funds to be partially compensated by donations and in-kind services. Comment: This is a continuation of the existing contract for consultant services.

The Institute of International Trade is known for short as "I2" as can be seen in the animated language modules. Now, you can do your own Google search under SMC's website for "The Institute of International Trade." It doesn't exist! What happened? Here's the relevant excerpts from SMC's
Master Plan for Education, dated July 6, 1999:

MASTER PLAN FOR EDUCATION
ACHIEVING THE SANTA MONICA COLLEGE VISION
REVISION - JULY 6, 1999

GOAL 2. ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

OBJ-18. To complete the initial development and approval processes for curriculum in the Institute of International Trade program and implement a pilot course offering. *Student Success (Academic Affairs)

OBJ-24. To develop and begin implementation of plans for one new educational venture in public safety or information technology. Complete the implementation of the Institute of International Trade. **Student Success (Planning & Development; Academic Affairs)

OBJECTIVE 20. To develop and begin implementation of plans for new educational ventures in international trade, tourism, information technology, and textiles. (Planning & Development, Academic Affairs)The College decided that the development of new educational ventures SMC MASTER PLAN FOR EDUCATION – Institutional Objectives 1998-99 23 should be limited to one per year. This year, the focus was on the creation of an Institute for International Trade. The effort began with the successful application for a Title VI-B grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Under the auspices of the grant, the College has been able to conduct an in-depth analysis of the training needs in the field of international trade, with a particular concentration on how international trade relates to the entertainment industry. The College has also assembled a prestigious advisory board of people affiliated with all aspects of international trade.

The meetings with the advisory board have created the broad parameters for the potential Institute for International Trade. Their proposal is for a training matrix that includes four defined career tracks and five functional areas. An interdisciplinary college committee (the International Trade Faculty Advisory Committee) has been established and is now wrestling with the curriculum development issues. It is anticipated that the College will be prepared to offer selected classes in the next academic year and that the full program will be developed for Fall 2000.

Center for International Trade Development
Chancellor’s Office
$178,875
May 3, ’99
Joan Abrahamson/Tom Vest

Title VI-A, Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language
U.S. Dept. of Education
$176,335
Jun 7, ’99
Joan Abrahamson/Tom Vest

The four career tracks were discussed in Randall Lawson's
Grant Performance Report to the U.S. Department of Education (see page 2). These four tracks were as follows:

Contemporary Asian Media
Contemporary Latin American Media
Contemporary European Media
Ethnic and International Media in Southern California

Let's move forward one year later and look at SMC's
Master Plan for Education, revised July 2000. Here's the relevant excerpts:

MASTER PLAN FOR EDUCATION
ACHIEVING THE SANTA MONICA COLLEGE VISION
REVISION - JULY 2000

GOAL 2. ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

OBJECTIVE 18. To complete the initial development and approval processes for curriculum in the Institute of International Trade program and implement a pilot course offering. (Academic Affairs) **Student Success

Discussions in meetings of the faculty advisory committee for the proposed Institute of International Trade resulted in a change of direction for this initiative, both to more effectively address regional workforce needs and to avoid perceived duplication with existing college programs. The idea of creating an International Institute at Santa Monica College (I2 at SMC) has been embraced by the industry advisory board for this project as well as by the Academy of Entertainment and Technology President’s Advisory Board. The International Institute project will make use of the resources provided by the College’s funded Title VI-A and VI-B grants to introduce an international focus for the Academy of Entertainment and Technology curriculum and to enhance the services of the Modern Language Lab to support this effort. A consultant with expertise in international media is working with Academy of Entertainment and Technology and Modern Language Department faculty members to develop a pilot not-for-credit seminar offering.

