July 30, 2009

Follow this Leader

C3 Coach Steve Buttry (center) working with the staff of The Campus Ledger at Johnson County Community College in 2003.

I don't know how to say this delicately so I'll just say it. If you're not following Steve Buttry's tweets you're an idiot.

OK, maybe that was a bit harsh.

Buttry is the C3 Coach for Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Buttry says his role as C3 coach is to "guide Gazette Communications in our pursuit of Complete Community Connection."

He previously worked for the American Press Institute, the Omaha World Herald, the Kansas City Star, and a bunch of other places.

I met Steve a few years back via Poynter's NewsCoach listserve. He immediately impressed me with how supportive he is of other journalists (including students) and that he always learning from journalists (including students). But what I love most about Steve is that he's not one of the journalism dinosaurs that we're waiting to die off. You know what I mean, those individuals who are deathly afraid of, well, a complete community connection.

Check him out on his blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, NT-NG, Slideshare ... oh hell, just Google him.

May 26, 2009

Supreme Court Nom not child of Immigrants

NAHJ: Avoid Confusion on Sotomayor

The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit appears to have caused some confusion among members of the media and news consumers.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists would encourage news organizations to avoid any confusion over Judge Sotomayor's ethnic background. To be factually correct, her Puerto Rican parents are not immigrants, as some journalists have reported, since island-born residents are U.S. citizens conferred by an act of Congress in 1917. People who move to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico are no more immigrants than those who move from Nebraska to New York.

Sotomayor's nomination to replace Justice David H. Souter represents the possibility of the first Latino sitting on the nation's highest court. As the debate over her qualifications develops, NAHJ would encourage the highest form of discourse.

For any questions, contact NAHJ Executive Director at (202) 662-7178, iroman@nahj.org.

May 21, 2009

NEWS: Alumni Try to Rewrite History on College Newspaper Web Sites

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

From the issue dated May 15, 2009

Alumni Try to Rewrite History on College-Newspaper Web Sites

May 1, 2009

Hispanic Journalists to Media: Stop Blaming Immigrants

http://www.nahj.org/from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists:

NAHJ Calls for Truth and Fairness in Swine Flu Coverage
News Media Should Resist Baseless Blame of Immigrants as it Covers a Possible Pandemic

Washington, DC – The National Association of Hispanic Journalists called on the media on Wednesday to be fair and prudent when covering the spread of swine flu in the U.S. and around the world, and resist the portrayal of Mexican immigrants as scapegoats for the possible pandemic.

The following is a statement from the NAHJ Board of Directors:

“We have come to expect immigrant bashing from the usual suspects – commentators who use purposefully inflammatory rhetoric to seek attention and to suit their agenda. And they haven’t disappointed, now using the swine flu as cause to decry immigration and immigrants. Immigrants, of course, have long been favorite and convenient scapegoats for some for everything from high taxes to infectious diseases. Facts haven’t much mattered.

But we trust that credible journalists will cover what is undeniably a big national story with more fairness and accuracy than we are hearing from these talking heads. We would ask that these stories be written as if facts did matter. Because they do.

The temptation even in more credible media, we know, will be to link Mexican immigrants with the spread of the disease to the United States. The consequence of too much of this will be even more anger – and perhaps even more violence – against a community no more responsible for the spread of this ailment than U.S. tourists returning from scenic, balmy vacations.

There are more than 4,000 flights per week from the United States to Mexico. Mexicans are not the only people on those flights. About 80 percent of visitors to Mexico in 2008 came from the United States.

The Mexican immigrant community in the United States is a part of this story. But not in such narrow fashion as we’re hearing at the moment. This community is as fearful of the swine flu’s spread as anyone else. Viruses strike regardless of where you were born. And, please remember, the fear is not just for themselves but for family members and friends still in Mexico.

