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4 Our View Hanif Zarrabi Opinions www.daily49er.com Tuesday, December 8, 2009 firstname.lastname@example.org CSU needs new atrium to view corruption Government corruption does not surprise us at the Daily 49er. We’ve been around for 60 years. It happens. When it happens in our university system, though, surprise has no bearing on the issue. Corruption, when it occurs in the hands of those entrusted with educating our youth, Daily 49er Joanne Tucker Editor in Chief email@example.com (562) 985-7998 News Editor Asst. News Editor City Editor Asst. City Editor Asst. City Editor Asst. City Editor Opinions Editor Asst. Opinions Editor Asst. Opinions Editor is much harder to swallow. This jawbreaker of government corruption involves improper reimbursement of expenses incurred by David J. Ernst, former chief of information technology services for the California State University system. Ernst’s reimbursements included trips to Shanghai, Melbourne, London and Amsterdam. The total reimbursement — which involved traveling expenses, expensive dinners for cronies and enormous transportation costs — amounted to more than $150,000 over three years. Ernst’s comments to the media include, “As with many such reports, the issues in this audit are much more complex than they may appear on first reading.” Prior to the audit’s release, Ernst took a similar job with the University of California system. After results of the audit were released, employees in the UC rightly called for Ernst to reimburse the CSU and for the UC to fire him. So far, Ernst has paid back a little more than $1,000 and claims the rest was justified as doing business for the CSU. We’re not indicting anyone. We have always been fans of due process, but interpretive complexity ranks low on the scale of cop-outs. To date, our favorite cop-out has been the lack of recollection. Ernst either improperly used university money or he didn’t. At this point, his actions almost seem trivial because of the larger corruption accusations levied at former campus presidents and board of trustee members. In a time when every penny counts, why should there be any avenue for corruption? The CSU system needs a window of budget transparency. The CSU and UC intolerably cling to a California Public Records Act loophole. They hide budget information about foundations and auxiliaries. The truth is, they don’t want transparency exactly because of the type of abuse allowed when secrecy is the norm. At Cal State Long Beach, this loophole extends to the CSULB Foundation, Associated Student Inc., and 49er Shops. The biggest argument for maintaining the loophole is that if the university opens up the books, people who donate anonymously will stop doing so. OK, that makes sense. We do not oppose the preservation of humility. But what if that loophole enables tax dodgers? Doesn’t the public have the right to know that everything is on the up-and-up? Tracy McDannald Managing Editor Antoinette Luzano Brianne Schaer Kendra Ablaza Marisol Aguilar Sarah Peters Alexandra Rousso Duke Rescola Uzo Umeh Zien Halwani Political Cartoonist Political Cartoonist Diversions Editor Asst. Diversions Editor Asst. Diversions Editor Sports Editor Asst. Sports Editor Photo Editor Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, tried last summer to get Senate Bill 218 passed to open up the books — excluding anonymous donors. The voice of the people, through elected representatives in both state houses, should have been heard loud and clear. The Senate and the Assembly each passed SB 218 and sent it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk. CSU and UC lobbyists were instrumental in defeating this piece of legislation, when they convinced Schwarzenegger to wield his veto pen and muffle taxpayers’ cries. Why the secrecy? The lack of transparency in the CSU has caused enough trouble. The case of Ernst is not the first and surely won’t be the last if the CSU continues to operate in this manner. Corruption is a cancer caused by lacking mechanisms for over- Editorial Office Phone (562) 985-8000 Fax (562) 985-7994 1250 Bellflower Blvd., SSPA 004B Long Beach, CA 90840-4601 Julio Salgado Robbie Eich Alma Bahman Jonathan Oyama Brittany Woolsey Danny Lee Matt Moreno Michael Yee Editorials: All opinions expressed in the columns, letters and cartoons in this issue are those of the writers or artists. The opinions of the Daily 49er are expressed only in unsigned editorials and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the journalism department or the views of all staff members. All such editorials are written by the editorial board of the Daily 49er. Contact Us Display Advertising Beverly Munson (562) 985-5736 Morgan Moen (562) 985-7410 Asst. Photo Editor Huy Vo Online Editor Robert Grimmick Asst. Online Editor Marcel Hoang Video Director Brian Cuaron News Video Producer Angie C. Diaz Sports Video Producer Patrick Miller Content Adviser Barbara Kingsley-Wilson Design Adviser Gary Metzker sight. If the CSU books were open to the public, we wouldn’t have to wait three years to find out about corruption like this. Thousands could become university watchdogs and