Sunday, March 15, 2009

See? Even elected officials that you've never heard of can make a difference.

Of course, this being AZ, that difference can be a negative one.

...Turns out that the Governing Board of the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is a haven for anti-freedom and anti-education mischief-makers.

First, there was this New Times piece about attempts by the Board to take over direct control of the content of the student newspapers on the various campuses of the system. Their rationalization? They found that a cartoon published in the newspaper for Scottsdale Community College was offensive.

From the New Times article -
Controversy over an editorial cartoon that some say makes President Obama look like a monkey is blowing up into a fight over control of student newspapers at local community colleges.

At a Tuesday meeting of the Maricopa Community College District Governing Board, "all but one" member of the five-person panel "decided that all student newspapers in the district needed to allow the board to control content in the future," says an e-mail...by the journalism director of Scottsdale Community College.

The article goes on to print the email from Julie Knapp, faculty advisor to the Scottsdale Chronicle, that described a discussion at the Board's interest in the District and College administrations taking a more direct and controlling position regarding the student-published newspapers of the various campuses.

The New Times' follow-up piece has responses from a couple of members of the Board, Randolph Lumm, a substance abuse counselor and Bible study teacher, and Debra Pearson, the apparent ringleader of the anti-free press group of board members. Mrs. Pearson may be better known to some readers the name Debra Brimhall, former Republican legislator. In the lege, she was best known for her proposal to limit public employees and journalists to 12 years in their careers.

A takeover of the newspapers doesn't seem to be on the agenda for the next Board meeting on March 24, but that is subject to change. And there is a vague section on the agenda about an Executive Session starting at 5:30 p.m.

Stay tuned on this one.


Then, in Sunday's East Valley Tribune, there was a feature highlighting the, ummmm..."people skills" of a third member of the Board, Jerry Walker.

From the article -
Jerry Walker felt he was defending Arizona’s voters one day early last month as he heckled a college student through the halls of the U.S. Congress.

The Maricopa County Community College District student receiving his scorn felt threatened.

She broke into tears after Walker, a member of the district’s governing board, incessantly ridiculed her during her attempts to lobby for federal legislation to help illegal immigrant students.

{snip}

Walker is a Baptist minister-in-training who is active in East Valley politics, particularly in Republican circles.

Social issues, particularly his disapproval of homosexuality and illegal immigration, have caused him to clash with college employees and some board colleagues.

The incident in the Hart Senate Office Building was Walker’s first involving students.

The female victim of Walker's harassing behavior has filed a formal complaint about Walker's behavior, but because Walker is an elected official there may not be much that the Board can do about it.

However, the voters *can* do something about it - Walker's spot on the Board is up for election next year.

He represents Supervisor District 2, which includes much of Scottsdale and Mesa. I'd look into running against him, but I live in SD1.

I'm sure someone will be motivated to challenge Walker next year (perhaps someone from SCC's Journalism program??? Hmmm??? Wouldn't that be ironic??).

Regardless of the politics involved, Walkers' behavior is totally unacceptable from *any* public official.

8 comments:

Thane Eichenauer said...

A free press is only a valid idea when the press in question isn't owned or subsidized by the government.

testcase said...

First, the cartoon in question by Cole is not racist as it is what people seem to be taking as a tail is clearly the rope. Regardless, I don't for a minute believe these board members give one whit about racist attacks against Obama.

Right now MCCD employees and faculty are really living in fear because of constant harassment by the sheriff and county attorney as well as the nutty ideas the boards members keep coming up with. Many of these boards - including the health care districts and water districts are holding pens for termed-out or loser pols who want to keep a continuous record in elected office while they wait for the next opportunity to run for a higher office

Ruth said...

I'm sorry but Obama DOES look like a monkey and so does GEORGE BUSH. You don't like it? TOUGH.

cpmaz said...

Thane - are you saying that the only free press/free expression is that which is expressed under the auspices of a corporatation or other business?

Testcase - When I first saw the cartoon, I never noticed the whole monkey thing, just the mountain of expectations looming over Obama. Something that many people (including me) think may be the biggest hurdle facing him.

As for your other point, we (as in Dems and Independents) need to start paying attention to some of these "minor" offices. While they are supposed to be "non-partisan", in practical terms, the AZGOP has been seeding them with blind ideologues for years.

Thane Eichenauer said...

CPM, free speech is an attribute of private parties, be they individuals or groups (be they profit or non-profit). I'll throw in corporations not otherwise licensed (such as TV and radio). It is true from a practical standpoint: He who pays the bills calls the tune. Trying to apply the concept of free speech to government organizations will always end with irrational rationalizations and circular reasoning - IMO.

From a philosophical standpoint I don't see how any body can expect any government press be it print, TV or radio to be in any way truly free if it is owned or subsidized by government.

SCC and public school newspapers are rather regularly upbraided for any controversial speech - talk about G-d or abortion for instance and you can expect the powers that be to be called with complaints. KJZZ/KAET/KUAT/KNAU manage to get by at the cost of having no vigorous commentary (and I say this while giving kudos to KNAU and KAET for their broadcasts of AZ CD 1 candidates including myself).

As for the (relatively) minor offices, I am all for more competition. No office with the power to control spending is minor in my book.

cpmaz said...

Thane - I don't think we're all that far apart on this one. I just think that the government *is* us; sometimes we just need to remind our employees and ourselves of that fact.

The idealist in me thinks that HS and college newspapers should only be upbraided when they stray from the truth. A little controversy is good.

As for "minor" offices, they're only minor in the amount of publicity they get.

Not in their importance to society, or in how important it is to have office-holders who are there to do the job they were hired (elected) to do.

Eli Blake said...

Oh, geez.

Debra Sue Brimhall.

All I can say is I'm glad she's gone from these quarters.

I remember she used to have this Xena outfit she liked to dress up in during parades.

Eli Blake said...

Ruth:

Well, if you come right down to it, we all do.

Which is precisely what Darwin noted 150 years ago, and has been causing some of these extreme right wingers to hit the roof ever since.