Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It is about health and safety

Skateboard hits ankle

It is about safety and health and not alternative transportation
In my opinion the recent change, by university president Don Kassing, to adopt a policy that allows the use of skateboards, razors and bicycles in the campus interior has the goal to encourage alternative transportation. This is good, in principle. But, I think this administration has been a bit too quick to decide and has let health and safety take a back seat to lofty goals and "good" principles. The end does not justify the means.

On the morning of Feb. 20, 2008 I was outside of Clark Hall taking pictures in the rain. A skateboarder scooted by and then he slipped and fell in front of me. His skateboard shot across the concrete and hit a pedestrian in the ankle. It was a glancing blow. The pedestrian was not injured. The fact nobody was hurt, this time, is not the point. It could have been more serious. What if the skateboard had hit a pedestrian more squarely? What if the pedestrian had been elderly or disabled. What if the pedestrianhad tripped and been injured? That, in my opinion is what this is about. This is about the assumption of unneeded risk by the university and exposing the campus population to danger for the sake of lofty goals and "good" principles.

For employees, the university is a work place. Employees are entitled by law (and contract) to a safe work environment. Students are entitled to a safe campus. Folks with disabilities are entitled to have a university that is not made inaccessible by dangers, obstacles and trip hazards. Tax payers are entitled to have state agencies not take unnecessary risks and exposure to lawsuit for the sake of pursuing lofty goals and "good" principles.

Skateboarder is helped up

[Click here to see more related photographs]

[Copy of Grievance Here]

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Monday, April 28, 2008

On Encouraging Alternative Transportation

Editorial: On Encouraging Alternative Transportation
We do need to find alternatives to fossil fueled based transportation, but we cannot sacrifice safety in the process. A friend of mine just had a close call today with a bicyclist riding his bike inside of Clark Hall. My friend said, "that was scary."

If the university wants to encourage alternative transportation there are things that can be done, inexpensively like providing shower facilities to faculty and staff who ride their bikes to work.

In the short run, turning the campus into a free-for-all for bicyclists, skateboard riders and people using razors may seem like a cheap way to encourage alternative transportation, but that is not the case. Just wait until the first crash, until the first person gets hurt real bad and or killed and then sues the university. The university cannot plead ignorance. They have been warned. The staff employees union has filed a health and safety grievance and has provided the university with plenty of evidence about the hazardous conditions here. The entire campus is a job site for the people who work here and the university, under labor law, has a legal and a contractual obligation to provide a safe work place.

It is time for the university to stop taking the cheap way out and to get serious about encouraging alternative transportation. No solution that endangers the employees of the university (as well as other campus community members) is acceptable. No union can sit still when the safety of the members it represents is at risk.

[Click here to see more related photographs]

[Copy of Grievance Here]

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Friday, April 25, 2008

SJSU Day of Action, May 6

SJSU will be holding our Day of Action on Tuesday, May 6th by sending as many faxes to the Governor telling him not to cut the budget of the CSU. The attached fax is an example of what we want thousands of SJSU faculty, staff, students and administrators to send. We will be collecting them…

  • When: Tuesday, May 6th, 9am-6pm
  • Where: Table 5 in front of the student union
  • What: Fax the governor – NO BUDGET CUTS, Governor, Can you hear us now?

SJSU Names Presidential Candidates

SJSU Public Affairs: Three Finalists Named for San José State Presidency
(April 25, 2008) – The California State University today named three finalists for the presidency of San José State University. The finalists and the dates they will visit the campus for all-day meetings with various groups are:

  • Elizabeth S. Grobsmith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of anthropology, Northern Arizona University, will visit the campus on Tuesday, May 6.
  • Jon S. Whitmore, president, Texas Tech University, will visit the campus on Wednesday, May 7.
  • Eduardo M. Ochoa, provost, and vice president for Academic Affairs, Sonoma State University, will visit the campus on Thursday, May 8.

Each of the three finalists will spend a day on campus meeting faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community. An open forum will be held daily for the campus community from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in Engineering Room 189.

There will be daily media availability during the campus visit from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Clark Hall 300, Cypress Room. Media, please contact Pat Lopes Harris, (408) 924-1748.

"Each of the candidates brings a stellar academic background and impressive leadership experience needed to head a vibrant, diverse and forward-moving campus like San José State," said CSU Trustee William Hauck, chair of the presidential search committee.

The new president will succeed retiring President Don W. Kassing, who has been president since 2004.

The CSU Board of Trustees will interview the four finalists on May 12 and name the new San José State president later that week. The trustees will set the president’s salary at a subsequent board meeting. The new president would begin in the summer.

