Comments by Nickdanny

Southwestern College trustee resigns in protest

Thanks Eugene. Did not get a full copy. Look forward to the review. It is interesting that the abstract does not reflect accurately the content of the dissertation. Having read a number of abstracts it is unusual to have such a determined statement that fails to address the heart of a paper. What is also interesting is how the current practice of her leadership lends itself to the Machiavellian interpretation. A lack of transparency and shared governance, as sighted by campus constituents, leads right to the darkest analysis of her work. I read statements coming out of the campus today, and it all seemed Like PR blah, blah, blah. The District negotiators were clear-- take a pay cut or there will be layoffs. After last night's decision, it seemed that the District was saying that they were working for no pink slips all along. None of Nish 's budget statements say that at all. 5 percent cuts or pink slips. That was it. She backed herself and the employees against the wall. A bad strategy. Peraza's "spin and grin" statement today acted like " what's all the fuss, we were going to do this all along," and yet he was telling lots of people weeks in advance that it was a question of principle for him to support pink slips. Just odd. I guess it is like that old saying " if you are being run out of town, march boldly in front of the crowd like you are leading a parade." Shared governance and transparency, the Ed Master Plan and Prop R/Facilities Plan spending issues did not go away last night. Wonder what will happen here?
— March 5, 2013 7:38 p.m.

Southwestern College trustee resigns in protest

WTFEd, I had the same questions. So, I did a little research. Stewart is a father of two children, who will be graduating from high school in the near future, and he has a home in Bonita. He pays taxes, has been successfull as a businessman (in real estate) and is an respected college professor at City College. He developed the Honors Program at City College, which has sent a number of students forward to prestiges universities. He is not a career politician nor has he been particularly involved in teacher union politics. He and his wife developed an arts outreach program for students in the San Diego area. This guy is the real deal! On the other hand, the other Board members seem much less attractive. Peraza is a politician, who has run in previous campaigns and lost. He does consulting work on various contracts, including construction consulting work (yikes). He was an assistant to Filner but somehow that went nowhere. Community members mentioned that they had helped him get the appointment in August 2011, including heavy coaching on his interview questions. Hernandez has a degree in counseling, was a Dean at the college, then a VP in student support. She applied for the college presidency in 2003 but the campus wide hiring committee listed her below the top ten candidates. However,the Board at the time ignored the hiring committee and rejected over a dozen other better qualified candidates and gave it to Hernandez, over the protest of campus continents. In 2006, she resigned in protest, supposedly because the then Board hired a VP, who was one of the top three candidates selected by the hiring committee but not Hernandez's choice, and she felt that they were usurping her power. How ironic! She is selected over the head of the official hiring committee to be president, and resigns when the Board selects a top VP candidate that is not her pick. Seems that her fight for the Board was a grudge match against the previous mess, Salcido. After Hernandez's win she just sides with the president and still identifies with that position. This I learned from a number sources and they were all consistent. One of the other Board members has been on the Board since the late 1990s, and the Board has undergone three grand jury investigations on her watch. Community members say that she mouths the same stuff she has for ten years; "We must just support what the President says" (zasueta, chopra, nish--fill in the blank). Two of the three Presidents listed have been indicted in the past decade. Seems a Board like that could just phone it in. Stewart actually looks like the best candidate among them and took his task seriously.
— March 4, 2013 11:47 a.m.

Southwestern College trustee resigns in protest

Someone just sent this to me, it is Nish's dissertation abstract (from December 2012). Goodness I guess her administrative "leadership" is not an accidental process. She spent several years researching how to isolate opposition and force them out of an institution. And her use of the term "organizational values" are really nothing more than "her values." Realigning: A grounded theory of academic workplace conflict (posted Dec. 13, 2012). Melinda Nish Ed.D This is a grounded theory that explains conflict in the academic workplace. The core variable is realigning, which is a basic social process that individuals experience in social organizations, such as workplaces. Realigning is the process by which certain behaviors are employed to bring individuals back in alignment with the system’s core values or to realign individuals to a change in the organization’s core values. The aim of realigning behaviors is to diminish the impact of the individual who is perceived as not being in alignment and include actions to erode, isolate, and separate that individual. Therefore, realigning may include removing an individual from the organization. The theory explains the conditions, stages, and processes in which realigning occurs. The primary condition of social organizations is existence of core values at the organizational level. Organizational core values determine the context in which conflict arises. Conflict in terms of core values leads to the stages of the realigning process. The four primary stages and processes are presented here as changing tides, countering, justifying, and, resolving. The significance of this theory is that it is centered in the concept of organizational values, which provides a holistic understanding of workplace conflict rather than looking only at individual behaviors. The theory presents a framework within which to understand how conflict arises, the purpose of conflict, the forms conflict takes, and the consequences of conflict. P.S. I am stunned. This is the President at Southwestern College, oh my.
— March 2, 2013 5:06 p.m.

Southwestern College trustee resigns in protest

Mr. Stewart was one of the strongest advocates for Board transparency and administrative accountability at Southwestern College. One of our community's most admired Board member, Nick Aguilar, spent several years trying to combat these very issues and did so at the cost of his health and reputation. Who wants to put a good person through that? Here we have 15 people on trial down the street for making decisions in just such an environment, we have people inside the campus on pins and needles (the way Nish likes them) because they do not know if they will even have a job in July, and the new Facilities Master Plan is just a fast track for Nish and her consultant/construction friends to fill their wallets with, how could Stewart remain in an environment where he cannot even challenge some of this because he cannot get good numbers? I guess what will be interesting now is how the current Board and administration attempt to discredit former Trustee Stewart to gain political traction. From his own comments it is clear that deciding important issues concerning jobs (pink slips"), resource allocations and Prop R funding without adequate access to information was not something, under the current leadership, he could do for the folks that elected him. And this Board? Take money from the community to elect them and then become the Board the community had to eject in 2010. Who are these people? As a community member I hope that this Board does not even try to appoint one of their little click to the Board. This should go to a special election. There is going to be a special election in June anyway, for the 79th California Assembly District.
— March 2, 2013 4:53 p.m.