OBJECTIVE 24. To develop and begin implementation of plans for one new educational venture in public safety or information technology. Complete the implementation of the Institute of International Trade. (Academic Affairs)**Student Success

Although ideas for new academic programs in these and other fields were explored, greater priority was placed upon attempting to complete program development for initiatives begun in prior years. The full certificate program in Tourism/Hospitality/Leisure Studies has been approved by the Academic Senate Joint Curriculum Committee and will be taken through the Chancellor’s Office approval process for new vocational programs. The curriculum for the Interactive Media Program of the Academy of Entertainment and Technology has been revised, and an additional certificate option for this program has been approved. Additionally, several new certificate programs have been approved in the Computer Applications and Computer Science areas of the College. As stated in the response to Objective 18, the Institute of International Trade initiative has taken a slightly different direction, and the development of the resulting International Institute (I2 at SMC) project will be an area of concentration for the 2000-2001 academic year.

Wait a minute here... SMC is claiming in this July 2000 document, that the curriculum for AET's "Interactive Media Program" has been "revised and an additional certificate option for this program has been approved." Approved by whom? According to our blog article, "
AET's Questionable Vocational Career Certificates," the Interactive Media Level I and Level 2 certificates weren't even approved by the Chancellor's Office until 2002!

Was this a simple "change in direction" as cited above, or was it a real "problem" as Dean Muller admitted in her internal December 19, 2000 memorandum six months later? Keep in mind that although both documents are public records, the Master Plan for Education was placed online while Muller's memorandum was kept confidential for the last five years until we recently obtained it.

And what about those four international media career tracks? Completely abandoned by SMC despite the fact that Lawson reported to the U.S. Department of Education on or about April 4, 2000 that they were in development. Oh, but that was in the "post-grant phase." In other words, after SMC secured its federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Well, it sounded impressive on the progress report. AET couldn't even keep its entertainment business and theme park occupational certificates afloat. How could they tackle an "international focus" for their curriculum? They could not, yet the federal government didn't need to know this, at least in their minds.

And what about SMC's statement: "The idea of creating an International Institute at Santa Monica College (I2 at SMC) has been embraced by the industry advisory board for this project as well as by the Academy of Entertainment and Technology President’s Advisory Board"? Well, Joan Abrahamson was at both the helm of the AET Advisory Board and the person who secured these grants from the State of California and the federal government with Tom Vest. Of course SMC would claim that they were "embraced." But were they embraced lovingly or in a stranglehold? Alternatively, was everyone merely clinging onto each other for dear life?

If you view the
AET Entertainment Industry Partnership and Advisory Board Chart we made, you'll see that with Abrahamson's help, there was an explosive addition of entertainment industry partners between the period of December 1998 and June 2001. By August 2002, most of these industry partners dropped off AET's radar. In fact, there was no real corporate sponsorship or support of AET's vocational program. There were individuals who sat on AET's advisory board who happened to hold jobs in the entertainment business. According to statements made in writing by AET Chair, Bill Lancaster, these industry partners were not full participants but idle ones. Oh, but no one needed to know that fact either. Nor did anyone need to know that most of the AET faculty from 1999 would be replaced by 2006.

And who benefited from that "change in direction" for I2 to "effectively address regional workforce needs"? Then SMC President's friend Winniphred Stone would have benefited as she was in Associate Dean of Business and Industry at SMC before moving onto her position as Associate Dean of Distance Education. As stated in previous blog articles, Stone was brought in by Robertson as they both worked for the
Office of Education in Massachusetts and now both work for the Education Commission of the States in Denver, Colorado. Here's SMC's press release on Winniphred Stone, dated Feb. 27, 1997:

Stone Named Associate Dean, Business and Industry

Winniphred Stone has been selected for the newly created position of associate dean of business and industry at Santa Monica College.

Stone, who has been on special assignment at the college as workforce development specialist since last May, will focus her efforts on workforce development, customized education, competency-based training, and welfare reform training programs. 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.

Stone, of Marina del Rey, received her bachelor's degree in labor relations and labor law and a master's of science in public affairs administration from the University of Massachusetts.