Grobsmith has served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and as a tenured professor of anthropology at Northern Arizona University since 2002. She was dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Utah State in 2001, and served as the dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, from 1996 to 2001. Grobsmith held a number of positions at University of Nebraska-Lincoln during her 17-year tenure including associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, assistant dean, College of Arts and Sciences, and professor of anthropology.
She holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Arizona and a bachelor’s degree in music from The Ohio State University.

Whitmore has served as president of Texas Tech University since 2003 where he also holds a professorship in theatre. From 1996 to 2003, Whitmore served as provost and professor of theatre arts at the University of Iowa, and was dean, College of Fine Arts, at the University of Texas at Austin from 1990 to 1996. Whitmore was also dean, Faculty of Arts and Letters, at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1985 to 1990 where he was also a professor of theatre. Whitmore was affiliated with West Virginia University from 1974 to 1985, where he served as interim dean for the College of Creative Arts, interim director of the Creative Arts Center, faculty member, and as assistant to the president.
His Ph.D. is in theatre history from the University of California, Santa Barbara; his master’s and bachelor’s degrees are in speech, Washington State University.

Ochoa, who has been provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Sonoma State since 2003, was previously dean, College of Business Administration, Cal Poly Pomona from 1997 to 2003. From 1984-1997, Ochoa held a variety of positions at California State University, Los Angeles, including acting dean, School of Business and Economics, associate dean, External Programs, chair, of the Department of Economics and Statistics, and as a professor of economics. He was also a lecturer in economics at California State University, Fresno from 1981-1984.
His Ph.D. and master’s degrees in economics are both from the New School for Social Research; master’s degree in nuclear science and engineering, from Columbia University, and bachelor’s degree in physics and philosophy, from Reed College.

For more information on the candidates, go to

San José State is the Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 32,000 students and 5,700 employees. The campus is the number one supplier of engineering, education, computer science and business graduates to the area. The oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast and one of the largest CSU campuses, it has been ranked among the top 10 public colleges and universities in the West that offer a full range of bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 450,000 students and 46,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded nearly 2.5 million degrees, about 89,000 annually. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Were Bike Policies at SJSU result of fatalities?

Bicyclist on campus

Were previous bike and skateboard bans result of fatalities?
I have just been told that the original motivation for the previous bicycle policies (PD 89-03 and PD 90-01) and the Chancellor's Office's Coded Memorandum BA 88-06 (which was cited in those policies, but not the new one) was two fatalities on CSU campuses that occurred as the result of bicycle vs. pedestrian collisions in the late 80's. This needs to be investigated to be confirmed or refuted. I have copies of the previous presidential directives regarding the use of bicycles, skateboards and other human powered vehicles. The Chancellor's Office's Coded Memorandum BA 88-06 is mentioned in both of them, but not in president Don Kassing's new policy, Presidential Directive, PD 2007-06.


  1. Why was mention of Chancellor's Office's Coded Memorandum BA 88-06 omitted in the new presidential directive?
  2. What is Chancellor's Office's Coded Memorandum BA 88-06?
  3. Are the reports of fatalities true?
  4. Was Chancellor's Office's Coded Memorandum BA 88-06 fulfilled, expired, superseded or annulled?

Safety First!
The overriding concern of the union is that the university is a workplace and the university has the responsibility inherent of all employers to provide safe working conditions. The legal and contractual responsibility of the university to provide safe working conditions overrides all other concerns in this matter.


[Click here to see more related photographs]

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Great seeing Brian Baer!

Brian Baer with Nikon

Visit from an old friend
Brian Baer, an old friend and now political photographer for the Sacramento Bee, came to SJSU Today. Brian was here for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication's media ethics symposium in Engineering 189 which focused on covering presidential candidates. It was great seeing Brian and catching up on old times. Brian graduated in 1989, two years after I started working at SJSU.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bicycle grievance pending at SJSU

Bicyclist riding out SJSU building

Grievance proposes bicycle & skateboard ban on campus
A health and safety grievance is now awaiting a decision that asserts that the current policy (as well as its lack of enforcement) regarding the use of non-motorized vehicles (including bicycles & skateboards) in the internal areas of campus poses a threat to the safety of union represented university employees. The union is seeking the ban of the use of non-motorized vehicles in the internal areas of campus and proper enforcement of such a ban.

What is a grievance?
A grievance is an allegation by the union, or a union represented employee, that the university has failed to abide by it's contractual obligations. The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) is the union representing most staff employees at SJSU. The grievance process has a series of escalations including binding arbitration.

[Click here to see more related photographs]

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Brian Baer will not be appearing in my Wednesday evening class

Due to a schedule conflict Sacramento Bee Political Photographer Brian Baer will not be appearing in my Wednesday evening class.

I apologize for any inconvenience cause by this.

