Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Mentality of Mentors

Reporter Jose Antonio Vargas made a big splash recently when he outted himself as an illegal alien in a New York Times piece.  (Source Link:

But as he was coming out of the shadows, he met some folks headed the other way on the trail, running for cover.  I’m talking about his old friends in the public schools, Pat Hyland, Rich Fischer, Mary Moore and Jill Denny.

First a little info on the players.  Pat Hyland was the principal at Mountain View High School.  Here is a demographic summary of the school, according to their website: “MVHS serves a diverse student body of over 1750 students from the cities of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Our student body is 54% White, 22% Asian, 16% Hispanic, 6% other, 2% African-American.”

Rich Fischer was the superintendent of the school district, known as “MVLA UHSD.”
They describe themselves thus:  “Our district serves a student population of 3,683 students of which 55% are Caucasian and 45% are students of color.”

Other bit players in the Vargas drama are Jill Denny, his choir teacher at Mountain View High and Mary Moore, a secretary at the superintendent’s office.

Now, let’s think about teacher involvement in the life of a confessed illegal alien student.  It would be a continuum from loathing the student and turning him in to Immigration…to making special arrangements for hiding him from exposure.  There would be a neutral ground where teachers and administrators would simply ignore his immigration status and treat him like all the other students.

Enter an Associated Press article circulating the country today exploring the relationship between illegal aliens and school officials, using the Vargas case as a  springboard.

So, here’s what they had to say about their contacts with Vargas:
Rich Fischer and Pat Hyland were school administrators in affluent Mountain View, Calif., home of Google and other tech companies, in 2000 as a young Filipino student named Jose Antonio Vargas was nearing graduation. He excelled in school but wasn't going to college because of his residency status and the high cost.

"We're educators. We don't work for the I.N.S.," Fischer, now retired as school superintendent, told The Associated Press, adding that teachers across the country face the same issues more and more.

"Actually, I think if you put a number to it, I think it would look epidemic and tragic."

Fischer and Hyland considered adopting Vargas, and eventually found him a scholarship to San Francisco State University. Vargas was a college standout, eventually landing an internship and then a full-time job at The Washington Post, getting the internship after Fischer, Hyland and others helped him get a driver's license.

"I'm not really sure if I could have made it without them," Vargas… told the AP.

Hyland, who was the principal at Mountain View High School when Vargas was there, said the help she provided was "sort of humanitarian, in my mind."

She has helped other illegal immigrants find a way to college. Many stop short, though, out of fear, she said.

"It's a conundrum. ... What are we doing to help this child survive and help this child reach his or her potential?" she said. "Educators are stuck in that position. We are sort of an underground support network for a lot of kids who come to us."

And here are some of the efforts these educators made in Jose’s behalf.  The blue text is the actual verbiage from the Vargas story, written by Jose himself:

Jill Denny, the choir director and Vargas: …told me she was considering a Japan trip for our singing group. I told her I couldn’t afford it, but she said we’d figure out a way. I hesitated, and then decided to tell her the truth. “It’s not really the money,” I remember saying. “I don’t have the right passport.” When she assured me we’d get the proper documents, I finally told her. “I can’t get the right passport,” I said. “I’m not supposed to be here.”  She understood. So the choir toured Hawaii instead.

Pat Hyland, HS principal: …they connected me to a new scholarship fund for high-potential students who were usually the first in their families to attend college. Most important, the fund was not concerned with immigration status. I was among the first recipients, with the scholarship covering tuition, lodging, books and other expenses for my studies at San Francisco State University.

Rich Fischer, Superintendent of schools: See Pat Hyland above.

Rich Fischer: “Put this problem on a shelf,” he told me. “Compartmentalize it. Keep going.”

Rich Fischer: … sent letters to me at that address. [in order to establish false residency in Oregon, a ruse to get Vargas a drivers license.]

Pat Hyland: … sent letters to me at that address. [in order to establish false residency in Oregon, a ruse to get Vargas a drivers license.]

Mary Moore: … sent letters to me at that address. [in order to establish false residency in Oregon, a ruse to get Vargas a drivers license.]

The AP article clearly ignores the level of involvement these people had in aiding and abetting Vargas.  Their efforts can only be classified as Affirmative Action on steroids.  The faculty and administrators named clearly knew he was an illegal alien and went about making special arrangements for him; arrangements that would hinder the progress of other students.

And they had received good legal counsel that there was no way Vargas could get legal without returning to the Philippines.

The folks at Mountain View were in way over their heads.  But they felt OK violating the law because the NEA and the AFT are far from neutral on the issue of illegal aliens.  Both unions are in favor of amnesty.  Both support the DREAM Act.  Both decry worksite raids.

