Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Randy Dotinga calls Sweetwater board members "victims" for pleading guilty to corruption charges

Voice of San Diego's Randy Dotinga writes in today's Morning Report, "Many of the departed [from the Sweetwater Union High School District board] are victims of the massive South Bay corruption scandal, which ensnared several education officials and contractors."

Victims?  Hardly. 

While it is true that most of the departed board members pled guilty to small offenses, it does not follow that they are "victims". 

It would be more accurate to say that the District Attorney didn't want to expose at trial too many of the antics of public school officials in San Diego County.  The obvious danger of having trials for board members would be that big honchos in the San Diego County education establishment might be exposed in proceedings that were designed to target mostly Mexicans and Democrats in South Bay.

Randy Dotinga seems to be the only person at Voice of San Diego who honestly voices the opinion of the VOSD major donors and executives.  VOSD has been, at least since it got rid of Emily Alpert, a big supporter of the honchos at San Diego County Office of Education and their loyal supporters among school officials around the county.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Google readies automated tool for those wanting to disappear from search results

Google readies automated tool for those wanting to disappear from search results
The online tool will have a mechanism to prevent unauthorized takedowns, said a German DPA with knowledge of the matter.
By Loek Essers
CIO.com
May 16, 2014
IDG News Service — People will be able to use an online tool to ask Google not to display search results about them, according to a German data protection commissioner.
Google will create the tool following a decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which ruled on Tuesday that Google and other search engines can be ordered to delete links to outdated information about a person published on the Internet.
European citizens that want to be forgotten by search engines can file a request directly with the search engine operator to have out-of-date information about them deleted. The operator must determine if the information displayed about the person in its search results is still relevant, and if not, must remove it from the results, the court ruled.
In order to deal with these requests Google plans to release an online tool to implement a procedure for a right to be forgotten, or rather for the right not to be found, said Johannes Caspar, Hamburg's Commissioner for Data Protection. The system will include an authentication mechanism to prevent unauthorized takedown requests, he added.
Google already offers semi-automated tools for requesting that limited categories of personal information such as signatures, national identification numbers, or bank account details be removed from its search results, but those will need to be expanded.
"The ruling has significant implications for how we handle takedown requests," a Google spokesman said in an email, declining to comment on how the system would work exactly.
"This is logistically complicated -- not least because of the many languages involved and the need for careful review. As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know," he said. He could not say if the amount of takedown requests has increased since the ruling.
Caspar called for data protection authorities (DPAs) in Europe to consider harmonizing their criteria for the deletion of a link in a search engine. "In the interest of an equal treatment of all European citizens, especially the search engine providers, there should be coherent principles amongst all DPAs in Europe," he added.
France's DPA, the National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL), said Friday that the court ruling confirms its existing interpretation of French law, and that it stands ready to enforce the ruling in France if Google does not respond satisfactorily to requests.
Meanwhile other European DPAs including the Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the Norwegian Data Protection Authority are still reviewing the verdict and its possible implications...
 

Canadian Judge Says Google Must Remove Links Worldwide

 Is the golden age of the Internet over?  Will we need to go back to the printing press to share information?

Canadian Judge Says Google Must Remove Links Worldwide

Google has argued that following a global order by a Canadian court to remove specific search results could put in into conflict with laws of other countries.

OTTAWA — Google will appeal a decision by a court in British Columbia that requires the company to remove specific search results worldwide. While the case stems from an intellectual property dispute between two small industrial equipment companies, some legal experts say that if the decision is upheld it could have far-reaching consequences for the Internet.
The temporary order, granted last Friday by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, emerged from protracted litigation between two companies which were once both closely connected. Equustek Solutions makes a device that allows industrial machines made by different manufacturers and that use different software to communicate with each other. Those products were marketed by another company, Datalink, which sold them under its name.
While the two companies almost merged at one point, relations soured in the middle of the last decade and they split. One result of that was the court finding that Datalink’s stole Equustek’s designs and engineering to create its own device, which it largely sells through the Internet.
Trying to block the sales of Datalink’s product, however, has not been easy despite a court order banning online sales in December 2012. Datalink’s owners appear to have left Canada and the location of its Web-based operation is unclear.
In an earlier court ruling, the court ruled in favor of Equustek Solutions and its principals. After that ruling, Google Canada began to voluntarily remove the Web address related to Datalink from searches made through Google.ca. But in last week’s decision, Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon found that Datalink swiftly set up new websites with slightly different addresses every time it was blocked from search results in Canada by Google.
“Websites can be generated automatically, resulting in an endless game of ‘whac-a-mole’ with the plaintiffs identifying new URLs and Google deleting them,” she wrote.
Her solution, unprecedented for Canada, was the interim injunction requiring Google to kill all Datalink search results worldwide.
If upheld and then emulated by courts in other countries, said Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, the Internet could go from being perceived as a lawless place to “one where all courts apply” setting up conflicts between nations on several issues, particularly freedom of expression.
“The judge recognizes that there is this global impact but doesn’t really want to deal with it,” said Professor Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet law. “Where this decision goes off the rails is when the court decides its order making power is limitless.”
Google Canada declined to comment beyond a short statement: “We’re disappointed in this ruling and will appeal this decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeals, B.C.’s highest court.”
Professor Geist said he was puzzled that the order involves Google and no other web search provider, like Bing, making the information still easily available.
And while he agreed that the court could, and probably should have, ordered these search results struck in Canada, he said that it overreached with its global order. It would have been more appropriate, Professor Geist said, if Equustek sought similar orders in each of the countries where Datalink does business. They are not likely very numerous. Court filings indicate that at its peak in 2005, Equustek only sold 672,000 of its devices.
For Professor Geist, the decision is troubling in two different respects. If the order stands, it would most likely put Google in the position of deciding itself which court orders it obeys and where it honors them.
At the same time, he asked how Canadians would feel if “the European Court of Justice looked to extend the right to be forgotten not just to Europe but to the rest of the world?” That ruling, released last month, requires all search providers’ European operations to remove links that people believe violate their online privacy.
In its court submissions, Google argued that following a global order by a Canadian court could put in into conflict with laws of other countries. It cited a case where a French anti-racism group said that Yahoo had broken French law by allowing users to sell Nazi artifacts through its websites. A French court ordered Yahoo to block all access from France to Nazi artifact postings stored on its servers in the United States and fined the company about $15 million.
Yahoo voluntarily removed the material and then turned around and sued the anti-racism group in California, arguing that its First Amendment Rights to free expression had been violated. A federal judge sided with Yahoo in 2002. But that was set aside by an appeals court in 2006, which did not address the question of whether American Internet companies must honor rulings by foreign courts related to postings that are unlawful overseas but not in the United States.
Professor Geist said that Google would most likely ask the appeals court to put the injunction on hold until it reaches its decision, a process that could be lengthy. It is also possible that Google will be supported in its appeal by other Internet search companies.
Based on earlier Canadian cross border Internet cases, Professor Geist said he expected that the global order would be struck down.
“This judge has decided that she’s going to decide for the rest of the world,” he said, adding that it appears that the judge, seeing the size and power of Google, may have decided that “judges need powers that are equally large if they’re going to deal with it.”

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A little sunshine on the clever folks at the San Diego County Office of Education


Patch news websites

UPDATE AND CORRECTION May 24, 2014:
I apologize to the La Mesa/Mt Helix Patch. It did NOT censor my comments.


Candidates Alicia Munoz and Katie Dexter for San Diego County Office of Education board.

I now believe that the reason my comments seemed to disappear from a story by Helen and Jack Ofield was that Katie Dexter supporters decided to distract attention from the La Mesa Patch story and direct attention to the Lemon Grove Patch version of the same story. In fact, Tom Clabby erased his own comment from the La Mesa Patch and posted it on the Lemon Grove Patch. He apparently preferred to have his comment appear in better company.

It makes me wonder if perhaps some of Katie Dexter's supporters are opposed to seeing, hearing or speaking about problems at SDCOE.

When I wrote my comments I had no preference for either candidate in the Katie Dexter/Alicia Munoz race for SDCOE board. I didn't think that either one of them would be able to do anything about the secrecy and financial shenanigans at SDCOE. And I still don't have any preference.

