Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Jim Keeshen, Seth MacFarlane, and The Family Guy Pilot

Jim Keeshen's ET 2 Storytelling class for Spring 2006, taught at Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology, uses eCollege's eCompanion for the purposes of supplementing its ground course with online material. Inside eCompanion, under the course syllabus, Jim Keeshen has a short biography about himself. Here's a screenshot of the bio:

James Keeshen's Bio for ET2 Storytelling

And here's a closer view of the bio:

Jim Keeshen's Bio for ET2 Storytelling Close Up

Jim Keeshen's Course Syllabus page for Santa Monica College, he alleges the following: "Jim Keeshen started his animation career producing animated Sesame Street shorts on counting numbers and pronouncing letters from the alphabet." Now he alleges that he was "developing ideas and producing animated shorts for Sesame Street." In his resume, he claims that he "started his animation career during his studies at UCLA by animating a few scenes" for Sesame Street. Clearly, he's elevating his position to sound more important.

The same is true pertaining to his statements about the Academy of Entertainment and Technology. In his course syllabus, he alleges that in "1997 the Academy of Entertainment and Technology was started at SMC and Keeshen was asked to help set up the curriculum and advise on hardware/software purchases. He became the first full time professor and chair of the Academy." His resume reflects this information. However, he is now claiming that in 1997 he was "offered a full-time professorship to establish and run the Academy of Entertainment and Technology."

Did he in fact establish the Academy as he claims? According to our blog article, "
A Brief History of the Academy of Entertainment & Technology," it was Piedad Robertson and Darroch "Rocky" Young who established the Academy with the help of project directors Joan Abrahamson and Dale Franzen. Regardless of who really established AET, Keeshen should not brag as SMC, under the California Public Records Act, has failed to disclose the documents filed to the California Postsecondary Education Commission that would reveal exactly how AET received its status as an educational center in 1997.

But the most blatant misrepresentation Jim Keeshen makes in his ET 2 Storytelling Bio is that he not only "produced" the pilot for Fox's Family Guy, but that he also "directed" it. Here's a screenshot close-up of this false statement by him:

James Keeshen's False Family Guy Statements for ET2 Storytelling

Did Jim Keeshen produce and direct the pilot for Family Guy? Not according to the official Family Guy credits listed at the end of the pilot pitch VHS tape that I watched. Here's the screenshot from our blog article entitled "
Family Guy Pilot Credits."

Family Guy Pilot Pitch Credits for the Director and Producer

As the credits clearly reveal, Seth MacFarlane was not only the executive producer, he was the sole creator, writer, and director. Jim Keeshen and
Jim Keeshen Productions are listed as the producers. So, Jim Keeshen clearly did not direct the Family Guy pilot. However, despite this fact, he is now publicizing that he directed it to his ET 2 Storytelling students. He is allegedly doing this to elevate his position on this project and to circumvent credit that belongs solely to the show's creator, Seth MacFarlane. Since Jim Keeshen produced this pilot and distributed the VHS tape to students at AET who worked on the project, he cannot claim that this is a mistake on his part. Rather, it is an outright and deliberate lie in conscious disregard to both his faculty ethics and SMC's academic integrity to uphold the truth in education.

What Jim Keeshen fails to disclose to his students is his bitter history with not only Seth MacFarlane, but with Fox Broadcasting, all of which can be viewed in our
Family Guy Index. As previously revealed, Keeshen sued both Seth MacFarlane and Fox. In the Answer of Defendant Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox alleges that Jim Keeshen and Jim Keeshen Productions are barred from recovery, in part, by the Statute of Frauds, the Doctrine of Unclean Hands, the Doctrine of Impossibility, the Doctrine of Frustration of Purpose, the Doctrine of Fraud, negligence, and by the fault of Plaintiffs and its failure to satisfy conditions. Fox further alleges that "Plaintiffs have materially breached their obligations under the alleged contracts." Seth MacFarlane's answer makes many of these same allegations against Keeshen in its defense.

But Jim Keeshen wants to have his cake and eat it too. While falsely laying claim to directing the Family Guy pilot pitch, he turns around and verbally defames and slanders Fox in his ET 18 Storyboarding class. According to a confidential witness, on or about February 22, 2006, Jim Keeshen was passing around scripts of the Family Guy to his students. Were these scripts illegally obtained from Fox after Fox allegedly fired Keeshen? We are not sure. But we are sure that he made the following statements to his students or words to this effect: "Here's another script.... Who has the scripts?.... There's a piece of shit for sure. That's Family Guy. Here's another piece of shit. Family Guy. If you tell me that you watch Family Guy and you love it, I will fail you from this class."

Given the fact that the Family Guy is one of the most popular animated shows on television, he would have to fail most of his students. Regardless, it was highly unprofessional of Keeshen as an instructor to make these kinds of statements to his students. There was simply no justification other than the fact that Keeshen wished to intentionally paint Seth MacFarlane's animated masterpiece in an unfavorable light to his students.