Social causes are obviously more important to educators than academic performance.  One wonders how much time and effort were devoted to this one student that could have been shared with the other 3,682 students in the district.  One wonders how lives might have been enriched had the choir gone to Japan as originally planned.  One wonders how much time Superintendent Fischer and Secretary Moore wasted playing illegal alien advocate instead of running the district.

But Vargas was Filipino, gay and an illegal alien.  Vargas was a cause.

And for the record, most illegal aliens are well known to school officials.  Unlike Vargas, most of them don’t have Social Security numbers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Media Mayhem - Elgin Style

It is clear that Elgin, Illinois needs to do some serious work on its PR department.  Sue Olafson is OK when it comes to press releases about a new water tower or winning a federal grant.  And she does a fine job making the mayor look good when he does a listening tour or wants to form a citizens’ strategic planning committee.

But she is clueless when it comes to keeping the media informed about a killing that happened on the Fourth of July.  Reporters were kept in the dark for 36 hours, then given wrong information.  And no cops were available to talk about it.

I’m not suggesting that a town of 100,000 needs a police public affairs officer.  I’m saying that when we pay several police department employees $100K+ a year, they’d better be able to step up to a microphone and talk intelligently about a crime.  They couldn’t do worse than Olafson.

The liberal media had trouble with this story from the beginning.  It just didn’t fit the narrative.  The shooter was a 57-year-old Laotian man.  The victim was an 18-year-old Hispanic.  What can you do with that combo?  They could handle a redneck teabagger with an itchy trigger finger.  But a Laotian refugee?

And if the vic were a white kids strung out on drugs, that would be a story.

So, here’s what we came up with.

The Daily Herald reporter was Tara Garcia Mathewson.  She’s new; fresh out of journalism school.  And she’s got a history of social justice reporting.  She’s covered the use of tasers in prisons and the plight of the illegal alien.

Her coverage was misleading from the beginning.  She first said the kids were burglarizing the shooter’s car and he came upon them with a pistol.  And she lacked information about the FOID card (he didn’t have one).  Chalk it up to Olafson I suppose, but the Chicago Tribune had it right.

Dave Gathman covered the story for The Courier News, a Sun-Times publication.  Gathman has been working in Elgin for at least a decade.  His story was rich in diversity, sort of a mix between apple pie, tacos, gyros and pot stickers.

Here’s a sample:
“…the Laotian-American family headed by Don and Sue Rattanavong have lived across the street from each other in the low-crime, all-American piece of suburbia called Lords Park Manor subdivision.”

“And six blocks away, in a neighborhood that looks every bit as tidy and safe and middle-class suburban, another immigrant family — this one Hispanic — was mourning the death of their teenage son at Rattanavong’s hands.”

“Chris Sakolari, a 72-year-old Greek-American immigrant who lives next door to the Laotians, said not even a knocking policeman or blinding lights woke her up. Speaking in a thick accent…”

Gathman weaved a heart-rending tale that didn’t much sound like solid news.  But that seems rather typical of the Courier these days.  Jeff Ward and Mike Danahey are known to write in tabloid style on a regular basis.  Very postmodern but lacking in hard facts.  Tell the readers what you are feeling, Mr. Reporter.  We really want to know.  NOT!

The Chicago Tribune, with reporter Melissa Jenco and freelancer George Houde (a former Elgin journalist with decades of experience) gives us the most humorous report of the weaponry.  They wrote, “Police allegedly found the 25 mm pistol in the house, as well as a 357 mm revolver.”  Who knew they made a revolver that took 14” diameter shells?  Even a 25mm would give you a 1" shell.  Yikes! 

Like I say, the press struggles with the narrative and the city struggles with the facts.

FYI, Elgin subscribes to the program, giving us automatic access to crime data in the area.  Two days after the shooting there is no mention of the crime on the CrimeReports map.  So much for transparency on crime. map as of 1:00 am on July 7, 2011

Source Links:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More skin, please

Time flies.  It was 2 1/2 years ago when Obama was running around the country talking about "skin in the game."

The term implies shared sacrifice.  So I was thinking that there is a way to save the DREAM Act.  The problem is that the students and their parents lack "skin in the game."  The kids are innocent victims, brought here by their parents.

So...let's make mom and dad, the ones who chose to bring those innocent children here, pay for their mistake.  As part of the DREAM Act eligibility the parents must come forward and agree to uncontested self-deportation.

And the country of origin must bring some skin as well.  For every DREAM Act student, their green card quota will be reduced by one.  It's only fair.  They'd use it up anyway if they sent someone here to become a citizen.