Here's what made me reverse my unfair criticism of the La Mesa Patch: I just found a link to the article in the Town Square column on the home page.

ORIGINAL POST MAY 24,2014:

I made comments the other day on this La Mesa/Mt Helix Patch story about the race for a seat on the San Diego County Office of Education.

Then I discovered that the original La Mesa Patch story can not be found in the Patch archives and seems to have been erased from the Patch Facebook page. Google search results don't include the story.

But clearly the plan wasn't to get rid of the story itself. The exact same article has been published by the Lemon Grove Patch (without my comments, of course). Google readily produces a link to the Lemon Grove Patch article. It turns out that the La Mesa Patch story still exists; the link on my blog still works.

So I'm doing an experiment. I posted some new comments on the Lemon Grove Patch this morning, and we'll see what happens. Here are my new comments:


[Comments by] Maura Larkins May 24, 2014:

...The entire story seems to have disappeared, along with two comments I made regarding San Diego County Office of Education. This reminds me of the local Clear Channel billboards that were taken down after two days because they correctly stated that Carla Keehn is the only candidate for Judge of the Superior Court Office 20 who has not been convicted of a crime. Of course, I didn't pay $14,000 to publish my statements.

Maura Larkins May 24, 2014 at 09:27 am
CORRECTION AND APOLOGY TO THE PATCH: I believe that the La Mesa/Mt Helix Patch did NOT try to censor my comments. Instead, I think that Katie Dexter supporters worked to remove attention from the La Mesa Patch story that carried my comments and direct attention to the Lemon Grove Patch version of the same story. In fact, Tom Clabby erased his own comment from the La Mesa Patch and posted it on the Lemon Grove Patch. He apparently preferred to have his comment appear in better company. It makes me wonder if perhaps some of Katie Dexter's supporters are opposed to seeing, hearing or speaking about problems at SDCOE. When I wrote my comments I had no preference for either candidate in the Katie Dexter/Alicia Munoz race for SDCOE board. I didn't think that either one of them would be able to do anything about the secrecy and financial shenanigans at SDCOE. And I still don't have any preference.

The most common problem in public entities is not blatant corruption such as the outrageous salaries ($560,000 for the assistant City Manager) of officials in Bell, California, but the money that gets channeled behind the scenes. Millions of dollars get moved around, and the public doesn't know about the connections and motivations that are guiding the transfers. Voice of San Diego reporter Emily Alpert was investigating SDCOE when she suddenly went silent, and then got fired. SDCOE exempts Diane Crosier (the director of Risk Management; also, Dan Puplava's boss) from having to disclose the gifts she receives. Why don't we have transparency in government at SDCOE?


SDCOE Risk Management Director Diane Crosier and her close associate Dan Puplava work with AIG

SDCOE has silenced its critics.

When Scott Dauenhauer revealed that SDCOE fringe benefits manager Dan Puplava [who is still employed by SDCOE] was getting at least $355,000 in commissions from AIG while working for the taxpayers, Dauenhauer was sued by Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava.

I went down to the courthouse and read the pleadings in the case.

The SDCOE managers claimed that Dauenhauer didn't know that what he said was true. I'm not kidding. They didn't claim he said something false. They claimed that he didn't actually know that what he said was true. Since he couldn't afford to keep paying an attorney to fight the case, he settled. SDCOE has also tried very hard to silence me. SDCOE lawyers had more success with Grossmont student representative Rick Walker, who obligingly shut down his website.


My other comment was about the MiraCosta College scandal, in which SDCOE's favorite law firm got paid $1.3 million to investigate $305 of water stolen and used to water palm trees. (After investing all that taxpayer money, MiraCosta let the palm trees die. It was never about water or palm trees. It was all about power and politics.) Sounds a little bit like Bell, California, doesn't it? And if our media silences discussions about things like this, how can the taxpayers protect themselves?

[Comment by} Helen Ofield May 24, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Maura - I was hunting around for the coverage and thought it was "just me" when I couldn't find a comment I'd sent to you. I think the Clabbys had a little difficulty posting and, like them, I wouldn't know how to erase something if I tried. Really, there is no conspiracy here, just well-meaning people trying to navigate the Internet.

Maura Larkins May 24, 2014 at 04:30 pm

Hi Helen,
If you look at the line below your post you will see the words "Recommend...Reply...Delete". Just click on the word "delete". It looks like Tom Clabby found it. I got an automatic notice telling me about his new comment soon after I posted my comments. Then I got another automatic notice saying his comment was a blank.

I wonder what Katie Dexter and Alicia Munoz think of all the Dan Puplava shenanigans as well as the other SDCOE cases and the secrecy surrounding gifts to Diane Crosier. It seems that all we get from either candidate is political posturing and platitudes. Wouldn't this be a good time for one or both of them to address problems inside SDCOE?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The San Diego Reader is no longer blocking me from making comments--and the Court of Appeal will hear my free speech case this Friday


I tried once again this morning to correct an error in the San Diego Reader's story about the defamation suit against me by Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz. My comment went through! I'm delighted. Thank you, Reader owner Jim Holman. You're a gentleman and a scholar.

The Stutz v. Larkins case has been going on for six-and-a-half years, but the end might be in sight. I'll be presenting my oral arguments this Friday at 9 am to the Court of Appeal at 7th and B in downtown San Diego.



In August 2011 the Court of Appeal found
that Judge Judith Hayes' injunction against me
was a violation of the First Amendment, but
Hayes did not seem to get the message.

On June 21, 2012 Judge Hayes said to me,
“I’m not giving you permission to put anything on.”
(See the transcript HERE.)

In 2010 Hayes sanctioned me $3000 for violating the UNCONSTITUTIONAL INJUNCTION--AND REFUSED TO REVERSE HERSELF AFTER THE COURT OF APPEAL RULING! That injunction, which the Court of Appeal called "exceedingly broad", ordered me to never mention the name of Stutz law firm or its attorneys--not even if I wanted to seek legal counsel to defend myself against Stutz law firm's suit against me. Two years later, in 2012, relying on the 2010 contempt motion, Hayes added another $5000 sanction as punishment for my saying "Daniel Shinoff trains school attorneys" and similar statements. I'm not kidding. You can see the courtroom discussion HERE.

Here's my brief for the appeal that will be heard this week.

See all posts on San Diego Education Report about Stutz v. Larkins.

Even the American Bar Association made a big error when it wrote about this case.

THE COMMENT ALLOWED THIS MORNING BY THE READER:

MauraLarkins May 11, 2014 @ 11:45 a.m.

I liked Mr. Hargrove's article about me, but I would like to correct one error. In fact, the comment about Vito Corleone was not written by me, but rather by an anonymous visitor to my website. Mr. Hargrove's mistake can be explained by the fact that Judge Judith Hayes ignored the documentary evidence (exhibits that included printouts of my blog) when she issued a decision saying that I had published the comment!

In fact, I don't believe that Dan Shinoff makes Vito Corleone look like an altar boy. I'd say the exact opposite: that Vito Corleone makes Dan Shinoff look like the personification of moral purity.

I bear no malice toward Mr. Shinoff. I simply believe that the public has a right to know what our tax dollars are paying for, and how our schools are being run.


THE READER STORY ABOUT STUTZ V. LARKINS


Blogger vs. behemoths
By Dorian Hargrove
San Diego Reader
June 26, 2013

[Maura Larkins' note about the following story: The story fails to mention that there was no weighing of evidence in this case. There was no trial. There was not even a normal summary adjudication in which the court considers evidence on both sides. Instead, the judge threw out all my evidence and my opposition to summary judgment (because of a slight defect in format). My comments were NOT found to be defamatory in fact, but rather by a technicality. That's not the same as having the statements found to be defamatory at trial.]
It’s not David versus Goliath. It’s more David taking on a gang of Goliaths.

David in this instance is former elementary school teacher Maura Larkins. Larkins, a quiet but crotchety, middle-aged resident of Lakeside, runs the relatively unknown education blog called The San Diego Education Report.