we’d be one step closer to curing institutional corruption in higher education. The foundation this university system built upon seems to be crumpling little by little. Our administrators are slowly turning our universities into miserable little dominions of mediocrity. If they attempt to get rid of the good, we must attempt to get rid of the bad. Those of us who attend any California system of education are at the doorstep of change. This involves supporting any future legislation that opens access via the CPRA, and campaigning for everything we see as integral to advancing our learning processes. President Obama should avoid artificial deadlines with Iranians The Islamic Republic of Iran is at an important crossroads. It has been nearly six months since the country was rocked by violence and demonstrations following the June 12 presidential elections. To the dismay of many in the West, this was not another revolution; this was a civil rights movement. The definition of freedom, itself, has evolved since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to Iranian sociologist Asef Bayat. Thirty years later, that definition has grown to include concepts of individual civil liberties, leading to a far more mature civil society that seeks change in increments — not through an explosive revolution. By the time the spring semester starts here at Cal State Long Beach, time may have already run out for Iran to avoid sanctions over its nuclear program. According to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, this is in regards to an Iranian response to a preliminary agreement that was reached in Geneva in October. “The deadline is the end of the year,” Gibbs warned last week. Mir Hossein Musavi, considered by Western media as the “darling” leader of the Green Movement, has stated, “If the Geneva agreement is implemented by Iran, it will destroy the work and achievements of thousands of Iranian scientists. And if it is not, it will create consensus for imposing very broad sanctions on Iran.” Unknowingly, the man the West was rooting for this summer has the same nuclear stance as the supreme leader of Iran. Sanctions never work, and are a product of a shallow thought process, as well as a blunt and showy instrument of vindictive politics. Iranian officials have long accused the West of playing politics with peoples’ lives by imposing sanctions that prevent upgrades to the country’s aging aircraft fleet. Iran’s civilian air industry has an abysmal safety record. The Islamic Republic has been sanctioned for the past 30 years. The country has adapted to it and currently is a major power in the region, partly due to the help of the U.S. for disposing of Iran’s two mortal enemies; the Taliban and Sadaam Hussein. Pressure on Iran has also been applied here in the U.S. because federal prosecutors have recently taken steps to seize Iranian properties on American soil, including mosques, which has implications on the constitutional right to freedom of religion. On a local level, California’s insurance commissioner Steve Poizner recently announced that he will push insurance companies in California to divest up to $12 billion in indirect investments in Iran. This is pathetically self-serving for Poizner, who clearly wants the media attention that comes attached to Iranian affairs, which benefits his fundraising to become the Republican nominee in next year’s election for governor. General Manager Advertising Representative Advertising Representative Advertising Representative Business/ Classifieds Representative Advertising Designer Design Director Asst. Design Director Asst. Design Director In the wake of a November U.N. vote to censure Iran over its nuclear activities, the speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Ali Larijani, has urged moderation, saying that the government should not be “pushed into hasty reactions.” The Islam in North America news agency quoted Larijani as saying, “You should demand that authorities use all possible ways to serve national interests.” The Iranian government has consistently stated in the past that talks should be without preconditions and based on “mutual respect.” Deadlines, divestment and sanctions are not conducive to rapprochement with the Islamic Republic. President Obama should give himself a degree of flexibility and not be married to any artificial deadlines. Pressing the discussion simply because of pre-established benchmarks undermines the chances for diplomacy to succeed. Hanif Zarrabi is a Middle Eastern history graduate student and a columnist for the Daily 49er. Business Office Phone (562) 985-8001 Fax (562) 985-1740 1250 Bellflower Blvd., SSPA 010B Long Beach, CA 90840-4601 Beverly Munson Alma Camera Morgan Moen Michael Peterson Scott Hamanaka Moira Garrovillas Amanda Espinoza James Balbas Julian Jones-Pittman Letters Policy: All letters and e-mail must bear the phone number of the writer and must be no more than 300 words. The Daily 49er reseves the right to edit letters for publication in regard to space.