Southwestern faculty questions college’s education plan

Looking over the original language for the ballot measure for Prop R and what is now happening to that money should be of great concern. The Educational Facilities Plan, which is driven by a document that lacks real data to justify its direction (The Educational Master Plan that Cambridge West has also developed), is grossly excessive and not in line with Prop R language. It calls for $600 million in "improvements," and calls for the destruction of the Student Center (which is only 12 years old), the Student Services bldg. (which was just completely remodeled a decade ago) to build a big amphitheatre in the center of campus--this is not "updating outdated facilities" it is wasting taxpayers money. Also, the parameter road, which we just finished on campus is now to be trashed and a new "ring road" that circles the campus is on the plan (justified by the statement "so students do not have to cross the street to get to campus")! Extraordinary! Prop R language clearly includes funding for investment in "water recycling" facilities and "energy reduction projects (solar, etc.)." When asked about this by one of our students the Facilities Team (Cambridge) could not answer why this was not integrated into their planning. This is long term savings in terms of energy efficiency. Appalling! Then there is a discussion of building dormitories (for international students), and this is most certainly not an appropriate use of the Bond money--which is to improve existing facilities for home based student learners. And this Governing Board just lays back and acts like this is appropriate because someone like C. Brahmbhatt says so. This is Alioto and Chopra all over again. Southwestern College under Nish and some members of this Board seem to be quite happy to create a construction industry version of "Extraordinary Desserts" with the community's money. Improve our facilities, follow the original language (it is interesting how the original language of the ballot measure, which was voted on, has now morphed into this monster) that is what the taxpayers want. And where are they planning on getting the at least 250 billion in additional funds to execute this new Facilities Plan? Yet another Bond in a couple of years?
— February 27, 2013 9:51 p.m.

Southwestern College may trim faculty to reduce costs

Nish's rush to this is also an interesting tactic. For the past several years we have negotiated from a Big Table with all unions and associations at the table and all budget information on the table, close to transparent. This past year she and the Board have eliminated the Big Table, separated the unions and associations, and pitted them against one another. Faculty know this is another of her intimidation techniques, mastered by Ramon the VP of Inhuman Resources at the college. Faculty have refused to fall into this absolute backward move in negotiations. She is in a tizzy over this fact. She intends to knuckle fist the faculty into taking what other units have, and she is gritting her teeth over this process. In her new budget missive sent out today, she even admits that we will be receiving a 1.6 cola increase (a conservative estimate) in the coming year, the biggest since 2007. She also knows she does not need to send her final budget forward until September, she is mean not stupid. She knows she can dismantle Otay Mesa Center over the summer and move those programs to National City or the main campus over those three months if the Center funding does not come through. Heck SWC has made bigger moves in shorter periods of time. Most people think the Otay Center should have been dismantled years ago, it is like a ghost town during the day. She is a real estate broker (for reals), for heaven's sake, ply your trade, rent the place out and plan to sell in the long run. There is a huge chunk of cash in that albatross. But no, we will give out pink slips, claim all else is impossible, while we cut classes and services to students so Otay can stay open. This is a value system that does not reflect the mission of an educational institution. And she has still not given an accounting of what she did with the 5% of our salary she took this year. If 88% of our budget goes to salaries and she got a 5% cut of that, where did it go? VP salaries? New Admin? Consultants? Not to students, and not to the faculty and staff who serve them. No, to these folks she gives pink slips.
— February 21, 2013 9:54 p.m.

Southwestern College may trim faculty to reduce costs

Eastlaker, it is a little bit more sinister than that. Administrators will take a cut but this is how it gets nasty: 1. Nish hires in at the highest salary ever given to a Southwestern College President--this is done in the middle of the worst budget crisis in the State of California (2012). Mind you she does not even have a day of experience as a college president. Amazing, this Board hires a person in the worst crisis the State has faced and she doesn't even have any experience. 2. Two months into the job Nish demands that the Board give all her VPs a $24,000 raise, in the middle of the worst budget crisis in the State (see the theme here). She explains that the pool for the VPs she is trying to hire for her "dream Team" is bad and as other colleges pay VPs better (this is how "data driven" decisions are made with this Board), she wants a $24,000 raise for each. This Board votes yes! Did I say it was the worst budget crisis...Then they hire the VPs and at least two out of three of the hires were applicants that had applied for the job before the raise was in place. 3. A month later Nish demands that all employees take a 5% cut, and the unions, particularly the SCEA guy (who is now a Dean at Mesa---hmmmm) press faculty to take the cut. Read Mahler's response to that action in this article. Nish justifies this by saying that her VPs will take a 5% cut too, so it is fair. Give me a $24,000 raise and I will take a 5% cut anyday. 4. Several months later, under an administration hiring freeze, Nish demands that the Board approve an administration position and receives a Board override of the freeze. 5. Nish has hired a number of "consultants" this past year (employees who serve at her whim, and who undergo no hiring committee process in place for employees at the campus). She hates having to negotiate with the employees so much, that she surrounds herself with consultants, and bribed VPs. 6. One of Nish's VP hires (Mr. Human Resources--what a laugh that is) has no community college experience (he comes from an elementary school District up north) but he has a history, through his "consulting" firm, of knuckle crunching on unions during District negotiations. Are you getting the picture?
— February 21, 2013 1:11 p.m.

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