The World Health Organization is raising its alert from Level 4 to Level 5, an action that will cause further temptation to overreact. If the swine flu becomes a true pandemic, we ask simply that the news industry do its job. That would be covering the story, not in the breathless fashion of the talking heads, but as a story as needful of truth, fairness, accuracy and balance as any other important story. In fact, the bigger the story, the more it needs these attributes.

With such stories as this, the news media can be part of the solution or part of the problem.”

Founded in 1984, NAHJ's mission is to increase the percentage of Latinos working in our nation's newsrooms and to improve news coverage of the Latino community. NAHJ is the nation's largest professional organization for Latino journalists with more than 2,300 members working in English and Spanish-language print, photo, broadcast and online media. NAHJ is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. For more information, visit http://www.nahj.org/.

April 18, 2009

Free College Day!

Today is the Free College Day at JCCC celebrating the college's 40th anniversary. I'm teaching a class, "Citizen Media or How to be one of those Bloggers."

This is an example of a post with a hyperlink and an image.

April 15, 2009

NEWS: Hodge's Power Point

Video courtesy of Cameron Fletcher of The Campus Ledger

Trustee Benjamin Hodge continued his efforts to challenge the Board of Trustees, JCCC President Terry Calaway and College Attorney Mark Ferguson on Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) violations.

Read The Campus Ledger coverage of the alleged KOMA violations here (March 12) and here (April 13).

During the Petitions and Communications section of the board's monthly meeting, Hodge called for Trustees Lyn Mitchelson and Shirley Brown VanArsdale to step down from the leadership of the board. Unlike the last meeting in March, Ferguson, Calaway and the other trustees chose not to respond to Hodge.

Allotted 5 minutes to make his case, Hodge vowed to continue his PowerPoint presentation at the next board meeting. However, video provided by The Campus Ledger shows Hodge's presentation goes on for almost double the allotted time.

Before Hodge's presentation, trustees approved granting domestic partner benefits to full time employees. In 2006, the board approved adding sexual orientation to the college's non-discrimination policy and Student Code of Conduct.

Other board actions are listed in the Board of Trustee Summary posted on the college's electronic mail server, Infolist.

From: InfoList
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 6:49 PM
To: InfoList
Subject: [infolist] Trustee meeting summary

On April 15 the JCCC board of trustees met for their regular monthly meeting, immediately followed by a budget workshop. Trustee Jon Stewart was unable to attend.

Awards and recognition

The board welcomed the president and staff members from University College of the North, Manitoba, Canada, who are on campus to look at the college’s partnership with Burlington Northern Santa Fe and other learning opportunities.
Dr. Sean Daley, assistant professor, anthropology, was recognized for the work he has done with and for Native American populations.
JCCC’s men’s basketball team and women’s half-marathon team were honored for winning national championships. The volleyball team was recognized for being second in the national tournament.
The Nerman Museum has seen an increase in visitors of more than 18 percent in the first three months of the year, from 14,495 in 2008 to 17,239 in 2009.

Actions taken

· The board approved the treasurer’s report.

· The board approved clinical affiliate agreements for students in health care professions programs.

· The board approved new classes in animation, anthropology, biology, web, English, physical education, journalism, mathematics and psychology and a new career certificate in animation and game art.

· The board approved a proposal from HMN Architects, Inc., for architectural services and associated subconsultant services for the Health Services Educational Center at Olathe Medical Center, in an amount not to exceed 5.75 percent of the guaranteed maximum price construction cost. The estimated cost for architectural services is approximately $723,750, plus usual and customary reimbursable expenses.

· The board approved the lowest acceptable bids of $36,533.70 from All Sun Plus and $99,651.75 from Alexander Open Systems for Cisco equipment to be used in the Billington Library data closets to upgrade and improve network speed and reliability.