Blogger Maura Larkins

Playing Goliath is the law firm of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz. One of the firm’s chief clients is the San Diego County Office of Education, along with the 65 school districts that make up the agency’s Joint Powers Authority. Since 2009, the firm has earned more than $7.7 million defending both the districts and the San Diego County Office of Education.

The conflict has lasted for six years inside courtrooms at the San Diego Superior Courthouse. For the lawyers, it is a fight to silence an incessant blogger from publishing defamatory comments about the firm on her website. For Larkins, it is a fight for her First Amendment rights to free speech.

So far, Larkins appears to be losing.

“The case has been a huge gray cloud hovering over me,” Larkins says at a coffee house in downtown La Mesa. “It’s limited my freedom to do the other things I want to do. My family has been more severely affected than I have. They see Stutz as powerful and invulnerable and don’t believe I have any chance of prevailing.”

But Larkins remains persistent, much as she was in 2007, when she posted what lawyer Daniel Shinoff claims were personal attacks and defamatory comments about the law firm.

Those comments appeared in a 2007 blog post. In it, Larkins accused the firm of “a culture of misrepresentation and deception,” adding that “the firm clearly suffers from a lack of professionalism or lack of understanding of the law…. My own personal opinion is, if a public entity is doing business with Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff, and Holtz, that public entity is probably involved in dirty business.”

The dispute between Larkins and Shinoff’s law firm goes back to 2002, when Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz defended the Chula Vista Elementary School District in a wrongful-termination lawsuit Larkins had filed.

Larkins lost that case but didn’t forget it. Neither did the firm.

On October 5, 2007, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz filed a defamation complaint against Larkins. The “publications by defendant…were made with malice, hatred, and ill will towards [Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz], with a design and intent to injure [the firm and its] good name, its reputation, employment, and employability in the future,” reads the complaint.

The firm asked for a judgment of $100,000, saying that due to Larkins’s commentary, it suffered “embarrassment, humiliation, and significant economic loss in the form of lost wages and future earnings.”

[Maura Larkins comment: In fact, in his deposition, Mr. Artiano said that he did not know of any harm that had come to his law firm.]

In 2009, judge Judith Hayes agreed, ruling in favor of Shinoff and company. Judge Hayes prohibited Larkins from posting negative comments about the law firm. Larkins agreed, while insisting that she would not refrain from publishing facts about the attorneys.

But later that year, Larkins couldn’t hold her tongue, or stop her fingers from typing, when former San Diego County Office of Education employee Rodger Hartnett filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit. Hartnett was fired from his job after accusing his boss, a former attorney at the law firm, of showing preferential treatment to her former colleagues by assigning them the bulk of cases from the San Diego County Office of Education.

In the comments section of her website, in response to an online article on the lawsuit by former Voice of San Diego reporter Emily Alpert, Larkins wrote: “…Shinoff makes Vito Corleone look like an altar boy. Shinoff has destroyed the lives of many individuals and families; only God knows what his body count is.”

Shinoff and his partners filed a motion with the court. Judge Hayes agreed with the lawyers, fining Larkins $3000 and barring her from making any further mention of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz. “And I’m doing that not in an attempt to foreclose or eliminate [Larkins’s] right to free speech,” said the judge, “but because it is crystal clear to me at this point that she is unable or unwilling to modify her [websites] in any good-faith attempt to remove reference to that law firm. So we’re cutting it off at this point. No more reference to the law firm.”

Larkins, however, has not gone this entire time without a few legal victories. In 2011, an appellate court agreed that the earlier judgment violated Larkins’s First Amendment right to free speech. That victory was short-lived, and the case is now back in the hands of Judge Hayes, who was scheduled to hear it sometime this month. Meanwhile, Larkins continues to post articles on her website.

“It upsets my husband every time an envelope comes from Stutz. He doesn’t understand why I don’t just take down my website. But over the past decade I’ve learned that the rule of law is far less secure than I once thought, and if I don’t defend it, then I am guilty of aiding and abetting the elected officials and their associates who want to suspend it whenever it’s in their interest to do so.”

She adds, “The financial costs have been very burdensome. I had to use my credit card to pay for court costs and $3000 [in] sanctions given by judge Judith Hayes. I’m deep in debt, even after breaking into my paltry IRA account.”

Court fees continue to increase without any sign of either side backing down.

Larkins puts court fees (including the judgment) at $43,000, and that’s not counting the money spent on copies and filings.

As for the lawyers, they show no signs of letting Larkins off the hook. In an April 10 email, attorney Ray Artiano wrote: “In the complaint, we set forth a number of the defamatory statements which were made by Ms. Larkins.

“The court agreed, yet Ms. Larkins persisted in making more defamatory comments. When someone makes defamatory comments, and refuses to withdraw those comments, the remedy is to file a lawsuit such as the lawsuit which we filed. This is hardly a case of bullying. [Our law firm] is extremely proud of its reputation, and we will not tolerate the publication of untrue and defamatory comments, nor should we be expected to.”

[Maura Larkins' comment: What Mr. Artiano fails to mention is the fact that there was no weighing of evidence in this case. My comments were NOT found to be defamatory in fact, but rather by a technicality. The judge threw out my opposition to summary judgment because of a slight defect in format. That's not the same as having the statements found to be defamatory at trial. I erased the comments that were adjudicated by a technicality, even though they were true.]

Continued Artiano: “The reason for pursuing this lawsuit is obvious. Why this lawsuit is viewed by you as newsworthy is not. Unless you intend to be less than objective. We have no thought of ‘silencing our detractors.’ Those who want to express opinions are certainly entitled to do so. When comments expressing alleged facts are made, and those comments are untrue and made maliciously, action must be taken.”...

COMMENT BY MAURA LARKINS

There was no trial in this case. In fact, **there was no weighing of evidence by the judge,** either. Judge Judith Hayes made her decision based ONLY on a technicality: that I hadn't used the updated format when I prepared my opposition to summary adjudication.

My statements were NOT found to be defamatory in fact, but only as a matter of law.

The judge could have weighed the evidence, but she chose not to do so. Why not?

To insulate herself even further from the facts of the case, Judge Hayes also threw out all my evidence. That was overkill, of course, since she had thrown out my opposition to summary adjudication.

UPDATE: I added one more comment:

MauraLarkins May 12, 2014 @ 4:33 p.m.

The law does NOT allow prior restraint of speech except for statements found to be defamatory "at trial". Judge Hayes did not have the right to deprive me of my constitutional rights without due process. Obviously, throwing out my evidence and my opposition to summary adjudication does not constitute due process.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Randy Dotinga and Doug Porter discuss the coverage/lack of coverage of the death of teacher Sarah Jenkins


Link: VIDEO Channel 10 News story about bullying at Harriet Tubman and the death of teacher Sarah Jenkins (shown with her husband). This news coverage occurred AFTER the debate below on the San Diego Free Press website. I assume that Randy Dotinga disapproves of this "quick hit" coverage. He clearly thinks it's better for the public to be kept out of the loop.

SHOULD THE PUBLIC BE TOLD ABOUT BULLYING OF TEACHERS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

Here's an interesting comment by Voice of San Diego's Randy Dotinga that I found on this San Diego Free Press story about the death of teacher Sarah Jenkins on February 26, 2014 after bullying by administrators at Harriet Tubman school in San Diego.

[Comment by] Randy Dotinga March 15, 2014 at 10:21 pm

A couple things:

1. The Education Week piece isn’t a reported story by a professional journalist. It’s a blog post by a teacher.

[Maura Larkins' comment: The story contains transcribed testimony of a school board meeting, and includes the video of the public meeting. Randy Dotinga is way out of line in dismissing it because it is not the work of a professional journalist. It's a public record, Mr. Dotinga. And what makes you think a teacher can't gather facts? In fact, a teacher starts out with a huge amount of pertinent knowledge that a journalist, no matter how "professional" he might be, is probably lacking when he covers a school story. It seems you don't want the public to obtain information that might stand in opposition to your media outlet, Voice of San Diego. VOSD is very interested in controlling the information received by the public about schools. To be fair, Mr. Porter's outlets, San Diego Free Press and OB Rag, also have an agenda regarding schools. Since Emily Alpert was fired from VOSD, there is not a single "professional" news source in San Diego that is trying to tell the whole truth about schools.]