The last question that remains is that who wrote this bio for Keeshen given the fact that it is written in the third person? If we take a peek at the internal eCompanion email list for ET 2 this semester, we see the following names at the end of the list:

ET 2 eCompanion email list with Barbara Ziering's name at the end

Well, what do we have here at the end of the list, but none other than Barbara Ziering. Now, this is a very uncommon name, so it is safe to assume that this is the same Barbara Ziering that we have discussed many times on the SAVE SMC Blog. Ms. Ziering not only worked in various capacities for Jim Keeshen Productions, her name is credited in several places on the Family Guy pilot. She also was at one time an instructor at the Academy of Entertainment and Technology and now teaches at Otis College of Art + Design. On the Otis webpage, Ziering credits herself as "Supervising Animator with Jim Keeshen Productions."

So, since she no longer teaches at AET, how did she manage to be assigned to the ET 2 Storytelling course as a student? Is she acting as Keeshen's teaching assistant despite the fact that she no longer is affiliated with Santa Monica College? Who authorized her into the eCollege third party vendor online software for SMC's course? If she did in fact write Jim Keeshen's bio for this course, she would have known by virtue of her involvement in the Family Guy pilot that it was MacFarlane and not Keeshen who was the actual director of this pitch.

Also notice that Jim Keeshen is again plugging his Day of the Dead short animated film. This gives validity to Keeshen's statements that "Right now I'm just using them so that I can finish my film" and "Lying is better than not lying." Should Keeshen be allowed to use a publicly funded educational institute for his own self-serving purposes and to make false statements to its student body? Who will intervene in SMC's pantheon of administrators to stop this kind of abuse and have this false information removed? Or should Fox Broadcasting and Seth MacFarlane step in to set the record straight? Only time will tell.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Another Cease and Desist Notice to SMC

Here's an Adobe PDF copy of the letter written by my attorney Edward Y. Lee, dated February 24, 2006. This letter was faxed to Joshua Morrison, the attorney who is representing Santa Monica Community College District, who is employed at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo. The final letter was signed and faxed.

As we've previously discussed, Santa Monica College, by and through Professor
Jim Keeshen, allegedly infringed on my copyrights on various occasions last year in regards to the History of Animation website that was housed on my server. You can view our original Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Notice HERE. Now, Professor Keeshen is allegedly using my name and information in his ET 2 Storytelling course this semester. This course is taught at Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology. Despite the letter sent from my attorney last Friday, my name continues to appear in his supplemental eCollege eCompanion course module.

Here's a thumbnail screenshot of my name used in an alleged webliography posting by James Keeshen on or about January 25, 2006:

ET2 Storytelling Webliography thumbnail of entries for Spring 2006

And here's a close-up view showing my name as the person allegedly submitting the 4 links.

ET2 Storytelling Webliography with Des Manttari's Name and Date

And here's a close-up view showing that it was Professor James Keeshen who posted this misinformation, using my name without my permission or authorization.

ET2 Storytelling Webliography with Des Manttari's Name and Date

And here's the doc sharing portion of the course where Professor Keeshen has allegedly created a folder with my name. For what purpose, it remains unclear as I am no longer his teaching assistant nor am I currently enrolled in this course.

ET2 Storytelling Doc Sharing close-up with my name for Spring 2006

Hopefully, SMC will immediately remove my name from this ET 2 Storytelling course.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Discrimination at Santa Monica College

Recently, we did a blog article entitled "SMC's Game Development Certificate Revealed" in which we discussed Professor Jim Keeshen's alleged denial of equal access to students at Santa Monica College' Academy of Entertainment and Technology ET 18 Storyboarding course. We also discussed this course in our article "Santa Monica College Spring 2006 Cancelled Classes." Here is an Adobe PDF copy of the letter written by our attorney Edward Y. Lee, dated February 24, 2006. This letter was faxed to Joshua Morrison, the attorney who is representing Santa Monica Community College District, who is employed at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.

In the letter, both AET student Dustin Curran and I are seeking reinstatement into Professor Keeshen's ET 18 course, a course we were initially enrolled in and have paid for. Despite Professor Keeshen stating the course was full, he enrolled other students and denied us access. The final letter sent to Attorney Morrison was signed, but I have provided the unsigned version for reference. We shall see what transpires next Wednesday. Regardless of the outcome, it is always important for students to stand up for their rights.

This is our 100th article on our blog! Here's to another 100 in the future!

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Eminem's Fine Line Between Love and Hate

I am enrolled this semester in ET 14 Web Design I with Professor Zeny Baduel. The course is taught at Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology satellite campus. For our first assignment, we had to create a simple webpage that included several basic web design elements. The topic of the site was left to our discretion. You can view my webpage entitled "Eminem's Fine Line Between Love and Hate" HERE. I have provided comment tags in the source code for those interested. Professor Baduel's course is an excellent introduction to html and xhtml. I highly recommend it.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

SMC's Game Development Certificate Revealed

In January, we did an article on How AET Manipulates its Curriculum & Certificates. We examined the Game Development Occupational Career Certificate allegedly offered by Santa Monica College's vocational satellite campus, The Academy of Entertainment and Technology. We've shown that although this certificate is listed on SMC's Spring schedule of courses, it is not in fact even slated for approval on the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office Inventory of Approved and Projected Programs. According to the CCCCO:

This inventory lists degrees and certificates offered by California community colleges which are approved by the Chancellor's Office, and projected future programs.

Types of programs not included here are: certificates that require fewer than 18 semester units or 27 quarter units; inactive program; and noncredit programs. Apprenticeship programs are included, and may be viewed separately from non-apprenticeship programs.

