By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Keith MayProfessor Roy Bauer has let everyone in the South Orange County Community College District know he wants to drop "a 2-ton slate of polished granite" on the head of his boss, Irvine Valley College's president. He's proclaimed an "urge to go postal" during an election party for conservative Board of Trustees candidates. And his e-mail address is frighteningly similar to the handle of another college professor preoccupied with going postal: "Unabauer."
Alarming? Cedric Sampson says he thought so. The district chancellor sent Bauer a letter in December accusing the ethics and political-philosophy professor of creating a "hostile work environment" and "strongly urged" him to "participate in the district's Employee Assistance Program"-counseling-"to defuse this volatile situation and assist you in dealing with the feelings of anger you have exhibited."
One might logically share Sampson's anxieties over Bauer-except that Sampson's evidence was excerpted from Bauer's underground, over-the-top newsletters: The 'Vine, which covers Irvine Valley College, and Dissent, which targets the district. The pesky, smart-ass, stream-of-consciousness-raising newsletters are clearly a cross between Mad Magazine and the OC Weekly-without the intrusive editing for clarity.
Sampson was specifically irked over the Nov. 2 Dissent, in which Bauer wrote that "I, for one, have etched the name of [union president] Sherry 'Realpolitik' Miller-White and others of her ilk on my permanent shit list, a 2-ton slate of polished granite that I someday hope to drop on [Irvine Valley president] Raghu Mathur's head."
Then there was the following week's issue, when-riffing off someone's comment at a trustee-election party that those present were "the very best in the district" -Bauer mused that at a fictional party for conservative candidates, "no decent person could resist the urge to go postal." There was also coverage of a fantasy funeral for Steven Frogue (a trustee who'd recently fought off a nasty recall campaign over allegations that he has minimized the Holocaust) at which Mathur and mourning trustees choked on "a lurid gas emanating from the Great Man's gaping mouth."
Sampson said he found more signs of Bauer's alleged depravity in the Nov. 16 Dissent. That issue referred to the Irvine Valley College president's policies as the Milosevic-Mathur Academic Integrity Matrix, or MAIM. However, Bauer notes that others in the district contribute to the newsletters, and sadly, he could not take credit for the MAIM line.
But he takes responsibility for newsletter illustrations Sampson finds offensive. One shows Mathur beheading his foes (it accompanied a story on the president's alleged enemies list). The other, a still from the 1940 flick Dr. Cyclops, shows three shrunken people crouched down on a chair, setting up a rifle to shoot at a giant (for an article on the board's micro-management of the college campuses).
And in just about every issue, Sampson alleged, Bauer offended Asians by referring to Mathur as "Mr. Goo." Bauer contends he was playing off the last syllable of the president's first name and the bumbling cartoon character Mr. Magoo. But Sampson said he believed "Goo" was short for "gook," a derogatory term for Asians. Mathur is of Indian descent.
As for the "Unabauer" e-mail address, Bauer changed it to that after trustee John Williams was quoted in The Orange County Register comparing the professor's writings to the Unabomber Manifesto.
Many district observers don't believe it's Bauer's colorful rhetoric that distresses Sampson, but rather his penchant for finger-pointing-which finger depends on the occasion-at the surreal events on South County's Saddleback and Irvine Valley college campuses. Bauer asks officials loads of loaded questions at public functions and sticks his nose into the affairs of what he believes to be a corrupt college, district and faculty union.
Bauer first came to the public's attention when he sicced the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Frogue in the fall of 1996. The trustee had just proposed a John F. Kennedy assassination seminar at Saddleback that would include speakers some consider crackpots (one wrote a book tying Kennedy's killing to the Israeli government's secret police; he and another invited speaker contribute to The Spotlight, which the ADL has branded the most anti-Semitic paper in the country). The seminar was nixed after strong public reaction.
Sampson's letter was dated three days after the Register ran a guest column from Bauer critical of the board majority and the faculty union that brought that majority to power. Just days before receiving the letter, Bauer says colleagues warned him that top officials had begun building a case against him that would result in his termination. Bauer and others saw Sampson's letter as ammunition to bag Bauer.
Bauer sued, winning a temporary injunction in federal court in Los Angeles on March 22. U.S. District Judge Nora M. Manella described Sampson's ordering of Bauer into counseling "Orwellian" and ridiculed the chancellor's examples of threats of violence. For instance, when it came to dropping a 2-ton slab of polished granite on Mathur's head, Manella exclaimed, "Think of the logistics!" The injunction prevents Sampson's letter from being placed in Bauer's personnel file and bars the district from ordering him into counseling. It marked Bauer's third legal victory against the district in the past two years.