Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ACLU Weighs in Regarding Southwestern College

It's official; this is big. The ACLU has sent a letter to Southwestern College's president, Raj K. Chopra, the members of its governing board, the various vice-presidents, and even to the campus police chief. In that patented American Civil Liberties Union fashion, it fires a broadside at the administration - but in a very polite, very professional manner.

(Please visit the Save Our SWC blog for a summary of the letter, and for a link to the entire thing. I haven't figured out how to link to PDF's yet, so I'm going to let them do it.)

I'll admit, I'm feeling pretty prescient - a few posts ago, I commented that have FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) take you to task was one short step to having the ACLU get involved. (The actual comment is located here.)

I've decided to test it again. I think that, given the consistent bad press that they're getting from Higher Education's most respected publications - Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed; and because of the actions of FIRE and the ACLU; and because the Governing Board is trying to blame these budget cuts entirely on the government of the State of California, I predict that it won't be too much longer before the state's Attorney General's office gets involved.

So again I ask: What is wrong with this Board? Do they enjoy this? Have they completely abrogated their responsibility to keep the school and its students first in their priorities?

To me - and I suspect to many others, it appears that they have. The only communication they've made so far to anyone has been supportive of Raj Chopra's 'non-suspension' suspension of the professors. Will it take the involvement of the Attorney General for the Board to realize what a mistake they've made?

I'm guessing it won't be long until we find out.


  1. In FIRE's letter to Chopra et al, Adam Kissel ended by warning them to save Southwestern College the "embarrassment of fighting the Bill of Rights." Looks like they didn't listen.

  2. What a sad time for our SWC students. Some of them are afraid to speak, most are indignant.

    How can so many people at the top be so wrong?

  3. Clearly the school DIDN'T listen. They're letting it get worse and worse. I can't decide if it's because of apathy or inertia that they're letting themselves get further into this.

    And as far as the number of people at the top being wrong, I'm inclined to think it's a sort of herd mentality...

  4. Speaking of apathy... Yesterday Alioto held a "Brown Bagger" meeting, "Bring your lunch and let's talk," oh, and there was only room for the first 50 people,
    {gagging here)! I had to teach so I don't know how many people attended the but I do know that Alioto came out unscathed. Apathy, passiveness, resignation by our teachers? Which is it? No wonder the administration gets away with all but murder!

  5. I don't think he wanted to HEAR anyone; he just wanted to talk. By having one of these, he can claim that he 'met' with faculty. But if no one had shown up, he could then rightly claim that he had 'held out an olive branch' or 'offered to hold informal discussions.'

    By showing up, faculty did the right thing. He couldn't have cared less, I assure you. All the man had to do was yammer away (which is what I've been told he did), and ignore you, and claim that he 'met' with you.

    It was still the better thing to do, though. Refusing to meet with him would have reflected much worse on the faculty and given him a talking point to try to work into future conversations.

  6. Has anyone Googled Nick Alioto? Is the Nick Alioto from Wisconsin the same Nick Alioto at SWC? Just wondering. Thanks.

  7. I don't think they can be the same person.

    The Nick Alioto is Wisconsin was a financial "genius" - able to "save" Racine Unified School District somewhere between $15 and $18 MILLION dollars in the first six months that his company - Public Business Consulting Group (PBCG) - went to work, painstakingly seeking out "savings" that no one else had ever thought of*, "transferring" money from one fund to the other**, and implementing energy savings programs.***

    THAT Nick Alioto was so successful that his company made an estimated $1.8 Million in less than two years - based on an agreed-upon rate of 20%****

    THAT Nick Alioto ALMOST forced the Racine Unified School District to pay a multi-million dollar penalty from breaking a contract with PBCG - but still collected a $750,000 settlement when the district INSISTED on parting ways.

    No, Southwestern College's Nick Alioto clearly isn't THAT guy. Our Nick Alioto is the guy who came to the Governing Board meeting KNOWING THAT THIS QUESTION WOULD COME UP, and was still unable to narrow down the amount of budget shortfall any more than, "somewhere between 1.3 and 1.7 million dollars."

    OUR Nick Alioto is the guy who is clearly unable to divine ANY WAY of saving the college's big, fat bank account, short of putting faculty and students on the street.

    Nope. NO WAY can they be the same guy.

    *Stuff that almost every other Milwaukee public school district had been doing for decades.
    **A shell game that meant that taxpayers paid MORE for those savings, and THEN paid PBCG its percentage for the privilege of doing so.
    ***Claiming money saved on hypothetical situations.
    ****Twenty-FIVE percent.

    Seriously, you need more proof? Try these links.

    JSOnline (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) - "Firm Overbills Racine Schools" - http://www.jsonline.com/news/29347354.html

    JSOnline - "Director Left Last District in the Hole" - http://www.jsonline.com/news/29279559.html

    FoxPolitics.Net - "Racine: The Tragedy of Smoke and Mirrors Savings" - http://www.foxpolitics.net/politics.iml?mdl=issues.mdl&issue_id=5568&Category=1

    Real Debate Wisconsin - "An Interesting Story About PBCG Head Nick Alioto" - http://realdebatewisconsin.blogspot.com/2007/05/interesting-story-about-pbcg-head-nick.html

    JSOnline - "District May Renegotiate With Consulting Firm" - http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/article_a58c491f-8402-51f4-89cd-a5f899b55ed2.html

    LawyersAndSettlements.com - http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/settlements/10885/consulting-contract.html

  8. Whoops. Not links, sorry. Just paste 'em into the browser for proof that there MUST BE two Aliotos out there.

  9. The San Diego Tribune weighs in: http://tinyurl.com/yj4b9dr

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