As we've shown in our article "
AET's Questionable Vocational Career Certificates," the only approved programs at SMC's AET are Interactive Media and Computer Animation. Web Design and Development is slated for pending approval in 2007. Game Development is not listed at all.

Here's a screenshot from SMC's Winter Schedule of courses advertising the fictitious Game Development Certificate:

SMC Winter 2006 Schedule of Classes for Entertainment Technology

Spring 2006 schedule for Entertainment Technology reflects the same information. But SMC did not stop there. When a student logs onto their Santa Monica College student self-serve page, they are taken to a page where he or she can update his or her student information. One of the options is where the student can select an Educational Goal. Of course SMC's fictitious Game Development program is among the offerings. Here's a screenshot confirming this fact:

SMC Spring 2006 Update Student Information Educational Goals Menu

This screenshot above clearly deceives SMC students that Game Development is a course of study offered by Santa Monica College. Further examination of SMC AET
Entertainment Technology Program Guide for 2005-2006 describes its alleged Game Development Career Certificate Track. The "Career Certificate in Game Development" is listed as "approval pending." However, as the CCCCO website revealed, only certificates that require fewer than 18 semester units or 27 quarter units are not listed as pending approval or already approved.

SMC's AET Game Development certificate is listed as requiring 39 to 41 units for satisfactory completion. Therefore, if it was legitimately pending, it would be listed on the CCCCO website as such. In any event, the Winter and Spring schedule of courses wrongfully describe this certificate as something that is already offered at SMC when in fact it is not.

Why is Santa Monica College allowed to continue to deceptively advertise a certificate that does not exist? Why has AET gone one step farther and overhauled its course listings in Entertainment Technology to include courses in Game Authoring, Game Design, and Game Development, further deceiving its student body?

In any event, this alleged game development program is not taking hold. SMC cancelled its fairly new ET 44B Game Design/Play Mechanics II course for Spring semester 2006. This course uses the Unreal Game Engine to teach students how to create game mods. It is a very valuable course that I have heard students praise wholeheartedly. Here's an email Professor Travis Castillo sent his students:

--- Travis Castillo <
traviscastillo@gmail.com> wrote:
well guys...I got the very unfortunate news that they will be cancelling our Monday night class due to low enrollment...I am very disappointed in this situation because it seemed like we were gona have a great semester...I have had classes here with fewer students, but it seems as though they have upped the min # enrolled to 18...we had 14...I wish you all the best of luck in your game design endeavors!...Always feel free to shoot me a mail if you have any questions I can help you with... Thanks guys Travis

Now, Professor Castillo is a part time instructor at SMC. When courses are cancelled for part time instructors, it hurts them financially to the point that many of these instructors start looking elsewhere for employment. When the professors with the industry expertise leave, the courses meet a certain and swift death. For example, Professor Jeannie Novak is no longer teaching the ET 42 Game Development course since it has been cut down to only 1 unit. She's focusing her energies elsewhere, where her endless talents and enthusiasm are far more appreciated. Both these part time instructors were valuable assets at SMC's Academy. We as students suffer.

Why was this ET 44B course targeted for cancellation while other AET Entertainment Technology courses still listed as open with below the 18-student minimum? Here's a screenshot I made of open AET courses as of the other day:

SMC Spring 2006 Open Courses for Entertainment Technology

In our article "
Santa Monica College Spring 2006 Cancelled Classes," we discussed ET 13, ET 18, and ET 20. Specifically, ET 13 Game Authoring I was green lighted with only 13 students with full time AET Professor David Javelosa. ET 20 seemed to miraculously find 18 students to meet the minimum requirement.

Several students discussed the fact that on the first day of ET 18 Storyboarding last Wednesday, an SMC employee came into the class and informed the students that the course had been cancelled. Professor Jim Keeshen came to the class late to find only 9 students. He told me two different stories: that the class had been cancelled and, alternatively, that it was full despite the fact there were only 9 students present. This Wednesday, February 22, 2006, I was informed that the class had 21 students.

However, this course has a co-requisite of ET 2 Storytelling. According to Professor Keeshen, it is not enough to have drawing skills. The art of storytelling is crucial to understanding the purpose of storyboards. Apparently, when he took a count of how many students had taken ET 2 or were currently enrolled in the course, not everyone raised his or her hand. How could students be allowed into this course without this co-requisite especially when other students who wished to take the course who did meet this requirement were turned away? Rather than remove these students from the course to make room for others who wished to take the course, Professor Keeshen allegedly told his students, "Lying is better than not lying."

Is this a breach of faculty ethics on the part of Professor Jim Keeshen? Is Professor Keeshen allowing equal access to education for all students at SMC's public educational institute? I am informed and believe and thereon allege that he turned me away from the course last week even though I was enrolled to take the course with him and that he turned other students away today while continuing to add students he wanted into the course. Can he selectively handpick students he wants while denying others? Were students who didn't meet the requirements allowed into the course solely to pad the enrollment numbers so that the course could bypass its alleged cancellation a week prior?

AET students, however, are not taking the tampering of their courses lightly. They are unifying and fighting for their rights. Here is an email I received for a student I shall keep anonymous to protect him from any retaliation against SMC.

Well I hope many of you still feel the need to reinstate ET 44B. I ask that we all meet at the Student Information center on the AET campus at 12p.m. Feb. 23 so that we can get a physical headcount and petition signed and started. Also bring anyone that is interested in joining the class as well. The more the merrier. Please, if this class means anything to you show up and lets just prove that we want this class that bad. I know that this seems kinda rushed and last minute but like I said time is of the essence.