2. I don’t know if any local journalist will pursue this story. But it’s important to note that a complex story like this raises major questions and challenges for any professional journalist.

[Maura Larkins' note: It's also important to note that a story like this raises major questions about the integrity of media outlets in San Diego.]

Based on what little I’ve read, there are many potential minefields here in terms of privacy, fairness and sensitivity, not to mention avoidance of libel. And then there’s the wider issue of whether there’s a story to be told that’s relevant to the public and sheds light.

[Maura Larkins' response: Do you find it difficult, Randy, to be fair, sensitive, appropriately respectful of privacy and to avoid libel? It shouldn't be terribly hard. Aren't you really making excuses for professional journalists who fail to cover important stories? The teachers for whom you show such contempt don't have to worry about libel because they are certain of the truth, unlike a journalist who arrives at the scene. In other respects, also, teachers are often superior to many professional journalists when it comes to reporting what goes on in schools. You're not sure whether a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the failure to help a public school teacher improve are relevant to the public? Perhaps Voice of San Diego needs more teacher blogs.]

Everyone involved deserves more than a quick-hit, next-day he said/she said news story. Any journalistic examination will take significant time and great care.

[Maura Larkins' comment: A "quick-hit, next-day he said/she said news story" is better than a cover-up, Randy. You make it clear that you think that teachers are less credible than professional journalists when it comes to writing about events that the teachers themselves have witnessed. But you also clearly admit that there are many stories that professional journalists don't cover. Your excuses? Worries about libel, for one thing. Witnesses don't have to worry about libel because they know the truth.

You sure do like to help schools keep their secrets, don't you, Randy?

Voice of San Diego's current education stories don't hold a candle to the teacher blogs on Education Week. Why not? Voice of San Diego does not want to take significant time and great care to tell the truth about schools.]



RESPONSE TO RANDY DOTINGA FROM SAN DIEGO FREE PRESS HONCHO DOUG PORTER

Doug Porter March 16, 2014 at 9:02 am

Readers should know that Randy Dotinga usually comes to our site with snide comments. He often spends his days trashing the SDFP and it’s contributors on Twitter. It must make him feel very manly to be so much better than all us, especially those who dare to–gasp–write poetry and other “cringe inducing” articles here.

In this case because the story involves charter schools–a seemingly sacred subject with his primary source of funding–Randy’s trying to sound like a serious journalism critic.

[Maura Larkins' comment: Hypocrisy alert! I agree with Doug that Randy's employer, Voice of San Diego, censors stories that don't fit in with the agenda of its Jacobs/Woolley/Dammeyer donor trio. But Doug Porter is also guilty of bias in the stories he covers. I don't think it's any accident that the Sarah Jenkins story fits in nicely with Porter's anti-charter agenda. But Doug likes to keep the lid on stories of bullying by teachers and by California Teachers Association.]

Reconsideration about policies towards charters schools is guaranteed plenty of local coverage. This story that might negatively reflect on charters wasn’t covered.

[Maura Larkins' comment: For years I have been writing about bullying by adults in schools. A big part of the problem is the lack of effective teachers evaluations, and follow-through based on objective evaluations. The result is that school politics takes the place of real information.

But Doug Porter doesn't ask for teacher evaluations. He just seems to be using this tragic death to attack charter schools. This same scenario plays out very frequently in regular public schools. Here's a story from last October regarding San Gabriel Valley: Another teacher suicide; students suspended for speaking out about bullied teacher Jennifer Lenihan.

Of course, Doug Porter has the same attitudes as Randy Dotinga. He gets on his high horse regarding this story, but the truth is, he's just like Randy Dotinga: he covers stories that support his own agenda and the agenda of his media outlet.

SHOULD SAN DIEGO FREE PRESS CHANGE ITS NAME? Doug Porter refuses to report brazen injunctions by Judge Judith Hayes violating free speech of a teacher blogger; is it time for a name change for Doug Porter's press?]



HERE'S THE FULL VERSION OF DOUG'S RESPONSE TO RANDY DOTINGA

DOUG PORTER COMMENT

Doug Porter March 16, 2014 at 9:02 am

Readers should know that Randy Dotinga usually comes to our site with snide comments. He often spends his days trashing the SDFP and it’s contributors on Twitter. It must make him feel very manly to be so much better than all us, especially those who dare to–gasp–write poetry and other “cringe inducing” articles here.

In this case because the story involves charter schools–a seemingly sacred subject with his primary source of funding–Randy’s trying to sound like a serious journalism critic.

Reconsideration about policies towards charters schools is guaranteed plenty of local coverage. This story that might negatively reflect on charters wasn’t covered.

The complaints voiced at the at the SDUSD meeting are a five year old problem with the Harriet Tubman School. They were voiced last time the school’s charter was up fopr consideration. The lack of oversight in charter schools and the abusive treatment of instructors is a nationally recognized problem. The school board meeting occurred on Tuesday; apparently the complaints of the students, teachers and parents weren’t even enough of a problem for local news media to follow up on. Or maybe nobody covered the meeting. Or watched the publicly available video of the meeting.

A well recognized educator (http://www.teacherslead.com/Bio.html, http://dianeravitch.net/2014/03/11/anthony-cody-on-march-madness-time-to-stop-teaching-time-for-test-prep/) with a significant track record who contributes via the blog format to EdWeek.org isn’t enough of a “journalist” to merit consideration in Dotinga’s opinion. (That’s probably because he couldn’t think up anything nasty or snarky to say.)

Because of the story in EdWeek, which was based on what was actually said at the school board meeting, there are now “journalists” looking into the situation at Harriet Tubman.

My “baggage” in this situation is that I’m sick and tired of his internet bully persona. This “concern troll” persona on display today is one he uses on occasions where multiple interests are involved. Trust me here, his only real concern with this story is trashing SDFP. I have reached out to him in the past to try and reason with him, but he has ignored my requests.

Readers would be advised to keep Mr Dotinga’s baggage in mind when reading his comments in any forum. I would expect that he’ll be a tad upset when he realizes he’s been banished to troll-land around here and can’t respond to this.

Adios, Randy. You won’t be missed.


San Diego Charter Teachers: Bullying Contributed to Death of Colleague
by Doug Porter
San Diego Free Press
March 14, 2014

School Board meeting not ‘the time or place’ to discuss confidential personnel matter of Teach for America instructor, says Harriet Tubman Principal

I didn’t write the headline for today’s column. It’s a headline at Education Week, a nationally recognized print and digital (edweek.org) publication. With a staff of over 70 and budget of over $13 million annually, it’s hardly the product of some basement blogger. Amazingly, it’s about a story nobody else in the San Diego media seems to have covered.

The EdWeek story is about a meeting of the San Diego Unified School Board on Tuesday, March 11th. The charter for the Harriet Tubman Village Charter School was up for renewal. A group of parents, teachers and students wearing blue bravely stood up before the Trustees and proceeded to raise serious questions about the way the school is operated.

Accusations were made suggesting violations of both the Education Code and State Law by the school’s administration. And the suggestion was made that the bullying tactics and leadership style at Harriet Tubman contributed to the death of Sarah Jenkins, “a young, bright, dedicated, caring first year teacher at Tubman.”

Here’s a portion of the testimony of 8th grade teacher Clarisa Mondejar, as transcribed from a video of the meeting by Anthony Cody:

When administration had concerns about Sarah’s abilities and performance they did not provide support for her or guidance. Instead they piled more and more work on, called her names, and criticized her at every single turn. On October 24th, Sarah wrote an email to the administration informing them that she had a medical condition that made it difficult to meet their excessive demands. She ended the email by begging for positive support, writing “being kind, helpful and specific helps me better myself. But calling me incompetent is not helpful but rude and unprofessional.”

The next day, Sarah was terminated, which I believe is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sarah passed away three weeks ago from complications of stress-related seizures. When administrators found out we did not receive support or compassion. Instead we were told to not share this information with students, not with parents, that Sarah was only at our school for two months, and at the end of the day she didn’t make an impact.

The video of the school board meeting lasts for for more than two hours. The 1hr, 54 min mark is where the testimony begins, the ensuing (and angry) school board discussion starts at about the 2 hr 20 min mark.

