Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Et Tu, Ortiz?

The following Letter to the Editor appeared today, April 13, 2010, in the Poly Post newspaper. There is also another Poly Post news story entitled: "Tempers Flare at Brown Bag," (a follow-up to their initial article), about the April 6 Brown Bags event. The story reports some of the students' and staff's comments and reactions to the administration's actions, conveying a sense of the stakes for students and staff due to these cuts and the perversity of the administration's statements and actions.

I wrote this Letter to the Editor below a few days ago, prior to Ortiz's Monday, April 12, 2010, message that's the subject of my previous post here on this blog.

Et Tu, Ortiz?

By Dennis Loo

California’s higher educational system faces an unparalleled crisis. The CSU administration speaks of radical, transformative changes and the cuts of CalWorks, the tennis teams, and so on [at Cal Poly Pomona], are only part of the deep cuts that are coming.

What, in the face of this terrible news, are our top administrators doing to protect the CSU system? Rep. Torrico introduced a bill to protect California’s universities, AB 656. AB 656 would impose a severance tax on the oil companies.

California’s the only state that doesn’t impose this tax. Under Sarah Palin as Alaska governor, Alaska hiked its severance tax to over 20%, more than twice the rate that AB 656 would impose. Texas supports its well-endowed public university system with their severance tax. AB 656 would solve our problems entirely, as it would raise between $1-2 billion annually. This would be a tax on oil companies whose quarterly profits run in the tens of billions of dollars.

So there is a way to prevent students from being blocked from realizing their dreams. There is a way to prevent more faculty from being furloughed and laid off. We can even hire the people who’ve been laid off and we can hire more badly needed professors. There is a way to protect this system that has been California’s pride and joy. You would think that our administrators would be pushing for AB 656’s passage with all their might, wouldn’t you?

But Chancellor Reed is opposed to AB 656. Reed says he doesn’t want to be forced to spend the money raised only on teaching. The Chancellor’s Office has, they say, many other things they want to spend the money on besides teaching.

This is like my offering to pay my friend’s grocery bills and having my friend refuse the offer because he wants to have no strings attached to what he can spend the money I’m giving him on.

When I pressed President Ortiz last Tuesday to declare in favor of AB 656 he offered various extraordinary excuses not to support it and then finally declared that he was for it after all. I was pleased to hear this, as were the others in the crowd. Shortly after this public declaration his spokesman, Ron Fremont, informed the Poly Post that Ortiz’s declaration in support of AB 656 was only his personal opinion and it did not reflect the views of the Cal Poly Administration.

Here is my question for President Ortiz: If the Cal Poly Administration can take a position contrary to your own on a question so vital to Cal Poly as AB 656, then who is really running Cal Poly? Is it Chancellor Reed? If it’s Chancellor Reed, then why are we paying your nearly $300,000 salary annually? Why don’t we dispense with your position and have Reed order what he wants directly? And if Reed refuses to support a bill that would save our system, why are we paying him more than twice what Obama’s paid? Why don’t we ask for his resignation?

No comments: