Media

Friday, February 24, 2017

What To Do If ICE Comes To Your Door

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 5:10 PM

IMAGES COURTESY OF UNITEDWEDREAM.ORG
  • Images courtesy of unitedwedream.org
The threat is all too real for many people around the country, especially in areas like Tucson: someone coming to their door asking about their immigration status. The group United We Dream has put together a simple flier telling people what to do in case they find themselves in that situation. You can download the flier in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Korean.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Did the TUSD Board Come To Bury Sanchez Or To Praise Him? (Answer: C, None Of the Above)

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 1:44 PM

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At the second TUSD board meeting in as many weeks, the board punted on the topic of keeping or firing Superintendent Sanchez. Last week, on Feb. 14, the action item was removed from the board's agenda. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, it was the meeting's sole agenda item. After an executive session which ran hours longer than scheduled, the board members walked into the standing-room-only meeting room, listened to members of the audience speak out for and against Sanchez, then told the audience the item had been tabled. See y'all next week!

None of us regular folks know exactly why a vote on Sanchez's future was delayed. The decision was made in executive session, and the board members are supposed to keep those sessions confidential. So the next step is anyone's guess. Sanchez may yet be fired; he may be allowed to remain with conditions; or the board may simply vote against the call to get rid of him and be done with it. I have a feeling the board doesn't know much more about the outcome than the rest of us.

So, nothing happened. But I observed something and drew a conclusion which may or may not be accurate. What I observed was, there's not a whole lot of passionate community support for the "Fire Sanchez" movement. There are probably a significant number of people in the community who are dissatisfied with his performance as superintendent, people who wouldn't be unhappy to see him go, but if the meeting is any indication, the core group of Sanchez haters, the people with fire in their bellies, is reasonably small.

Full disclosure: I think Sanchez should stick around at least until his contract runs out in 2018, so that may color my subjective, anecdotal observations. I claim no scientific rigor here. That being said, I watched carefully, and this is what I observed. If I'm wrong, I'm sure others will let me know.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

'Enemy of the People': The Phrase's Ironic and Instructive Literary History

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 5:05 PM

IMAGES COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA
  • Images courtesy of Wikimedia
In a recent tweet, Trump called the press "the enemy of the American people." Days earlier, though he didn't use the phrase, he made a similar accusation about our courts when they ruled against his Muslim ban. I'm sure Trump had no idea he was quoting the title of a 19th century play, An Enemy of the People, by Henrik Ibsen, in his tweet, nor could he know how ironic the play's title is or how clearly it reveals his intentions. The "enemy" in the play is a man who dared speak truth to power. Power, as it often does, did everything it could to suppress the truth.

We're not very familiar with Ibsen these days, but we know Steven Spielberg, and most of us have seen Jaws. The opening of the movie is based loosely on Ibsen's play.

Late one night in Spielberg's little tourist beach town, we see a swimmer killed by a shark. When the coroner confirms to the police chief that it was a shark attack, the chief decides to close the beaches until they're safe. The mayor disagrees. It's the beginning of the summer tourist season, he says, and closing the beaches would be disastrous for the town's economy. The mayor convinces the coroner to change the cause of death, to say the swimmer was caught in the blades of a boat's propeller — in other words, to lie. The mayor forbids the police chief from closing the beaches. It takes two more shark attacks before the mayor acknowledges that the police chief was right and closes the beaches, which is when the hunt for the Great White begins.

Ibsen's original Enemy of the People has a similar setup. A small town's economy is based around its health baths. A local doctor discovers that the water is contaminated and writes an article which he submits to the editor of the local paper. The editor is eager to print it, both to report the problems with the baths and to use it as a way to expose the corruption running rampant in the town's government. But the mayor intervenes. He convinces the editor that printing the truth would be bad for the town, so the editor pulls the doctor's article. In its place, he runs a statement by the mayor praising the quality of the baths.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

T.H.R.E.A.T. Watch: Bless, Keep and Protect Our Free Press

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 12:30 PM

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Since the election, I have feared the mainstream press would collapse under the weight of Trump's endless onslaught. Instead, it has dug in its heels and held its ground. It could have normalized our aberrant new political order, accepting the presidential campaign as a variation on a standard political theme, treating Trump's continual lies and outrages as the growing pains of an eccentric newbie trying to learn how to be president, acting like his agenda fits neatly under the headline, "Elections have consequences." But it hasn't. From the New York Times, to the Washington Post, to papers in other major cities, to the Associated Press which supplies most of the national stories in the Star, to principled conservative writers who are horrified at what they're witnessing, journalists have striven to show the reading public how unusual, how outlandish our present situation really is. CNN, to my surprise, has responded to constant Trumpian attacks by stepping up its coverage of the White House, and MSNBC, especially in its evening shows, has zeroed in on the day's events and spotlighted why we need to remain concerned and vigilant. Even Fox has spoken occasional truth to power.

In much of the daily news and in many magazines, truth telling is trumping Trumpism. Facts are still facts, and diligent, whip-smart investigative journalists are digging to see what facts they can uncover beneath the facts we already know. It's not a perfect process. It's flawed, messy and many-headed. But that's what unfettered journalism is all about, and it's what authoritarian leaders hate and fear, and do everything they can to suppress.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

TUSD Board Meeting Scheduled For Tuesday, Feb. 21. Only One Item on the Agenda

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 3:14 PM

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A special TUSD Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21, with only one agenda item: a discussion of the possible firing of Superintendent H.T. Sanchez and General Counsel Todd Jaeger. It's a bit more complicated than that—you can read the agenda here—but that's the gist of it.