This email was sent to many students other than myself. I applaud the students' efforts and hope that they are successful in reinstating ET 44B. If you wish to take this course, I would highly suggest attending this informal meeting. Our future as game developers depends on it.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

SAVE SMC AET Advanced Search Database Updated

Finally, I've gotten around to doing a massive update of the Phoenix Genesis SAVE SMC Advanced Search Database for the Academy of Entertainment & Technology. You can access it HERE. This is the advance search page for both the SAVE SMC Blog and SAVE SMC Official Website. You can also search blog articles and the SAVE SMC website with the SAVE SMC Blog Search.

The SMC AET Advance Search page now includes a list with links of all blog articles to date. Each article is organized in chronological order by date, title, topic, and keywords. Additionally, all related charts, indexes, and Adobe PDF files have been included. There are still a few loose ends to tie up, but the search page is virtually complete. Please bookmark it as it will be continually updated as new information is available.

There is a massive amount of information pertaining to the California Public Records Act, Santa Monica College, and its satellite vocational campus, the Academy of Entertainment & Technology. Not only do we have charts and spreadsheets, but we have well-researched articles with illustrations and photographs, and many public records that we have converted into Adobe PDF format. In an effort to help you navigate through this information maze, we're trying to organize this information into an easily searchable format. Any suggestions for further improvements are welcome.

We hope this makes your online journey more enjoyable and efficient.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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Monday, February 20, 2006

A Dangerous Falsifier of Holocaust History

I read an article today on Yahoo! entitled "Holocaust Denier Gets Three Years in Jail." According to the article, British revisionist historian David Irving was recently sentenced to three years in prison by an Austrian court for denying the Holocaust. Irving originally denied that there were no gas chambers at the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. However, during his one-day trial, he admitted that he had "made a mistake."

Six million Jews perished at the hands of Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution." Not only did Hitler systematically exterminate innocent Jews, but others who he felt were undesirable such as homosexuals, the mentally ill, Communists, Gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses, and prostitutes. Anyone who was in a political camp that opposed Hitler's insanity was also eliminated. Millions of people were shipped in cattle cars to Nazi death and extermination camps in both German and Poland. They were told that they were being relocated to settlement camps.

Once in these death factories, the victims were subjected to mental and physical abuse and torture. They were slaves in forced labor, starved, beaten and tortured. Doctor Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, subjected many victims to cruel experiments. Twins were targeted for especially cruel experiments that led to disfiguration and death. Inmates were shot and hung in public executions. Those who were not immediately executed died of diseases such as typhus.

However, the preferred method of extermination of most inmates was the gas chambers. On or about July 31, 1944, the entire Gypsy population of Auschwitz was exterminated in these gas chambers. Those who fought against the Nazis were shot. Frightened inmates were herded naked into these huge chambers of death and exposed to Zyklon-B, a lethal poison gas. Once these prisoners died, their bodies were taken by the Sonderkommando crews, composed of male Jewish inmates, to the crematoria and burned. The fat from the babies and women were used to fuel these hell fires. Later, the ashes were dumped into a pond in what was known as "The Little Wood."

Toward the end of the war, the Nazis began to cover their tracks, destroying the crematoria and forcing the prisoners to go on lengthy death marches in the harsh winter. Many died on these marches from exhaustion or were shot if they failed to keep pace. Over the decades, less than ethical individuals such as Irving have emerged to publicly deny the Holocaust both verbally and in print.

Did Irving in fact make an innocent "mistake" or had he deliberately falsified history for his own financial benefit? Irving is the author of a Holocaust denial book entitled "Hitler's War." The book is allegedly a bestseller. You can download it for free
HERE. In his 1977 book, Irving claims that Hitler was not aware of the genocide against the Jews nor did he mastermind a "Final Solution." He thought that the gas chambers of Auschwitz weren't even worth mentioning in a footnote in his book due to the fact that they are merely a Jewish "myth."

Having written both a screenplay and novel entitled "The Roar of the Beast" that deals with the atrocities of the Holocaust, I have done years of painstaking research. I have read testimonies from both Nazis and Jews who admitted the existence of the Auschwitz gas chambers. I have viewed many photos proving the existence of these death factories. I am appalled that anyone could sincerely deny the existence of not only the Holocaust, but the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

One excellent book I recommend is entitled "Sonderkommando: The Holocaust Odyssey of Daniel Bennahmias." The book is written by Rebecca Camhi Fromer and is available at The University of Alabama Press. This 1993 book chronicles Bennahmias false imprisonment in Auschwitz and his forced assignment as a Sonderkommando. Bennahmias was one of a handful of Sonderkommando who were fortunate enough to survive to document the atrocities he was forced to participate in. Wanting to cover their tracks, the Nazis would systematically execute the entire Jewish Sonderkommando approximately every four months and replace them with new victims.

Irving deserves the sentence he's recently received. Of course he's entitled to free speech, but he is not entitled to financially profit from deliberate hateful false representations of history. At the time he published his bestselling biography, he knew or should have known that his statements and version of Holocaust history were false. In fact, he not only knew and profited from such, he used the court system to sue Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel. Fortunately, he lost his case as the court upheld Lipstadt's claims that Irving "is an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist."

Irving became an icon to Neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers across the world. Despite Irving's cult following, his books have been widely discredited. Not only did Lipstadt have the courage to oppose Irving, so did the Anti-Defamation League. Apparently, Irving has no academic credentials as a historian and has never earned a college degree. Yet, despite his qualifications and his blatant racism, he has been a speaker for the California-based Institute for Historical Review (IHR), the leading Holocaust-denial organization in the world. He has also lent his name and endorsement to a Nazi regime newspaper in Germany. Irving also spoke at a conference with former KKK leader and Neo-Nazi David Duke.

Clearly, Irving was not attempting to present an alternative history of the Holocaust, but deliberately intended to support Neo-Nazi hate groups and to sell copies of his book. In May 1992, a German court found Irving guilty of violating hate crime laws when he asserted that the Auschwitz gas chambers were "fakes" built after the war as Polish tourist attractions. In May 1988, Irving testified under oath that he found "no document whatsoever indicating the Holocaust occurred." In April 1990, a German newspaper quoted Irving as follows: "The holocaust of the Jews in the Auschwitz gas chambers is a fabrication." In 1989, Irving attacked Holocaust survivors' eyewitness testimony, claiming, "I do not think there were any gas chambers or any master plan. It's just a myth and at last the myth is being eroded.... Eyewitness evidence is a problem for psychiatrists."

Irving is now conveniently and maliciously attacking survivors of the Holocaust, essentially claiming they are mentally ill for bearing witness to the atrocities they witnessed. Irving goes even farther by threatening the Jews with violence, stating in February 1992, "The Jews are very foolish not to abandon the gas chamber theory while they still have time." He also claims that the Jews "have exploited people with the gas chamber legend." Yet, Irving's version of history is factually inaccurate with hundreds of mistakes including wrong names and dates as well as false and undocumented statements. Ironically, Irving boasts, "My reputation is, oddly enough, more important than money."

I support the Austrian legal system for having the moral conviction to indict such an evil person as Irving. Now, when he is proven wrong in a court of law and must face the consequences of his malicious actions, he is seeking pity and forgiveness from those he has wrongfully harmed. He is not being sincere, but is playing the sympathy card to circumvent his inevitable incarceration. Irving feels that his sentence is in violation of his rights to free speech. He stated, "Of course it's a question of freedom of speech. The law is an ass." But many individuals feel otherwise such as State prosecutor Michael Klackl who commented that "He is everything but a historian ... He is a dangerous falsifier of history." Klackl feels Irving has abused his rights to free speech. The Simon Wiesenthal Center adamantly supported the verdict. Irving plans to appeal the decision.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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The Sims Hot Date: Katharine Muller's Romantic Getaway

In Spring 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed both J. Steven Rhodes and Margaret Quinones to the California Community College Board of Governors. During this same year, Quinones is successful in her "Friends of Margaret Quinones" re-election campaign for a seat on Santa Monica College's Board of Trustees. Note that J. Steven Rhodes was the chief advisor to Vice President George Bush roughly during the same period that Joan Abrahamson was assistant chief of staff. Abrahamson eventually becomes one of two program directors for SMC's Academy of Entertainment and Technology (AET) and continues to sit on the AET President's Advisory Board under a consultant contract with SMC.

Governor Schwarzenegger appoints both Quinones and Rhodes to the California Community College Board of Governors while also appointing then SMC President and Superintendent Piedad Robertson to his transition team. Richard Riordan, Secretary of Education, also utilizes Robertson during this time. As we mentioned previously, both Riordan and Robertson contributed to Quinones' SMC Board of Trustees re-election campaign.

Now that Quinones is back on board for another term at SMC, she is able to keep the consulting contract money flowing to Rhodes former Bush associate, Joan Abrahamson, in addition to SMC Professor Jim Keeshen under his fictitious company, Studio Animatics. Abrahamson signs a consultant contract with SMC as an outside consultant. In her required tax information to SMC, she states that she is working as an individual consultant, yet she has her SMC payments made through her non-profit public policy Jefferson Institute. Quinones also rewards Robertson's loyalty by increasing her salary to over $200,000, making her the state's highest paid community college president.

Despite this lucrative salary and the support of all her alleged cronies, Robertson eventually receives her second vote of no-confidence in her career in tandem with a poor accreditation of SMC from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 2004. On or about January 2005, Robertson leaves SMC to take over the Education Commission of the States in Denver, Colorado. The ECS is considered a national education think tank that shapes public policy. Eventually, former SMC Administrators, William L. Shade and Winniphred Stone join Robertson.

Before coming to Santa Monica College, Robertson was Vice President for Public Affairs and President at Miami-Dade Community College in Miami, Florida from 1980 to 1988. SMC Dean of External Programs, Katharine Muller, also worked at Miami-Dade. Let's examine her background and employment history.

Upon attaining a Master of Education with a major in Guidance and Counseling from Florida Atlantic University in Boca, Raton, Florida in June 1969, Katharine Muller obtains a job at Miami-Dade Community College District. She remains at Miami-Dade until 1997, when she is brought in by Robertson to oversee the newly created Academy of Entertainment & Technology. Let's see how Muller rose through the ranks of Miami-Dade's employment ladder, taken from her resume:

Miami-Dade Community College, New World Center Campus
Faculty, Counselor, Advisor

Miami-Dade Community, Medical Center Campus
Chair, Mental Health Technology

Miami-Dade Community, Medical Center Campus
Coordinator, Student Activities & Organizations

Miami-Dade Community College District
District Director of Special Events

Miami-Dade Community College District
District Director of Marketing

Miami-Dade Community College District
District Director of Academic Programs

Provide leadership and management for the development and maintenance of curriculum, curriculum systems and curriculum documents; provide college wide leadership, monitoring and liaison for international education, out of district programs and technical assistance; provide college wide leadership, monitoring and liaison for dual enrollment.

