I have been taking an increasingly critical view of Gene Block's performance for several years now. Mr. Block became chancellor in 2007. The report from the Center for Investigative Reporting covers the years from 2008 through 2012. Based on many years I spent as a journalist (decades, actually), I think the story to which Bellerophon has linked may be the "smoking gun" many of us have longed to see.
I am not sure what tactics we should follow next, but I have some thoughts I want to pass on. First, while I believe the Center for Investigative Reporting is highly respected inside and outside of journalism, not all the facts in the report are equally persuasive. I'm referring to the car allowance and moving expense for the new UC president, Janet Napolitano. Those figures strike me as relatively reasonable (feel free to disagree). But in any case, our concern should be with the leadership Gene Block has provided —— or failed to provide —— at UCLA. Another way to put it is let's not take our eyes off the ball.
So what are our options? A petition can be drafted, of course, but petitions don't have a good track record in terms of bringing change on UC campuses. How about, instead, respectful and personal letters —— hundreds and, in a perfect world, thousands —— to Ms. Napolitano asking about the specific medical conditions of Judy Olian, Teri Schwartz and others who have obtained medical waivers to travel in a way that is beyond the reach of most people? How about the same letters sent to each member of the Board of Regents?
And yet we cannot —— we must not —— fail to put these questions in context. Did Mr. Block provide an acceptable level of leadership? And if he didn't, should he continue as UCLA's chancellor?
Another idea: personal and respectful letters sent by concerned alumni to major dailies in the state —— in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento —— asking two questions: (1) Are these medical waivers justified (and specific examples should be cited), particularly given the financial constraints that UC has recently faced? (2) Has Gene Block met his responsibilities as UCLA's chancellor? Perhaps more importantly, letters should be sent to the op-ed sections of the Washington Post and New York Times. Remember, if there is one certainty about Ms. Napolitano —— and I believe she may offer new hope to the UC system —— it's that she's tuned into the power structure of Washington, D.C. You think maybe a letter, or many letters, to the Post would catch her eye?
Although I have a personal distaste for talk radio, some readers of BN may feel differently. It can't hurt to make calls, as long as the facts are expressed cogently and without rancor.
So, here's my view of the overall situation: Mr. Block has now provided concrete evidence of failed leadership, and we face a major campaign to make UCLA a better school without him. Let's get started.