By ANDREW PAXTON
When the Higher Learning Commission’s liaison spoke to Pima Community College’s governing board on May 3, her message was very clear.
“We expect our institutions to provide information and be transparent with information being provided to the student body and constituents,” Karen Solomon, a vice president with the HLC, told the board.
This is coming straight from the college’s accrediting body, the same organization that has placed Pima on probation. The HLC will also determine if Pima will be allowed to keep its accreditation after February 2015, based on how the college responds to the sanction.
However, less than a week after Solomon’s clear statement that the HLC wants more information available to students, the board decided to hold a special meeting on May 10. It barely cleared the legally required 24-hour public notice.
Notice of the meeting was not sent to the Aztec Press despite an explicit request for “press releases and any other official releases from the college.”
There was no notification sent to the student body or most constituents of the college, despite Solomon explicitly telling the college to provide information to these groups.
Instead, the information was posted on Pima’s website. The notice was not posted on the college’s homepage for easy access, but was tucked away on the governing board’s meeting calendar. The only way to know the notice was there was to search for it.
Does that sound like transparency of information?
It would not have been difficult to inform the community and students, because hundreds of them were in attendance at a May 8 board meeting.
It is difficult to imagine that the board was unaware on May 8 that they would be meeting again in 36 hours.
Board members are only allowed to discuss matters such as planning meetings during an executive session.
The board held an executive session just before the May 8 meeting, while students, faculty and members of the community rallied outside PCC’s district office and demanded resignations from the four board members who served while Roy Flores was chancellor.
Was the board afraid or unwilling to disclose their upcoming May 10 meeting when faced with hundreds of angry members of the college and the community?
Even if the decision wasn’t made until May 9 to hold the special meeting, an email could have easily been sent to all students and other interested parties to meet the HLC’s desire for information to be disseminated.
During the May 8 meeting, Brenda Even, Marty Cortez, David Longoria and Scott Stewart all offered apologies for Pima being placed on probation, but said they will not resign and will not make the same mistakes again.
The problem is, they are still making the same mistakes that got Pima placed on probation in the first place.
Solomon made it clear that the HLC expects the board to act with integrity, display ethical and responsible conduct, disclose policies, listen to internal and external groups and practice transparency.
So far, the four board members facing calls for resignation have refused to listen to internal groups such as Faculty Senate and Staff Council, as well as outside groups including Pima Open Admissions Coalition and Coalition for Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility.
Longoria has said he will not resign, no matter what the situation or circumstances. He feels he was elected to do his job, and will serve until forcibly removed or his term ends.
“I know this will be misconstrued or portrayed by many as defiant. But I would challenge anyone to think of an instance in which one’s expressed desire to carry out and perform the duties of their job was such a display,” Longoria said at the May 8 board meeting.
Challenge accepted, Mr. Longoria.
On June 25, 1876, Gen. Armstrong Custer had a strong desire to do his job, which was to round up the Lakota and drive them to a reservation. Heavily outnumbered, Custer disobeyed orders and engaged Sitting Bull’s tribe, sparking the Battle of Little Bighorn.
It is reported that shortly before being killed, Custer proclaimed “Hurrah, boys, we’ve got them!”
We all know how that turned out.
Having a strong desire to do a job isn’t enough. A true leader must know when to listen to others, when to compromise and when someone else may be more fit or better equipped for the job.
These four board members have two choices.
One choice would be to start making real, tangible reforms right now to display that they are serious about rebuilding trust, moving forward and restoring faith in the college’s leadership.
If the board members are incapable or unwilling to make genuine changes instead of hollow promises, then they must make the second choice and resign for the good of the college, students, employees and the entire Tucson community.
The ability to make a decision that is best for the college is what the HLC expects and everyone who cares about Pima demands.
Paxton is the incoming editor-in-chief for the Aztec Press and hopes everyone can work together to do what is best for Pima.
In the April 21 edition of the Arizona Daily Star, the editor stated that four of the current board members of Pima Community College should resign. The reason given is that they “have no credibility and no base of public support.”
The editorial continues that since,”Even, Stewart, Longoria and Cortez were in office during the years when then Chancellor Roy Flores fostered a ‘culture of fear and retribution,’ a description given by an investigative report from the Higher Learning Commission, the organization that accredits community colleges”, they should resign.
The question that no one seems to want to ask is how could the HLC team have visited and accredited Pima for another decade just three years ago?