So, in 1988, when Robertson resigns from her presidency at Miami-Dade, Muller is put in place to hone her skills in dual enrollment and curriculum, skills that would become useful to Robertson when she places Muller in charge of SMC's Academy. Here's Muller's employment history for SMC AET, again taken from the same resume:

Santa Monica Community College District
Dean of External Programs & Academy of Entertainment & Technology.

Responsible for four SMC satellite sites, including the development and maintenance all instructional and student support services for satellites sites. Planned and developed the Academy of Entertainment and Technology. Develop and maintain industry contacts for Academy programs.

From 1991 to 1995, Robertson served as Massachusetts Secretary of Education, appointed by Governor William Weld. One of Robertson's duties was to supervise the drafting of a comprehensive K-12 Education Reform Act. She also worked furiously to establish charter schools throughout the state. Winniphred Stone was the Senior Policy Analyst in the Executive Office of Education in Massachusetts. In 1995, Robertson moves into power at SMC, eventually bringing in her friends, Winniphred Stone, Katharine Muller, and William Shade. As previously mentioned, Shade was Chief of Staff for the ECS. According to a cached page from the ECS website:

William L. Shade joined ECS as chief of staff in February 2005. He oversees ECS operations and coordinates the activity of all ECS departments. Shade has executive-level experience in government, higher education and the private sector. This includes service on the staffs of Governor Bob Graham of Florida and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and as vice chancellor for public affairs of the State University System of Florida, vice president for planning and development of Santa Monica College, and manager of external relations of the Florida Power and Light Company. He also has taught political science and public administration at Florida State University, Southern Illinois University and the University of Scranton.

So, it is conceivable that both Robertson and Muller knew Shade in Florida. In any event, he was brought by Robertson to SMC to serve under her administration. An interesting news flash: William L. Shade has vanished from the ECS website! Now, he only recently joined the ECS in February 2005, a month after Robertson became president. What happened to him? I can't find any information whatsoever pertaining to any departure or resignation from the ECS. Is someone trying to hide something here from us? Is it mere coincidence that Shade vanishes from the ECS staff directory within a few weeks of someone at the ECS reading the SAVE SMC Blog according to our traffic meter? Where is Shade now? What is Robertson up to at the ECS?

According to the ECS Form 990 ECS 2004 tax filings, Ted Sanders, the former president of the ECS, made $222,637 in compensation and $13,399 in "expense account and other allowances." Robertson will reel in the same salary or perhaps a bit more. Winniphred Stone, as Vice President of Planning and Development for the ECS should take in well over $110,000 plus perks. According to the 2004 ECS Form 990, "The Mission of the Education Commission of the States is to assist governors, state legislators, state education officials and others to identify, develop and implement public policy for education that addresses current and future needs of a learning society." So, by virtue of this mission, it is beneficial for Robertson to convince ECS Chairman and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee to appoint Joan Abrahamson to his Governor’s Commission on the Arts in Education. After all, she runs her public policy Jefferson Institute, which has received large sums of money from SMC.

And what do we have here in the ECS tax filings? In 2001, the California Department of Education in Sacramento, California donates $160,007 to the ECS while Robertson is President of SMC. This is the same year that Robertson helps Stone, Muller, Abrahamson, and Keeshen obtain their largest SMC Board of Trustee approved grants and consultant contracts. Money is really flowing through the California educational system and federal government. No one is really paying attention, that is, until the tragedy of 9/11 abruptly shuts off the money valve as the government shifts its gears to national security issues.

The Sims Hot Date: Katharine Muller's Romantic Getaway Expansion Pack


Let's see how Robertson, Shade, and Muller use their ties to Florida to shape public policy at the ECS. In 2003, the State of Florida donates $10,000 as does the Florida Department of Education under cash grants and allocations. In 2004, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Department of Education donates $5000. This is mere pocket change compared to the $160,007 donation from the California taxpayers. Let's see what the ECS does with all this money.

On or about July 13, 2005, SMC Dean of External Programs Katharine Muller and Steve Seabolt, Vice President of Human Resources for Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA), take a little romantic getaway to the ECS under the guise of participating in the Workforce Development for the Creative Economy. Seabolt also acts as "Head of Strategic University Relationships" for EA. Of course the ECS has now deleted all references to this session from their website as they did with their references to William Shade. Fortunately, we've retained cached copies of this information.

In 2004, EA comes to the University of Central Florida (UCF) in search of "hiring hundreds of first-rate programmers, artists and video-game producers to keep pace with the growing demands of the industry." In April of that year, EA with the help of the "Economic Development Commission and other industrial partners helped UCF secure funding from the State of Florida to develop and implement an immersive, real-world video game program" for UCF's Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). FIEA is located in Orlando, Florida.

