Ken Leighton

Ken Leighton is a Reader contributor. See staff page for published articles.

Comments by kenl

Mainstream U.

Stepshep: The problem is that NO ONE seems to know how UCSD works. I can give you a whole raft of names of intelligent, educated, connected, vital people who are supporting the Che who will tell you that not only has the administration lied about the "safety" issue, but that there have numerous bait and switch deceptions and subterfuges about how the Che situation was handled. That there was no real way to have an open discussion, no recourse, etc. With regards to the Porter's Pub, it seems that even if this current course of action is reasonable and best for UCSD, the whole lack of transparency and openness has not helped the administration's plight or the feeling that everything is not being done on the up and up. You are calling UCAB an advisory board. Really? This is the only advisory board I ever heard of who could snuff a 23 year UCSD institution like this. Clearly Ms. Maniti is a standup, responsible leader of UCAB. She is also an employee of UCSD. Who knows who her boss is at UCSD and what strings may or may not have pulled. I just think it is clear to any reasonable person that this process was not open or transparent. And that while there seems to be issues of concern regarding Porters, it has also arrived as a significant live music showcase. If there are other issues, then it seems reasonable to ask these issues be brought out in the open. Hey Stepshep! Tell me more about all those UCAB press releases! Boy have they been productive! Anyway, the UCSD administration seems to act like the Kremlin. They are ultimately in total control and do not report to anyone, it seems. Thus allowing the common "gentrification" feeling I reported in the article.
— December 17, 2014 12:38 p.m.

Mainstream U.

(part 2) It is perceived by many I spoke with that Vice Chancellor Gary Ratcliff (who never answers requests for comment) was involved with UCAB's actions here. In a previous article about the Che Cafe, I quoted someone closely involved that the AS President changed his mind about how to deal with the Che, changing from spearheading a resolution to support cooperation, to one where he supported such a meeting after Che Cafe evicted itself AFTER a meeting with Ratcliff. That was never denied. When asked about Mr. Ratcliff's possible intervention in Porter's Pub lease Ms. Maniti says: "Gary Ratcliff is not the UCEN Director, and has not come into our meetings to give input this quarter." I pointed the common on-campus perception that UC students have never heard of UCAB. She responded: "UCAB's meetings are public, and the UCAB meeting schedule and locations for those meetings are online (ucab.ucsd.edu). Any and all members of the public are able to come and give input. The Che Cafe Collective is a student service, and there has been considerable public input regarding the Che Cafe Facility. Porter's Pub is a vendor, and not a student service or organization. Input from members of the public was given to the Board regarding Porter's by members of the public, and student input in making decisions is critically important. The vast majority of UCAB's members are representatives, who are members of organizations across the campus. Each of the college council representatives, for instance, sit on councils of around 50 students. The Student Affirmative Action Committee representative is an active member of a committee of community organizations ranging from Queer People of Color to Kaibigang (KP). The GSA reps sit on a council of over 50 graduate students, representing departments and graduate interests across campus. These representatives relay information and opinions from their organizations to the University Centers Advisory Board." Regarding the perception by some that the Che Cafe's and Porter's end are coming at the same time is not coincidental, Ms. Maniti responded: "The reasons for moving to an RFP process for the space currently occupied by Porter's and for not funding renovations for the Che Facility are unrelated. Porter's Pub is a retail vendor, and the Che Cafe Collective is a student service. There's no connections between the two in the criteria with which they are evaluated, how their rents are set, or in the details of their leases."
— December 15, 2014 10:55 a.m.

Mainstream U.

As promised, I just heard from Claire Maniti about the other questions. Asked about why the UCAB would enforce ABC food-to-alcohol sold ratio, she did not indicate that there had been any intervention on the part of ABC that Porter's Pub was violating that ratio (that according to my personal experience, does not often get enforced). But she had this to say: "Porter's Pub was brought onto UCSD in order to fulfill a very specific concept: having a restaurant that also happens to serve alcohol. From the time the request for proposals process began for the space, it was clear to all vendors who applied to lease the space that the space was a pub restaurant, focusing first and foremost on food, with alcohol available to accompany food. The ratio of gross alcohol to gross food sales is important for two reasons: it shows that the focus of the vendor is not and has not been on serving food. It is important secondly because if the ABC were to enforce their stipulations and Porter's Pub's alcohol permit were revoked, which would be possible given that the basic requirement of the license type is not met, the pub would be an alcohol-less pub whose focus is not on food. Again, you can find more information about the requirements for a Type 41 license here: https://www.abc.ca.gov/FORMS/ABC608.pdf . Asked if Porter's was told specifically about the discrepancy between how many student group meetings were held at the Porter's stage according to UCAB and the numbers that Porter's kept: "University Centers' Director and Assistant Director of Retail Operations both have regular meetings individually with vendors. These concerns over alcohol, as well as all of the other concerns listed in the official statement UCAB released were repeatedly raised, in many meetings, over the course of several years." Why no UCAN phone extension, even to collect messages? "The Board does not have a phone number-there are 17 members on the board, and paying a full time staff member to answer a phone line on behalf of a large group of people makes less sense than having a directory online where the entire board's contact information can be found. I sent that link in an earlier message."
— December 15, 2014 10:35 a.m.

Mainstream U.

(part 2) Porter's owner Lawler claims he had many more uses by student groups using the Porter's stage than what UCAB claimed. Ms Maniti admits that the problem may be that Lawler did not properly report or "TAP" each use (her expression). I asked if UCAB allowed Mr. Porter to respond to that serious charge of not allowing student groups to use the stage as agreed, and directly address that discrepancy. Her response: "You asked about steps which were taken to communicate with the vendor, regarding the quality of food and stage access for students. University Centers had many meetings with the vendor to address the concerns mentioned in the statement. These meetings happened several times, over several years, and all feedback from students gained from surveys were given to the vendor. The purpose of conducting secret shopper reviews is to help vendors hear feedback firsthand from students, and hopefully to improve their services in response.' I asked he why does a group as powerful as UCAN that can end a business that has been operating at UCSD for 23 years and serve (I think) a vital role to the local music scene, not have a phone number (even to accept messages) with the UCSD switchboard. Ms. Maniti responded by saying UCAN has a email. It should be made clear that Ms. Maniti is both a student AND an employee of UCSD. I asked what input Vice Chancellor Ratcliff had on UCAN meetings or with its members. No response yet. I think it is pretty well accepted that the average student does not know of UCAB. But I asked Ms. Maniti: "...did you allow the general student body (not just your selected UCAB members who staged "secret shopper" reviews) to chime in on Porter's Pub?" No answer yet.
— December 14, 2014 10:54 p.m.

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