Bad Idea of the Week: Let Legislature Govern UC


lelandyeeAmid the endless stream of doltish notions spewing forth from Sacramento, Democratic State Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco has come up with one so imbecilic it takes your breath away.

With Yee and his legislative colleagues flopping and floundering in a pool of red ink $25 billion deep, he’s decided now’s just the right time to bring the Capitol’s special brand of management magic to bear on the University of California.

Yee — whose biggest contribution to date to the cause of higher education has been railing against the “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” video game — has now proposed a constitutional amendment to end the system of independent governance of the UC system, putting the 10 campuses in the grubby hands of the Legislature.

He’s rounded up a batch of second-rate hacks to join him in this crackpot crusade, including L.A. Democrat Anthony Portantino – a graduate of mighty Albright College whose greatest lifetime achievement was serving as Production Director for NBC’s “Grizzly Adams”; Brian Nestande — a Riverside County Rep who coasted into politics on his daddy’s coattails and made his bones helping to elect political giants like Michael Huffington and the late Sonny Bono; and Roy Ashburn, the Bakersfield GOPer who’s one step ahead of the posse seeking to recall him from office.

Huffing and puffing to the Chron, Yee accused the Regents of acting “absolutely above the law” for constitutionally operating outside the reach of a Legislature that’s pushed the state to the brink of bankruptcy. (As for being “above the law,” recall that the most famous campaign photo of Yee is his booking mugshot, taken when he was busted on a shoplifting beef in Hilo, Hawaii back in the day. But we digress).

Calbuzz stipulates that the UC Board of Regents isn’t perfect – far from it. Most recently, the administrative salary and perk scandals (unearthed by Calbuzzer Tanya Schevitz when she worked for the Chronicle) were dreadful, indeed. But the Regents, under the leadership of chairman Dick Blum, chief consort to Senator Difi, acted decisively in dumping former president Robert Dynes and bringing in Mark Yudof.

Let’s face it: the list of things that actually work well in state government would fit into a match box, with room left over to play the Cal-Stanford game. UC, with its well-earned global reputation and its still-affordable world class education for California public school kids, is at the top of that short list.

The idea of trading the Regents, who are insulated from retail politics – by design of the framers of the state constitution since 1868 – for the nitwits, narcissists and sharkskin suits that populate the Legislature in the era of term limits is enough to make the Cal bear barf.

We’re just sayin’.

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There are 14 comments for this post

  1. avatar DAVID says:

    BTW – Is ANYONE ‘governing’ the UC system now? Who’s watching the Regents these days?

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    Senator Yee is doing this for AFSCME as part of a contract dispute with UC. AFSCME has also filed an initiative to take control of the UC pension plan from the Regents. It is all a negotiating tactic.

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    Legislature, meet the faculty Senate. Faculty Senate, say “hullo” to the Legislature. Now, repair to your corners. Come on, CalBuzz, think of the entertainment value here.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    If you are in his district, help me recall sentor Ashburn. RecallRoy. Search for us on google!

  5. avatar Anonymous says:

    UC is ignoring that multi-billion dollar hole as it continues to shovel money out to pad the six-figure salaries of its executives. It’s time for some oversight.

  6. avatar Anonymous says:

    “Amid the endless stream of doltish notions spewing forth from Sacramento, Democratic State Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco has come up with one so imbecilic it takes your breath away.”

    So true. And it applies equally to Obama’s personal management of car companies — including the firing of one CEO, to be replaced with an Obama crony. WTF?? This is exactly what’s been happening in Venezuela under comrade Ugo Chavez.

    It’s hard to believe the feckless, butt-kissing mainstream U.S. media actually gives the Administration a free pass on this textbook example of Fascism.

  7. avatar Dana Gabbard says:

    Fritz Henderson, new GM CEO, is not an Obama cronie. Hey, Republican shill — get your facts straight!

    The real shame is the failed Bush Presidency–a disgrace of huge proportions we all are paying for! Obama is cleaning up the mess left by the far right stupidity regime!

  8. avatar Meggypie says:

    Mark Yudof is not necessarily an improvement. Also, I think the governor has too much power in appointing these 12 year term Regents. I wouldn’t say that the legislature will be leaps and bounds better (term limits most likely impede this possibility) but the Regents are far too autonomous with little or no oversight. As a UC student, I have been to many of the UC Regents meetings, despite their inaccessible scheduling, and see a board of disconnected former CEOs and big campaign contributers rather than higher education advocates. Maybe we should actually consider putting experienced educators in combination with finance minded people to make a more balanced board. Either way, I can’t harp on Senator Yee for trying, the Regents seem to be failing.

  9. avatar DAVID says:

    Once more – this time with gusto, for emphasis:
    “The University of the People” in Pasadena [check their web site] is both affordable and also fully accredited. Now accepting apps for the next academic term(s)!

  10. avatar Anonymous says:

    Please highlight some good bills that would genuinely reform government or eliminate waste but which never make it through the first committee. Why doesn’t anyone ever cover such items? I heard about a bill the other day that would dismantle any legislative committee (and its staff) that hasn’t met in at least 2 years, but the bill was killed. Really???

  11. avatar DAVID says:

    Any P-R offices at the sundry U-C campii giving out any enrollment figures, since the Regents upped the ante against new & continuing students?

  12. avatar Anonymous says:

    Warning: As David above suggests, I checked the website of “The University of the People”. Their website admits that they are NOT accredited.

  13. avatar Anonymous says:

    The immediately previous ANON post is both (a) disingenuous and (b) misleading — there are four (4!) paragraphs to the section on subject accreditation – read them all,not just the first sentence of one initial paragraph. Having gone through that lengthy WASC process with several preprietary post-secondary associate degrees [plural] granting colleges as Dean of Educaton at both — no WASC TEAM ARRIVES UNTIL AFTER SOME CLASSES HAVE BEGUN AND AT LEAST ONE SEMESTER'S BACKLOG OF LESSON PLANS ARE AVAILABLE FOR LATER CRITICAL REVIEW. INTERVIEWS ARE CONDUCTED – WITH FACULTY AND STUDENTS. After an initial semester, WASC typically grants "probational" status to continue work until a second semester's lesson plans are on file and in use. And so on – it is a rather involved and lengthy process, but the initial step has been correctly taken by Uni of the People: They have done all that can be done at this point in the accreditation process. The rest is in WASC's court — and they take their good old time, in point of fact. THEN THERE's the matter of disparities on student loan guarantees in which public institutions are held to a LOWER STANDARD of defaults, than are the private colleges and universities — it is all intended to ensure a monopoly for the publicly funded institutions. But at this point, with UC and CSU overseers raising tuitions & fees, they likely have priced themselves out of the market – making the University of the People option more attractive than ever today and for the foreseeable future. So much for the public institutions training future professors in a revolving door scheme – ensuring their 'clones' are chosen for perpetuating the specie. This is NOT was Darwin observed in successful cultures nor species.

  14. avatar Anonymous says:

    Yeah, how dare he ask for democratic oversight over a state agency? The real answer is allow for minimal control over a multi-billion dollar a year department, that’s how to get them to stop flushing our money down the drain. Oh yeah, and way to take a shot at Ashburn. Lord knows the reason he’s being recalled has nothing to do with the fact that he’s a Republican who is willing to compromise instead of let the state collapse.

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