Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Eve of Destruction

In the January 24-30, 1996 issue of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, reporter Nina Siegal remarked that New College was moving away from its academic roots toward a vision that leaves little room for dissent. In the lengthy feature story titled New College's Brave New World, Siegal observed that the institution was, "undergoing a fundamental shift that some fear may lead to its destruction."

Quoting from a Spring 1995 report from New College to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the trustees of the school -- several of whom are still on the board -- were referred to as the 'Council of Elders' 'Thinkers-for-the-Whole' and 'those who own the mission and spirit of the college'. Questioning this absurdity, a student at the time, Stephanie Tarnoff, reasonably asked, "Are we a cult or are we a school?" Then board chair (and current trustee) Colleen O'Neal responded, "It's not like we're a bunch of Moonies here, but we all share the same basic philosophy and values."

Commenting back then on these so-called values, New College professor Harry Britt noted that the administration of Peter Gabel, Martin Hamilton, and Mildred Henry had, "used power very heavy-handedly in a way that has created a lot of intimidation and fear." A habit, we might add, they have continued to this day.

As New College now looks its destruction Nina Siegal predicted in the face, it seems the autocrats led by Peter Gabel have learned little in the last ten years. In fact, reading the scathing letter from WASC on July 5, 2007, it would appear the delusions of the long-reigning cabal have only gotten worse. Indeed, perhaps professor Britt was prophetic ten years ago when he said, "I haven't given up yet, but I'm extremely concerned that unless some basic changes are made in the direction of the school, it's not going to survive as a serious academic place."

With the benefit of hindsight, we would venture to say that has already transpired.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Macanudo Man

Sometimes the evidence is so obvious you don't notice. Bouncing paychecks, delayed student loan disbursements, unpaid bills.

If you're running a college financed 92% by federal education funds, what's the most tempting way of padding the budget?

If you guessed skimming interest from a private account you win a cigar. If you can trace the accounts, you get a job with the U.S. Treasury.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


The closer we look at the systematic misuse of federal department of education funds by New College of California, the harder it gets for us not to think of the ostensible institution of higher learning as anything other than a racketeer influenced corrupt organization. If our instincts are correct, trustees and their accomplices could be doing time in the pen.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Obstructing Justice

Thirty-three years ago today, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon was cited for obstruction of justice, followed shortly by charges of abuse of power and contempt of Congress. While these impeachable offenses are daily occurrences in the present White House, obstruction, abuse, and contempt extend to many loci of concentrated power in our society--some where you'd least expect it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Investigation Warranted

While concerned alumni of New College of California are grateful to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges for finally forcing their alma mater to comply with adopted standards of academic integrity and financial transparency, that is only the first of their demands. In addition to the ongoing WASC special investigation, astute alumni are calling for a full investigation by the U.S. Department of Education and the California Department of Education, as well as by EdFund--the premier student loan service provider. If their hunches are correct, these audits will likely lead to the involvement of the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Office of the Attorney General. Given the already exposed illegalities and cover-ups by members of the New College board of trustees, nothing short of full disclosure is warranted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Restorative Justice

At this point, it is no longer a question of harms done by the New College board of trustees, but rather a question of what they will be forced to do to remedy those harms. Restorative justice comprises a great deal more than promising to do better.

Friday, July 20, 2007

No Mercy

One of the easily overlooked items amongst the voluminous improprieties and violations of law cited in the letter from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges to New College president Martin Hamilton on July 5, is the prevalent practice of "favoritism and cronyism" by members of the board of trustees. While nepotism might be fine in a family-owned business, to find trustees' children, wives, or other relatives employed by or receiving special financial awards from the president in an institution of higher learning -- funded by state and federal taxes -- has got to raise some eyebrows.

Indeed, if one is looking for a key to unlock the mystery of how a small clique was able to obtain control of this student loan and grant machine for their own devious purposes, one would be remiss to ignore the Third World dictator aspect of the current New College administration. The fact they have repeatedly used this consolidated power to prey on the underprivileged communities they claim to be serving, is possibly one of the most unconscionable acts ever exposed in academia.

These scoundrels may not end up going to jail for this breach of trust, but neither do they deserve our mercy.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Democracy Rising

As we've noted here in the past, we at Public Good help those who fight back.

Research, analysis, education--that's what we do, in order to help community organizers prepare for community action. This past week, after receiving requests for advice, we responded, and because of the valiant efforts of the students and faculty of New College -- plus a personal interest there -- we decided to intervene, something we don't often do.

It may be a long siege in removing all the scoundrels from the school's administration and board, but for now, it is important to acknowledge the gallantry of those who are standing up rather than cowering in fear. This is indeed what democracy looks like.

Friday, July 13, 2007

From the Ashes

When institutions serve us well, they should be cherished and nurtured, guarded from complacency and protected from attack. When they fail us due to indolence or corruption, they should be put right by those in a position to do so. But when those in positions of authority -- in either a fiduciary or oversight capacity -- let us down through misfeasance or misguided good intentions, sometimes we simply have to allow them to disassemble in as orderly and fair a fashion as possible.

This guiding principle applies not only to modern states and religions, but also to institutions of higher learning like my beloved alma mater, New College of California, whose wonderfully unique public-interest programs are now threatened with loss of accreditation as a result of misfeasance by the school's president and Board of Trustees. After numerous second chances for the school to come into compliance with the legally-required standards of integrity and solvency, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has finally reached the end of its tether, and in the following letter issued its ultimate warning in no uncertain terms.

It is clearly a sad day for all the faculty, scholars, alumni and staff who contributed over the past three decades to make New College a place where people could pursue a more just, sacred, and sustainable world; yet it is apparently time for a new beginning--one that unfortunately requires that this now disgraced institution come to an end. Maybe something good will rise to take its place.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Consolidating the Coverup

Wampum takes a look inside the Interior/Justice nexus to show how Wise Use operatives under Baby Bush position and reposition themselves to aid and abet money-laundering and obstruction of justice on behalf of BigEnergy and the BigBoss in the VP's office.