And Winniphred Stone, like Robertson and Abrahamson, played her part in the
creation of SMC's Academy of Entertainment and Technology. And what about those surplus donations from GTE and other AET donors? We covered that in our blog article, "AET Donors and Santa Monica College Foundation."

What about SMC's statement: "A consultant with expertise in international media is working with Academy of Entertainment and Technology and Modern Language Department faculty members to develop a pilot not-for-credit seminar offering"? This alleged expert consultant must have been Cristina Venegas. Here's the relevant excerpt from the SMC
Board of Trustees Agenda for May 1, 2000:

BOARD OF TRUSTEES
SANTA MONICA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
ACTION
MAY 1, 2000

RRECOMMENDATION NO. 10
CONSULTANT CONTRACT FOR TITLE VI-A AND VI-B GRANTS

It is recommended that the Board of Trustees approve a consultant contract with Cristina Venegas in an amount not to exceed $5400 for the period of May 1, 2000 through June 30, 2000. Dr. Venegas will assist in the planning and implementation of various projects associated with the Title VI-A and Title VI-B grants, including the proposed International Institute and Global Media Studies Center.

Funding Source: Title VI-B Grant

Comment: In accordance with the objectives of the Title VI-A and Title VI-B grants, the International Institute will have its initial development in coordination with the Academy of Entertainment and Technology .The Global Media Studies Center, which is intended to support the language component of the International Institute, is being developed through the Modern Language Lab. Dr. Venegas has extensive international experience in the areas of film history, theory, and criticism. Her specific responsibilities will include assisting Academy faculty in incorporating international elements into the existing curriculum and developing industry-specific seminars and workshops, conducting research for marketing and promotional activities, and investigating additional funding sources to support these projects.

So, according to the above description, it is safe to assume that it was Venegas who came up with the idea of those four international entertainment tracks. Did Venegas' credentials justify her expertise? Here's her
faculty biography as found on the University of California Santa Barbara's website:

Cristina Venegas
Assistant Professor of Film Studies
venegas@filmstudies.ucsb.edu

Cristina Venegas is Assistant Professor in Film Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara where she teaches film and media studies with a focus on Latin American, U.S. Latino media and digital technologies. Her essays have appeared in Film Quarterly, Spectator and in Communicare. She is currently completing a book manuscript titled Digital Dilemma: New Media Relations in Contemporary Cuba.

But Venegas is a critical studies professor, which is someone who has academic knowledge rather than practical knowledge in film. Well, let's look at her resume which was a Microsoft World document on UCSB's website. For convenience sake, I have converted the original document into Adobe PDF format. You can view Venegas' resume
HERE. Venegas has a great deal of teaching experience, a load of publications and conferences to her name, but her multimedia experience is limited to CD-ROM productions and translations. However, Venegas' name appears nowhere in the credits of the Studio Animatics SMC Title VI-A CD-ROM. Wouldn't she have been useful to this project? Were her qualifications perhaps a bit exaggerated? If not, then why did little, if anything, materialize from these four proposed international media tracks?

Let's go back to Dean Katharine Muller's December 19, 2000
Title VI-A memorandum. Now that we see that there were "problems" with the original GMSC/FLP grant, we can see why Muller did a little creative refinancing by shifting funds from the CCITD grant and renaming the whole package a Title VI-A grant. If you add the $$178,875 provided by the Chancellor's Office for the Center for International Trade Development (CCITD) and the requested funding of $176,335 for the Title VI-A grant for the Global Media Studies Center (GMSC) and Foreign Language Program (FLP) with the matching SMC in-kind funds of $176,538, that gave Lawson, Muller, and Abrahamson a possible working total of $531,748. That's over a half million dollars of taxpayers' hard-earned money to play with!

But what do we get for our money? A prototype CD-ROM which teaches us how to find the restroom in seven different languages, several international media tracks which were never used, a lavish federally-funded lifestyle for Joan Abrahamson and Professor Jim Keeshen, an International Institute of Trade that doesn't appear to exist (at least according to Google's search engine, narrowed to the search parameters within SMC's website), and a Global Media Studies Center that also doesn't appear on the SMC-Google search engine radar.