Here’s Whitney Carpenter, 7th grade teacher:

We apologize that we have not spoken earlier, as we are a staff that exists in fear of bullying, retaliation and losing our jobs.

Back to the Edweek account (empasis mine):

After the teachers spoke, several parents addressed the board as well, including two who voiced support for the principal. The principal spoke defiantly, reciting their test scores and attendance statistics. “I cannot apologize for putting children first because that is what I signed up to do. Today is not for talk about one confidential personnel matter involving a Teach For America teacher. This is not the time or place for it.”

Janelle Ruley, the attorney representing the charter school, took the mic and stated, “As a reminder, the District must consider, must consider, increases in pupil academic achievement as the most important factor for renewal.“

Board members Richard Barrera and Scott Barnett give impassioned speeches after learning that the Trustee’s hands were tied. Their choices were limited to approving the charter renewal or denying it, which would close the school down. None of those giving testimony wanted that to happen. They did direct the district staff to further investigate and report back to them in April. At that point SDUSD’s only option will be to initiate expensive and time consuming legal action to de-certify the school.

I’m sure there is more to this story. My question today is “Why the hell didn’t this episode get any coverage in the local media?” Anybody? Are charter schools really that much of a sacred cow?

[Maura Larkins' comment: Hypocrisy alert! This story fits in nicely with Doug Porter's anti-charter agenda. But Doug likes to keep the lid on stories of bullying by teachers--and by California Teachers Association.]

UPDATE: Chris Bertelli w/ Teach for America has added a comment saying Ms. Jenkins was not a TFA teacher.


COMMENT BY "Teacher" March 15, 2014 at 5:52 pm

The principal merely messed up her speech probably because she had no idea this was coming. There was aTFA teacher at the school that happened to be Mrs. Jenkins best friend. Mrs. Jenkins began to suffer from Gran Mal seizures because of the stress at school. She was terminated in the end of October. She continued to have seizures and stress problems because of the horror she experienced. Her best friend and teacher on staff the TFA teacher began to be a target now and for a few months dealt with it. The day Mrs. Jenkins went into a coma from another Gran Mal seizure, the TFA teacher was extremely targeted and the day after Mrs. Jenkins died, the TFA teacher was terminated. There is way more emails, information, and details that cannot be published online at this point, but believe me, this is a horrible and very true story. Her parents are involved, but not in the public forum for Tuesday Night because as I said before, they do not live her, but are very much involved and informed. There may not even be an obituary, not everyone has one. As for her Facebook page, it is not a memorial page, but merely started as a prayers and information page for her. All positive and dedications, now continues as an information or her celebration of life for family and friends. It has no information about her previous employment because that was such a terror in her life the family did not dare speak of it, the mere mention of the name would effect Mrs. Jenkins very greatly. This terror of bullying and many violations to law, ed code, and the brown act are what the teachers want stopped. The bullying has happened to MANY teachers over the years, but this is the first time they were able to gather together and make a stand against what was going on. Past teachers, the TFA teacher, parents, and teachers stood together that night. Get all of your facts before you start assuming teachers are lying. They have already gone through enough, support them, don’t question if their experiences were real. Local news was at the school yesterday to do interviews.


HERE IS THE EDUCATION WEEK STORY BY ANTHONY CODY

[This story contains transcribed testimony of a school board meeting, and Mr. Cody includes the video of the public meeting.]

San Diego Charter Teachers: Bullying Contributed to Death of Colleague
By Anthony Cody
Teacher Blogs
Education Week
March 14, 2014

At a San Diego school board meeting on Tuesday, March 11, dramatic testimony from teachers and parents uncovered serious questions about the way their charter school has been run. Harriet Tubman Village Charter School is known for high test scores, but the death of a first year teacher has contributed to a sense of deep concern. Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers, once said: "Dare to stand before those you fear and speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." The testimony at this meeting is riveting. And the discussion that follows is disturbing.

I transcribed some of the testimony, which begins roughly at the 1:54:00 mark in this video.

Amy Nimps (?), President of Parent Teacher Council, active on student site council, charter renewal committee, parent of daughters in grade 3 and 6.

We have experienced high turnover of teaching staff, particularly in the 6th grade classroom, which affects me directly as I have a daughter (in 6th grade). The most recent turnover was just just two weeks ago, with only 65 days left before the end of the school year. This turnover affects my daughter's ability to realize her true potential. She has lost a role model and a teacher she was very connected with. This turnover is affecting the integrity of the charter, the morale of the staff in general and the effectiveness of the teachers who teach our students. Such pressure and stress cannot be a benefit to the remaining teaching staff, or to their ability to give their best to our students. I attempted to contact our Board of Governance to express my concerns, and I was met with resistance, lack of concern, and unapologetic apathy.

I am of the opinion that our Board of Governance has lost its ability to be objective and to act in the best interests of our school. The teaching staff at Harriet Tubman is our greatest resource and they must be supported and encouraged to thrive without fear of retribution. When we first came to Harriet Tubman we were an extended family of students, teachers, parents, community members whose priority was strong instructional programs, a safe and caring environment, and a continual push for academic excellence. Somewhere this year that was lost. Upon approval of our charter I am requesting an immediate investigation of the concerns brought forth so we can again be the village that it takes to raise and educate our children.

Whitney Carpenter, 7th grade teacher:

I represent the teachers at Harriet Tubman Village Charter. On behalf of all the teachers at Tubman, we love our students and our school. We want nothing more than for Tubman to be the best learning environment possible for students and educators. We are here today to ask the Board to approve the renewal of Tubman's charter, but with the added condition of completing an investigation into what we believe are serious violations of the Education Code, the Brown Act, and the school's charter.

We apologize that we have not spoken earlier, as we are a staff that exists in fear of bullying, retaliation and losing our jobs.

We have concerns regarding the protection of our students, the success of our school and the integrity of the charter. Our charter requires us to follow the credentialing requirements of the Education Code. Several teachers this year and last year taught without proper credentials in the subjects they were teaching. In fact, this is the case for two teachers at the moment. One teacher, when initially stating she was not qualified to teach a subject, and felt uncomfortable teaching the subject, was told she could do it, she was capable, and to do it "until we get caught, and then we have a year to fix it." We also have questions regarding whether one of our administrators actually holds an admin credential, as there is no record of it with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Our administrator has violated the Brown Act by coercing several of my colleagues and me to not attend public governance board meetings. Board meetings, such as this month's, have been canceled by administration without notice or approval by the governance board.

Our charter has been violated as our administration has prevented Board members from monitoring and approving the compensation of staff, by both hiring and firing staff without proper board approval. When learning of a recent teacher's firing, a Board member actually had thought the teacher had quit, and was surprised to learn she had actually been fired. We urge you to please approve our charter but under the condition of a full investigation into these claims and more.

Clarisa Mondejar, 8th grade teacher.

In reviewing our charter we noticed a major change from the 2009 version to the current version. In 2009, a clause stating that the principal must hold the trait of compassion was included. This clause is no longer included, and I wish I could say why. But as far as we know, no teacher was involved in creating the charter. We wonder if the removal was in response to the 2011 continuing remedy period that was placed on our charter for a large number of violations. Three specific clauses were directly tied to the mistreatment of staff and teachers, but this bullying has not stopped since 2011.

I want to tell you the story of Sarah Jenkins. Sarah was a young, bright, dedicated, caring first year teacher at Tubman. When administration had concerns about Sarah's abilities and performance they did not provide support for her or guidance. Instead they piled more and more work on, called her names, and criticized her at every single turn. On October 24th, Sarah wrote an email to the administration informing them that she had a medical condition that made it difficult to meet their excessive demands. She ended the email by begging for positive support, writing "being kind, helpful and specific helps me better myself. But calling me incompetent is not helpful but rude and unprofessional." The next day, Sarah was terminated, which I believe is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sarah passed away three weeks ago from complications of stress-related seizures. When administrators found out we did not receive support or compassion. Instead we were told to not share this information with students, not with parents, that Sarah was only at our school for two months, and at the end of the day she didn't make an impact.