Wasn’t that during Flores’ reign which allegedly fostered a “culture of fear and retribution?” How did the HLC team miss that? Where was the outcry from the small vocal groups then?
It does not follow that the very agency that granted accreditation for ten years while doing its evaluation of the college’s fitness for accreditation during the alleged reign of fear and retribution of Chancellor Flores now says the college is on probation.
Didn’t the HLC team do its job correctly the first time? I would say that the HLC has no credibility and it should withdraw its probation of PCC.
In light of that one glaring bit of information, I think that the veracity of the HLC should be under scrutiny and, as such, the HLC should answer some questions for the tax payers of Pima County and the students of Pima.
These questions are geared toward the process by which the HLC arrived at the probation sanction.
I have read the HLC’s report which places Pima on probation. I have also read all pertinent documents sent to the college regarding the investigation into the complaints leveled at the college by several small groups of individuals.
However, I have yet to see actual, substantial documentation of support for the complaints on which the HLC issued probation on the college.
To be sure, there is hearsay and innuendo and possible short comings by several individuals, but not many facts that one would expect from a thorough investigation that leads to the serious pronouncement of probation.
One would expect evidence, especially in light of the fact that these alleged problems existed when the HLC reviewed the college’s fitness for a 10 year accreditation three years ago.
The college is financially and academically sound. I have served on several committees over the years and can say that the college is constantly reviewing and modifying it’s policies to improve and always with the input and representation of all college faculty and staff groups.
Let’s examine the HLC’s criteria for probation:
Starting with the following…The Criteria for Accreditation (effective January 1, 2013) identified in the board’s action as not being met are:
Criterion Two, Core Component 2.A: “the institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows fair ethical policies and processes for its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff.”
I would ask the HLC members to show the evidence on which they concluded that the college has not met their Criterion Two, Core Component 2.A.
I find that Pima has consistently met the Criterion Two Core Component 2A standards, except I do not know what those standards are according to the HLC; apparently no one seems to know.
The questions I would ask are as follows: How does the HLC evaluate compliance? What are the maximum number of infractions of the criterion before it is determined that the criterion is not met, one, two or three instances?
What about the severity of the instances that a criterion is not met? How is the severity measured…against what standards? What is the rubric used by the HLC?
The HLC also concluded that the college did not meet its Criterion Five, Core Component 5B, which states:
“the institution’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the institution to fulfill its mission,” and Core Component 5.C, “the institution engages in systematic and integrated planning.”
Again I must ask, how does the HLC evaluate compliance? What are the maximum number of infractions of the criterion before it is determined that the criterion is not met, one, two or three instances?
What about the severity of the instances that a criterion is not met? How is the severity measured…against what standards? What is their rubric?
All teachers must have the answers to those questions every time they grade a test and yet it seems that the agency that accredits educational institutions does not?
Very curious indeed.
As a taxpayer of Pima County and one who is also a 30 year faculty member of Pima, I would like those questions answered. In the meantime, the four board members should not resign.
If there is such an outcry of public dissatisfaction with those four board members then the public will show that dissatisfaction by way of the appropriate legal means available.
If, on the other hand, the community feels that the HLC should answer the questions asked here, and the HLC does not, then the community also has the option of taking legal action against the HLC for those answers.
Finally I would like to thank you, the taxpayers of Pima County, for my salary and for your continued support of PCC, an important asset for our community.
David G. Iadevaia is an astronomy and physics instructor at Pima Community College East Campus.
This is my 40th and final issue with the Aztec Press.
I’ve been with the paper for five semesters, during which time I have really embedded myself into news at Pima.
During my first semester, I wrote the “Archives” column. I spent afternoons paging through Aztec Press issues from the 1970s. I found myself oddly fascinated with old news that mirrored current events.
In my next semester, I moved on to small news articles — stories about tuition hikes and events on campus. In Spring 2012, I was promoted to co-editor in chief and started covering the governing board and the college’s administration.
I have sat through hours of public comment at board meetings. I’ve thumbed through the entire investigative report from the Higher Learning Commission and taken notes on all 30 pages.
I’ve gotten to know members of the college who are trying to make Pima an even better place.
I interviewed the ex-chancellor the day before he was rushed to the hospital with chest pains, resulting in the medical leave from which he never returned.