· The board approved several recommendations regarding employee benefits.

o A flex benefit amount of $1,189.88 a month for each full-time position to be used to cover the costs of benefits within the flex benefit plan. Fixed flex credit funding does not increase from FY 2008-2009.

o A contribution equal to 7 percent of each full-time, benefit-eligible staff member’s base salary to his or her individual 403(b) account, effective June 1, 2009.

o Employee group medical insurance with BCBS of KC for a period beginning June 1, 2009, through May 31, 2010. Monthly subscriber rates will not exceed, for single, $465.15 Blue-Care HMO and $836.40 for Preferred Care PPO; for an employee and one dependent, $852.88 for Blue-Care and $1,538.18 for Preferred Care; and for family, $1,169.29 Blue-Care and $2,035.05 Preferred Care. The rates represent a 5.5 percent increase in premiums and include domestic partner coverage

o Employee group CDC managed care dental insurance with Cigna Health Care for a period beginning June 1, 2009, through May 31, 2010. Monthly subscriber rates are, for single, $24.76; for an employee and one dependent, $50.23; and for family, $77.40. These rates represent a 6 percent increase in premiums and include domestic partner coverage.

o Employee group Passive PPO dental insurance with Delta Dental for a period beginning June 1, 2009, through May 1, 2010. Monthly subscriber rates are, for singles, $32.64; for an employee and one dependent, $63.73; and for family, $113.21. These rates represent a 4.75 percent increase in premiums and include domestic partner coverage.

o Employee group vision insurance with Vision Service Plan (VSP) for a period beginning June 1, 2009, through May 31, 2010. Monthly subscriber rates are, for single, $15.32; for an employee and one dependent, $22.37; and for family coverage, $40.12. There is no increase in the rates this year compared to last year.

o Provision of employee group life insurance with Sun-Life of Canada for a period beginning June 1, 2009, through May 31, 2010. Monthly rates are $.255/per $1,000 of insurance for Basic Life, $.195/per $1,000 of insurance for Optional Life, $.02/per $1,000 of insurance for Basic and Contributory AD&D; and for dependent life insurance at a monthly subscriber rate not to exceed $3.03 per month. There is no increase in the rates this year compared to last year.

· The board also approved the annual renewal of the contract for administration of the college’s flexible spending account program with Cafeteria Plan Administrators LLC at a total annual expenditure not to exceed $55,000.

· The board also approved bids for an Internet protocol (IP) addressing system, to replace the floors in the Commons dining area, and for a project portfolio management solution for Information Services.

Budget workshop

Four trustees reviewed the college’s proposed 2009-2010 budget of $134,254,187, which is 6 percent lower than the 2008-2009 budget of $142,917,552. The budget was built on these assumptions:

We’d see a 4 percent decrease in assessed valuation from the county, a 13 percent decrease in monies from the state and a 3 percent increase in enrollment.
There will be no increase in the mill levy this year.
There will be a $4 increase in cost per credit hour for in-state students and a $10 increase for out-of-state students.
There will be no increase in staffing.
There was no increase in operation budget (except for expenses, like utilities, that are difficult to control). Capital budgets were based on need.
Students presented a proposal for a “green” fee that would be assessed students to support sustainability initiatives. One collar of the tuition increase will be used for this purpose.

The board will approve the college’s 2009-2010 management budget at the May board meeting and the legal budget in August.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the JCCC board of trustees is at 5 p.m. May 21 in the Hugh W. Speer Board Room, 137 GEB. Board of trustee meetings are open to the public. For more details, see a copy of the board packet at http://www.jccc.net/home/depts.php/000001/site/BoardMeetingInfo/JCCCBoardReports

April 9, 2009

Morales on the Trustee Election

From the Morales for JCCC Trustee website:

Family, friends and supporters:

You’ve made my campaign for JCCC Trustee one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.

While we did not garner enough votes to secure a seat on the board, we did get almost 8 percent of all voters to support us. Thank you for making this an historic election.

Consider the magnitude of what we’ve accomplished:

In a county that is 90 percent white, 1 out of every 12 voters cast a ballot in a spring election to support a Hispanic candidate for a position on a board that since its inception has never seated an ethnic minority. What makes it even more incredible is that the candidate is also a full-time student and employee of that institution.