In 2011, our administrator had to prove that formalized systems were in place for teachers to complain about retaliation and bullying. Also a formalized system needed to be established where employee complaints could be processed. And lastly, an internalized commitment showing that teachers have an effective process to address concerns with mismanagement needed to be installed. Our union grievance procedures give us the opportunity to address issues that arise from violations of our contract, but do not cover unprofessional and unethical behaviors by administrators outside the framework of the contract. Given the mismanagement of the governance board and the continued unilateral decision-making, no such systems exist. In order to complain about the bully we have to speak to the bully.

In 2011 accusations were strong enough so that a clause was created that stated there needed to be evidence that successful resolution of complaints involving retaliation and general mismanagement were documented. This evidence, including a formalized complaint system, and an effective internalized process addressing these internal mismanagement issues are still missing from our school. I'd like to think that had they been in place, and effective, Sarah would still be here with us. Please, for the sake of all of our teachers, and more importantly, our students, approve Tubman's charter with the condition of investigating these claims and more.

Rachel Varga, 4th grade teacher.

I am one of just three teachers who remain as teachers at Tubman since the last time the charter was up for renewal. The teacher turnover rate has consistently been around 50% since our principal arrived. This year, for example, just eight of our 18 teachers were here at the end of last school year. Some of our 6th grade students have experienced four separate teachers this year. This is obviously a detriment to our students given the number of lost instructional days, and a lack of consistency for the kids. In total, we have lost nine teachers out of 18 positions since last June, and we still have three months to go in the school year. The ability to hire and retain high quality teachers is a core function at a charter school, and unfortunately, for many reasons, it has been lacking at Tubman.

After the teachers spoke, several parents addressed the board as well, including two who voiced support for the principal. The principal spoke defiantly, reciting their test scores and attendance statistics. "I cannot apologize for putting children first because that is what I signed up to do. Today is not for talk about one confidential personnel matter involving a Teach For America teacher. This is not the time or place for it."

Janelle Ruley, the attorney representing the charter school, took the mic and stated, "As a reminder, the District must consider, must consider, increases in pupil academic achievement as the most important factor for renewal."

The response from the school board begins at about 2:20 on the video. Board members have been told they have very limited options. After some heated discussion, they vote to approve the charter's renewal, with some assurance from staff that a serious investigation has been initiated.

The teachers at this charter school are represented by the San Diego Education Association. The local president, Bill Freeman, also addressed the school board and encouraged them to investigate. In spite of their concerns, the teachers and parents were united in asking the board to renew the charter. But the level and persistence of these issues raises questions about whether there is any effective oversight in place.

[Note: Chris Bertelli, TFA's Communications Director for California, stated via Twitter this afternoon: "just wanted to clarify that Sarah Jenkins was not a TFA teacher." (Mar. 14, 2014)]

Thursday, May 08, 2014

This thread got too hot for City Beat to handle--City Beat erased my comment


UPDATE 8 AM MAY 8, 2014

I see that my comment about Irwin Jacobs and the firing of Voice of San Diego education report Emily Alpert is back on the City Beat website.

MAURA LARKINS' UPDATE 6 AM MAY 8, 2014

We seem to have a bit of a problem with journalistic ethics in San Diego. Voice of San Diego is so beholden to its donors that its behavior doesn't surprise me. But City Beat? What's your excuse?

A thread about the Randy Dotinga/Aaryn Belfer/Dagmar/Aloha brouhaha got to hot for City Beat to handle. I posted the following comment around 7 pm last night. Then I noticed it suddenly became hidden, and in its place was a message, "View 1 more." When I woke up this morning, I discovered that the comment has disappeared completely. What exactly is it that upset City Beat so much?

"Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

"At the time Emily [Alpert of Voice of San Diego] was fired, her investigation of SDCOE had been stopped in its tracks and VOSD had ended its much vaunted policy of allowing reporters to decide what they would write about.

Can you give a reason for Emily being chosen for layoff? Obviously, there were reasons that VOSD chose Emily, Adrian Florido and Sam Hodgson, but those reasons were unknown at the time.

We have more information now. Do you deny the truth of this statement, "Since then, the VOSD donor trio of Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer have made clear that they passionately desire to have their money bring about the expansion of arbitrary power for school administrators"?

When we see the enormous passion that these three donors have for bringing about specific changes in schools, it ceases to appear merely a coincidence that VOSD's widely-admired education reporter was terminated."

[If you want to see the context in which this comment appeared, look at the bottom of this post, or go to this page in City Best. Ironically, it comes very shortly after I wrote, "And City Beat is also sometimes a bit too quiet about certain issues." I'd say I was clearly right about that.]

It's lucky I had posted a copy of the comment in my own blog. Otherwise, it would be lost forever--which, I'm sure, is exactly what City Beat--and Voice of San Diego--hoped for. Sorry, you fearless purveyors of truth!

In place of the above comment City Beat has published an extra copy of this comment that I posted this morning:

Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

When a pet project of Irwin Jacobs (such as Voice of San Diego) has major financial problems, it's because Irwin Jacobs wants it to have major financial problems.



Irwin Jacobs, net worth $1.9 billion. When a pet project of Irwin Jacobs
(such as Voice of San Diego) has major financial problems, it's because
Irwin Jacobs wants it to have major financial problems.

I'm guessing that the reason VOSD suddenly had a financial crisis
and "laid-off" its widely popular education reporter Emily Alpert
has a lot to do with stories like this one. It should be noted that
Jacobs' fellow SD4GS supporter Rod Dammeyer is also a member of VOSD's
donor trio of Jacobs, Dammeyer and Buzz Woolley.
When the voters of San Diego refused to give up control of the schools
they pay for, SD4GS folded and many of its supporters moved to UPforEd,
which is now a "community partner" of Voice of San Diego.


It looks like Emily Alpert (now Emily Alpert Reyes) was "laid-off"
because she wasn't adequately supporting the agenda of Irwin Jacobs
and other donors. The donor trio didn't hurt Emily; she now has a
better job at the Los Angeles Times. It's the students of San Diego
and California that were harmed. Emily was terminated just months
after writing this story about SD4GS,
an organization that sought to get voters to pack the SDUSD school
board with unelected members. It probably didn't help that she
also wrote about me.

I have to agree with Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis' New Years concerns about his own journalistic integrity. See all posts re Scott Lewis. And I think David Rolland might want to ask himself some of the same questions that Scott Lewis has posed.



HERE IS THE ORIGINAL REMARK THAT GOT THIS THREAD STARTED:


Randy Dotinga

Here is the remark that got Randy Dotinga in big trouble: "A feminist who depicts women as bimbos is no feminist." That's an rule? A feminist is not allowed to discuss the sexual behavior of women? But I think Randy was being rhetorical. He was saying he didn't like the way Aaryn Belfer depicted certain women as wiggly and under-dressed. I, too, didn't like it when Aaryn Belfer used the first names of two local reporters in her critique. That was unnecessary and self-indulgent. My first thought upon reading Aaryn Belfer's column on Randy Dotinga:
Let Randy talk. Dammit, let Randy talk. Especially since he's hilarious. I love reading his stuff.

Aaryn Belfer's criticism of Randy for speaking too much in an academic setting bothered me quite a bit. It disturbs me that anyone, anyone at all, should be pressured to be silent in an academic environment when they are trying to make a rational point. I've seen it happen at SDSU. I've seen cliques of women silencing people in two different creative writing classes with two different professors. In one of those classes, the professor was not involved. In the other class, the professor was the leader.

And then journalist Doug Porter of the OB Rag and San Diego Free Press chimed in on behalf of Aaryn, "Thank you for telling The Truth about a mean and horrible person." Really? For defending Aloha and Dagmar he's a mean and horrible person? At least Randy and Aaryn were talking about specific qualities that they saw in the other. Doug was judging the entire person.

Here's my message to Doug:

Wow, Doug. Let him talk. Dammit, Doug, let Randy talk.

And then Doug's defender David Budin went ballistic. David Budin threw out the word "asshole" at Aaryn. If he had just left out that one word, his comment would have been entirely reasonable.

