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Vol. 33, No.4 April 27, 2006
THE DEAR LEADER SQUEAKS BY
Three months ago, our Dear Leader, PSC president Barbara Bowen, seemed destined to win another term unopposed---imitating the performance of the original Dear Leader in Pyongyang. Instead, when this week's results came in, Barbara's New Caucus barely held off the fast-closing challenge of the CUNY Alliance slate. We're sure that Barbara now understands what her predecessors felt like in 1997, after they rebuffed a challenge from the then-insurgent New Caucus. And then, the NC only tallied around 30% of the vote--a far cry from the CUNY Alliance's 46% total in this year's contest.
So, if history repeats itself, barring unforeseen events, the Dear Leader has only three years left to reign. The insurgents become the Establishment, and lose touch with their constituency. What can we expect for her swan song? We'd like to think that, chastened by her close call, Barbara will reconsider her failed strategies and focus on actually doing her job.
But don't count on it: The Patriot Returns is unaware of even one occasion over the past six years in which the Dear Leader has publicly questioned a single tactical choice she's made or a sole idea she's floated. And, indeed, her recent "Straight Talk About the Contract" promised more of the same blustery tactics that failed her this time around.
In the end, we only know one thing for certain: by giving her three more years in office, this week's results left the Dear Leader $100,000 richer. Barbara, you might recall, used union dues to increase her salary by $33,879 annually. In the Dear Leader's world, some of us are more equal than others.
OVER / UNDER
Those of us who lack the power to unilaterally boost our salary by $33K must look elsewhere to enhance our revenues. Las Vegas bookmakers offer odds on virtually everything---so if we're lucky, they'll turn their attention to the PSC. For instance, the Dear Leader seems to have 27 Board of Trustees meetings until she leaves office (3 years at 9 meetings per year). Our sources on the "strip" give us an over/under of nine for the number of BOT meetings that Barbara's militant minions will disrupt over the next three years. Our advice: take the odds and bet your money on the "over." Maybe your winnings will cover your dental bills. (Maybe not, alas.)
Prudent pundits already should have made their first successful wager. We hear that the over/under was 24 hours on how quickly after the elections returns came in the Dear Leader would announce her contract cave-in. Barbara beat the line---her e-mail was sent out a mere 17 hours after the final votes were tallied.
We'll be analyzing the contract in future issues once we see the details. (Sorry, Barbara, we just don't trust your "Contract Updates" any more.) But isn't the timing of her announcement just a little suspicious?
THE "QUEEN OF RELEASED TIME"
Next fall will feature a monumental event in CUNY's history: unless she can finagle a sabbatical, UFS chair Susan O'Malley, the venerated "Queen of Released Time," will return to the classroom at Kingsborough Community College. A tip for Susan: in a major change since you last taught a course, classrooms now use electricity rather than candlelight for illumination.
But the Queen wouldn't be the Queen unless she could go out with a bang. Recall, if you will, the New Caucus' campaign claim that "free speech" entitled its supporters (and, apparently, only its supporters) to post political items on college-wide faculty email list-servs. This was a bizarre and laughable argument. But, at least, you'd think that those who made it wouldn't be caught simultaneously censoring their own list-servs.
Guess again. As UFS chair, the Queen has presided over the CUNY faculty discussion group called Senate Forum. This website exists primarily for discussing issues regarding CUNY and higher education, but it also features discussion of personal matters. And, moreover, the far-left views near and dear to the Queen's heart consume more than a few Senate Forum posts.
Alas, Rohit Parikh, a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at Brooklyn College, misunderstood the meaning of "on-line discussion forum." He took the radical step of actually discussing some of the views on political affairs presented by his colleagues. Even more alarmingly, he actually debated some of those views.
Quicker than you could say, "Off With His Head!," the Queen sprung into action. Without warning, in August 2005, she banned Parikh from the forum, on grounds that his postings were "off topic." You see, discussions can stay "on topic" only when everyone agrees with the Queen, who has long considered herself an absolute monarch, abhorring those who challenge her worldview. Parikh received no details of how his posts were "off topic" but those of others who posted on the same matters from a different ideological perspective were "on topic." Nor did he have a chance at appeal or rebuttal. In the Queen's world, her fiat is law.
We hear that the Queen's outrageous conduct has troubled even some of her ideological comrades, such as Stanley Aronowitz, forum members who seem to recognize that a basic principle of free speech and academic freedom is a willingness to hear views which one does not hold oneself.
Surely the UFS can come up with a better way to run the Senate Forum than simply to censor the voices with which the leadership disagrees?
We have nothing to note regarding Brooklyn CLT and self-described "trouble-finder" Paul Sheridan. In this respect, "Trouble-finder" Sheridan is almost as invisible as the Dear Leader's trusty sidekick, "Solidarity Steve" London. The preliminary results circulated by New Caucus headquarters listed the vote totals of a host of New Caucus candidates. But they contained nothing on Steve's race. Could this be a sign that, like our national Vice President, Vice President Steve will be made to take the "fall" for the shortcomings of his boss? Does the Pravda-esque deletion of Steve's race mean a new figure---perhaps Chapter Chair Cline---might emerge as the frontrunner to assume the New Caucus mantle in 2009?
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.