"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." - Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Raj Chopra is OUT at Southwestern College

It appears that all the hard work has paid off. This afternoon, embattled, embittered Superintendent Raj K. Chopra resigned from his position at Southwestern College, taking with him only six months' severance.

This was the second big victory for SWC's pro-student, pro-education, pro-faculty contingent, following the November elections that brought Norma Hernandez and Tim Nader to the Governing Board - along with a 3-member majority.

In fact, it was the former Board's insistence on standing by Raj Chopra that all costs - particularly when supporting his appalling short-sighted budget measures and ham-handed disciplinary actions against the faculty - that turned the election of the board from a formality into a crusade.

The public cannot fire the superintendent, you see; only the Governing Board can. But the public can - and did - fire the Board.

Things are looking up at Southwestern College.

I've included the press release from the school's resident PR flack, Chris "Truth-bender" Bender.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chris Bender, Southwestern College
(619) 482 – 6564


CHULA VISTA, CA – Southwestern College today released the following statement on the departure of Superintendent/President Dr. Raj K. Chopra:

Dr. Raj K. Chopra is resigning from his current position as Southwestern College’s Superintendent/President effective Tuesday, November 30, 2010. Dr. Chopra’s Employment Contract was to expire on June 30, 2012, but the Governing Board and Dr. Chopra have agreed to end that Contract approximately 20 months early. This will permit the new Governing Board – which will be seated next month – to select a new leader to help the College build for ongoing success. As part of the written agreement between the Board and Dr. Chopra, signed by him today, Dr. Chopra will receive the equivalent of six months’ salary.

“I believe some important objectives have been achieved,” Chopra said. “The College, in spite of unprecedented financial problems at the state level, remains in good financial standing. With the accreditation visit completed this month, construction of the new facilities on the corner lot, the central HVAC and Field House well underway, and Proposition AA projects almost completed, it is the right time.” Chopra expressed his appreciation to the Governing Board for the opportunity to serve the students and community of Southwestern College.

The Governing Board greatly appreciates Dr. Chopra’s hard work, leadership and commitment to the College and his many significant accomplishments. The Board and College wish Dr. Chopra all the best for the future.

# # #

Friday, November 26, 2010

To the Prospective Employers of Nick Alioto

A couple of weeks ago, it was brought to my attention that a certain Vice-President of Business and Finance at Southwestern College is really quite upset that some blogs have said relatively mean-spirited things about him.

By some blogs, I mean mine. By mean-spirited, I mean the ugly truth.

You see, it appears that Nick Alioto is looking for work. Apparently he’s had his Road to Damascus epiphany and realizes that his future at SWC is as shiny as a gallon of Mississippi Mud. But while he’s still got his job, he’s looking to find another.

And he’s afraid that the ugly truth is going to make it hard to get another cushy job where he can move piles of money from one place to another. Apparently he’d like it if I made it possible for him to find that cushy job by taking down all the blog posts and links I have up.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I don’t want Nick Alioto to get that cushy job.

So here are a few things you prospective employers might want to read:

"College VP Raised Money from Contractors He Oversees" [San Diego Union-Tribune]

"Southwestern Suitors" [San Diego Reader] [San Diego Union-Tribune]
"Gala Prize was Napa Weekend with Contracting Official"

"Nick Alioto Under Fire for Financial Shenanigans – Again! And There’s More the U-T Didn’t Know!" [SWC Board Must Go - my related blog]

"Firm Overbills Racine Schools" [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

"Director Left Last District in a Hole" [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

"Racine: The Travesty of Smoke and Mirrors Savings" [FoxPolitics.net]

"An Interesting Story about PBCG Head Nick Alioto" [Real Debate Wisconsin blog]

“Is Southwestern College’s Nick Alioto Racine USD’s Nick Alioto?" [This blog]

"The Plot Thickens" [Save Our Southwestern College blog]

"“Sun” Newspaper Earns More National Kudos; Raj and the Governing Board Still Hate It" [SWC Board Must Go]

"The Human Chord: November Elections Call for Change" [Southwestern College Sun]

"Why You Should Come to Wednesday’s Governing Board Meeting" [SWC Board Must Go]

Besides a chance to gather up these tasty links and repost them for all to see, my reason for this post is simple: I want to spare some other school district the pain that Southwestern College went through.

I have been told by two separate governing board members (one of whom is now an ex-board member) that Alioto was presented to the board to vote on by member Yolanda Salcido - who said he was good for the job. They did no background check on him. (I suppose it's possible that they did, and they were even worse judges of character than anyone considered.)

Out of curiosity, I did the research that found the information on his Wisconsin shenanigans. On Google. In about three minutes.

I hope that whoever is considering hiring him reads this, follows the links, and thanks their lucky stars that they're able to take a pass on him.

And if some board member or upper-level administrator does choose to hire him, this post will remain in cyberspace for eternity, as proof that they chose to ignore the warnings.

With the right blogger or researcher opposing you, it can cost you dearly; trust me on that.

I have a few more posts from an earlier version of SWC Board Must Go that are currently inaccessible. As soon as I can get them up, I'll post those links, too. And if and when Alioto is indicted for his shady actions, I'll be sure and post that, too.

You're welcome.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"In the Closet, On the Shelf"

This was my Halloween short story, initially written for David Hunter's "The Campfire Pages" All-Hallows Eve writing blog.  This is the same story, with no edits.

“When we are children, it’s not the unknown that scares us; it’s the unknown corners of the known that terrify us. We bury our heads under blankets when the oak tree outside blows in the wind and ghouls appear in the branches. We ride past empty houses and down deserted streets on our bikes and we never are anxious. Yet we pass the dark rooms of our own house with quick steps, afraid of what will pull us in with them.

Closets frighten us. Clothes, shoes, toys, coats – they shift and form boogeymen and skeletons, zombies and devils. We would cross the room and push the door closed, but we’re afraid to touch the floor.

Things under the bed also frighten us.

One of my earliest memories is of the closet in my parents’ house. It was room-length, and the doors were sliding mirrored ones. It was nearly impossible to keep them closed. When the air conditioner or the heater came on, they’d sway slightly, and the reflections of the room and windows behind the bed would jump and jitter. In the cracks between the doors, I’d see it watching me.

From high up on the shelves, where the dress slacks and sweaters were stacked, it would squat, waiting for me to sleep.

As I grew older, I realized that there was no monster on the shelf, no little goblin looking down at me. There were just patterns on sweaters and the shine from my church shoes. I never told anyone about the shelf-creature, but then children never told anyone about the horrors they saw. If we cried loud enough to wake mother or father, all they would say is:

“There, there… everything will be all right. There are no such things as monsters.”