firstname.lastname@example.org Gerry Wachovsky www.daily49er.com Tuesday, December 8, 2009 Freedom of expression stocks shelves in the marketplace of ideas Everybody takes things for granted. It is human nature, I suppose, to be handed something and then just assume it will always be there. We, as Americans, have grown accustomed to certain elements of luxury in our lives to the point where we just accept them and assume they will always be there. While walking around South Campus the other day, I came across a “free expression” board that was situated near one of the Peterson Hall buildings. From what I could gather, it is set up so students can write a message of their choosing — anonymously — and say what is on their mind. I don’t know what club sponsored this because I was in a bit of a rush and couldn’t examine it in-depth, but in clear letters the title “free expression” Christmas & New Year in Cuernavaca was proudly displayed at the top of the board. And it made me smile. What better place to express yourself than at an institution of higher learning? Conversely, what right do we enjoy and take for granted more than freedom of speech? I’ve been writing for the Daily 49er for longer than most of you probably recall, and I feel lucky to be a part of such a great publication. Every week, I basically have a forum to write about what angers me, saddens me and makes me hopeful. Judging by the comments that people leave on the Daily 49er’s Web site, a lot of people don’t exactly like what I have to say much of the time. I’ve grown accustomed to being simultaneously hated and liked, and when people write a scathing post online because of something I wrote, I always read them with an open mind. One argument, however, invariably always seems to come up within the posts of my detractors — that I am somehow passing off my thoughts as gospel, and that I am always “wrong” because me and my readers often simply share a different point-of-view. The free marketplace of ideas is, for all intents and purposes, the crux of our society and what makes this country so great. It also makes the world go ‘round. Where else is this truly evident than on a college campus as diverse and varied as Cal State Long Beach? I disagree, for instance, when the Muslim Student Association invited unabashed anti-Semite and hatespeech orator Amir Imam Abdul Malik Campus Voice Need Spanish credits? Want to travel to Mexico? Come... learn Spanish... experience Kukulcan! Affiliated program to CSULB Financial aid opportunities Toll free US: 1.800.946.9762 www.kukulcan.com.mx Ali to speak on campus in 2006. I find this man to be a piece of human trash, and I would think that the MSA would practice better judgment. After all, in the end, they are just making themselves look bad. But because I disagree with their choice of speaker doesn’t really matter. You see, the concept of free speech covers even — gasp! — speech that I don’t agree with. In fact, one person disagreeing with another group or person is proofpositive of the power of free speech. In some countries, this simple act of disagreeing isn’t even allowed. In the end, what occurs on this page is “opinion” and only that, just as what is written on the “free expression” board is simply the opinion or word of someone else. This concept should never be taken for granted. Why do you think a majority of students are apathetic to the budget cuts? “I’m getting financial aid, so I’m not paying for it out of pocket.” Julie Ho sophomore pre-interior design major “I don’t think students are well informed about the budget cuts.” Steven Quiroz junior computer engineering major “I think most of us are under so much pressure to get through here that we don’t have the time to do anything about it.” Kyle Vincent sophomore mechanical engineering major “I used to work for the California Faculty Association. We found that students were busy and didn’t really care about the students coming in.” Nina Pelavin senior kinesiology major LBad#2DAILY49:Layout 1 10/1/09 10:42 PM Page 1 NEEDHELP? FREE STD TESTING PREGNANCY TESTING & COUNSELING ULTRASOUNDS LIMITED PRENATAL CARE HIV/AIDS TESTING IRVINE LONG BEACH MISSION VIEJO PLACENTIA SANTA ANA NEED TO ASK A QUESTION? email@example.com or make an appointment online at: www.birthchoice.com Long Beach: 562.290.0212 5 Before I sign off for now, I’d like to thank all of you who read my pieces this semester. Whether or not you agreed with my opinions, student newspapers like this one truly embody the free expression of ideas. With letters to the editor and comments on the Daily 49er Web site encouraged, it is easy to make your opinion known as well. Free expression is crucial to the marketplace of ideas and the dissemination of information is a powerful thing in today’s society. Don’t be afraid to speak up and make your voice heard. And for those of you who disagree with all I say, it’s all right. You will eventually realize I’ve been right all along — and I won’t even say “I told you so.” Gerry Wachovsky is a graduate student and a columnist for the Daily 49er. “In order to have a future, you need a college degree. If they raise the price, you need to pay.” Bryce Joe junior pre-industrial design major “I think that all students care about the budget cuts but they can’t do anything about it.” Omar Eljairi graduate civil engineering major