BUT - Brian will be here on Wed., Apr. 23 from 2-3:30 when the School of Journalism and Mass Communications will be hosting a media ethics symposium (in Engineering 189) focused on covering presidential candidates. Brian will be providing a photojournalists view. The afternoon event is not to be missed.

Son Jeff elected to campus post

Jeff's campaing speech

Jeff elected VP of Careers of SJSU chapter of Beta Alpha Psi
This is Jeff's campaign speech. According to Wikipedia, "Beta Alpha Psi is an honorary organization for accounting, finance and information systems students and professionals. Its primary objective is to encourage and recognize academic and professional excellence in the financial information field. Beta Alpha Psi promotes the study and practice of accounting, finance and information systems. They also provide opportunities for personal growth, service and association between members and practicing professionals. The organization strives to encourage a sense of ethical, social, and public responsibility."


Calla Lilly

An Anniversary
Today is the anniversary of the most tragic day in the lives of my family and I. Seventeen years ago a car accident took the life of my sons' mother, my first wife. I made a movie about that, that is not what this post is about.

Before I could be there for my three sons after the accident I had to have my own feet on the ground. Many people share credit for helping us repair and to go on with our lives, but in my opinion the most credit goes to my current wonderful wife Sue. Susie and I have been together more than 15 years now. She took on our wounded family and became a wife/step-mom/mom to all of us whom were dealing with so much pain, anger and long-term grief. It was not an easy task.

The boys and I all share many memories of the life we lived on and before that tragic day. Sue has always understood and respected that. The pain of death, especially untimely and tragic death, never goes away. It is there as a constant. Sue has been there for us and has become a much loved part of our family. She became a parent to the boys. Sometimes she was not given the appreciation she has been due for what she did. But, she never quit. We are very lucky, some would have quit. Not Sue.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Academic Technology Expo Fun

Xiuyu Situ does registration, hands out guides and raffle tickets for the April 17 event.

Academic Technology Expo 2008
Yesterday's Academic Technology Expo held in the Academic Success Center in Clark Hall was pretty festive. Besides showing off tech toys and new techniques we got to spend quality relaxed time with our customers. It was fun.

[More Photos Here on Flickr]

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Academic Technology Expo Today

Academic Technology Expo
Today Thursday, April 17 from 4:00 to 6:00 is the Academic Technology Expo to be held in the Academic Success Center in Clark Hall. The Expo features innovative pedagogies and technologies for teaching, assessment and collaboration. Faculty and students will be showcasing their projects. iPod Shuffles and USB keys drawings will be held every 30 minutes. Light refreshments will be served.

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Photoblog: Cardboard beer sign and males

Cardboard Beer sign and males

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Brian Baer, Photojournalist, Coming to SJSU

Brian Baer, Hot Photojournalist!

Next week we are going to have a very special guest speaker in my Wednesday night class. Brian Baer, the political photographer from The Sacramento Bee, will be speaking to the class. Brian is a hot shooter. In my opinion, he has one of the keenest eyes I know of.

He is a friend and a great guy. He is an alum of our photojournalism program and is passionate about photojournalism. He has seen the transition from conventional analog to digital photojournalism. This should be a real treat! You are invited to bring friends, especially recommended for folks interested in photojournalism.

An added bonus is the inside view Brian has of California politics. This should be a great session!

I ran into Brian Baer when I was shooting the CA democratic convention on March 28-30.

It was the first time I had seen Brian for over ten years and we immediately caught up on old times. Feel free to spread the word. It is a large room!

Folks are encouraged, but not required, to RSVP. The event is at 6pm on Wednesday April 23, 2008 in DBH226 at San Jose State.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Big Boys

UP train at Walong

Big Boys
"Big Boy" is what Sue said when she saw this picture of a Union Pacific train at Tehachapi. The term was apt, I told her, because "Big Boy" was the term given by the Union Pacific to the largest steam engines ever built. It also is apt because this last weekend my middle son Jeff and I were like boys chasing trains over the Union Pacific's former Southern Pacific Tehachapi mountain pass. We had perfect weather and tons of trains. The grades on these hills are brutal and these modern Big Boys were working like demons pulling a heavy train around Tehachapi Loop. Jeff and I had a great time and we saw many, many trains!

[Click here to see more photos on Flickr]

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Living with SJSU's CMS-7 (or trying to)

In my opinion:
Working with our university's new content management system is like living with somebody who is insane. Just when you think you have figured out its peculiarities and figured out a way to live with it, blam, it blows up on you! In my opinion; this thing is nuts! It is worse than working with early beta software.

