The Tucson Weekly, I am proud to say, is coming up on its 30th year of serving Tucson, Southern Arizona, and the entire world. (I can make that latter claim because I once got a hate email from Pakistan. It was cool. The email writer didn't sign it, so when I responded, I referred to him as "Jimmy Jihad." I figured that was all right, since people in that part of the world are known for their senses of humor.)
I wasn't around at the very beginning, but those who were told me that the original intent was to poke a sharp stick in the eye of The Establishment ... and write reviews of bands that were playing in local clubs. We stopped being the scrappy underdog a long time ago.
We recognize our place in the community and have accepted the responsibility of wearing Big Boy Pants. Well, in public, anyway. Sometimes.
On April 6 of this year, Pima Community College was placed on probation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which is the agency charged with determining Pima's accreditation status. The list of concerns brought up by the HLC was long and nasty, citing widespread general ineptitude, as well as several specifics including shady contracting deals, corrupt hiring and firing practices, and inept or even hostile handling of sexual harassment claims.
The HLC stopped short of yanking Pima's accreditation altogether, but the agency let it be known that the Pima landscape was littered with a whole lot of stink piles and the various trails of putridity pretty much all led back to the school's elected Board of Governors. Those five people—Brenda Even, Marty Cortez, David Longoria, Sylvia Lee and Scott Stewart—were given roughly 18 months by the HLC to clean up the school's many problems or the school could have its accreditation pulled. That would be a disaster of epic proportions for the tens of thousands of students who attend Pima Community College.
Last week, the Board members announced that they would spend 30,000 of your taxpayer dollars to attend a series of workshops and retreats to teach them how to do the damn jobs they were elected to do. Sylvia Lee was just elected to the Board last November, but the other four members, combined, have 47 years' experience on the Board. They shouldn't stink this badly and they definitely shouldn't need high-priced retreats to teach them how to not stink.
In a recent poll of the PCC faculty, the aforementioned (long-term) four members of the Board received single-digit approval ratings, including a jaw-dropping 3 percent for Scott Stewart and 7 percent for Marty Cortez. Those are Hitler-like numbers. (Actually, with the Tea Party still active, Hitler would probably be able to pull low double digits.)
Because I'm a big fan of Pima Community College and I want to do my part to protect the brand, I will offer my services, free of charge. Just have the Board of Governors members follow these few easy steps and the listing ship that is Pima Community College can be righted and begin to move forward again. Plus, they could save that $30,000 and use it to provide scholarships for deserving low-income students.
The workshop is now in session:
1. Don't hire sleazes.
2. Don't hire pervs.
3. Don't hire dickheads.
4. If you find that you have hired somebody who fits into one or more of those categories, don't let them keep their job. If you keep paying them, they're going to convince themselves that what they're doing really isn't all that bad.
5. Don't pat yourselves on the back for hiring a minority. Equal opportunity and diversity are good things (plus, you have anti-discrimination language written into your Bylaws). However, people of all different races, creeds, and colors can turn out to be sleazes, pervs, and/or dickheads. Herman Cain, Henry Cisneros and Antonio Villaraigosa all cheated on their respective wives. Minority status does not automatically confer nobility.
6. This is a tricky one because there's almost certainly a federal law against it if you do it wrong. If you're going to hire a man into a position of authority and that man's height is below the average for American men, keep an eye on him. He might have what my friend Rob calls "Shorty-Man Complex." Guys who have that tend to be sexually aggressive or tyrannical or sometimes just annoyingly short.
7. If you're not quite sure how to do business in an ethical manner, there are hundreds and hundreds of hard-working small business owners in this town who would be happy to show you how to do things the right way.
Finally, if a woman finds the courage to file a sexual harassment complaint, treat her with respect and investigate the complaint. You may not have enough to fire the guy, but at least he'll be put on notice. If EIGHT women all file a complaint against the same guy, kick his short butt out the door.
That's it for the workshop. You're welcome. Next month is the retreat at Popeye's Chicken on 22nd, near Kolb. Y'all're buyin'.