I feel deeply rooted in this college. I don’t want to leave but I know it’s time to do so. No one can work at a student paper forever, right? Eventually, we all have to move on and pursue degrees and real journalism jobs.
Spending time outside of the newsroom and away from my AzP friends is going to be quite an adjustment. There’s something about student newspapers that attracts my favorite kind of people.
Newsroom friends, I’m going to need frequent social gatherings to stave off my separation anxiety.
I know she hears this every semester, but I’d like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the paper’s remarkable adviser, Cynthia Lancaster.
Cynthia works tirelessly every week to make sure the staff is producing the best paper possible. She is encouraging, inspirational and extraordinarily fun to work alongside.
I’ve learned so much from working with her over the last couple of years, and I’m certain that interaction is what I’ll miss most about my time at the paper.
Thank you for taking time to read the Aztec Press. I know I’ll be picking up an issue every other Thursday next semester.
Grubb, 20, will miss working at the Aztec Press but looks forward to having time to eat in places other than the campus cafeteria.
It’s all true.
One man really did pour his beer into our tip jar. We washed the pennies, cleaned the jar and wrung out the Budweiser.
In my two years at the Pima Air & Space Museum’s Flight Grill, I’ve serviced some truly delightful patrons. I have also served some of the hungriest, pickiest and stingiest individuals ever to walk the Earth, some on four legs.
I like to know how someone’s day is going, so at the order-taker station, I ask, “Hi, how are you?”
“Hamburger,” he said.
If I asked him how his wife was, he’d probably tell me, “medium-well.”
During the hectic lunch rush, we get complaints all the time about missing French fries or undercooked burgers.
One woman ordered a burger well-done and had me cook it three times before she was satisfied. On the third time, it left the kitchen harder than a hockey puck.
“Perfect,” she said.
Another woman entered the restaurant and her purse started barking. We all thought it was possessed, but actually she smuggled her Chihuahua inside.
The Food and Drug Administration prohibits live animals in establishments where food is served, so we asked the woman to step outside.
She ordered the dog a hot dog, believe it or not. She got an egg salad and then returned it because it had “too much celery.”
If the world had more customers like her, whole restaurants would be out of work.
Museum docents get a free iced tea, fountain drink or coffee. That does not include milkshakes, but one old geezer tried getting one anyway.
In the end, we gave it to him, but not because he was right. It’s because my manager had better things to do than argue with a 70-year-old man over a cotton candy milkshake.
There are times when customers forget, don’t know or don’t care to lock the bathroom doors. I’ve walked in on countless men and women of all ages and seen horrors I’ll never forget.
Not all customers are like this, of course. Sometimes the Brady Bunch family dines in and everybody has a jolly time.
Through all of this, I smile. That’s customer service.
The better days are when I smile and mean it. On lesser days, it’s a masking contempt.
Potwardowski balances work and attending classes.
Recent years have been full of violence, with the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tucson, the Aurora theater shooting, the Newtown massacre, and now the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Boston Marathon, held every year on Patriots’ Day, suffered its soul-crushing tragedy on April 15.
When two explosions erupted near the finish line, instant panic pierced the streets. Runners and bystanders scrambled to make sense of the chaos.
The scene was described as a “combat zone,” with debris scattered alongside severed limbs and pools of blood. The bombings killed three people and injured 260. The injuries ranged from shrapnel wounds to dismemberment.
As the week unfolded and the nation searched for answers, two suspects emerged from the wreckage.
Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, were both ethnic Chechens, immigrants from Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan. They were naturalized citizens who had lived in the United States for a decade.
On the surface, both brothers seemed like average Americans. Tamerlan loved to box, married an American woman, and had a daughter with her. Dzhokhar was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Most of know the storyline that followed:
The brothers were quickly identified after the FBI released photos of the suspects. A massive manhunt began, and authorities closed in on the brothers after they fatally ambushed a police officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The older brother was killed by police during an ensuing firefight, but Dzhokhar escaped.
Dzhokhar surrendered to police the next morning after he was found hiding in a boat. He was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with serious injuries.
Invoking the public safety exception, authorities did not initially read Dzhokhar his Miranda rights. Some U.S. senators urged that he be tried as an enemy combatant.
Dzhokhar was later transferred to a federal medical prison. Though Massachusetts does not have capital punishment, prosecutors could seek the death penalty in federal court.
Due to a throat injury, Dzhokhar was unable to speak but communicated through writing and nodding.