The same item was on the February 14 agenda, submitted at the last minute by newly elected board member Rachael Sedgwick, but it was pulled before it was discussed in the open meeting. On Feb. 21, it is the agenda, period, unless other items are submitted. And Mark Stegeman has joined Rachael Sedgwick in requesting it.

After the last board meeting, I wrote that I wasn't sure if Sedgwick put in the earlier item on her own, but I suspected she did. This time, however, it's clear she has Stegeman with her, an experienced, thoughtful, strategic board member who knows how to dot his "i's" and cross his "t's." I expect the item will be discussed and voted on.

We'll see what happens. We could get a drip, drip, drip of information over the next few days, or not. I certainly wouldn't lay odds that Sanchez will have his job after the meeting; then again, I'm not a betting man. But you never know. These things have a habit of taking odd, unpredictable turns.

Stay tuned. I know I will.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

TUSD Superintendent Firing Update: Nothing To See Here, Folks (For Now).

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 1:14 PM

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The agenda for TUSD's Tuesday board meeting included an action item to look at firing Superintendent H.T. Sanchez and General Counsel Todd Jaeger. The item was pulled from the agenda. No action. Nothing to see here folks. But this isn't the last time we'll witness an attempt to oust Sanchez. It was a preview of coming events.

I'm only going to indulge in a general discussion of the situation. There's so much heat and so little light on both sides of this battle, it's impossible for me to sort out fact from fiction or determine the difference between cause-and-effect and random incidents. The fighting is fierce, filled with leaks, rumors, accusations and strange bedfellows.

So, just a few comments.

I think Sanchez should stay. [Open The Comments Floodgates!] He's done a decent job as superintendent—admirable in some instances, less admirable in others. Based on my 30 year-plus career as a public school teacher and a student of education around the country, I have no reason to think another superintendent will do a significantly better job steering this difficult district filled with the kinds of problems facing most large, ethnically diverse urban areas. More likely, the district's loss of continuity would do more harm than good.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Does TUSD Board Member Rachael Sedgwick Want to Fire Superintendent, General Counsel at the Tuesday Board Meeting?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 10:31 AM

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The agenda for Tuesday night's TUSD Board meeting includes this "Action Item" requested by new board member Rachael Sedgwick:
Discussion/Consideration/Action re Employment, Assignment, Appointment, Promotion, Demotion, Dismissal, Salaries, Disciplining or Resignation of a Public Officer:
- Superintendent
- General Counsel
The Superintendent is H.T. Sanchez. The General Counsel is Todd Jaeger.

Consider this post a heads up, not a discussion, because there too many questions and moving parts here for me to address them at this point. There could be far more to talk about Wednesday. If you recall, one of the major questions raised during the 2016 board election campaign was whether or not H.T. Sanchez was doing a competent job running the district, and if not, whether he should be fired. Sedgwick's action item addresses the question head on.

The public part of the meeting will begin around 5:30pm in the Multipurpose Room, Duffy Community Center, 5145 E. 5th Street, though Sedgwick's action item may be taken up considerably later in the meeting. You can watch a livestream of the meeting here.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Jerry Falwell Jr. to Head Trump's Higher Ed Deregulation Task Force. Expect a Big Boost for Liberty—Falwell's Liberty University, That Is.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 5:11 PM

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Lost in the uproar over our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is another education-related appointment that needs no Senate confirmation. Trump plans to make Jerry Falwell Jr. head of his task force to deregulate higher education.

The Obama administration made some significant advances in draining the for-profit university swamp. Think Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, both of which went into bankruptcy when the Feds exposed them for the educational scams they were. Think University of Phoenix, which lost students and profitability when it was forced to mend its predatory recruiting practices. Trump and Falwell hope to fill the swamp back up, using federal dollars to fatten the alligators who profit by putting students into debt while giving them little in the way of education in return. "The goal," Falwell said, "is to pare [Obama-administration initiatives] back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs."

Falwell is president of Liberty University. It's a nonprofit educational institution with a 14,000 student enrollment, so the brick-and-mortar university wasn't affected by Obama's crackdown on for-profits. But Liberty U. also has 65,000 online students, making it the second largest online college after University of Phoenix. Its online education is very profitable.
Most colleges now have a mix of residential and online students, but it’s almost unheard-of to have four times as many online students as residential students.

Because internet courses are cheap to deliver at scale, the online division is a big revenue driver for Liberty, which brought in $591 million in tuition in 2013, against $470 million in expenses. Liberty is essentially a medium-size nonprofit college that owns a huge for-profit college.
Putting Falwell in charge of deregulating the for-profit college sector is kind of like, oh, say, putting Goldman Sachs executives in charge of deregulating the financial sector. Meaning Trump deserves some credit, for being consistent. Henhouse, meet fox.

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Staff Pick

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2017: ANIMATED

Catch all of this year’s Oscar nominated short films on the big screen! Predict the winners and… More

@ Loft Cinema Thu., Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 26, 2 p.m. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

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