Thursday, September 28, 2006

SMC Bankrolls Jim Keeshen's Legal Defense

On March 1, 2006, Jim Keeshen made a formal announcement to his ET18 Storyboarding students in which he defamed my good name, made discriminatory remarks against the disabled, and threatened his students. Acting in his capacity as a professor at the Academy of Entertainment and Technology, Jim Keeshen told his class:

I'm gonna come after you. I'm going to find out who the spy is in this class and in ET 2 and I'm going to get you to the letter of the law and have you either kicked out or whatever other consequences they can do to you in terms of doing this. Got it?

In James F. Keeshen We Trust

I subsequently asked Keeshen for an apology. I never received one. I wrote many letters and emails to various individuals in charge at Santa Monica College where Keeshen works as a full-time instructor. Still, no one responded or took one step to reprimand him. I even
personally addressed the SMC Board of Trustees on April 10, 2006 to no avail. Keeshen, of course, continued to retaliate against me as did the SMC administration.

Back in April, Robert Sammis, the attorney for the college, stated the following to Dustin Curran, an SMC student, and me regarding Jim Keeshen's March 1, 2006 in-class speech:

Jim was speaking on his own behalf. He was not articulating any position on behalf of the college. It's not something we would condone. ... Official in his mind. And school policy in his own mind. That's not our policy. He was speaking completely on his own. He had no authority to represent the college. And quite honestly, if he were ever to be sued for that, we would not defend him. We would not be liable for it. He was on his own when he said those things.

Having exhausted my administrative remedies, I filed a
lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on or about August 9, 2006 for libel and slander. I thereafter received an introductory letter from attorney Herman S. Palarz from the law offices of Tyre Kamins, stating that he was representing defendant Jim Keeshen in the underlying case. However, I never heard another word from their office and no answer was filed within the mandated period.

Then, after emailing Mr. Palarz, I received a response to contact Edward W. Lukas, Jr., as he was now Keeshen's new attorney. That name sounded strikingly familiar, so I checked my
SMC Litigation and Legal Guide and, sure enough, Edward W. Lukas' name appeared again and again. Attorney Lukas has represented SMC in ten different lawsuits, acting on behalf of the law office of Harrington, Foxx, Dubrow & Canter, LLP. This law firm has represented the Santa Monica Community College District on twenty-one different legal occasions.

One can only image how much money they have pocketed in legal fees and expenses in the last twenty years they have represented the District. Their service fees for the year 2001-2002, from the SMC Human Resources budget (run back then by Robert Sammis) was $50,000! Here's the screenshot I made from the SMC Board of Trustees minutes from June 4, 2001:

Harrington Foxx Dubrow and Canter legal defense fund

The following year, Harrington, Foxx, Dubrow & Canter raked in approximately another
$30,000. In 1999, they got another $50,000. In 2004, their going rate was shown at $160.00 an hour, plus expenses. Their paralegals took in another $75.00 an hour.

Harrington, Foxx, Dubrow & Canter has cost the college at least $130,000. But what does the SMC administration care; it's not their money, it's our money. But it is worth it to them to keep Jim Keeshen in as tight a leash as possible. But Keeshen is willing to bow down to them as long as he himself doesn't have to be either morally or financially accountable for the hate speech, threats, and false statements he made against me and other students at the school.

If Sammis' words are not just hollow promises, then why is SMC bankrolling Jim Keeshen's legal defense? Is it that SMC's anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies are little more than ink printed on paper? Well, we'll never know, as SMC has failed for almost two months to disclose them under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) as can be seen in our
set six request to President Chui L. Tsang.

As students, we either pay for our courses out of our own pockets or receive some form of financial aid, via state and federal funds. It is us, our parents, and the taxpayers who pay to keep these lawyers, administrators, and faculty in the positions they hold. Jim Keeshen does not financially contribute to SMC's fiscal stability, but depletes it. He's reeled in a
salary of $633,087 in just an eight-year period. We don't know what his current salary is, as SMC has also refused to disclose that under the CPRA.

Add to this the $46,937 for an allegedly
falsified sabbatical he took back in Fall 2003 and the $$83,000 in secret consultant contracts with the school, and we're looking at an approximate cost to the consumer of $680,107! This isn't counting all the medical benefits, other kickbacks with AET industry partners, lunches, and salary he's received from the other years not calculated. If anything, SMC should come to the plate and defend its students who are harmed, not those who harm us. SMC complains about the amount of legal fees its pays out in litigation, but somehow it seems to create the very litigation it wishes to avoid.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

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