He told authorities that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were his motivation for the bombings.
What are we to do in response to all this violence?
Will we continue meddling in war-torn regions of the world that don’t want to change?
Are we to seek retribution by targeting Middle Easterners? A Palestinian woman was attacked in Boston just before the suspects were identified.
Will we heed calls to tighten immigration by closing our doors to people who conspire against us?
Whether they’re Middle Eastern terrorists, deranged college students or Eastern European immigrants, we can’t seem to figure out who is with us and who is against us.
Shall we be overly cautious and brand all those who practice Islam as terrorists?
Should we label all loners as psychopaths?
Here’s the reality: You can have all the security in the world and still be at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The Boston Marathon conducted bomb sweeps before the race began. All seemed well.
Whether it be a combat zone, grocery store, movie theater, elementary school or marathon, we live in a world where atrocities can occur at any time or place.
So what to do?
We should be vigilant and ever watchful of suspicious behavior, and report it when we see it.
Once violence occurs, all we can control is our response. The fear can either consume us or teach us.
We can take from these atrocities an appreciation for the time we do have. We can act as if every moment is our last — because it just may be.
Be all the more mindful and grateful for what we do have — the moment.
Pima should ban smoking anywhere on campus.
Even though college policy currently prohibits smoking within 25 feet of building entrances, smokers ignore the rules.
Now that smokers have electronic cigarettes, they also use them inside buildings and even in classrooms.
That’s annoying, too.
Even though electronic cigarettes only produce vapor, we nonsmokers still have to deal with classmates smoking next to us.
We all learned about the dangers of smoking in middle and high school, and saw those disgusting images of lungs after smoking.
We know that smoking is really addictive, and can cause serious health issues.
That’s true for secondhand smoke, too.
Breathing secondhand smoke especially affects people who are allergic.
It may not be visible when people have asthma, allergies or some other illness, but they suffer when they must pass by smokers.
Many other students are exasperated about having to cross in front of all the smoke, but just don’t say anything.
Some people get dizzy just from the smell of cigarettes. I personally find it really disgusting to sit next to a smoker.
As college-age adults, we shouldn’t have to keep asking people not to smoke in areas that are restricted.
Continuing to smoke is a personal decision, and the reasons for smoking don’t really matter. People who smoke cause bad impressions.
Smokers should realize that many people care for them, and one or two might even see them as heroes.
If you are going to smoke, at least avoid people who don’t like cigarettes or the smell. Obey the signs, and take the time to walk away from buildings.
Instead of modeling bad habits, be a real hero who demonstrates care for others.
Orendain cares about health. She believes that smoking harms both the smoker and the people around the smoker.
By CORYNN MARSH
I recently adopted a kitten from the Pima Animal Care Center. While there, I viewed signs saying some animals had been there too long and needed to be adopted before they were put down.
That’s just wrong.
Of the 6 to 8 million cats and dogs that enter shelters each year, 3 to 4 million are euthanized, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society.
Domestic breeding is one problem. Why do people continue breeding animals when there are animals in local shelters waiting for a home?
Strays are another problem.
While traveling in Bali and Thailand, I saw many stray cats and dogs roaming cities. The locals did not think about capturing and taking them to a shelter. They just continued on with their day.
Animals are born with survival instincts. That is why they can survive in countries outside the United States.
This made me think: Why do Americans kill off so many animals? Euthanasia shouldn’t happen just because a shelter doesn’t have enough room.
I’m not saying that people who tire of pet ownership should just let their animal run out the door and wish it good luck. I’m saying there should be a lot more no-kill animal shelters.
People should stop breeding, but we all know that’s not going to happen. I’m sure the euthanizing of animals won’t stop any time soon, either. But I can hope, and share my message.
Every animal should be given a chance, which is why everyone should visit a local animal shelter before visiting a breeder.
Tucson has several no-kill shelters for abandoned pets:
- HOPE Animal Shelter, 2011 E 12th St, takes in dogs and cats. (hopeanimalshelter.net)
- Hermitage Cat Shelter, 5278 E. 21st St., is cats-only. (hermitagecatshelter.org)
- PAWSitively Cats, 289-2747, is cats-only. (http://pawsitivelycats.org)
For information on BARK, a nonprofit, no-kill organization based in Tucson, see barktucson.petfinder.com.
Spread the word!