But I'm thinking that was the response Aaryn was trying to elicit. Why else would she have made comments about Randy's weight, among other attempts to demean him? Randy was quite a bit more gentle with Aaryn than Aaryn was with female reporters. Aaryn is free to criticize women in high-profile positions who contribute to the public's view of women. But if she's going to attack them personally, she should expect a little blowback.

Women in television news face a quandary: should they object to pressure from their bosses to dress in a certain way--and risk getting fired? They'd likely be replaced by women who were willing to play the titilate-the-viewers game.

I wish journalists were more devoted to getting the whole truth out in front of the public. But journalists are similar to those women on TV: they have bosses that want to control them. I think both Randy and Aaryn should speak out about more important things--like the stories their bosses aren't covering.


AAARYN BELFER'S MAY 5, 2014 STORY ABOUT RANDY DOTINGA



Nobody puts Baby in a corner
On feminism and who gets to define my brand of it
By Aaryn Belfer
City Beat
May 05, 2014

"Oh, we all know that guy," my friend Heather said to me on the phone. "He's the dude who took a women's-studies course in college and knew it all. He wore a 'Free Tibet' T-shirt and monopolized every conversation."

Heather and I were talking about a non-vagina-having, self-important troll named Randy Dotinga who told me via Twitter that I'm no feminist. This bloviating nitwit, who likes to police me when I criticize other women, apparently suffered apoplectic seizures after reading part of one sentence in my last column. The offending 13 words referencing a pair of local meteorologists and their painted-on clothing had him stomping his feet. It was pretty darned cute.

"A feminist who depicts women as bimbos is no feminist," he fired off, with the back-patting superiority of a third-grade know-it-all.

Of course, I didn't depict any women as bimbos or even use such language. Nor did I "dehumanize women on tv" as he put it, which is impossible since that's totally redundant. Kudos, though, to him for taking up the banner on behalf of the poor, demeaned television ladies among us...



RANDY DOTINGA HUMOROUSLY DEFLECTS THE ATTACK

Here's Randy's mention of the issue in Voice of San Diego's Morning Report (probably the most gracious and humorous response of all):

"Not everyone’s a fan of your Morning Report scribe. That’s the word from a CityBeat columnist who calls me a “dough-faced,” “self-important troll” with “the back-patting superiority of a third-grade know-it-all.” So? What’s your point?



COMMENTS FROM THE CITY BEAT WEBPAGE ON THIS STORY:

Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

The issue in the Randy Dotinga/Aaryn Belfer tizzy is whether certain things should be said. I'm glad the issue is being discussed.

Whether or not things should be said. Isn't this the basic question underlying every decision by media outlets, including Randy Dotinga's Voice of San Diego and Aaryn Belfer's City Beat, as to what's going to be published? Sadly, San Diego seems to be a place where media outlets leave too many things unsaid about serious issues, including the one we're looking at here: free speech.

I believe it's better to err on the side of discussing more issues rather than fewer issues. As Matt Taibbi says, the job of a journalist isn't to be nice. It's to tell the truth. What bothers me more than anything said by Randy or Aaryn is the manner in which Randy's employer, Voice of San Diego, seems to write what it's paid to write. Voice of San Diego seems to be developing an increasingly rigid culture that is largely based on the belief that certain people shouldn't be part of the public discourse. (Irony is everywhere in journalism, isn't it?) And City Beat is also sometimes a bit too quiet about certain issues.



Randy Dotinga · Works at Freelance Writer

"Randy's employer, Voice of San Diego, seems to write what it's paid to write." I'm not sure what you mean.



Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

At the time Emily Alpert was fired from Voice of San Diego, the reasons were mysterious.

Since then, the VOSD donor trio of Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer have made clear that they passionately desire to have their money bring about the expansion of arbitrary power for school administrators.

It wouldn't do to have an education reporter who knew her way around the school system and wanted to share her knowledge.

VOSD now produces stories about education that appear to be balanced, but in fact only present the opinions of the very powerful: the moguls, the administration, and the teachers union. There is no voice for those who are interested only in students rather than advancing themselves or their personal agendas. I believe that Emily Alpert would have given those people a voice.


Randy Dotinga · Works at Freelance Writer

Maura Larkins To clarify, Emily was laid off along with 2 other staffers when VOSD had major financial problems. I'm not aware of pressure coming from donors regarding her position. Neither are you.



Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

At the time Emily was fired, her investigation of SDCOE had been stopped in its tracks and VOSD had ended its much vaunted policy of allowing reporters to decide what they would write about. Can you give a reason for Emily being chosen for layoff? Obviously, there were reasons that VOSD chose Emily, Adrian Florido and Sam Hodgson, but those reasons were unknown at the time.

We have more information now.

Do you deny the truth of this statement, "Since then, the VOSD donor trio of Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer have made clear that they passionately desire to have their money bring about the expansion of arbitrary power for school administrators"?

When we see the enormous passion that these three donors have for bringing about specific changes in schools, it ceases to appear merely a coincidence that VOSD's widely-admired education reporter was terminated.



The above comment was erased by City Beat! Unbelievable! It just disappeared. Why?



Perhaps the following message on City Beat's website explains it:

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It appears that City Beat editor David Rolland is trying to become Scott Lewis of Voice of San Diego, which is a very sad thing. My conclusion is that Rolland got pressured to remove my comment by someone who supports Voice of San Diego. Perhaps a donor? Perhaps a very recent donor? Like, maybe, a donor who got generous last night? Or was it merely professional courtesy among journalists--working together to keep the public ignorant?


David Rolland

I do agree with most of Rolland's ballot recommendations.

Here are my responses to Rolland's assessment of the State Superintendent of Education race.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

San Diego Union-Tribune gets shinoffed



Dan Shinoff

I didn't think this sort of thing could happen to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the major newspaper in San Diego County. I thought it only happened to small-time bloggers like me.

A few years ago Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz used its influence to get Google to shut down my San Diego Education Report Blog. It also managed to sabotage my blog in Google search results. I had to send legal documents like this one to Google lawyers to get them to reinstate my blog. And I never managed to stop Google Alerts from hiding my blog and mentions of me in other media outlets.

Still, I never imagined that Stutz law firm could get Google Alerts to conceal mentions of Dan Shinoff in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

But that's exactly what Google did. I wouldn't have known about the most recent stories about Dan Shinoff in the UT if I didn't also use Talkwalker alerts.

My "shinoff" alert on Google seemed to die on the vine. It didn't alert me to recent stories by the UT, including this story about Dan Shinoff about public records.

This is all the more bizarre since the "shinoff" alert used to tell me every time Dan Shinoff's nephew wrote a sports story for his college newspaper.

If you want to be alerted to stories about Dan Shinoff, I recommend Talkwalker's free alerts. Google Alerts' staff is strangely negligent when it comes to certain search terms. For example, you won't get Google alerts for my name (Maura Larkins). They'll tell you about every other person on the planet named Maura, but none of the alerts will be about me.


Emily Alpert now works for the Los Angeles Times

Emily Alpert wrote about Dan Shinoff and the San Diego County Office of Education before she was muzzled and then unceremoniously dismissed in 2011 by Voice of San Diego.

See all posts on Google censorship.

This can't be good news for U-T San Diego. Voice of San Diego noted on May 5, 2014:

"UT San Diego’s circulation levels have fallen sharply since last year, the Reader reports. Comparing the six months ending on March 31, the average circulation of the Sunday edition fell from 425,000 to 362,166."

My blog hits are often as low as 300 a day. How can Google do this to a newspaper with over 300,000 readers in one day?

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Let Randy Dotinga talk--and let Aaryn Belfer talk


UPDATE MAY 8, 2014 6:33 AM:

This thread got to hot for City Beat to handle! I posted the following comment around 7 pm last night. Then I noticed it suddenly became hidden, and in its place was a message, "View 1 more." When I woke up this morning, I discovered that the comment has disappeared completely. What exactly is it about this comment that City Beat is upset about?

Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

At the time Emily was fired, her investigation of SDCOE had been stopped in its tracks and VOSD had ended its much vaunted policy of allowing reporters to decide what they would write about. Can you give a reason for Emily being chosen for layoff? Obviously, there were reasons that VOSD chose Emily, Adrian Florido and Sam Hodgson, but those reasons were unknown at the time. We have more information now. Do you deny the truth of this statement, "Since then, the VOSD donor trio of Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer have made clear that they passionately desire to have their money bring about the expansion of arbitrary power for school administrators"? When we see the enormous passion that these three donors have for bringing about specific changes in schools, it ceases to appear merely a coincidence that VOSD's widely-admired education reporter was terminated.