Wanting to make sure I was doing my homework, I asked a long time SMC professor, who wishes to remain anonymous on fear of retaliation by SMC's administration, if this professor has ever heard of a Global Media Studies Center and International Institute of Trade at SMC. The anonymous professor informed me around November 17, 2005: "I have not heard of a Global media center and International trade school at SMC. I've learned alot of information about SMC that I never knew thru you. thanks for my new view point of SMC." If this was supposed to be such a monumental educational undertaking warranting over a half a million dollars, which was supposed to benefit SMC's community, why hadn't anyone at SMC heard about it?

Well, this didn't seem to deter Dean Muller from her efforts to shuffle things around a bit and get every bit of financing she could. As her memorandum reveals, the GMSC/FLP grant is renamed as a Title VI-A Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program grant to go along with their Title VI-B International Business grants that were awarded to
Kapow, Inc. ($5000), Cristina Venegas ($5400) , Carol Kirschner ($15,000), and Glenn A. Doolittle, Jr. ($1000). Doolittle also allegedly received another $2500 on or about January 14, 2002 as an external grant evaluator on the Title VI-A and Title VI-B grants. Wasn't it a bit late to evaluate these grants?

Like Jim Keeshen and Jerry Hamby, Carol Kirschner was also a faculty member at AET, at least according to
SMC's Directory and another document SMC provided us. Furthermore, like Joan Abrahamson and Brooks Flemming Associates, Kapow, Inc. sat on the AET Advisory Board while securing outside consultant contracts with SMC. Isn't that a bit of a conflict of interest here for AET's faculty and advisory board members? Add to all of this Jim Keeshen's Animatics contracts, which total $83,000, and is it any wonder SMC has fought tooth and claw to prevent inspection of files and production of public records? We'll delve more into each of their respective roles as SMC consultants in future blog articles.

Let's return to Katharine Muller's
December 19, 2000 memorandum. Victor Tellez was supposed to create new object codes so that Muller could transfer the funds. Tellez was an Accounting Specialist II at SMC's Fiscal Services who upgraded his employment to Acting Accounting Manager of Restricted Funds. Tellez resigned from SMC on or about March 1, 2004. Muller's memorandum was copied to Randall Lawson, Joan Abrahamson, and Cheryl Miller. Right after Tellez resigned from SMC, Miller retired on or about April 1, 2004. At the time of her retirement, Miller was Associate Vice-President of Business Services. Remember those CSEA 2004 Survey Comments we posted on the blog back in September 2005? Comment 1(f) states: "It's a known fact that the Board is controlled by Tom Donner, he hired Cheryl Miller, and need I say more." Too bad this comment was written by an SMC employee four years after Muller's memorandum regarding the Title VI-A grant. I think that would have pricked up the Department of Education's ears.

Who was allowed by SMC to sign various documents? I quote from the SMC
Board of Trustees Agenda, dated December 7, 1998:

RECOMMENDATION NO. 34 AUTHORIZED SIGNATURE RESOLUTIONS

It is recommended that the Board of Trustees resolve that the Superintendent/ President Piedad F. Robertson, Vice-President, Business and Administration Thomas J. Donner, Vice-President, Planning and Development Darroch Young, Vice-President, Human Resources Robert Sammis and Associate Vice-President, Business and Administration Cheryl Miller be authorized to sign warrants, orders for salary payment, notices of employment, contracts, and other documents as directed by the Board of Trustees; Director of Auxiliary Services Edwin Harte and Controller (vacant) be authorized to sign Auxiliary warrants; and Director of Purchasing Ardell McCoy be authorized to sign purchase orders.

It is further recommended that the attached "Certification of Signatures" be completed and filed with the County Superintendent of Schools. The signatures shall be considered valid for the period of December 7, 1998 through December 6, 1999.