Marsh very much enjoys the loving shelter kitten she adopted.
A slice of old pizza for $3, a small burger for $5, shreds of iceberg lettuce and croutons to make a salad. That’s not much of a selection for students at the Pima Community College on-campus cafeterias.
The lack of variety doesn’t bug me as much as the price I pay for mediocrity.
It doesn’t make sense to pay nearly three bucks for a cup of coffee that’s a few hours old. It’s even more annoying that I don’t get free or cheap refills, unlike most other coffee providers.
I know that if I don’t like it, I don’t have to buy it. But as a student stuck on campus, what choice do I have?
Not all of us have cars we can use to drive to a more decent establishment between classes. Many students are on campus for an entire day between classes, waiting for a ride of some form.
Little things make a difference, and a good number of students are on a budget. Must we be left with a cafeteria as our only means on campus for a bite to eat?
I get that PCC is not a big, fancy university that can lavish its students with Starbucks Coffee, Panda Express and a boulevard decorated with chain restaurants and hip fashion boutiques. But is it really fair to offer us food at prices higher than normal?
A bag of chips at a campus cafeteria costs noticeably more than it would at a gas station. Even an apple or banana costs more, individually, than by the pound at a grocery store.
Why can we not get more bang for our buck?
When I was in the Navy, we used to say, “You pay for what you get.” It made sense. Here though, you get ripped off.
With a busy schedule and not much variety, I’ve accepted that I’m sort of giving my money away.
How about opening a quality coffee stand with espresso machines? How about a little express sushi at a decent price?
It will probably never happen, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who has ever proposed such a thing.
Richardson believes that a good cup of coffee, or many, ranks along with studying as a key to academic success.
Words are war, disembodied symbols that can spark a fire or douse it.
“Marriage” is a word of compelling gravity, ancient and of importance. Its definition is on the verge of being rewritten, federally speaking.
While politicians who are neither women, minority or gay bicker over how to grant these parties their respective rights, the American people are in the middle of mentality shift.
Misogyny, racism and homophobia are being given their proper designations as vile, anti-human outlooks.
Since 2009, public opinion of same-sex marriage has taken a turn worthy of a double-take.
Compare a 2003 public poll, where 31 percent were in favor, 65 against with 4 percent unsure, with a 2013 poll that shows 53 percent in favor, 38 percent opposed and 8 undecided.
Such a stark shift in a mere decade’s time is nothing to scoff at. It affords credit to the American population’s evolving views.
However, this is not an issue that should be decided by public support or the irrelevant thoughts of politicians. It is an issue of what is morally correct.
In a society where the rights of same-sex couples are decided by those who are not gay, it seems what is right is not always important.
Thankfully, the idea of homosexuals as second-class citizens is becoming archaic and frowned upon.
The same-sex marriage debate has soared to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, where both California’s despicable Proposition 8 and the federal definition of marriage are being challenged.
The Proposition 8 amendment to California’s constitution says that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized.” Though this did not affect the gay marriages performed before Nov. 5, 2008, the pulling of the rights rug is infuriating.
If the Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8, it will send a ripple throughout the country. It could have effects as widespread as gay marriage becoming legal once more in California, or nationwide legalization on the grounds of a fundamental, constitutional right to marry.
The Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law in 1996 by then-president Bill Clinton, denies federal benefits to same-sex couples. The case that challenges it is United States v. Windsor.
Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer had been together for 40 years and married in Toronto, Ontario. At the time of Spyer’s death in 2009, they lived in New York, a state that recognizes same-sex marriages of other territories.
However, Windsor had to pay federal taxes upon inheriting Spyer’s estate.
DOMA’s Section 3 recognizes the rights of different-sex marriages only. With this provision in place, Windsor had to pay a staggering $363,000 in taxes.
Marriage equality is not just an issue of morality but also of financial responsibility to loved ones.
The Supreme Court will issue its rulings in June on both cases. As America’s opinion changes, it’s up to opponents of same-sex marriage to examine not their beliefs or reservations but the lives that these laws damage.
They then need to evolve accordingly.
Hardt believes government should have no place in deciding the rights of any group, whether they be female, minority, gay or otherwise.
Walking around Tucson these days, it’s practically impossible to say the words “Pima Community College” without someone grimacing and saying, “Yikes, what’s going on there?”
Pima has lost the community’s trust. Restoring faith after a scathing report from the Higher Learning Commission will not be easy.
