Tuesday, April 6, 2010

CSU President Declares Support for AB 656

Additional material at the end added 4/7/10 at 12:21 pm PST:

If you go to the Poly Post page with the article, in the right hand column of the page there is a video entitled "Brown Bag with the Presidents" of parts of the event, including the impassioned protests of CalWorks staff and students, the students who arrived with chants and signs/banner, part of the very colorful exchange I had with President Ortiz, and the insightful commentary on Ortiz's "declaration" by Student President Richard Liu.

From the [Cal] Poly Post on its website:

BREAKING NEWS: Ortiz declares support for new tax to fund higher education


Published: Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jonny Tai/Poly Post

President Michael Ortiz addresses the crowd during Brown Bag with the Presidents on Tuesday, April 6.

President Michael Ortiz declared at today’s Brown Bag with the Presidents that he supports a proposed oil extraction tax aimed at providing funding for higher education in California.

California Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont), who has sponsored AB 656, said the bill, if passed, would generate up to $2 billion.

Ortiz was initially reluctant to take a position on the bill, but after being pressed by Dennis Loo, a Cal Poly sociology professor, he said he would support it.

"Why aren't you taking a position on a bill that was specifically introduced to fund the budget shortfall for the university system?" Loo asked.

"I believe that if you are to secure that funding, it would just be removed from our general fund dollars," Ortiz said.

The verbal exchange between the two men continued for several more minutes before Ortiz clarified his position.

Loo: How come the CSU, which is going to get most of the money is against [AB 656]?

Ortiz: You have taken a position and taken the chancellor's position to indicate that is the position of all 23 presidents.

Loo: It is!

Ortiz: That is an error.

Loo: Who supports [AB 656] then?

Ortiz: I do

Loo: You support AB 656?

Ortiz: I do

Loo: You're on the record?

Ortiz: I'm on the record.

Loo: I'm glad to hear that.


University Spokesman Ron Fremont later told the Poly Post that Ortiz's support for the bill reflected only his personal opinion and was not indicative of the Cal Poly administration's position.

More details coming soon.


Here's the comment that I left today at the Poly Post's website on their article:

Thank you Justin and Poly Post.

Ron Fremont's "clarification" of Ortiz's position after the fact doesn't even make sense. How can Ortiz's position be to support AB 656, but the Cal Poly administration, of which Ortiz is the head, be against it? This would be the equivalent of the White House spokesman saying to the nation, "President Obama personally is in favor of ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but his administration wants to continue the wars, so the wars are going to continue."

It is a major embarrassment for the top CSU administrators, beginning with Chancellor Reed, and on down, that they are against AB 656. It reveals what side they are really on, and that is not on the side of the students and faculty and of protecting higher education.

Ortiz, to his credit, recognized the non-tenability of that position in the exchange yesterday before everyone and had to back down from his position of being against the very bill that would solve the budget crisis entirely.

Who, I wonder, ordered Fremont to issue this denial afterwards? Ortiz? Chancellor Reed? Why, we should ask, is the CSU administration opposing restoring funding to the CSU system? If this were basketball, it would be the equivalent of having the referees determine that the ball belongs to Cal Poly and the Cal Poly coach (Ortiz), refusing the ball and saying, give the ball to the other team. The state legislature, led by Rep. Torrico is offering a solution to the CSU system and our "leaders" won't have it. As I said yesterday at the event, Reed's office's sorry excuse for opposing AB 656 (a bill that the UC system supports, by the way, as they should) is that they "have other things they want to spend the money on, not just on teaching."

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