And what about these CSEA Survey Comments by SMC employees regarding SMC and former President Piedad Robertson? See for yourself. If you'd like to download the full Adobe PDF file, go
HERE.

"Way too much waste and irresponsible spending."

"Because we rashly and irresponsibly spend on the wrong things, institutional goals are sometimes neglected."

"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???"

"Too many hidden agendas."

"They should ask for an outside audit."


"Her senior staff is a group of spineless wimps who goes along with whatever she says or wants."

"SMC is management top-heavy!!"

"I can only see what's happening now - certainly no improvement for students."

"Research? Analysis? Too little too late."

"Students and staff suffer due to her decisions."

"She has hurt this college, not helped, she needs to go."

"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."

"No. Spending is too free and not thought through."

"She lies to us and the Board. She disregards what we want."

Seems that all was not happy in the land of make-believe. It reminds me of that saying, "Money doesn't buy happiness." But large amounts of the government's money provided for via tax dollars did buy Muller the luxury of having a little fun with her creative refinancing. Let's return to her memorandum again.

Muller informed everyone on her list that "Joan will contact Washington or permission to adjust the budget to cover the consultant costs for developing the animated modules by moving funds from personnel to the 5000 object codes." Of course, Joan refers to Joan Abrahamson who is created as the Executive Producer on the Studio Animatics' animated foreign language module CD-ROM produced by AET Professor Jim Keeshen. Here's the screenshot to prove it:

Joan Abrahamson as Executive Producer of the Studio Animatics CD-ROM

Of course Abrahamson knew that Keeshen was operating under Studio Animatics. Joan Abrahamson, Stacy Ingber, and Jim Keeshen are all credited on the CD-ROM for the screenplay. Here's the screenshot to prove it:

Joan Abrahamson, Stacy Inger and Jim Keeshen under screenplay credits for the Title VI-A grant CD-ROM created by Studio Animatics

Who's Stacy Ingber? Oh, just an employee of Abrahamson's non-profit Jefferson Institute. But we'll save that alleged scandal for another blog article related to the Title VI-A grant. Let's stay focused on Katharine Muller's memorandum. Keep in mind that Katharine Muller is also credited on this animated module CD-ROM and she had already
authorized payment to Keeshen's "Animatics" for $40,000 on or about October 30, 2000, less than two months before she writes this memo. And she had probably already read Lawson's April 12, 2000 Grant Performance Report to the U.S. Department of Education, which indicated that the "animation-related components of the project" were to be supervised by Jim Keeshen in his capacity as AET professor.

So, why then take the risk of shifting these funds from the personnel codes to the 5000 object codes that govern contract services and operating expenses? Shouldn't Jim Keeshen have remained in the personnel code since he was a district employee? Both Muller and Abrahamson knew he was, but they transferred these funds and Abrahamson found a way to make this happen. I sincerely doubt that the government would have granted this "permission" if they knew that AET animation professor Jim Keeshen and Studio Animatics was one in the same.

Let's look at the actual
object code GMSC transfer document. This shows that SMC did complete its transfer of funds. $88,606 was in fact transferred. There's no name or date provided. The actual document given to us by SMC under the CPRA shows the circled numbers. We did not alter the original provided to us.

Now, this isn't the only memorandum that Muller wrote on December 19, 2000. Again, Muller writes to Victor Tellez, copying her memo to everyone involved in the previous memo. Her memorandum was appropriately entitled "
Budget Transfer and Transfer of Expense." Now this is too priceless to merely reference, so here's a screenshot regarding Studio Animatics:

Studio Animatics budget transfer by Katharine Muller

Let's read that one sentence by Muller very carefully: "I will be forwarding invoices from Studio Animatics against the $40,000 consultant contract to develop the animated modules." Here's what bothers me about this sentence:


(1.) Where is the November 2000 contract from Animatics? SMC hasn't produced it.