The governing board is taking lots of heat for the college’s problems. Board members have expressed regret and seek understanding for the mistakes they’ve made. They seem eager to help the college get onto a better path.
However, no amount of conciliatory work will restore the board’s credibility. Problems persisted for too long and too many errors were made.
Each board member knows his or her role, responsibility and culpability in the problems Pima has faced. They, as individuals, should decide if they need to step away from the college.
Board members with intimate knowledge and limited fault should help get Pima back on track. Institutional experience must not be sacrificed just to save face, and those with firsthand knowledge of issues can offer deeper insight regarding solutions.
Nevertheless, at least two board members who served while former Chancellor Roy Flores was in charge must step away within a year or Pima will seriously jeopardize its accreditation.
If the HLC places Pima on probation, it will re-examine the college in two years to determine whether the issues in their report have been addressed.
If the college stays in the same hands, the HLC, college faculty, students and the Tucson community will not be convinced that Pima is heading in a new direction.
But if, alongside new member Sylvia Lee, two new board members were elected, there would be a fresh majority that did not serve during the Flores years. This is the kind of change the community needs.
However, just bringing in new board members won’t fix the hefty problems the college faces, especially if they have no working knowledge of the issues.
If the college is put on probation, an outside firm must be hired to conduct an evaluation. It must prove that all issues highlighted in the report have been addressed, and that all other accreditation standards have been maintained.
Pima should be proactive and start evaluations now. Have a consulting firm wrap itself in Pima’s environment and begin addressing the “culture of fear” that the HLC reported.
Let an outside, unbiased consultant conduct interviews and observe how the college works. Put people on notice that the status quo is changing. Figure out who is part of the solution, who needs guidance and who needs to be shown the exit.
It will require an impartial outsider to confront the problems and ensure everyone agrees a fair assessment has been made.
REPAIRING THE DAMAGE
Meanwhile, as Pima continues searching for a permanent chancellor, the college has an opportunity to give someone new and impartial the top leadership role.
Pima urgently needs a strong, independent educator with a reputation for discipline and reform.
Many colleges have faced similar, and worse, issues than Pima now faces. They emerged with their accreditation intact. A strong, untainted chancellor will further restore Pima’s damaged reputation.
Every administrator must focus on restoring Pima’s image and regaining the trust of its accrediting body, faculty, students and the Tucson community.
Many of the college’s most vocal critics have offered to help the college move forward through these troubling times.
The HLC report condemned Pima for ignoring critics. Now, while our college is in need, it is essential to have administrators and the board work with faculty, students and community leaders. Everyone must be invited to the table.
Solving the issues requires more than individuals doing what they believe is best for the college. It’s a matter of taking a close, critical look and determining what issues could cost Pima, and its students, a prosperous future.
PCC is deeply embedded in Tucson’s veins. Everything possible, everything, must to be done to keep the college alive and thriving for decades to come.
Written on behalf of the Aztec Press editorial board by Editor-in-Chief Chelo Grubb and News Editor Andrew Paxton.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has decided to let airline passengers carry small pocket knives. The rule change will take effect April 25.
It is now deemed safe to bring on a plane the following objects: pocket knives with blades no longer than 2.26 inches, up to two golf clubs, souvenir baseball bats less than 24 inches, and hockey and lacrosse clubs. There is still a ban on box cutters like the ones used by the 9/11 hijackers.
TSA officials figure they can save money if they don’t have to screen for those items.
This stupid idea is due to sequestration budget cuts. TSA faces a hiring freeze on airport security screeners and cutbacks on overtime.
John Pistole, chief of the TSA, insists the change is safe.
“A small pocket knife is simply not going to result in the catastrophic failure of an aircraft,” he testified.
That’s not the way I see it. I believe air travel will now be more dangerous because Congress can’t balance the federal budget.
This is the reason why government agencies like the TSA shouldn’t exist. They determine what is safe or not safe based on how much money they can or can’t spend.
People should have a real choice. They could chose to use an airline that has fewer security restrictions or one with stricter measures.
If something goes wrong on a flight, the airline and not the government would have to answer for its wrongdoing.
Obviously, airline companies don’t want this. They love things the way they are. After all, they aren’t the ones paying for security screeners.
If responsibility for passenger safety was in their hands, you can be damn sure they would hire the best people possible for security screening positions.