[If you want to see the context in which this comment appeared, look at the bottom of this post, or go to this page in City Best. Ironically, it comes very shortly after I wrote, "And City Beat is also sometimes a bit too quiet about certain issues." I'd say I was clearly right about that.]

It's lucky I posted here in my blog a copy of the comment. Otherwise, it would be lost forever--which, I'm sure, is exactly what City Beat hoped for. Sorry, City Beat!

In place of the above comment City Beat has published an extra copy of this comment that I posted this morning:

Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

When a pet project of Irwin Jacobs (such as Voice of San Diego) has major financial problems, it's because Irwin Jacobs wants it to have major financial problems.

UPDATED

Here is the remark that got Randy Dotinga in big trouble: "A feminist who depicts women as bimbos is no feminist."

That's a strict rule. A feminist is not allowed to discuss the sexual behavior of women?

But I think Randy was being rhetorical. He was saying he didn't like the way Aaryn Belfer depicted certain women as wiggly and under-dressed. I, too, didn't like it when Aaryn Belfer used the first names of two local reporters in her critique. That was unnecessary and self-indulgent.

My first thought upon reading Aaryn Belfer's column on Randy Dotinga:
Let Randy talk. Dammit, let Randy talk. Especially since he's hilarious. I love reading his stuff.

Aaryn Belfer's criticism of Randy for speaking too much in an academic setting bothered me quite a bit.

It disturbs me that anyone, anyone at all, should be pressured to be silent in an academic environment when they are trying to make a rational point.

I've seen it happen at SDSU. I've seen cliques of women silencing people in two different creative writing classes with two different professors. In one of those classes, the professor was not involved. In the other class, the professor was the leader.

And then journalist Doug Porter of the OB Rag and San Diego Free Press chimed in on behalf of Aaryn, "Thank you for telling The Truth about a mean and horrible person." Really? For defending Aloha and Dagmar he's a mean and horrible person? At least Randy and Aaryn were talking about specific qualities that they saw in the other. Doug was judging the entire person.

Here's my message to Doug:

Wow, Doug.

Let him talk. Dammit, Doug, let Randy talk.

And then Doug's defender David Budin went ballistic. David Budin threw out the word "asshole" at Aaryn. If he had just left out that one word, his comment would have been entirely reasonable.

But I'm thinking that was the response Aaryn was trying to elicit. Why else would she have made comments about Randy's weight, among other attempts to demean him? Randy was quite a bit more gentle with Aaryn than Aaryn was with female reporters. Aaryn is free to criticize women in high-profile positions who contribute to the public's view of women. But if she's going to attack them personally, she should expect a little blowback.

Women in television news face a quandary: should they object to pressure from their bosses to dress in a certain way--and risk getting fired? They'd likely be replaced by women who were willing to play the titilate-the-viewers game.

I wish journalists were more devoted to getting the whole truth out in front of the public. But journalists are similar to those women on TV: they have bosses that want to control them.

I think both Randy and Aaryn should speak out about more important things--like the stories their bosses aren't covering.

COMMENTS ON AARYN BELFER'S STORY FROM CITY BEAT:


David Budin
Works at Writer and musician
Wow -- what an asshole you are. (By the way, being a male feminist does not mean I can't criticize women, or whatever double-negative way you phrased that.) I'm a longtime journalist and editor and I've seen so many amateur writers like you try to score points, and make points, by being what you think is hard-hitting and tough, but is simply vengeful and mean.


Doug Porter
Top Commenter · San Diego City College
Thank you for telling The Truth about a mean and horrible person.


Randy Dotinga
Works at Freelance Writer
So you agree about the appropriateness of dehumanizing and bimbo-izing local women on television, Doug? Do tell!


Megan Koran
University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
Take your own advice. Get over yourself.


[Maura Larkins' response: How about we let both Randy and Aaryn NOT get over themselves? How about we let them say what they have to say?]



Nobody puts Baby in a corner
On feminism and who gets to define my brand of it
By Aaryn Belfer
City Beat
May 05, 2014

"Oh, we all know that guy," my friend Heather said to me on the phone. "He's the dude who took a women's-studies course in college and knew it all. He wore a 'Free Tibet' T-shirt and monopolized every conversation."

Heather and I were talking about a non-vagina-having, self-important troll named Randy Dotinga who told me via Twitter that I'm no feminist. This bloviating nitwit, who likes to police me when I criticize other women, apparently suffered apoplectic seizures after reading part of one sentence in my last column. The offending 13 words referencing a pair of local meteorologists and their painted-on clothing had him stomping his feet. It was pretty darned cute.

"A feminist who depicts women as bimbos is no feminist," he fired off, with the back-patting superiority of a third-grade know-it-all.

Of course, I didn't depict any women as bimbos or even use such language. Nor did I "dehumanize women on tv" as he put it, which is impossible since that's totally redundant. Kudos, though, to him for taking up the banner on behalf of the poor, demeaned television ladies among us...



Here's Randy's response from Voice of San Diego's Morning Report (probably the most gracious and humorous response of all):

"Not everyone’s a fan of your Morning Report scribe. That’s the word from a CityBeat columnist who calls me a “dough-faced,” “self-important troll” with “the back-patting superiority of a third-grade know-it-all.” So? What’s your point?

The issue in the Randy Dotinga/Aaryn Belfer tizzy is whether certain things should be said. I'm glad the issue is being discussed.

Whether or not things should be said. Isn't this the basic question underlying every decision by media outlets, including Randy Dotinga's Voice of San Diego and Aaryn Belfer's City Beat, as to what's going to be published? Sadly, San Diego seems to be a place where media outlets leave too many things unsaid about serious issues, including the one we're looking at here: free speech.

I believe it's better to err on the side of discussing more issues rather than fewer issues. As Matt Taibbi says, the job of a journalist isn't to be nice. It's to tell the truth. What bothers me more than anything said by Randy or Aaryn is the manner in which Randy's employer, Voice of San Diego, seems to write what it's paid to write. Voice of San Diego seems to be developing an increasingly rigid culture that is largely based on the belief that certain people shouldn't be part of the public discourse. (Irony is everywhere in journalism, isn't it?) And City Beat is also sometimes a bit too quiet about certain issues.

Randy Dotinga · Works at Freelance Writer

"Randy's employer, Voice of San Diego, seems to write what it's paid to write." I'm not sure what you mean.

Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

At the time Emily Alpert was fired from Voice of San Diego, the reasons were mysterious.

Since then, the VOSD donor trio of Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer have made clear that they passionately desire to have their money bring about the expansion of arbitrary power for school administrators. It wouldn't do to have an education reporter who knew her way around the school system and wanted to share her knowledge.

VOSD now produces stories about education that appear to be balanced, but in fact only present the opinions of the very powerful: the moguls, the administration, and the teachers union. There is no voice for those who are interested only in students rather than advancing themselves or their personal agendas. I believe that Emily Alpert would have given those people a voice.

Randy Dotinga · Works at Freelance Writer

Maura Larkins To clarify, Emily was laid off along with 2 other staffers when VOSD had major financial problems. I'm not aware of pressure coming from donors regarding her position. Neither are you.

Maura Larkins · Top Commenter · UCLA

At the time Emily was fired, her investigation of SDCOE had been stopped in its tracks and VOSD had ended its much vaunted policy of allowing reporters to decide what they would write about. Can you give a reason for Emily being chosen for layoff? Obviously, there were reasons that VOSD chose Emily, Adrian Florido and Sam Hodgson, but those reasons were unknown at the time. We have more information now. Do you deny the truth of this statement, "Since then, the VOSD donor trio of Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Rod Dammeyer have made clear that they passionately desire to have their money bring about the expansion of arbitrary power for school administrators"? When we see the enormous passion that these three donors have for bringing about specific changes in schools, it ceases to appear merely a coincidence that VOSD's widely-admired education reporter was terminated.