The almost 7,000 votes we earned convinced me to run for a seat on the board in two years. So, rest up folks because we have an election to win in 2011!

Thank you once again for your dedication to education and to Johnson County and its community college.

Your steadfast supporter,

Miguel M. Morales

March 31, 2009

INFOLIST: End of Late Registration Explained

Posted on the college electronic mail server, infolist:
Will late enrollment be allowed in the fall?
No. Beginning with the fall 2009 semester, students who wish to enroll in a course must do so before the first day the course meets. Students may not enroll on or after the first day a course begins, regardless of what time of day the class meets. No late enrollment will be allowed
Will I be able to add a class?
Once the fall 2009 semester begins, you will not be able to add to your schedule a class that has already begun. You will, however, be able to add a class that begins later in the semester.
If I can’t enroll late, what should I do?
Enroll early! Enrolling early means you will get the best schedule and the best instructor match, and you’ll be in class on the first day. Research shows that students who enroll after a class has already started usually don’t perform well in that course. By enrolling early, you’ll be positioned for a positive start to the semester.
What if I can’t enroll early?
JCCC offers many courses that begin later in the semester. You can enroll in a late-start course and be there the first day of class. To search for classes that have not yet begun, select the “Late Start” tab on the Credit Class Search on the JCCC website.

March 21, 2009

Miguel Goes VIRAL!

The wall outside the JCCC Board of Trustee meeting room features photos of current and past presidents and trustees. Students, staff and faculty call it The Hall of Shame. Watch the video to find out why.

Vote for Miguel Morales for JCCC Trustee April 7

Request an Advanced Voting Ballot here.

March 13, 2009

Diversity through Fear?

From the Morales for JCCC Trustee campaign blog:

"If non-native speakers are pushed to the sidelines of our communities and economy, they will feel marginalized, which breeds discontent, resentment, and in some cases, revenge.”

Former Kansas Ledgislator and current JCCC Trustee candidate Stephanie Sharp gave this answer to VOTE OLATHE in reponse their question about non-Enlish speakers in Johnson County.

Read all the candidates responses here.

March 12, 2009

Trustees Trust Miguel as Candidate for Vacant Seat

From Morales for JCCC campaign blog

Last fall, the JCCC Board of Trustees selected me as a candidate to fill a vacancy on the board left by Virginia Krebs. Krebs was the college’s first employee and, being a woman, the college’s first minority employee.

The video provides insight into my previous work with and my intimate knowledge of the board along with my collegial interaction with the trustees and president. How many other trustee candidates can demonstrate this?

March 10, 2009

Town Hall

From the Morales for JCCC Trustee campaign blog

JCCC President Terry Calaway held town hall meeting at JCCC, March 6. He discussed the PrimeBuzz incident as well as the budget. Calaway joked that another of the cost-cutting measures on the infamous list included eliminating cookies from meetings but that somehow didn’t make the PrimeBuzz ....

Read the full post here.

March 5, 2009

Hodge Podge

"As is often the case with board members (who don’t experience the day-to-day environment of the college), I really do not know what the average employee thinks about all this – or whether the average employee even knows or cares." - Benjamin Hodge, JCCC Trustee

Trustee in Trouble
Benjamin Hodge responds to campus chaos and confesses he leaked infromation from a closed-door session of the board

[Full Disclosure: I am among 10 candidates, including Hodge, seeking election to four seats on the JCCC Board of Trustees, April 7.]
JCCC Trustee Benjamin Hodge, who is up for re-election this spring, set off a firestorm on campus last week when The Kansas City Star's PrimeBuzz blog posted information Hodge "leaked" from a closed-door session.

Tuesday afternoon, JCCC President Terry Calaway responded in a statement sent on the college's electronic server, Infolist. Today, Hodge responded with his own statement firing back at Calaway and suggesting the board of trustees, of which he is part, misinterprets Kansas Open Records laws.

