Wednesday, October 15, 2014

UNCG: Keep Fighting The Good Fight

Yesterday I received the following e-mail:

"First of all, thanks for your coverage of this situation. It's refreshing!

My take, based on what I've seen and experienced over the years, is that when the computer equipment was returned to the department, Mason had a tech person (not necessarily from IT) do data forensics to dig around for something incriminating. Generally, no tech has the time or interest to go digging around on someone's computer looking for evidence of wrongdoing in the absence of a managerial imperative to do so. Upon return, the machines are usually wiped and re-imaged so they can be redeployed. Doesn't sound like that's what happened here.

Another thing I've seen coming is that Mason will himself be given the heave-ho if things get too heavy. All the bad press against him makes him the perfect scapegoat. The departure will be seen as the end of the problem--which it isn't. There are a lot of new faces in upper level administration and I know for a fact at least one of them was reading off the same hymn sheet as Mason up to the point where all this scandal broke out. Whether the said administrator has re-thought the strategy of 'manage through intimidation and fear' has yet to be seen, though the effects of this person's strategy up to now have been a sharp increase in the stress levels of the direct reports. And, as you know from Reagan-era economics, all that sh*t trickles down to the rank and file. I know many good people who have resigned, retired, or outright quit because they couldn't take the daily psychological abuse by management.

Mason's exodus will fail to address the fact that some existing deans, directors, etc. have been using threats and intimidation for some time.  Staff have been fired without real cause (both under the RIF umbrella and outside it), then staff with similar skills from other areas, sometimes other departments, have been brought in to do the  work previously done by those who were fired. It begs the question: if there was a need for the work to be done, why were the people fired to begin with? Personal vendetta? Saying it's because of budget cuts is a weak argument given the amount of compensation being given to high level administrators. Compare the new Provost's starting income ($300,000) to that of her predecessor (around $265,000). Wow. A Provost who makes a mere 100k less than the man who runs the whole COUNTRY. Appalling.

Consider that many SPA positions have been converted to EPA. EPA employees "serve at the will of the chancellor" and can be let go at any time. Clearly, the shift to convert as many remaining positions as possible to EPA gives the university license to fire at will.  The main persuasive tactic used to get existing SPA employees to switch to EPA is "it will be easier to give you a raise". This has actually been the case - some  EPA employees have gotten raises while SPA employees doing similar work got nothing. Talk about ruining morale! Not that there was much left to ruin. For positions that were SPA and are empty due to attrition or whatever, they are converted to EPA so that incoming employees have no choice about their employment type.

My point being, if raises are being distributed to some EPA employees, and incoming administrators are being paid 25k more than their predecessors even while the public sees the university rending sackcloth and wailing about budget cuts, one has to wonder what kinds of things are left to reduce in the budget. Personnel count of SPA employees? Hmm.

Pity there hasn't been money to give the rank and file a cost of living increase. The two paltry increases doled out by the state over the last five years have amounted to  about .50 more per hour and is  taken up by the increased cost of medical insurance, which is going up again for 2015. Yeah, some staff are working second jobs because they HAVE TO in order to make ends meet. Nobody is talking about that, or what could happen if the university doesn't give 'permission' for someone to work a second job. What happens then? Good thing there's a food pantry on campus for use by students AND staff.

Not that any bureaucracy isn't shot through with politics and BS, but there has been a definite uptick in the said P & BS since Brady came on board. She's not the absolute source of the toxicity - some of the managers who like to manage employees with fear pre-date her - but as little as 10 years ago they were not the dominant species. In 2014, they are.
Keep fighting the good fight."

It's humbling to get letters like this and yet its frustrating at the same time. No fault of the writer of the letter but I founded this website over 3 years ago with the sole purpose of exposing corruption and creating change throughout all of Greensboro and "keep fighting the good fight" is an expression I hear or read almost every day from liberals and conservatives alike.

But when I ask people to come en-mass to attend Greensboro City Council meetings no one shows up.  When I make arrangements to use a friend's building as a meeting place the meeting is attended by the same few. Former Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins once said, "No one is opposed to this," while speaking at a Greensboro City Council meeting on the subject of the downtown performing arts center. He got away with saying that because despite vast opposition across the city, only 2 of us spoke in opposition that night.

Social media, e-mail, blogs, websites-- they're all great for spreading the word (I use them all and have been since 2000) but politicians like Dr Linda Brady don't fear them any more. The Brady Bunch will simply tune all this out as long as you keep telling me to "keep fighting the good fight" and don't fight for yourselves. I can help you in this but I can't do it for you.

My own dream is to change one city for the better. To make Greensboro communities better. To make Greensboro the city everyone else wants to emulate instead of trying to emulate other cities. You don't get to be #1 by following, you become #1 by leading and blazing new trails. Get past the liberal vs Conservative bullshit and uncover the corruption that is at the center of every real problem this city faces. University campuses could go a very long ways towards helping me in that goal and I view UNCG as a community, a neighborhood just like any other Greensboro neighborhood with assets, eccentricities and something it can share with the rest of us, whatever that may be.

It's my hope that by helping the UNCG community overthrow your tyrants that you will see fit to help my East Greensboro neighborhood and all Greensboro neighborhoods overthrow our tyrants as well. Because, even if you realize it or not, the tyrants are all working as a team.

And if by chance folks from NC A&T, Bennett, Greensboro College, Guilford College, Elon, Guilford Tech or any of our other schools are reading-- we don't have to wait until you have a controversy of your own to include you in the revolution. Feel free to take part.