Friday, December 24, 2010

A Note From December 24

As the last few hours of December 24th fall away, a terrible Christmas movie is on the TV, the wine and margaritas are flowing into the adults' glasses, and the dogs are wandering around, getting underfoot and being loved. 

I'm in the kitchen of my parents' house in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to where they recently retired.  My girl is here with me, as is one of my brothers and his family.  Tomorrow morning we'll call my other brother, and all of us will call other friends and check in with them.  We won't text them or Facebook them, but we'll call.

As I sip my third chilirita - a margarita made with blackberry/habanero sauce - I feel a slipping of negativity from my shoulders and a blissful sense of peace taking its place.  Right now, there is nothing I wish to bash, no one I want to see imprisoned, no cause I wish to take up.

Except this one: to wish each and every person who reads this a happy, peaceful Christmas with the ones they love.  And if you can't be with them this year, I suggest picking them up and giving them a call on Christmas morning.  Don't text them or Facebook them, because after all, what they want to hear is your voice.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Report on the Whereabouts of One Raj K. Chopra

I received a piece of information last week that caused me to laugh out loud – then made me want to throw up a little bit. It’s regarding the former superintendent at Southwestern College, Raj K. Chopra.

What I was told – and it was from an unimpeachable source – is that Raj Chopra has apparently decided to stick around California a while.

Why is this both funny and disgusting? Because the smart money would have had Chopra hightailing it India after his resignation from SWC, or attempting to find new work somewhere on the East Coast, as far from California, Arizona, and Kansas as he could get.

But no. Chopra is apparently spending some quality time in East County (that’s the sparsely-populated central/eastern San Diego County for you non-locals) trying to convince someone to hire him as a school superintendent.

That was the laughy part. Chopra needed to retreat to conservative East County to try to find someone to help him grab a short-term or interim position. When his best possible chance at a career – and coincidentally, the most dignified thing he could do, is to go elsewhere and seek a position, he’s wandering So Cal, hat in hand, looking for an eighteen-month long bit of work.

Because, you see, eighteen months as a superintendent in California is all he needs to become vested in the state’s pension system. If he acquires even an interim position, all he has to do is rest his butt in a chair for eighteen months, say nothing, do nothing, and the people of California will pay for his quite-large pension.

Which he will have earned by turning Southwestern College into an oppressive, frightened shell of itself.

That’s the whole throwy-uppy thing.

It’s imperative that Chopra not be allowed this opportunity. If it’s the work he wants, let him take his carcass somewhere else and find it. Do not let this man game the system. Do not let him earn his pension on the backs of those students who were unceremoniously abandoned or the faculty and staff who were laid off and let go – all do to his butcher’s work to the budget.

He doesn’t want the work; he wants that pension.

Chopra’s biggest supporter, the San Diego Union-Tribune, has long complained about the unions and their “abuses” of the state pension system. But it’s not a union member attempting to abuse the system now; it’s management. Kind of makes you wonder if this makes the U-T reconsider their position on Chopra, or if they’ll unfurl their hypocrisy flag and keep supporting him.

Consider this your Distant Early Warning. Raj Chopra is trying to slip back into the system, all to collect that unearned pension. Don’t let it happen. He’s already left one school in tatters and a nationwide laughingstock.

Don’t let it happen to your school.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thinking of Scoundrels, Deals, and the Possibilities of the Future

I’m going to muse a bit. Right here, to myself. Just a bit. And while I muse, I’m going to think about scoundrels.

If I was a scoundrel – let’s say I was in a position of some considerable authority at a large institution of some sort…

…and let’s not think too hard about which kind…

…and I had been involved in some truly shady dealing – the kinds of dealings that might lead to a quick appearance in public wearing handcuffs, then I might truly consider what options I had.

I might seriously consider the fact that these shady dealings must have involved others. I might come to the conclusion that people from law enforcement, or even other civil parties, would much rather get those people than me.

And by that, I mean that if a scoundrel had some information, good information that could cause serious legal issues to others involved with these shady deals, that scoundrel would be pretty smart to make a deal.

If that scoundrel were to do that, I know that I, here on these blogs, would surely feel a stirring of warmth in my soul that might cause me to get rid of most or all of this public information.