If they dropped the ball, they would be the ones paying the price.
When I get on a plane, I want to feel safe.
When people are allowed to carry knives on a plane, that feeling will no longer exist.
Hernandez cares about the safety and freedom of all Americans, and wants air travel to be safe for everyone.
There has been a lot in the news lately about difficulties connected with the administration of Pima Community College. I do not know much about the issues involved, but what I do know is that teaching at Pima is a very stimulating and enriching experience.
The administration and faculty colleagues, as well as the student body, are creative, helpful and enthusiastic about Pima’s place in the Tucson community.
I spent 50 years as a college professor. I tried twice to retire, but failed both times.
Shortly after moving to Tucson I signed up to teach as an adjunct at Pima, and I have been doing so for the past 15 years. I have taught courses at each of the five campuses in the fields of philosophy, religion and humanities.
I currently teach almost exclusively at East Campus, and regularly teach a course on the philosophy of religion and one called Intercultural Perspectives.
In the philosophy class, we take up such issues as the nature of religious experience, the existence of God, the problem of evil and the relationship between faith and reason.
Each topic leads to many deep and sometimes rousing discussions.
In the Intercultural Perspectives course, we consider five minority ethnic groups that help make up the cultural diversity of America.
By reading short stories, viewing films and talking with guests, we learn about the cultures of Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Muslim Americans. Obviously there is much to explore and discover.
The main things I myself learn from teaching stem from the incredible variety of students and the depth of the difficulties many of them face.
Of course we have a good number of so-called “regular” college students. However, the bulk of my students could be considered “nontraditional” for a wide range of reasons.
Some are clearly not academically ready for college because the high schools they come from did not do a good job preparing them. They have not been taught to read and write at a level that would enable them to understand and think critically about college-level issues.
Others have extremely complex lives that require them to work at least part time while carrying a full academic load. They may also have serious family responsibilities, such as infirm relatives or young children to care for. I always have several single mothers in my classes.
Pima really is a “community” college, rather than a standard university. It serves people from low-income families through inexpensive tuition costs, and provides smaller classes and more flexible course offerings.
There is hardly anyone in Tucson who does not have at least one family member who has benefited from taking courses at Pima.
In addition, we have an increasing number of foreign students from all over the world, especially from Asian and Latin American countries. Although some have language difficulties, the majority are quite intelligent and highly motivated.
All of this diversity creates what I like to call a great “stew pot” for learning. We have a wonderful opportunity to learn from one another.
I count it a great privilege to work with these students, and help them meet the various challenges they face by learning from their experiences. In the classroom, we strive to create a community conducive to interactive education and mutual growth.
Part 1 of a two-part series
By SIERRA J. RUSSELL
In 1990, the Aztec Press published a special edition dedicated solely to Earth Day activities.
The edition included charts, graphs and surveys to help readers gain a better understanding of threats to the environment.
It also offered suggestions for what could be done on a daily and personal level to help.
Most students interviewed voiced a willingness to be a part of the effort to reduce environmental threats. However, many also expressed feelings of helplessness.
Many said they believed the quality of the environment had deteriorated within the past century and was on a steady decline.
The edition outlined simple changes that can make a deep impact, such as water conservation, reduced fuel consumption and proper disposal of waste.
At the time, recycling bins had recently been put in place on Pima Community College campuses.
The student government worked with PCC’s food service company, the Marriott Corporation, to provide bins for aluminum cans. A pending project focused on recycling scrap paper but hadn’t yet been implemented.
One article explained how to create a backyard compost heap to produce garden fertilizer.
Another listed trees that grow well in the Southwest, including Desert Willow, Mesquite, Blue Palo Verde, Texas Ebony, Eucalyptus, Acacia and the Feather Tree.
Clayton May, a PCC chemistry laboratory technician and a consultant for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species division, told about discovering endangered Tumanoc Globe Berry plants growing near West Campus in 1985.
“The Tumanoc Globe Berry is a tuber,” May explained. “It emerges from the ground approximately two to three weeks before the summer rains.”
He located eight plants, but two of the plants were later lost. One was accidentally demolished during a construction project and the other was carefully unearthed and taken at night.
May said one way to ensure the safety of endangered species was to support legislation that protects large areas of natural habitat.
Michael Flores, a member of the Tohono O’odham nation, was interviewed.