How much funding did FIEA obtain? FIEA walked away with $4.2 million in grant money from the state of Florida budget signed by Governor Jeb Bush! This is almost four times what Santa Monica College's AET vocational school launched with back in 1997 thanks to then California Governor Pete Wilson's generosity. Perhaps this exponential amount of money takes inflation into consideration or at least the belief in the success of UCF's new Multimedia grad school over SMC's community college satellite vocational school.

Here's the summary of the July 13, 2005 ECS session #343 entitled: Workforce Development for the Creative Economy:

Is the United States on the verge of losing its competitive edge in the global economy? In addition to the changing demographics, outsourcing and technological innovations that continue to transform the nature of work in the 21st century, a creativity gap is emerging between the United States and other countries around the globe. Policymakers increasingly are looking to postsecondary education to produce a new "creative class" – workers and citizens capable of producing new ideas to sustain both America's economy and democracy. Join panelists from different sectors of the nation's creative community as they discuss the role of postsecondary education in shaping the future of the creative economy in the United States.

The participants are listed as Randy Cohen (Vice President, Research and Information, Americans for the Arts, District of Columbia), Antonio Flores (President and Chief Executive Officer, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities), Katharine Muller (Dean of External Programs, Santa Monica College, California), and Steve Seabolt (Vice President, Human Resources, Electronic Arts, Inc.).

According to the ECS's website, the Outcomes for this event were as follows:

1. Learn about demographic and economic projections and what they mean for workforce preparedness and global competitiveness.

2. Have a better understanding of the role postsecondary education plays in preparing the "new creative class."

Take home policy options and strategies to ensure education institutions develop more workers able to compete in the world economy and join the creative class.

Now, let's backtrack to Electronic Art's previous visits to Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment & Technology. On or about October 21, 2004, EA came to AET for a meeting with Dean Katharine Muller and AET Professor of Animation, Jim Keeshen. I do not know who else attended that meeting. At the time, I was a teaching assistant for several of Keeshen's courses as well as a current student at AET. EA allegedly came to SMC's Academy to discuss potential jobs and internships for AET students. After the meeting, Keeshen informed me that EA wouldn't hire anyone at AET. At this time that Muller allegedly knew this information, she concealed this fact from AET students.

Despite EA's reluctance, on or about March 15, 2005, Electronic Arts came to the Academy to allegedly speak to students about their company as well as about their summer internship program and full-time positions. A memorandum was distributed on or about March 2, 2005 by AET Internship Coordinator Gloria Mottler. This memorandum was titled "Urgent Notification." It additionally stated: "This is a great opportunity, please plan to attend!"

What was the outcome of all of EA's participation at AET? To the best of my knowledge, according to the students who participated in these interviews, none were given internships with EA. It was a very depressing day at the AET computer lab for these talented students. Muller, Mottler, and EA crushed their creative spirits. According to SMC's AET Internship and Job Placement data provided under the California Public Records Act, Electronic Arts is shown as providing only one internship and one hire between the period of 1998 to October 2005. Given the doctored internship records for Jim Keeshen Productions, one should take this pathetic data with a grain of salt.

Remember how AET Chairman Bill Lancaster glowed to the media about jumping on the video game bandwagon? Well, EA, the top video game industry company in the United States, never even bothered to sit on the AET Entertainment Industry Advisory Board. So, wouldn't it have been better for Katharine Muller to revive those idle entertainment industry partners AET already allegedly had rather than try to wheel and deal with heavy hitter EA? Not necessarily, especially if Muller had a hidden person agenda with Steve Seabolt.

In an email from Katharine Muller to Steve Seabolt, dated June 1, 2005, she wrote the following regarding her recruitment of Seabolt for the July ECS session: "There are too many bureaucrats on this panel from my perspective if we want to have credibility with policy makers. It has been my experience that when industry representatives make presentations with us in Sacramento legislators sit up and listen. So I am projecting that the same would be true on a national level." Again, on July 14, 2005, Muller wrote the following to Seabolt: "I feel strongly we need to keep hammering at educators and policy makers to effect the changes necessary to make education and training rigorous enough for all students so that they have the foundation and skills to be productive."

So, Muller should practice what she preaches. How is she providing the AET students with a solid foundation of skills when the AET program is disintegrating before our very eyes? In the wake of Muller's nine year reign and six-figure salary, certificates and classes are being cut, courses are losing units, professors and industry partners are dropping like flies, and our students are not being offered the internships and jobs promised. Most importantly, SMC has not produced a single email or letter between Muller and Seabolt regarding any correspondence pertaining to EA's role at SMC. Muller can take the time to write to him about E3 and about the ECS, but she cannot thank Electronic Arts for taking the time to come to the Academy of Entertainment and Technology. Or, alternatively, does SMC not want us to know what really transpired in those secret EA meetings with Muller, Mottler, and Keeshen? Why isn't SMC able to produce any documents pertaining to EA's March 15, 2005 presentation and interviews on the AET campus?

Back in sunny Florida, FIEA opens its educational doors on or about August 2005. This is only a month after Muller and Seabolt meet with Robertson and Shade at the ECS! So, it appears that Muller and Seabolt worked hand-in-hand to ensure the success of AET's competitor, FIEA. Isn't that considered a conflict of interest on Muller's part as SMC Dean of External Programs? Of course Muller and Seabolt needed the help of Robertson and Shade to make this all possible. Given the fact that both individuals were former administrators of SMC, wasn't this a bit unethical on their part? Both Robertson and Shade helped Muller with the creation of AET. Wasn't it their duty to remain loyal to AET's failing vocational program? What was the payoff for everyone at the ECS in the EA FIEA deal?