This isn't the first time Hodge's actions have caused campus chaos. Two years ago a campus-wide vote called on the Board of Trustees to censure Hodge [correction: there was not a campus-wide vote against Hodge. The vote came from the Faculty Association. The campus-wide vote called for a vote of "No Confidence" against Trustee Chair Elaine Perilla]. Hodge also voted to against providing information to the public when he supported a vote that denied funding to the student newspaper.

Here's Hodge's press release (links included come from Hodge's document):

Benjamin Hodge
Johnson County Community College Trustee, 2005-
Wednesday, March 4, 2008

“Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.”-- US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the 5-4 majority in the June 2007 decision FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (PDF), which declared unconstitutional a portion of the federal law known as “McCain-Feingold”

There is a law called the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA). One premise for KOMA is that it is more important to protect citizens from government than it is to protect government from its citizens. If one side should be on the defensive, it should be government: government should fear its citizens, not the other way around. Another premise for KOMA is that humans are flawed and easily corruptible; we are at our best when held accountable.

The basic function of KOMA: it is almost always illegal for elected officials to gather in a private meeting to discuss government business. A closed meeting is allowed only in a few situations.

Here is information about KOMA provided by the Kansas Press Association (PDF), and here is information from the Kansas Attorney General (PDF).

What Chief Justice Roberts stated in FEC v. WRTL is that where there is uncertainty with regard to a citizen maintaining free speech rights, we will err on the side of free speech. In the same frame of mind, I believe that where there exists doubt about whether Johnson County Community College should be allowed to discuss a certain topic in a closed session – if one could “argue either way”– that the board members must err on the side of openness. The tie goes to the public, and the decision for an open meeting.

To change topics: There is a recession. As JCCC employees should know, property values have decreased in Johnson County. This will clearly impact our budget. Revenue to the college only arrives from a few places. Primarily, three sources: tuition, local taxes, and state taxes. JCCC also does have a healthy cash reserve, and I hope that the administration and the majority of board members are willing to have a full discussion about whether to access those dollars; because there has been very little discussion so far about that, I will not right now assume that accessing our reserves is likely.

The state obviously doesn’t have any money, in large part due to the 2005 Montoy decision whereby the Kansas Supreme Court illegally increased K-12 government school spending by tremendous amounts.

My expectation is that the JCCC board will approve reasonable tuition increases at rates similar to inflation rates of recent years. Inflation is a fact of life, and fees must go up. But tuition increases alone will not balance the college budget.

Two options are left: property tax increases and budget cuts.

Taxes: I have clearly stated that I am opposed to any new taxes. In November 2008, I wrote a letter to The Kansas City Star and objected that the majority of the board is willing to consider the possibility of a tax increase. In December 2008, some of my colleagues replied in a letter to The Star, stating that it was incorrect for me to write that they are willing to consider raising taxes; rather, they are still considering all options, including tax increases.

Today, as I write this, I am confident that the board will not increase taxes. It could happen, but I doubt it. A necessary path for the administration and board is cutting the budget – everybody knows this.

At the most recent board meeting, during a closed session, a five- or six-page paper was handed out to board members. The document summarizes about 50 uses of money that, if decreased or removed, would help balance our next budget. There’s really not much to say about the document. It simply lists and describes all kinds of ways to potentially decrease the budget. It makes clear what, I would think, is obvious: almost any area of the college is under consideration for a budget cut.

About a week later, I talked on the phone with Star reporter Jim Sullinger. Sullinger contacted me and asked if I could provide information with regard to how JCCC – like all area government bodies, particularly in Johnson County – will deal with tightened budgets. I said: yes; although, some information I have was handed out during a closed session. He challenged me: now, why was it given out during executive session? I thought about it: you know what, Jim, you’re right; this document could have just as easily been handed out during an open session.