(2.) Where are the invoices for the $40,000? SMC has only produced the later 2001 invoices. If you consider that unnamed I2 Budget document for $40,000, then why was an additional $33,000 paid to Studio Animatics in 2001? Why does this document lack contact information? Additionally, someone had to provide Muller with these invoices. Clearly, it would have been Keeshen, so she knew that he was behind Studio Animatics.

(3.) Why did Muller authorize the $40,000 payments to "Animatics" instead of "Studio Animatics"? Why did she use a form that was "only for persons not otherwise employed at Santa Monica College"? She knew all along that Jim Keeshen was employed by SMC.

(4.) Why did Muller authorize payment back in October 30, 2000 when the SMC Board of Trustees didn't even approve this contract with "Animatics" until November 13, 2000?

(5.) And if Muller knew that Jim Keeshen was operating as "Studio Animatics" as is evident in this Instructional Consultants authorization by her, then why make it out to "Animatics" and why allow the charade of the future July 2001 contract signed by "Animatics" and not Studio Animatics? Oh, how silly of me to forget that this particular July 2001 contract has a forged signature on it! But, in any event, Jim Keeshen signed the amended contract in September 2001. And someone at SMC had to pay for Keeshen's little trip to Rice University to present these animated language modules. Was it Muller who authorized this?

I guess I just ask too many questions. But given Muller's other statement of "insufficient funds," I have every right to ask these legitimate questions and to get answers to them. Shouldn't have Erica LeBlanc asked these same questions when she read Muller's memorandums on December 19, 2000? Erica LeBlanc was director of contracts and grants at Santa Monica College. Under this title, she was responsible for the following pursuant to SMC's breakdown for Planning and Development:

Coordinates the District's efforts to secure funding from external sources including federal, state and local agencies as well as from private and corporate foundations.

Develops partnerships and strategic alliances with external organizations.

Works with College personnel to research funding resources and oversees the development of grant proposals to support college programs and initiatives.

Oversees the implementation and administration of funded projects and maintains grant archives.

Eventually, LeBlanc was promoted to Assistant Dean of Continuing Education according to SMC's
Management Organizational Chart for September 5, 2005. Look at this chart closely and you'll see that she's right under Vice-President of Planning and Development, Robert Sammis, the same person who's repeatedly withheld these public records from us! Can you see his motive and involvement in all of this? I can.

Oh, and you've got to love the irony in LeBlanc's
August 1, 2005 remark about SMC's new Bundy campus, "The building reflects the fact that we care about out students and their success." She didn't seem to care too much about the SMC students and their success back in December 2000 when she helped Dean Muller cover up Keeshen's Studio Animatics involvement in the Title VI-A grant. It appears to me that she cared more about promoting herself through SMC's administrative hierarchy and helping to fleece the government in the process out of their money. If LeBlanc was supposed to "maintain grant archives," then why can't SMC find these very same Animatics and Studio Animatics contracts related to this Title VI-A project they were both involved in? I guess it's not in SMC's best interest to find them.

Let's re-examine some of the statements Jim Keeshen made to me on Rosh Hashanah last year: Keeshen stated that Katharine Muller was "f---in' pissed" and "real upset" about the document production for AET. Can you see why she would be? And this is only several of the documents we've requested under the CPRA. Keeshen also stated: "You got me in big trouble." Can you now see why? He added: "You've essentially poisoned the water here... for everybody.... It's a really bad climate here now.... And you're making sure it's all going to hell in a hand basket even faster than it ever had before." I'm sure he's referring to my requests for public records. I've done nothing else that would warrant this statement. Finally, Keeshen stated: "On a day to day level, I'm having to come in here and look at people and as I go by they say, 'you f---ing son of a bitch'. Yeah, it's not a thing, no problem."

I guess it's a problem for SMC's administration, Dean Katharine Muller, and Jim Keeshen. Perhaps, together, we will find a solution.

-- Des Manttari,
Editor-in-Chief,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP


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1 Comments:

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really So Much info abuot the failures of the folks in charge of SMC. WHO KNEW - better send your kids to LACC!

 

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