Well, if you examine the ECS's 2003 form 990 tax filing, you'll see that the ECS owns 571,315 shares of the Vanguard Index 500. In fact, Vanguard is the only securities held by the ECS during this period. With various Vanguard flavored funds, the ECS controls 2,884,149 shares. Oh, and what a coincidence: the sixth largest mutual fund holder of Electronic Arts, Inc. (ERTS) is the Vanguard Index Fund with 2,874,260 shares as reported on December 31, 2004 with a total estimated value of $177,284,356! So, could it be assumed that Robertson, Shade, Muller, and Seabolt together had a vested interest in EA's new school in Florida?

The Electronic Arts Sims Hot Date Nightlife ECS Girls


Now, as Dean of External Programs at SMC, shouldn't Katharine Muller's involvement in this ECS event have benefited the students at AET? Shouldn't it have helped the AET students obtain employment with EA? According to a statement made by SMC AET Professor Jim Keeshen on or about September 26, 2005, "Well EA said to us that they're not really interested in anybody other than USC."

On or about March 23, 2004, the University of Southern California (USC) receives eight million dollars from EA to "fund a Master's Program in designing video games. The funding will establish both the Electronic Arts Interactive Entertainment Program and the Electronic Arts Endowed Faculty Chair. The donation was made to USC's School of Cinema-Television."

Remember that Joan Abrahamson gets appointed to ECS Chair Mike Huckabee's Governor’s Commission on the Arts in Education. Abrahamson also worked to create AET and sits on its Advisory Board. However, she also is on the Board of Councilors for USC! You can view her short biography and photo on USC's website HERE. Is there a conflict of interest here as well? Where's the EA money, jobs, and internships for AET students? Why wasn't EA on our AET Advisory Board?

According to the Lowell Alumni Association online report for Spring 2005, both Joan Abrahamson and Electronic Arts donated to Lowell. EA donated matching funds while Abrahamson graduated Lowell high school in 1969. According to Lowell's official Alumni website, it lists Abrahamson as follows:

Joan Abrahamson '69, B.A. Yale; M.A. Stanford; Ph.D. Harvard; J.D. UCB; President, the Jefferson Institute, Los Angeles. President, the Jonas Salk Foundation; Macarthur Fellow; Director, the National Geographic Society (1999).

Yet, Abrahamson pulled in $5200 a month plus expenses for consultant work for AET, the Institute for International Trade, and "other projects in the planning and development area." Shouldn't she, too, have focused her efforts on securing EA's industry commitment to AET? Was it a conflict of interest for her to remain on the advisory board of two alleged educational competitors?

While FIEA takes off with flying colors, poor AET professor Jeannie Novak gets her ET 42 Game Development class cut down from a 16 week 3 unit course to an 8 week 1 unit course. Furthermore, according to Dean Muller, this course doesn't even warrant computer lab privileges. Do I smell a bit of hypocrisy and breach of fiduciary duty at AET?

Also, the AET Project Management Track falls through, but not until then AET Professor Carol Kirschner secures a $15,000 consultant contract with SMC. So much for her wonderful 15-page analysis of the Project Management Track. Curiously, FIEA offers a specialization in project management as well as in animation, 3D modeling, and software development. The "Academy will train game developers, many of whom will be hired locally and at healthy salaries." History does repeat itself. Yet, despite Santa Monica College's June 1997 presentation to the California Postsecondary Education Commission regarding AET, the Gameworks program never launches and those tens of thousands of high paying salaries for AET graduates never materialize. FIEA is located in Orlando, Florida, right next to all those wonderful theme parks such as Disney World. While FIEA will probably benefit from its locality, AET's Theme Park Entertainment major shriveled up and died under Muller's administration.

Where did John Theodore "Ted" Sanders go after he handed over the ECS to Robertson? Sanders became the Executive Chairman of the Cardean Learning Group, "a prominent online education company." Well, I'm sure he'll utilize new ECS Vice President of Planning and Development Winniphred Stone's expertise. After all, Stone was Associate Dean of Distance Education at SMC thanks to Robertson. Oh, and here's another coincidence: Sanders was the United States Deputy Secretary of Education in the first Bush Administration, appointed in 1989. He may have known Joan Abrahamson and J. Steven Rhodes. Rhodes was nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe in November 1989.

Before coming to the ECS, Sanders was president of the Southern Illinois University. This was the same school where William Shade taught political science and public administration, according to Shade’s ECS biography. Sanders was forced to resign from his position effective February 2000. Even though Sander's left the ECS, he continues to maintain close ties with his former employer through Robertson and Anne L. Bryant. Bryant is the ECS Advisory Commissioner. All three individuals are on the Broad Foundation 2005 review board for the Broad Prize for Urban Education.

What a tangled web we weave. Except, this time, it is the students at the Academy of Entertainment and Technology who are being devoured alive by this public policy spider.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

Editor's Note: Des Manttari is a current student at Santa Monica College's Academy of Entertainment & Technology. She received an MFA Degree from UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television in conjunction with USC's School of Cinema-Television in 1992. She also runs a financial portfolio with includes stock in Electronic Arts, Inc. (ERTS).

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