And the students themselves must be taught some responsibility.  We don't want to encourage freeloaders, do we?  So, each student will incur a $30,000 student loan to be paid back to the high school district that educated them.

And they will be charged out-of-state tuition rates at the university.  After all, why should they pay less than a student from Montana?

I'm sure if Senator Dick Durbin would make those adjustments, he'd see all sorts of support for DREAM Act citizenship.

To recap the skin:
  • The parents must return home.
  • The country of origin loses a spot in the green card quota.
  • The student pays back the high school.
  • The student pays out-of-state tuition rates.

What's the Big Deal?

Sometimes we fail to get the point across about "The Rule of Law."  When we tell the amnesty crowd that illegal aliens distort the rule of law, they counter with a couple of arguments:
1) That the immigration system is hopelessly "broken" and that going around the law is the only option.
2) That immigration violations aren't serious, but rather like speeding (everyone does it) or parking in a red zone.  One poster on my local newspaper comment board named "Dan65" says it is like buying on the Internet and not declaring your sales tax obligation.  (It's an Illinois thing.)

Perhaps taking a slightly different approach is in order.  Rousseau's Social Contract argument suggests that we grant authority and surrender a portion of our liberty to our government.  We give them guns, badges, sirens and lights, and the power to throw us in jail.

In return, we expect them to enforce the law.  When those we have deputized step forward and become apologists for illegal aliens, that becomes intolerable.  Tell me you don't have the money or the manpower to get the job done...tell me there are just plain too many of them...but don't tell me that it's OK for them to break the law and remain here.

You, Mr. Politician and Mr. Sheriff have broken the social contract.

The most egregious example of the rift was when George W. Bush sent Michael Chertoff up to Capitol Hill to lobby for amnesty for illegal aliens.  Can you imagine it?  Here we have the one man in the nation charged with protecting our borders and our citizens telling our Congressmen that they should legalize 12 million people who are here illegally?

So, what do I do about it?  I'm a law-abiding citizen.  I pay my taxes.  You don't deliver.  So, what is my response?

The Hesburgh Commission on Immigration (1981) said this:
"The existence of a fugitive underground class is unhealthy for society as a whole and may contribute to ethnic tensions. In addition, widespread illegality erodes confidence in the law generally, and immigration law specifically, while being unfair to those who seek to immigrate legally."

We naturally begin to pick and choose the laws we will obey.  If the politicians find certain laws unpalatable, then why can't I?  If I don't agree with the laws on the books, I will simply ignore them.

I believe that is the path to anarchy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Signs at the DMV

I spent some time today waiting at the DMV.
It is a veritable bastion of the rule of law, even in Illinois.

There is a sign in the queue informing customers that it is against the law to swear at or take a hostile tone with a DMV employee.

There are a dozen signs of varying sizes telling us that they accept Mastercard, Discover and American Express (for an extra fee, of course) by NOT VISA.   I’m guessing it has something to do with Bank of America refusing to continue to issue travel credit cards to our deadbeat state. 

I can’t say I blame Bank of America for pulling the plug. 

But DMV could care less if they inconvenience us.  They are the State.

There is a big sign over by the road test waiting area.  It informs us that it is a class 2 felony to attempt to bribe an examiner.  You get 3-7 years in jail plus a $25,000 fine.

Now that’s a serious consequence, but not cruel and unusual.  After all, the Willis tragedy was the result of paying cash to pass a CDL.  It eventually led to Governor George Ryan going to prison.

There is another sign warning you that if you apply for a Drivers License using fake documents or documents that belong to someone else, you have committed perjury.  That is a class 4 felony and gets you 1-3 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

If you violate the Identification Card Act, you could spend a year in jail and pay $2,500.  Using a fake ID gets you the same.  Second offenses are also a year in jail and a $25,000 fine.  Any fraudulent activity carries a $500 minimum. 

Sounds pretty tough, right?  Now and then someone will try to pass themselves off to the cops as someone else, either with their ID or by claiming they don’t have docs on them and spouting off someone else's name and address.  They get caught.

Most common is driving without any license at all, followed by using a fake one purchased at the corner photo studio in Little Village.

You have to wonder why we are in such a mess with all these tough laws to protect us.

Convictions, perhaps?  If you don’t get convicted, nothing really happens to you.  Are the judges soft?  Or are the jails full?  Or are the lawyers that good?

And I couldn’t help but think of similar signs in Oregon and Washington DMV offices.  Surely what Jose Antonio Vargas did would violate state laws in both states.  I wonder if he will be prosecuted.  (Note that his violations have nothing to do with federal immigration laws or states’ rights arguments.)

I guess that just illustrates that states are great at collecting fees and telling you what line to stand in, but not so great when it comes to enforcing their own laws.