“It is good that people are beginning, although a little too late, to realize the consequences of these acts of cruelty toward Mother Earth,” Flores said.
He noted that many people he spoke with during an Earth Day celebration seemed to be economically motivated. He said that was better than no motivation.
“Spirituality should be the motivator,” Flores said. “We all have it within us; some don’t use it as much as others; some don’t use it at all.”
Many European settlers fled their homeland because of political persecution and lacked a strong bond with the new land, Flores said.
He urged people to establish a way to commune with nature, to strengthen both the environment and humankind’s mental and physical health.
“We all have a responsibility to do something,” Flores said. “Anything anybody can do to protect Mother Earth will help future generations.”
All things are interconnected…
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the people of earth.
Man did not weave the web of life;
he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
he does to himself.
-Chief Seathl (Seattle)
Next issue: Backyard gardening and water conservation.
By COLE POTWARDOWSKI
The need to avert gun violence in schools has risen since the Newtown, Conn., massacre last year, but Arizona lawmakers are stumped trying to find solutions.
On Dec. 26, 2012, shortly after Connecticut’s Sandy Hook shootings, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued his ideas to avert another massacre.
His ideal solution was having an armed police officer in every public Arizona school, as suggested by the National Rifle Association, but budget costs constrained that notion.
“The next best solution is to have one person in the school trained to handle firearms, to handle emergency situations, and possessing a firearm in a secure location,” Horne said.
Horne’s proposal was drafted as House Bill 2656 by Rep. David Stevens, R-Dist. 14. One appointee per public school would have 24 hours of gun handling training under the instruction of Arizona’s police force.
After training, the designee would stow the gun in a lockbox and have sole access.
Horne’s proposal received criticism from educators and parents. Some instructors cited discomfort at having a gun in school while parents shared uncertainty over the proposal.
The proposal suffers from too many “what if?” scenarios. Horne’s intentions to prevent gun violence could inadvertently become a trigger for more.
FIREARMS ON CAMPUS
Arizona Education Association President Andrew Morrill said, “You don’t reduce the violence on Arizona campuses or anywhere by increasing the number of firearms on campus.”
History supports this.
Consider the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students.
Jefferson County deputy sheriff Neil Gardner, armed with a .45 semiautomatic pistol, was patrolling the school’s northwest parking lot when the shooting started.
His presence did not prevent the mass shooting or the shooters from taking their own lives, though he thought he played a small role.
“I think with exchanging fire it did allow some people that were fleeing the scene to get out of the building,” Gardner said in a 1999 Dateline NBC interview.
A 2012 shooting near the Empire State Building offers another perspective. A shootout between two men at the tower’s base led to immediate response from the New York Police Department.
When the NYPD fatally shot the assailant, nine bystanders were injured in the crossfire. The NYPD now faces a lawsuit.
The Empire State Building is not an educational facility, but it is a location where law enforcement officers were readily prepared.
By comparison, Horne’s proposal of having a gun readily prepared in a lockbox implies unthinkable repercussions.
What other Arizona proposals might see the light?
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Dist. 14, suggested increasing school resource officers, tightening state gun laws and improving treatment for the mentally ill.
His versatile approach would cost $160 million and take $58 million out of this year’s state budget, according to news reports.
Campbell’s proposal would also require re-establishing gun laws in a state where Gov. Jan Brewer allowed concealed weapons for individuals 21 and older without a permit.
Brewer faced scrutiny from Mark Kelly, husband of former Tucson congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords.
“We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced,” Kelly said. “After Columbine; after Virginia Tech; after Tucson and after Aurora we have done nothing.”
Kelly made those comments on Nov. 8, 2012. Now, he can add Sandy Hook to the list as he and Giffords continue their fight to reform gun laws.
If putting guns into school lockboxes or tightening gun legislation yields no results, will understanding the minds of the killers prevent further violence?
Angela Robinson, president of Arizona School Counselors Association, calls counselors the pulse of the school. “Your school counselor knows every student in the school.”
She could be right, but few people had ever heard of Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Jared Lee Loughner, Adam Lanza, James Holmes or Charles Whitman until after they made headlines.
Will placing guns in schools prevent further gun violence?
Russian playwright Anton Chekhov didn’t seem to think so.
“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it,” Chekhov wrote in 1889.
Horne’s proposal sets up Chekhov’s gun. If you’re squeamish, don’t wait around for Act Three.