I agreed with Sullinger that there is nothing legally sensitive about this document. There is not one employee name mentioned. Is the information politically sensitive to a variety of people? Sure, but that’s irrelevant. What matters is whether a reporter had a right to see the information. Can it be debated whether or not a reporter should see the information? Maybe. And that is where I will unapologetically restate my belief that when a government official or a government employee is in doubt about whether or not information should be private: the tie goes to transparency.

Sullinger wrote one article briefly covering the information. Nothing he wrote in that article was inaccurate. I could be wrong, but I think it only appeared online, on the political blog “Prime Buzz.” Not all that many people would have read it, and it would have simply been “bumped” down on the blog as new articles were posted, had there not been an overreaction to the article.

I am aware that some KNEA faculty members and Dr. Terry Calaway have been highly critical of my “leaking” the information. As is often the case with board members (who don’t experience the day-to-day environment of the college), I really do not know what the average employee thinks about all this – or whether the average employee even knows or cares.

I’ll summarize my reaction to the criticism:

• As I’ve stated, the information was general, non-sensitive. The public has a right to view the information.

• Dr. Calaway’s message on Tuesday to the college Email infolist: it did a disservice to the college. Calaway writes:

o “The reporter subsequently listed a number of items that are purportedly under consideration to be cut or reduced.” Well, the items are under consideration.

o “The blog article purports that the college has already defined a course of action.” No, it doesn’t. “Under consideration” means exactly that.

o “The irresponsible nature of this reporting…” If you’re going to pick a fight with the biggest paper in the area, make it over the right issue. The Kansas Open Meetings Act is not the right issue.

o “…had taken place as part of a board of trustees executive session…” Don’t remind us of that.

o “The reporter never called me with questions regarding possible budget reductions or to ask for comment. Unfortunately, the article on the blog leaves the reader with the assumption that he had done so.” No, I don’t think it did leave the reader with that impression. But even if it had, reporters are often going to write things that we don’t agree with. Bias exists in the media.

• That The Star article contained information that was a surprise to employees: I’m surprised that you’re surprised. Most ideas for cutting the budget are under consideration. That’s all the article said.

• Really?... KNEA faculty – you’re comfortable knowing that the board and administration interpret broadly, rather than narrowly, the exceptions permitted under KOMA (PDF)? I hear no concern.

• Here’s what I have not heard, but that I would certainly ask if I were an employee: What’s NOT on this list? Will the board really be willing to separate the wants from needs? Will the board cut back on my job, my friends’ jobs, or my department – even though they’re unwilling to cut back on these other things that are much less important?

o Bottom line: I could point out $1-2 million of spending that I view as either waste or non-vital, and that I would to cut before deciding to affect 99% of departments and employees. But I’m just one voting member of the board.

Lastly, I need to address why this document was given out during the executive session. The argument for secrecy is quite simple, and quite weak: because the document details how budget items will be cut, it therefore affects individual employees within those areas, and it’s therefore a personnel issue. Using that line of thinking, literally any discussion of taxation or budgeting could be interpreted as affecting individual employees. This type of interpretation happens all the time around local governments in Johnson County. I am not going to say right now that it violates the KOMA, but I will state that I do not support this interpretation, and I’m confident most taxpayers would not support this interpretation.

February 17, 2009


From the college's electronic server, Infolist:

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Johnson County Health Department is investigating a case of tuberculosis (TB) at Johnson County Community College. JCCC and the Health Department have identified those at risk and are offering education, evaluation and testing.

“The college has been extremely cooperative in assisting in this investigation.” said Nancy Tausz, Disease Containment Division Director of the Johnson County Health Department.

Staff Development has scheduled two information sessions about TB – at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, in 211 CC, and 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, also in 211 CC.
TB is spread through the air by close, prolonged contact (several hours a day) with someone who has the disease. Symptoms of TB may include a cough of longer than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, chills, fever and coughing up blood.

All known active TB cases within the County are monitored and treated appropriately by the Health Department. For more information about TB, call the Johnson County Health Department, 913-826-1200.