I sympathize with the good folks in web services. They are good people and it is not their fault. They were tasked with a very difficult mission. It seems to me the state has mandated accessibility without providing adequate resources to get the job done. Given the funding situation for our state, those resources are not likely to become available. So, it seems to me, those of us struggling to comply with these requirements are just going to have to cope with inadequate tools to get the job done. Its too bad to. Because a lot of work is going into making this pig fly.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Special train through town

UP passenger special passes Agnew depot

An elegant conveyance
This evening I photographed a Union Pacific passenger special as it passed the historic former South Pacific Coast narrow gauge railroad depot in Agnew, now part of Santa Clara, California. This depot is also the home of the California Central Model Railroad club that is so much fun and that Kenneth and I belong to.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Perceptions: The Internet and News Quality

Online journalist more positive about Internet, others negative?
According to a report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Internet journalists have a more positive outlook on the impact of the Internet on the quality of news reporting than do older journalists from more traditional backgrounds:

Overall, internet journalists have more positive impressions of internet-driven innovations than do journalists who work for national and local print, TV and radio news organizations. For instance, only about a third of national (35%) and local journalists (36%) have a positive view of citizens posting news content on news organizations' websites; by contrast, 54% of internet journalists say this is a good thing for journalism.

Blogger and Journalism Educator Mindy McAdams comments on the report, "Here’s where an instructor can lead a good discussion about how journalism is changing — and talk about technological determinism in the bargain. Are traditional values under assault because of the medium? Or because of the media corporations’ reaction to the medium?"

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Email from Kassing

To the Campus Community:
It was standing room only in the Barrett Ballroom yesterday when we held our all-campus budget forum, and many in attendance made a commitment to advocate on behalf of the CSU system. We’re off to a great start in our advocacy efforts, but there is much more to do – and we need your support.

Because of the state budget crisis, the CSU has launched a major unified advocacy effort to motivate the legislature and the Governor to support alternative options to maintain the state’s investment in the CSU. Currently, budget forums are being held at campuses system wide and participants are being encouraged to spread the word and voice budget concerns to their state legislators. As part of this effort, each member of our San José State community – whether faculty, staff, students, administrators, or alumni – is being asked to play an active advocacy role in supporting the CSU.

In January, when Governor Schwarzenegger announced his proposed 2008/09 budget, it did not include funding for the budget plan approved by the California State University Board of Trustees last November. Faced with a growing $14.5 billion state deficit, the Governor has proposed a $312.9 million or 10 percent cut in state general fund support for the CSU. In addition, the proposed budget does not include funding to cover the $73.2 million necessary to avoid a 10 percent student fee increase. Thus, we are facing an alarming $386.1 million reduction to the CSU budget.

Although the specific budget impact to San José State will not be known until the May budget revision, a 10 percent reduction in funding would mean up to a $15.6 million cut to our current budget. This would affect every aspect of the campus, from availability of services to student graduation rates. At the system level, these proposed cuts would have a devastating impact on student access. The budget reduction – which comes in addition to funding cuts of $522 million between 2002 and 2005 – would mean that the CSU would be unable to provide access to 10,000 qualified students. These cuts would erase significant gains we have made in recent years to increase access for minority and underserved communities.

The Governor’s current budget proposal also would mean more than a $1 billion loss in economic activity for California. Considered the state’s “economic engine,” the CSU returns $4.41 to the California economy for every dollar invested by the state. In addition, the CSU plays a major role in supplying the state’s workforce, particularly in the areas of nursing, teaching, agriculture, business, public administration and technology. The CSU graduates 90,000 students each year, including 87 percent of education graduates, 64 percent of nurses, 65 percent of business professionals, 82 percent of those involved in public administration, and more than half of the state’s graduates in agriculture-related fields.

We must do everything in our power to urge state legislators to restore our budget and protect the state’s investment in higher education. I urge each one of you to help us advocate for the California State University by calling or writing your legislators and asking others to do the same. Let’s take a stand and support the important educational mission of the California State University system and San José State University.

For more information on how you can help, please see

Thank you for your commitment.


Don W. Kassing

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Traditional and New Media Together

Clinton Video

Due to being able to link to and post video like this; traditional news coverage is able to be shared virally in ways that cannot be done with traditional terrestrial broadcast. The result is greater than the sum of the parts.

SJSU Budget Forum Today

SJSU President Don W. Kassing, city of San José Councilmember Sam Liccardo, Academic Senate Chair Judith Lessow-Hurley and Benjamin Henderson, president of Associated Students, will be among the speakers at the budget forum, The CSU is the Solution, on Wednesday, April 2, from noon to 1 p.m., in the Student Union, Barrett Ballroom.

Plan to attend, get the facts about the state budget crisis and learn how we can take action to let lawmakers know the importance of the California State University system and the education it provides to students. The SJSU budget forum is one of a series of similar events being held on each CSU campus.

More Information.

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