Of course, this offered information should bring Hell raining down upon people of importance – a Salcido or a Williams, a Hom or a Chopra, perhaps. The more people, the more importance, the warmer that feeling in my soul becomes. And a scoundrel could surely guess how much I’d feel like making that happen.

A lot. A whole damn lot.

Me. This guy writing the blog – I’m not the scoundrel. But I know who is, and he knows I know. He’ll be reading this, and he’ll know I’m talking about him.

And if I were that scoundrel, I’d wonder what any deadline might be for this possibility to happen.

I’d hate to ruin a man’s Christmas, but I don’t think he should ring in a Happy New Year’s before making that decision. In fact, I’m quite certain of that.

Call this my version of flexibility. Call this my willingness to cooperate. Call this my desire to look past things to see a bigger justice done.

Personally, if I was you, I’d call it my best chance at getting rid of some truly distressing baggage and moving onto better things somewhere else.

Call it whatever you want, but you better make that call soon.

My email is on the page.

You know, these blog posts get harder and harder to cover up the longer they’re up…

Thursday, December 2, 2010

San Diego Union-Tribune Blasts "Pro-Labor" Forces - McCarthyists Applaud

So, yeah, the San Diego Union-Tribune is at it again. On Wednesday, December 1, the U-T editorial board dumped their latest pro-Chopra screed onto their Sign on San Diego boards.

This comes as no surprise. The U-T’s violently anti-union shtick has helped turn them into a So Cal newspaper punch line again and again. But a quick glance over this newest bit – found here – demonstrates a truly petty, almost lurid sort of pathetic-ness.

Painting the non-related elections at Palomar and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Colleges with the same brush as the one used on Southwestern College is insulting to SWC – and to Palomar and Grossmont-Cuyamaca. Each of these schools did what they did and ran who they ran for the sake of their school, not some fictional pro-labor attack on San Diego County.

Now-former Superintendent Raj Chopra has long been a U-T paragon of all that is good and wonderful in education – a man who “brought hardheaded financial management and no-nonsense leadership at a time when the district needed it,” and like a combination Chuck Norris and John Wayne, fought the teachers’ unions that “enjoyed unfettered freedoms”.

Of course, that’s all crap.

Chopra took his budget machete to classes, adjunct professors, and classified staff in a time when the school had a surplus approaching $15 million – more than it had in years, and more than almost any other school in the state. Yet the U-T continued to defend Chopra, based on his (and the Governing Board’s) claim of ‘coming financial disaster.’ That was an outright lie, and the U-T helped perpetrate it.

Why does the Union-Tribune bother to take these continuing shots at the school? Why do they shriek and point and howl “Pro-Labor Forces are Coming! Pro-Labor Forces are Coming!” like a deranged 50’s era Commie-spotter who doesn’t like the look of his next door neighbor?

(I mean, besides the fact that they’re violently anti-union, and their buddy-chums at the Lincoln Club* might start yanking their advertising if they didn’t?)

Online page views. They don’t care what they have to say to get those views; it matters not one bit to them. You know what does matter? How many times you hit that link and make that comment.

Send that link out to your friends, encourage them to get over there and make another comment; what does that do? It justifies what the U-T has to say. It’s getting readers, you see, and they’ve got proof of it.

Go back and look at it now. More than a day after it was posted, and not a single pro-Chopra comment has been made. All the ones who have spoken up are anti-Chopra, anti-U-T types. That is basically playing into their hands.

They don’t care what you’ve got to say. And not to put too fine a point on it, no one cares what the U-T has to say about Raj Chopra. They’ve done it for so long, so loudly, and so vitriolically that no one actually has to read what they have to say. This piece – and any others that follow it will sway no one. And given how their pet (read: endorsed) candidates performed last month, they didn’t sway a whole lot of folks then, either.

Let it go. It’s time to let the U-T spew their own crap to whoever wants to read it. There are some good reporters there, and a few excellent writers, but they’re overshadowed by an editorial board that can’t see past their own preferences. And though this board doesn’t care what you say, but they’re delighted that you’re taking the time to say it.

*To those who don't know, the Lincoln Club is SD County's hardcore right-wing batch of movers and shakers.